THE LIGHTHOUSE

Disclaimer: I do not own Digimon and I am not profiting from this fanfic. I do not own/profit from anything I mention. No infringement intended. Feedback is wanted and highly encouraged. The first scene provides narrative to episode 45 "The Ultimate Clash" from Digimon Adventure Season 1 and uses a few dubbed lines of dialogue from that episode.

Story Themes: "Libera Me From Hell" from the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann OST

Author's Note: This is a sequel to "Love For A Fool", BUT you don't need to read that in order to understand this story. It gets pretty thoroughly explained/recapped in the narration. There are also plenty of references to other Digimon seasons and mangas and game universes, particularly in later chapters. UPDATES EVERY MONDAY AND WEDNESDAY!

Now, without further adieu, I present to you the three-part premier of THE LIGHTHOUSE...

(-'010102010'-)

"Lighthouses shined light out to lost ships to guide them to their destination. Instead, the off-white cylinder building poured only more darkness into an ocean filled with darkness, becoming a manifestation of the growing night. Lighthouses did not exist in the Dark Ocean, nor the World of Darkness. It was only the darkhouses that sheltered the cold, weary, lost, bewildered inhabitants of a cold, weary, lost, bewildered world. Darkhouses that darkened the days and blinded the nights, guiding the unknown into a path without light, without hope, without warmth or change or finding or comprehension. Because light did not exist in a world made of shadow, bone, blood, and ghost."

Love For A Fool, Chapter Five

The Lighthouse

Saga I Session I

... Part I: Harken to the Past ...

SMACK

There was a spray of sand. A howl. Then a roar that rattled her ribs even though it hadn't come from her. Kari Kamiya looked up at the flashing sky, where WarGreymon and MetalGarurumon bludgeoned each other with the force of ten thousand gods. Their battle echoed the fight of their human partners, throwing each other around like puppets. Tai and Matt. Always so angry with each other, always so temperamental. When was it that things got this bad? How did their hatred and jealousy toward each other escalate to this height?

And what could Kari do? She was so little. Frail. Sick. Her body couldn't take much physical strain, even though she was healthy at the moment. She was still recovering from that horrible fever.

She felt useless.

"You're not useless," said a voice beside her. She peered over toward the empty meadow of long grass and bushels of unknown flora, but there were no people there. Perhaps one of the blades of grass was a digimon? Kari bustled around for a while, drawing further from the group.

Just when she was two seconds away from giving up and heading back to the others, the voice spoke again, this time coming from somewhere above her. "You are perhaps the least useless person I have ever had the honor of knowing," the voice said. "Please don't think so ill of yourself."

Kari blushed. How could the voice know her thoughts? She didn't think she said anything out loud... maybe she had without realizing it? No... No, she couldn't have.

The more Kari tried to look for the source of the voice, the louder the voice came. Soon it reminded her of a drum, all-encompassing and all-consuming, swallowing her in the rumbling depths of something intangible, something foreign; it was not real, it could not be real. The voice had no physical form. It was disembodied.

And it spoke only to her. I should go, Kari thought, about to turn around. Gatomon might get worried. And Matt and Tai...

She bit her bottom lip. I wish I could do something to help them.

"You can," the voice whispered. "Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But someday, you will become a bridge between worlds. Someday, you will be the light that smothers the darkness. And not even they will be able to stump it with their pettiest emotions."

The voice went silent, then. Kari was so stunned that not a single word came to mind. The voice knew who she was, what she was thinking— it even seemed to know her future, although she was not quite sure she believed it. She'd believe it when it happened, that was a good way to put it.

After a while, the voice's tone lowered as it said, "Do you fear me, Kari Kamiya?"

"I'm not afraid!" She couldn't be afraid. Would her brother be afraid? No! No, he wouldn't, and neither could she! She would face this voice without any worry, any sadness in her heart... But... She couldn't deny the tremor in her hands. The shaking in her knees. The voice hadn't said anything to upset her. She couldn't even see where it came from. But there was something creeping inside of her, an unknowing that sent shivers down her spine. "Well," she said after nibbling on her bottom lip, "Maybe I'm a little afraid." She paused. "My name's Kari. Please tell me who you are. Do you want to be friends with us?"

