A/N: Reading the Message in a Packet CD Drama isn't necessary to understand this story at all, really, but I'd recommend checking it out anyway, it's good.

This story is set in the dubverse, with dub names and puns and all.

Petasos: Prologue

He arrived to the Digital World with hardly a sound. The sand and his squishy body doubly absorbed the impact of his landing, reducing it to nothing more than a thud, and minimizing the damage to a round dent in the smooth sand. A cloud of dust erupted around him, and he was arrested by a fit of hacking coughs that released puffs of dirt he had breathed in upon landing. As they subsided, his watery eyes scanned the empty landscape, the air surrounding him full of unfamiliar scents. A whine escaped his throat as he slowly realized that in this large expanse of desert - he was all alone. To confirm this, he tentatively called out a few names.

"…Terriermon? Calumon?"

There was no response. The In-Training's bat wing-like ears drooped. Again he looked around, uncertain of what to do, thumping his tail thoughtfully. This trip to the Digital World was definitely different from the last - he and the others had been pulled in this time, during which he was surrounded by an intense, whirling blur of lights. It was like being sucked into a vacuum, the spinning confusion only stopping when he was already falling to the ground. But maybe it wasn't so bad! Maybe there had been a hiccup and the others had been a little more spread out than they usually would have been. And, his sense of smell in this form was weaker. Yes, that was it! Now all he had to do was find them. Ears perking up, Gigimon set off in a random direction.

With every step he took though, Gigimon could not help but feel the rug of optimism slowly being pulled out from under him. It was dead silent, aside from the wind, and the flat landscape could not help but betray the fact that there was absolutely no one around. Time crept by as he wandered more and more listlessly, darkness eventually consuming the quiet landscape.

Curling up against one of the rare rocks that broke up the utter flatness of the landscape, Gigimon tried to rest. His legs ached, his stomach growled, and his heart hurt. His eyes squeezed shut, in an attempt to sleep and not cry. Gradually, the wind began to pick up, dust billowing out across the desert. Grains of sand bounced harmlessly off his tough skin, but the sensation still forced him awake again. He had barely slept at all, but the rock didn't offer much protection from the elements.

Reluctantly, Gigimon rose and continued walking, squinting from the clouds of dust being blown around. He could barely make out the horizon, which seemed to get…more bumpy in shape? Must be bigger rocks was his guess. His spirits lifted a little, ears twitching. At least he'd have cover from the wind! Although, he could have sworn one of those rocks was moving. Suddenly, instinct kicked in and his pupils shrank to the size of pinpricks, a squeaky growl erupting from his throat.

The thing lumbering toward him was a Digimon, a strong one too. Part of him knew he didn't stand a chance, but another part realized running was pointless. There was nowhere to hide. He had to stand his ground.

The Digimon didn't seem to be aware of his presence, or it was deliberately taking its time approaching him. It continued it's slow stride, the wind finally dying down to the point where Gigimon could make out the appearance of this Digimon. Two long horns jutted from the back of its head, a third protruding from its snout; its skin was blue and white; it also had a stocky build, and large claws. It wore a look of boredom, its tail lazily swinging from side to side, glazed over eyes staring off into space.

It actually seemed surprised when it finally noticed the tiny In Training snarling up at it from not too far away. Stooping down, earning an even more vicious growl from Gigimon, it observed him curiously. The blank look in its red eyes was replaced with amusement.

"Whoa, pretty fierce for a kid." It spoke with a deep, rumbling, masculine voice. " I can already see your Dragon Digimon nature getting you in trouble, picking a fight with the first guy that crosses you," his, Gigimon had noted, lips curled into a snarling grin, showing off his fangs. "You're lucky I have too much honor to crush pipsqueaks like you."

Gigimon blinked in astonishment, pupils returning to their normal size. "Umm, wait, so you aren't…going to hurt me?"

"Nah, wouldn't be worth the puny amount of data I'd get out of you." The Digimon casually scratched his snout. "Besides, there're so few Dragon Digimon around to begin with. It'd be, I dunno, counter-productive to destroy you. Hell, finding you at all is the most exciting thing that's happened around here lately."

"Are you lonely then, like me? Cause, " Gigimon gazed up, smiling brightly. "We could be friends!"

A stunned expression flashed across the Digimon's face, but it was quickly replaced by a look of humor. He let out a throaty laugh. "Hahaha, had a fast change of heart there, didn't you, kiddo? Look, like I said, I'm not sparing you out of kindness. I could stomp you to pieces and that'd be it. I could go about my day like normal."

The little In-Training frowned. "I don't get it though. If you had a friend, you wouldn't have to be bored anymore. We could play!"

The bigger Digimon's expression dimmed. He shook his head. "Look, I don't need friends. And neither do you. Out here, the only guy you can really count on is yourself. Worrying about anyone else is a waste of energy. It would be cute if you being so trusting wasn't so dangerous. Typical baby Digimon."

