Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.
Return of Shadows
Chapter: 15/ The Awakening of a Shadow
The Renamon looked at the gaping hole in the side of the guest quarters, a bit of an annoyed expression crossing her face, before she turned to the human that she had been bid to wait upon. Darkness coiled around the human in a serpentine manner, centered around his fists, and an eerie red glow burned behind his eyes.
"If I may be permitted to speak…" she began, trying to ignore the hard, chaotic pulsing of her digital core that lied about her outward appearance. "I am certain that we can find a way to end this senseless fight without either of us getting hurt."
The human turned towards her, a harsh, almost animalistic expression on his face. Power beat upon her in waves, and the vulpine digimon unconsciously took a step backward. She forced herself to continue to appear outwardly calm. This human…something about him told her that if she so much as showed even an ounce of weakness, however brief, he would set upon her with all the viciousness that the barbaric digimon of the Southern Quadrant showed each other.
"Tell me where Agumon is," the human growled. The shadows curled and flared, as if pulsing from some power that lay hidden within him.
Not good, she thought to herself. He kept asking that question, and he did not react well whenever she told him the truth. She was gradually losing control of the situation. She extended her senses outward, picking up a number of her fellow sisters-in-arms rapidly approaching her position. If she could just stall for time…
"I don't know where he is," she resumed, "but I am certain that one of my sisters knows where he is. If I may be allowed to…"
"No!" the human snarled, and with that he charged forward, the darkness surrounding him billowing outward like a lion leaping upon its prey. Renamon's body coiled, preparing to dodge…
Before the human—Marcus—could get any closer, a flurry of glimmering, jagged shards of crystal came raining down toward him. Stopping dead in his tracks, he flung one arm around him, sending a stream of shadow searing outward, shattering the digimon attacks before they could even get close to him. Renamon's heart soared with relief as she saw a group of her sisters appear behind Marcus, their eyes cold and set in a single, grim, determined line.
"I believe that we have made our point," said the lead sister of the group. "Stand down."
"Not until I know where Agumon is!" Marcus snarled. The shadows swirled and built up with ever increasing intensity around his fists. The Renamon narrowed her eyes in time with her rescuers. She had an idea that this would not end well.
She was proven right when Marcus turned and stormed towards them, shadow-fire flashing around him as he thrust his fist towards the other kitsune.
I can't let this go any further! The Renamon thought, leaping after her human charge. Her clawed hands reached out and wrapped around his body, pinning his arms to his sides.
That was when things went very, very wrong.
As though it had a mind of its own, the darkness snaked out and sent tendrils crawling across her arm guards. It was subtle at first. Violet turned ashen at their edges, appearing as though they were being burned by the shadow-fire, but half a second later it raced forward into and along her body. Golden fur withered beneath the onslaught, blackening with every touch. But what was even worse was the bleak, stabbing cold that she felt worming its way throughout every fiber of her being, all the way to her digital core. A horrified scream let loose upon the air, but only Renamon would never be aware that the scream was her own. All awareness in fact tried to flee from her then and there, crawling and fighting its way out of her mind and skin.
The cold, merciless darkness would have none of it, and in the end a low laughter echoed in the depths of her mind as she fell backwards, dragged not only to the wooden floor below, but also in the waters that had now sprung up beneath her, eagerly waiting with mute, chilling glee…
Crimson eyes opened up to a rather cozy-looking ceiling, and blinked twice, as though unsure that it was actually there. After satisfying itself, the red eye closed again and its owner sat up with a heavy groan, tossing aside white blankets.
My head hurts… the owner of the eyes thought as a clawed, white-furred hand touched black fur, massaging temples that pulsed and drummed painfully. Where am I? she wondered, opening her eyes again and glancing off to the side where a tall, human-looking woman wearing a golden fox mask and an odd, white uniform and hat. The hat sat off center, and had a red, cross-like symbol on its surface. The owner of the red eyes tilted her head. A memory sparked.
"The medical ward," she whispered to herself. "Nurse Sakuyamon…"
"Oh!" The Nurse Sakuyamon snapped to attention at the sound of her charge speaking and greeted her with a warm smile. "You're awake, Bla—er, Renamon!" Getting up from her seat, she dusted off her uniform and went over to the vixen. "How are you feeling?" she asked, placing a hand on her head. The vulpine closed her eyes, feeling tension suddenly melt away at the touch of the Mega's cool fingers on her fur.
