DISCLAIMER: I don't own Digimon or any of the characters featured in the series, video games or other Digimon-based media. I also do not own the video games "Mercenaries 2: World in Flames" (which I quoted from in Chapter 3), Armored Core: For Answer (which is referenced or included in a few chapters) or any other video games, books, films or TV shows I mention. I do, however, own any original characters that I created myself (such as Cam, Steph and others that I won't mention just yet) and the storyline.
I would also like to state that Kirkfield, Recliff High School and Redchapel Middle School are all completely fictional. I invented them myself as an amalgamation of several towns and schools in my area. Any resemblance to any real individuals either living or dead is purely coincidental (and most of the people I know are too one-dimensional to make interesting characters out of anyway...).
With that said, let me get onto the story itself. This is an AU fic (wait, don't shoot me yet!) based on the characters and, more loosely, on the universe established in the series Digimon Tamers. It is set primarily in Kirkfield, a fictional town not far from the real-life city of Bradford in the north of England. There is a backstory to this universe based VERY loosely on the events of Digital Monster X-Evolution that will be explored in a later chapter (somewhere around chapters 25-30).
With that said, I hope you enjoy my attempt at a Digimon Fanfic. Please feel free to read and review, though do note that I have disabled anonymous reviewing in an attempt to cut down on the number of flames I receive.
TAMING THE THIRD LION
BOOK I: EXODUS
Prologue: Violet Eyes
Thursday, 21st July 2010 – 00:21am
Matsuki Family Bakery, Kirkfield, West Yorkshire
Takato Matsuki tossed and turned in his bed, far too excited to sleep. I can't believe it! Six whole weeks of freedom! Beautiful, glorious FREEDOM! The twelve-year-old had just finished his first year at Redcliff Mount High School and was looking forward to a break from the day-to-day stress of school life. Six weeks of no homework! Six weeks of no early mornings! Six weeks of no bullies or chavs or lunchtime beatings! I'm finally gonna have time to get past that stupid Devidramon on Digimon World! And I can go swimming! And camping! And fishing! And…
The mental list grew longer and longer as Takato fantasized about how he was going to spend his Summer Holidays – or, as his friend Cam had jokingly dubbed the six-week period, Summer Parole. As his fantasies began to drift away from the realms of possibility and into the realms of science-fiction (which didn't take very long at all) Takato began to feel incredibly drowsy. As his eyes slowly drifted closed, an intensely bright white light blanketed the boy's vision, obscuring his view of the dimly-lit bedroom.
When Takato opened his eyes again, he was floating in mid-air above a distinctive double-towered skyscraper.
Hey, I recognize this place – this is Shinjuku! My parents showed me pictures of this place – they said this was where they used to live before they moved to England. That means this is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building! And there's the park, the ocean, the Devimon…
Sure enough, stood atop the tower to Takato's left in the middle of a rapidly-dispersing cloud of fog was the tall, black, winged form of a Devimon. The Digimon rolled its head from side to side in a manner that reminded Takato of the stereotypical American hard man found in every mediocre gang-related film or TV show. As he watched with a curious sense of detachment, a brown-haired Japanese girl and a Leomon burst through the door behind the Devimon. The girl, who was about the same age as Takato and wearing an odd green dress, pointed at the Devimon and shouted something that Takato couldn't quite make out. It was as if her words were coming to him from a great distance, or were being muffled by something. Devimon grinned and replied, his voice equally muffled. Whatever he said did a great job of getting the Leomon angry. The leonine warrior drew his sword and threw himself at the fallen angel with a snarl, only to be caught mid-pounce by a wave of dark energy which sent him flying through the air to the edge of the roof.
Devimon chuckled darkly and began walking slowly over to the bloodied form of Leomon, who was trying and failing to get back up. As he raised his right hand above his head and delivered one last jibe, a dark aura began to form around the long talons. Takato felt a vague sense of fear and helplessness as he gazed at the Devimon stood poised to end the valiant lion's life, until an oddly clear and loud voice called out from behind him, causing both boy and Digimon to turn and look at the opposite tower.