It was Gigimon's turn to shake his head. "That's not true! Friends help each other! They give each other strength! When you're with them-" Gigimon paused, looking away sadly. Then continued, almost whispering, "…When you're with them, you can do anything."

The Digimon snorted. "Oh yeah? Sounds like you've had some 'friends' already. Where're they now, huh? Gone, probably left you. Or got destroyed. What good is that going to do you?"

Gigimon turned towards the Digimon, looking him square in the eyes. He seemed to be thinking. Veedramon stared back with mild interest.

"…Even if they aren't here right now, they still help me. Friendship doesn't go away 'cause of distance or anything like that. If you don't wanna be my friend, that's fine." His eyes shone with determination. "But mine didn't leave me, we were separated. I dunno where they are, but I'll find them! I'll make some new friends too!"

He started to bound around the bigger Digimon to continue his search with renewed vigor, but was blocked when the Digimon swung his tail down in his path. The Digimon, still facing forward, glanced down at Gigimon through the corner of his eye. He seemed to be considering something. After a brief pause, he chuckled.

"Dang, you've got some spirit, kiddo. Just what I expected from a Dragon Digimon. It wouldn't be right to just let you go, you'd probably get yourself killed. And what good would that do your pals?" He paused as if thinking again, then turned around, and started heading back to the rocks on the horizon, looking over his shoulder at Gigimon, who was watching him curiously. "I'll make a deal with you. Until you Digivolve, you're not allowed to leave this territory. Follow me and I'll show you a place to stay. Name's Veedramon, by the way."

Gigimon hung back, dumbfounded. The landscape in the distance was beginning to light up, day time rapidly approaching again as Veedramon called back impatiently, "Well? You coming or not?"

A goofy smile spread across Gigimon's face. "Heeey, he really did want to be my friend!"

It had been several months since the Digimon had returned to their world. The days passed by quickly as the Tamers readjusted to everyday life. It had been surprisingly easy in some regards, for some of them. They all missed their Digimon greatly, but they would see each other again one day, wouldn't they?

It was late afternoon, and Henry was seated with his family at the dinner table. His food was relatively untouched aside from the stray noodles he was pushing around with his chopsticks. He seemed lost in thought.

"Dad, could I talk to you after dinner?"

Janyu Wong looked up from his own food, surprised. He and Henry had gotten along well enough after what had happened several months ago. He knew Henry had forgiven him, but it took him some time to forgive himself, especially with how Suzie regularly cried and told him how much she missed the Digimon, but she was getting better. Curious as to what Henry wanted to discuss, he smiled affirmatively.

"Sure, Henry."

Dinner continued as usual. Once everyone was done, plates were collected and placed in the sink, the older Wong children leaving to do their afternoon activities, Henry's mother taking Suzie out to the playground, leaving Henry and his father alone. Henry motioned for his father to follow him to his room. Janyu stepped inside, as Henry sat down at his computer and pulled up what looked like code on the screen. He was aware that Henry had been learning code over the last few months, and bent down next to his son to see what it was that he had done. He adjusted his glasses. It was crude, to be sure, as Henry was inexperienced, but it still got the basic idea across to Janyu.

"This…looks like a data packet."

Henry turned to his father, looking almost relieved. "I'm surprised you could tell, dad. I've been tinkering with this thing for a few weeks now, it's been pretty tricky."

His father placed a supportive hand on his shoulder. "You did just fine, Henry. I think you're a natural. Have you got something planned for this project of yours?"

Henry nodded. "Yeah, that's why I need your help. These aren't just data packets, they're message packets. I…want to send messages to our Digimon."

Janyu squeezed Henry's shoulder encouragingly. "Henry, I would be glad to help you. In fact," he left momentarily and came back with a chair, which he placed next to Henry and seated himself in, "I'll do it right now."

They worked late into the night.

Janyu finally stood after a few hours, stretching. "That wasn't too hard, just had to work out some kinks. I'll contact Yamaki in the morning to see what he can do for you. I'm sure he'll be more than happy to lend a hand sending these out. We'll make some more tomorrow too."

Henry suppressed a yawn. "Thanks, dad."

His father left, wishing him a good night. Henry flopped into bed, too tired to brush his teeth or change into his pajamas. Laying in bed, his mind inevitably drifted back to the packets.

He remembered when he had first introduced the idea of the data packets. It was a few weeks following Guilmon's hideout being completely sealed off with concrete, after Takato had attempted to enter the Digital Portal inside.

He had asked Takato and Rika to meet him at the old hideout. Takato, who had arrived there before anyone else, was incredibly receptive to the idea, he even volunteered to tell the others about Henry's plan and gather everyone together to create their messages when the time came. But Rika…he had expected her reaction to some degree. To have to face their feelings about their Digimon again head-on wouldn't be easy for any of them, he knew that, but he had also hoped there would be some measure of comfort in being able to contact them in some way, even if it wasn't guaranteed to reach them. Hopefully, when the packets were ready for recording, she would have a change of heart. Her doubt almost made him waver, but Takato quickly interjected, stating that trying was at least better than not trying at all. Their Digimon would appreciate the effort.

