Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.
Chapter: 16/ Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow…
Takou stood beneath a beam of light in the middle of a sea of darkness. Not in the literal sense—that was a world all its own actually—but more in the fact that there was nothing but darkness around him. His captors—his superiors—weren't darkness incarnate. As far as he knew they weren't bad people either. But they did have a flare for the dramatic, and when they had power over someone, they wanted that person to know it.
So there was darkness around him, and a light over him. For the moment.
A red light winked on in the darkness surrounding him and Takou stood at attention.
"Takou Yamasaki," spoke a voice coming from the direction of the red light. "Agent 14. Former member of Program 'Pandora's Box'. Non-Tamer and formerly a noncombatant. Secondary programmer and Designer. Currently a holder of one of the DART Devices."
"Hello, Di," Takou said. "Do we need the preamble?"
A blue light appeared from next to the red light.
"A bit unconcerned, isn't he?" asked the newcomer, this time in a feminine voice. There was a slight, amused tone to her words.
Tri… Takou's eyes narrowed. She doesn't normally show up to things like this. Things must be worse than I thought.
Two more lights winked on; a green and an orange. Takou tapped the sides of his pants anxiously for a moment before forcing his fingers to be still. The last thing he wanted was to appear nervous.
"This meeting will be called to order," said the orange light, this one a male voice, full of authority. "Good 'evening' Takou Yamasaki."
"Good evening, Mono," nodded Takou. "How are we going to do this?" He glanced up at the light that surrounded him ominously.
"We would like to know what required you to use your DART Device to such an extreme," spoke the orange light Takou had addressed as 'Mono'. "I think that will do for starters."
Takou raised an eyebrow. Mono's voice laughed. "Of course, we will be monitoring you for any attempts at deception."
"I would like to know a good deal many other things," said the green light in a prissy, highly annoyed tone with an indiscernible gender. "The large scale use of the DART Device aside, he has reactivated Henry Wong. That is…dangerous. He might as well have brought Ryo Akiyama back, or reactivated Takato Matsuki. In fact, it is the former's activities that I am concerned with. According to Akari's reports…"
"Why don't we just let him explain himself, Tetra," suggested Mono calmly. His light pulsed in Takou's direction, as if indicating for him to begin.
"Concerning my use of the DART Device," Takou started, phrasing his words carefully. "Henry was going to investigate a possible Id disturbance. Given that he had Terriermon with him, as per his desire to have his partner with him…"
"Dangerous. Foolish." Two of the lights bobbed up and down to the green one's words. Takou nodded in agreement.
"Which was why I had to move things ahead the way I did. Recent events have brought me under question by my 'superiors' at Hypnos, preventing me from acting."
"Your actions were no less dangerous or foolish," snapped Tetra's light angrily. "Already the human world is experiencing the backwash of your time manipulation!"
"And risk Henry's death?"
"The effects of an Id's presence obscures our vision," said Mono's light. "Can you provide us with any details?"
Takou hesitated for a fraction of a second. This was where what he said could change things for good or bad.
"Not much, I'm afraid," he said carefully. "Suffice to say that Henry was in danger of being killed. I had to act before I could properly analyze the target."
"Which could very well have been the result of your time manipulation to begin with!" snapped Tetra's light again, flaring slightly.
"Calm yourself," eased Di's red light, dimming. "He has been honest with us so far."
"But reckless!" Tetra flared in emerald fire. "He is obstinate. He cannot be trusted when it comes to the Tamers. I said so from the beginning! This is the result of his interaction with the Tamers. He must be replaced."
"I'm afraid I must concur," said Di, the voice sounding rather sad at the admission.
"I'll go with that," chuckled Tri. Di's light flared in her direction.
"Enough of that," said Mono. "Takou. Concerning Takato… You know how dangerous he is. His potential, particularly when paired with the Digital Hazard…"
"I am…was…investigating the matter. Henry knows about it as well. He can do more about it than I can. He knows Takato better than me."