"GET AWAY FROM MY FRIENDS!"
Takato looked to the roof of the other tower to see a pale, redheaded girl with her hair in an odd spiky ponytail wearing jeans and a white T-shirt stood next to the graceful form of a Renamon. An intense beam of white light shone from the screen of the strange silver and blue device in her right hand, and the Renamon was encased in a blue Data Sphere, which soon shattered to reveal a nine-tailed quadrupedal kitsune which Takato recognized as Kyubimon. The fox began running towards the gap between the two towers as the girl slashed two cards through her device in quick succession.
"Digi-Modify! Light Training Manual activate! Power Activate!"
As soon as the words had left the girl's mouth, Kyubimon somersaulted into the air and shouted "Dragon Wheel!" before bursting into blue flames. The fire assumed the shape of a roaring dragon before thundering into the chest of a very surprised Devimon. The fallen angel let out a scream of denial before bursting into shards of data, which were quickly absorbed by the wounded Leomon. As the brown-haired girl ran over to her now-healed partner, Takato looked back to the redhead on the right-hand tower. The girl shifted uncomfortably, and then looked straight at him, narrowing her eyes as if searching for some incredibly distant object. When her gaze met his, Takato's vision was filled by a pair of cold yet beautiful violet eyes. He shuddered under their scrutiny, unable to look away as they bored deep into his very soul…
Takato groaned as he dragged himself off of the floor and back into his bed, before letting out another yelp and falling out of bed for a second time when he saw the time on his alarm clock.
11:47? Aw, crap! I was meant to man the till for the morning rush! Why the hell didn't mum wake me up?
The flustered young boy quickly pulled on his favourite outfit – a plain white T-shirt, a pair of khaki cargo pants and a blue zip-up hoody – before rushing downstairs into the kitchen part of the Matsuki Family Bakery.
"Well, look who FINALLY decided to drag themselves out of bed!" shrieked the angry voice of Mei Matsuki – Takato's mother.
"Sorrysorrysorrysorrysorry!" he gasped breathlessly as he rushed towards the shop front before tripping over the backpack lying abandoned in the middle of the floor, landing flat on his face at his mother's feet.
"Will you PLEASE move that thing? How many times do I have to tell you about leaving your stuff lying around?"
"Sorry!" the boy yelped, grabbing the offending backpack and throwing it into the closet underneath the stairs.
"Now, will you go and relieve your father at the till? I need some help back here!"
"Yes ma'am!" Takato limped towards the shop section of the bakery just in time to see his father, Takehiro, hand a bag full of Cornish pasties to a frail-looking, grey-haired old woman who the boy immediately recognized as his Geography teacher. When the eccentric old bat had finally walked out of the door, Takato breathed a sigh of relief and stepped into view.
"Well, well – look who finally decided to show up!" the elder Matsuki grinned playfully, stepping aside to let his son take his place at the till.
"Hehe, yeah, sorry about that. Why didn't you guys wake me up earlier?"
With a massive laugh, Takehiro began walking back to the kitchen. "Are you kidding me? We tried for about ten minutes! Your mother even beat you round the head with a pillow, but you still wouldn't wake up! She was torn between calling a doctor and smothering you with it."
"Oh, right, sorry…I was having this…REALLY weird dream…" Takato shook his head at the memory as if trying to shake it loose from his head.
"Anything to do with 'Violet Eyes'?" his father asked with a knowing smile.
"Yeah, how did you…?"
"You kept mumbling something about 'Violet Eyes' and 'so cold'."
With that, Takato was left alone with his thoughts. Try as he might, he couldn't get the sight of those cold, piercing eyes out of his head for the rest of the day.
Chapter One: Jet Lag
Monday, 23rd August 2010 – 10:05 pm
Leeds-Bradford Airport, West Yorkshire
The massive, four-engined passenger jet rumbled slowly to a stop as it touched down on the rain-soaked runway at Leeds-Bradford airport. Moonlight gleamed off of its sodden white hull and the red sun logo emblazoned on its wings and tail fins as the Boeing 747 began to taxi slowly towards the main terminal. In the cabin, the speakers squawked out the generic "Welcome to England, thank you for flying with Japan Airlines, remain seated until the light goes out" message.