"I am…adequate, Nurse Sakuyamon," she replied after a moment's thought. "What transpired while I was unconscious? Is the human…?"
"The human is fine," Nurse Sakuyamon said, removing her hand. Her other one pointed over at her desk and waggled her fingers. A clipboard flew up into her grasp and she removed a brush from it. Glancing down at the clipboard, she began to make notations. "Silver is currently seeing to him. There's been quite a lot of activity going on since then. The council is considering making a move towards the human world soon."
"I…see." The vulpine blinked and glanced down, feeling a bit disoriented for some reason. It was as though there were something wrong with her vision. It seemed…difficult to see, in spite of the light. She winced. In fact, now that she thought of it, the light hurt her eyes. She looked away so that Nurse Sakuyamon would not have any reason to fuss over her. "Will I be…?" she gasped as she suddenly spied her dark fur and gloves. "Wha…?" she stammered. "What…is this? What is this?"
Nurse Sakuyamon turned back toward her, her lips set into one worried line.
"BlackRenamon, you need to be calm do…"
BlackRenamon. That name caused something to snap inside of the now black-furred kitsune.
"What happened to me?" she shouted, her eyes flaring crimson. "What happened to me!"
"Hey boss!" exclaimed Agumon as he snorted down yet another mountain of fried eggs. "You really need to try this stuff out! It's awesome!"
Marcus leaned into one hand, a nonplussed expression on his face as he watched his partner stuff himself full of the seemingly never-ending supply of fried eggs that the Seer Council seemed strangely willing to impart to them.
Agumon swallowed heartily and looked at his 'boss' with a raised eyebrow. "Something wrong, boss?"
Marcus sighed and looked away. "You know, you really shouldn't be eating so much. You'll make yourself sick."
"But boss, they keep giving it to us. Wouldn't it be rude to ignore it?" As if to illustrate his point, he popped in another helping of fried eggs and started swallowed it without so much as making an attempt to chew.
"Says the mon who thought it was a bad idea to stay in the real world and do nothing but eat all the time," Marcus grumbled restlessly. With a heavy sigh, the digital street fighter got to his feet. "Agumon, I think we should get going."
"But boss, you…we still have that digivolving problem. The Sakuyamon said that she was fixing something to help you with that."
"She's been at it for too long, Agumon." With a growl, Marcus pounded one fist into his open palm. In response, energy flared around the fist, but died rapidly. Marcus stared down at his fist, frowning slightly for a moment before turning back to his partner. "We've got a digital world to protect," he continued. "You know just as well as I do that it's not going to sit still for us. We've got to keep doing our duty, just like we promised. And we'll work this problem out while we're at it."
Agumon scrunched his face up uncertainly. "I don't know boss. I can already hear Thomas saying that this isn't a good idea…"
"Thomas would be planning too much. His idea of action is sitting still."
"C'mon boss. You know that's not true. I mean, he and Gaomon took us down as part of their plan so that they could betray Kurata."
"Kurata…" Marcus growled, tightening his hands into fists again. "He's still out there too. He's the reason we can't sit still. I thought that these…Seer Council guys…"
"Ladies," corrected Agumon.
"You know what I mean!" snapped Marcus. "I thought that they'd help us with this and then we'd be out of here, but if they're going to take this long, then we've got to get moving. Every second that Kurata is out there and moving is a second where some digimon is suffering because of him." The red-haired teen's eyes narrowed, and a brief, crimson glow burned behind his golden irises. "These Seer Council digimon are probably helping him…"
"Uh!" The light left Marcus' eyes suddenly and he pressed his hands against his face. "Nnngh…" he groaned softly before peeling them away. "Sorry. It's just…Kurata's out there. You know just as well as I do what he's capable of. If we don't stop him soon, then any digimon he hurts or destroys will be because of us. It'll be our fault, Agumon." An image of a young boy with dark hair and dressed in a cape and an odd shirt flashed through his mind.
"Yeah, I know," replied Agumon. "But what about what happened earlier with that Renamon?"
The image of Marcus' friend from back home was quickly followed by a Renamon writhing on the floor, her fur changing from gold to black. All because she tried to stop him. All because… What was it that Urocyomon called it? The Dark Area? …the Dark Area had infected him with…something that corrupted his digi-soul, causing all of Agumon's digivolutions to alter and become dark. Causing him to lose control in fights.
