Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.
Less than Human
Chapter: 194/ Epilogue: Closing and Opening
Lumemon lit onto the edge of a rooftop, flapping his wings to steady himself before settling down. He peered out over the city, listening to the bustle of the humans that were working on rebuilding it. He drank in the image of Shinjuku and all the sounds within, marking it in his mind. He felt a twinge of sadness. Not for the first time, the reality of his situation struck him, and it struck him hard.
For better or worse, this is where I'm going to live now, he thought to himself, breathing in the city air. Wind played with his brown hair, and the angelic digimon narrowed his gray eyes in response. I wonder what Lady Ophanimon would say about this…about what has happened to me. Knowing her, she would probably consider this justice. If anything else, it's certainly…ironic.
Lumemon wanted to laugh at himself for the position that he found himself in. It hadn't been all that long ago that he came to this world, a completely different digimon, with a different outlook on how he should dispense his brand of justice against dangers to the digital world. Now he had not only joined the group that he attacked as Lucemon, but he also merged with a piece of the Tamer whose partner he worked to destroy. However, he didn't laugh. Found himself unable to.
The digimon I am now is different from the one that I was. I'm not sure that I can relate at all to what happened…even though I was the one affected. That's…strange, isn't it? I don't remember much of my old life as Lucemon except that it happened. I'm still here, but I'm buried within the new me. Every now and then I feel that old me. Is that important?
Lumemon sighed, knowing that he wasn't going to get an answer. He lost a lot of things by coming to this city, and gained new things as well. But did those new things outweigh what he had lost?
Brushing such thoughts to the side for the time being, he peered at the city, scanning it with his storm-gray eyes, hoping to find some sign of his quarry. As he did so, a familiar, golden furred kitsune phased into view next to him.
"Did you find anything?" asked Renamon. Lumemon glanced at her shook his head.
"Not a thing. I think it's gone to ground again."
Renamon frowned and swished her tail through the air. "If none of the others have anything to report, we may have to guard the area and patrol the city tonight. Crusadermon and Beelzemon might have something. It is almost time for everyone to meet up." Renamon turned to look out over the city, her frown deepening. Lumemon knew why.
"It surprises me to no end how it has been able to elude us," he remarked.
"Yes," replied Renamon. "It's even managed to avoid Guilmon's sense of smell. Out of everyone, he is without a doubt the best when it comes to tracking someone. The fact that it has managed to evade him so far is…unsettling."
Lumemon pursed his lips.
"It's almost time. We should head back to the meeting place."
Renamon nodded, and with that, she disappeared into thin air. Lumemon eyed the space that she occupied thoughtfully. Out of all the digimon, Renamon had been one of the few that he surprisingly felt at ease around. In spite of her rather intimidating gaze, she had never looked at him with any amount of distrust, and simply accepted his presence as it was. He wondered why that was.
No doubt that's another question that will go unanswered…
Stretching his wings, Lumemon paused at the ledge and took a deep breath. Again, as he had wondered before, did what he gain outweigh what he lost? His memories of his past life were foggy at best, but there was a hole in his heart where those memories had been, acknowledging that whatever he lost, it was deeply felt. The Tamers and their partners had welcomed him into the group, but he wasn't at all certain if they truly accepted him, or ever would.
But then, it's not like I've gone out of my way to talk to them. Too much going on, even now. All this moving around…and there are the other newcomers to consider as well. I wonder…are we just a motley crew of digimon and humans who cause nothing but problems and can't fit in anywhere else or with anyone else except here, in this city with each other for company? Protecting what little piece of sanctuary we've carved out for ourselves, even if we carved it by accident?
No answers. None ever came, and he didn't expect any to either now or later. Breathing in again, Lumemon leapt off the roof and caught a draft. With one flap of his wings, he was off, following Renamon's shifting form as she phased in and out of view towards their destination.
Light shone off Yamaki's lighter as he clicked it closed. Adjusting his sunglasses, the blonde haired head of Hypnos tracked Lumemon's course through the sky before returning his attention to his path. Although it was not time for him to leave work, he had taken to having a stroll during his break to inspect the city. He was not involved in the reconstruction, but it comforted him all the same to see the repairs being conducted.
Even though those very same repairs were presently involved in, by the Tamers standards, a little bit of trouble.
A little over a month had passed since the battle with the Royal Knights and the Cable Entity had raged through Shinjuku, and life had more or less returned to what could be called normal by the cities inhabitants. Residents continued to stream back in once the evacuation orders had been lifted and enough of the infrastructure had been repaired for safe living. Now the only major inconveniences that remained were the numerous detours that people had to take to avoid the construction areas.
Though the construction could be going a little bit faster, thought Yamaki, frowning beneath his sunglasses.
Although it was true that life was returning to normal at a rapid pace, there were always complications. The past week had been one such case as a digimon—the first one to appear in weeks since Urocyomon had been sent back to the digital world—bio-emerged and began to cause trouble for the workers. Nothing too severe or damaging, but it had been conducting hit-and-run attacks on the construction sites, damaging areas that had been repaired during the day, and slowing down operations. These attacks occurred mostly at night, and Yamaki and the Tamers had only just started catching wind of it.
It was…rather frustrating from Yamaki's perspective.
The Tamers had detected the bio-emergence…a 'small' digimon they had mentioned at the time, and we couldn't do anything about it. Hypnos was shut down…still is…and because the digimon was so small it managed to give them the slip. However, since it had been so weak, no one believed that it could cause anything close to the damage that has been occurring so far. And with the Tamers only able to conduct patrols after school…
Yamaki thought back to the proposal he submitted to the Chief Cabinet concerning the incorporation of the Tamers into Hypnos.
I wonder if I should make an addendum to it concerning their education and overall duties…
The ringing of his cell phone broke across his thoughts, and giving a frustrated sigh, Yamaki pulled it out of his pocket and hit the answer button.
"We've received the latest report from our news source in the digital world," came the voice of Riley on the other end.
"Anything new to report?"
"Yes sir. You might want to come see this. It's…well…"
Yamaki nodded, continuing to feel frustrated at the lack of information. Considering what it could be that required his presence in the main operations room, it might very well be worth his presence.
"I'll be there."
Hanging up, Yamaki took a brief look up at the sky, catching Lumemon before he disappeared behind a building. Adjusting his glasses once more, he checked his surroundings and assumed a new course leading back towards Hypnos.
Duty called, and the digital world waited for no one.