He turned over restlessly.

"I know what you would say right now if you were here, Terriermon…"

His friendship with Veedramon was a confusing affair. Veedramon seemed to waffle between acting distant and acting chummy, like he wasn't sure how to do this friendship thing - Gigimon was probably his very first friend. There was also his obsession with Dragon Digimon, which Guilmon wasn't sure if he actually was one or not, but he played the part well enough to leave that impression on Veedramon. The Champion level left frequently too, to make sure no rogue Digimon were wandering through his domain.

Gigimon greatly appreciated his company though. It was more than he could have asked for, given his situation.

Still, life in the desert was almost unbearable. Gigimon's stomach rumbled loudly, as it had been doing for the past couple of months. He whimpered. The sensation of hunger had plagued him for a good while now. Even so, he was reluctant to say anything about the subject of food to Veedramon again, who had gotten incredibly frustrated with him and his "constant whining" in their first few weeks together.

He had stated (or rather, yelled) there was no food, and that Gigimon shouldn't need food anyway. His only comforting words on the subject had been that the need for food would gradually go from a dull ache to a distant memory. Veedramon was right, it was getting easier to not think about food. He was just so used to being fed regularly, by Takato…

To distract himself, both from the gnawing hunger, incredible boredom, and now, sadness, he tried to convince Veedramon to play with him. Veedramon was back on one of his breaks, eyes shut, leaning against one of the large rocks that made up his home as if it were a lounge chair.

"Hey, um, Veedramon?"

Veedramon cracked open an eye. "What?"

"Wanna play?" Gigimon chirped, smiling up at the Champion level, tail wagging.

The bigger Dragon Digimon sat up slowly, stretching. "Do what now?"

"Play! You know, like tag?" Gigimon suggested.

"I have no idea what that is," he said, staring at Gigimon, face contorted in puzzlement.

"It's a really fun game! You chase me and if you touch me, I'm it! And then it's my turn to chase you." Gigimon hopped up and down.

"I think I'll pass." Veedramon laid back again.

Gigimon paused, thoughtful. "Hmmm, then how about hide-and-seek?"


"I spy?"

Veedramon sighed in exasperation. "Another thing I haven't heard of! You're just full of bizarre ideas, aren't you, kid?"

Gigimon frowned. The idea of games just seemed to annoy Veedramon, so he decided to try something else. He came up with what he felt was a great idea - stories! He loved stories, and he bet Veedramon would too.

"Okay then, wanna hear a story?" Gigimon asked, tail thumping.

Veedramon gave him a bored look, but relented. "Meh, sure."

"Yay! Okay, so, back in the Real World-" Gigimon began.

"Whoa whoa whoa, hold it, did you say Real World?" Veedramon suddenly leaned forward, blinking.

Gigimon stopped, confused. "Yeah?"

Veedramon fell back laughing. "Haha, that's a good one, kiddo! Real World my ass. You're not even strong enough to defend yourself here, so how would you have the strength to go there?"

"Because…I didn't come from here! I was created by Takato, he lives in the Real World." Gigimon explained, frowning. He wasn't sure what was so funny.

"What the hell is a Takato? Sounds like a human. Seriously, are you out of your mind, kid?"

Gigimon shook his head fiercely. "I'm not! Takato is my best friend! He's a…he's a Tamer!"

Veedramon burst out laughing again, clutching his stomach. "Hahaha, check out the imagination on this kid! You having a Tamer, now that's rich!"

"But it's true!" Gigimon said indignantly.

Veedramon scoffed. "Yeah sure. Good story though, gotta give you points for creativity."

"I didn't even tell a story yet!" Gigimon cried, his voice faltering. It was the only counter he had to Veedramon's skepticism over Takato's existence. The fact that it was so easy to deny that the boy was real ate at him. Maybe it was the fact that Takato literally was a world away, unreachable to the point of seeming fictional. Whatever the reason was, he couldn't articulate it, but Veedramon's disbelief hurt.

Seeing the pained look on the In-Training's face, Veedramon's taunting tone vanished. "Yeah you kind of did. You've already got a hell of a fairy tale going. But…hrm. Uh. So…Takato, was it? That's a…cool name for a Tamer."

Gigimon blinked slowly. "Y-yeah, it is."

"Is he a good…Tamer?"

"He's the best!"

"Then I want to hear all about him."

Veedramon laid on his stomach in the sand, head resting on his crossed arms, as he listened to the baby Digimon in front of him excitedly flit about as he told stories about his beloved Tamer late into the night. He didn't believe a word of it, honestly, but talking about this seemed to make Gigimon indescribably happy.

Takato was up in his room drawing when his mother called him down.

"Takato, phone call! It's from Henry!"

He already knew what it was about.

