Something was on Kieran's face. He opened his eyes, and noticed that it was white, and stuck to his skin… It looked like snow, but he stuck out his tongue and blanched. It was ash. Something was burning nearby, maybe even a whole village from the sound of the screaming. Footsteps, loud footsteps, and a buzzing noise. Ash continued to fall from the sky. Kieran finally stood up, coughing. His eyes were bloodshot and tear-filled and he had to blink to give himself any semblance of vision. What he saw made him think he probably should have stayed laying down.
Heading straight for him, kicking up a cloud of white ash in its wake, was what looked like a massive bee of sorts. It was a good three or four feet long, and flew with four wings that didn't seem large enough to carry it. It stripes, rather than being black, were a dark brown. Before he could notice much more about it, however, he fell backward out of sheer terror.
If it thinks you're asleep it won't bother you, right? He thought. Pretend to be asleep. Pretend to be asleep. Dammit, arm, stop shaking. ---AACK!!!
The aforementioned "AACK!!!" came from Kieran's mouth, having been filled with a large quantity of ash that his lungs were convinced didn't belong there. The footsteps that he suddenly realized had gotten closer then stopped. The buzzing from the creature's wings ceased as well, as Kieran sat up, shook the ash off of himself, then stared, shocked, at the massive bug thing and hodgepodge of other monstrosities that had gathered near him.
"Um…" he said, before leaping up and sprinting as fast as his out-of-shape body would carry him. He was immediately tackled by what looked like a blood red coyote in bondage gear.
"OHMYGODIDIDN'TMEANITIHADNOIDEAIDON'TBELONGHEREILOVEJESUS—" Kieran pleaded. Tears were streaming down his face, and he was holding his hands up protectively to guard his face from the inevitable onslaught of fangs and claws shredding his beautiful flesh to ribbons. Seriously, the thought "I'm too beautiful to die!" crossed his mind. You can't make this stuff up.
"May I eat him?" the scary red dog thing asked from atop the screaming human's body.
"Maybe another time, Fangmon" answered the smaller yellow bug, "We have other things to—hold on a sec."
The golden creature then flew over and lowered his eyes to the young man's face. "Hrm…" came his jarring voice, buzzing like the wings of a fly near your ear, "Are you… Human?"
Kieran opened one eye just in time to see the wasp creature holding out one of its appendages and touching his soft face. The feeling of the creature's touch was like touching living stone—warm, but harder than any carapace or exoskeleton found in nature.
"Um… Yes?" Kieran answered, "Please don't eat me. I'm really not that tasty; I probably have a lot of gristle, rea—"
"Oh shut up," the eight-legged monstrosity cut him off, "We're not going to eat you."
"Not yet," Fangmon interjected, prompting a stern look from his commanding officer. "Sorry…" muttered the red, long-snouted beast.
"Now, you claim to be a human… Fangmon, get off of him. You claim to be a human, when there hasn't been a human here in… Well, ages. That is, of course, aside from the obvious ones."
Who the "obvious ones" were, totally escaped Kieran, but he nodded as if he understood, sitting up cross-legged to demonstrate that he was paying attention.
"You say that you're a human… But if that were true… I might have Fangmon kill you right now!"
Kieran could see Fangmon smiling with that massive mouth, its long rows of teeth glistening with what Kieran could only assume was pure joy.
"BE QUIET!" the eight-legged insectoid screamed, "I swear, do humans not understand the concept of shutting up?!"
Kieran whimpered then, "Please don't kill me…"
Fangmon snorted and looked over at his hovering, heavily armored commander, "What do you think, boss?"
The placed his hand on his chin, thoughtfully, "I say we take him to Saggitarimon, see what he has to say on the matter."
"You heard the man!" Fangmon said to the small mish-mashed squadron of other assorted Digimon, "Get this fella to Sagittarimon!"
The others shuffled around, moving over to lift the human onto his feet. "Hey hey now!" Kieran exclaimed, the creatures surrounding him, "I can walk by myself, thank you very much!"
