Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.
Owikawa entered Shibumi's cell and came to a stop in front of him, regarding him as he lay there on his platform, arms tied and shackled around his sides and his eyes blindfolded.
"What am I going to do with you?" he asked aloud. He chuckled slightly. "That was a rhetorical question by the way. I don't expect you to answer. Do you know why I'm here?"
Shibumi turned his head toward him. Though his eyes were blindfolded, Owikawa had the distinct feeling that the man could still see him regardless.
"Why don't you tell me?" he asked, a smile spreading across his face. Owikawa chuckled again.
"Very well. I received some interesting information today. I'm hoping you would be so kind as to confirm it. It concerns a young boy that you encountered in the park on the day you were arrested."
Shibumi, still smiling, nodded in response. "There was a witness there."
"And you activated him?"
"Perhaps he was already active…"
"I don't appreciate games, Shibumi," Owikawa replied, frowning. "Not from you. Honesty is required here."
"I believe that will determine the fate of the child you tapped," Owikawa replied, paying Shibumi's remark no mind. "Right now, one of my agents is keeping an eye on him. His powers are…underdeveloped, but show promise." He smiled. "In fact they show incredible promise. One word is all it will take to determine whether that promise will be fulfilled or cut off before it can flower. Did you activate him?"
Owikawa nodded. "Good. That is all I need to know. Thank you." He was about to turn when Shibumi stopped him.
"Your little drama isn't what you think it is, you know."
Owikawa looked back to him, raising an eyebrow. "Oh? Do tell."
"It's why Tartarus was banished in the first place. You're playing the same game that they were. Bringing it back won't change anything."
Owikawa smiled. "I thank you for your input, but it was not necessary." A pause before he continued. "Do you have any special requests for lunch? I can have the cafeteria bring you something different if you want…provided that you make no attempts to escape."
Shibumi gave a light laugh. "Thanks, but no. I'll be eating out shortly."
Owikawa raised an eyebrow at that, but left the man alone to his thoughts. Closing the door to his room behind him, Owikawa proceeded down the hall, his mind troubled.
Shibumi is gifted with the ability to see and activate probabilities. What could happen that could free him? He narrowed his eyes. I'll redirect some more guards to cover him. A pity that PlanPol pulled the Guardians from this building. They would be better used for that task. Perhaps I should dispose of him after all…
No. He could still be useful, and a gift such as his would be wasted if he died.
All the same, Owikawa could not rid himself of the dark feeling that settled over his thoughts.
"Here we go," said Michael as both he and Rika entered the restaurant and stepped into line. "Just order whatever you want and I'll pay for it. What do you have in mind?"
Rika didn't answer right away, glancing down at Guilmon, who pushed up against her leg. Once more she tried to push off the floor with her powers, try to levitate, but just like last time—and what had to be a hundred such attempts by this point—she remained rooted. She could walk, but nothing more.
"You said that they sold Danish's here?" she asked, returning her attention to Michael.
"Sure," he replied. "But that's not all they make. Bagels; bear claws; ham and cheese on a croissant…"
"I'll just take the Danish," Rika interrupted. "I don't want anything fancy."
"Here, they might as well be fancy," Michael grinned. "You'll like them."
Approaching the counter, he asked for three Danishes and upon receiving and payment, the pair made their way over to an empty table to have their meal. Sitting down, Rika carefully eyed Michael before glancing down at her food. It looked like a standard coil of bread with cinnamon markings—no different from the million and one Danishes out there. Michael bit into it, his eyes rolling up inside his head, pausing to savor the taste. Chastising herself for hesitating so long, she followed suit and sunk her teeth into it.
"How is it?" he asked, swallowing.
"Not bad," Rika replied after a moment of thoughtful chewing. Michael smirked and pushed the other Danish over to her.
"Eat up," he urged. "Now…about our discussion…"
"You first," Rika started. Michael simply nodded, as though he expected nothing less.
"What would you like to know?"
"What you said about my sister. You said you wanted to get her out of there."
"The Meta Foundation," Michael replied as Rika took another bite. "She wanted to investigate it, so she signed up…against Rumiko's wishes."
