Nancy Takeshi shot up in her bed as she heard her son scream. "On no, not again," she whispered to herself as she hurriedly wrapped a robe around herself and ran down the hall to his room, throwing the door open and looking inside. TK was sitting up in his bed, sweat clinging to his naked torso as his arms wrapped around his legs, and his hands were clutching the sides of his head. He was gently rocking back and forth, muttering incoherently to himself.
"That's not what happened. It didn't happen that way. She wasn't with us. She didn't die like that. That's not what happened."
"TK? Honey, it's me." Nancy wrapped her youngest son in her arms and gently rocked him as she continued to whisper reassurances to him. "TK, it's alright. It was just a dream. Everything is fine."
"Mom? I…I'm alright," TK sighed, gently disentangling himself from his mother. "Thanks. I'm alright now."
"Was it a vision?" Patamon spoke up for the first time, hover slightly above Nancy's head.
"No. Just a dream. It was just a dream," he repeated to himself.
"Are you sure you're alright?" Nancy asked, looking at her son with worry evident in her eyes and manner.
"Not really," TK muttered. Then, raising his voice some, "Yeah, I'm fine. Just not going to be getting much more sleep tonight."
"Do you want me to stay home today?"
"No, but if you could call the school for me…"
"Just remind me in the morning, honey," Nancy smiled. TK smiled back until she had closed the door and waited another minute as Patamon flew out the small pet door he'd installed in the bottom of his door, then the smile he had plastered onto his face crumbled as he leaned over for the mini-fridge in his closet and pulled out a can of beer. He quickly opened it and downed it in several swift gulps, then reached for another. And another.
"TK, honey, I'm leaving for work now, the school called earlier to say that…TK?" Nancy stopped as she opened the door to her son's room and was rapidly hit with the smell of alcohol. "Oh TK," she sighed, quietly making her way over to her son, who was sprawled unconscious on his bed. Several empty beer cans littered the ground around his bed, while several more were sticking out of the trash can. "TK? You need to wake up, sweaty." She gently shook him until he finally groaned and covered his head with his pillow.
"I guess it's morning?" he mumbled.
"Yep," Nancy sighed. "How's your head?"
"Where's the aspirin?"
"That well, I take it. Well, you'll be happy to know that you don't have to go to school today, or for the rest of the week."
"Your Principal just called a few minutes ago. Apparently, there's a gas leak they're having trouble tracking down. They think it'll take the rest of the week to fix, so they just cancelled school until Monday."
"And Kari should be here in about a half-an-hour, so you might want to get up," Nancy called as she headed for his door.
"WHAT?" Nancy didn't bother to hide the smile on her face as she stopped and turned back to her son.
"Kari is on her way over. I didn't think hangovers generally interfered with hearing?"
"I take it you're enjoying this," TK groaned as he hauled himself up from the mattress and stumbled over to his dresser, pulling out a pair of jeans and a black tee-shirt, along with a clean pair of boxers.
"Oh yes, I always enjoy waking up to discover that my son decided to hide his problems inside a bottle," Nancy shot back. Her voice softened as she looked over her son. "TK, please. I'm worried about you. If you won't talk to me, then talk to Kari. She loves you. I'd hate for you to lose her because of whatever it is that's haunting you."
"You have no idea," TK muttered as he shuffled towards the bathroom, and a cold shower. He emerged several minutes later, freshly cleaned and his head wasn't pounding as much as it had been earlier. There was no sign of his mother, so he could only assume that she had already left for work. He shuffled out to the living room and turned on the television and started channel surfing for a couple more minutes until he heard the doorbell ring. He leapt to his feet and opened the door, quickly pulling Kari into an embrace and a gentle kiss.
"Well, hello to you too," Kari smiled as she gently ran her hand along his cheek. "A girl could get used to that kind of greeting, you know."
"Good," TK grinned, gently drawing her into the apartment. "I want as many reasons for you to stick with me as I can get."
"I don't think you need to worry about that," Kari laughed, settling next to him on the couch. "By the way, what's that taste on your breath?"
"What taste?" TK lied, gently nipping at her neck. Kari tangled her hands in his hair and carefully pulled him back, catching his eyes.