"With Matt and Tai...?" Kari smiled at the voice's pause. "Their friendship will stand the test of time. Rivalry is a necessary evil to complete a particularly grating task. It drives you. It improves things... if the rivals don't kill each other or someone else, that is. I wonder— will you and Yolei ever kill each other? You two are rivals. Rivals, friends..."

Yolei? Who was Yolei?

The voice seemed to sense – or hear – Kari's confusion, because it added, "Friends... I would very much like friends."

You don't have any? Kari asked.

The voice's tone lowered once again. "I did." Paused. "Once upon a time, when I was flesh."

What did you look like?

"Come closer and you'll see," the voice answered. Kari looked up at the sky. She saw a wide spectrum of ethereal colors, almost like a rainbow, gleaming in the sunlight. That must have been the source of the voice.

"You seem nice enough," Kari whispered, stepping closer to the light. It was tepid; the light soaked into her pores and radiated beneath her skin. She could feel it spreading through her chest and planting itself deep into her ribs, through veins and vessels and organs. A great, awesome heat filled her entire body, but it wasn't unwelcome. In fact, as the heat grew hotter and hotter, a smile caught her lips and traveled across her cheeks.

"You asked who I was," the voice went on. The Sun-glow illuminated Kari's face. "I am the illumination," the voice said, "I am the glare," it roared, "I am the Sun and the Moon and I am the warmth inside of your heart," it whispered, "I am Courage," it said, "I am Friendship," it laughed, "I am Love and Knowledge and Purity, I am Reliability and I am Hope," it bellowed. "I am the First and I am the Last. I was before you and I will stand long after you.

"I am Geneva."

And the incandescent glow enveloped her whole. She grabbed her chest, trying to stop the heat from filtering her mind, her thoughts, her body; she tried to call out for Gatomon, ask her what was happening, but her voice froze in her throat. She could not even get out a single whisper before the invisible light-creature coiled itself around her body.

At first, she was scared. Then the inferno which felt as if it would incinerate her dispersed. She thought about the voice and how sad it sounded when it mentioned how it once had friends, when it was flesh— what happened to its friends? Were they okay? Or were they gone? Would Kari lose her friends, too?

"Yes," the voice – Geneva – breathed into her ear, into her mind. "You will lose them all. But together, you and I will get them back. For I have chosen you, Wielder of Light, and so you will choose me or everyone you know will die. Now hold your Crest to the light. Let me feel it. Let me in, Kari Kamiya. Now is not the time to hesitate!"

But she didn't want to... She didn't know who this Geneva was, or what she would want with Kari's Crest... And Kari's Crest was so precious, so loved. It was the thing which bonded her most with Gatomon.

Gatomon.

I love you, Gatomon, Kari thought, tears springing at the corners of her eyes.

"You will lose her, too," Geneva said. "The Dark Masters will try to separate you. They will succeed for a brief time. But it is not the Dark Masters you need worry about.

"It is the things which crawl in the world made of darkness. The world built upon the bones of dead digital beings, a world where air is the breath of demon gods, where rivers of blood replace rivers of water, and only hatred reigns. This is the world which will grip you, which will hurt you, haunt you, which will control you! This is the world ruled by endless things, mercurial creatures, eternal beings who will not rest, will not stop, will not think until you and everyone you know and love and care about are dead! The Endless Ones are coming, and their ocean of darkness and shadow will sweep you away, Kari, and they will drown Gatomon, and there will be nothing you can do about it! You are strong, so very, very strong, but you cannot do everything on your own!

"Now let me in, so that I may help you! There is no time to waste!"

And with a clash of orange and blue – a flash of energy from WarGreymon and MetalGarurumon – Kari winced, fumbled with her Crest, and looked up at the white, gleaming light.

Will it take Tai, too? She asked.

"Yes," the voice replied.

And TK? Patamon? All the others...

"All of them. It will separate you from all the ones you love."

So then I'll be like you, Kari thought, still staring up at the light, feeling the tremble in her throat that stopped her from saying anything further. Alone. Friendless. Trapped in a world that was neither her own or the Digital World. A world where only evil prevailed.

The voice was silent for a second. Then, in a strained wisp, it replied, "Yes." Kari felt a pang in her heart. "You will end up just like me," it said. "Alone."

