Salva Nos Gaiden
2: Webtapping
by Ajora Fravashi

Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.
Note: This is a collection of side-stories for the universe of Salva Nos. Anyone getting into this fic is encouraged to read SN first.


The Digital World, Spring 2000

Rumor said that it started with an evil god and the resting place of one of the Creators. The technicalities involving Planck time and "collapse of wave functions" gave her a headache, and not just because she had no idea what any of it meant. She only cared enough to threaten to kick their informant. All she knew was that it started at sundown. It had been a cool, clear evening in the Digital World until the bright pink columns, almost demonic in the severity of their glow, started appearing to connect the earth to the sky. In the grey twilight, the train tracks appeared. From then on, everything went downhill. Their Digital World couldn't take the strain of suddenly sharing realities with two other Digital Worlds. Swamps lay where there were once deserts, File Island was no longer just an island, and there was such a sudden influx of strange new digimon that resources were dwindling faster than ever. Before the End, competition for such basic things as data to be ingested was high.

And then there was the End. It hadn't been sudden, like the merging of three different Digital Worlds. It just crept along with as much certainty and tenacity as Death itself. Random things or digimon would just disappear. Some of the outsider digimon said that the data streams must have transported them somewhere, but there was nowhere for them to go. There was no more File Island. Except for the Arpanet and ancient computer ruins, the desert of Server started disappearing too. Everything was disappearing.

She once stood over a sandy cliff to peer into a ravine that used to be a pyokomon village, only to find nothing but the promise of oblivion staring back at her. The great maw of nothingness gaped so widely that she felt as though it would devour her whole. Terrified, she backed away and ran until her legs were weak and her companion caught her before she collapsed. She made sure his shins got a resounding kick for his trouble.

In a world where the land was diminishing with the passing of each breath, she had to do something to preserve her hide. The strange tracks still stretched across empty space in an eerie reminder of land no longer there. She remembered growling at her companion to walk ahead of her on the precarious trail, wishing she could ignore his quixotic babbling about defending her, and keeping just close enough that she didn't have to look at anything but his back. Her nerves had been stretched thinner and more fragile than any strand of ancient cobweb, but eventually they made it across the emptiness to one of the few ruins left in the Server desert.

According to the marker above a time-eroded entrance, it had once been named Colossus. The name meant nothing to either of them, of course. It was shelter from the emptiness, and that was all that counted. Food or water appeared on a shelf in the tiny hovel when either of them expressed hunger or thirst, and eventually they came to realize that the ancient computer was looking out for them. Not that it was an ideal existence, of course. As much as she enjoyed dark, confined spaces, there just wasn't much room to escape her companion's clinging. There were even times when she was sorely tempted to bite him (there was no room for kicking), but just the thought of tasting him made her shudder. She was certain that it was disgust. They couldn't contact their creator at all. They had no idea what was going on in the world outside, and this grated on her nerves. She was in a foul mood for as long as they were there.

Then, one day, the floor bricks etched with Digital World runes glowed and rearranged themselves into a simple word: "Safe." It was the only thing the Colossus ever said to them.

When they stepped outside, the emptiness was still there, but they were being stared at by a digimon that seemed to be a train as well. She sneered at it in defense. It was not impressed.

"Come aboard. The End is over and, what's his name," the train-like digimon asked of himself. Another voice from within answered "Gennai" in a slightly irritated tone. "... would like to start gathering the refugees. Hop to it!"

The sneer turned into a snarl, but she was not about to turn down an escape. As the train digimon pulled away, she could almost swear she saw the Colossus's runes rearrange themselves into something, but they were moving away too fast for her to read. She told herself that it was glad of their departure.

As the train digimon traversed the dismal emptiness she made sure to look away from, her companion started babbling happily. She tuned it out for the moment, too comfortable with relief to punish him properly. The seats were soft, and though the lighting was too bright, she preferred this to the void outside. Maybe there was someplace untouched by the emptiness, someplace where she could settle in and make herself at home. And, were she given to foolish streaks of optimism, she might be able to find their creator.

Before she could go further on her thoughts, a door to another compartment opened and a strange digimon of a type she'd never seen before stepped through. With its wide pink belt and beady little eyes set in a vaguely bird-like face, it didn't look like a threat. Probably a child-level digimon. An eyebrow rose in suspicion, but she said nothing.