"The taste that tells me your breath used to really stink, but you used too much mouthwash to try and cover it up," she replied, concern evident in her eyes. "TK, you're really tense. What's bothering you?"
"Who said anything was bothering me?" TK demanded, pulling back from her. "Maybe my breath was just really bad this morning?"
"Then why are you being so hostile about it?" Kari asked.
"Hey, you're the one who came over here to interrogate me!"
"No, I came over here to spend the day with my loving, caring boyfriend!" Kari shot back. "Why don't you have him give me a call when he gets back?" She stood up and started to head for the door, but TK stopped her halfway, with a hand on her arm.
"Wait!" Her glare caused him to begin studying the floor.
"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I've been on edge recently, and, well, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be so harsh." Kari gently removed his hand from her arm, but stayed where she was.
"TK, I do love you, OK? I know you're nervous about Davis and all, but I love you. But it's really damned frustrating to love you when every time I start to get too close to you, you clam up. I want to be with you, but you make it so damned hard sometimes."
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
"TK, I know you didn't mean to lash out at me, but I need you to open up to me, OK? I need to know that you trust me with your feeling."
"I had a nightmare last night, that left me so scared that I had to get myself good and drunk in order to even risk going back to sleep," TK stated.
"You wanted me to be open and tell you what was wrong. Fine. For the last three years, I've kept a near continuous supply of alcohol in my room because I will have this dream that leaves me so frightened that I have to drink myself into oblivion. I can only remember vague images from the dream, nothing substantial. I'm just left with this overwhelming sense of dread and horror and helplessness and it's all I can do to keep from drowning in my own vomit every time I have it."
"TK…" Kari reached out a hand, but stopped halfway, unsure of how to react.
"The only real sense I get from the dream every time is that you're in danger, and that there's nothing I can do to save you. So, now you know. I'll understand if you want to have nothing more to do with me." TK turned and headed back towards the couch, but felt himself suddenly pulled around as Kari dragged him into a deep and passionate kiss.
"I'm so sorry," she whispered. "I had no idea."
"You weren't supposed to," TK replied, gently smiling. "That was kind of the whole point. No one was supposed to know. The only one who knows is Ryo, and that's just because I had to tell someone before I went crazy."
"You can tell me," Kari smiled, gently leading him back to the couch with her.
"I can now," TK smiled, leaning in to kiss her once more. The kiss started out gently, but quickly began to escalate. It became fiercer, more passionate. Kari soon found herself pulling TK's shirt off, and admiring his lean, athletic chest before kissing him again. As for TK, he simply found himself unable to keep his hands off Kari, sent them roaming and caressing, undoing the buttons of her blouse, exposing her white lace bra and planes of soft creamy flesh. At one point they lost their balance and fell over onto the couch, with TK lying underneath Kari. As they separated from another, intense kiss, they became dimly aware of a ringing noise. TK groaned. "If you say anything about hearing bells," he grumbled, swatting around the coffee table until he found the cordless phone. "Takeshi. Oh, hey Tai. Yeah, she's here. We were just…talking. Hang on. Here, he wants to talk to you," TK smirked, handing Kari the phone.
"What do you want Tai?"
*Hello to you too!* Tai laughed. *You left early this morning, so Mom and Dad got worried about you, but I told them I probably knew where you were, so you're off the hook for now.*
"Thanks Tai," Kari groaned, remembering how she had practically shot out of the apartment this morning after learning that school had been cancelled, and how she hadn't told her mother where she was going. All she had been thinking of was her particularly…erotic dream last night involving herself and TK, and how she had to see him.
*So, why does talking leave you both so breathless?*
"Shut up, Tai," Kari winced.
*Look, I'm not going to tell anyone, just be careful, alright?* Tai cautioned.
"We are…we just kind of…umm…"
*No, I do NOT want the mental pictures that will inevitably follow any such explanation,* Tai laughed. *I just wanted to make sure you were alright. I'm going to guess you're going to be there the rest of the day then?*
"Either here or out somewhere," Kari smiled, looking down at TK's face. "If we go anywhere, I'll call you first."
*Alright, later then.* Kari smiled and hit the talk button, ending the conversation.
"Something about not checking in on time?" TK grinned.
