Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.
Tamers Requiem, book 0: Toys, Snowmen, and Digimon.
"All right," said Yamaki as he entered the main control room of Hypnos. "What's the situation?"
"It's a bit of an odd one, sir," replied a red-haired woman—Riley Ootori—from up in her chair as it swiveled around for her to view one of the many computer screens that filled the room. "We're detecting something that looks like activity in the shopping district of Shinjuku, but for some reason we can't properly identify it."
Yamaki frowned. "Pull up the data."
"Working," replied Tally, the blond-haired woman sitting behind Riley. Yamaki made his way over to the nearest computer screen on the floor level and activated it. Within seconds, he had the requested information brought up and he began looking it over. His scowl deepened.
"Are these bio-emergence signals?" he asked.
"That's what we were wondering at first," replied Riley. "But we noticed that there was something off about them. It's not a bio-emergence as near as we can tell, or if it is it's not one that we're familiar with."
"What is it then?"
"We're picking up unusual germination signals similar to what happened when Guilmon came into existence. There seems to be some manipulation of data that spilled over from the digital world when the Tamers' partners returned."
Yamaki frowned at that. That did not sound good at all. Apart from the fact that data was in the real world again, the fact that it could be manipulated was unsettling.
If this gets out of hand, there's no way we'll be able to prevent the government from finding out that the Tamers' partners have returned. It's hard enough as it is. If there ends up being a fight…
Yamaki paused in his thinking. After a moment of consideration, he pulled out his cell phone and began dialing.
Rika sighed mentally as she and her friends made their way through the crowd. She felt a bit bored, but more uncomfortable than anything else. She wondered why. It wasn't as though she weren't used to being out in public—she spent more than her fair share walking the streets as it was. She looked at the two Tamers, correction, her friends.
Is this why I feel a bit uncomfortable? she wondered. It didn't seem possible. She had hung out with them a lot over the past few months. Albeit, it was more in the capacity as Tamers doing their jobs, and they had lost a bit of touch after their partners returned to the digital world, but even so, they did hang out.
She scowled. No. That wasn't what was bothering her, and she knew it. Her gaze fell onto Takato and she shifted her hands inside her jacket's pockets. She felt some slight heat cross across her face and she immediately squashed the accompanying feelings of embarrassment that followed. Silently, she berated herself for the thoughts she had when Takato first called her, 'asking her out'. Terriermon had nearly given voice to what was on her mind when she saw the annoying rabbit-dog and Henry there with the boy.
What was I thinking? That he and I were going out on a date? I must be going crazy.
She wanted to laugh at the idea, but Terriermon's barely finished comment prevented her from doing so. Instead, she shifted her hands in her pockets again, one hand clasping around an item she had hidden within. Her Christmas present to the goggle-wearing Tamer. Another disadvantage to Henry's being here was that she didn't have his present for him. No doubt he would understand, as Takato explained that he forgot to tell her he called Henry after calling her as a last minute thought, but she would still feel awkward giving Takato his present without giving one to Henry as well. Besides, the last thing she needed was for Terriermon to get the wrong idea, as he was prone to.
How Henry puts up with him is beyond me, she thought. A small grin rose on her features and she returned her attention to the here and now. She would deal with the giving of presents later. For now, it was far better to enjoy the time she spent with her friends.
Rika raised an eyebrow at Takato's complaining tone as the boy drew to a halt. He looked around with a bit of a frantic look in his eyes, and Rika followed his swiveling eyes, curious as to what was wrong.
Terriermon chose not to follow her lead and, as always, gave voice to what was on his mind.
"All right, Takatomon. What's up? Did you get us lost?"
"Ahhh…" Takato scratched the side of his face nervously. "Well…"
Rika snorted, holding back a chuckle. It wouldn't be the first time, she thought.
"The store should be around here," said Takato, looking around again. "I remember the landmarks. It's just…um…not…here."
"Stores don't grow feet and move you know," remarked Terriermon sarcastically. Rika sighed and shook her head.