"You finished them? That's awesome! So we're recording them right? Oh yeah. I'll do my best to get everyone together Henry!"

He hung up, then immediately picked up the phone again and dialed a number.

Waiting to Digivolve was starting to wear on Gigimon. Considering that he could only do it with Takato's help made the situation even more hopeless. At this rate, he'd never be able to leave.

His friends were out there right now, in the Digital World, and here he was, stuck in the middle of nowhere. Being separated from Takato was one thing, but the others too? He missed them all desperately.

"Why do we have to stay here? Can't you go with me?"

Veedramon growled. "Look, pipsqueak. The Digital World is gigantic, we'd get lost really fast. And if I leave, some punk Digimon'll come in here while I'm gone and claim my territory all for themselves!"

"Then I'll go by myself!" Gigimon declared, eyes flashing.

There was a flinty edge to Veedramon's voice. "Remember kid, we had a deal. You can't leave this area until you Digivolve. Seriously, it's for your own good. Do you have a death wish?"

"Well, no, but…" Defeated, for the moment, Gigimon slunk back to his alcove. Veedramon sighed.

He snuck out when Veedramon left to patrol the borders of his territory. The baby Digimon had covered a good amount of ground - he couldn't even see the characteristic rocks of Veedramon's home anymore, only the empty desert plains. Humming happily to himself, Gigimon wondered what the others were up to. He had no idea how long he'd been here now, just that it was a really long time. He thought fondly about playing with Terriermon and Calumon again, and wriggled with excitement.

Gigimon's trip continued peacefully when he inevitably ran into trouble.

A group of wandering Goblimon spotted him easily on the flat desert plains. Moving in unison, they quickly surrounded him in a circle. Even though the alarms in his head were going off, he tried to be friendly (he remembered how Veedramon had criticized him for "picking a fight with the first Digimon that crossed him") and attempted instead to strike up a conversation.

"Hello! It's um, a nice day, huh?"

Which they laughed off. They sneered at him.

One Goblimon snorted with disdain. "I can't get over how dumb Dragon Digimon are!"

"Just look at him! An arrogant baby just waltzing around in plain sight!" Growled another.

"It's a joke that they rule this part of the desert!"

Completely and utterly lost, Gigimon innocently explained that he had no idea what they were talking about.

A Goblimon swung down its club at him in response. He promptly dodged, countering with a Hot Bite, clamping down on the attacking Goblimon's ankle. It yelped in pain, swinging its club at Gigimon, who released his grip and dodged again, the club striking it's user's own foot. Most of the Goblimon laughed, but one quickly ran forward, fist raised, and crushed Gigimon into the ground with a strong punch. Stunned, he lay in the sand as they swarmed around him, several raising their clubs. Gigimon was getting back on his feet when he heard a roar.

"V-Nova Blast!"

Several Goblimon burst into particles of data as they were rapidly consumed in a burst of white-hot light. The others yelled in surprise and scattered, fleeing. Veedramon did not pursue them though, going instead to check on Gigimon.

Looking up at the Champion, the In-Training could see the anger - and hurt - in Veedramon's eyes. Guilt quickly overcame Gigimon - Veedramon had been right, it was too dangerous for him to go alone in his present form. That look also reminded him of the reaction Takato had when he thought Guilmon had ignored his orders to stay in his hideout and out of trouble. Takato was trying to protect him then, just like Veedramon was now.

Before Veedramon could say a word, not that he needed to, Gigimon initiated the long trip back to their haven. Veedramon followed after him.

They walked quietly, Veedramon muttering a string of "I told ya so.", "See what I mean?", "You're lucky I was around.", and a murmured "Glad you're okay".

Once they had returned to Veedramon's home, Gigimon finally spoke.

"…I'm sorry. I just wanted to see my friends again really badly."

Veedramon sighed. "Look, I know that. I also know that you getting yourself killed will make them miss you, you know? You just have to get stronger and then you can be on your way. Seriously, just taking off into danger like that? You worry me sometimes, kid."

Those words rang in Gigimon's head. He resolved to really work at Digivolving so Veedramon wouldn't have to worry about him anymore. The next day, Gigimon tried futilely, concentrating as hard as he could, but it just wasn't happening - he didn't have the strength. That, and something was missing. Veedramon watched with disinterest.

"You know, kid, don't you need to load data to Digivolve? As much as I hate saying this, I could go get someone for you to absorb. I don't know why I didn't think of this before."

Gigimon was expressionless. "No."

Veedramon was surprised at the quick and decisive answer. A Digimon, turning down data? He was offering to hand it to him, literally! "That's pretty much the only option we have here."

"There're better ways to Digivolve! I just haven't thought of them yet," explained Gigimon, gazing determinedly at Veedramon.

Veedramon was bewildered at the idea there could be any other way to Digivolve, attributing it to Gigimon's 'wild imagination'. He shrugged.

"Your choice, kid."

"Rika, wait!"