He brushed himself off, and it was only at that moment that he realized that he didn't have a wristwatch… Until now. Maybe wristwatch wasn't a good word for it. It was more like a gauntlet made up of several LCD screens that wrapped themselves around his wrist. He didn't have a long time to stare, though, because man who stood a good three feet taller than him and also happened to be on fire was pushing him toward a destination entirely foreign to him.
Kieran wasn't a particularly tall individual, standing an average 5'8", but he was stocky, weighing more than any of the other four by at least thirty pounds. His bright, shining, and admittedly pretty blue eyes hid behind thick, black-rimmed glasses and his large forehead (a feature he was incredibly insecure about) hid behind a swoop of brownish blond hair that brushed against his eyebrows.
The odd creatures tied his hands behind his back, and led the shaking and frightened young man to a large base, surrounded by wire and a large, imposing gate.
"You were lucky you showed up just after we cleared out the Mushroom City. You missed the crossfire by just a few minutes and you really didn't want to be in the middle of that."
"Oh, um… That's good? What's going on?" Kieran was genuinely confused at this point.
"You really aren't from around here, are you?" the large, earth-toned bug asked.
"No, I'm really not. Care to fill me in, you big, scary freaking monster you?" Kieran asked, confused by his own growing comfort around the creatures surrounding him.
"Well… Let's start from the beginning. You humans are usually pretty uneducated when it comes to things like this," the creature fluttered around to stand in front of him, and bowed gently (as much as a septipod can bow, that is), "I am called FanBeemon. I am one of many 'digimon.' Most, if not all of the creatures in this world are known as 'digimon.' Occasionally humans, such as yourself, have been known to wander into our world. How did you come through?"
Kieran was a little thrown off by this question. "Um… Well, to be honest," Kieran found himself at a loss for words, "To be honest, I had no idea that this would come from all of our efforts. If I had known, I probably wouldn't have helped Garrick and the others get in. You see—"
"WE'RE HERE!" called the human torch's call from up front. Kieran looked around, and found himself in a relatively small enclosure, village-sized. The shelters were tent-like in nature, demonstrating a group somewhere in between nomadic and settled, holding a ground that they were able to give up at a moment's notice.
Ten poles stood near the center of the encampment, covered by a large, thick tarp. And under that large, thick tarp was a man who looked like a giant black centaur with red armor. Kieran assumed he was the "Sagittarimon" mentioned earlier by the coyote-like Fangmon creature. Looking behind him, Kieran realized that there was a horde of what he later discovered were Mushroommon, who had followed them from the recently evacuated Mushroom City.
FanBeemon hurried to the tent, his levitators humming with blue energy that left a comet-like streak in his wake. FanBeemon bowed lowly before Sagittarimon, who was analyzing what seemed to be a map of the area.
"FanBeemon? Hm… You missed some activity while you were away. I would have preferred you'd been here for that. Tell me how the evacuation went." The lumbering, four-legged centaurian turned to face the much smaller FanBeemon.
"We face some activity ourselves, sir. It would appear that the Devil Priestess' forces arrived slightly before we did, and had already taken some Mushroommon to their grave. Only a few wounded Mushroommon remain—we saved about two-thirds of the villagers from harm altogether. We're going to need some first aid for the rest, and, sir…"
FanBeemon fluttered in closer to his commander then, "We have a human."
"AH!" Sagittarimon said, "that would make sense! The activity I mentioned earlier was human-related as well."
"It was?" FanBeemon's head cocked to the side at this.
"Indeed it was. We have the human we captured in a cell right now. Commandramon is watching over him for the time being," the lumbering black-skinned centaur motioned over to the section of the camp reserved for prisoners.
"Commandramon?!" FanBeemon exclaimed incredulously, "You have that hothead watching over a valuable prisoner like that?"
Sagittarimon glowered at this. "FanBeemon," he growled, "Need I remind you that Commandramon is one of the most decorated soldiers in our camp? It was he that organized the raid on the Devil Priestess' power plants, and he who devised the system for destroying her signal beacons."
"Yes, I understand that he's very good at blowing things up," FanBeemon replied, "but guarding over a human? I'd be surprised if the human was still alive!"