"Big brother checking up on me, and bailing me out," Kari confessed, gently running her hands along TK's washboard stomach. "I forgot to tell Mom where I was going this morning."
"Oh boy," TK groaned. "Haven't they let you grow up yet?"
"They most certainly have!" Kari sputtered, indignantly. "They're just worried about me," she confessed, her tone softening. TK…I…that is…we…what just…"
"We were making out," TK smiled, gently drawing her closer to him, wrapping his arms around her but making no move to undo their current position. "Boys and girls do that when they're involved."
"You mentioned something about getting in my pants eventually," Kari grinned.
"I believe that I did," TK grinned. "But, not now." He gently reached up and kissed her forehead. "I'd like nothing more than to make love to you, but I think I'd like to woo you a bit more, if you don't mind."
"What if I did?" Kari wondered, a twinkle in her eyes.
"Well," TK drawled, gently kissing his way from her shoulder to mouth. "Then I might have to take you into my room and lock the door."
"As long as you're in the room with me," Kari breathed as he continued to kiss his way from her mouth to her other shoulder.
"I can think of very little that would make me happier," TK smiled, drawing her into another kiss. They were interrupted by an incessant beeping, coming form TK's room.
"I'm beginning to think someone doesn't want us to be together," Kari groaned as she moved to let TK up. He headed into his room and emerged a moment later with a cell phone.
"Takeshi. Yeah, what…oh…alright…no, I'll be there in a few minutes. Who else?…yeah, good. Alright, get in touch with everyone else and feed me the coordinates. I'll be there in a few. Right, later bro." TK clicked his cell phone shut, his face suddenly closed.
"Something's happened in the digital world. Ryo thinks it has something to do with the new Emperor. We're moving in now to check it out."
"Not without me you aren't," Kari replied, standing back up and re-buttoning her blouse. "Come on, Gatomon's still at my house."
"Go on home, grab her and bring Tai," TK replied, pulling his shirt back on. "Something feels…off about this. I want some big guns on this."
"You gun is plenty big," Kari whispered into his ear before kissing him and leaving. TK smiled for a moment before heading back to his room and whistling for Patamon.
"Tai! Are you home?"
"Yeah, I'm right here," Tai replied from the recliner in the living room. "I thought you and TK…?"
"Something came up," Kari replied, moving towards her room. "Come on, we need you."
"Hey, wait up!" Tai called as he followed her. "What's going on?"
"I'm not sure yet," Kari replied, as she pulled up the portal program form her computer. "TK got a call from Ryo that something was wrong in the digital world, and TK sent me back here to get you and Gatomon before I headed in."
"Let me mail Agumon," Tai replied, suddenly all business.
"Already done," Kari smiled at him. "Portal's opening, are you coming?" Tai pulled out his digivice, and Kari pulled out hers.
Ryo sat alone on a mountain top, save for the hulking for of his partner, Cyberdramon. His shades covered his eyes for the moment, but the rest of his face indicated the horror that he was witnessing. Through his bond with Cyberdramon, he smelt TK, Kari, and Tai coming up the hill, saw the heat that they radiated. He had often wondered why none of the others had ever gone as deeply into their links with their partners as he and Cyberdramon had. If it hadn't been for that, they'd have never found out about bio-merging; which was still an event he didn't want to remember.
He stood as the trio crested the hill with their respective partners.
"Alright, bro, what's up?" TK demanded upon finding Ryo alone.
"That," Ryo replied, gesturing down to the barren wasteland bellow them.
"It's a dessert," Tai replied. "So?"
"There used to be a village down there," Ryo replied.
"You called us with an emergency to tell us a village used to be here?" Tai demanded, incredulously.
"Used to be here last night," Ryo replied. "A farming village."
"How do you farm in a desert?" Kari wondered.
"This wasn't desert," TK replied, his voice hushed. "Ryo, that…this is…"
"Syoden used to be down there," Ryo replied. "It was a thriving farming village of close to eight hundred digimon, from fresh to ultimate. I passed through there two days ago when I was hunting leads on the Emperor.
"There's data in the air," Cyberdramon picked up, his grim, steely voice adding to the prevailing sense of doom. "Enough to convince me that there were no survivors."