I can't allow that, she thought, reaching for the light. The Crest dangled from her hand. I WON'T allow that! I won't let anything hurt them...

And I won't let anything hurt you, either, Geneva. I'll be your friend.

You will not be alone ever again.

"Together, then," Geneva said. Kari could feel hands grasp hers, though she could not see them. She thought she saw a flash of amber-colored light, black pupils at the center. Eyes? Eyes like a hawk's, orange-hued and almond-shaped. Geneva's eyes. Was that what Geneva had looked like at one time, when she was flesh? "You will not remember me when you wake," she said, "But someday, we will see each other again. Until then, I will watch. And I will wait. And deep inside of you, I will be with you.

"I will never let you fall."

Then the light faded, and the darkness came.

The next thing Kari knew, she was cradled in Tai's arms. He was looming over her, calling her name. She smiled, but she didn't know why.

She would not find out for another eight years.

(-1010201-)

James Thurber once said that there are two kinds of light: the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures. It was this quote that Gennai reminded her of.

"So which one are you?" the quirky man said, smiling at her in his own pleasant way.

Kari was panting. Her palms cupped her kneecaps. She thought her lungs might explode and her parched throat felt scorched.

Gennai's pleasant smile didn't wane, though. "They're coming."

Kari did not get the opportunity to ask him what he meant before another attack struck with the force of a sledgehammer. She smashed against the outside wall of her apartment, shaking the beams, chipping the paint. Groaning, Kari sunk to her knees and held her head in her hands. "I can't do this, Gennai," she whispered between her fingers. "I can't... I can't... It's been six months and I can't get a hold of them and we're running out of time!"

Another attack bludgeoned the wall an inch from her head. She leaped to the side, not hesitating to relinquish her face in order to defend herself. "The Beings of Light won't talk to me!"

"But you're remembering!" Gennai barked, suddenly moving. "You're remembering your importance to them! You have been in contact with them once before, years ago! You have felt the remnants of their communication more than once, when you glow! You just need to remember! It is the key to everything."

"I can't!" she cried, avoiding another attack. She ran right into Gennai, who gripped her shoulders and stared her in the eye.

"You must."

Six months.

Six months since Earth was attacked by legions of evil digimon. Six months since Kari was sucked into the Dark Ocean for a second time. Six months since Davis Motomiya, thanks to unknown forces, ripped open the boundaries between Earth and the Dark Ocean, and came to her aid. Six months since Davis and Kari relinquished a part of their souls in order to save each other. Six months since the creature which pulled Kari in revealed that he was not the Master of that ocean, that world, who desired Kari's light— six months since the creature facetiously called himself the soul-sucking Overlord of Darkness, contracting souls of those he deemed worthy in a sick experiment of fate. Six months since he told Kari and Davis that he would be back, and he and his fellow Endless Brethren would overrun the Earth and the Digital World both.

Six months since this soul-sucking freak who forced Kari and Davis and all their friends to their knees told them that he was merely the weakest of his bastard band of evil things.

Six months since Kari Kamiya was told she would need to contact the World of Light in order to save both worlds. Six months since she realized the fate of two worlds were hinged on the shoulders of a girl who had absolutely no clue of where to even begin, because the only connection she had to that devastatingly beautiful world was her Crest of Light.

Six months, and all she had to show for it was better control of her newest evolution.

"Newest evolution"— that was what Gennai called it, though he was unable to explain it any further. It was an ancient evolution, lost by time and space and conflict. One of the mysteries of the Digital World, like the armor digieggs of Veemon, Hawkmon, and Armadillomon. The evolution came in stages. The first stage was the ability to manipulate digital energy, or something like that; it gave the human partners a boost in power so that they could defend their plight side-by-side with their digimon partners. It made Kari feel like a superhero, even though it was hard to control. Kari did not know how many more stages there were or what trials those stages would bring, and Gennai was unwilling to tell her no matter how many times she bugged him.

Six months had barely accomplished anything at all that she needed. But it was better than nothing.

"Now move," Gennai said, pushing her back.

She stumbled and nearly tripped, but caught herself and propelled her body to the right, where she swerved. Twisting on her heel, Kari felt the electrical currents explode along her arms, traveling with crackling pops up her shoulders and down her torso. Blue bolts the size of horse legs ran through her hair. Soon her entire body was encased in armor made of lightning; the only visible part of her were the black pupils of her eyes.

