Chapter 8: Setting Sail

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Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue, and don't bug me about it. I just own the OCs.

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Takato felt the tropical breeze come against his face. Being in Florida reminded him of Okinawa, though with a vastly different culture and language. Instead of the Ryukyuan people and languages of Okinawa, he had to deal with Americans, ranging from blond Europeans to white and mestizo Cubans to blacks. Then there were the languages. He knew English from practice online as well as classes through Hypnos, but he knew nothing of Spanish, other than that it sounded completely different to him from English.

He took the sights in: the clear, blue waters, the many palm trees, the fresh, salty air. He found it funny that most of what he knew of this place was from watching episodes of CSI: Miami.

"Hey, man, check out the girls!" Kazu exclaimed, pointing out a number of bikini-clad beach-goers and trying to ignore the ugly ones or the guys.

"Well, they did say that we were going to be taking off right by a beach," Ren indicated, looking over at the visor-wearing teen with annoyance.

"So, Ezekiel, what are you still doing here?" Takato asked the black-haired teen, who was standing with them. Until the party started, they all got to hang out in their informal attire. For some reason, both Takato and Kazu were wearing Hawaiian shirts and the latter was wearing sunglasses.

"I'm waiting. Checking my digivice earlier, I detected my brother," the rogue said with determination. "He's in town."

"You mean the kid with a Devimon?" Kazu inquired, getting a shake of the head from Ezekiel.

"No, my older brother, Diego," Ezekiel explained. "They're both Tamers. I thought I mentioned that."

"It's kind of hard to remember these things when they live thousands of miles away," Kazu said. "Oh crap, here come Rika and Ayaka!" the brown-haired boy said before running off. Takato looked on in confusion.

"Hey, Takato, hey, Ren!" Rika greeted, pulling her luggage.

Takato was going to offer to take her suitcase to her room for her, but Ren beat him to the punch. "Would you like me to carry your luggage?" the hat-wearing teen asked.

"Oh, I would love it," Rika said with a smile before turning to Takato. "Are you going to help too, Takato?"

"Uh, sure. No problem. Oh, hi, Ayaka," the goggle-headed boy said as he picked up her suitcase.

"Thank you, Takato," the blond said with a wide smile as they took their stuff to the room. The goggle-head was dumbfounded by the room.

"Whoa, two king-sized beds, a fridge, a window over the sea and…" Takato looked into the bathroom. "Is that a Jacuzzi?"

"Yeah," Rika said, looking over the room with a bit of disdain. "Talk about elaborate. Why do I get the feeling my mom pulled some strings to get me the best room possible?"

"This is going to be great!" Ayaka exclaimed. "I can't wait to see all the hot-looking foreign guys."

"Ayaka, most of them are probably going to be nerds," Rika warned, causing the blonde to cringe.

Takato and Kazu put the suitcases all down just as the red-head realized something. "Hey, don't you have to do security work?" she asked the duo with a confused expression.

"Nope, not until later!" Kazu exclaimed.

"Yeah, we have a meeting right before the party tonight and then we have to make sure nobody does anything stupid. I'm not sure about the specifics," Takato said, scratching his chin.

"Remember to look out for Diaz while you're there," Rika told them. "You guys saw the pictures, right?"

"Dude, when I tried looking at all the info you and that one Alex guy got on him, it was all classified!" Kazu exclaimed, annoyed. "What gives?"

"That… is weird," was Rika's reaction. "Maybe it's just classified to you since you're less likely to go on an overseas mission."

"Actually, I couldn't access it either," Takato commented. "Maybe there's something really sensitive in there. Anything you figured out?"

"His dad's name is Carlos Ortega and I also got a few pictures of pictures in his room," Rika stated, pulling out her camera phone. "There they are…" Rika looked at them for a second. "Is it just me, or does he look like…"

"So, that's what he looks like without a beard, huh?" Kazu asked.

"Yeah, but he also looks like someone else that's here at the tournament, so if you see someone, it might not be him. Look at the partner digimon. If it's something other than Coonmon, the guy's not Diaz." Rika was surprised she didn't notice that before.

"Wait, does he have like a long lost twin brother or something?" Kazu asked. "That is weird."

"They're not twins, or even siblings. I thought…" Rika got lost in thought for a second. "Like I say, if he's with a digimon other than Coonmon, it's not him. You remember Kyle from a couple years ago, right?"