In all reality, that human was still alive. Garrick stood, in the jail cell, pacing back and forth as he attempted to stare down the Commandramon. Commandramon was a reptilian looking creature, and resembled a 4-feet-tall Tyrannosaurus Rex who was recently enlisted into the Navy. He was covered in a peculiar sort of custom-made body armor that fit his body perfectly, and his scales carried a metallic gray camouflage design. He was carrying an M-16.
"You know, if you put the gun down, I'll be a lot more compliant," Garrick said.
"You know, if you stop talking, I won't have to shoot you," Commandramon replied, "We know the tricks you humans use to mess with Digimon. We don't need any of that here. We have enough trouble with the humans that are already here."
Sagittarimon had instructed FanBeemon to take the other human to the holding cell along with Garrick, but not before Sagittarimon had a chance to look the boy over.
"Well, well, well," Sagittarimon said, "What have we here? Another intruder into the Digital World?"
"Something like that, I guess," Kieran replied, finding himself more and more at ease around the Digimon. He found it harder to hide his true nature around them, and remain respectful. He figured he was probably having a dream anyway, so he didn't really need to worry about making a bad impression.
Sagittarimon raised an eyebrow, "What purpose do you have for being here?"
"To be honest sir, I'm not entirely sure," Kieran shrugged, "Me and a few friends thought we were cracking this epic code that would break us into the NASA mainframe or give us access to the heart of the internet, y'know? Apparently all it does is take you to a place with a bunch of weird monsters…"
Sagittarimon stood befuddled, unsure as to how he should handle a situation for the first time in a while, "Do you know of any other humans who might have come through before you?"
"Oh yeah, sure!" Kieran answered, "There's Jenna, and Garrick, and Ian and Sadie! I dunno if they got through before me, but obviously we were all separated when we got here. Do you know where they might be?"
Sagittarimon growled, "Don't you act innocent here! Do you know what your kind is responsible for doing to the Digital World?!"
"No… Not really, no," he answered.
"We are at war," Sagittarimon replied, "With two of your kind—a man and a woman. Our only interactions have been with the woman, but we do know that the man lies somewhere in the background, orchestrating something larger. The woman calls herself the Devil Priestess, and carries with her a device that looks like… What's that on your wrist?"
Kieran looked down to see the peculiar LCD gauntlet that wrapped itself around his forearm when he came to the Digital World, "Oh this?" he answered, "I'm not totally sure. Why, does she have something like it?"
He was a little afraid at this point, thinking that he might be blamed for something this Priestess lady had done. "Yes," Sagittarimon said, "She does indeed. For the time being, we are going to be placing you in a holding cell. We can't be having you going out and wreaking havoc like the other humans around here. Do you understand?"
"Um… Okay sure. Can't say I blame you." He then found himself pushed by the flaming man from earlier. He found himself driven to ask the firey man's name, and discovered it bubbling up to the point that he couldn't help himself, "Hey, what are you called?"
"Excuse me?" the burning digimon replied, as if shocked that humans could actually speak.
"What are you called? That little bug thing is FanBeemon, and the giant horse guy is Sagittarimon, right? What are you called?" Kieran was genuinely curious about this. The idea of a whole new world of oddities and peculiar creatures suddenly opened itself up to him, and his eyes gleamed with the possibilities.
"I'm called Meramon," replied the fire monster gruffly.
"Really? You're not called, like, Humantorchmon or Firearmstrongmon or something like that? The others all have really suitable names… What does 'mera' even mean? Chimera, maybe? But even then, you're nothing like a chimera," Kieran speculated.
"It's… It's just my name. I never really question it, I guess," the flaming man shrugged.
"Why don't you change it, then?" the human replied, but then found himself at the gates of the jail cell.
"Watch out for that one," Meramon told Commandramon, "he talks a lot."
"GARRICK!" Kieran replied gleefully, "I figured I might see you!"
"Hi Kieran," the thin, dark-haired hacker replied, "What are you so chipper about?"