Not exactly how I thought this outing would go, she commiserated. I could really have done without Terriermon constantly talking…
"Come on, Takato," she said, shivering a little from the cold. "You said that there was a game store that we could check out. I don't suppose you happen to remember what it was called, do you? What buildings were around it?"
"Well, there was a ramen shop being run by a guy with the same name as Davis from Digimon right across from it…"
"You really are a geek, you know that Takato?" asked Terriermon.
"Terriermon…" Henry laughed and shook his head. "I know which Ramen shop you're talking about. My sister mentioned it to me a couple weeks ago and Mom brought some home as well." Henry frowned. "Only I don't remember hearing anything about a gaming store being around there."
"It's not like Jaarin is into that sort of thing you know," pointed out Terriermon. "I don't see why she would remember something like that."
"I don't see how a ramen shop is going to help us," grumbled Rika. "But I'd rather that we just find a place to get in out of this cold!"
"What's the matter?" laughed Terriermon. "Don't like the cold?"
Rika fixed the long-eared digimon with a fearsome glare. Henry sighed.
Takato looked at his friends with a doleful expression. So far, this outing was not going even remotely as well as he hoped it would. Time was ticking away, and with it the chance he had to find an appropriate Christmas present for Rika.
"It's gotta be around here somewhere," he began, taking another look around. "This can't be happening. I only saw it here last week when I was getting Kazu's gift…"
"Maybe we should look for it later," said Henry, giving his friend a reassuring smile. "Maybe you just got turned around."
"He's always getting turned around," grumbled Rika, thrusting her hands deeper into her pockets. She glanced away as she said that, missing the hurt look that appeared on Takato's face. Before anyone could say anything else, Rika's cell phone went off. Blinking in surprise, she pulled it out and flipped it open. A moment later, she turned towards her friends. "Yamaki," she said to them. That caused them to raise their eyebrows.
"What's going on?" asked Takato.
"Maybe if you wait a moment, she'll tell ya," said Terriermon. "But I'll bet it's not to wish us Merry Christmas."
Rika turned away from them so that she could hear the man more clearly.
"There's a disturbance going on in the shopping district of Shinjuku," the man told her on the other end. "We're sending in agents. I don't know if you or your partners have sensed anything, but I would like for you to avoid the area unless we can't contain the situation."
Rika frowned. Stay out of a fight? she thought. In her mind, she knew why Yamaki didn't want them getting involved right away, but in her heart, the idea of running from a fight didn't sit well with her. Not one bit.
"Ms. Nonaka," came Yamaki's stern voice. "Did you hear me?"
"Yeah," she said evenly. "If we see anything," she turned towards her friends, still frowning, "we'll be sure to let you know."
With that, she hung up.
"So what's going on?" asked Takato. Rika folded her arms over her chest.
"Yamaki says there's something going on around here."
"Around…here?" Takato looked around. "I don't see anything. What about you, Guilmon?"
"I don't smell anything either. Well…except for Impmon…"
"Impmon, huh?" asked Rika sardonically. "That raises a red flag."
"Come on, Rika," began Takato. "He hasn't caused any trouble since he came back."
"I'm just joking, Takato."
"What about you, Terriermon?" asked Henry, looking at his partner. The rabbit-dog shook his head.
"Everything's quiet around here. Not a creature is stirring. Not even a mouse."
Rika closed her eyes and sought out the connection between herself and Renamon. She found her immediately.
"I have overheard everything, Rika," replied the vulpine digimon from the shadows. "Aside from Impmon, I haven't detected anything out of the ordinary."
Are you sure?
"Quite certain. Although…" A pause. "There is a strange sound that I'm hearing. I thought it was just something involving the city, as it is full of noise, but for some reason I can hear it above everything else. It is a bit unusual."
Can you tell where it is?
"Not at present."
Rika opened her eyes to see that Takato and Henry already had their digivices out and were scanning their surroundings.
"Renamon says she can't pick up anything except for some weird noise. What about you guys?"
