Despot Dragon Presents

DIGIMON

Union

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Disclaimer: My apologies. It came to my attention that I'd screwed up my plot in the last version, so I started from scratch. With luck, it won't happen again. As you know, I don't own Digimon or much of anything shown here, except for my original characters and the plot. And, again, I'm not taking the movies associated with the Tamers season into account, so try not to bug me about that.

That being said, I won't be repeating any of this. In future chapters, I'll use this space to answer reviews, if I feel the need. Crap, I talk too much… on with the story, dammit…

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The battle with the D-Reaper had been long and hard on both worlds. In the end, the Digimon were forced to return to their own world, as a side-effect of the program that had defeated the vile data. It had been left unsaid that neither side was meant to trespass upon the other again.

Tell that to whoever left the gate open.

Humans were not to enter again into the realm of Digimon, or vice-versa, but Takato Matsuda had found a gate to the Digital World nonetheless. And, recalling the promise he had made to his friend, his partner, months earlier, he chose to enter it.

The Digital World was in enough turmoil without that.

Now, with the scars left by the D-Reaper still fresh, a new story begins…

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Chapter One

"I request that you do not look at the mirror."

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"You'd think if he was going to get lost for a month," Hirokazu mused, "he'd at least tell us where he was going beforehand, right?"

Ruki groaned, rubbing her temples. It'd been nearly a month since Takato had disappeared; in the absence of their usual target, Kenta and Hirokazu had latched onto her. So she'd had more than her usual share of headaches since the manhunt got started. Definitely not fun.

She wondered if her old partner was getting the same kind of grief, wherever she was.

"Look, you two," she said, as they passed under a bridge. "I'm not in the mood right now. Why don't you go bug Lee?" She cast an irate glance over her shoulder. When they didn't budge, she added, "He called earlier, told me he had that new video… game?" She blinked in confusion… they'd had taken off running at the word "new."

Short attention spans really did little to help define their version of friendship.

Ruki heaved a sigh of relief, stopping to lean against one of the supports. At least she'd have a few moments' respite before they'd be back, something she'd found only rarely since Takato's disappearance. After a few moments, she fished out her earbuds, switched on the mp3 player they were attached to. Worrying about it wouldn't help Takato overmuch, she decided, and closed her eyes…

She was running, had been running for some time. And for a good reason; she didn't dare look back, but she knew that something or someone was chasing her. But she was too disciplined to panic; whatever it was, it would give up eventually.

The trees parted finally, leaving her to skid to a halt, just before she would have run off the cliff. A dead end. She turned to face her pursuer, already fighting to regain her breath. As a matter of course, she glanced down at the little rabbit-like creature in her arms, thinking the running must have done little to help with his injuries…

"Terriermon!" Ruki shouted, stunned. She stood bolt upright, eyes wide. After a moment, she calmed down enough to look around. No trees. No cliff. No Terriermon. She was still in Shinjuku. She turned off the music, rubbing her head again. "What was that…?"

She sighed, attempting to shrug it off. Maybe she just hadn't gotten enough sleep last night. Either that or Kenta and Hirokazu really were driving her crazy. Either way, it wasn't something she should worry about. She flicked the switch on her mp3 player again, started walking back home. If it was lack of sleep, maybe she should catch a nap before the two idiots caught her up again…

"No time to think," she determined, glancing over her shoulder at the ravine that was now behind her. Clutching the injured Terriermon rather tightly, she dropped back over the edge, landing easily on a narrow ledge below. Without thinking, she jumped from there as well, down to the next one, and one below that. Finally, her paws touched stone ground, and she dared to look up.

She saw the silhouette of her pursuer standing on the edge of the cliff. As she watched, it turned and departed the other way.

"Whatever he is," she mused, "he's not as skilled as I am, nor is he able to fly. Good to know." Her attention turned back to Terriermon, and she managed a grim smile. "We should be safe for awhile. He'll have to find a different way down here. Can you hold on a bit longer?"

"Momentai," the smaller Digimon managed.

"I'll take that as a yes," she replied, and took off running again, heading for a nearby village…

"Huh?" Ruki slowed to a stop. She'd started running after awhile, with no reason she could think of. Puzzled, she stopped her mp3 player as well, tugging the buds out of her ears. This was going a bit too far.