"Kyle! Oh, man, that guy?" Kazu exclaimed. "We play StarCraft against each other once a week."

Rika looked at the visor-wearing boy in surprise. "You play real-time strategy?" the red-head asked, doubtful.

"Yeah, Kazu loses a lot, though," Takato said.

"Hey, just because Kyle knows how to screw around with his units in weird ways doesn't mean he's a better player," Kazu objected.

"Takato, StarCraft's the game you play against all your friends, right?" Guilmon asked.

"Wow, I can't believe you guys play that," Ayaka said, amazed at how nerdy her friends were.

"Yeah, how come you guys never invited me, huh?" Rika asked, smiling.

"You play StarCraft?" Kazu asked, really surprised at that, getting a nod from the red-head.

"You bet," the red-head said, before saying her goodbyes and pushing the others out the door and looking forward to her sessions of beating them at their own game yet again.

###

"Oh yeah! Living in luxury! This is more like it!" Kyle exclaimed, walking into their room. "Yeah, this is definitely better than that room they almost put us in." He shuddered before looking behind to see Diego and Gaomon with their bags.

"It seems like adequate sleeping arrangements," Gaomon commented, dropping his bags on the other bed before walking over to the balcony to look at the vast, blue sea.

"Considering I'm probably going to be alone here, it better be," Diego remarked, setting his bags down. Kyle explored the room, which was far less fancy than Rika's. He walked over to the fridge and checked inside.

"Whoa! Champagne! Do they think we're honeymooners or something?" Kyle joked, pulling out a bottle of the stuff.

"Wait, they have alcohol in here?" Diego asked, flabbergasted by the sight. "Aren't most of the people here underage?"

"Hey, I'm just messing with you. It's just some apple cider," Kyle said before putting the bottle back. "So, if you ever marry Consuelo, you think you'd take her on a cruise like this?"

"We're not officially boyfriend and girlfriend yet, Kyle," the chubby boy retorted, glaring at his friend for asking.

"Oh, please, you asked her to go to a concert with you. Heck, I don't even like the band you chose and yet I would have done the same thing with a girl I liked," the brown-haired teen responded with a teasing expression.

"What kind of music do you like?" Gaomon asked.

"Rock, as in actual rock. You know, the good bands that aren't always playing on the radio. Most of them you'd probably never have heard of," Kyle boasted, looking out the w

###

Ed just lay on his bed, trying not to think about the horrors he had experienced. His partner was constantly looking at him, filtering his thoughts using his telepathy. He wished he could leave, just run away and never come back… possibly even turn himself in. He had already gone to the Prison near Cañon City, Colorado once, during the one time Coonmon stayed in his Ultimate form for nearly a week just so he could get information from a former associate.

However, this time he wanted out. Even his partner couldn't filter out all his thoughts.

He was about to doze off into a nightmare-filled sleep when he heard a knock at the door. "Come in!" he said, forcing himself to sit up in bed. Gregor Shröder, his partner-in-crime from Germany, walked into the room, surprising him.

"Good afternoon, Ed, how's it going?" the tall teen said haughtily, smiling slightly and walking into the room before sitting down on the bed across from his accomplice.

"Terrible. I thought you were dead," the heavy teen said, slightly shocked by his acquaintance's appearance.

"Well, I guess I am legally," the German said cockily. "But, that helps me since the idiots at Echelon didn't even bother to put me on the wanted list. All my other followers knew that I was still around, though, since they actually read my e-mails," the brown-haired teen said, his face turning into a slight glare. "By the way, it's good you were going to go on without me anyway."

"Actually…" Ed received a mental shock from his partner before he could voice his objections, causing him to hold the sides of his head.

"What is it? You're not having doubts, are you? You've been loyal this whole time. You better not defect," Gregor said angrily.

"I won't!" Ed shouted.

Greg smiled toothily. "That's what I like to hear. Now, don't let anyone know I'm still alive. Some of the contestants work for me, so this should be an easy plot."

"Who did you recruit?" Ed asked, still recovering from the head pain that he had experienced.

"A few people. That's all you need to know. I'll send them after contestants that I don't like. The plan is that it's just me, my group and Rika in the end," the lanky teen said, a disturbing grin coming across his face. "Anyway, I guess I'll see you at the dinner or at the very least, tomorrow. You will be there, won't you?"

Ed felt severe dread as soon as his accomplice left. What had he gotten into?