"True. However, further analysis of the data must be made, and the results of your actions have so far proven damaging, and will continue to do so in the near future. At this time, I'm afraid we will have to put you on administrative leave while we investigate further. You will make no further contact with the Tamers or interact with them in any way, shape, or form. We will be monitoring you, to make sure that you comply, and your DART Device will be confiscated."
Takou clenched his hands into tight fists for a second before releasing them.
"All right. I guess if there's no other choice…"
"Please remember," eased Mono's light, "that this is only a temporary arrangement. You will be allowed to maintain your position inside Hypnos and assist them as necessary. Continue your monitoring. Once our analysis is complete, and everything is in order, you will be reinstated."
"But only if everything is in order," sniffed Tetra's light angrily. "If there is something amiss…"
"I know," said Takou. "It's not like the world will notice anyway."
"Very well. We will return you to your home once you have relinquished your DART Device."
Takou silently dug into his pocket and retrieved the device. Holding it out before the four lights, a second beam of light reached out and lifted it into the air, where it disappeared. The cone of light that shone down on Takou abruptly turned off, leaving the four lights alone with each other as they returned Takou to the human world.
"Why didn't you press him for more details?" asked Di to Mono after a moment. "He's hiding something even now."
"Even I can tell he's hiding something," laughed Tri. "Not that I care of course…"
"Give someone enough rope, and they will inevitably hang themselves," replied Mono simply as the cone of light reappeared before them, though as yet no one stood in it. "At any rate, Takou's temporary replacement will be someone who is close enough to monitor him without our needing to interfere too much. We can trust her."
"Considering what she's told us so far, perhaps," huffed Tetra. "But she's too close to him. I think we should send someone else."
"Well someone send someone," laughed Tri. "I would like to get home at some point tonight and enjoy a good night's sleep. I don't appreciate being pulled out of bed for this sort of thing."
"Very well," said Mono. "Agent 15, if you would step forward please?"
A pair of large, yellow-trimmed sneakers stepped into the cone of light, the shadows disappearing off knee-high socks and a pair of suspenders with one belt hanging loosely before their owner stood fully revealed. Bright, feminine, amber eyes, framed between dark reddish, almost brown hair tied into two spiky tufts of hair hanging at the base of the girl's neck.
"Akari Hinomoto, reporting for duty," the girl said, placing one hand on her hip and smiling dutifully.
Rika Nonaka was not happy.
Looking at herself in the mirror, she would have had a hard time saying that she looked angry, but she was. She spent most of her life cultivating a cool exterior, so that no one could tell what she was thinking. No one, not even her grandmother had an idea what went through her mind, and she much preferred it that way. Unintentionally it helped her in her games, but it was an asset that she used throughout her daily life as well. She looked away from her reflection in the bathroom mirror and put some toothpaste on her toothbrush. Lifting the brush to her teeth, she began to scrub, but with a little bit more force than was the norm.
No. Not happy did not describe it. Angry…no. That wasn't it either. Livid was just perfect. Yes. Livid was it.
But that did not change a thing about how utterly and completely confused she was at the same time.
I keep running into this one kid, and weird things happen. First he talks about seeing me in a dream, than there's that freak explosion. And then…
Her house. He was in her house, and then gone, as if he were spirited away by some kind of magic.
That's stupid. Magic doesn't exist. No one can see dream about things they don't know about, and people don't just disappear into thin air. The only thing that makes sense is that I was sleepwalking.
Except…I never did that in my entire life. And it felt so real.
Rika's eyes narrowed, showing the first touch of emotion that she allowed to be revealed all morning so far…since she just woke up that is, which hadn't been long. She was getting the distinct feeling that this was going to be one of those mornings.
I'm going to get to the bottom of this, she thought, forcefully scraping her brush against her teeth. One way or another. If I have to spend all day to do it, I'll find that kid and make him talk.
The thought didn't make her feel any better. In all honesty she wanted to have as little to do with the strange boy as possible, but his invasion of her home, accidental or not, touched a nerve, and the strange way that he departed sparked her curiosity as much as it angered her. She didn't know where he lived or hung out, but she was sure about one thing: Shinjuku Park was where she was going to start.