'It's been a pleasure' my ass, thought a pale-skinned Japanese girl with red hair tied up in a spiky ponytail sat in the first class section of the plane. He's given that same stupid speech so many times he probably recites it in his sleep!
The girl gazed mournfully out of the window at her new home country, misery and contempt radiating from her violet eyes. There wasn't much to see, partly due to the fact that they were at an airport in the middle of nowhere, and partly due to the torrential rainstorm that had started mere minutes before the plane had landed.
At least the weather is just as unpredictable as back home… The thought of Shinjuku, her home for the first twelve years of her life, ignited the firestorm that was Rika Nonaka's legendary temper. Clenching her fists, she directed her rage at the cause of the sudden move.
How DARE she? I FINALLY had something that really mattered to me – I'd even started making FRIENDS – when she decides to drag me halfway across the world just to ease her guilty conscience! A wave of sadness quickly overwhelmed the rage in the girl's heart as she thought of her mother's frequent absence.
Four months ago, Rika's mother – Rumiko Nonaka, one of the most successful and well-paid models in Japan – had moved to London in an attempt to break into the western market. After two months, London had been very kind to her, and Rumiko immediately began making plans to move her immediate family – her mother, Seiko Hata and daughter, Rika – over to England. She had ordered a house to be built for the pair in Kirkfield – a small town in the county of West Yorkshire, about two hundred miles north of London – which was, according to Rumiko, a much better environment to raise a child in than "a city full of teenage thugs, slime ball politicians and backstabbing bureaucrats".
"It's not like she was ever around anyway…" Rika whispered to herself, her voice barely audible over the chatter of passengers easy to get off of the massive aircraft.
"Rika…" the brown-haired, slightly darker-skinned woman sat to the redhead's left sighed and placed a comforting hand on the girl's shoulder. Rika cursed silently, having momentarily forgotten about her grandmother's excellent hearing. "You know she only wants what's best for you. And who knows – maybe a fresh start will do us all some good."
I DIDN'T WANT A FRESH START! Rika screamed mentally, not trusting herself to speak. She couldn't tell either her mother or grandmother about her newly-found happiness with her old life – not without revealing exactly what all of those sudden "late night strolls" were about. And gods forbid that they were ever to find out the truth behind the so-called "hit-and-run attack" that had hospitalized her for the first week of June.
"And at least this way you will be able to see her a lot more often…" Seiko said softly, dissipating her granddaughter's rapidly-building rage.
How does she do that? Rika wondered idly. Her grandmother always seemed to know exactly what to say to disarm her violent temper. This time she had touched on an issue that – while she would never let anyone know it – meant a lot to Rika. It was the one good thing (in Rika's eyes, at least) about the move. Her mother had only been able to visit them in Japan once every six to eight weeks, with her last visit having ended over five weeks ago. They had, of course, spoken over the phone regularly, but it wasn't the same. Rika just couldn't escape that basic instinct, that basic need of all children. As much as they argued, Rika missed her mother.
"Plus she's meeting us at the house, and she managed to get the whole week off work to help us settle in."
Rika allowed a tiny, almost invisible smile to grace her features for a very brief moment before picking up her small blue and white backpack as the plane finally came to a stop. Standing up, she swung the bag over her shoulder and fell in behind her grandmother, making her way towards the exit.