He then looked over to his partner, who continued to try blocking his negative thoughts.

###

Takato wandered through the halls with Guilmon by his side. "So, Takato, can I go swimming? Please?"

"After we go to the meeting, okay, buddy?" the goggle-headed teen assured his partner.

"Aw, but meetings are boring!" the red-dino complained.

The two then walked into the meeting room, where there were numerous other Tamers and their partners. The meeting hadn't started yet, but Takato felt all eyes land on him as soon as he entered.

"Why are they staring at us, Takato?" Guilmon inquired.

"No way," a Native American Tamer said.

"It's Takato Matsuki!" a black Tamer exclaimed. "He's really here!"

Takato glanced over to see Tanya rolling her eyes.

"Hey, can I get your autograph?" another Tamer, a brown-haired teen, asked in a stereotypical Canadian accent that Takato could barely understand as everyone started to crowd around him.

"Everybody, stop it!" Tanya yelled, angry that everyone would do such a thing. "Takato is here by request and can leave at any time. If you do what you just did again, he's going to have a panic attack, okay?"

Takato smiled uneasily, though he was happy this girl came to his rescue.

"Wow, Takato, you're really popular," Guilmon commented. "Yay!"

The goggle-headed boy groaned as Kazu walked in, followed by Guardromon and looking rather disappointed. Upon seeing the girl, Kazu checked her out.

"Hey, how come nobody's asking for my autograph?" the visor-wearing Tamer asked.

"Who the heck are you?" some random person in the group asked.

"Okay, I guess it's time to start this meeting," Tanya told the group as Kazu sat down next to Takato. The girl picked up a pile of papers and started to hand them out. "First off, you can call me Herlinda. These are lists of policies and whatnot. We'll start by going over those."

Takato was a bit confused. "Didn't she say her name was Tawny?" he asked Kazu in a whisper. Of course, he knew the girl's true identity.

"Yeah, she's weird, man. I think she just made those names up," the visor-wearing teen replied, not exactly whispering back.

"Mr. Shiota, do you have something to say to the class?" Tanya asked Kazu, putting him on the spot.

"Oh, just that Takato and I think you're lying about your name, Tawny," Kazu said.

The black-haired girl gritted her teeth. "I just told the group they could call me Herlinda. That's my middle name."

"Yeah, Tawny Herlinda…" Kazu's mouth was covered by Takato.

"Sorry about my friend, Tanya. He's got a bit of a big mouth," the goggle-wearing Tamer admitted.

Tanya took a deep breath while rolling her eyes. "Well, let's continue." After that, they went over safety procedures, emergency information and jobs. Each of the Tamers in the room volunteered for something except for Takato and Kazu, who, despite raising their hands, didn't get called on. After that, the rest of the room left.

"So, we didn't get jobs," Kazu said, indignant. "What gives?"

The black-haired girl turned a chair around and sat in front of the two Tamers and their partners. "I have a special assignment for you two," she said. "One of the contestants had a threat posted against him. Because of that, we're afraid someone will try and kidnap him during the tournament. What you two need to do is protect him with your life."

"Oh, okay, that's interesting," Takato responded, not quite sure of what to think of this.

"Boring!" Kazu exclaimed, getting a piercing glare from Tanya. "What? We came for excitement and we have to babysit some idiot we don't even know?"

Tanya took a deep breath. "Shut up, Kazu. By the way, Takato, I would recommend that you don't reveal my identity to everyone on earth. Same with Kentaro," she said.

"Oh, uh… sorry about that one," Takato said, smiling at her. "It kind of slipped out."

"Wait…" Kazu's eyes narrowed. "You mean this chick is Tanya Ge…"

"Yeah, I'm the character from the TV show. I came through the TV to save the world," she said sarcastically.

"So, who's the guy we have to keep tabs on?" Takato asked.

"You'll find his information on this sheet of paper," she said, handing them a thick packet.

Takato smiled nervously, nodding.

"Okay, dismissed. Enjoy your trip and pray it's uneventful," she said bluntly as the two Tamers and their partners left the room.

###

Upon leaving, Takato wandered through the cruise ship. They still hadn't disembarked, yet the goggle-wearing boy was surprised to spot Ezekiel and his partner walking through the halls, following the signal on his digivice.

The brown-haired Tamer had no idea what to think of the American, so he followed from afar, making sure that Ezekiel didn't notice him or Guilmon.