An explosion sent tremors through the ground. She steadied herself and pointed her finger at her attacker.

It was a mirror projection of Gennai in a Mechanorimon.

Mechanorimon held out his hand and a beam of orange light sizzled the air. Kari, too, was pointing in his direction. With a nod, lightning jetted out of her hand and snapped against the beam. Instantly, the blue lightning engulfed the orange light and swallowed both Mechanorimon and Gennai, incinerating them both.

The real Gennai stepped beside her and clapped a hand over her shoulder. She fell to her knees, clasping at her face. The lightning pittered out until only a couple stray bolts squirmed along her shoulders like energy-exuding worms.

"You're ready," Gennai told her. "You just have to believe you are. Only then will you be able to smash the barrier separating you from the Light Beings."

But the World of Light was not like the Digital World. She couldn't just take out her D3, point it at a computer, and be sucked into a Lightport. That would accomplish nothing. The World of Light was on a whole different plane of existence, even from the Digital World— even from the Dark Ocean.

It really disturbed Kari. Why was it so easy for her to be dragged into a world opposite of her Crest when it was so impossible to even whisper to a world hosting the source of her very essence?

Maybe I'm the glare, she thought, holding her chest, wishing she hadn't fought the false Gennai and Mechanorimon. She didn't like hurting any version of Gennai and a digimon, no matter if they were merely a projection. But if she was the glare which obscured, the shadows cast by the Sun, the dark side of the moon, the light which blinds, how could she feel so bad about hurting something that was not even real?

But then again, if she was the light which illuminates, why couldn't she contact the World of Light?

But I can, she thought, I CAN do this. I can't give up. Not yet.

But they were running out of time.

"Our session's over," Gennai said gently, smiling. Then, with a playful swatting motion, he continued, "I release you back into the wild, Ms. Kamiya!"

Kari smiled back at him and nodded. "See you soo—"

She was interrupted by a loud cracking noise. Then she realized it was a shadow-laced gash ripping open the sky.

(-101021-)

There was the sound of clinking chains coming from the shackles on his wrists.

Wisemon grunted disdainfully at them.

"You cannot hold me captive forever," he said, his head bowed, his hands cupped together in his lap. He was sitting on the projection of a book that could have been about ten times his size. An ancient language, rich in culture and history, scribed over the course of those thousand pages. The cloaked digimon wore a hood that hid the entirety of his face, all except for the yellow glow of his eyes. Gold-colored wings hung limply behind him, feathers torn from their roots, scattered at his feet. A red and yellow orb hovered in the air on either sides of his shoulders, cosmic spheres between time and space, manifested through the power of his book.

The four abyssal creatures watched him in silence.

Though they could not see Wisemon's face behind the shadows of his hood, the yellow glow of his eyes narrowed; he was smiling. "What can I do to make you free me... my masters?"

"Sacrifice a deer! ...Or maybe your firstborn child. ...Well, maybe a set of virgins will do, if they're male," said the only feminine figure of the four abyssal creatures. She threw her head back in a shriek of laughter. She was a Leporidae digimon, a goddess, the matron of night who guided lost souls through the darkness.

A Goddess of Moons, laughing at him. When he said nothing, her laughter paused, then she leaned forward so that the bleak silver-tinted daylight could illuminate the ocean-gray color of her amused eyes. "You say we are your masters. You have served us these past eight years so very faithfully. But I've seen the intent in your head. It screams at me from the heavens. You will sacrifice everything – your loyalties, our faith – to save her, and she has no idea you even exist. You have not even the slightest desire to give her an idea."

Her. Though the goddess had not referred to her by name, the mere implication sent a sharp pang through Wisemon's chest. He had tried for so long and so hard to protect her. Now his plans would be for naught.

"We have no use for her yet," said another figure, to the right of the goddess. He was tall— massive, gargantuan— with a body shaped by shadows and darkness and bloodshed. He had three heads shifting through the amorphous blackness that was his body, each head shaped like that of a jackal's. His fetus eyes glowed red, oozing blood and volcanic smoke.

