Another fan-suggested What If? is here. This one is courtesy of SnowWhiteShadow. He/she suggested I write what would happen if, during his rescue attempt, Jeri took hold of Beelzemon's hand. To make this work well, I had to first back up and examine a few key facts. One, Jeri's negative feelings is being used by the D-reaper to fuel it. Two, when Beelzemon used Leomon's power to break in, not only do we see his image imposed over the mega, but Jeri is honestly convinced it is her partner as well. Hence, her shock and horror of being confronted by Beelzemon is increased by the earlier hope she had. Three, those stupid flying defense things of the D-reaper had been chasing Gallantmon around and end up hitting Beelzemon several moments AFTER his failure to save Jeri, not immediately after. These things were important for me to keep in mind when writing this.
And it takes awhile for me to implement the change because I have to set the scene and mood with what occurs before that important moment. So, I rewind to before Beelzemon succeeds in cracking open the Kernel Sphere. Enjoy.
Time and space are so flexible. A single change, a single action, can cause reality to spiral into a new direction. A sad ending can become happy, or a victory can become a defeat. All can be altered by the tiniest events.
Choices are something everyone can make. If someone chooses to speak out, one set of events can occur. Words are powerful. But silence can be just as powerful. If one does not speak their mind, to remain silent and truly look at what is before them, they may change their choice. It can pay to think before you speak and to try to see the truth first. And the new choice may be for the better.
It is called the Butterfly Effect. A tiny change can lead to drastic changes.
How long had he been pounding away? It seemed like he had been punching the smooth surface forever. Each strike was tiring and even painful. But he couldn't stop. Not yet. He had to save her. Even if it was the last thing he ever did, Beelzemon had to rescue Jeri.
It was all his fault. Everything was his fault. Even that stupid D-reaper eyeball knew it. It had spoken in Jeri's voice too. That stupid program summed up everything with a simple phrase.
"Beelzemon, the digimon who destroyed Leomon."
That act was the point where everything began to spiral out of control. No. He messed up everything before then. When he accepted that stupid deal with Chatsuramon. He had sold out everyone he knew. Just to digivolve. Even when he had killed Jeri's partner, that girl still refused to see another life end. Jeri had saved Beelzemon when he didn't deserve it. He had to save her now.
The fact the other mega digimon were whirling around the area like oversized insects barely registered in Beelzemon's mind. They were probably fighting more D-reaper stuff. That psycho program had more shapes and add-ons than what seemed fair. But the dark mega ignored them. He just continued his relentless punching.
He had to save her. She wouldn't be in this mess if it wasn't for him. And she no longer had a partner to protect her. That evil, chaotic D-reaper had decided to take Jeri because she was alone, depressed, and vulnerable. The reason she was like that was now trying to free her. He was why she alone and unprotected. It was his fault.
The truth was inescapable and unchangeable. It was his fault, it was unforgivable, but he still had to save her. This thought kept his exhausted, sore arms repeating the endless motion of punching the perfect sphere that held her captive.
But it wasn't enough. Every blow left not a mark on Jeri's prison. Every strike left him with less energy for the next. He couldn't give up, but he couldn't win. Not on his own. Anytime the digi-slaves didn't have the strength on their own, they could turn to their tamers. While he had used to scorn their reliance on human partners, he wished he could receive that help now. But his own tamers of Ai and Mako, who he had just shortly been reunited with, were far from the fighting and safe. Besides, they didn't even have a D-arc. Beelzemon was on his own. There was nowhere to seek the strength to break Jeri free but within himself.
However, inside that stubborn and guilt-ridden digimon was a source of strength and help he had never considered. One that desired the girl's rescue even more deeply than the fallen angel/biker gang member mega. Some friendships last beyond death.