She ran as fast as her legs could carry her, pushing past people on the crowded sidewalk, earning a few squawks of protest. Not that she noticed. Her whole body felt numb - except her eyes, which were stinging, threatening tears. She ran and ran and ran, until she was sure that she was as far away from Ryo as possible.

Finally she could run no more, muscles and lungs and eyes burning. She had stopped in front of a stone sculpture in an empty park. Her ragged breaths slowly became even and quiet again as she leaned against the cool stone, eyes studying the ground. No matter how much she didn't want to think about it, her mind immediately came back to Ryo's words, and more painfully, Renamon.

Renamon…a long time ago, all she had to do was call her name, and Renamon would be there. But now, Rika's call would only be met with silence. Because her voice couldn't reach Renamon.

Her voice...

She gaze moved from the ground to the city, eyes searching and settling on a cluster of apartment buildings in the distance. She had held steadfast against sending a message. There was no certainty that their voices would even reach their Digimon, and yet everyone was sending one anyway. It seemed so pointless.

But what would Renamon say, if she didn't send one? The fox Digimon had placed herself between Rika and danger constantly in their time together, no matter the odds that were stacked against her, no matter how much pain it put her through. Here, in this moment, the only thing stopping Rika from reaching out to Renamon…was herself.

She looked up to the sky.

The sun had dipped past the horizon now, the sky a dark, warm blue. The moon took its place, shining brightly. It was full.

Rika took her headphones, which had been hanging around her neck, and placed them back over her ears. Her hand reached down to her CD player and pushed play, finishing the song she had been listening to before Ryo interrupted. She began to walk.

"~And when the moon shines through the darkness, we can find the path that leads us home…"

Henry raised and eyebrow as Takato shut the apartment door behind him. "Wow, you came back fast. Did something happen?"

Takato shook his head. "No, actually, Jeri just…wanted to be alone."

Sighing deeply, Henry leaned back in his chair. He ran a hand through his hair.

"I really wonder if I did the right thing starting this project. It's brought up a lot of pain, for everyone…and Rika didn't even come…"

Takato felt his jaw tighten. This wasn't like Henry, doubting himself this much, especially since everything had gone relatively well - even without Rika. It felt like he was giving up.

"Look, you're doing the right thing, Henry! I mean it's hard to think about them, but it's good thing too!" he said firmly. Henry stared up at him, shocked. Takato was looking at him with fierce, maroon eyes. "Besides, I'm sure we'll see them again! I mean before, having them at all was an impossible dream. And it came true!"

A pause.

Takato, realizing his outburst, covered his mouth, face burning with embarrassment. To his surprise, Henry simply shut his eyes and smiled. "Thanks, Takato. You've…been a true friend through all of this. To be honest, I think a lot of what we've accomplished this week wouldn't have been possible without you."

"Are you kidding me? You did all the hard stuff! It'd have been impossible without you." Takato said, returning the smile.

"Maybe, but your belief gave me the confidence to keep going. So thanks for that."

The doorbell rang.

They looked at each other, eyebrows raised. It was fairly late at night, an odd hour for a visitor. Curious, Henry left to answer the door. Takato stayed behind, settling into a chair. A beat. The door to Henry's room opened again, Rika stepping inside. Takato jumped out of his seat, nearly knocking it over.

"Rika, you came!" He almost shouted. "What made you change your mind?"

She glanced away, frowning. "Well, everybody else is sending one, Gogglehead. If I didn't…I just don't want Renamon to be left out."

"She'd probably be pretty upset about that, huh?" Takato laughed nervously.

Rika shot him a dirty look. He clammed up immediately.

Henry directed her to his computer, bending over to adjust the microphone as he spoke. "See this key? Press it to start recording. If you need to, just press this one here to do it over. You can redo it as many times as you need to."

Rika nodded to show she understood. Straightening back up, Henry turned and headed for the door. He glanced back at Rika as he stepped out. "Take as long as you need to, okay? We'll be in the other room."

Takato followed suit, but poked his head in the door one more time.

"Um, hey, Rika?"

"What?" She was already sitting down.

"Thanks for coming."

Outside, he and Henry sat a respectful distance from the door as Rika recorded her message. Minutes passed, Takato twiddling his thumbs while Henry, with his hands in his pockets, stared at the wall. They both looked to the door when they heard a quiet click. Rika stepped out, her eyes red and puffy. But she was smiling. Takato smiled uncertainly as Henry went ahead to see Rika out.

She left without a word.

After she had gone, Henry fetched his father, who called Yamaki to tell him they were finished. The boys looked at each other and sighed while Janyu spoke, relieved that it was finally done.

"Well, that's it. I'll do some finishing touches and send them to you. Thank you, Yamaki."