"Boss man is on his way back," said Riley, continuing to type away on her control panel. Tally nodded her agreement, following her example. The entrance to the control room opened, catching her attention, and in walked Kuroda, looking ambivalent as he carried a paper bag in one hand.
"You know that you're not supposed to bring food in here," chastised Tally to the man as he sat down heavily in his seat and pulled out a cup of ramen.
"And I would have thought that after a month, you would have known that I don't care about such rules," reposted Kuroda, digging in as he feasted his eyes on the data that was being transmitted to his computer. "I may not be Yamaki's favorite person, but I do have my latitudes. Secret agent man is willing to put up with my…eccentricities as long as I get my work done, and as far as I'm concerned being away from my work just to eat a meal in the break room is unproductive. I prefer to work wherever I am…"
"Yeah, I got that so far," smirked Tally. "Anyway, are we still on for tonight?"
Kuroda reached into his bag and pulled out a second cup of ramen. "I bought this for you," he said, not breaking eye contact with the screen. Tally's smirk transformed into something a little more softer, as though his response, or seeming lack thereof, had been code for her. In a way, it was, as over the course of the past month and the amount of time they had worked together, they both learned something about working together. Chuckling lightly to herself, Tally returned to her work.
"You said that lucky rabbits foot wasn't any good," Tally said to Riley. Raising an elegant eyebrow beneath her visor, Riley looked at her friend over her shoulder.
"What are you talking about?"
Tally giggled. "Never mind. Just…never mind."
"Finally!" crowed Kazu, pumping his fists into the air as he stood triumphantly within the courtyard of Shinjuku elementary. "The day is over and it's ours!"
"Not quite," reminded Henry as he and the others followed behind their visor-wearing friend. Next to him, Takato nodded.
"Yeah. We still have to meet up with everyone and see how things went."
"Like if they caught our mystery digimon," supplied Kenta. Folding his arms behind his head, Kazu snorted.
"Yeah, I already knew that, but I was just talking about how we got out of school. We're taking care of Tamer business, and that's something I like more than listening to Ms. Asagi drone on about vegetables. I tell ya, she's nuttier than a fruit bat."
"Anyone would be, dealing with you."
"Kenta…could you tell your girlfriend to not make everything sound like it's my fault? Ms. Asagi was weird before I showed up."
"Um…" Kenta adjusted his spectacles nervously, crimson staining his face. "We're…um…Ayaka and I…"
"…Are stuck together like Guilmon to bread," giggled a voice from the wall ahead of them. Looking up, Henry smiled upon seeing Terriermon standing upside down on one paw, showing off to the students as they passed by.
"I know, I know," laughed Terriermon. "You're right. It could be worse."
"You mean like what Chumley deals with?" snorted Kazu.
"Well I wasn't going to say it…"
"For once, you show tact," breathed Henry in relief, while Ayaka glared at Kazu threateningly.
"Unlike some people."
"Hey. What's the point in dancing around the issue?"
"You mean besides that it's none of our business?" growled the blonde haired, pig-tailed girl.
"Hey, come on, guys," placated Takato. "It's okay. Let's just go meet up with the others."
"Smartest thing I've heard all day," said Terriermon, leaping off of the brick wall and onto Henry's head. Settling himself, he glanced over at the dark haired girl walking next to his partner. "Hey, Noriko."
"Hey, Terriermon," smiled Noriko warmly. "Have you seen, Lumemon?"
"Nope. He's probably gone off to the park to meet up with the others, same as usual."
"Isn't that where I told you to be?" asked Henry.
"Yeah, but I wanted to see what Noriko brought you today. She's been bringing snacks in for you ever since school started back up."
"What? Momentai, Henry! Why do you need to get all defensive about this? It's not like you're the only one who has a girlfriend or something. At least you've got Kenta to share the pain…"
"That's not…" began Henry, his voice blending in with Kenta's as he too began mumbling denials. The two boys looked at each other for one long moment before turning away. Noriko, sensing that the topic of conversation had taken a turn towards uncomfortable, moved to change it.
"Um…H-Henry. My mom was asking about you, a-and she was wondering when you could stop over to have dinner with us…"
Noriko trailed off as she realized what she was saying. It was too late to take it back however, and the effect was immediate.
"Dinner?" blinked everyone who heard the girl's words. A luminous blush grew over Henry's face and Terriermon laughed out loud.
"Wow. Henry! Sounds like you've already got her mother's approval."
The group laughed at Henry's sudden flustering, and the feeling of participating in pure, unadulterated laughter without any troubles attached to it. All too soon however, the knowledge that they had to get moving, as they were fast finding themselves the only students remaining in the courtyard, sobered them.
"Well," said Jeri, wiping away tears of happiness, "I've got to get going. I'll see you all tomorrow."
None of the Tamers asked why she was parting ways. Unlike the rest of the group, her home had actually been damaged from the fighting and was made structurally unsound. As a result, she had to travel farther than usual to meet up with her parents where they were presently staying until their home was back on its feet again. This had been her reasoning from the moment that school started. The addition of a Wild One, and the need for the rest of the digimon-armed Tamers to patrol the grounds, made it so that there were few, if any further complaints. No one, least of all Takato and Rika, wanted to place the girl in any unnecessary danger.
Takato waved cheerily as Jeri took off at a brisk pace, smiling at them over her shoulder. Once she had passed out of sight, Takato's face fell, and his hand lowered slowly.
On this, no one spoke. They had all taken note of Takato's change in mood every time Jeri left the group to go home. To some extent, they all felt that they could comfortably guess why. The temporary biomerge that they all shared together had granted them a glimpse of the turmoil that their now former goggle-wearing friend bore on his shoulders.
Moving forward, Henry placed a hand on his friends shoulder.
"Come on. Let's go meet with the others."
"Right," said Takato, forcing himself to snap out of his funk. "We've got a job to do."
Rika made her way down the streets, her eyes narrowed in deep thought and concentration. Very little of which was paid to the path in front of her, save to make sure that she didn't get caught up with the crowd or with traffic. However distracted she could get, Rika tended to be readily aware of her surroundings. Very rarely was she ever caught off guard, and even rarer did something surprise her.
Shrugging her school bag onto her shoulder, Rika trudged onward, gazing momentarily at a group of children that ran by, chasing after a soccer ball they kicked ahead of them. With a sigh she tore her eyes away from them and stopped at the main entrance to her home. As she did so, the familiar form of Renamon phased into view next to her.
"Welcome back," greeted the vulpine digimon. Rika nodded in return as she pushed the gate open.
"How'd the meeting go?" she asked, not for the first time mindful of the fact that her school let out later than that of her friends.