"Um…" Takato's expression blanched. "I can't quite figure out how to work this thing. It's stuck on the 'set clock' function for some reason."
Rika resisted the urge to roll her eyes and turned towards Henry. Undoubtedly he would be a bit more helpful.
"I'm picking up something," he said, confirming her expectations. "But I can't tell for sure what it is. The signal's weird."
"You're weird," joked Terriermon. "I don't suppose you could tell us something we don't know."
"This looks to be a bit different from what we're used to. It doesn't look like a digimon is trying to break through the barriers." Henry rubbed a hand on his chin thoughtfully. "Then again, Yamaki's firewall could be making it hard for the scanning function to work properly."
"Shouldn't we warn people?" asked Takato. "If there's going to be trouble here…"
"Without proof there's nothing we can do," replied Henry, shaking his head. "All we would do is cause unnecessary panic, and that would be bad. I think the best we can do for now is keep an eye out and make sure nothing bad happens."
A loud explosion resounded upon the air, causing all the Tamers to whirl about in its direction. Smoke billowed up into the air, fading into the darkness of the night sky.
"I think that's the clue we're looking for," said Rika, her eyes tracking the smoke. "Let's go!"
The fiery haired Tamer dashed off, her friends following close behind.
Beelzemon breathed heavily, smoke blinding his three eyes as he looked around, trying to find some sign of the toy-turned robot that was determined to gun him and everything else around him down. He hefted his Berenjena shotgun carefully, using his enhanced, Demon Lord senses to locate all the humans that were in the building. A fair number of them had managed to escape, but not all of them were quite so lucky, trapped either underneath an overturned toy rack or with the insane toy between them and the exit. And there was also the employee who had been, unwillingly, by his side since the toy changed. The elderly man was trembling violently, holding his head and lying down, hoping to not be spotted.
"Hey," he began, his eyes swinging from one end to the next as he searched for his foe. "I enjoy a good fight as much as the next guy, but this isn't the right time for the season of giving."
The ground shook as something heavy struck it. A dark figure swept into view, obscured by the smoke, but Beelzemon didn't need to actually see it to know what it was. His Berenjena gun was up and already blasting at the shadowy figure. The sounds of bullets ricocheting filled the air, and Beelzemon bit back a cry of pain and surprise as one of his rounds found its way to his left arm. He clamped one claw around the wound and grimaced.
Claws aren't cutting it, and my guns aren't doing anything either. What the heck is going on here?
The figure stomped relentlessly towards him. The smoke cleared, revealing the massive tank-turned-robot in all of its unscratched glory. Beelzemon took a step back, gauging the situation. He was starting to run out of options.
There's not enough room in here to maneuver if I go Blast Mode, he thought. And the small quarters are cramping my style anyway.
He debated for a moment whether or not it was a good idea to take the fight outside where so many civilians were located. He had witnessed the toy's immensely destructive power.
Letting something like that out onto the streets isn't going to do anyone any good. Beelzemon narrowed his eyes and holstered his shotgun. The continued approach of the monster more than made up his mind. Even if this place crashes, I can't let it step outside.
"Hey. Buddy." Beelzemon glanced down at the employee. "You've gotta get movin' and get everyone out of here. I'll do what I can, but…"
"I…I can't," the man whimpered. Beelzemon grimaced. Before he could say anything else though, his third eye twitched. Ducking into a roll, he grabbed the man and narrowly escaped a series of scorching lasers as they ripped through the flooring.
This is really cramping my style!
Beelzemon threw himself backwards, trying to escape the robot's onslaught. As he did so, he reached deep inside of himself and drew up the mental image of his two partners, Ai and Mako. A familiar surge of power coursed through his body. Black wings sprung from his back and he raised his right arm, taking aim at the toy. Violet light surrounded his forearm and a massive cannon sprang into existence.
"All right, buddy!" he shouted, holding the old man close as power churned in the mouth of his weapon. "Chow down on this! Corona Blaster!"