"Takato, what are we doing?" the dino asked as his partner glanced around the corner at Ezekiel, who had stopped at a door.

"Quiet, Guilmon," the brown-haired teen told him. The next thing he noticed, Ezekiel's head had turned toward them.

"Takato, I know you're down there," he said, walking toward him, grimacing and slightly peeved.

"Uh, hey, Ezekiel. I thought you weren't going to work with us," Takato said nervously as the skinny, black-haired teen walked up to him, leaving only a couple feet in between the two.

"I'm not. I'm just here to visit someone," he said seriously, adjusting his sunglasses. "If you don't mind, I'd like a little bit of privacy."

"Oh, okay, like when Takato takes a bath," Guilmon said innocently, confusing the poor American.

"Actually… oh, nevermind," Ezekiel said, taking a deep breath and dropping his arms. He did not want to visualize that.

"Who are you going to meet?" Takato asked, curiously. When the black-haired Tamer stumbled, his partner answered instead.

"His brother is on board this ship," Dobermon said, getting straight to the point.

"This is my final opportunity to see him before turning myself in. I want to apologize for what happened back in Vegas," he admitted. "No, if you'll excuse me…"

"Oh, okay, good luck," Takato said. "I guess this'll be the last time I'll see you, then."

Ezekiel nodded. "Tell the rest I said good-bye." The two walked off in opposite directions as Ezekiel inched toward the other door.

###

Diego was busy playing the saxophone when someone knocked at the door. He wanted just a few minutes alone and away from Kyle, who was probably exploring the ship and talking to everyone he came across. In fact, the only reason he picked up playing the sax again was to relieve stress. Not feeling like opening the door to the guy who probably forgot his key again like in New York, he spoke to his partner.

"Gaomon, can you go get that?" he asked, a hint of annoyance in his voice as he looked over some sheet music he was trying to learn.

"Yes, Diego, I will do that at once," the blue dog said, getting up out of his chair and walking toward the door. He turned the doorknob, revealing his partner's visitor.

"Hello, brother," Ezekiel said nervously as he walked in and faced his older sibling.

"Oh, hey!" Diego exclaimed, putting his instrument down on the bed and running over to his smaller brother and hugging him. "What's up? Where have you been all this time?"

Ezekiel was really confused, and as his brother let go, he asked him a question. "You… you're not mad?"

Diego shook his head and smiled. "Of course not," he said. "It's been a few weeks and you obviously weren't yourself when you faced Kyle back then."

The sunglass-sporting teen looked at him in confusion. "What did he tell you?" he asked.

"He told me everything from his point of view. In New York, at the National Tournament, we faced Blaine, who said that he used you to test us, apparently," Diego explained, still amazed that his brother actually showed up. "So, what are you going to do now?"

"I'm going to, at our uncle's suggestion, turn myself in," Ezekiel replied, dreading the moment when he would do that. Diego had a confused look on his face from that.

"Which uncle?" he asked. "We have, like, ten of them."

"Antonio," Ezekiel said, surprising his older brother.

"Funny, a Tamer from Japan came and visited us a couple weeks ago and didn't even mention you," Diego explained.

"Yeah, I asked her not to," Ezekiel admitted. For the next few minutes, the two of them caught up on life and what it was like for the two Tamers. Ezekiel talked about his dealings with the Tamers of Shinjuku while Diego talked about how the Vegas team was split in two and mentioned Consuelo, though as a new recruit.

"She seems like a nice girl and a good teammate, I guess," the skinny teen commented, smiling. "Well, it was good talking to you. I better get going before the ship disembarks."

Diego nodded. "Alright. Hopefully Echelon won't keep you for long." The chubby teen then hugged his younger brother for one last time. "See you later, bro!"

Ezekiel smiled as he left. "See you around and say hi to Kyle for me. Tell him I'm truly sorry for what I did."

Diego nodded.

###

About an hour after the ship disembarked, Rika went up to the deck to look out at the fading city in the distance. She was amazed at the sight. True, she had been around the sea before, however, it still seemed to take her breath away whenever she found herself in the middle of it.

Losing herself in the beauty of the ocean was one of the reasons she didn't notice Takato lean against the railing next to her until he spoke. "Beautiful, isn't it?" he asked, startling her.

"Takato!" she yelled, partially out of anger and partially out of surprise. "What do you want, gogglehead?"