"As well as can be expected," replied Renamon as they both entered the front yard. "The others have formed a plan, and are now patrolling the city. I was making my rounds of the neighborhood when I saw you walking by."
Rika nodded again, noting that their meeting saved them the trouble of rendezvousing at their agreed upon meeting place.
"Rika!" called out Seiko from within the house. "Are you home?"
"Hi, Grandma!" she returned as she stepped into the house and took off her school shoes. "I'm going to be heading out for a while on patrol! Sorry I can't stay and chat!"
The sound of her grandmother's light footsteps touching the floor reached Rika's ears, and she smiled at her.
"Then you'll be staying out late?" she asked.
Rika glanced over at Renamon, who nodded.
"I hope that this digimon doesn't cause you too much trouble. You've all been staying out late trying to find it." Seiko shook her head. "Well, I'll be sure to keep dinner warm for you when you get back."
"Thanks Grandma. What're we having?"
"My special egg plant and liver casserole."
Rika couldn't help but grin and clench a fist triumphantly.
"If we catch it tonight, then I'll call it a perfect ending. Say hi to Mom for me in case she's asleep when I get back."
Rika entered her room and dumped her bag on the floor unceremoniously. Grabbing her clothes off the rack, she quickly changed into them and clipped on her belt, card box, and digivice. As soon as she did so, her violet gaze paused on the full heart emblazoned on her shirt before shrugging it off. Pausing just long enough to grab something from off her dresser and stash it in her back pocket, Rika quickly joined her partner outside.
"Ready to go, Renamon?"
"Party time," she said. In her heart though, a part of her remained separate from the eagerness of tracking down the rogue digimon.
Got to get my head into the game, Rika berated herself, taking out her digivice and activating the tracking function. I can't afford to be distracted right now.
Rika furrowed her brow, knowing that 'distracted' was just what she was going to be. One month. It had been one month since everyone returned home from the digital world; one month since their lives began to settle back down. 'Settle', but they did not return to normal.
Rika's lips twitched slightly in frustration, and she felt a slight tugging in the back of her mind. It didn't take her long to recognize whom it belonged to.
Unconsciously her course began to shift in the direction of her friend. In the month that had passed since their return home, with the sole exception of Jeri, she had seen very little of, her friends. She had her reasons for doing so, some of which had to do with getting back into school life and catching up on everything that she had fallen behind on. Other reasons however, stood out more prominently, at least in her mind.
That one name said it all, bringing back a number of memories that caused Rika to tighten her fingers around her digivice. Sensing Renamon's concern through their link, she relaxed her grip and continued to scan for any signs of their target.
How long has it been since I last talked to Jeri? Rika wondered. Last time it had been over the phone and…I didn't exactly end the conversation in a very friendly manner.
Rika slammed her cell phone down on the table. Although she showed no other outward sign, her mind was broiling with rage. Rage directed towards her friend, but also towards herself, for letting things go the way that they did. Gripping the sides of her head, Rika leaned forward and groaned in exasperation.
How could she do this? She asked herself. How can she just write off his feelings like that? Like they don't even matter? How could she do that to herself?!
Around and around, Rika's mind spun, continuing to search for answers, but finding none. So focused on her inner turmoil that she didn't notice the sound of the door sliding open behind her until her mother's voice spoke up.
"Want to talk about it?"
In the not-so-distant past, this would not have happened. At least, not with her mother. Before, she would have been out late relishing in her life, or sampling some of the fine sake that was in the house. By the same token, Rika would have gone out of her way to avoid her mother, preferring to stay out late in the depths of the city before coming home, and even then she would close herself off in her room to go over battle strategies. Such was not the case anymore, and Rika reflected on how quickly things had changed…continued to change over the course of the year. With the rapid changes occurring, it was all she could do just to stand still and collect her thoughts.
"Mom? Why do people do the things that they do?"
"What do you mean?" asked Rumiko, sitting down next to the girl with a concerned look on her face.
"Like…why do they decide to leave each other?"
Rumiko raised an eyebrow, and for an instant Rika could see a glimmer of pain from an old memory that she knew all too well.
"There are lots of reasons why," said Rumiko, bringing one hand to rest on her daughter's arm. "Sometimes they leave because they love someone, and sometimes because they just don't love someone enough. Why do you ask?"
Briefly, Rika thought about pursuing her mother's words, wondering if any of the reasons she gave involved her father, but she pushed that curiosity aside. For right now, they were not what she wanted to know.
"Jeri…" she said finally. "After we got home, she talked to Takato. She knows what happened between me and him." Rika scowled. "She knows that he likes her and I know she likes him, but she still..."
Rika trailed off, hesitating for a moment before she continued.
"She won't budge. She won't be with him! This isn't what I wanted to happen!"
"What did you want?"
Rika took a deep breath before replying.
"…Back when Hypnos was contacting you and the other families…I made the decision to do what Jeri did. I didn't want to keep doing this. I didn't want to hurt Jeri or Takato because of what I did. Only Jeri beat me to it. I…" Rika balled her hands up into fists. "…I can't do the same thing now. Not as long as she…" Rika found herself unable to continue speaking, and she gave a growl of frustration. Rumiko watched her with sympathetic eyes, massaging her arm.
"Have you talked to Takato about it?"
Rika let her silence speak for her. She had not gone out of her way to talk to, let alone see Takato since Hypnos let them return to their families. Takato, noticing her absences and sensing her increased anger, had tried getting in touch with her, but had been rebuffed each time with short, succinct replies along the lines of "I'm busy." Rumiko's eyes softened.
"You can't ignore him forever, you know."
"I know Mom, it's just…I'm all messed up inside. I can't even think straight right now! I know that I've got to figure out a way to deal with this, and I'm working on it. I just need time."
"That's fine," replied Rumiko, offering her a comforting smile. "Just don't forget what you've learned lately. You don't need to fight every battle on your own."
"How can I, when Takato didn't even let me fight with him?"Rika blurted out.
The sound of her digivice clicking and beeping in alarm broke her out of her thoughts. Her violet eyes zeroed in on her D-Arcs tracking program, finding the compass function pointed in a definitive direction.
"There it is."
"Are you sure?" asked Renamon, phasing into view next to her. "I don't sense anything."
"Well, something's causing this thing to go crazy, and the signal isn't the same as a bio-emergence." Rika's eyes narrowed as the scanner shifted to display a series of colored dots, one two green and one red. The two green dots were moving in on the location of the red one. "Looks like one of the others picked up on it. Let's go."