This figure had many names. He referred to himself several times as the Overlord of Darkness, but to his brethren he was the Overlord of Being Pathetic. The figure was also referred to as the Jackal, or the Thing, or the Soul Sucker. In his belly stirred the souls of a million parallel universes, billions of beings all curled up and crying out. But the figure would never release them. They were imprisoned within him. One of those souls – gone now, but for years had it been a captive inside of him – was a Demon Lord. Now that soul was somewhere else. Somewhere he could reek much more damage in the name of the Endless Ones. But that was for a later point in time— that Demon Lord, with a deadly pride, had referred to the Soul Sucker as Jackalhead. Ever since, Wisemon himself had preferred that name over any of the others.

Jackalhead and the Goddess of Moons. Had their superiors any idea what these two wildcards would accomplish with simple words? No. The master of the Endless Ones and his closest friend, his right-hand, had little patience for the other two. They had other people to see, cities to destroy, worlds to conquer, old faces to meet. Old friends to devastate.

Her. That was what the Goddess of Moons had called her. Just her. No name, no face attached to it. And yet she was the key to everything. Everything Wisemon had ever done, he had done for her, and he prayed to Huanglongmon and Yggdrasil that she never found out, because he could not give her the happiness she had long fought for.

We have no use for her yet, Jackalhead had said. "Not until we get the Dark Spore. But we can't get the Dark Spore unless you help us, Wisemon. We have unleashed the beast of R'lyeh, waited six months for the stars to align for this very moment, and we have sought your book and found it. Now read it. Speak the words of the Necronomicon, and allow my Masters access to the rift between digital and reality!"

The Necronomicon. The book which was linked to Wisemon's very soul, the book which allowed him to travel through time and space and dimensions. So much had he seen through those pages, what privileges he had taken for granted.

"Please," Jackalhead pleaded. How much he must have wanted to please his lord and master— not because he loved his lord and master, but because pleasing that master would bring him one step closer to ridding the worlds of that master. Oh, traitorous Jackalhead, how you amused Wisemon so! "At one time, you were our greatest follower," Jackalhead said, "Now do us one more favor."

The two other abyssal creatures stirred. The Endless Lord and Master scoffed at Jackalhead lowering himself to Wisemon's level. After all, they were the greatest, the most powerful creatures who roamed the World of Darkness and its gray oceanic branches.

The chambers were dank and damp and silent, all but for the clinking of shackles and chains. A window splayed silver-colored light through Wisemon's cell, accompanied by the butter-warm glow of a lit white candlestick.

The Dark Ocean— the rift between the World of Darkness and Earth, Kari's Earth. Gatomon's Earth.

Her Earth.

"You're pathetic," the Goddess told Jackalhead. She sighed and wrapped her arms around the Wrathful Demon who ruled the four Endless Ones. Her lord and master grunted, craning his neck to look down at her simpering form, but though he stiffened, he did not pull away from her. She then directed her gaze to Wisemon. "If you do not open the rift, then we will kill her. We warned the Destined six months ago of our coming, but it is not enough to prepare for what we have in store. Perhaps if we'd given them a couple of years... but six months? She will die."

"She will die even if I do allow you access," Wisemon said.

And now the Wrathful Demon spoke. His voice was powerful, as rumbling as a shriek of thunder, and it shook the walls of Wisemon's prison cell. A crescendoing symphony infiltrated Wisemon's thoughts, rattling his brain, as the lord and master of the Endless Ones spoke to him.

"She is precious to all," the Wrathful Demon roared, "She will never die."

"But the version of her that I love will," Wisemon spat, rising from his spot over the Necronomicon. He pointed his scraggly, blackened, clawed finger at the Wrathful Demon and said, "Times have changed since the rise of Angels and Demons! Since the devastation of five humans, the death of the Hawk-Eyed, Golden-Haired child! The worlds of Chosen and the worlds of Tamers, the dimensions of Royal Knights and the dimensions of Olympus Gods, the realms of Great Dragons and the realms of Great Angels... None will survive this test of time! Wisemen and idiots alike will never stand a chance, and neither will she."

"But you will open the rift anyway," the Wrathful Demon said.

"I will not," Wisemon replied.

"No?" came the final voice. Though he was not lord and master of the Endless Ones, his mere voice sent chills down Wisemon's spine. He, the Dreamless Dreamer, did not move, did not slither forward on his breathless-blue tentacles and his rattling gold chains. He, too, like Wisemon, was forever shackled to this universe— until Wisemon read the Necronomicon, that is. Then he, unlike Wisemon, would be free... free forever. The Dreamless Dreamer thought he could find sanctum in this Dark Ocean, but only found more treachery and pain.