Then she looked around, taking stock of her surroundings, and was fairly shocked. She gaped at a familiar structure, dumbfounded. "This is… where we left…"

"Here," she said, holding a small wooden bowl to Terriermon's lips. "Drink this. We'll rest here for now." As she spoke, she tipped it toward him, giving him a splash of the cool water therein. Once he'd finished, she helped him lay back against a stone and walked away some distance, her tail sagging in her fatigue.

"Three days," Terriermon said. "That's tough even for you, eh, Renamon?" He squirmed a little, wrapping himself in his long ears. "Look, don't worry about me. You're the better fighter, you should focus on finding a way back to tell Rika and the others…"

"And leave my friends to… whatever that was?" she scoffed. "No, thank you. I would rather see you away from that thing, first. If I can get you to Guardromon-"

"Guardromon's gone already."

"What?" The look on her face was totally incredulous.

"He's gone," Terriermon insisted. "That thing got him first. I was coming to warn you when I was attacked…"

She bit her lip thoughtfully, her tail beginning to sweep angrily. Finally, she turned to face the smaller Digimon, her look one of grim determination. "Then we will have to-"

"Found you."

She froze, eyes wide, as she heard the now-familiar growl of their pursuer. Terriermon, too, froze in place, transfixed by the horror looming behind his companion. Then, one of the creature's claws slammed into her side, flinging her into the wall, where she crumpled like a broken doll. Terriermon gave a shriek and flung himself forward to defend her, only to be caught by the very same claw.

"Y-you…!?" Renamon opened her eyes, struggled to see for herself what had surprised Terriermon so. She grimaced, blood dribbling from her mouth, to see a strangely familiar face standing on the shoulder of a massive dinosaur Digimon, whose orange hide darkened in the falling sunlight. One three-clawed hand held Terriermon in its grip, before a face that was covered in a grey mask.

She would have called it a Greymon, but for the leather straps that covered its eyes, effectively blinding it. So that's it… it followed them by scent, and by the command of the one on its shoulder. Groaning, she struggled to her feet, intent on fighting to her death before letting it take Terriermon.

Ruki's eyes snapped open again. "Th-that was… Renamon?" she breathed, shocked. She had drawn closer to the structure during that vision, almost as if she were destined to be within as it completed. She still had no idea why she was having these visions, or what was going on, but it seemed to be something big.

She only saw a little of the face from Renamon's perspective, but she, too, felt he was someone familiar. Forcing herself to calm down, she closed her eyes again, hoping to see what would play out…

"So… you can still stand," he mused, and hopped down from the strange Greymon's shoulder. "Did you honestly think I would allow anyone with the power to challenge her to get away?" He smiled, but Renamon could see no mirth in it… it failed to reach his eyes, which remained hollow as the grave.

"Did you… think I would… want to…?" Renamon replied, gradually managing to straighten up into a proper stance, wiping the blood from her mouth. "I will not allow… this slaughter to continue. Your killing spree ends here… nngh!" She doubled over, as his fist slammed into her stomach, and spat up a foul mix of blood and vomit.

"X-Greymon," he said dispassionately, as he allowed her to crumple back to the ground. "Crush the little one, and then make sure this one's death is as painful as possible…" That said, he walked off past his companion, disappearing into the mist.

Renamon struggled to get back up the entire time, using Terriermon's agonized screams as her motivation. Finally, as she got back to her knees, she heard him give one final shriek of pain as the deed was done, and he burst into data. She cursed herself roundly for her failure, preparing for her own ignoble death even as Terriermon's data surrounded her.

"Momentai," she heard Terriermon laugh, and looked up to see X-Greymon's foot raised above her. Then, just as she was sure it came down upon her, crushing her into nothing, she was gone…

Ruki stood within the very same structure that had been Guilmon's home so many months ago, wondering why she had been brought here. She clenched her teeth bitterly as she stared at the hole into which they'd descended on that fateful trip to the Digital World, hoping beyond hope that what she'd been shown was a fever dream. Then she blinked, and rubbed her eyes vigorously to make sure what she was seeing was real.

Renamon stood before her, a hazy, ghostly image of the fox who had been her partner. Apparently, she was just as surprised as Ruki was, though the expression was fleeting.

"Renamon?" Ruki asked, hesitantly. She moved to touch her, but Renamon held up a paw. "What…?"

"I have no time for that," Renamon replied, her voice thin. "I think I know the reason for this… are you feeling up to saving the world again, Ruki?" She held out her paw, as if to take Ruki's hand.