Finishing brushing her teeth, she exited the bathroom and headed toward her room. As she did so, she passed by the living room, where her mother was sitting, calmly drinking a cup of tea. Spying her daughter, her eyes lit up.
"Rika!" she called out. "Good morning!"
"Mmmnnn…" Rika groaned under her breath. She tossed a wave over her shoulder to at least acknowledge that she heard her mother, but quickened her pace ever so slightly so that she could be out of sight, and hopefully out of mind, before the woman could think to do or say anything else.
It seemed that she wasn't going to have anything of it though, as she heard her dress rustling, signaling that she was getting up from her spot.
"Rika, could you come here for a minute? I'd like to talk to you about something."
Rika drew to a reluctant halt, tightening her hand into one fist. Terrific…
Well…this is just great.
In the alley outside his home, Takato looked up from behind a cardboard box, a miserable, dispirited look on his face.
His evening had been a good one.
Locked outside, having realistic dreams, and being kidnapped by some weird shadow thing, he thought for what had to be the millionth time. I'm going crazy. That's just all there is to it. I'm just…going crazy.
He shivered in spite of the warm, summer morning air and clutched his arms around himself. There was certainly enough evidence weighing in the opposite direction. After all, he was stuck outside without a key.
Even if I slept-walked, there's just no way I could have made it all the way down to the park without someone seeing me. It's just…impossible. Before summer was let out we were told that they were increasing police patrols in the area because people kept seeing weird things in there. I…
Takato became rigid as he heard the side-door being unlocked. He debated briefly as to what he should do and then ducked down behind the cardboard box just in time to avoid being spotted by his father as he came outside.
Oh man, oh man, oh man… his mind ranted in a near panic. Don't let him find me here. This is already hard enough for me to explain to myself without having to involve my parents too.
He waited for what felt like an eternity before his father, humming a tune merrily to himself, went back into the bakery. Takato heaved a sigh of relief and got up from behind his hiding place. Scratching his unkempt hair, he started forward...and tripped over the cardboard box that had been his hiding place for the night, sending him sprawling to the ground with a sharp, but muffled cry. Rolling onto his back, Takato kicked the box away and got back up. As he did so, his breath caught in his throat as he spied something shining in the sliver of sunlight that snuck down the alley.
A pair of yellow-rimmed goggles.
Snatching them up before he could even think about it, Takato quickly pocketed them and raced toward the door—unlocked now that his parents were awake—and as quietly and quickly as he could, let himself in.
Takato held his breath as he closed the door shut with a quiet click and started to carefully sneak up the stairs. As he did so, he heard his mother speak.
"Takehiro?" she called out. Did you go out again?"
"No," Takato heard his father reply from somewhere in the kitchen. "Why?"
A pause, and Takato's lungs started to burn, having not yet left his lungs.
"Nothing," she said finally. "I must be hearing things."
Waiting no longer, Takato crept up another couple of stairs before tearing the rest of the way up and shutting himself in the clean—cleaner than the alley anyway—and cozy privacy of his bedroom.
Takato breathed a heavy sigh of relief as he shut the door behind him. He kneaded the carpet with his toes, rejoicing in the soft feel against his bare skin. They had not taken well to the hard outdoors, and staying outside for the remainder of the night in a back alley hadn't helped.
But I'm back home now.
Somehow though, this did not leave him feeling very safe or relaxed.
That shadow creature… Takato thought, refocusing his thoughts. It just took me. It can take me from anywhere to anywhere. And there's nothing I can do about it.
Takato felt a sense of helplessness fall over him and he forced himself to resist collapsing to the floor in defeat. It wasn't easy however. After all, what could he do against an entity that could spirit him away at will.
Wait, he thought, remembering something. She said that her power was stronger in that place she took me to. That girl's house. He tapped one finger against his chin thoughtfully. And…some of the things she said… His mind went back to the warning that the shadow creature gave him. About the Hazard Sign.
Scratching his head, Takato sauntered over to his desk and searched through its contents until he found what he was looking for; a drawing of a red dinosaur with a Hazard symbol emblazoned on its chest.