Wisemon listened to the drip of rust-ridden water as it filtered down the walls. The Dreamless Dreamer's chains sounded like a song playing in-tune to the clink of Wisemon's shackles; both prisoners to this world, dreaming of women they could not have. But the Dreamless Dreamer was done giving up.

The Dreamless Dreamer held out his hand. The hair on the back of Wisemon's neck stood on end.

"My patience runs thin and I'm tired of your face," the Dreamless Dreamer said.

Within seconds, Wisemon threw his head back in a shrill scream that shook the foundations of the prison cell, of the Darkhouse where he was held captive. Cracks split the walls and splinters plunged from the ceiling. Wisemon's shrieks pierced the sky as his palms clung desperately to his temples.

Once again, the Goddess of Moons threw her head back in a cold, high-pitched bellow of laughter. "You are not the only one who dreams of his other half!" she screamed, cackling. "All us Endless Things have dreamed dreamlessly since the day of our creation for this very moment, for this very opportunity! You will not stop us, Wisemon! The Dreamless Dreamer will have his Light, the Wrathful Demon will avenge the fallen child and her fallen angels, and I will touch the face of Greed!"

"I... will... not..." Wisemon clawed at the air, but he could feel the air squeezing out of his lungs. He saw flashes of time and space, of lights and darkness clashing in a violent dervish of fire and shadow. Myotismon's whip whistling in the wind, the white glow of an angel's smile, the flutter of a wing, a pointed hat flying through the air. The cries of his loved one as he dissipated into thin air. These were the things that struck him as the Dreamless Dreamer sunk deep inside his mind and sunk into his soul, biting deeper, deeper, until the creature was inside of Wisemon, deep, deep down, coiled around his heart. "I... WILL NOT... ALLOW YOU... MY SOUL..."

"You have no choice," the Goddess of Moons said, and though half her face was veiled by a white mask, Wisemon swore he could hear the smile in her voice. "You were quite an asset when you pretended to love us. But your time's run out, Wisemon. You should not have trifled with the Endless Ones."

And the Dreamless Dreamer tore into him, and Wisemon could not stop. Could not breathe. Could not think.

Blackness tore at his sight, at his heart; he thought about how he was transferred at one point to the beautiful planet of Witchelny, where he vowed to someday return to the Digital World, to Earth. It was impossible. His body had been destroyed on Earth so he could not return there. But he would find a way—

and now that dream, along with his mind, dispersed.

"Now read from the Necronomicon," said the Dreamless Dreamer, relinquishing his hold on Wisemon's heart, "And set us four free."

"Yes, my lords and masters," Wisemon whispered, the yellow glint of his eyes fading into a dead sallow glow. Then he peered down at the ancient scrawl, raised his hands to the sky, and felt the power of the universe convulse inside his chest. Red and yellow spheres of energy crackled around him.

The book of the dead would open the rift between the Dark Ocean and Earth and the Digital World, never to be closed again.

I'm sorry, Wisemon whispered. I'm so sorry.

"Summon the Triad," commanded the Goddess of Moons. "They will be first."

(-010201-)

"AWAKEN, GATOMON..."

The feline stirred. While Kari attempted to recall disembodied voices from a past she barely remembered, Gatomon, too, was facing her own disembodied voice. Who was it? She could hear it rumbling in the deepest pits of her mind, beyond the barriers of words, clashing vehemently, like a symphony of thunder. She bit down on her tongue. She tried to open her eyes, but they wouldn't budge.

She didn't recognize the voice, yet it felt familiar, almost as if she'd heard it a million times before.

It sounded feminine, and definitely did not have a body – the voice was without a doubt coming from somewhere inside her head.

"REMEMBER YOUR PAST..."

I do remember, Gatomon thought.

I remembered my past a long time ago...

Wizardmon and Kari saw to that...

"YOU DO NOT REMEMBER YOUR PAST...

"YOU REMEMBER YOUR FUTURE, THIS LIFE...

"YOU DO NOT REMEMBER WHO YOU TRULY ARE..."

Thump-thump.