"Greetings, my name is Bokomon," the child digimon said in an insufferably self-important voice. She sneered at him in response, but he paid this no heed. "If there are any questions, I would be happy to answer them to the best of my abilities."

She would have been perfectly happy to ignore the little fool, but her companion had a habit of being too gregarious for their own good. "Where are we going?"

At least it was a decent question. Bokomon cleared his throat. "Well, you see, once the End had slowed down, we sent scouts to explore and-"

"Answer the question," she hissed, and rather enjoyed it when Bokomon blanched in response.

"To the UNIVAC! My word, you lot are impatient." The child digimon sniffed. "The only plots of land available now are the resting places of ancient computers and networks."

An uncomfortable chill of disquiet traced down her spine. "Is it all really gone?"

"Most of it, yes. I was going to tell you why, but since you have been ever so rude-"

The growl that followed quickly shut up the little twit. "Fine. Babble. Go nuts."

Bokomon gave her a long-suffering look. "Very well. As I was saying, the ancient computers and networks survived because they had been shut down in the real world for so long that their sole existence was in the Digital World itself. Thus, they became the Digital World's backbones. Atlas with the world on his shoulders, though I doubt that means anything to either of you. When the data that relied on the real world for existence disappeared, the backbones remained."

Her companion, the fool, leaned close in curiosity. "But what about the digimon? Why are we still around and others aren't?"

"That is simply because those who are no longer with us had the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. You two were lucky and took shelter in the Colossus, but others were not. Data on a backup will survive when data on a damaged hard disk will not." Bokomon looked all too pleased with himself as he explained. "Some did escape through portals to the real world, but those are few and far between, and they won't be coming back until the Digital World has been repaired."

"Then communications to the real world...?"

Bokomon gave them a glare that would have been wilting had it come from something more formidable. "Closed off. The system is simply too unstable to open any sort of link. I would not suggest trying to break one open."

She remained silent. Did that mean contact with their creator was impossible or-

"One last question," her companion asked gravely. Bokomon's brows rose. "Do you have any mineral water on this train?"

She let out a growl of disgust and shoved a sharp elbow into her companion's ribs.

-.-

The UNIVAC ruins were actually clusters of ruins on an island floating in empty space. It may have been a part of the desert at one time, but now there was only emptiness, the ruins, and train tracks. A quick survey revealed other trailmon pulling up to unload passengers, all of whom were escorted to the ruins of what might have once been a temple. Bokomon hurried them out and waddled into the crowd until she could no longer see him. Good riddance.

As digimon of all evolution levels and sizes milled around, her companion clung to her like a limpet. She growled at him, but it never had much effect. Rather than risk her hide trying to push past an ultimate-level digimon, she inched towards the walls with her companion in tow. With the wall protecting her back, she slipped past the crowd to find someplace less crowded. There was a slim crevice in the stone walls, barely wide enough to allow them to squeeze through, but it was enough. She wriggled through, unmindful of the rough texture scraping her flesh when the narrow darkness offered an oddly protective aura that the emptiness did not. In time, she heard voices and stopped her progress.

"Are you sure everyone is accounted for," the voice of a fairly young-sounding digimon asked.

"I'm sure." The responder was much older. "I do apologize; we have yet to find your partner."

"He is too clever to allow himself to be found so easily. I doubt we'll find him until he gets bored. We may have to resort to reviving Etemon's or Mugendramon's old networks."

"I do not think they're intact enough to be that useful."

"No, you're right. There is another option, but I do not know if we can count on them. In another time and place, they were not what we would call allies, and were murdered before... Well. We'll see, I suppose."

"Can they be counted on?"

"I don't know. Can anyone? It's a chance we'll have to take."

"How does the ENIAC feel about this?"

"It does not feel any more than the UNIVAC or Colossus do. If we must ask for their assistance, then we must and there aren't many other options."

"Do you have a bargaining chip?"

"Just one. I hope it's enough."

With that, the voices faded into the distance.

A bit more exploring and the crevice became too small to pass through anymore. She stomped on her companion's foot to urge him to backtrack. At least he had the good sense to keep quiet this time.