A girl in a green dress sat in a spherical prison. Her connection to reality was fleeting at best. When she sunk into despair at the loss of her partner, she had hurt so badly and felt so alone that nothing was too great a price to pay to escape the suffering. When offered a chance to stop feeling, she took it. Now, all the negative emotions that she felt were being used by the D-reaper to fuel its attempts to destroy everything that evolved too far: humans and digimon. This left Jeri numb and nearly lifeless as a doll.
Sharing her small space was a white creature she used to know as Calumon. She barely noticed his efforts to motivate her to stop acting so strange. Sometimes, she would come far enough out of her numbness to say a name like the tiny digimon with her or the goggle-wearing boy she had once been friends with, Takato. At times, she could nearly tell he was near. But she would still slip back into the emotionless solitude of her mind.
Calumon had been shouting for sometime about someone trying to save them. Jeri barely responded to the digital creature's enthusiasm about a rescue. At a few points, she had nearly felt like herself, but the D-reaper kept pulling her back into her numb state.
Something was happening outside the smooth sphere she sat in. Something so familiar. It reminded her of…
An unexpected power began to flow through his tired limbs. Beelzemon paused in his futile punches as this strength took over. Somehow, he didn't know how, he could tell this mysterious new energy wanted him to succeed in his efforts. It wanted Jeri safe and it would help the mega to do it.
A voiceless instruction came with the power. No words, just a sense of what the mega need to do. He held up his fist. All that strength and strange energy began to gather there. A really strong energy that came from some unknown source.
Or was it unknown? The longer the power gathered, the more oddly familiar it seemed. Beelzemon knew he had never used this power before, but it was reminding him of… Someone. Someone important.
Leomon. Whatever was outside the bubble she was trapped in felt like Leomon. She couldn't explain it, but the figure was holding up its fist to the sky. She could almost see her partner there. Jeri could nearly make out his golden mane and sword strapped to his side. He looked odd: translucent and almost like he was covering another shape with his own form. But Jeri couldn't get past a single thought that she held onto with all her heart and soul. Leomon.
The joy and hope the very idea of her returned partner presented forced the numbness and darkness that had clouded her mind. The light of her deep conviction that her friend was back overpowered the effects the D-reaper had caused.
And what convinced her even further that Leomon was truly back was what he said as he attacked the sphere once more. Jeri did not even think to check her D-arc to confirm what she believed had to be true.
Leomon. The strange power was Leomon's. Beelzemon could feel that digimon strongly now. He knew in theory he could access the strength and attacks of those whose data he had absorbed. In fact, he had done so in his fight against the pineapple-head and the rest of the gang. But this felt different. It was like the leonine warrior was giving his blessing to his murderer to use it. As if he wanted to help save Jeri even in death. It was a little creepy because it almost seemed like Leomon was right there with him. The mega digimon could practically see him. But that was beside the point.
The point was that this felt like a one shot deal. Beelzemon was tired and sore. His knuckles were throbbing and his arms felt like lead. And while this power may be what he needed, he didn't think he could manage a second try of what he was about to do.
And how did he know what he was doing? How could he explain that the ghost of someone he killed was guiding his actions and not sound insane? No way really, but if it got Jeri out, he didn't care.
That power could be exactly what would do it too. Pulling his fist back, Beelzemon screamed out an attack that had belong to a champion digimon who should never have died in the first place.
"Fist of the Beast King!"
The blow accomplished what none of his other punches could. The perfectly smooth surface cracked. The crack spread until a section of Jeri's prison shattered apart, leaving a hole and an exhausted digimon.
The attack was her partner's. Jeri knew this just as she knew her own name. But the figure, panting and filling the opening was not her familiar friend, Leomon. Though she didn't remember those black wings that stretched behind him nor did she recall his eyes being green, she knew exactly who he was. Beelzemon. Calumon seemed excited by that digimon's appearance, but the girl cringed back in fear and heartache.
The three-eyed creature brought back all the pain the D-reaper had been siphoning away for power. He had attacked her and her friends in hopes of destroying them all. He'd heartlessly struck out in a power-hungry craze, trying to end all their lives. And he had succeeded for one of them. And now he was back.