"I already know that," Rika remarked dully. "They had a fight about it and Ran took off and slept over at a friend's house for a while. Mom didn't want her working there."
"Actually Rumiko was just against the idea of her going there and working with them directly. To her it was a little…too close to home. In fact, that was how Rumiko started investigating it, and later Ran. Your father worked there once."
"Dad?" Rika raised her eyebrows. She couldn't remember her father honestly. She asked about him once when she was five—he was a man by the name of Spencer Damon—but the only answer she got from her mother was that he left while Rumiko had still been pregnant with her. Ran had only been a little more forthcoming, but not by much. She since stopped caring and went on with her life. At least, that was what she told herself up until now. "Did you know him?"
"I set the two up," Michael admitted, running a hand through his hair as he looked embarrassed. "Rumiko doesn't sweat the small stuff with relationships due to her age; at least once she's in them. For some bizarre reason she doesn't get into them very quickly."
"Do you know where he is? How can I get in touch with him?" Rika cursed PlanPol for locking down the junkyard at a time like this. If there was anyone who could help her get in touch with him quickly it would be Ken.
"I haven't seen him since your folks separated. Now what I would like to know, if you would indulge me, is what you know about what Ran is doing at the Meta Foundation." Leaning forward he continued in a lower tone. "Rumiko's been waiting to hear from her for months now. Believe it or not, she's getting worried. So what tipped you off? You weren't supposed to know."
Rika narrowed her eyes. "Why was I left out?"
Michael scowled at her. This was supposed to be when he got answers. Still, he decided to indulge her. "You were young and your powers weren't activated. Rumiko worried about what might happen if you knew too much."
"She should have trusted me more."
"You didn't," Michael said pointedly. Rika flinched at that, causing Michael to look at her apologetically. "So how did you find out?" he continued.
Rika licked her lips. "A letter. She sent a letter, and I found it. Before Mom did. Asking to be gotten out." She closed her eyes. At the time she thought her mother had been a normal human, and a self-absorbed one at that as she made few visible attempts to contact Ran or even speak to her on the times she called.
"A letter?" Michael's eyebrows rose. "Do you still have it?"
Rika noted the slight change in his voice. It sounded a bit frantic. "Yeah," she replied carefully. "I do."
Michael got up, cramming the last bits of his Danish into his mouth. "Let's go," he said, though with the food in his mouth, it came out more as "leff gff". He swallowed hard and took hold of Guilmon's leash, tugging him to his feet. "I need to see it. Ran coded her letters. She might have had something else to say in there."
"Wha…? Ran coded her messages?" Rika stood up, her mind frantic at this revelation. In just a short time she became privy to a great deal of information…more than she ever learned in her time working with Ken. In that time since she received her sister's letter, anything could have happened.
Could she be dead because I didn't tell Mom? she wondered urgently. She drew one hand into a tight fist, becoming angry. This is my fault. Ran is trapped by those guys and I could have gotten her out of there. Mom could have. I waited too long…
"Rika?" asked Michael, turning to see why she wasn't immediately following him. "What are you doing? I need to see the letter. If Ran had anything to say…"
"Ran is in trouble and the only thing you're worried about is what's in a letter she sent months ago?"
"No!" Rika shouted, causing the restaurants customers and employees to turn toward her, eyebrows rising in curiosity. Seeing this, Michael gave them all a placating smile and approached the girl.
"Don't do this in public," he whispered. "Do you want PlanPol to know what you are? If they find out…"
"I don't care," Rika grated. "I'm tired of waiting. Tired of looking for answers from people when there's only one place that actually has them all. I'm going there, and you're not going to stop me."
Michael's expression hardened as he took hold of her arm. "Not here," he said harshly. "We'll find your sister, but…"
"I said…no." Rika ripped her arm free and backed away from the man. One of the restaurant's employees broke away from the table he had been cleaning and began to approach them.
"Hey, what's going on here?"
"Nothing," Michael replied, giving a nervous chuckle. "It's all right."
The employee gave Rika a quick glance. "It sure didn't sound like it's all right."
