All right! First major fic is up! I was planning on writing more smaller side stories, but I think they can wait.

Now for some foreground to this dark story, mebbe you better start at Beneath the Surface. Gives a little context to some of the exchanges that take place in here.

And btw, this isn't completely centered around Matt and TK. Ken and Kari come into the main picture too. As well as Sora and Yolei. The others not so much. But yeah, there were two that I had to pick, and it was the brothers.

FYI, I don't own Digimon. Had your hopes up didn't I? Guess not…


The Prologue

A shriek split the humid air. The pained cry rang out across the shoreline, carrying along with it loneliness and despair. The flying horse and its rider soared among the dark clouds, searching for the source of the voice. They scanned the landscape around them frantically, trying to reach a friend long in need of help. The air grew thicker around the two, and they knew they would soon need aid themselves if this took much longer. But at last, when the oceanside had grown nearly as dark as night, a friendly voice called out.

"TK!"

The two spun to look, the boy calling out in return, "Ken!"

"I'm so glad you're here, TK! We need your help fast!" The boy genius was riding Stingmon, and immediately they turned to lead TK and Pegasusmon to where Yolei's cries continued to come from. The other boy looked Ken over, making sure he hadn't overspent himself or been hurt. He did look exhausted, but TK knew the other boy wouldn't leave without Yolei. That was good for TK, at least. He could tell he would need help to rescue their friend. He followed Stingmon towards the cliffs that lined the beach, and flew past them. There was a moment of flying in a single direction, going as fast as they could while helplessly listening to the skirmish. And then the screams died away.

The two boys and their digimon reached a crater with steep, cliff-like sides. The four took only an instant to take in the situation. Yolei was crowded in a corner, on her knees, yet not quite in a submitting position. She was dirty but fortunately didn't have any painfully obvious or serious injuries. She and her partner were on the brink of complete exhaustion, and were surrounded by deep, living shadows. TK blinked at them. The creatures were hard to focus on, being that they blended in so well with the rest of the Dark World in which they lived. He glared as Pegasusmon dove down into the crater to interfere. Hawkmon was beyond his limits, while the shadow creatures crowded around the two menacingly. There were so many.

TK called to the boy riding on Stingmon, "Ken! Come in under Pegasusmon and get Yolei. I'll take care of Hawkmon."

"Sounds like a plan."

"You're on, Pegasusmon!" TK urged his digimon.

"Star Shower!"

The attack blew a pathway through the dark mob, scattering the creatures, and Stingmon passed under Pegasusmon, diving low to the ground. He shot by Yolei, scooping her up in the process. TK came after, his digimon low. Hawkmon jumped up with wings outstretched, and TK grabbed one and hoisted the rookie into his lap. The creatures had recovered fast, and Pegasusmon was almost too late to get back up into the air as TK felt something bump his foot.

"Hurry up Pegasusmon!" He cried, jerking his foot up. "Forget what I said about Airdramon. That was too close!"

Pegasusmon responded immediately, shooting away from the shadows. Normally TK didn't have a problem with flying at high speeds on his partner, but that was in the clear skies and clean air of the DigiWorld. They were in the Dark World now, and the black mist-laden atmosphere in which they were soaring now was incredibly uncomfortable. The heavy air seemed to be pulling at him as it brushed roughly past and it stole his breath away. TK ventured a glance behind them. He did a double take.

The creatures down below seemed to be morphing. A shadow, a presence seeming to be almost solid, was gathering on the spot, merging into the shady creatures, helping them grow. They were soon recognizable as certain types of flying digimon. Airdramon were there, but they were only a few of many others of different kinds. Snimon. Parrotmon. Kuwagamon. They all took off after the fleeing ones.

TK's eyes grew wide as he saw how fast the dark ones were catching up to them. They flew with speed much greater than that of the digimon forms they had assumed. His heart began to race, and TK faced forward, locating the others. Stingmon was well ahead, securely carrying Yolei and Ken. The two children were often casting worried glances back at him, and then he recognized a look of horror from both.

He spun his head around just in time to see Snimon take a swipe at him with its sharp sickles. The only way to escape being impaled on the blade was to jump off his digimon. TK rolled to the side and let himself fall, hearing the sickle cut the air just above him. He had evaded that blow, but now he had time to worry about the distance between him and the ground. He heard the frantic screams and calls from the other two humans; above him he heard a shout from Pegasusmon, though it seemed to be more from pain than concern. TK managed to turn somehow to see his digimon spiralling to the ground as well, hit by one of the Parrotmon. TK was breathless as the air raced by. The near liquid feeling of the atmosphere had lifted somewhat, letting him fall full force.

He finally heard a word of comfort. "Hawkmon digivolve to…Aquilamon!"

The little bird digimon had found a second wind to digivolve, and TK soon found the eagle beneath him, lifting him out of his fall. They continued on to Pegasusmon, who dedigivolved right in front of them, to TK's dismay.

"How hard did he get hit?"

"Hard," was Aquilamon's reply. "Too hard. Neither of us was ready for it."

Aquilamon dove down quickly to catch up with Patamon, and snatched the rookie five feet above the ground. The champion pulled up sharply, and let TK jump off to check on his partner. Stingmon and his passengers landed nearby to regroup as the flying shadows circled the air above them ominously, slowly decreasing in altitude.

"Patamon?" TK said hurriedly, nearly in a panic when his partner didn't open his eyes right away. But slowly the little digimon stirred and mumbled.

"I'll be okay. That hurt though."

"It looked like it, too." Ken put in.