Renamon grabbed hold of her, and leapt into the air, disappearing from sight almost as soon as their feet left the ground.
"Are you okay, Takato?"
"Hm?" Blinking, Takato looked over his shoulder at Guilmon, who trailed behind him with a worried look on his face.
"I was asking if you're okay. You've got a serious look on your face like you're thinking about something really hard."
Takato forced a light laugh out of his mouth and rubbed the back of his head nervously.
"Sorry boy. I guess I just have a lot on my mind right now."
"Is that why you didn't want anyone else to come with you while we patrolled?"
Takato nodded. "Yeah. I just need to sort out a few things in my head."
"What sort of things?" Guilmon tilted his head to the side, and looked up at his partner with his big, gold colored eyes.
"Takato…if it's nothing then how come you're thinking about it?" Guilmon blinked as a thought came to him. "Oh. Is it about Jeri and Rika?"
Takato's shoulders sagged. "Jeez…am I that easy to read?"
"Not really. But you've been kind of sad ever since we went with Jeri to drop her off with her family. We usually talk about things that bother you, but you don't like to talk about anything involving those two. You always get really quiet every time we do."
"Oh," blinked Takato, taken aback once more by how observant Guilmon could be. "Um…do you smell anything, Guilmon?" he asked, hoping to change the topic of conversation.
"I smell lots of things…mostly food."
"Uh…okay, how about that digimon we're trying to find?"
Guilmon shook his head. "Nope."
The pair continued in silence for a moment longer before Guilmon spoke up again.
"Takatooo…how come you changed the subject?"
"Guilmon…can we not talk about that while we're trying to find that wild digimon?"
Guilmon's ears drooped. "Sorry."
"No," Takato sighed dejectedly. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have snapped at you like that. I just…don't want to talk about it right now."
Guilmon nodded and acquiesced to his partner's wishes. Takato took out his D-Arc and activated the scanning function, hoping to take his mind off their aborted talk. He didn't succeed very well in his endeavor, and his mind soon wandered back onto the topic. In the back of his mind, he could feel Rika's emotional weather, and he forced himself to try to still his own. More and more, he felt as though he were being isolated, and the knowledge that presently he was doing the same thing himself was not lost on him. He wondered what else there was he could do about it though, as every other time he had tried to talk to Rika had ended with her telling him she was 'busy' and didn't have the time to talk. The unexpected arrival of the Wild One had given them the best opportunity to see and talk to each other, but unfortunately one look at Rika's eyes told him that anything that went beyond formulating a battle plan was going to get shot down. The distance that had grown between them, connection notwithstanding, made him feel that he was losing her, and it hurt thinking about it.
First Jeri…now Rika… No! Takato's eyes slammed shut and he fought to force such thoughts out of his mind. No! I have to stay optimistic. I'll just try again to talk to her…try and sort things out. Until then, I can't let Rika know what's going on…I can't let her know how this is affecting me. She's got enough on her plate right now. She doesn't need my problems.
In a subtle irony that he failed to notice, it was this kind of thinking, that he should handle his difficulties without help, that Rika was also angry with him about. Such was his desire to keep her out of the link, that he didn't notice the flaring of it on her end in response to his mood.
The sound of his digivice's agitated beeping brought him out of his reverie, and looking at the holographic circle sitting above the screen, he saw the compass signaling to him a specific direction.
"It's found it!" Takato exclaimed excitedly, breaking into a run. "Let's go, Guilmon!"
"Takatooo!!! Slow downnn!!!"
Ryo Akiyama set his bag down on a chair as he walked into his bedroom, giving a sigh of relief. School was finally over…for the day at any rate, but it was over nonetheless.
Loaded with a lot of homework though, he thought, clicking on his computer. Math, English, History…the whole nine yards and then some.
For once, Ryo wasn't sure if he should be jealous of the fact that the others had gotten a brief reprieve from their class assignments as Shinjuku had been evacuated during the Royal Knight crisis, and had been extended briefly from the massive amount of damage that the city had been made to suffer. Quite the opposite of his hometown, but that was to be expected as it was far removed from Shinjuku's unending battles. As had quickly become the norm for him ever since becoming a Tamer, his homework load piled up to the breaking point where he was sure that even Guilmon wouldn't be able to pull off the convenient 'a digimon ate my homework' excuse without getting sick.
At least my teacher is understanding. I'm sure glad he gave me an extension, but after everything that's happened, I have to admit, I still need a break. This just isn't good.
While waiting for his computer to finish loading, Ryo took a look outside his window to check up on Cyberdramon. The large, overbearing, cyborg dragon continued his to stand vigil in the backyard. Not for the first time this past month, and most likely wouldn't be the last time in a long, long time, Ryo wondered how recent events would affect his partner. Everyone had been affected, that much he knew, but for Cyberdramon…
He's closer to what happened than anyone else. Even me. After all, he's got to deal with that guy living inside of him. Glancing over at his nightstand, Ryo saw an achingly familiar card sitting on it, still where he had placed it when he got home. It was the Milleniummon card he had given Jeri, returned to the appearance that it had before Jeri transformed it into SolMilleniummon.
Just what was it that happened back there? What is his game? He had an opportunity to come out and start everything all over again, but he didn't. He let things go. He helped us and then let everyone return home without so much as batting an eye or making a threat. When we talked… Ryo frowned, remembering his discussion with the dark digital god prior to everyone merging together. …he sounded almost…disappointed. Maybe my mind's just playing tricks on me. That was a pretty hectic time then. I'm probably imagining it. But if I tell myself that, then that means everything…how can I trust anything that happened? We could be sitting on a timer, waiting for it to go off and we won't know when. How can I continue to trust anyone?
There it was again. The issue of trust. For too long, Ryo had been left to his own devices, dealing with Milleniummon without any backup save for Monodramon, who, in spite of his stalwartness was not in control of himself half the time except when he was in his Rookie form. That by itself was a rarity, and he could not count on that happening at convenient times. True, Cyberdramon had gotten better at controlling himself lately, but he still had moments when he let his savage nature run free.
Around and around his mind went, and he sat down heavily on the edge of his bed, holding his head in his hands. Trust. Could he still trust the others? They hadn't asked any further questions after the battle against Oni ended and they all went home. They left him alone on that front while making sure that they stayed in touch. Especially Kazu and Kenta, though for once they took a far more mature approach to it. Takato was a lot more open and understanding of him, and then there was…
"Ryo!" called out the voice of his father from downstairs. Shooting to his feet, taken off guard by the interruption from his thoughts, Ryo called back.