At his cry, the cannon let loose a powerful blast of energy that surged outwards, smashing into robot. The sound of metal exploding shrieked through the air. Beelzemon righted himself and spun around, shielding the old man from the shrapnel that was already flying. He grunted as some hot pieces of metal stabbed into his body, but his digital body was quick to repair the damage inflicted upon him.
Quiet fell over the store. Beelzemon carefully put the old man down and turned. Nothing but smoke greeted his vision, and he coughed slightly.
Did I get it? He hefted his cannon and narrowed his eyes. He couldn't hear anything but the sound of small fragments hitting the ground.
Something shifted within the smoke.
No… No way…
As the black clouds cleared, a battered, half-destroyed robot limped forward, sparkling data floating away from its body. It struggled to move itself towards Beelzemon, and sparks flew from its cannon as it attempted to power it up. After a heavy moment, the robot fell apart completely and crashed to the ground, its body shattering into tiny sparkling shards, leaving only a dented and cracked toy gun behind. Beelzemon breathed a sigh of relief and lowered his weapon.
Who woulda thought that a toy would be so tough? he thought, walking over to the defeated object and picking it up. Then again, my Blast Mode came out of Mako's toy and that packs quite a punch.
He pondered the thought for a moment before the sound of footsteps approaching caught his attention. Turning, he saw the three Tamers, Takato, Rika, and Henry, with Guilmon and Terriermon along for the ride. Of Renamon he saw no sign of, but his senses told him that she was out of sight.
"Took you guys long enough to get here." He glanced over at Guilmon and Terriermon. "What's with the getup?"
"Hah?" Guilmo tilted his head to one side in confusion.
"The outfit, Pineapple Head. How come you're wearing all that winter stuff?" He narrowed his eyes and leaned forward to peer more closely. "Are those mittens?"
"Ah…" Takato coughed, embarrassed. "So…uh…what happened, Beelzemon?"
"Yeah. This isn't how you're supposed to go about Christmas shopping you know," chided Terriermon as Henry stepped forward, surveying the damage. "What were you doing? Robbing the place?"
Beelzemon glowered at the rabbit-dog digimon, looking offended.
"Just some random bug that decided to give me a piece of its mind," he growled. "It couldn't take my side of the argument."
"Right," grunted Rika. "So what was it?"
"Um…actually, before we do anything else, shouldn't we be getting out of here? I'm sure the police will be here any second…"
"Right, right." A glow surrounded Beelzemon's body and he shrunk down to his smaller of Impmon. Snatching up the battered toy dug into his scarf and dropped a wad of yen on the ground. "Keep the change."
"Uh, Impmon?" began Terriermon, raising an eyebrow. "That toy…"
"I know what's wrong with it!" he snapped. "You wanna make something of it, rabbit stew?"
"I'm just saying…"
"Like I care?" Impmon crossed his arms. "Look guys. Are we gonna get goin' or are we gonna stand around flapping our gums all day? Better yet, why am I just standing around listening to you? We've gotta get outta here! Ba-boom!" With that, Impmon propelled himself into the air, escaping through a hole in the ceiling.
Rika sighed, watching him go.
Renamon. Stay with him.
"As you wish," the vulpine replied through their link. Rika felt her partner's presence recede and she turned towards her friends.
"We'd better get a move on. I'm willing to bet Yamaki's going to want to call us in for this one, and he might not like it if his soldiers find us here."
Takato, Henry, Guilmon and Terriermon all nodded, and with that the group took off at a run towards the broken down door that they came in.
Impmon bounced from rooftop to rooftop, his emerald eyes scowling. After a moment, he landed and paused.
"Okay, Fox Face. You wanna come out?"
A golden furred fox-like digimon materialized out of thin air a short distance behind the diminutive digimon, a thoughtful look on her face.
"Is something the matter?"
"I just thought I'd warn ya when we get down to Hypnos. My story may sound a little funny."
"Very well," she replied. "Is there anything that you feel won't be believed right away?"