Meanwhile, a group of overworked and underpaid airport workers dressed in fluorescent orange jackets began the slow task of unloading the massive amount of luggage from the JAL aircraft. Unnoticed by their tired eyes, a shadow dropped from the rear cargo door and swiftly melted away into thin air, reappearing about ten seconds later on top of the main terminal building. The shadow stood there for a moment savouring the fresh air, revealing a six-foot tall vaguely humanoid silhouette with a long, bushy tail before leaping into the air and vanishing once again. This time the shadow appeared between two cars parked outside the main terminal building. With a brief flash of light, the humanoid silhouette reformed into a fox-like shape slightly larger than the average house cat. The fox-creature looked around cautiously, making sure that it hadn't been noticed, before running stealthily towards a black limousine parked outside the terminal's main entrance, slipping under the long car and hiding between the rear wheels, waiting for the perfect opportunity…
Finally! Rika thought as she stepped out into the rainy August night, relishing the whole three seconds it took the bland-looking hired chauffeur to recognize her and shield her with the large black umbrella in his hand. Despite their status as first class passengers, it had taken well over an hour to get through customs and to claim their meagre baggage – one small suitcase each for Rika and her grandmother. The rest of their baggage had been sent ahead in advance, allowing the housekeeping staff to prepare the house for its new residents.
"Good evening Miss Nonaka, Ms Hata. My name is George and I will be your chauffeur this evening," the bland man said in an English accent taken straight from a production of "Pride and Prejudice".
"Good evening, George. I'm sorry for the delay, we got held up at passport control," Seiko replied politely, her English flawless.
George blinked. He had never had a customer apologize for being late before. Rant and rave? Oh, yes. Curse and scream? Happened all the time. Spout empty threats toward the offending party? An everyday occurrence. But an apology? George was shocked! Thanks to his many years of experience, however, he managed to recover quickly.
"It's quite alright ma'am, it wasn't your fault. Besides, I had a good book and a light in the car. Now, if you'll let me take your bags…" he said, reaching out for Rika's small blue suitcase.
"I can carry my own bags," the fiery-tempered redhead growled in perfect English, glaring at the practically-faceless man. The chauffeur backed off and Rika walked out from under the umbrella, dragging her suitcase behind her and leaving George conflicted as to which of his charges he should shield from the rain. In his confusion, he wisely opted to stay where he was and protect the elder of his charges from the harsh English rain.
Rika stomped over to the rear of the limousine and opened the boot, relishing the feel of the rain on her skin and in her hair. She lifted both her suitcase and backpack into the boot, then turned and gave the poor, confused chauffeur one last glare. As Rika turned her back on the open boot, a small fox-like shadow quickly shot out from under the car and wormed its way into the girl's backpack before zipping it up from the inside in a surprising show of manual dexterity for a creature with paws. This shadow went unnoticed by any of those present – Rika because she was turned away, Seiko and George because Rika was blocking their view of the rear of the car. With a soft "humph!" the now-sodden girl turned and opened the car door, slumping gracelessly onto the grotesquely comfortable leather seats and leaving the boot open for the chauffeur and her grandmother.
With an apologetic smile, Seiko allowed George to take her suitcase before climbing into the car with a good deal more grace than her granddaughter, restoring a semblance of order to the chauffeur's small world.
Tuesday 24th August 2010 – 1:15am
Nonaka Residence, Kirkfield
The limousine finally arrived in Kirkfield at 1:15am – nearly two hours after leaving the airport. While the journey to Kirkfield would not have normally taken anything like as long, the poor weather and unexpected closure of the motorway had forced their overworked chauffeur to make use of a number of obscure shortcuts and winding country roads. Rika gazed out of the tinted windows, and as the car pulled into the long, cherry tree-lined driveway leading to the Nonaka residence her breath was taken away by the sight that greeted her.
The Nonaka residence consisted of a sprawling, horseshoe-shaped two-storey house built in the traditional Japanese style and surrounded by more than two acres of verdant woodland. The house itself was only a few square feet away from being classified as a mansion. Rika tuned in to the overview George was giving of the property, and was shocked to hear that her mother actually owned the forest around the house. She snorted and shook her head as he went on to describe the oversized Koi pond and beautifully kept Zen garden located at the back of the property.