The broken edges of the sphere suddenly began to try and grow back together. The monstrous killer began to attempt to hold the opening and stretched out a hand towards her.
"Jeri, take my hand. Please. Let me save you," he begged her.
Calumon seemed to be trying to tell her the same thing, but all she could do was stare in horror at Beelzemon's clawed hand. The same hand he used to attack them so cruelly. And the same clawed hand that stabbed Leomon and left her alone. And now, he was begging her to grab it.
Her mind kept chanting one phrase over and over, "You're not Leomon. You're not Leomon. You're not Leomon."
For the briefest moment she had dared to hope. She had truly believed her dear friend was back. But Beelzemon had shattered that joyful illusion. The loss of that hope made her feel like she had just lost her partner anew. And after not feeling anything for so long, the shock of it was just too awful.
She could only express her emotional state, the hurt, the disappointment, the fear, and the despair in one way. The words that were pounding in her mind so loudly. You're not Leomon.
She could have spoken these words to Beelzemon. Jeri could have refused to take the offered hand until it was too late. She could have remained trapped longer while Beelzemon suffered for his decision to be a hero. The D-reaper could have continued its attempt to use Jeri's negative feelings as a power source. The speed at which the D-reaper spread would be undiminished until the end.
But, here and now, Jeri did not speak. Instead, she looked.
Slowly, she closed her mouth, the words still on her tongue. Something was not right. Beelzemon's eyes had been red as blood and filled with a crazed look to match. These eyes were emerald green. They did not look violent and savage. They were haunted and pleading. He looked so tired and so weighed down by guilt. He wasn't a monster, seeking more chaos and bloodshed. He was a lost soul, searching for redemption for what he knows cannot be undone.
As painful as his arrival had been for her, it seemed he was doing no better. The wall was nearly fixed, the hole shrinking rapidly. Jeri took Calumon in one hand.
And she took hold of Beelzemon's offered hand.
As soon as he felt the girl's grip, he yanked her and the little cream puff through. Jeri probably scraped against the sides as the hole pulled shut. He held the two close to him as he adjusted his flapping to deal with the added weight. He could hear all the Biomerged megas cheering about Jeri being out. That was fine until Gallantmon began yelling in a more panicked voice.
"Beelzemon, watch out!"
The warning was nearly too late. The dark mega closed his wings and rapidly dropped, barely dodging the blocks of doom that had been chasing the knight earlier. Apparently, the D-reaper took it as a killing offense to steal his hostage. And now Beelzemon was on its hit list. Lovely.
"Hang on, you guys," he instructed, getting a firmer grip on the pair, "This is going to get interesting."
Pulling skyward, he then proceeded to demonstrate a wide array of aerial maneuvers. Banks, rolls, and hairpin turns were all employed in an attempt to lose the Beelzemon-seeking missles. As he tried to remain ahead of the D-reaper tools, Gallantmon and the others gave their best efforts to reduce the number chasing the mega and his passangers. They weren't doing it fast enough because he was exhausted. Too much longer at this and he would either turn back to a rookie and drop out of the sky or he would slow down and get hit. Either way would not be fun for him. Or Jeri and Calumon.
"Do you trust me?" he asked them as they were held tightly against him.
Jeri looked at him silently. He could just imagine her wondering if she could ever trust the person who killed her friend. He couldn't ask for forgiveness. What he had done was unforgivable. But he needed her to trust him for just a few minutes. But since she trusted him enough to take his hand, he hoped she would now. After that, after he did what he needed to save her, it really didn't matter. He just had to save her, even if it was the last thing he ever did.
Sighing heavily, the girl nodded.
"Okay," he grunted, going into a steep dive, "Hold on the powder puff. And don't scream, please."
As he pulled up, he aimed at a very specific digimon. The sooner he got them out of this warzone, the better. So, he needed a fast digimon's help.