"Nothing much, I'm just here to say hello. That's all," he said, smiling lightly. "By the way, I met Jeri's boyfriend."

Rika looked at him in shock. "You have got to be kidding me," she said. "Who is he?"

"His name is, believe it or not, Kentaro Takaishi. He's… I guess I could say that he's really nervous around me."

The red-head didn't look very convinced. "He's faking it. I bet he's some sort of imposter. But still, how could someone like Jeri fall for him even though it's so obvious?"

"Actually, I don't think he is," Takato said. "Remember that Osamu Ichijouji guy who posed as a man named Blaine?" he asked.

"Yeah, and he supposedly had advanced technology and a different digivice," Rika remembered. "Wait, you don't actually believe that the guy is who he says he is, do you?"

Takato nodded. "I found a piece of technology that Kentaro had from the future. It was like some sort of palm pilot, but bigger and flatter. It also had a color screen with great resolution and it seemed to have depth, like one of those 3-D movies but not as annoying."

Rika looked at him like he was nuts. "Okay, I know you're telling the truth, but… time travel and dimension hopping? That's something out of science fiction!"

"Aren't Digimon?" he asked, causing her to flinch.

"You have a point there, gogglehead," she admitted. "But still, how do you know that this guy is good for Jeri?"

"I don't know yet. Here's the thing, I really care for Jeri as a friend and I don't want her to be hurt. That's why I'm going to talk to Kentaro and find out who he really is," he said, leaning back on the rail.

Rika nodded. "What do you think of me?" she asked, hoping for an honest answer. Takato gave her a nod.

Crap, why is she asking me this? Takato took a deep breath before speaking again, trying to get his thoughts in order to say what he wanted to say in a way that wouldn't offend the girl and wouldn't ruin their friendship. "I… I like you, but I know you don't want a relationship and I won't press it," the goggle-headed teen admitted, smiling uneasily.

Rika smiled back. "Thank you."

"Let's not let anything else get in the way of our friendship, okay?" he asked, getting a nod from the red-head.

"Okay, definitely not," she said, remembering the harsh words she said all that time ago.

"Hey, Rika, so, how are things going?" Takato asked as the two wandered through town on their way from a bioemergence.

"Alright. I'm just kind of bored right now. It seems like nobody's doing anything right now," she said, groaning. "What about you?"

"I'm in the same boat as you. So… uh…" He paused for a few seconds to figure out how to word it. "…you want to go with me to the movies?" Takato asked, scratching the back of his head. Rika looked at him as if he was crazy.

"Takato, are you asking me out?" she asked, annoyed and raising an eyebrow. She didn't want this, one bit.

"Uh… no… I mean yes…" he stumbled.

"Takato, I said no. Don't you remember two years ago?" she asked, angrily, hoping he got the point.

The goggle-headed tamer looked her in the eyes. "I… I thought you wouldn't mind anymore. I'm sorry, Rika."

But that wasn't good enough. She was mad. "Takato! I am not going out with you. That's final! I'm not going out with you and I'm not going out with anyone!" she exclaimed, annoyed that after all this time he wouldn't know better. "You know, forget it! I'm leaving. Don't call me again, goggle-head!" she exclaimed, turning away from him and leaving with Renamon.

"You know, Takato, that whole thing a few weeks ago was just stupid," she said, taking a deep breath. "How about I make it up to you. I hear there's a theater on the ship showing different movies throughout the day. If you want, we could go there, and just to hang out," she said, still somewhat uneasy. She hoped he didn't see it as a date and she hoped she didn't have that interpretation either.

"If… if you really want to," he said nervously, surprised that she would suggest that.

"I do," she responded, "as friends."

Takato nodded, before looking beyond his friend in surprise. He didn't know who the tall, lanky, brown-haired European was that was approaching them, but something about the man seemed off.

"Good afternoon, Rika Nonaka," he said in English, smiling. "My name is Gregor Shröder, but you can call me Greg. I am the reigning champion of Germany."

Rika had no reason not to be respectful toward the fellow contestant, but he seemed to have an odd air about him. "And what do you want?"

"Well, maybe we could talk about this over dinner," he suggested.

"Not interested, bud," the red-head replied. "I'd rather not go on any dates right now, okay?"

"Not as a date, but as a business proposition. I was thinking, Rika, that we could join forces for the tournament so that we would only have to face each other during the finals. What do you say?" he asked. Takato felt a twinge of jealousy at the other Tamer.