Fresh start? Yeah, right… she thought sarcastically. The whole property reminded her of a scaled-up version of the refurbished Shinto temple that had been her home in Shinjuku. Shaking off her nostalgic mood, Rika hauled herself out of the leather seat with a massive effort of will. She made her way to the back of the car, where George wisely allowed her to retrieve her own bags before picking up Seiko's small brown suitcase. As the trio made their way up the neatly paved path leading to the house's main entrance, the young girl felt her spirits lifting a little as each step brought her closer to the one part of this fiasco she had been looking forward to. Her good mood peaked as the large wooden double-doors opened and a figure appeared silhouetted against the light spilling out into the night…
Only for her hopes to be dashed as the silhouette resolved itself as a short, slightly plump European woman of about thirty-five.
"Miss Nonaka! Ms Hata!" the brown-haired woman began in a soft Irish accent, trotting swiftly towards them. "My name is Miranda and I am your housekeeper."
"Pleased to meet you, Miranda. And please, call me Seiko – Ms Hata sounds too formal for someone who I'll be seeing practically every day!" Seiko replied cheerfully, despite knowing exactly what the next words to come out of the Irish woman's mouth would be.
"Of course…Seiko. I'm sorry to have to start on such a bad note, but your daughter has asked me to inform you that she was unavoidably held up in London and will be unable to make it back until Wednesday evening at the earliest."
As the words left the housekeeper's mouth, Seiko glanced sympathetically at her granddaughter, noticing the distant look and slumped shoulders. Rika felt a familiar wave of despair overwhelm her emotional defences, her eyes wet with unshed tears as she glared at the floor. She vaguely felt a comforting arm being placed around her shoulders as her legs began to move on autopilot.
"Here's your room Rika," Seiko said softly, waking Rika from her reverie. She blinked and looked around, noticing that she was now inside and on the upper floor of her new home. In front of her was an open sliding door, revealing a bedroom that, with the exception of an added en suite bathroom, was a carbon-copy of her old one in Shinjuku. "If you need me I'll be in the kitchen making a late-night snack."
Rika nodded and took her suitcase from a decidedly nervous-looking George, dragging it into the spacious room and closing the sliding door behind her. She dumped the case and her backpack in a corner and threw herself face-down onto the lilac futon in the middle of the room. After a few seconds, when the footsteps of her grandmother, George and Miranda had receded into the distance, the blue and white backpack began rustling. Within a few seconds, the zip was undone and a golden-furred fox-like creature poked its head out of the bag. The fox-creature began to glow white and it quickly leapt out of the bag, its form changing and enlarging into a much taller, more humanoid form.
Renamon rolled her shoulders slowly, loosening her muscles after the long journey in the small backpack. While her rare ability to revert to her In-training form at will was very useful, it caused a build-up of energy that needed to be released at least once every eighteen hours. As the energy built up, it became harder and harder for her to prevent re-digivolution to Rookie. The energy release could be anything from a fight to a long run. Unfortunately, trapped in the cargo hold of a Boeing 747, Renamon hadn't had much to fight with. As her gaze fell upon the human girl in the middle of the room, the kitsune's expression softened almost imperceptibly and she padded silently over to the futon, reaching out one paw and stroking her Tamer's shoulder comfortingly while simultaneously reaching out with her mind.
"Rika…" she sighed telepathically, her voice feminine and mature.
The girl didn't reply, but Renamon knew that she had heard. Rika was busy doing what she always did when something like this happened – forcing her emotions back down into the icy prison she usually kept them in. After ten long minutes, she rolled off of the futon and climbed to her feet, heading towards the en suite.
"I need a shower," she muttered, closing the door before undressing and turning on the shower, making sure the water was as hot as she could bear it. She stood there unmoving under the jet of steaming hot water as if trying to wash away the troubles of the past twenty-four hours.
Twenty minutes later, Rika stepped out of the bathroom wearing only a towel and her red sweatbands. Renamon had noticed that she never let anyone – especially, it seemed, her family or Renamon herself – see her without them. She was even more sensitive about that detail than she was with being seen with her hair down. The kitsune Digimon often found herself curious as to why these two were such an issue to the young girl, but had sensed that it would be unwise to ask about it.