"Just this." He raised the toy gun that he took from the store. Renamon raised an eyebrow questioningly. Impmon smirked, but it held very little in the way of mirth. "Told ya it would sound weird. I'll give the full story when we get to Hypnos. Ba-boom!"
Renamon watched Impmon rocket back into the sky, tilting one ear before vanishing in pursuit.
"A…toy attacked you." Yamaki did not sound as though he believed the story that he had just heard. Frankly, Impmon, who was sitting atop the meeting table, was not surprised. Although he expected better from this bunch, Tamers and government agents both, all who dealt with digimon on a regular basis, the very idea of toys evolving and causing some serious destruction was not something one encountered in their line of work.
"Yeah," said Impmon, hefting the toy gun in one gloved hand. "This gun. It turned into some kinda robot. Took me a while to take it down too. I had to go to my Blast Mode just to do anything against it. I might as well have been shooting spit wads at it and fighting with plastic butter knives up until then. The toy store on the other hand…"
Impmon let his silence speak for him. The fact that a mere toy had proven to be not only resilient to his attacks at the Mega level, but also had the capability of standing up to a Mega was rather worrying.
"That sounds ridiculous."
"Rika," began Henry. "Don't you think that we should at least consider what he's said before disregarding it?"
"I don't know," said Terriermon. "Impmon always likes to tell tall tales you know…"
"What about the security cameras?" asked Takato, raising a hand. Terriermon looked at him baffled.
"You know…sometimes you surprise me Takatomon…"
"Thanks… I think."
Yamaki ignored the bantering of the Tamers and turned towards Janyu. He had regretted calling the man away from his home, especially since he had been in the middle of packing, but most of the Monster Makers were either visiting family or otherwise out and occupied. As yet, Shibumi had pulled another disappearance and was untraceable. The only other Monster Makers presently available were Babel and Curley, though the former wasn't likely to stay around for much longer due to the need to visit family.
Yamaki's hand twitched, reflexively trying to flick open a lighter that wasn't there.
I hope this isn't going to be anything we can't handle. Everyone has earned a break, and I'd rather not force anyone to stay if they don't have to.
He mentally shook the thought from his mind. The here and now was all that mattered. He would cross any bridges once he got to them and no sooner.
"What do you think, Janyu?" he asked. "Is there anything we can get out of what Impmon has told us?"
Janyu rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "It is possible, after a fashion. After all, digimon were originally just an artificial intelligence program that eventually was turned into something for children to play with."
"Pretty powerful toys to give to kids," said Impmon pointedly. "Batteries included and everything. Correction: the kid is the battery. Should I point out that I had a gun just like this when the D-Reaper was mopping the floor with everyone? It gave me the strength I needed to not only digivolve, but also go into my Blast Mode too."
"Do you still have the toy?" asked Janyu. Impmon shook his head.
"D-Reaper destroyed it while I was trying to save Jeri. I still have the blaster I turned it into, but the toy is gone." Impmon's face fell, but he was quick to pick it back up, framing the confident look that he nearly always wore. "Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, I can turn a fake gun into a real gun that can blow up buildings and level city blocks. Why couldn't the same thing happen to different toys? Didn't you just get done sayin' that we're playthings?"
"Easy there, Impmon," replied Janyu, raising a hand. "Bear in mind that we don't have much data to go on about this."
"I'll provide you with all the necessary files," said Yamaki. Janyu nodded.
"Then if that's everything…"
"It is for now. However I would like to have a word with the Tamers." He turned towards the children and their respective partners. "I don't think that I need to remind you how important it is that you all keep a low profile." He turned his gaze towards Impmon, but as yet did not focus his words on them. "However it is unrealistic to assume that you'll always be able to do so. I'm afraid that with the present situation, you'll need to resume your duties and be prepared to defend yourselves and the city should something happen. However, I suggest that you allow us to look into this, determine what we can about it, and work to handle it before moving in yourselves."