Garrick was tall, standing six feet, two inches tall. However, he was gaunt and thin, weighing around 150 pounds. He had a penchant for wearing dark colors, and had dark brown eyes and hair to match. His nose was hooked, beak-like, and his eyelashes were remarkably long, to the point that he'd had people ask him if he was wearing mascara before.
Right now, he was sitting on the ground, wearing the same black band t-shirt, dark jeans and chucks that Kieran had seen him in before entering the Digital World, only now he wore a gauntlet much like Kieran's.
"Meh. Never had a dream like this before, is all… Hey little guy!" Kieran walked over to the bars of the cell and looked Commandramon in the eyes, "What are you called?"
"I'm called Get-the-fuck-out-of-my-face-before-you-find-yours-riddled-with-lead-mon. It's a fitting name, I find."
Kieran's eyes opened wide in shock, and he looked down at the reptilian Digimon's M-16. "Whoa li'l guy," he said, "Whoa."
FanBeemon came fluttering over, "Commandramon," he said, "I came here to relieve you of your post. Sagittarimon wants a word with you."
"You can tell Sagittarimon that he needs to rethink his choices when it comes to watching prisoners. Your kind don't belong on the battlefield, FanBeemon, you belong in a hive," He had his gun pointed at FanBeemon as he said this.
"Commandramon," FanBeemon replied, staring the tiny dinosaur down, "your services here are appreciated, don't misunderstand me, but what when we have peace here, eh? What's going to happen to you when we're not at war? What's going to happen when the battle's over, and the 'command' is gone from the 'Commandramon'? Think about it."
The little dinosaur glowered, then growled at the prisoners, who had been listening intently.
"Have a good time with the blabbermouth…"
Commandramon marched off then, and FanBeemon turned to the humans, "Listen, I don't know what you're doing here, but I can tell that you're just a little too clueless to have any ill intent."
"You think so?" Garrick asked, "If I were you, I'd be in the same boat as that Commandramon guy. You might want to consider being a little less trusting."
Kieran looked, appalled, at Garrick, "Dude, what are you doing? Do you want to get us killed?!"
"No, I just think that we should be up-front with these guys. If there are some humans tearing this place up, maybe they should be a little wary. We're not gonna hurt them, but what about the others that come through?"
"Okay. That's fair," Kieran replied, "But you're really not helping our case any, y'know?"
"Your friend's right, you're really not," FanBeemon said, "And those things on your wrists kind of point you out as the enemies, y'know?"
"What are these, anyway?" Kieran asked.
"The lizard thing said that they're what the Devil Priestess uses to control stuff in the Digital World—make force fields, get digimon to evolve, that sort of thing," Garrick answered, tapping on his own.
"Evolve?!" Kieran exclaimed, "You mean these little critters get bigger, like Pokémon?!"
"Pokémon?" FanBeemon asked, "What are Pokémon?"
"Oh, they're these little monster things, kinda like you guys, in a video game and TV show that people play back on our world," to the little bee creature's blank, uncomprehending stare, Kieran said, "You kinda had to be there."
"I was thinking…" Garrick whispered.
"What's that?" Kieran said, getting closer to Garrick.
"I was thinking," he repeated, still at a whisper, "That, if these things can alter the Digital World, we can probably use them to break out of here, find the others, and get back home. Neither one of us wanted to end up here, really, and I'm still a little freaked out by these 'Digimon' things."
"Okay, okay… What about the others?" Kieran looked over his own shiny wristguard.
"We'll get them first, of course," Garrick answered, "But right now we need to worry about busting out of here so we can. It's dangerous out there, but they put the prison in a corner of the camp. I think that, if we took this guy out, we might be able to make a run for it."
"You really think so?" Kieran asked, "I kinda like the little guy…"
"What are you two doing in there?" FanBeemon asked, obvious that he realized their actions and motives to be less-than-holy.
"Listen, FanBeemon, you like me, right?" Kieran asked.
"I don't think you want to hear the answer to that," the bug replied.
"Okay, fair enough. My friend and I aren't from around here, just like you said earlier. We're from a place called Earth. We're not here to cause any ruckus or anything; we totally got here by accident. Now, he and I are going to try to use these things to get out of here. You're probably going to try to stop us, and I can't say I blame you, but—"
Kieran was cut off then, by a distant, but far-too-close explosion, followed by screaming.