The current day was a relatively relaxed one - they usually were, except on the rare moments an enemy Digimon managed to creep deep within Veedramon's territory. During those incidents Gigimon, having learned his lesson, usually hid in the alcove Veedramon had carved for him in the side of a large slab of rock, where he watched the battles with fascination. Veedramon was definitely a force to be reckoned with; he had a wide array of attacks available to him, from laser breaths to punches. The numerous scars he had were a testament to his battling experience as well.

The fights always ended quickly, afterwards Veedramon would head over to the slab of rock across from Gigimon, lean back against it, and nap, a self-made reward for a job well done.

At present, Veedramon was gone again on one of his routine patrols, leaving Gigimon alone. He was used to it, but it still left him feeling bored and a little lonely. Yawning, he looked up to the Real World, the data sphere in the sky. There was no way of telling how long he'd been gone from there now, how long he'd been separated from Takato…he wondered how the boy was doing.

His thoughts were interrupted though, when he saw something drop from the sphere. It looked like a cluster of data packets, nothing too out of the ordinary. They fell some distance away, the wind picking up and coaxing them in his direction. A few tumbled past him as he stepped out of his nook and watched, briefly causing him to consider making chase to entertain himself, but he thought better of it and watched them roll away. He turned to head back to his alcove when another one of the packets came tumbling directly toward him. The wind gained strength again and veered it off its course, though it was close enough to brush past Gigimon, enough for him to hear the garbled, staticky, but still recognizable voice of Takato.


It hit him like a bombshell. Somehow, that packet had Takato's voice!


Immediately, he pursued the packet. The wind was blowing fiercely now, carrying the ball of data further and further out of Gigimon's reach. He pumped his little legs has fast as he could, struggling to close the distance between them.

"Wait, stop! Come back!", he cried after it. The wind was rushing so ruthlessly he could feel himself almost being pulled off his feet. Sand made his eyes sting and water, forcing him to squint as he ran. Exhaustion quickly started to set in but he pushed forward, muscles burning in protest. The pursuit carried him away from the safe haven of Veedramon's home into the cruel desert. As the chase wore on, the wind slowed a little, to Gigimon's relief, the packet's wild trundling slowing with it. He was so close.

Abruptly, a massive clawed foot slammed down in front of him. Gigimon didn't have time to slow down, running with a thump head on into the side of it, bouncing off like a rubber ball, and falling to a dazed heap. The Digimon - a large birdlike creature, with jagged jaws, and short, heavily armored wings, metallic plumage lining almost every part of it's body aside from it's thighs and belly - glared down at Gigimon, a hissing growl issuing from its throat. Gigimon hopped to his feet, ready for an attack. He stared with shrunken pupils past the Digimon's scaly leg to the packet that the wind persisted in driving as far away from him as possible. The sheer disadvantage he faced against this Digimon didn't matter -what mattered was that this Digimon was getting between him and Takato. With a strident bellow, he jumped with all his might toward the Digimon.

"Hot Bite!"

His serrated mouth sunk down into the exposed thigh of the Digimon, searing it's flesh. It shrieked, swinging its head down, it's armored face slamming into Gigimon. Along with some feathers that were torn from its leg, the attack sent the little InTraining careening through the air, where he hung helplessly as the Digimon continued its assault.

"Mega Dash Impact!"

The Digimon lunged at Gigimon, bashing the tiny In-Training with a savage headbutt. Gigimon crashed into the ground in an explosion of sand. Giving a satisfied snort, the Digimon sauntered over to inspect its handiwork. It made a noise of incredulity when it saw the In-Training laying on his side in the crater, still alive, though his eyes were dull, his mouth was hanging open limply, and his body showed small signs of instability. The Digimon took Gigimon in his jaws, lifting its head and tossing him into the hair, jaws ready to snap shut and finish him off.

A muscular hand grabbed its neck, arm thrusting forward and smashing the Digimon into the ground on its back. Another hand gently caught Gigimon, claws closing protectively around the fragile baby. Veedramon was going to have to do this fight one handed.

"Diatrymon, you damn annoying chicken, I've seen you before," Veedramon growled, tightening his grip on the other Digimon's gullet. "Last time you came here, you ran like a coward. You're fast, but this time, you're not getting away."

Diatrymon struggled under Veedramon's hold, thrashing it's legs wildly, it's large claws tearing at Veedramon's legs and gut. Veedramon snarled in pain but refused to let go. With a considerable amount of effort, Diatrymon lifted its head just enough to launch a counterattack.

"Destruction Roar!"

A barrage of sound waves assailed Veedramon, the impact forcing him back. He had almost moved his arms in front of himself to protect his body from the blast but remembered the baby Digimon he held in his hand and stopped. The air rippled around him, the waves ripping through his chest, the focus of the blast. He let out an agonized roar. Diatrymon scrambled to its feet, running back to create some distance between it and Veedramon.

At this point, the wind had kicked up a veritable sandstorm now. First, he was forced to use one hand, now the weather reduced his vision. The world was giving Diatrymon a lot of handicaps today.