I can't believe it. He's interested in Rika? he thought, looking at him suspiciously.

"Sorry, but I have plans tonight," Rika decided. "And the answer is no. I want to win fair and square, without cutting corners. Besides, how do you know that we won't be in set brackets and end up against each other in the first round, anyway?" she asked.

"I have a friend on security here at the tournament who told me some secrets. That's all," he told her, smiling some more. Takato was starting to find it rather creepy.

"Still, it's a no. Now, if you'll excuse me, Takato and I are going to enjoy this little cruise, okay?" she said, grabbing Takato's arm and taking him with her past the man, who looked back at them in surprise until they left.

"Enjoy your little pleasure cruise, Rika," he said, smiling maliciously. He would have to figure out a way to make up for this part of the plan not working out. Thinking about that would take some time, but he had some to kill.

###

Finding the local chapter of Echelon was easy for Ezekiel. All it took was a phonebook, an address and some walking. The walk lasted miles and the teen's feet were sore, but he was glad he was doing this. Soon, his past would be behind him.

The Miami division of Echelon was in a large skyscraper toward the center of town. Ezekiel didn't let the size intimidate him and just kept on walking with Dobermon close behind.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" the dog asked as they entered into the building.

"Definitely. I'm not sure what sort of sentence I'll get, but I feel I must do this."

After walking into the lobby, he noticed a blonde receptionist object to his partner. "I'm sorry, but pets aren't allowed in the building, so he's going to have to leave," she said, staring at him angrily.

"So, you think I'm a dog, do you?" Dobermon asked, glaring at the woman who stood there surprised. Ezekiel just showed her his digivice.

"I'm a Digimon Tamer and this is my partner, Dobermon. On what floor is Echelon's local headquarters?" he asked politely.

The woman looked on the edge of freaking out. "Oh, I'm soooo sorry. It's on the thirtieth floor. Just take the elevator and you will be right there," she said apologetically.

Ezekiel continued moving forward, his partner walking alongside him as they boarded the elevator and the dog hit the button with the number 30 on it with his nose.

"So, where do you think I'll go after this?" Dobermon asked, as the elevator closed, not wanting to think about what was next.

"You will go wherever the government takes you. If you are in danger, though, you are authorized to break out of wherever that is," Ezekiel explained, adjusting his sunglasses. He was nervous and the more nervous he got, the more serious his expression became.

Eventually, the door opened and the two walked into an office. The secretary at the front was more welcoming than the one downstairs. "Oh, a new Tamer," she commented, sounding too much like some sort of seventies housewife for his liking.

"Actually, I'm not from the area. In fact, I'm here to turn myself in for committing a crime," he said point blank, looking as calm as can be while starting to burn up underneath. The woman panicked, pressed a button and a few seconds later, a man came out, looking at the black-haired Tamer in surprise.

"You know, normally rogues attempt to flee the country instead of turning themselves in," the man said. The agent was a grizzled, white Cuban in his fifties with black hair, who gestured for Ezekiel to follow him. "What's your name, son?" he asked as he led the black-haired Tamer to an interrogation room.

"Ezekiel Guevara. I'm a member of the Tamers of Las Vegas," he said, going and sitting down, his partner by his side.

"Ezequiel Guevara… Let's see, two brothers, a cousin and an uncle are Tamers," he said, surprising Ezekiel with the cousin part and also amazing him with the tablet that he was reading it from, almost identical to the ones Tanya, Kentaro and Osamu had. In fact, the black-haired Tamer was amazed that they could have reverse engineered Osamu's technology so quickly.

"So, when do I get shipped off to Cañon City?" Ezekiel asked, deciding to make sure of the answer to that one before questioning the man about his cousin. As far as he knew, Echelon didn't do business in Chile and he, Diego and Fernando were the only ones of their generation in the United States.

"Actually, according to this: in the event of your turning yourself in, you get to wait here for a visit from Beckenstein," the grizzled director explained.

"You're kidding," Ezekiel said in surprise.

"No, I am definitely not. He should be here any moment now," the Cuban said.

"How is that possible? He lives in New York," the black-haired Tamer objected.

"And how did you reverse engineer that future technology, huh?" Dobermon asked, sitting down next to his partner.