"The Devil Priestess! She's here!" screamed one digimon amongst the hundred or so inhabitants of the rebel camp.
"You think the Priestess would lower herself to putting down a pathetic group like yourselves?" came a voice from the sky. The camp's inhabitants looked up to see a red, demonic creature, covered with black tattoos. He carried a black trident and had leathery wings on his back.
"No, Boogeymon and his fellows are enough for your kind. Go, my demon hoards! Go and rid the land of these rebel scum!" White, ghostlike digimon flew out from the trees at his command, attacking each and every inhabitant of the camp, outnumbering them all four to one.
"Okay okay! If you can break yourselves out, now would be the time to do—AAGH!" FanBeemon said, starting his statement before being attacked by a Bakemon.
"What do you think?" Kieran asked, looking over to Garrick, who was now touching small lights that had begun to cover his wrist guard.
"I think I might have figured this out… Get out of the way of the door."
Kieran backed away quickly, and with a cry of "Data burst!" Garrick thrust his arm toward the door, and saw it blasted away with some kind of mystical force.
"Whoa," Kieran said.
"Whoa is right. I think we need to help these guys out a bit, what do you think?" Garrick stepped out of the jail cell, with Kieran hot on his toes.
"I think we should try our damndest," he said, pressing lights that had begun appearing on his gauntlet as well.
"Data burst!" Garrick yelled, knocking Bakemon back to their holes.
"How…" Kieran grumbled, dodging flying digimon left and right, "Do you get this thing too---! Ah. There we go."
A stream of glowing binary code surrounded his wrist then, and he thrust it toward the Bakemon surrounding FanBeemon. "Data Burst!" he yelled.
The Bakemon looked up at him, drawn by his yell, and immediately leapt for him, their eyes hungry for flesh.
"Aah—AAH!!" he screamed, shielding his face. He didn't have time to see the stream of digital energy rush from his gauntlet to FanBeemon.
The energy surrounded the otherwise weak FanBeemon. His eyes lit up, and he felt himself filled with a power he'd never felt before—the power of evolution to a higher level than he'd ever been. "I'm… I'm evolving!" he yelled with elation.
He hovered into the air, lifted by the code surrounding him. His exoskeleteon stretched, warped, becoming bronze armor. His wings stretched and attached to his arms—arms? Where did those come from? He thought in the moments that ensued. His stinger grew, his shell hardened into a steel-like alloy, and he felt spiky bits growing out of parts he didn't have before.
"WASPMON!" he screamed to the heavens, the glow fading from around him as he found himself as a new digimon—a leaner, meaner fighting machine, made of circuits and cold, hard steel…stuff.
"TURBO LASER!" he screamed, and Kieran gave out a little yelp of terror as the Bakemon around him burst into little ones and zeroes.
In the mean time, Garrick was rushing toward Commandramon, who was shooting the white sheetlike arms off of the Bakemon.
"Where's Sagittarimon?" Garrick yelled at the now tan-colored digimon.
"What are you doing out of your cage?" he answered.
Garrick pushed the gun out of his face and repeated his question.
"He's fighting that Boogeymon guy, I don't have time to—"
"Come with me!" Garrick growled, before knocking out more Bakemon with a loud, "Data Burst!"
The two of them ran over to Sagittarimon, who was attempting to shoot Boogeymon out of the sky. The demon was taunting him repeatedly, however, sending red lightning down from the tip of his spear. Energy swirled around both of them as they exchanged bolts of energy. Garrick ran up beside Sagittarimon and aimed his gauntlet at the beast flying overhead.
"What are you--?!" the centaur began.
"Don't mind me," Garrick said, "I'm just here to help. Data burst!"
A blast of energy shot out of his fist, electrifying the air and barely missing the firey red demon.
"Ooh. A human, eh? I'll be sure to put your head on a silver platter when I present it to my lady," Boogeymon said, before sending down another rain of lightning with a shout of "Ruby Eye Lightning!"