"Again?" Ruki replied wryly. "If it means we can catch up, I'm game." That said, she took the proffered paw, and immediately screamed as an electric shock tore through her. Renamon disappeared, and Ruki fainted, dropping first to her knees and then onto her side.

Her head cracked on the stone floor, but she had been unconscious long before that.

-

Ruki woke to voices nearby. She didn't recognize either one, but she did take a moment to observe that she was laying on something considerably softer than stone. Not to mention there was a wet cloth on her head… had someone found her and taken her home? A little embarrassed, she decided to listen in, hoping to find something out.

"…wasn't going to leave her there, Rei," a male voice was saying. He sounded a little defiant. "She was out cold, and besides, you saw her…"

"That's not the point," was the reply. "You flew her to my apartment. Can you explain that little lack of forethought for me?" There was a long pause. "I thought so. Still, what's done is done… I suppose I had better get ready to explain…" There was another pause, and a door opened nearby.

Ruki waited patiently until the door shut before speaking. "So where am I?" she asked, rather bluntly.

"You're awake?" the second voice – Rei – said, a little surprised. A slender hand took the rag from Ruki's forehead, dropping it into a bucket nearby. Ruki found herself looking up into a pair of bright red eyes set into a pale, heart-shaped face. She fixed her attention on Rei's ears… they were long and pointed, almost like an elf's ears, and the tips were a frosty blue color.

Unfortunately, Rei seemed to notice, though she hardly seemed to mind much. "I suggest you come to terms with yourself," she said coolly, "before you consider my appearance strange." She stood up after a moment, walking over to the window to adjust the shades. Ruki heard clicking… was Rei wearing tap shoes? As the other girl returned, however, Ruki thought to look her way, and gasped in shock.

Rei's feet were bare, or else extremely convoluted costume pieces. They were blue, like her ears, and had a pebbly texture, like scales. Her feet split into three thick toes, each ending in a sharp white claw that clicked on the wooden floor as she walked. In spite of her surprise, Ruki noted that Rei lifted each foot well clear of the floor as she walked, preventing her claws from scraping.

"Wh-who are you?" she stammered, almost panicking. "What are you?" She thought to get up and run, but Rei was back, keeping her pinned gently as she crouched beside her.

"Calm down," she said. "I will explain as well as I can. My name is Rei, Akumachi Rei. I am a friend. I will trust you enough that you will stay and hear me out if I let you go." She demonstrated this, releasing Ruki's shoulders and sitting up, keeping her hands in view. "Trust me?"

Ruki sat up, nodding warily.

"Good," Rei said, and stood up. She paced in front of Ruki for a few moments; the redhead watched, taking in Rei's odd choice of dress. While keeping her raven-black hair drawn back into a ponytail wasn't exactly strange, she had chosen grey pants that were very loose around her legs, and a rather casual white shirt. Oddly, she kept a wooden buckler on her right arm. Ruki resolved to ask about that if the chance came.

"I will start simply," Rei said, after awhile. "My friend found you unconscious in the park. He brought you here to me, before someone else could… take advantage. I had assumed you would be out longer, considering the lump on your skull."

Ruki winced, one hand coming up to feel the back of her head almost absently. On the way, her arm brushed against something, which she would have assumed was her hair, except it felt like her ear. Weird, had her hair tangled up around them somehow?

Rei glanced at her after a moment, curiously. "Can you tell me what you were doing there…?"

"Erm," Ruki thought about it for a few moments, before deciding to speak truthfully. "I thought I'd seen a friend, to be honest…"

"I see," Rei mused, and nodded. "This friend… was it a Digimon?" Ruki nodded dumbly. "Well, that tells me a good deal. Thank you… incidentally, would you happen to have a name to give me?"

Ruki held her gaze for a good while before extending her hand, deciding she could trust this strange creature. "Makino Ruki," she said.

Rei nodded, giving a tight smile as she shook Ruki's hand. "Very well, then, Ruki," she said. "Rest here for now, and we will see you home by sunset." She let go, starting to go back to the door. "Ah, by the way… in the interest of keeping peace with my neighbors, I request that you do not look at the mirror." She gave a short bow and shut the door behind her, leaving Ruki to herself.

"'Don't look in the mirror'?" Ruki wondered. "Funny, it doesn't feel that bad…" She looked around and, spotting a covered object on the bureau, she got up to have a look.

-

Rei waited tensely on the other side of the door, and let out a sigh when she heard Ruki scream. She shook her head, throwing a tired glance at her friend.

"So, what?" he said, clueless. "It's my fault?"