Just like when we first created ShineGreymon Ruin Mode, only it happens all the time now.
The dark-fire pulsated around his fist. For the first time that he could remember, his strength had become a hindrance to his purpose. He could not protect what he destroyed at the same time.
I know what Agumon's saying…and he's right. But…Kurata is an even greater threat. He doesn't care about what he does. As long as I'm careful about what I do, we should be all right.
The question hung there in his mind, full of doubt. Fortunately, or unfortunately, he was spared from further dwelling on the matter as a dull thump of an explosion reached his ears from outdoors.
"I heard it," Marcus said. "Are you ready to fight?"
"Always boss, but…are you?"
Marcus' only response was to dash towards the exit of their room, with his partner following closely behind.
"I will not be calm!"
With a howl, BlackRenamon hurled herself through the hole she had made in the wall of the medical ward. As she did so, the Nurse Sakuyamon reached out for her.
"Don't touch me!" BlackRenamon shouted before the medical shaman could even come close. Orange shards of energy formed around her as she slashed one arm to the side, sending them streaming towards their target. "Blazing Embers!"
Nurse Sakuyamon gave a shout of surprise as she ducked to the side, narrowly avoiding the burning blasts as they shot over her head. Some of them caught on strands of her hair however, and each ember flashed from the contact. Nurse Sakuyamon suddenly had a whole new reason to shout as her hair caught fire.
"Ah!" The shaman staggered backward as the blazing strands fell down her back and onto her uniform. Thinking quickly, she forced an air of calm over her mind as she activated one of her attacks to quell the flames.
"Crystal Sphere!" she shouted, and at once a number of energy bubbles materialized around the burning strands, snuffing out the fires before they could do any more damage. Relaxing, Nurse Sakuyamon took only a moment to inspect herself and lament over the condition of her hair before turning. "All right," she began. "Let's all just calm down before we have another repeat of…" She halted as she realized that she was suddenly alone in the room.
"She took off," she muttered to herself, grinding her teeth together. "By the Sovereigns…this is going to be a difficult patient."
BlackRenamon materialized out of a cloud of smoke upon one of the rooftops of the temple grounds, quickly taking in her surroundings. Her mind however was very much a jumbled mess, and her arms shook upon their foundations.
I attacked our healer, she thought, and again repeated it. I attacked our healer. Raising one gloved paw, she clasped it over one eye, unable to believe just what had happened…what was happening to her.
I'm a BlackRenamon. I…I have become a monster. Lowering her arm, she took a look at her gloves where the yin-yang symbol normally sat. In its place was a pure white circle, staring at her like a dead, sightless eye. It made her want to scream. It made her want to lash out and destroy everything around her. Smoke rose from beneath her claws, but she refused to give into her rage.
Her fellow sisters might be within the building beneath her.
A group of paws materialized on the building around her. Looking up, BlackRenamon saw her fellow sisters, pure golden fur, violet gloves, and blue eyes taking her in, measuring her.
"Sisters," she whispered in a shaky voice.
"BlackRenamon," one of them, a tall one that the dark vulpine knew as Silvia, as named by the human Alice during her stay amongst them. "Nurse Sakuyamon desires that you return to the medical bay to rest. You are…" She narrowed her eyes and looked her over. "…unwell. You need to be treated."
BlackRenamon felt herself shaking all over. Her mind thought of all the stories that she had ever heard about digimon such as what she had become now. The BlackRenamon were seen as something to be feared…a species that had served Apocalymon when he first appeared, and a sign of darkness at every one of their appearances. Wherever they went, evil and destruction could only follow. That meant that there was only one way that Nurse Sakuyamon, or any member of the Seer Council would deal with her. It was the only way that they could all be safe.
I don't want that, she whimpered in her mind, suddenly overcome with fear over the looks that the others were giving her. They were all judging her, she could tell. They were all wondering what kind of threat she would be.
"N-No," BlackRenamon whispered, taking a step backward. "I…I know that I'm not well, but…but…"
"Renamon…" Silvia took a step forward and held out a hand to her. "Please."
"I…" BlackRenamon looked back and forth between the hand and the owner who presented it, uncertainty and doubt building up in her. No. It's impossible that they would betray me just like that. They are my sisters, and I mean them no harm. I should be able to trust them.