The man chuckled. "Actually, this tablet was taken from the Academy's base when it was raided. We're still trying to reverse engineer this stuff but we've found out how to modify it to our liking. Plus, it helps that the Academy had the SDK for this… Android tablet in their computers. Now, to answer your question about Beckenstein's arrival, well, he's using what we call Digital Bridges, portals with similar features to that of bioemergences that allow instantaneous travel between places. Now, this is all classified, so don't let it get out, okay?"

"Somehow, I get the feeling you guys are going to do that yourselves," Ezekiel remarked as a tall American in his fifties, wearing a cowboy hat walked into the room.

"This is Mr. Beckenstein. I hope you enjoy each other's company," the Cuban said before walking out and shutting the door behind him.

Ezekiel looked up at the man, who pulled a chair out and sat down in it. The black-haired teen was beyond nervous at that point, thinking he should have asked to go to the bathroom before this interrogation. Beckenstein, on the other hand, just grinned seriously.

"So, are you going to administer my punishment or what?" Ezekiel asked.

"Are you kidding me? All charges against you were dropped. Osamu admitted everything," Beckenstein said. "Of course, if you want to go to Cañon City, be my guest."

"No, I think we'll pass," Dobermon said as soon as Beckenstein gave them the chance to, irritating Ezekiel slightly.

The tall man smiled. "Well, it turns out we have a secret mission for you," the man said. "From what I've read, you've faced Eduardo Diaz and lived."

"Quite right," Ezekiel said.

"Well, what would you say to getting a team together and dealing with him and a couple of other people? It turns out there are subversive elements within Echelon working toward unknown ends. What I'm going to need your group to do is go to Santa Corona, deal with Eduardo and then deal with these guys. In this packet are a couple recommendations for your team. You'll also find some other interesting information, particularly page three, paragraph six," the man explained, dropping a thick batch of paper onto the table in front of Ezekiel. The black-haired teen didn't waste any time going to the spot that Beckenstein highlighted, his eyes widening in surprise. He paused for a second before speaking again.

"Has this been confirmed completely," Ezekiel asked the man, who gave a nod.

"One-hundred percent," was Beckenstein's response as the guy leaned back. "I bet you weren't expecting that, huh?"

"On the contrary, I really wasn't." Ezekiel remembered back to when he last saw his uncle, that morning before he left as he read through this.

###

"I hope everything works out for you in the end," Antonio said, taking his nephew to the airport. The two were on one of the numerous trains running through Tokyo.

"What about you? Don't you wish I could still go and defeat Diaz for your sake?" Ezekiel asked.

"To tell you the truth, I don't care anymore. I guess I kind of forgive him for his mistakes. He's misguided, in need of a father figure that cares. Hopefully his real father is someone that does," the large man responded, smiling. "As it is, he returned my computer, so he can't be all bad."

"You don't know him. Rika and a Tamer of Vegas that I've never heard of named Consuelo got the name Carlos Ortega from his mother. Unfortunately, there haven't been any updates on that," Ezekiel explained.

"It all takes time. We just need to be patient," Antonio replied, smiling warmly.

"So, how are you going to cope with me gone?" Ezekiel asked, a weary smile on his face.

"I have work and friends to keep me busy. Heck, I even have plans tonight. I'm not sure about work, though. Yamaki's been acting kind of strange, like he doesn't trust me or something. I'm thinking of using my vacation time to go back to Chile for a little bit soon."

Ezekiel wondered why. Antonio had worked for him for a few months, so Yamaki should have trusted him.

###

Oh, uncle, what have you gotten yourself into? He thought, worrying for the man. He would have to let him know as soon as possible, even though the secret might destroy him.

###

Next Chapter: Libro de Secretos

A/N: The plot grows more complex as characters already introduced come together. What will their ultimate plans be?

The digital bridge concept: I totally ripped off the Bifröst from the movie Thor with that one. Still, the concept is pretty simple and it (hopefully) doesn't seem too out of place with the show's tech. Then again, there is time travel involved (though it's almost completely backstory).

Originally, there was going to be a chapter before this from the villains' point of view, but I decided to incorporate that into a couple of later chapters.

And, if you're wondering, Johnny Beckenstein is a canon character. Also, Gregor appeared in Chapter 4, for those of you who are a bit confused. I don't plan on introducing new characters for a while (other than the occasional red-shirt), though there is the case of a digimon appearing in the next chapter by surprise. Guess what it is. Here's a hint: Dark Master.

Remember, I like reviews, even if you hate this fic. As long as the criticism is constructive.