Commandramon barely had time to react. He didn't like this kid much, but the guy definitely didn't deserve to die. Adrenaline pulsed through his veins, just as they flowed through Garrick's. A blast of code shot from Garrick's wristband and Commandramon was enveloped.
He felt himself getting taller. That was the first sensation. Then he felt circuitry and wires envelop his form. A combat knife formed in his hand, and he felt two spears grow out of his back. For defense? Probably; everything else on him was made for that. New, thicker armor covered his body, and his eyes were replaced with cybernetic ones. There was a pistol at each of his sides, and new knowledge flowed into his mind—advanced hand to hand combat, weapons usage, tactics and strategy. When he opened his now mechanized eyes, he saw the world in higher definition, and more keenly than before.
"Sealsdramon…" echoed through the air as he sliced the lightning in half with his combat knife. That's right, you read correctly—he cut the lightning in half with his knife. It split right in front of him, scattering near Sagittarimon's feet and some bushes.
"You there!" Sealsdramon pointed toward Boogeymon with his combat knife, "You're mine."
Sealsdramon jumped up on Sagittarimon's back, leaping to his bow. The centaur immediately understood, and pulled his bowstring back. Sealsdramon stretched himself along the distance between the bow and its string, and Sagittarimon shot him at the demon.
Sealsdramon flew through the air, missing Boogeymon by mere inches and flying thirty yards past him.
"Ha!" Boogeymon cried, "Your pitiful attempts at strategy are nothing! Watch as I rip the sky from horizon to horizon, and bring your doom caving in on you… What?"
The others were looking at him incredulously, particularly at his midsection. Boogeymon looked down, and saw that his entire torso was split open. Binary code filed out like intestines and blood.
"Oh, shi—!" Boogeymon began, before bursting into zeroes and ones that fluttered to an unknown destination.
The Bakemon ceased their activities immediately, and disappeared, the being who conjured them having gone to a higher plane. Garrick and Kieran looked up in awe at the disappearing ghosts.
Kieran ran over to Sagittarimon, Garrick and Sealsdramon, with Waspmon following close behind. "Did you see that?!" he exclaimed, his eyes lit up like a child on Christmas morn, "We kicked their asses!"
"Maybe so," Sagittarimon said, "but our current location is no longer safe, for you or us. The Bakemon left, likely to return to the Devil Priestess. We need to move our base, now."
Streams of data poured out of both Sealsdramon and Waspmon, entering the devices at Garrick and Kieran's wrists. Both digimon found themselves reducing in size as the data flew from them, returning them to their previous forms.
"Damn…" Commandramon said, fiddling with his returned M-16.
"You two," Sagittarimon said, "accompany the humans. Take whatever things you need here, and go to Cherrymon's cabin. You should be safe there, and he should be able to help you."
"What?!" Commandramon asked incredulously, at the same time that FanBeemon merely bowed humbly.
"Commandramon, you are a valued member of this group, but—" Sagittarimon began.
"Damn right I am!" Commandramon interrupted, "And I'm not gonna leave just because some kid unlocked the secret to getting me evolved! I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm way cooler as Sealsdramon, but I'm not going to stick on this kid just because—"
"COMMANDRAMON!" Sagittarimon roared, stopping the irritating dragon digimon mid-sentence, "I have had enough of your insolence! You will join these two on their journey, and you will like it!"
"NO BUTS," Sagittarimon screamed again, prompting a giggle from Kieran, "These two want to return to their home world, and I would love nothing more than a couple less humans messing with the Digital World."
"Wait, we need to find our friends, though," Garrick interrupted, "There were three others—my girlfriend, his, and a good friend of ours. We don't know where they are, and it looks like we all got separated."
"Well, I'm sure that Cherrymon should be able to help you out," the lumbering centaur answered sagely, "Gather your things and take your leave. FanBeemon and Commandramon should be able to help you."
The other digimon scrambled around, attempting to gather their things before the evil digimon returned to rain more destruction down upon them, and, in one secluded tent, two digimon with a very special future gathered supplies for a journey that would be long for both them and their human companions.