"Hey, fox-face," he called, breathing hard, "Get ready to move. And you've got to move fast."
With a spin on his ascent, he tossed a curled up Jeri at the surprised mega. Naturally, the girl and tiny white digimon in her grasp screamed loudly as she flew through the air. Sakuyamon wasn't too surprised that she could catch her and get moving. The D-reaper, apparently not noticing the switch immediately, kept after him for a few more moments. Just enough time to stand and fight.
"Double Impact!" he snarled, opening fire on his pursuers.
As he had known, his shots could not possibly destroy all of them. But he wasn't going for that anyway. He gave a sad grin as Gallantmon, MegaGargomon, and Justimon shouted for him to move. He wouldn't have been able to get out of the way anyway. He was too tired and too slow to escape. But he had done it. Jeri was on her way to safety. At least he had done something right.
As the creepy D-reaper blocks struck him head on, his whole world became nothing but pain. But he didn't really care anymore. How many times had he almost died recently? Indramon, Gallantmon, and even those little Chrysalimon had all almost ended his miserable existence. At least this time, he was doing something worthwhile. Delaying the D-reaper so Sakuyamon had more time to escape. So, maybe it wasn't so bad.
He was falling, falling down towards the pink mass that was the D-reaper. Voices screamed his name, but it was so hard to hear. So much pain. He couldn't concentrate enough to make out their words. He could feel his body… vibrate. Frizz out of focus. He had felt this somewhat when he fought Indramon. He was about to dissolve into data or he had already started. His vision darkened.
Jeri. Ai. Mako. Three humans that was so important to him. He had saved Jeri and made up with the twins. Too bad he wouldn't see any of them again. But, at least he had gone out on a positive note with them. They were his last thoughts as he was swallowed up by the darkness.
Jeri was now in the arms of a yellow digimon. She didn't know her really, but she could guess at the fox-like being's identity. This must be the mega form of Renamon. Apparently the various digimon had finally reached the same level as Gallantmon in his battle against Beelzemon. Which meant the digimon holding her was also Rika. Whoever it was, she was moving the girl and white digimon away from danger. And away from the dark shape of a certain mega digimon.
"Renamon, Rika, whoever you are," began Jeri carefully, "What's going on? Where are we going? What's happening?"
"We're Sakuyamon," she explained, moving quickly away from the nearly ruined Hypnos towers, "And right now we're busy rescuing you from the D-reaper. Which is where you've been trapped for a while your creepy doppelganger kept us busy."
"But what about…" Jeri tried to ask, but suddenly stopped. Was she really concerned about Beelzemon? It was one thing to accept his help, but another to be worrying about him. But, strange as it was, she was. He looked so tired and hurt. He needed help. They couldn't leave him back there to be killed. He may have killed Leomon, but he seemed so different now. Even in only the few minutes Jeri had been with him, he was obviously not the same as before when he went on a crazed rampage. "You have to go back. Beelzemon need help."
Her voice was harsh as she answered the girl, filled with emotion that gave lie to her apparent resolve to remain logical about it. "We can't do that. It would be crazy to take you back there. You could get killed. We need to get you somewhere safe first."
A shout from behind them grabbed the arguing pair and Calumon's attention. A black shape was falling and leaving a stream of dissolving data behind. His battered and broken body was barely recognizable at that distance and in that poor shape. But all of those who could see him could identify him far too easily. Jeri screamed along with the others.
Her rescuer, her friend's killer, was dying. All because he wanted to save her. Because he couldn't live with what he had done to Leomon. To her. She screamed out again, wanting him to stop falling. To stop dying. Just like how Leomon did. She couldn't stand that idea.
A red and gold shape raced past where Sakuyamon held her two passangers. It flew at an incredible speed towards the diminishing figure that was causing them all such concern. Just before he reached the D-reaper, the odd shape caught up with him. Pulling up, they could just make out a small purple being resting on it.