Guilmon, he thought, frowning at the rough portrait of his made-up digimon. How did she know about this. I mean…she did know about this…right? There's no other way that she could have. I put this on Guilmon because I thought he would look cool with it, and that was only a few days ago. He glanced in the direction of his window contemplatively. Well, she is capable of going wherever she wants, but why does she think that this thing is dangerous? I mean…besides the obvious.
Takato thought over everything he knew about digimon, particularly in relation to the Digital Hazard. There was, sadly, not a whole lot of information available.
As far as I know, it was just some mysterious force that got sealed away. It appears on some digimon like Lucemon for some reason, but that's about it. What makes it so special?
No answer came to him.
It's times like these that I wish I knew more about digimon beyond the TV show and the cards. A pause and he found himself groaning. And that sounded so dorky of me right now. Rika would probably call me out on it and… Wait. Who's Rika?
That name had floated around in his mind before. Why?
Just as before, no answer came to him.
This is nuts, he thought, sighing heavily in exasperation. I'm nuts. Whoever this 'Rika' is, she would probably agree with me.
Could that girl I saw in my dreams be Rika?
The silence of his room told all.
I really need to stop asking questions when I'm never going to get an answer, he commiserated, scratching his hair. I've got to do something. Maybe if I asked the guys about this Digital Hazard thing I'll be able to get an answer. Kazu knows more about digimon than I do.
He looked at the symbol a moment longer before returning the drawing to his desk. As he turned to look for some clean clothes to wear, he failed to notice the burning light that traced its way across the symbol on his drawing.
"Do you think Takou is going to be all right?" asked Terriermon from his spot on Henry's bed.
"We probably won't be able to know for sure after what he did last night," replied Henry as he typed away on his computer. "Or rather 'yesterday'."
"Hmmm…so what are we going to do now?" Terriermon glanced over at Wizardmon, who was presently sleeping in a corner of the room rather inconspicuously. Although the Champion had cast a spell on himself to prevent people from noticing him, it didn't do Terriermon's confidence any good to know that he could still see him, plain as daylight. "Are we going to check up on Jeri? See how she's doing?"
"That would be a good idea," replied Henry. "But we're going to have to be careful about it, especially since we're going to be working with whoever is substituting for Takou." Henry grimaced noticeably at that. The fact that he hadn't contacted him following his abduction had been very telling as to what had happened. "Right now I'm designing a program that should fool anyone who may be monitoring us."
"Is it a good idea for you to be saying that out loud?"
Henry paused and glanced at his partner, forcing a small, thin smile on his face.
"Don't worry about it," he said, returning to his work. "Fortunately we can count on the effects of Takou's actions to fog up their sensors a little. Of course, they'll be sure to compensate for that but still…"
"Hmmm…" Terriermon tapped his chin with one paw. "Well, if you're confident about it…"
He looked at Henry, who typed for a moment longer, chuckling a little.
"Henry, if you're going to start saying that every time you do one of your experiments that may or may not work, I'm going to start to worry." He scowled and glanced back at Wizardmon again. "What are we going to do about him?"
"We'll need to put together a program that will debug him. Either that or turn him over to Takou's colleague's and have him returned to the digital world. It's just about the only thing we can do. He's not supposed to be here after all." Henry hit a button on his keyboard and stood up. "All right. I'm all set. Let's go see how Jeri's doing now."
Jeri Katou sat on the roof of her home, staring out around her at the children as they played in the summer sun below, laughing and playing. Jeri smiled at the sight, but the smile didn't touch her eyes.
"Subject Jeri…" spoke up a voice in her mind. Jeri shuddered and hugged herself.
"Please don't call me that," she said, her voice quavering.
"My apologies," said the voice. "I merely wished to speak to you."
Jeri swallowed, tasting bile in her throat. "About…?"