Pulling on a pair of violet pyjamas from her already well-stocked wardrobe, Rika slumped back onto her futon with a small grunt, laying back and closing her eyes. Despite what her attire and current position would suggest, sleep was the last thing on the Tamer's mind for three very good reasons. The first reason was that she was still running on Tokyo time, meaning that it felt like about 11am to her. The second reason: she had too much on her mind right now to sleep even if she had been tired.
The third reason? The loud, insistent beeping emanating from her backpack.
"Great, so this piece of junk picks up Bio-emergences all the way from Japan now?" she grumbled mentally as her partner padded silently over to the backpack and retrieved the offending D-Arc. A barely-noticeable frown of confusion flickered across the kitsune's face as she peered at the blue-trimmed device's screen.
"Actually, according to these readings, the signal is coming from less than half a kilometre away."
"WHAT?" Rika yelled, leaping to her feet and grabbing the D-Arc. Her eyes widened and a cold smirk found its way onto her face as she ran over to her wardrobe. She quickly grabbed a pair of dark grey jeans, a black T-shirt and a dark green zipped hoody, changing quicker than Renamon would have thought possible if she hadn't seen it happen at least a dozen times before. Returning her hair to its traditional spiky ponytail, Rika threw open her bedroom window and grinned at her partner.
"Looks like this country won't be so boring after all…"
Renamon's only reply was a cold smile as she scooped the girl up in her arms and leapt from the second-storey window, both human and Digimon disappearing into thin air before they came within a metre of the ground.
Near Kirkfield Park, 1:53a.m.
Takato Matsuki yawned as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Both he and his partner – the five foot tall red dinosaur Digimon known as Guilmon – were running towards the twenty-metre wide, perfectly spherical cloud of fog that had appeared in the middle of Kirkfield Park. He hated it when they got a bio-emergence signal this late at night. It wasn't the loss of sleep – he usually managed to make up for it by turning up late to school a couple of times a week. It wasn't the fact that he had to sneak out of the house – Henry had showed him several near-fool proof methods for getting away with the minimum of noise. It wasn't the fact that he had to lie to his parents – although that did bother the boy, being the type who preferred not to get into trouble. The worst part was tripping over every single pothole or tree root on the way to the battle site – something that Takato had already done three times in the space of two minutes.
"Why do Digimon always have to appear in the middle of the night? Why not at around 4 or 5pm on a school day? That way I can go home, get changed, grab a snack, do my homework and then still have time to kick some butt before dinner!" he rambled on to no-one in particular.
"Tell me about it!" a familiar high-pitched voice called from Takato's right. "Is it too much to ask for just one week where we're not woken up at Snoresville o'clock? And you say I have bad manners…"
"Terriermon…" came the predictable reply. Takato turned to see his friend and fellow Tamer Henry Wong running towards him with the green-and-white dog-bunny Digimon Terriermon riding, as always, on his head. The boy was wearing his traditional outfit of black jeans, a black T-shirt and an orange jacket.
"What took you so long?" Takato called, cutting Terriermon off before he could issue his favourite catchphrase.
"What took US so long? You live, like, 200 metres closer to the park than we do! If anything it's you who-ow!" Henry cut off his partner's rant by rapping him sharply on the head with his knuckles.
"Any idea what we're up against?" the blue-haired half-Chinese Tamer asked.
"Nope, we just got here."
"I smell him Takatomon," Guilmon growled, his golden eyes looking dangerously feral. "He's strong – I think it might be a Champion!"
"I gotta agree with the beetroot – definitely a Champ. Vaccine type if I don't miss my guess."
Grimacing, Takato pulled down his goggles. Taking on a Champion level with two Rookies could be a risky proposition, especially when the stronger of the two Rookies was a virus type, and therefore at a severe disadvantage. Add in the fact that Terriermon wasn't exactly the most powerful of Digimon and Guilmon was only ten days old, and you had a recipe for disaster.
"Well, what're we waiting for? Let's go!" the brown-haired boy exclaimed and rushed towards the Digital Field, his partner running alongside him.