"She's just upset that I'm not letting her see the new Ben Van Dan film…"
At that excuse, Rika grabbed the table they had been sitting at, and Guilmon barked loudly in fear. Her F.S. Field flashed and ripping it out of the floor she hurled it at him.
Michael saw it coming, and with but a glance the table stopped dead in midair before dropping harmlessly to the floor with a loud clatter. The same heavy force that Rika had felt since the park intensified suddenly and she rose into the air. Her arms were frozen at her sides, unable to move despite her commands to do so.
"Sorry about this," Michael said, placing some cash on the table. "I hope this covers the mess." He looked at Rika and jerked a thumb outside indicatively. "Let's find somewhere more private to talk about."
With that, Michael set Rika back down on the floor and, carefully controlling her movements, escorted her out of the restaurant.
All the while they were watched by the heroi known as Tank.
"What were you thinking?" demanded Michael as they left the restaurant in angry, hushed tones. "I told you, if PlanPol finds out about you it's over! You already know what it's like to take their suppressant. Do you want that to be your new normal?"
Rika made a series of unintelligible, angry noises through her clenched teeth, causing Michael to realize that he was controlling her too much. Loosening his mental grip, he allowed her to speak.
"I don't care," Rika grated finally, not caring who heard them as they made their way down the sidewalk.
"You should!" Michael rubbed his forehead in exasperation. "Rika… What do you think will happen if you fail? You may never get the opportunity to find your sister again if that happens. You'll be under PlanPol's thumbs and they will never let you back up. Rumiko gets by because she's been on her best behavior and knew the person in charge of this district. There's no guarantee that things will stay like that though. You need to think carefully about this!"
Slowly, painfully slowly, Rika inched her arms up to waist level. Michael's mouth twitched in shock upon seeing this.
I shouldn't have fed her…
"Rika…" he began, but the girl cut over his words as she continued to raise her arms.
"I'm going to break free," she said in a low, dangerous voice. Her F.S. Field flickered and began to blaze around her, increasing in intensity with every passing moment. "I've never really gone all out with my powers since I got them." She blinked back a tear. "Ran… I've got to rescue her. I'm going to rescue her. Don't stop me Mike, or…"
She stopped short of saying, "…or you'll be as guilty as I am." as Michael was suddenly thrown back by an invisible force. He didn't go far; landing no more than ten feet away from her, but the effect was immediate. The sensation of an overwhelming force holding her down vanished all at once. Turning, she saw a smirking man with hands stuffed into the pockets of his jacket approaching.
"Owikawa wants me to cause some trouble," she heard him say. "Best way to do that is to involve others of my kind." Pointing his hand at Rika he mimed a gun with his fingers. "And here I have two. More than plenty."
Upon his pulling the pretend trigger, Rika felt a new, powerful force smash against her body, sending her flying into traffic where she crashed into the side of a car.
Riley opened the door to the PlanPol laboratory, nodding to the dark-skinned woman standing in front of a glass casing.
"Thank you for calling me, Aishwarya," Riley greeted. "How far along are we?"
"Almost done," Aishwarya replied, pointing at the casing. "Dr. McCoy is double checking the subject's brain activity and cross-referencing it with the cranial impressions and organic remains supplied to us." She grimaced. "There wasn't much to work with," she admitted. "There's a high degree of probability that we won't get anything at all from this."
"How high?" Riley asked. She already had an idea, but she wanted to hear the number from the expert. Aishwarya hesitated before answering.
"Ninety percent," she said finally. "Remember, it's difficult for cranial impression science to get anything reliable…extremely difficult. Even with the remaining ten percent there are chances that what is recovered isn't going to be what you need."
It will be hard to justify the expenditure, Riley thought. But that's only if it fails. If it succeeds, I won't need to justify anything.
"All set," crowed the voice of Dr. McCoy, a heavy-set man with balding hair and thick-rimmed glasses, as he approached, flanked by a half-dozen aides wearing scrubs.
"You work fast," Riley observed. Dr. McCoy grinned.
"It helped that the genetic material was fresh. The fact that it was heroi DNA helped out a lot too, what with its regeneration capabilities. The autopsy report showed some reconstruction of the brain matter for approximately five minutes after the subject's death."