"To begin with, I must thank you for restoring some of my capabilities." The air shimmered in front of Jeri and an image of herself, older, taller, materialized in view before her. "Do not worry, the children below will not be able to see me. Henry has sent me a message. He will be arriving as soon as he possibly can." She tilted her head to one side for a moment. "It will depend on traffic. He cannot afford to be seen using his abilities at this time. He also suggests that we be careful about our conversation. We may be being monitored even at this moment."
Jeri looked down, pressing her lips together into one thin line. She swallowed again, tasting that distressing, acidic taste in the back of her mouth.
"Is…is that everything?"
The other girl…the J-Reaper, nodded. Jeri risked a glance before looking away. How can she look so…empty inside?
"I am afraid that is because of my artificial nature," the visage of the J-Reaper replied to her unspoken question.
"Don't read my mind!" Jeri snapped, looking up at the J-Reaper angrily. While anyone else would have been startled by the outburst, the J-Reaper merely observed her passively.
"As you wish," she replied. "I can see that you are agitated. I will remove myself."
The image of the taller girl—thing—vanished from sight and Jeri buried her face in her knees, biting back a harsh sob of relief.
This…this is going to be so…hard to get through, she thought, her mind stammering through the words. My memories are still scattered. The strongest ones are closer to surface—memories involving the D-Reaper and Leomon—but they're all over the place and I can't touch them all yet. Henry… She bit her lip and tried to get a hold of herself. Henry said that should change after a while, but he didn't say how long that will be. Oh God… Jeri clenched her eyes shut tight for a moment before leaning backwards, taking deep, careful breaths. Why did I have to wake up like this?
She knew, of course, that she could get the answers faster if she asked the other part of her that resided in her head, but at the moment she didn't want to so much as think about her, let alone look at her. She had enough of dealing with the agents of the D-Reaper, even if this 'version' only existed, in a cruel twist of fate, because she allowed it too. Yes… What she could remember, she remembered that much. It continued to exist because of her. Her and…something else. The world? No, that didn't feel right. Yet at the same time, it did…
Jeri groaned and tried to shut out all of her thoughts. Another wave of memories were surfacing. If she wasn't careful, they could overwhelm her as they did last night. And if that happened…
Jeri sat up with a jolt as she felt something pass through her.
What was that? she thought, her amber eyes snapping open. At once she felt the entity of her other self coming forward, looking alongside with her through her eyes, but as yet, taking no further action.
"J-Reaper," she found herself saying in spite of herself. Something…someone older presently spoke with her lips, and not the twelve-year-old girl who was presently hurting from the chaos that her mind was unleashing. "What's going on?"
Her eyes blinked, and the amber shifted briefly to red. Jeri's view of the world changed, taking on a more computer-like appearance, complete with graphs and sensory data. She tilted her head to one side.
"Insufficient data at this time," the J-Reaper said in her mind. "Should I send a scout to investigate?"
Raising one hand, Jeri opened her palm. A violet cord erupted from her skin and lashed outward. Light particles rushed forward at its end and formed a strange, grey-colored, bird-like entity. It rose into the air and Jeri blinked again. The sensory data that J-Reaper was showing her was changing rapidly. As she watched, the world shifted again, and then it was all she could do to prevent herself from falling to the side as everything warped and distorted.
"My apologies. Compensating…"
Jeri's view of the world rapidly returned to normal, leaving her gasping in relief. "W-What was that?"
"Spatial warping," The J-Reaper replied calmly. "The aftereffects of Takou's actions. I must warn you, at this point anything could happen. We will have to be on our guard, both with ourselves…"
Jeri felt her head turn as J-Reaper focused on the children playing in the streets.
Around the children, space seemed to jump ever-so-slightly, as if to confirm the J-Reaper's warning. Or to tease its presence.
A/N: And this concludes another chapter for Reset. Takou has been relieved of duty and Akari has been revealed. Next chapter, the consequences of Takou's actions will be coming forth in full fury.
Concerning Takato's goggles…the original plan was for them to not appear in the story, but as I was writing Takato's scene (stuck outside and not wanting to explain to his parents what he was doing locked out in the middle of the night) it occurred to me that they could make a comeback. Let's face it. Takato isn't the same without them. :)
Until next chapter then.