The bird Digimon was right at home in the sandstorm. It used its natural speed and the low visibility to deal out surprise attacks and retreat. Veedramon grit his teeth in frustration, failing to land any punches on his opponent. He could feel Gigimon shifting in his hand. Good, the little guy was hanging in there. This needed to end fast though, one wrong move on his part or one decisive move from Diatrymon and Gigimon would be destroyed.

"Cutting Shoot!"

Multiple blades of wind sliced through the air, followed by another volley, and yet another still. Veedramon's free hand raked the air with each attack. He didn't hear any response from Diatrymon, who was probably easily avoiding the attacks. He gnashed his teeth. This wasn't getting him anywhere, he needed to try something else!

Suddenly, an idea came to him. More blades of wind sliced through the air, this time rending the ground all around him, while he began charging a blast in his mouth. There was a surprised squawk behind him - Diatrymon had been moving in for another sneak attack but stumbled on the broken earth. Seizing this chance, Veedramon whirled around. His throat was ablaze with an incredible amount of energy, beams of light escaping through the spaces between his teeth.

"V-Breath Arrow MAX!"

A massive beam of energy burst from his mouth, blasting through the veil of sand and Diatrymon's belly. The bird Digimon collapsed, breaking into a swarm of data particles, which were promptly absorbed by Veedramon. Hand still closed around Gigimon, he trudged back to his home. The data from Diatrymon had patched up most of the damage that the Digimon had done to him.

Once he arrived at his personal collection of rocks, he opened his hand. Gigimon was laying on his side, breathing shallowly. Veedramon gently placed Gigimon in his alcove, and sat against the rock across from it as usual. He groaned.

"Seriously, again, kid? I dunno what crazy idea you had today, but you got yourself into some really serious trouble this time."

At first, there was no response. But then, he heard whimpering. Gigimon had tears streaming down his face.

"I tried, I really did. But he was just too strong," he croaked between hiccupping sobs.

Veedramon wasn't sure what he was talking about, so he made his best guess. "Look, I know it hurts your Dragon Digimon pride having to be rescued all the time, but that's just the way its gonna be until you Digivolve. Look, you were hurt pretty bad. Go to sleep, when you wake up you'll feel a lot better."

There was no protest from Gigimon. Losing that packet was devastating. All he wanted to do was sleep, and dream. He drifted off dejectedly.

He was roused a few hours later by something bumping into his snout. For a moment, the darkness of his still sleeping mind buzzed with static. It was replaced by a friendly voice.

"Guilmon? It's me, Takato! Can you hear me, boy?"

Gigimon shot up instantly, ears flapping, ignoring his wounded body's disapproval. His eyes lit up when he saw that the data packet had returned to him. Laughing, he pranced around it. "Uh huh, I hear you Takato!"

He pressed his snout to the packet, urging Takato to continue.

Veedramon was returning from a short patrol when he saw Gigimon excitedly pushing around the packet. He wondered what the sudden fascination was. Eh, at least he looked better. And he wasn't moping anymore. He could have sworn he heard Gigimon speaking to the packet too, but thought it was better not to ask.

"…Um, this is a bit awkward, hahaIt's been awhile. I think about you everyday, Guilmon. All the things we used to do together. Come to think of it, we did just about everything together, didn't we?"

"Yeah, and we had lots of fun together too!" Gigimon said fondly.

"Everyone's doing fine. Guess what, Dad makes Guilmon bread everyday, it's gotten pretty popular! Mom talks about you too, sometimes. In a positive way! Pretty big change from when she first met you, remember how scared she was? Haha…"

"Oooh, Guilmon Bread! I could really - oh, heheh, yeah, but your mom is nice!" Gigimon became increasingly aware that this was a recorded message, but he continued to respond as if they were talking over the phone. Not that he'd ever used one, but he knew what they were.

"…um, everyone else, y'know, Henry, Rika, Jeri and the others, they're fine too. We all want to see you guys again. Hey, boy, I've got a favor to ask. If…well, if Terriermon, Renamon, and the other Digimon don't get their messages, can you tell them that? Thanks."

"No problem, Takato!"

He sat quietly during the next part of Takato's message.

Veedramon meanwhile had a look of shock whip across his face. Takato? That name…Gigimon had gone on and on about some human he had supposedly lived with that had that name. The baby Digimon had told some incredibly detailed stories about the guy, and his friends. He…wasn't sure what to make of it.

"Anyways, did you know that after you left, I found a Digital Portal in your old home? I was so excited that I was going to keep my promise after all, and that we would finally see you guys again. After you left…life went right back to normal. All the damage the D Reaper did…it disappeared. Like somebody turned back the clock. They still talk about it on TV sometimes, but…that's getting rarer. The world's gone back to its normal routine, as if nothing happened. It's probably the best way to deal with it…But, I don't want to act like all of that didn't happen…Um…Oh yeah, that portal. It was really small, so I waited to see if it would grow bigger. I was planning on entering it during winter break, but…then Yamaki found it. He and Henry's dad and the rest of their team…they made some firewall between the Real World and the Digital World. They made it so people couldn't pass between them. That, and Yamaki also told me the portal I found would shrink and disappear instead of getting bigger like I'd hoped. I…got pretty mad at the guy…but all I could think about was seeing you again, Guilmon. I broke down the firewall, I didn't even think of the danger I could put everyone else in. Now your old hideout is completely closed off by a concrete wall. They told me the portal was gone too, but…I don't know."