"What's up, Dad?"
"You have a friend on the phone!"
Raising an eyebrow, Ryo started for the stairs, wondering who it could be.
"Who is it?" he asked, taking the phone from his father. The man looked at him gruffly.
"She says her name is Jeri."
Ryo had to stop himself from showing his surprise. This was not something he expected.
"Thanks," he said.
"Don't take too long. You've got a lot of catching up to do, you know. I don't want you being held back another year."
"…Got it," frowned Ryo, remembering the trouble that his last adventure had caused him. Over half a year spent in the digital world followed by his involvement in the D-Reaper crisis had made sure that he missed out on far too much work to be able to make it up, forcing him to repeat the year.
"Hello?" he asked, uncertainty creeping into his voice.
"Hey, yourself," came the voice of Jeri on the other end, a light giggle in her tone. "I got home just a second ago, and I thought that I'd give you a call and see how you were doing. Kazu was complaining about how he hasn't seen you in a while, so I was kind of worried."
Ryo found himself smiling a little.
Of course. Why should I have been surprised? She's involved herself in my problems from day one when I told her about the Milleniummon card. It makes sense now.
"That's a story and a half," chuckled Ryo. "I've been pretty busy. My dad put his foot down on my Taming duties. He's not going to accept me missing out on anything school related for the rest of the year."
"That's right. You were in the digital world for a while last year."
"That's right," Ryo nodded.
There followed a long pause, during which Ryo found himself feeling strangely uncomfortable.
"I don't mean to pry, but…how are you doing?"
Ryo was about to answer that he was doing fine, but soon caught the way Jeri phrased her question. Remembering what they had gone through together, how he had confided with her, and of her and Cyberdramon's own advice to trust others more, he decided to take a chance.
Beats being constantly paranoid, he thought with a trace of humor.
"Well…that's also a story and a half…"
"I'm not going anywhere," eased Jeri. Unconsciously, a relaxed smile grew on the Legendary Tamer's face.
"Here?" asked Guilmon. Takato nodded, glancing down at his D-Arc. The arrow on the digivice's compass was pointing directly ahead.
"Looks like. Pretty weird that it has to be this place though."
Guilmon nodded in agreement. Takato's compass was pointing them in a direction that was all too familiar to the both of them. More specifically a place. The area was fenced off, but that did not concern either of them as they got around it the last couple of times they had been there, and the lack of a lock on the door posed no barrier either. Especially now that there was a hole in it.
"It looks like we can get into the tunnels without any trouble," said Takato.
"Big scary tunnel," said Guilmon anxiously. "I knew it. Every time we go down there, something bad happens."
"Well that's true. The first time was when you were taken by that weird digital field thing. The second time we were going off to fight the D-Reaper. Not exactly the best track record I can think of as far as luck goes."
"Mm-mm," Guilmon shook his head in agreement. "And now there's a digimon inside it. I'll bet it's as big as a house like the D-Reaper."
"Guilmon, that's ridiculous. If it was that big we'd see evidence of that."
"What kind of evidence?"
"I don't know. Maybe a giant footprint or something." Takato narrowed his eyes to inspect the hole in the door. "I wonder why no one's bothered to check on this place. Well, we're not doing anything standing out here, that's for sure. Do you think that you can get over okay, Guilmon?"
"Mm-hmm!" Nodding, Guilmon got into a crouch and vaulted into the air, clearing the fence with ease that surprised Takato.
"Well, that answers that question. Now it's my turn." Grabbing hold of the chain link fence, Takato set about climbing up. Before he could get so much as a foot upwards, he felt something flare in the back of his mind, and he nearly dropped off the fence in surprise. Swiveling his head about, his red colored eyes quickly spied Rika and Renamon, standing with the sun behind them, eyeing the pair. "Ah…Rika!"
"Going without me, again?" she asked sarcastically, arching one elegant eyebrow. Hit by sudden déjà vu, Takato half got off the fence.
"Well, my digivice picked up the Wild One and I didn't see a phone nearby, so I thought I'd take care of it while we still had the chance and…" Takato paused and frowned. "Hey! Wouldn't you have gone in there on your own too?"
"Well, I'm guilty on that front," said Rika, smiling at the boy as she headed over to the fence. "Looks like we're both guilty when it comes to taking care of things on our own, right?"
Takato caught the hidden meaning behind her words.
"Let's talk about that later. Right now we've got a Wild One to take out." With that, Rika grabbed hold of the fence and with a grace akin to Renamon's she quickly landed on the other side next to Guilmon. Renamon quickly followed, appearing beside her partner. Rika turned and grinned at Takato. "Well? Come on already, Takato. Let's see what you've got."
Her words aroused a light blush on his face, and Takato quickly climbed over the fence, though with far less grace than Rika did. Still, he managed to land on his feet, and he was more than willing to take whatever blessings he could get.
"Okay," he said, rising. "Let's go."
"How far is this digimon anyway?" asked Rika in annoyance as she and Takato checked their respective digivices.
"I can't tell. You'd think that by now we would have figured out how to read these things better. I mean, we've had enough practice."
"Hmmph. I haven't seen much evidence of it from you, Takato."
"Maybe you two should try being silent for a change," suggested Renamon, a hidden smile curving on her muzzle. "If the digimon is indeed here, then your chatter is most likely alerting it."
"That's possible," agreed Rika. "But the thing hasn't moved since we got here though. At least, it doesn't look like it has."
"Maybe it's sleeping on the ceiling?" suggested Guilmon, his eyes already looking up.
"I already checked there, Guilmon," said Renamon. "Do you smell anything?"
"There's definitely a digimon smell down here, but it's really hard to pick out." Guilmon scowled. "It's like it's hiding it somehow."
"Terrific," grumbled Rika. "A digimon that can hide its scent and makes it so we have a hard time just finding it? If it weren't for our digivices we probably wouldn't notice if it was on top of us."
"This is a strange digimon," said Renamon, frowning. "I can't sense it as I normally would. Perhaps we should count our blessings that we were able to detect it at all."
"You know, aren't you guys making a Mega out of a Rookie?" asked Takato. "So far, all that's happened is just a slowing down of construction. No one's been hurt, and nothing seriously important has been damaged. It's more in line with something that Impmon would do when he's pulling a prank."
"Can't argue with logic like that," said Rika, "but we should be on our guard anyway."
"Yes," agreed Renamon. "It doesn't hurt to be too careful when dealing with an unknown."
Guilmon tugged at Takato's sleeve, nodding his agreement with the vulpine digimon.