Riley raised an eyebrow. Did she dare hope?
"Is that enough?"
"In most cases, I would say no. But in this case…" He grinned and approached the casing. "…you could almost say that she wanted to live. That's five minutes after blood circulation had already shut down. I've seen previous neuron scans of a hundred cases over the years. That kind of regeneration doesn't happen. She's a fighter." His expression became somber. "It's unfortunate that she died."
"If you did your job, that will be different," Riley said. "Are you ready to open it?"
"Flushing out the chamber now," he said, pressing a button. Riley turned to the casing and watched as the fluid contained within began to drain. As it did so the casing opened, exposing it to the open air. Unconsciously, Riley shivered, reminded of all the times she pulled herself out of the tub. The assistants rushed forward and took hold of the figure within, drawing her forth while Aishwarya rushed a gurney over. They placed the stick-thin figure onto the table and opened her mouth, clearing it of fluid. Riley took a step forward to get a better view as the figure, obviously female, began to cough. Her leg shifted and her arms attempted to push away the aides, but they lacked the strength to do so. There was nothing there but skin-covered bone and muscles that had never once seen use.
It's not as though she'll be needing to move much, Riley thought. Not for what we need from her.
The girl coughed one more time and rolled her head to the side. Her eyes met with Riley and she fancied that she saw instant recognition in them.
"Welcome back to the land of the living, Tayuya. Unlike last time we won't be simply 'wasting our time'."
The girl turned her head away and was quickly obscured by the bodies of the assistants. Riley found herself grateful. She heard about how clones looked when that spark of knowledge appeared in their eyes and it was never a comforting one to see.
After checking the patient's eyes Dr. McCoy detached himself from the group and ordered them to take her to medical.
"Well," he began to Riley. "She's alive. At the very least we have a person, but I can't say how much she's the person you need her to be."
"Too soon to tell."
"Then an estimation, doctor."
"We implemented scans we made of the original source material and impressed them onto her while she was growing in the chamber. But the material was heavily damaged, and I'd like to emphasize that the damage was very…"
"Doctor," Riley said sternly before continuing in a softer voice. "Your estimation, please."
McCoy hesitated a moment before continuing. "Heroi genetics can be likened to backup memory. That's why heroi clones are able to possess memories from their donor or have memories more easily impressed on them, unlike you and I. Her DNA doesn't allow for memory to be retained in any of her clones though, so we're depending on artificial imprinting. The odds are still low and heavily dependent on the cloner's skill. If I had to guess, I'd say that she could have some of her memories, but I won't say that she has all. Past a certain point, given the damage involved, it would be a miracle if she retained anything at all."
Riley stared at him impassively. "Numbers, doctor."
"I don't have the math in front of me, but it's an obscenely low number."
"Work with her," was all Riley had to say on the matter as her cell phone began buzzing in her pocket. Pulling it out with a low sigh she flipped it open and hit the reply button. "Riley." She narrowed her eyes as the speaker on the other end gave her a report. "I'll be up there momentarily," she replied before hanging up. She glanced in Tayuya's direction.
"Er…problems?" asked Dr. McCoy tentatively, seeing the look in the woman's eyes.
"Work with her for now," Riley replied, pocketing her cell phone.
"As you say," McCoy replied as Riley moved towards the room's exit. He turned his gaze at Tayuya's body. 'For now', she said. That doesn't sound good.
A/N: And with that, I finish out the final chapter of this version of Icon and will now begin updating the story on fictionpress. Sorry to leave you on a cliffhanger like this but for characterization this is important. Originally this story was meant to be on this site for only twenty chapters, but as you can see it has gone beyond that. For those who remain interested I hope you'll continue to follow the story on fictionpress where I'll get it edited and back up to speed. I thank everyone who has read and reviewed the story so far. Bookworm Gal, AkaiZagreus, Sukura, Tamer of the Zero Unit, Guest, RogueTamer2k7, Kuroy, UruExplorer DTC, Guest, 2lol, Guest, seaneoe, Rockbane, and FortressMaximus. Thanks everyone. :)
Until chapter 32 over there, this is Crazyeight signing off.