The inside of the digital field looked just like your average English park (with the addition of some very creepy fog). Takato breathed a sigh of relief as he looked around. At least we know this guy isn't that powerful.
When they Bio-emerged, most Digimon appeared inside a field that was basically a foggy digitized version of the equivalent location in the real world – in this case, a small, wooded corner of Kirkfield Park. Only the most powerful Digimon of each level could "custom-build" the digital field they emerged in. So far, Takato and Henry had only come across one Digimon powerful enough to achieve this feat – an Angemon who had created a field of beautiful golden corn. It turned out that he had actually been trying to find his way to the "Eastern Quadrant", whatever that was and after Henry had explained the angel's mistake, he had been very apologetic and left immediately without any trouble.
Don't think there's much chance of that happening again… Takato thought idly. Focus, Matsuki, focus! he thought a second later, realizing that his tired mind was starting to wander. The goggle-wearing Tamer shivered suddenly, an inexplicable feeling of…wrongness…emanating from the far side of the digital field. He gripped his red-ringed D-Arc tightly in his right hand as Henry appeared beside him, Terriermon and Guilmon stalking forwards cautiously. Henry's green-ringed D-Arc beeped softly as he activated the scan function and began searching for their opponent.
"Spinning Needle!" a crazed, bestial voice called out and the two Tamers watched in horror as dozens of spines flew through the air towards their partners. Terriermon managed to leap to the side, avoiding the attack, but Guilmon was not so lucky. One of the spines glanced off of the red Digimon's head, stunning him and knocking him to the ground. A winged, dragon-like shape swooped down out of the mists and towards the fallen Digimon.
A small green tornado bounced off of the dragon's left wing, knocking it off balance and causing it to pull up suddenly to avoid hitting the ground. Henry's D-Arc finally managed to get a lock on their attacker and displayed its stats in the holographic ring floating above the screen.
Airdramon hovered there for a moment, allowing the Tamers and their partners to get their first good look at their enemy. His sky-blue body was long and serpentine, with a white underbelly and a pair of large, red wings. The Digimon's most distinctive feature, however, was the skull-shaped mask covering His face. A pair of glowing red eyes glared out from the skull's eye sockets at a defiant Terriermon and the creature growled menacingly.
"My turn. God Tornado!"
The dragon began to fly round and round in circles, creating a tornado many times the size of Terriermon's before launching it at the unfortunate rabbit, sending him flying into a tree and knocking him out cold.
"Terriermon!" Henry cried in horror.
A ball of red fire streaked from Guilmon's mouth towards Airdramon's back, who deflected it with a contemptuous flick of his tail. The attack was sent flying into the sky where it exploded like a firework, silhouetting the blue and white dragon. With a roar, the Champion level Digimon span in mid-air and smashed his tail into Guilmon, sending him flying into the same tree as Terriermon. The dragon hovered above the unconscious Digimon as both Tamers could only watch, helpless to save their partners. With one last triumphant roar, Airdramon drew back his wings, preparing to unleash his third special attack.
"Digi-Modify! Hyper Speed activate!"
That voice… Takato thought as a streak of blue fire flew from the tree line to Takato's left and smashed into Airdramon's back, right between his wings. The dragon screeched in pain and slammed into the ground, landing heavily on its snout. The blue fire hit the ground a few metres away from Takato and dissipated for a second, revealing the graceful vulpine form of a Renamon, before flaring back up again.
This time the kitsune's attack struck the dragon right between the eyes, sending a mess of cracks across his skull helmet.
"Dig-modify! Target Lock activate!"
Renamon leapt into the air and crossed her arms across her chest. As she hovered there, a mass of glowing white crystals began to appear in front of her. When their number had reached around fifty, she threw her arms out to the side and shouted in a clear voice:
The crystals flew at Airdramon's face, converging on the centre of the spider web of cracks in the dragon's helmet before blasting clean through. An intense white light flared from the hole in the helmet and Airdramon let out one last scream of pain as first his head, then the rest of his body, exploded into data fragments which were immediately absorbed by Renamon.