"I think she's right, Takato. Renamon's always been right before, so why not now?"
A pall of silence hung on the air, following which Rika let out a light chuckle.
"Wow. Déjà vu."
"Huh?" blinked Takato in confusion.
"Guilmon said that the last time we were down here."
"Yeah. And Terriermon said something about me and Renamon sitting in a tree. Takato? What did he mean by that?"
"Ah! Um…ah…n-nothing, Guilmon! Well…it meant something, but I don't really want to talk about that right now. It's…um…embarrassing and…uh…Rika would probably kill me if I explained it."
"Don't let your imagination run too far ahead of you, Gogglehead," chided Rika. "Anyway, let's keep moving and see what we can find. And no weird comments this time, got it?"
Takato again raised an eyebrow in confusion, before realization struck him. Abruptly turning bright red, Takato settled on humming quietly to himself and not saying anything further. After a few minutes, Takato stopped and looked at his digivice. Much to his surprise, the holographic circle flickered, and then vanished all together.
"What just happened?"
Takato turned towards Rika to see that she also experienced the same technical difficulties as he did.
"Yeah. Just cut out all at once." In the dim light of the tunnels, Rika's eyes flashed. "I'd say that makes for pretty solid evidence that it's close by."
"Yeah, but what kind of digimon can interfere with our digivices like this? That just shouldn't be possible."
"You of all people should know that 'impossible' is not a limit for digimon, Takato," reminded Renamon.
"Oh, yeah. Right. Well, at least we still have some light."
Takato looked over at the lights glowing on the curved wall…only to see his hopes crushed as the furthest ones winked off with a light cracking sound, shrouding the far off end of the tunnel in pitch-blackness.
"Great job, Takato," said Rika sarcastically. "Do things normally break when you're around? Or is that just coincidence?"
Takato ignored the jibe and pulled out a pair of cards, speed and power, for the inevitable conflict. Another light broke and went out, further darkening the hallway.
"I don't see anything, Rika."
"Well this is just great," growled the red haired girl, pulling out a card of her own. "All right. Looks like we're going to need some light here. Renamon?" Rika dragged the card through the slot of her D-Arc, quickly pulling it away as she shouted the words that activated its effect.
"DIGI-MODIFY! DIGIVOLUTION ACTIVATE!"
Nothing happened. Her eyes widening in surprise, Rika looked at her digivice.
"It would appear that the scanning function wasn't the only thing affected," noted Renamon.
"What the heck is this thing?"
Three more lights broke. The darkness was almost on them now. Peering forward, Takato tried to see what could be within the tunnel, but he saw nothing.
"Guilmon. Use a Pyro Sphere."
"Right!" Rearing backwards, Guilmon fired off a blast of crimson fire. It rocketed down the tunnel, illuminating the shadows where it revealed a massive, black colored creature that resembled a tattered sheet. Large fangs glistened as the fireball impacted with its body, and it roared in outrage. The sound was deafening, forcing both Tamers and their digimon to cover their ears with their hands.
"Great plan there, Takato!" exclaimed Rika, trying to be heard over the digimon's roar.
"Oh, come on!" shot back Takato. "It was better than just waiting for it to show up in front of us when we wouldn't have any light left!"
"That's not what I meant." Rika lowered her hands. "I mean it. That was a good plan. We've seen the digimon. It looks like a larger, more viral version of a Bakemon, kind of like what BlackGuilmon was even though he's the same type as Guilmon. This should be a piece of cake."
Takato wanted to agree with Rika on that, having seen the ghost-type digimon defeated numerous times by even humans, but looking at this version, much larger than the standard Bakemon, nearly filling the tunnel with its size. But the fact that their digivices were suddenly inoperable went a long way towards making him think otherwise.
"Zombie Claw!" shouted the dark, ghostly digimon, and a rotten, decayed claw shot out from beneath its tattered sheet body. Rika and Takato dove out of the way while their partners charged forward, deftly evading the oncoming attack.
"Pyro Sphere!" shouted Guilmon while Renamon followed up with Diamond Storm. Shards of glowing crystals flew through the air with a crimson fireball. The dark Bakemon, too large to evade the attacks was struck full force by them, and the ghost screamed in pain. Realizing the limitations of its size, the massive ghost broke apart, forming into a dozen of the ghost creatures.
"It was a Lord Bakemon!" exclaimed Takato in realization. "Like from the TV show when a bunch of them merged together! When they were concentrating really hard together, this guy was really powerful!"
"That might explain why your digivices weren't working," said Renamon, landing on the ground and assuming a defensive position. "Their unified will might have been strong enough to interfere with your digivices."
"Then let's test that theory out," said Rika, raising her digivolution card again. "If these guys were able to cause that much trouble merged as one, then their focus must be really broken up now that they're separate."
With that, Rika slashed her evolution card through her D-Arc once again. However, just like last time no light or sparks emerged from her digivice, and no digivolution took place.
"You've got to be kidding me!" shouted Rika angrily.
"Takato," said Guilmon, getting into a crouch as the Bakemon swarm surged towards them. "We need a new plan."
"I'm working on it!"
"Better think quick!" ordered Renamon as she launched at the Bakemon. Flipping through the air, she delivered a brutal kick to the closest one, slamming it into the ground. Rebounding off of its body while still in midair, the vulpine digimon twisted and struck another one, sending it careening into one of its comrades. Without missing a beat, she lashed out with one arm and grabbed an oncoming Bakemon that was sneaking up behind her, hurling it to the ground with ferocious force.
Guilmon was quick to join the battle as he unleashed a barrage of Pyro Spheres into the swarm. Two were struck and quickly deleted, but the rest dodged and rushed the dragon digimon, burying him in a gang pile. Guilmon squirmed and unleashed a Pyro Sphere at point blank range on one of the Bakemons face. The Pyro Sphere detonated with explosive force, deleting the one that had been struck and causing the others to throw themselves back in surprise.
"At least they're weaker on their own," noted Rika. "But we can't keep this up on our own forever. The tunnel isn't a good place for fighting. There's not enough room."
"I know," agreed Takato. "But we can't just leave either. If we do, they might go and find some other place to live, and then we're going to be right back at square one. Except they'll be more careful next time."
"You got an idea on what we're going to do, then?" asked Rika. "Because without our digivices there's not a whole lot that we can do to help out."
Takato closed his eyes, frowning as his mind raced, trying to think of some way that they could turn the tide in their favor. Then, all at once in its own peculiar way, Takato's mind seized on an idea that seemed so crazy that he almost balked at it.