-.-

That evening, they were all more or less settled into a large room before a dais. A little old man, the annoying Bokomon, and a strange purple dragon child shuffled to the center of the dais. The old man cleared his throat and all eyes fell on him.

"Good evening, everyone. To clear up any confusion, we'll start at the beginning. Questions will be answered afterwards.

"Everyone knows that the End happened, and I will not get into the specifics. What you may not know is that it changed the path of history and united three Digital Worlds as one. The evil god of time dipped into the power of the founder of the Digital World, collapsed three of the major universes together, and the resultant data scrambling released a biological weapon in the real world. This weapon killed off most of the adult population; and without them to maintain the power plants, the real world's computer systems died out. That is why so much of the Digital World's surface is now gone. What survived were the ancient computers and networks that had long since become exclusively a part of the Digital World itself. Of course, most of you took shelter in them."

"Not everything is gone," someone called out. A quick look around revealed the speaker to be a Skull Satamon. "The Demon Corps hid out in a part of the Dark Ocean untouched by the End. What happened?"

The purple dragon responded this time. "We have reason to believe that much of the Dark Ocean was spared by the placement of Dark Towers and the remains of the codes of ancient computer viruses that makes up the shores."

"What of the Holy Beasts, our masters?" This was asked by something that looked to be a giant, armorless goatmon with a humanoid torso. "The other Devas and I have been looking for them since the End, but they are not to be found."

An uncomfortable look passed between the old man and the purple dragon, and then the dragon sighed and scratched at his snout before responding. "Given that there were two sets of Holy Beasts performing the same functions before the merging of the universes, your Holy Beasts were probably forced to become one with their doubles. The process would be painful and they would not be the same. It takes time to recover from that kind of thing, but the last reports from the EDVACs said that they are still around."

The strange digimon she assumed to be the Devas made sounds of relief that were mixed with confusion over the situation. Not that she could blame them. Afterwards, the old man and Bokomon took up answering the rest of the questions as the little dragon excused himself and stepped down from the dais. She didn't pay much attention to the questions about various digimon of high rank that were unfamiliar to her, though a few of the outsider digimon seemed to be pleased that the Angels were alive, if severely injured.

"Arachnemon, Mummymon." She looked down to see the little purple dragon stare up at her with a complete lack of fear in his too-sharp golden eyes. "We need your help."

The sneer was automatic now. How dare the little child look at her like she was an equal, when she was clearly a higher level and much more dangerous? "What do you want?"

"First, follow me." With that, the little dragon turned and led the way to a door on the far side of the atrium. She was sorely tempted to stay, just to be recalcitrant, but then her companion followed willingly. With a grunt of disgust, she went along.

The door led to a narrow corridor, and the dragon child led them to a small, unfurnished room crumbling with age. Brittle bits of plaster broken from the ceiling crunched under her feet, dust hung comfortably in the air. In any other situation she might have liked it. The solid bang of the door on its jamb sounded suspiciously ominous.

"What is this about," she snapped once the child seemed sure the room was secure. That her tone failed to faze him was somewhat unsettling.

"I have a deal for the two of you," the child stated, clearly not realizing he was entirely too insignificant for her to bother with. "In exchange for providing the services we request, you may contact Oikawa Yukio periodically once the firewalls between his world and ours is stable enough to allow transmission."

Arachnemon, who thought she'd be able to figure out his request and deny him immediately, paused in surprise. How did he know of Oikawa and his relationship to her and Mummymon? What more did he know?

Mummymon jumped in cheerfully, faster than she thought was possible. "Certainly! When do we start?"

Ugh. She jabbed her elbow into Mummymon's ribs and yanked him away from the child. He was useless for bargaining. "Fine. What do we have to do?"

"Simple. Help us track a god."

-.-

The Dark Towers that bordered the Dark Ocean and helped protect it during the end of the world numbered less than they once did. Fifty had been converted into dokugumon scouts by the special properties in her hair. Oikawa once explained it as something related to trojan horses and zombie processes, but she tuned him out in boredom and never quite figured it out afterwards. Not that she particularly cared. It never approached her to be interested in how she managed to convert the obelisks into artificial digimon so long as it worked.