"Sure," said Takato, bobbing his head up and down while Henry nodded. A reluctant nod. Rika, for her part, sat in her chair with her arms over her chest, frowning. Impmon appeared to share the same attitude as the Digimon Queen, only he was more vocal about it.
"And how do you suppose we know whether or not you can't handle it? When toys are doin' more than marchin' down the toy aisle and shooting up the city?"
Yamaki stared at Impmon impassively before returning his attention to the Tamers. "I'll see what arrangements can be made, but as none of you are a part of Hypnos, what I can do is limited. For now, I can only advise that you use your best judgment in whatever situation you find yourselves in. The government is still wary of the digital world, and they aren't likely to take too well to finding out that there are still some digimon living among us."
"What're they going to do?" asked Impmon. "Send us back?"
Yamaki looked back at Impmon with a hard gaze. "If they feel that's what it takes." He looked out over everyone, seeing the half-hidden frustration in Rika's eyes, and the worry in just about everyone else's. "We'll be in touch. Dismissed."
"Who does he think he is?" growled Rika as she and her friends exited the Hypnos building. She crammed her hands into her pockets, barely concealing her anger towards the Head of Hypnos.
"A guy in charge of a powerful organization that's dedicated to the same job we do?" asked Terriermon. Rika rolled her eyes.
"It was a rhetorical question, Terriermon. Now why don't you zip that mouth of yours up? I'm not in the mood for your jokes right now."
"Tidings of comfort and joy to you too," muttered Terriermon, settling down on Henry's head. Takato looked at his friends with concern.
"Things'll be okay, guys," he said. His voice shook a little on the last word though, and he wanted to kick himself for the lack of confidence. A pall of silence fell among them. The Christmas cheer that had been with them earlier had vanished. Everything had gone wrong. He needed to fix the situation, and fast. "Um…" Takato wracked his brains for something—anything—that could help him. "Oh! W-Why don't we go out to eat or something? I think there's a fast food restaurant near here…"
He looked back and forth between his friends. The somber mood had deepened instead of lightened.
"Sorry, Takato," began Rika. "I'm not in the mood anymore."
"But…but Rika…" Takato felt a wave of stubbornness blossom within him. Why did she always have to take off to be by herself at the first bit of bad news that upset her? First when IceDevimon had frightened her, when she met Ryo in the digital world, and again when Henry pitched them the idea of sending messages to their partners that might or might not ever reach them.
Rika however, shot down his stubbornness before it could rear its head.
"I'll catch you guys later," she waved, heading off down the streets in the opposite direction. "Good seeing you again, Henry. If you don't stick around, I hope you have a Merry Christmas."
"Same to you," nodded Henry. Takato's shoulders sagged heavily, feeling as though his spirits were crushed. Guilmon looked up at Takato with a worried look and rubbed up against him.
"Don't be sad, Takato. I don't like it when you're sad."
"Yeah, Takatomon," chimed in Terriermon, hopping onto the boy's head, mussing up his hair in the process. "Momentai. Rika'll be okay. Right Henry?"
Henry smiled and placed a hand on the boy's shoulder. "Don't worry. Terriermon and I will keep you and Guilmon company."
Takato offered his friends a weak smile. "Thanks guys."
Shadows filled the room, broken only by light emanating from an orb sitting within a tree-like mesh. A clawed hand rose over it and the light swam inside the orb, forming an image. There followed a series of broken hisses that sounded eerily like laughter.
"Yes-s-s-s…" the owner of the hand whispered, withdrawing the appendage. "My spell worked perfectly. This world is ripe for my plans. My rival cannot ignore what is going on. Soon…so very soon I will have him within my grasp, and then I will end the never-ending struggle. The sun will not rise again."
The hand disappeared and the light emanating from the orb winked out, leaving the shadows victorious.
A/N: A new update to a story that is now…a bit out of season. But it shall continue until it is finished. This chapter sees the conclusion to Beelzemon's fight with the toy and the introduction of the villain of the piece, though he is not quite yet revealed. Heheh.
Hope you all enjoyed this latest chapter, and I'll see you next time.