What? No way! That's…that's so stupid I can't believe that I actually thought of it! Well…actually I can, but…
"You've got an idea, don't you," said Rika, her voice merely stating a fact, and not asking a question.
"Uh…how did you…? Oh…right."
"Quit stalling! If you've got something then use it!"
"But…it's…it's really stupid…"
"Like that's anything new," Rika snorted. "But last I checked when it comes to you, the stupider the idea the more likely it is to work."
"Come on! Our partners aren't going to last much longer out there!"
"All right," said Takato. "Just get ready with that digivolve card. Here goes something…"
Takato took a deep breath and cupped his hands around his mouth. His heart was in his chest, beating hard. Without a doubt, this was his most bizarre idea to date, but they were out of options. Sucking in another breath, Takato let loose with every fiber of his being.
"Bakemon, lose your power! Bakemon, lose your power!"
"Wha…?" Rika looked at the boy, startled by the realization of what his 'plan' was.
He can't be serious! He's actually going by the TV show?! That's cr—
Rika 's thoughts halted as she felt Takato's flimsy confidence in his plan, and she squashed her inhibitions before they could even be filtered through their link. This wasn't any different from the times when Takato got WarGrowlmon going by simply screaming his lungs out.
Well, so far digimon have shown to be the same as they were in the show, so what the heck...
"Bakemon, lose your power!" Rika shouted, joining Takato. Takato almost stopped, surprised by her actions, but he quickly resumed, this time his confidence growing. Their voices blended together as they shouted in the tunnels, throwing everything that they were into those fateful words. One moment…two…and nothing seemed to be happening except for the battle continuing to become one-sided for their partners.
A confused expression appeared over the Bakemon, and they began to float around listlessly, their attacks shooting wide from their marks. Grinning in exuberance, Rika glanced down at her D-Arc to see a light emerge from its screen.
"DIGI-MODIFY!" Rika shouted, slashing her evolution card in a shower of blue sparks. "DIGIVOLUTION ACTIVATE!"
"RENAMON! DIGIVOLVE TOOO…"
"I can't believe you did that," laughed Rika as they emerged from the tunnel's entrance, victorious from their battle. "No, wait. Why am I even saying that? Of course that'd be something you would do. Your brain goes in such weird directions that it'll think of anything."
"I'm just glad it worked," breathed Takato wearily. "I don't think those would have been good last words if it didn't."
"Got that right," smirked Rika. "But that's one of the things I like about you. You can do something completely dumb like tripping over your own shadow and still somehow come out ahead in a race."
"Actually, I did win a race against Kazu doing that."
Rika stared at her friend, and Takato rubbed the back of his head nervously.
"Well…he says it doesn't count."
Rika chuckled. "He would, wouldn't he? Anyway, we've got to let Yamaki know what happened so he can check out the tunnels. We didn't pick up any more digimon signals, but considering the number, there may be more down there we don't know about." Rika pulled out her cell phone and frowned. A crack split across its screen. "Terrific. Guess we're going to have to do this the old fashioned way. Walk."
"That's not a bad thing, is it? I mean, if the company is right…" Takato stopped and flushed. "Um…not that I'm what you'd call the right company right now…"
Rika raised an eyebrow, wondering what he meant by that before a thought occurred to her.
Right. He and I…we still have things to settle between us. Now's as good a time as any…
She had been wrestling over what to do about this when the situation inevitably came up for far longer than she cared to count. More than once she wanted to go back, act as though nothing had happened, or go down another path and have nothing more to do with Takato than their link and their comradeship as Tamers. However, when she first saw him and his partner start climbing over the fence to get into the tunnels, her heart had unexpectedly reached out towards him, and she knew then and there that no matter what happened, or had happened, she could not just abandon everything that had happened between them. To do that, she realized, would be to deny what she became since meeting him, and to deny how much he had come to mean to her in the short time that they were friends.
Reaching behind her, she pulled out the object that she had stashed in her back pocket and tossed it to Takato.
"Huh?" Takato blinked as a pair of Goggles fell into his hands, and he nearly dropped them in surprise. Finally getting hold of them, he looked at them more carefully. Unlike his old ones, these were rimmed with red, but otherwise they shared the same design and blue lenses. Takato looked up at Rika with a confused expression on his face. "Rika..."
"Call it a 'let's start over' gift, Takato," she said. "Sorry for not talking to you every time you dropped in to see me, and for not being around for every meeting. I've…been doing a lot of thinking."
Takato nodded and his eyes became attentive.
"I've been doing a lot of thinking about what happened between us. I have to admit, I'm not really sure where to begin."
"I still like you, Gogglehead. But that's not the reason why I'm giving you those goggles. That's because you're our Gogglehead. As goofy as you look in them, you don't look right without them." Rika paused, letting a brief silence fall between them before she resumed speaking.
"I didn't want to get between you and Jeri," she said. "I'm sorry, Takato."
The boy visibly tensed up at the mention of Jeri, but he nodded.
"It's okay. Actually, you don't know how much it means to me, knowing that I'm…um…that important to you." Takato looked down at his new goggles before looking back up at Rika. "Um...I…Rika…I…um…"
"Takato. I'm not asking you for anything. I…I don't care if you return my feelings or not. So I like you. That's not going to change a thing between us. I'll still think of you as a very close, very important friend, and one that I don't want to lose. I know that I've been dodging you these past few weeks, but I needed to get my head sorted out enough to realize that."
"Thanks, Rika. I'm really glad to hear that. Although…"
"…I kind of wish that I was good enough for your friendship. I broke our promise after all and…"
Rika interrupted the boy by reaching out and tapping the blue lenses of the goggles in his hands.
"Didn't I tell you that these are a 'starting over' present? Treat this as though we're meeting for the first time. The slate is wiped clean."
Didn't we fight the first time we met? Thought Takato sardonically. Hearing his thoughts, Rika smirked and nodded.
"So we have unfinished business still. Tell you what. After we find a phone and get a hold of Yamaki, I'm going to be heading down to where Henry's martial arts teacher is located. I got the address from him a couple days ago. What do you say? You still want to get stronger together?"
Takato hesitated. He wanted to say yes, but there was something still bugging him.
"How does this settle our…'unfinished business?'"
"My pounding you into the mat is going to settle it," Rika smirked, tapping her fist against Takato's chin. "Got anything to say about it, 'little boy?'"