"Eight hundred digimon?" Agumon repeated. "How? Who?"
"The how, we're still working on," Ryo replied. "As for the who, we know that easily. He damn well signed his work." Ryo gestured with his arm to a massive looming shape in the center of the destruction.
"A control spire," TK growled.
"This new Emperor isn't much for originality," Ryo observed. "Besides, the damned thing isn't even working."
"It doesn't need to," TK replied. "The sheer terror of seeing one would probably be enough for most digimon to vacate immediately. So, why destroy the village?"
"A sign of force?" Tai suggested.
"No, it can't be," Ryo replied frowning. "Like the man said, the mere sight of a control spire is enough to cause most digimon to crap themselves. If one suddenly appeared in the center of a village, every digimon in the village would be gone within two hours."
"Ken frightened them that much?" Kari wondered, unable to reconcile that with the Ken she had come to know.
"No, the Digimon Emperor frightened them that much," Ryo replied. "Ken and that monster have nothing in common."
"Have you or anyone else been in there yet?" TK suddenly spoke up.
"No, 'Tash and I found it this morning. No one else has come near the place. I sent 'Tash to Machine City to have Andromon interface with their sensors, see if they picked up anything from this area last night."
"The one and only time I will ever be grateful for something Machinedramon did," TK replied. "Alright, why don't you and I bio-merge and head down there, take a look around."
"Is there some deep seeded need you have to argue with me?" TK wondered as he and Angemon bio-merged.
"Yes," Ryo grinned as he and Cyberdramon bio-merged.
"Alright," Justimon grinned, flexing his arms. "Let's head down and take a look."
"Lets," Seraphimon replied, dryly. The pair lifted off the ground and shot down to the crater below.
"Tai?" Agumon spoke up. "Do you think we could learn to do that? It would be kind of neat to have you and me flying together as WarGreymon."
"I don't know, buddy," Tai replied, gently rubbing his partners head. "We'll have to ask TK and Ryo sometime."
Seraphimon and Justimon gently landed in the center of the crater. Both appeared calm and unassuming on the outside, but internally they were both on hair triggers. Seraphimon's hands gently glowed from stored energy, ready to be unleashed at a moment's notice into a destructive blast. Justimon's arm was in blaster-mode, held ready at his side.
"Hell in a hand basket," Justimon muttered as they took in the total devastation.
"Nothing could have survived this blast," Seraphimon remarked.
"No crap. Look at these burn marks," Seraphimon muttered, crouching over a kind of swirling pattern on the ground.
"Now those are familiar," Justimon replied, moving over next to him. "Could one of them have escaped when the fortress crashed?"
"And remained totally off the radar of ourselves, the Guardians, and the rest of the digital world?" Seraphimon wondered. "Not a chance in hell. It's damn near five thousand miles from the desert to here. Let's face it, those things aren't exactly inconspicuous." He suddenly tensed and sprang back to his feet, his hands glowing even more. Justimon brought his arm up into a ready position as he scanned the surrounding wilderness.
"KARI! TAI! GET DOWN HERE! HURRY!" Seraphimon didn't even bother to look to see if they had listened to him, he was busy focusing on a section of the forest.
"What is it?" Justimon murmured.
"I'm not sure," Seraphimon replied, still looking over one particular patch of forest. "What ever it is, it's powerful. Maybe the thing that…" Seraphimon broke off as a massive roar filled the air and a massive monster erupted out of the forest.
It was a digimon, the likes of which neither Tai nor Kari had ever seen. It seemed to be made up of bits and pieces of other digimon. It had the torso of a Greymon, the legs of a Garurumon, two sets of wings, one from an Angemon, the other from an Airdramon, it's tail was from a Monochormon, the head of a Kabuterimon, with hair from a MetalGreymon, a pair of arms from a Devimon, and a mismatched pair of second arms, the left coming from a Kuwagamon and the right from a SkullGreymon. It stood several stories tall, towering over the them, it's massive roar shattering the very air.
"Justimon, break right, I'll take left! Tai, get us WarGreymon, we need him! Kari, get back and call the others! Use my cell, speed dial three! Tell 'Tasha we've got a Kimeramon!"