She had just started to reach out towards Silvia's outstretched paw when she sensed movement behind her. Her body suddenly burst into a cloud of dark smoke, and one of her sister Renamon passed through her, arms outstretched in a tackling maneuver and eyes wide with surprise. Her body solidifying, BlackRenamon could only look on as something clicked in her mind.
She…tried to restrain me. They mean to capture me and put an end to me!
Orange flecks of fire and ashes played at the edges of her claws as they curled into tight, shaking fists.
I will not be taken so easily, her mind seethed. I refuse to die just like that!
Her arms spun around her as a raging whirlwind of fire materialized out of thin air.
A ball of flame smacked upon the face of a statue in Shinjuku Park, darkening its surface. In front of it, Impmon glowered at the statue, another ball of fire lit between his thumb and forefinger of his right hand. The diminutive imp scowled at the statue, as though he were daring it to say something.
"You know," he began after a moment of contemplative silence, "most people consider it rude to stare."
The statue continued to look straight ahead in mute response to Impmon. After a moment, Impmon sighed and snuffed out the flame.
"What am I doing?" he wondered aloud. "Talkin' to a statue? I must be goin' crazy."
Kicking at the dirt path, Impmon pretended to ignore the statue and its constant, silent stare. After a moment, a long, unnerving moment, he turned and glared back at the statue.
"So tell me somet'in'," he resumed. "You're supposed to be art, right? So what are you supposed to be?"
Silence again greeted him. Impmon felt a little insulted, though he knew that he shouldn't be. In the digital world, he would have expected the statue to be alive, and definitely ignoring him, but this was not the case here in the real world. In the real world, such things never moved and were always as still as the ground was beneath his feet.
On most days anyways, Impmon reminded himself. "Ba-boom." He turned his head skyward, a pleading look on his face while he shook his gloved fists at the clouds. "This town is too quiet all of a sudden! C'mon! Somebody do somet'in'!"
"Uh…you got the screaming crazies going on or something?" came a voice from off to the side. Whirling about, Impmon saw Dracmon and Miki approaching from down the path, both of them looking at him a bit worriedly. Or rather, Miki was, while leaf-like eye patches on Dracmon's mask didn't really change at all. Impmon scowled.
I keep swearing dat his mask shows what he's feeling, he thought. But every time I do, those eyes of his stop doing stuff. It creeps me out.
"Yeah, sure," Impmon replied sarcastically, folding his arms over his chest. "Dat's me. I'm just goin' plain nuts here because I got not'in' better to do with my time."
"Oh," said Miki, her worry evaporating into something a bit more agitated. Dracmon though, had a bit more to say on the matter.
"Yeah? How about you go visit the team's psychiatrist? He's helping us out now, you know."
"Right, like I need to waste my time on…wait, what's dis now? Team psych-i-trist whatsitcalled?"
"Psychiatrist," Miki said before Dracmon could say anything more. She shot her partner an admonishing look. "A head doctor. Yamaki hired him to make sure that none of us were, I guess, going crazy from fighting digimon all the time." She glanced back at Impmon. "We're pretty young to be doing this stuff, you know."
"Meh." Impmon shrugged nonchalantly. "I'm pretty sure that my noggin doesn't need anyone pokin' around in it."
Dracmon chuckled. "Probably a good idea actually."
"What do you mean, Dracmon?" asked Miki reproachfully. Dracmon chuckled again.
"All I'm saying is that he was helping Suzie and we all saw how well that worked out. She blew up on the battlefield and dark-digivolved Lopmon straight to the Mega level. You wanna tell me that's 'getting results'?"
"Beanie…" began Miki, switching to his oft-maligned nickname and watching him cringe in response. "You know that she only had one session with him, right?"
Not waiting for a response, she turned back to Impmon. "Anyway, Jeri used to see one after she was abducted by that D-Reaper you guys fought." She furrowed her brow. "Although I don't see why you would even need one or anything."
"I don't," Impmon replied, folding his arms behind his head and stomping off. "Never said I did, 'cept when I was being sarcastic. You know what that means, right? I sure hope so 'cause I ain't going to be doing any explaining for the slow kids in the class? You got me? Ba-boom. Anyway, I think I'll smell you losers later. Goodbye!"