"Grani," whispered the yellow feminine digimon to Jeri and Calumon. "The Ark they sent to get us out of the digital world is alive, Jeri, and I think it just… saved him."
As Grani pulled close to where Jeri was held, she could make out an unconscious Impmon. He looked horrible, but alive. The girl stretched out towards the strange ship.
"What are…" Sakuyamon tried to inquire, but Jeri cut her off suddenly.
"You should go help the others," she explained, her expression firm. "I'll catch a lift with these two. I'll be fine. Go on."
Seeing the girl's face, filled with determination, the fox-lady nodded and helped her climb aboard. Calumon floated over, looking concerned at Impmon's still form. Grani waited patiently as the brown-haired child got comfortable. They were far enough at least the D-reaper wasn't actively trying to get them. In fact, it looked a little sluggish now in the Biomerged mega's opinion.
"Be careful. Everyone was so concerned over you. You should have seen your father. Not to mention Takato," Rika's voice told her. Jeri felt herself blush a little. "So, where ever you land, try to call someone quick."
As Grani took off towards the city, Jeri looked down at poor Impmon. He seemed so helpless now. He wasn't scaring people with fireballs or shooting everything in sight. He was just… helpless. Because he was rescuing her. And she almost didn't let him.
"Don't worry," she whispered. "You'll be fine."
As the animated Ark flew away, Sakuyamon quietly mused to herself, "She really does have the heart of a lion."
The part of town that Grani took them was not very familiar to the girl. But it landed in the backyard of one of the houses. Jeri didn't know why, but that was what it wanted to go. As she slid off, holding the limp form of Impmon and Calumon gliding onto her head, Grani took flight once more. Leaving the trio in a strange area she didn't know.
Most of the lights were out except for the soft glow of a television in what she guessed to be a living room and an even dimmer light in a bedroom. Unsure of what to do, Jeri was about to go around to the street when a soft, breathy whisper stopped her.
Glancing down, she could see a pair of emerald green eyes barely opened. They seemed focused on the bedroom window. Before she could say or do anything else, Impmon's eyes shut once more and his deep breathes told her he was asleep once more.
Working up the nerve, Jeri timidly tapped on the window. After a few moments, a pair of sleepy heads popped into view. The young two looked out at her, Calumon, and Impmon. As their gaze fell on the purple digimon, they froze. The girl slowly opened the window and leaned out.
"Impmon?" she whispered frightened, "What happened to him?"
"Who are you?" asked Jeri slowly, starting to work out what was happening.
"I'm Mako," the boy answered quietly, "and this is Ai. Is he okay?"
Jeri nodded hesitantly, "He got hurt by the D-reaper, but I think he'll be alright once he rests for awhile. Are you his… tamers?"
The pair of head nodded, their faces still etched with deep concern. Jeri carefully pulled herself in through the window, taking care not to bump the digimon she was holding. The two siblings, twins if she had to guess, watch uneasily as she placed Impmon on their bed. He groaned lightly as she transferred him, but didn't really wake up.
"I'm going to go around to the front of the house and ask your parents to borrow the phone," the older girl explained quietly. "You can't act like you know me. And if your parents ask about Impmon…"
Ai told the girl, "We'll pretend he's a toy. Thanks for… helping him and everything. We love him and we've missed him so much."
"He ran away from us a long time ago," the boy explained further, "We used to fight over him all the time, so he left us. But he came back when the pink thing showed up all over the TV."
Jeri looked at them carefully, "Don't worry. Everything will be fine."
She climbed out slowly, being quiet as possible. The young tamers looked at her as she started to leave.
"What's your name anyway?" Ai quickly asked.
"Jeri," she answered as she turned to leave.
A strange girl asking to borrow the phone in the fading twilight is not a common occurrence, but everything that had to do with the last few days and the pink blob was unusual. Jeri called the others to tell them she was alright and on her way back. Ai and Mako's father even volunteered to give her a lift. The reunion was so happy for all involved. Even Yamaki and the Monster Makers working with him seemed excited. But for a different reason.