"No way…" Henry muttered in shock.
He had just seen a single Rookie rip a Champion to shreds in a matter of seconds – a Champion which had just crushed two other Rookies like insects. Even taking into account the type advantage, it was a pretty impressive feat. That Renamon was by far the most powerful Rookie the Tamer had ever seen.
As the last byte of data flowed into the kitsune's softly-glowing body, the digital field dissipated, leaving Takato and Henry stood in the open. Both Tamers immediately ran over to their Digimon.
"Guilmon! Are you okay boy?"
"Oooh, Takatomon, my head has an owie…" the childlike dinosaur replied, rubbing his head and looking sorry for himself.
"Terriermon, how do you feel?"
"Oh, great, now I've got two Henrys on my case!" the long-eared prankster joked, clutching his head in pain. "What happened? Did we win?"
"We didn't win. She did!" Takato explained, pointing to the Renamon who was now staring at the two boys and their Digimon, her expression unreadable.
"Thank you for your help. We owe you a great debt," Henry said to the kitsune, who's only reply was a "Humph" before she vanished into thin air, reappearing ten metres away next to the silhouette of a girl.
"Hey, who's out there? Damn kids and your smoke bombs! Where are you?"
Takato gulped as he recognized the voice. Oh man, it's Mr Harker, the park warden! If he sees us out here at this time of night we're dead!
The blustering old man came wandering around the corner, torch in hand. As the beam of light was pointed in their direction, Takato grabbed Guilmon and ducked behind some bushes, Henry doing the same with Terriermon beside him. The old man kept shouting as he tracked the torch back and forth across the tree line, still shouting his empty threats. When the light passed over the girl's hiding place, Takato's heart skipped a beat as he saw a flash of red hair in a spiky ponytail.
It's…it's her! B-but that's impossible!
After another minute, the old man gave up and wandered back to his house, muttering to himself as he walked. As soon as it was safe to do so, Takato leapt from his hiding place and ran toward the place he had last seen the girl. He had planned on confronting her, but by the time he reached the tree line, she was long gone.
"Hey, Takato, what's the rush?" Henry called cautiously, still wary of the crazy old warden returning.
"It's like she…just vanished into thin air…" he mumbled.
"Well she is a Renamon. They have that whole 'Kohenkyo' thing."
"Not her – I meant her Tamer!"
"Wha-she had a Tamer?"
"Well, duh!" Terriermon chipped in. "Who d'ya think was doing all the shouting at her?"
"What? I didn't hear any shouting," Henry replied, confused.
"Really? I heard it clear as day!" Takato mumbled, equally confused. "Ah screw it! It's too late to be worrying about this kinda stuff now. I'll talk to you in the morning Henry! Come on Guilmon – let's get you back to your den."
"YAY! Sleepy time!"
Renamon and Rika rematerialized inside the girl's bedroom. The vulpine Digimon gently set her Tamer down, then closed the window silently.
"Who the hell were those guys?" Rika sent, confusion jumbling her thoughts. "I thought that all this stuff only happened in Japan, but if there are Tamers and Wild Ones here…"
"…This could be a world-wide phenomenon!" Renamon finished, troubled by the thought. The Digimon attacks in Shinjuku alone had been devastating – and that was with competent Tamers defending the city.
"With Tamers like those two morons it's a miracle this country hasn't been conquered by a bunch of Patamon! They never used a single modify card! It's like they had no idea what they were doing!" Rika ranted mentally, her anger from earlier in the evening having found a suitable outlet in the form of the mystery Tamers.
"They will learn, just as Jeri did. She was just as clueless as they are when she met you, remember?" Renamon smiled before reverting to her In-training form of Viximon.
Rika sighed and slumped onto her futon. "And she still was for a long time afterwards…"
Rika's mother didn't make it back from London until Thursday afternoon, meaning that she was only able to stay at the house for two argument-filled days before having to head back. She returned late Tuesday evening, just in time for the day that Rika had been dreading since the second she got off the plane:
Her first day of school.