With that, Impmon shot himself into the air, disappearing into the tangle of trees while Miki and Dracmon both watched him go.
"He is such a weird little digimon," observed Miki with the air of someone repeating a tired line that had been used countless times before. "Why don't we ever do what Takato told us all those years ago and just ignore him?"
Dracmon, who had no prior knowledge of the events that Miki was referring to, shrugged his shoulders nonetheless. "Because he can digivolve to Mega on his own, kick almost anyone's ass and insult us at the same time?"
"Beanie!" Miki snapped. "Language."
"Oh, pooh. And it's Dracmon, not Beanie!" The tiny masked demon stuck a claw into his fangs and picked at them thoughtfully. "Say, do you think he can still digivolve to Mega? Almost everyone else has problems with it…"
"How about we hope that doesn't happen, okay?" asked Miki. "I've had enough fighting to last me for a while. I mean, we're just starting Golden Week, and so far it's not shaping up the way I want it to."
"Oh? And how's that?"
Miki's frown deepened as she resumed walking, this time at a more hurried pace. "Nothing. C'mon!"
"Hey, where are we going anyway? I don't mind pointless wandering, but I'd like to know if we're going to end up somewhere important sometime in the future. You know, like home?"
Miki paused in her stride for a moment, causing Dracmon to pull to a stop behind her and raise a curious leaf-eye.
"I…" She licked her lips nervously. "I want to see Ryo," she said finally.
"Ehhh? Ryo? Miki…"
"C'mon Dracmon," Miki said, setting off at a rapid pace. Dracmon sighed and rolled his eyes beneath his mask.
Here comes more walking…
Bakumon watched the pair as they strolled down the park path. One eye twitched and looked up at the sky, sighting a moving cloud of mist floating wistfully through the air, following the girl and her partner's course. He furrowed his brow for a moment, his little stumps of feet tapping against each other for a moment before he disappeared in a wisp of smoke after them.
BlackRenamon materialized in an alleyway, breathing heavily. Outside the confines of her temporary safe zone, Renamon and Kyubimon, as well as the odd Taomon, raced along the temple grounds, the Ultimates shouting orders to their lower level cousins while they replied back with affirmatives. Ducking deeper into the alley's shadows, the dark vixen clutched at her upper arm, wincing as her paw scraped along the edge of a shallow cut beneath her fur, signs of her battles against her fellow sisters.
I'm safe for now, she thought, trying desperately to rest and gather some strength for the monumental task that she had before her. But I can't escape, not with so many of my kin on the lookout for me. She flexed her hands, taking stock of her situation. The gate-wardens are too powerful for me to handle, and their senses are too well developed. She frowned. Even though I've…changed, and actually become stronger in this new form.
BlackRenamon clenched her eyes shut, and a lone tear forced itself free from her eyelids.
I've hurt my sisters. I've hurt Silvia. I know that I had to in order to live, but…but why do I have to fight my sisters to do it? BlackRenamon bit her tongue and resisted the urge to punch the ground. This is happening all because of that…that corrupted human. Everything he touches will end up like me as long as he's around. He'll destroy my sisters and everything that our elders fought so hard to protect.
If only he weren't here…
Her red eyes snapped open at he thought, and all at once her mind took focus. She stood up.
Yes. If only he weren't here… I have to protect my sisters from further harm. Even if I die. They don't see the danger of it. They only want to help him. In the end, that will be their undoing. They need to be protected from themselves. And I…I am the one to do it.
BlackRenamon narrowed her eyes, and a moment later she vanished in a puff of smoke, teleporting to her target.
A/N: Marcus seemed like a good place to return to in this story, as I haven't advanced his subplot much at all since he wound up at the Seer Council. BlackRenamon wakes up to kick things off, and not for the better as she's not a very happy camper right now. Impmon makes a small return as well since he was last seen duking it out with the military, though he'll start to get a bit more focus as the chapters develop, especially in regards to a certain psychiatrist. Heheh.
The Nurse Sakuyamon is…a bit of an oddity, and I must admit to being a bit inspired by a piece of fanart showcasing an Angewomon in a similar outfit (minus the hat), and I figured that the Seer Council, after their last battle that incurred heavy casualties, would need one of their own who specialized more heavily in healing magic. It's mostly an experiment for fun purposes and won't really impact the story in any significant fashion.
Until next time.