The progression of the D-reaper had not been stopped, but it had been slowed. Without Jeri's negative feelings to feed off of, its mutations and spreading was diminished in speed. The change in rate gave Janyu Wong especially hope.
There was a possible solution to the D-reaper. He had already planted it in Terriermon. But the consequences… Henry would hate him. At the time, the D-reaper had been progressing so quickly and doing so much damage, he did what he had to in order to save everyone. But now, they had more time. They could try something else. Something less drastic and more specific. But how to do it? His son would be suspicious if he asked to "borrow" his digimon again. Not to mention that it might not work out.
He sighed slowly. One day. If he could work out something a little more specific for the D-reaper that would have… fewer side effects, then he could tell Henry that he wanted to double check something. Janyu would make something up if he had to. But only if he came up with something quick. His son, the other children, deserved that much of a chance from him. All he could do was try and hope.
He quickly explained his intentions to his fellow Monster Makers. Most thought he was crazy, that there was no way he could come up with anything feasible in that short a time. Shibumi at least thought there was a chance. And the rest supported his efforts. They remained glued to the computers for the rest of the day.
At dawn, he called in his son.
A new program was placed inside Terriermon, one that was altered slightly from before. The red cards handed to the tamers were different as well. The changes were subtle and minute, but important just the same.
Where the twins rode a train during the night, a digi-gnome gave the pair the gift of a D-arc. When MegaGargomon spun like a Top of Doom, the wormhole connecting the two halves of the D-reaper in the digital and human world together reversed. And since they did not have to attack the Kernel Sphere to rescue Jeri, the rest of the tamers focused their efforts on the various aspects of the D-reaper. Everything seemed to be working as they conquered their foe.
Until they were celebrating in the park. Shortly after Impmon asked Jeri for forgiveness and received it whole-heartedly to his relief, the digimon noticed something strange. A great weakness.
But not as great as it could have been.
Before the shocked and frightened tamers eyes, their digimon began to shrink and change. As they began to panic about it, Henry asked the obvious question to the most knowledgeable person there.
"What's happening to them?"
His father, still ashamed of what he was causing, began to explain that it was a side effect of the program. That while the program had de-evolved the D-reaper to practically nothing, it was causing their digimon to de-digivolve as well. This angered and scared those gathered. They didn't want to lose them.
But as suddenly as it had started, they suddenly stopped in the in-training stage. Yaamon, the in-training stage of Impmon, looked around confused.
"Can someone please tell me why I'm now stuck as a pipsqueak," he questioned those gathered in a rather adorable voice. He cringed. "And why I sound so… so…"
"Cute," a rather small Gummymon finished. Even if he wasn't Terriermon, he could still bug people with his lack of tact.
"While we couldn't get rid of all the effects to them in the time we had, we reduced them greatly," Mr. Wong told them breathing a sigh of relief. It had worked. "They should be alright in time. Eventually, they should turn back to normal again."
"So, I'm stuck like this until then?" asked a stunned Yaamon. "Come on! I don't even have any arms or legs! I'm a stinking head!" Ai and Mako gave him a tight hug, causing him to start complaining. "Help, I don't do mushy stuff! Can't breathe! Someone save me. Crazy partners over here."
The extra time was just enough. A couple weeks later, and everyone was back to their usual forms. The digimon didn't have to return to the digital world, thanks to the altered program. It all came from Jeri and her decision to take Beelzemon's hand. She took his hand and everything changed.
I think this one turned out pretty good. And if you're wondering why Jeri just not being depressed anymore, like in the whole "What if they missed the Ark" story, isn't enough to cut off the whole feeding off her negative feelings, it's because she still felt guilt and stuff. This time, she left the sphere entirely. Which slowed the D-reaper down just enough. Let me know if you liked it. Thanks.