The scouts fanned out with their webs strung up between railroad tracks as support. Though they worked diligently, they covered so great an extent that it still took longer than she liked to create a useable web. Other digimon came by at times to gape at her work, and she had Mummymon chase them off in retaliation. When it was finally done, she shifted to her spider form and scurried into the web. Her feet found purchase easily on the silk, and through it she could feel everything that struck the giant web.

How she knew how to do this, she would never be able to explain. A spider's instincts guided her steps across the web. Only vaguely was she aware of why a tap here and there along the silk gave her an idea of where something was in the web. Here and there she could feel some idiot baby digimon tumbling into the web from significant distance away, their impact vibrating along the silk.

Arachnemon didn't know what she expected when the artificial Dokugumon scouts found their prey some time later, or why it felt like someone was tugging playfully at the world-spanning webs. Perhaps she was expecting something grand, something that would leave no doubt in anyone's mind that the prey was a god. The columns of desert rock on an island unconnected to any of the railroads, therefore, felt somewhat anticlimactic. She wondered vaguely if she would ever see proper greenery again.

Monodramon stepped towards the gaping mouth of a cave, as fearlessly as if he was approaching nothing more dire than a shrub, and called out into its darkness. "We're here, old friend. You must be bored now, or we wouldn't have found you. Come on out."

"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings," a voice boomed around them as if it had no one source. "Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"

Predictably, Mummymon darted to her and clung desperately in response. She growled and attempted to shove him off.

Monodramon stood unflinching. "You really are bored if you're quoting human poetry."

"Do you have any idea how little there is to do once a number of worlds are destroyed," the sourceless voice asked conversationally, ignoring her and Mummymon completely. "The remains are hardly worth conquering."

"Will you manifest yourself already," Monodramon chided the god as if they were close friends. Arachnemon had to admire his gall. "It's disconcerting to talk to empty air."

The air chilled in response and rushed into the cave. Arachnemon folded her arms in front of her and glared at the cave's mouth. Moments passed before a humanoid figure in very inhuman dark grey skin and blue hair stepped out. His crimson eyes watched Monodramon and he smirked. Arachnemon decided instantly that she hated him. "Is it less disconcerting to talk to me in this form, then?"

"Whatever makes you happy," Monodramon responded casually. "This makes it easier to transport you to your prison."

Arachnemon's world ground to a screeching halt at that. Did the child really just tell an evil god that they were taking him to prison? He was clearly insane and whatever admiration she had for his gall was gone. Judging from the way Mummymon climbed off her but stayed close by, she wasn't the only one who thought so. Some reassurance that was.

Much to her surprise, the digimon in a human form went along willingly. "It will be a change of pace."

The evil god, Millenniumon, said nothing else as the dokugumon gathered around and escorted them to the nearest trailmon. That he went along so willingly made Arachnemon wary, and she watched carefully as he entered the trailmon with Monodramon ever at his side. None of this sat right with her.

When she and Mummymon shifted to more humanoid forms, the evil god's crimson gaze seemed to pin her down for observation. She sneered at him before thinking better of it, but he seemed to take no offence. He simply watched, waiting, as she and her companion entered and settled down at the far end of the car. Mummymon, as if sensing her unvoiced discomfort, shuffled between her and Millenniumon protectively. His one eye narrowed at the evil god and she chose not to comment on it. She could always beat him for assuming she'd need his protection later, when they weren't being watched like bugs in a display case.

As the trailmon left for the prison compiled by the ancient computers, she couldn't help but think Millenniumon was planning something concerning her. His gaze seldom left her, and only did so when Monodramon was actually making conversation with him (she reminded herself to beat an explanation out of the child's hide for that later). The attention made her skin crawl and she tried pointedly to ignore it.

The ride to the prison was the longest, most excruciating wait she ever suffered through. When the trailmon finally arrived at the platform, she jerked to her feet and stalked out the door. She almost made it.

A dark-skinned hand lashed out to grab her elbow and, in one fluid motion, yanked her back until she felt something tear into the skin of her upper arm. The scream that escaped her throat was something she would deny later, but Mummymon dashed to her side to wrestle her away from the evil god's grasp. Before she knew it, she was dragged out of the platform and Mummymon was in his less human form with Obelisk aimed point-blank at Millenniumon's face.