"Just one. If we're starting over like we're meeting for the first time, are we going to have to introduce ourselves? Like I say I'm 'Takato' and you say you're…"
"Don't get carried away, Gogglehead," chided Rika, turning from him and resuming their trek down the streets. "I meant it metaphorically. Not literally. I'm still going to care about you, and I'm still going to put you on the mat." Rika looked over her shoulder at Takato, and gave him a soft smile. "To be honest though, I wouldn't mind meeting you all over again. I keep learning things about you, Takato, and you're always surprising me. I wonder what I'd learn this time."
As he, Guilmon, and Renamon fell into step beside her, Takato found himself blushing lightly. Returning his gaze to the goggles, Takato tightened his grip carefully around them, as though he were holding onto something incredibly important.
"You know something?"
Strapping the new goggles on his head, Takato met Rika's violet gaze with his crimson ones.
"You're really important to me too."
"Don't be stupid, Gogglehead," she replied, smiling. A smile that was matched by Renamon as she and Guilmon walked beside them.
The world would change in many ways in the years that would follow, and they would change with it. For the Tamers, their bond would run strong and endure through the rapids of change, fully confident that, come what may, they would face them together.
In the digital world…
Urocyomon lowered the communication device that Yamaki had given him nearly a month ago…his means to 'report in' while he inspected the digital world. With Hypnos down for what was most likely a long duration while they sorted themselves out, they needed eyes and ears out there to inform them of the digital world's condition. Having seen what happened to the digital world while he was on his way out, he felt it would be a good excuse to do just that. The Seer Council, he felt, would benefit from his experience, and he knew that with recent events they would want the human world to be informed of the shifts in the powers of the digital world as the vacuum left by Yggdrasil and the Royal Knights was being filled. Things were going to be quite chaotic in the times to come. Anyone could see that, no matter what rock they happened to live under. The human world was important to the fate of the digital world.
At least, that's what I've always been taught. The human world gave birth to us. It makes sense that it should be protected. If they go, we go. A symbiosis of worlds, or something like that. At any rate, I just didn't want to go back to the temple. I'm not in a hurry to go about cleaning it up any time soon.
While he waited for Yamaki to get back to him, he spied something shining a short ways off in the distance. Narrowing his eyes at it, Urocyomon reached out with his senses. A second later, he gasped.
No way… This is…just… No way…
Sprinting forwards, Urocyomon shifted in and out of view, using his species teleportation powers to cut through the distance as quickly as possible. Finally coming to rest in front of what he sensed, Urocyomon gazed upwards, his eyes widening in amazement.
"Well…well…well…" he breathed, drawing out the timing between each word. "What's a guy like you doing in a place like this?"
Shining steel glinted in the sunlight of the digital world, obscuring the many cracks that were born upon its surface. In spite of them, the double bladed, azure colored spear of the knights known as Gallantmon and ChaosGallantmon, retained a majesty to it. Reaching out with one paw, Urocyomon caressed the weapon's metallic surface.
"You're a long way from home," he said softly. "The last time I saw you, was at that Chuchidarumon village. Did that massive explosion carry you here? Or was the village just…destroyed?"
No answer came to the silver furred fox digimon, but as he took a closer look, the image of an unconscious boy swirled into view. It manifested for only a second before disappearing. Urocyomon smiled.
I'd better let the boss man know about this, he thought, raising the communication device again. As he did so, something in the reflection cast on the blade caught his eye. Two figures, armored and carrying themselves with regality stood at the crest of a nearby hill, looking out over the horizon at something that seemed to please them. Urocyomon whirled about, but they were gone before he could even sight them, leaving him to wonder if he had seen them at all to begin with.
Royal Knights? He wondered. As before, nothing save the wordless voice of the wind spoke to him. Scratching his head, he returned his attention to the comm. device.
"From now on, they can be happy…"
Huh? Urocyomon's head snapped up at the voice, but still he saw nothing. Not even his senses detected so much as a sign of a digimon within his vicinity…well, save for a Dorumon and a Tokomon somewhere at a nearby temple. Slowly, carefully, relaxing, Urocyomon glanced about him before firing off a message to Yamaki about his discovery.
Looks like we're in for some interesting times ahead, he thought to himself. Very interesting times…
A/N: This story has been a long time in the making. Over two years and now, officially, logging over one million words, the longest piece of work I've ever done and ever expect to do for any single story. I never expected this story to grow the way it did, and while there are some things (quite a few in fact) that I'm not happy about with this story, I can say that as a writer, I can feel glad that I've written this story from its beginning all the way to its ending. I feel that I've grown quite a bit, writing this piece, and I can only hope that everyone who took the time to read and review enjoyed it.
To start, I would like to offer a big thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed this story.
Pyro The Harbinger Of Chaos, pokeme, RoyalKnightX, Twilight Archangel, Coppa-Cola, Rockbane, zeo knight, Nolaquen265, Minwolf, Shadowzero789, Keyo-Red Angel of Hope, Dicequeen, Peter Kim, lol, Righteous Fury, Shadow Zeranion, Kuroy, Emron The Dragon King, Blazing Chaos, 123 a-z, Alforce Zero, None of your Business, milesprower06, ThunderRiver411, Chatulio, Amiru-Chan, Digitaldestiny360, Blue Bragon, Canis Black, n/a, Tatsu-no-Houou, Elemacil, Barrak, B89, Kirae-Remi, Chaos Blademaster, xReminiscence, Issac Blast, Himitsu the Hunter, Lunar Knite, Boss-07, TheGreatAnimeFan, bookworm9515, Digi9346, RandomPersonOfDoom, anonymous, Digital Dive, yoshi396, markrock18, ArcticPhoenix91, Sailor Kawaii, nekoboy24, Ru55el (Russel), generic, Sukura, Rainbow35, ShadowGoddessHikari, Tamer of Memory, Jennifer, bijuu go crazy, Scarmagista, Oceanfrost, thanan314, Shadeslayer35, Bookworm Gal, rukatoitsumademo, Mephilis, TBCR, hello, tortureddreamer
Thank you everyone, for reading and reviewing. I dedicate this final chapter to you. Your support has meant a lot to me over the two plus years that I've been working on this story.
I would also like to hand out a very special dedication as well to the author Regless (who can be found under the dual account of Black), whose work in his story After Thoughts, taught me a lot about what it means to write a story, and was a great inspiration for my overall writing style and approach to Tamers as a series. In the three years that I've been on this site, this has come to mean a lot to me. Regless, I dedicate the entirety of this story to you and your awesome work, without which I would be a very different writer from I am at the completion of this story.
And that is that. Once more, thank you everyone for your support and critiques. I hope that I have given you a story worthy of your time.
You are now leaving the world of…