The living shadows were closing in, and Aquilamon took to flight to drive them off and buy the others a little time to recuperate. Stingmon hovered just above the children, ready for any that might try to make a direct attack. A few moments passed before Patamon recuperated, but by then, those on the ground already had more company. Out of the surrounding landscape appeared the shady figures. These ones were in their true forms. Tall, lanky, with beady eyes and swimming with pitch-black darkness.

Several appeared from nowhere, and slowly approached the group from all sides. Ken, TK, and Yolei formed a tight circle, backs to each other, facing all directions. Patamon had jumped onto TK's shoulder. Stingmon hovered up above, poised to strike at any who were too close. None of them made any sudden moves; they just gradually made their way, taking their time. Stingmon saw this, and decided to take the first strike. It was either that or let the shadows get dangerously close to the children. Neither option was promising.

The shady beings responded to Stingmon's attack by rushing forward, most to bring down the champion, and several continuing to surround the kids. Patamon took to action with renewed energy, digivolving immediately to Angemon. The blast of light from the digivolution drove the creatures back momentarily, but Angemon had his hands full in no time. The children kept between him and Stingmon, staying out of the way of both battling forces as best they could.

"Aquilamon!" Yolei shouted up to her partner, trying to draw his attention. "Help get us out of this!"

TK looked up too to see how the champion was faring. There were less of the flying shadows up there, but Aquilamon was in no shape to finish them all off. The three pairs of humans and digimon had to escape. Stingmon grabbed Ken, Aquilamon made a dive for Yolei, and TK felt a strong hand grasp his arm. From the chills being sent up his arm by the icy grip, TK knew it wasn't Angemon that was holding him.

He let out a short cry as two hands seized him by the shoulders and jerked him away from the others. TK found himself breathless and in a panic when he realized he was surrounded by a mass of the dark creatures. He struggled against the grasps of numerous rough hands as they all fought for a chance to take a swipe at him. The weight of their stifling presence forced him to his knees, and he heard a dark and familiar voice from somewhere among them.

"Three times, and your very life is forfeit."

TK tried to cry out against the claws that had grabbed his neck. His head. His arms. This wasn't how it was supposed to happen. The others were still here. They would help him. Guys? Help! He found he couldn't speak past the fog choking him.

And then his hope was rewarded.

"Blast Rings!"

"Spiking Strike!"

"Hand of Fate!"

Before he knew it, the smothering grip of the shadows was gone, and he was in the gentle arms of Angemon. They were finally making their getaway from the Dark Ocean, flying upwards to the other dimension. TK barely acknowledged the transition from the Dark World to the beach in the Real World. His mind was reeling from those menacing words. He had heard them before somewhere. As he pondered, TK only caught the more prominent facts of the following conversation between themselves. None of them were harmed, though Yolei and Hawkmon were going straight for a nap and they were all still shaken up over the incident.

TK finally came down to earth when he realized the three were splitting ways. He spoke to Ken, "Are you going to be okay alone?"

"Yes, I'll be fine. You know Wormmon's here," Ken replied, smiling in a way that showed the answer was obvious. TK nodded, both of the boys knowing it was just an instinctive question.

"Take care, Ken!" Yolei said brightly. "See you soon?"

"Hopefully," was the reply before turning off. Yolei looked to TK.

"You ready to go home? I know I am!"

TK grinned and nodded.

Yolei cocked her head and adjusted her glasses at his silent manner, and ventured the customary question. "Are you going to be okay?"

The blond nodded again. "Yeah. It's just what happened back there. I guess I'm still kinda…" His voice faded away as he shuddered. Yolei put her hands on his shoulders with an energetic air about her.

"Hey! Come on, it'll be all right! You just need to sleep it off, that's all." She turned him towards the direction to get to their apartment building, and guided him on. TK smiled at her words and her cheery atmosphere. If it had been anyone else who had said any of that to him, he wouldn't have felt the comfort he did now, being that Yolei had the roughest time of them all in that whole ordeal. He began troubling himself with questions again. Why had the Dark Ocean gone for her?

By the time they reached the building they called home, both were completely drained. TK was more than ready to crash in his bed, despite his restless mind. As he left the elevator after reaching his floor, Yolei said her good-bye.

"Ken and I wouldn't have gotten out without you," she said with a grateful smile. "Thanks TK, it means a lot to me and I'm sure Ken feels the same way. Not a lot of people would put their life on the line like that. Especially when in the Dark Ocean. Thanks again."

TK smiled, "I'm glad to do it, Yolei."

His mind still wasn't exactly there. His thoughts had wandered at her statement and remained there after the elevator continued up and he had gone to his apartment. Not a lot of people put their life on the line like that.

Three times and your very life is forfeit. TK gasped at the connection, effectively getting the attention of his partner.

"What is it TK?"

"The whirlpool," he replied slowly.

The simple statement startled the digimon, and he took to flight, hovering in front of TK's thoughtful gaze. Patamon hadn't forgotten the incident that occurred more than a year ago. "Come to think of it, TK, you never told me what happened there. What was beneath the surface of the whirlpool, exactly?"

"Just…darkness. And a voice."

"Someone spoke to you?"

TK nodded. "Or something. It warned me about interfering with the powers of darkness. That's exactly what we were just doing."

Patamon flew to rest on TK's head as the boy walked to his room. "It'll be okay. We get in darkness' hair all the time. It's nothing we can't handle, I'm sure."

TK was still pondering over the occurrences, wondering what was about to happen when he changed and went to bed. He tried to rest easy, reassuring himself that it was Friday. Days in the Dark World always ended like this. He got himself to rest easy with the thought of Yolei safe, retrieved from the darkness and in one piece. Still, he ended up falling asleep on one lingering thought.

My life is forfeit.


Let's have some audience participation…reviews appreciated! More chapters to come, don't worry!