He only smirked at them and disembarked. To her horror, his lips and teeth were red with blood. Her blood. For all her self-assurance and posturing, nothing had every prepared her for that.

"How dare you," Mummymon snarled for her, still hovering so protectively over her that if she wasn't in shock, she might have kicked him for it. "You will pay for-"

"Human-digimon hybrids," Millenniumon said shortly after licking away the last of her blood on his lips, as if making a casual observation on the weather. His face softened and he no longer looked as predatory. "Interesting. Who made you?"

Words found their way to her lips before she consciously thought of responding. "That's none of your business!"

He merely smirked at her and followed a disgusted Monodramon into the ENIAC's compound. Arachnemon couldn't help but feel nauseated. The elbow she jabbed into Mummymon's ribs didn't impact as hard as it should have.

-.-

Monodramon was deeply ashamed of his partner's actions. Millenniumon had been behaving so well, then there was that unwarranted attack on Arachnemon and he was running out of ideas for reparations. This was supposed to have been easier than it ended up being, but of course Millenniumon would screw it up like some recalcitrant toddler. It just wasn't Millenniumon if he wasn't recalcitrant for its own sake.

"Good going," he hissed as they walked together down the corridor leading to the ENIAC's main chamber, "now they'll murder me in my sleep."

"Someone will have to keep you on your guard while I fester in boredom here," Millenniumon replied nonchalantly. "I would not want you to be lonely."

They entered the chamber before he could snap back. He bowed his head to the Creator in respect and thought he could see a flicker in the rings of light circling the Creator's orb.

"For the crime of-"

"Before you bind and cast me in Dudael," Millenniumon interrupted, standing proud and defiant in the face of the Creator, "I have two conditions that must be met before I consider going willingly."

The rings spun once before the ENIAC replied. "Very well. What do you request?"

"First, that I be allowed to rejoin Ryo once my term ends. Second, that Monodramon visit on occasion. I could use the company."

Monodramon's face whipped up to stare at his partner. He had no idea how to respond to such a request. As far as he knew for as long as they knew each other, Millenniumon only barely tolerated him. He nodded slightly when the ENIAC asked if he would agree to fulfilling the second condition.

"For the crime of destroying six worlds, the entirety of your power will be funneled into repairing this conglomeration of three Digital Worlds. You will not be allowed to leave your prison for any reason until the Digital World is fully repaired. You may use whatever means you see prudent to reconstruct the world so long as no more damage is done. At the end of your term, you will be escorted to the human world, where custody will be transferred to Ryo."

Millenniumon returned to his bodiless state, manifesting himself only as a draconic two-headed shadow. The burning red eyes watched on as the crystal prison materialized around him. "It will be a change of pace."

-.-

Several months later and Arachnemon and Mummymon were settled into a small cottage in a narrow canyon. It was the only reparation ever given to them for Millenniumon's attack, and they never knew who constructed the code to build it. After all, the evil god had a reputation to uphold.

Other things distracted him during his reconstruction duties. Monodramon tried to ask about it, but Millenniumon's increasing curt replies grew fewer. Monodramon's guard lowered during this time, content as he was that his partner was occupied in doing something constructive for once.

One day, however...

Millenniumon, imprisoned in his crystal with wires connecting him to the entire network, laughed viciously as the ground gave an ominous rumble. A sudden jolt sent his guards tumbling to the ground and threatened to disable the high-security systems in place. Wild-eyed with panic, Monodramon rushed to the prison.

"What did you do?!"

The laugh tapered off to a breathy chuckle before Millenniumon deigned to respond to him. "The Digital World, as it is, cannot be revived with so much data lost. Three worlds and so much data is destroyed that they would never revive. Was it not you and the ENIAC who requested I do everything in my power to stabilize and rebuild the Digital World?"

"Yes, but what-"

"I simply pulled some extra data from another universe. Within the hour, the union will be complete. A fourth Digital World to create a new whole."

Stunned, Monodramon could not respond. He ran outside to observe the damage himself. Reality shifted as it had before, and he could only watch as the features of the Digital World shifted once again to accommodate new data.

Within his prison, a pleased Millenniumon need not look upon his works to know that another Digital World would make things more interesting.


Note: With apologies to Percy Bysshe Shelley for taking quotes from his sonnet, Ozymandias. I thought it fit.