Gatomon felt her heart rattle against her chest. A scalding – screaming, agonizing – pain struck her. The pain shot to her stomach, churned, then unfurled to her legs, arms, head... Though her eyes remained closed, searching through the darkness, she reached up to clutch her temples, teeth clamping down in a snarl.

Who was the voice?

What was she trying to get Gatomon to remember?

Why did her heart and her head hurt so much?

"REMEMBER ME, GATOMON..."

"Who are you?" she finally said.

A low thunderclap of laughter rumbled inside Gatomon's head. The black canvas behind her eyelids shuddered, shivered, like swarms of black-bodied insects ready to take flight, crawling over the walls of her inner-sanctum, the asylum that was inside her head.

Thump-thump.

Ugh... "Stop! Stop, it hurts!"

Again, her heart pounded. Another stab bludgeoned her. Faltering and falling, she collapsed in a tangle of knotted limbs.

Thump-THUMP.

"YOU CAN'T SUPPRESS US FOREVER...

"YOU DON'T WANT TO SUPPRESS US FOREVER...

"DO YOU REMEMBER HOW EASY IT WAS TO DESTROY A LIFE?

"DO YOU REMEMBER BASKING IN THE POWER MYOTISMON BESTOWED YOU?

"YES, REMEMBER... AND NEVER FORGET AGAIN..."

"I don't want to...!" She was shaking, quaking, her forehead pressed against the cool linoleum beneath her. THUMP. She threw her head back in a shrill scream, grabbing her chest, eyes finally snapping open to see the kitchen ceiling and the polywood counter and the wooden stools and the checkered tiles— but all of it dimmed to a thick white light as her ribs CRNNNNCHed against the weight of her paw clasping frantically at her torso.

Another boom of laughter shook her mind. Though she couldn't see anything but the blinding white light, she could still feel the force of that rattling voice, the woman who creeped and crawled into her, slithering like a snake, until another burst of stabbing agony lanced through her chest.

Screaming, a spray of blood stained the white light. Gatomon fell backwards, breastbone SNAPping, and began hacking and coughing. Inky red blotches oozed from her chest where something penetrated the white shield of fur protecting her, except whatever struck her hadn't been physical, hadn't been anything at all—

SNNNNNNNAP

Clutching wildly at the bleeding wound, Gatomon cried out. The tear was widening, but there weren't any hands, she couldn't see any attacks.

It was coming from something inside her.

Something that was clawing, screaming, dying to be released from its living prison of bone and blood.

And it was unshackling itself by ripping open Gatomon's chest, starting with her heart.

"WHAT ARE YOU...?"

A black, macabre hand shot out of the gaping gash in Gatomon's chest. In a flurry of movement, the hand lurched and gripped Gatomon's face. Another hand surfaced, this one coated with thick layers of blood and bone and marrow. This new hand – human-looking, despite the rotted hand clutching Gatomon – anchored itself to the linoleum.

Elbows quivering, something else emerged from Gatomon: shoulders first, with a head covered in sopping-wet black hair that covered the woman's face.

"WHO...?" Gatomon once again began, but the woman's decaying hand only tightened its clutch on Gatomon's face, constricting her jowls until a light popOP strangled any words.

As Gatomon flailed, the blood-bathed woman then leaned forward, back cracking, hair still veiling her face, and lightly ran her fingers down Gatomon's chin. Chuckling, streamlets of blood ushered from the corners of lips just barely visible beneath a shawl of hair. The woman boomed, "Oh, toots... You know what I am... you know who I am..."

Whatever response Gatomon might have had, it was choked by the gushing of blood from her chest and jaw, and she felt her eyes roll up in the back of her head.

"I..."

Another titter.

"AM..."

Gatomon watched the world go black.

"...YOU..."

(-20102001-)

Chapter II Preview: The world has gone to hell. Digital Hell. The Endless Ones make their first move. Davis searches for Kari and Izzy searches for Gatomon. Meanwhile, TK finds himself cornered by an old-enemy-turned-teacher...

Author's Note: I'd like to quickly say that this story has an ensemble cast... which basically means that, while a few characters (i.e., Kari, Davis, and TK) get a bit more screentime than others, there is no specific main character to the story. All twelve of the Destined get the spotlight, character development, and plotlines.