Gigimon's ears drooped, disappointed that he could not comfort Takato. He sounded so sad…The story about the portal also made the In-Training's heart sink. Were they not going to be reunited after all…?

"…I still want to go to the Digital World! Henry's already started research on it so we can make this happen, isn't that awesome? He even said that his dad and the others were working on fine-tuning the Ark's design so we could have a safer trip the next time we visit. See? I know we'll see each other again! I bet you think so too, huh, boy?"

That news made Gigimon quiver excitedly, his tail wagging madly. They were coming back for them! Everyone…he had to find them all so they could hear the good news too! Resisting the urge to shoot off right then and go find them, he nodded, cheek pressed against the packet.

"You know when I created you? I loved Digimon a whole lot. I mean, I liked playing the card game and all that, but my favorite thing to do was flip through the Digi-pedia. Seeing all these cool drawings of Digimon, how they changed and got stronger, it inspired me to make my very own Digimon. I wanted something like Agumon, but better! Yeah! And stronger too, strong enough to beat every Digimon he fought. That was all I could really think about. But you…you were even better than that. At first, you acted just like a baby, but you grew up really fast. You were so wise…and you got along with everybody. Not just me. You were really nice, and you made friends with everyone you could. When Leomon was killed…I lost control of my emotions. I forced you to Digivolve into Megidramon. When that happened, I was scared, because I knew it was wrong, and the fact that it was all my fault that you turned into…when you changed back to Guilmon, and we Biomerged into Gallantmon for the first time, I was…happy. Really happy. It's made me think that even though I made you, you were who you were because, um…you know? I mean, I decided what you looked like, but everything else, that was you. Do you know what I mean, Guilmon? I'm really proud of you, boy. You are an amazing Digimon. You weren't just powerful, you had a big heart too! That's why you were the best!"

Gigimon went through a range of emotions as Takato's words echoed through his head. At first he had simply tilted his head, listening attentively, but a tender smile began to spread across his face at Takato's kind words. He snuggled the data packet, feeling a warm ebb of energy beginning to flow through his body. It was as if Takato were right there beside him, patting his neck, and smiling…

"You've changed a lot, but I've hardly changed at all, heh. But I can Digivolve too! I am Takatomon after all, haha. Yeah…I want to go on more adventures with you, Guilmon. A lot more. So wait for me, okay? Remember, we promised. I know we'll see each other again! Won't we, Guilmon?"

"We will, Takato!"

Veedramon watched in astonishment as the strange scene reached its climax when Gigimon was engulfed in a sphere of red light. The light faded, as did the packet, Gigimon replaced by a much larger, raptor-like Digimon. He still had the characteristic red hide and batwing-like ears, but with the addition of jointed, muscular limbs and long white claws.

The former Gigimon looked himself over in surprise, claws flexing, exclaiming, "Hey, I'm me again! See?"

He ran over to Veedramon, smile plastered on his face, looking up at the Champion with bright gold eyes.

"Whoa, you did it, kiddo," Veedramon remarked flatly. Giggling, Guilmon responded by nuzzling the other Dragon's leg. Veedramon pulled his leg away, but grinned toothily at Guilmon. "Well, looks like this is goodbye, huh?"

"Yeah…I have something really important I have to do!" replied Guilmon, eyes shining. It was an enormous change to the dull, lifeless stare he had just a few hours ago. His smile softened. "You're a good friend, Veedramon."

Veedramon leaned back against the rock, lazily waving Guilmon off. "Sure, sure. Better hurry kid, I'm sure your pals are waiting."

Nodding, Guilmon turned and looked out at the horizon. Terriermon…Renamon…they were all out there somewhere. They probably wanted to get back home as much as he did, and they were going to! He couldn't wait to see their happy faces when he told them the news. Hopefully, they had received their messages too - in fact, maybe they had! Maybe they were looking for him too, right now. He looked back at Veedramon, tail wagging.

"Don't forget, no matter how far away I go, we're still friends!"

With that, he took off jogging, turning around one more time to wave at Veedramon with a clawed hand.

"See you later, kiddo."

A/N: There, prologue complete. I've always wanted to fic about the Digimon having their own adventures, so here we go.

This'll be the first real attempt at a decent story, haha. Hopefully I'll improve as I go along.

By the way, I'm not going to (re)write out all of the packet messages, just the interesting/relevant ones. Which might be one or two more, and they'll be waaay spread out.

Next chapter, it's all about the Digimon.