Chapter 1: In the Footsteps of Heroes
Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon or any of the characters in this fic (the one exception in this chapter is Kurita, who exists to fulfill a specific purpose).
Oh, and thanks to CrazyEight for betaing this piece.
He was dreading what he was about to do. For Yamaki, his subordinates were important. They were people. To have any of them go missing on a mission was a failure.
But here he was. He pressed a button on the voice recorder.
"Log, April 30, 2002. The Tamers of Shinjuku: Takato Matsuki, Rika Nonaka, Henry Wong, Kazu Shioda and Kenta Kitagawa, along with Ryo Akiyama who was visiting at the time, are to be considered missing in action following the investigation of a bioemergence in Shinjuku Park. Their last known coordinates in the digital world are below the Sovereign's level, near where the D-Reaper used to be. Unfortunately, the only remaining Tamers in Shinjuku are Suzie Wong and the twins, Ai and Mako, who are far too young for a follow-up mission into the digital world. Though there are now a few other Tamers in Japan, none of them have the experience or expertise to embark on such a mission. There is currently nothing more we can do."
Yamaki wiped the sweat from his brow as he closed out his log program. There was no way he would sleep that night.
Jeri arrived at school the next day, already knowing that the others were missing. It was hard. Since she had no partner, she couldn't really do anything about it and going to the digital world would be a death sentence for her.
Of course, the digital world had been severely depopulated after the D-Reaper war, so there was a chance she wouldn't run into anything dangerous. Still, it was a chance she was unwilling to take. She wished she could repay her friends by helping find them, but without Leomon, she felt so… useless.
Snap out of it, Jeri! You're not useless!
She hoped that none of her other classmates noticed her squinting her eyes and shaking her head. At least she no longer had the hand puppet that she carried. The road to healing since the D-Reaper was a long one, to be sure.
"Hey, Jeri, what's the matter?" the brunette heard. She looked to the side and saw her friend Miki, a girl with short, dark hair. The dark-haired girl was smiling, but even Jeri could tell that it was an uneasy one. Nobody knew the exact reason for the absence of the others, but the brunette could tell that everyone at least suspected the truth.
"Oh, it's nothing. I'm just worried, that's all," Jeri replied, trying her best to conjure up a smile.
Miki realized the whole thing was probably a rather sensitive subject, so she backed off and looked over at the others in the classroom. The dark-haired girl secretly wished she were a Tamer so she could help bring the others back, but she knew that wasn't going to change any time soon.
"So, where's Ayaka?" Jeri inquired of her friend.
"I have, like, no idea," the dark-haired girl responded. Just then, a familiar blonde-haired girl ran in through the classroom door. "Oh, Ayaka, you made it!"
The pig-tailed blonde groaned as she sat down. "Are you kidding me? I overslept! It's a miracle I made it on time. Stupid alarm clock!"
"You weren't up watching TV again, were you?" Miki asked.
"Uh, no!" Ayaka denied, looking around. Really she wasn't. She was simply playing video games. "So, hear anything about… you know?" the pig-tailed blonde asked, trying to be sensitive about it.
Jeri shook her head, disappointed, before sighing. The brunette was about to say something else, but she was cut off by the teacher for the new school-year, Mr. Takahashi, cutting them off.
"Okay, class! It's time to get started," the balding man told the class as they all sat down in their seats, waiting for him to take attendance.
He walked away from school, thinking of what he was eventually going to do. He needed to do this. He needed to make the first steps towards finding the original Tamers of Shinjuku. Everyone knows they've gone missing. It was just that Hypnos was covering it up.
Unfortunately, he didn't know where to start.
He knew that there weren't going to be any trips to the digital world. For one thing, the other Tamers in Japan were inexperienced and they didn't have any sort of connections to the Tamers of Shinjuku like he did.
He was a classmate of Takato Matsuki named Tadashi Nakabayashi. He was a bit of a chubby kid who had dark blond hair, brown eyes and was wearing a yellow shirt and brown pants.
"Yo! Tadashi, what's up?" the blond looked behind to see his friend Yuji coming up behind him. Yuji had long brown hair and was wearing a blue shirt. "Why do you look so serious, man?"
"I'm just thinking. What are you up to?" the blond asked, continuing his walk.
"Not much. I'm just trying to save up a little money. You want to help me on a job real quick?" the guy asked, grinning widely.
Tadashi wasn't interested. "Takato and the other Tamers are missing and all you can think about is money?" he asked, looking at his friend with a slightly irritated expression.
"Not like we can do much about that, can we?" the brown-haired teen said. "None of us are Tamers and there's not much of a chance we'll become Tamers, so what's the point in worrying about it?"
Tadashi stopped dead in his tracks and glared at his friend. "Seriously?"
"Dude, those government guys that monitor the Digital World are probably tracking them down right now. They're probably just on a secret mission that they couldn't tell us about, like the time they had to rescue Calumon. Just think, you thought he was a ghost when he messed up the soccer field."
"I thought that was you," Tadashi objected.
"Nah, that was totally either you or Taizou," the brown-haired teen replied, grinning while he said that. "Me? I'm not so stupid as to think that the supernatural can get involved, though, if you think about it, Digimon are kind of supernatural."
Tadashi rolled his eyes. "Whatever. I'm just going home."
"What? You're not going to help me out? Taizou and Jeremy both agreed to it!" Yuji objected, now visibly annoyed.
"No, I'm not. Think about all this, okay? The Tamers would have let everyone know if they were heading to the digital world on their own. Something's up, and I want to find out what, even if I have to go all the way to the Digital World to do so," the boy declared to his friend.
"Right, go ahead," Yuji urged, not buying it. "Just remember who freaks out whenever they have to deal with crowds, okay?"
Tadashi glared at his friend. "I don't do that!" he objected.
"No, you so do!" Yuji smiled. "Come on, you know you want to help me. Remember, you'll get a part of the share."
The blond shook his head. "No, and that's final."
"Okay, just don't come running for a loan when I end up rich," the brown-haired teen said, walking away.
Tadashi just continued his pace. He had a ways to go before he reached the apartment building that he lived in. This gave him time to think. Yet life had other plans for him.
An orange, lion-like rookie-level digimon moved through the jungles of the digital world, trying to evade the forces that were after him, a force consisting of numerous Commandramon led by a Sealsdramon.
The digimon, a member of the Coronamon species, couldn't defend himself from so many enemies at once. He needed a way out.
Listening behind him, he knew the Commandramon were closing in. They worked for a newly formed nation-state in the Western Digital World, the first of its kind and he just had to make the mistake of complaining about it. A part of him wished that either the Sovereigns or the Tamers that came from the human world would do something about it.
Run! He commanded himself, despite the strength in his legs starting to give out.
"So, this is the end, huh?" he asked himself half-heartedly, almost giving up as he tripped over some vines. That was, until he berated himself for what he said. "Stop it! This isn't the end, Coronamon! You can get through this!"
"Says you, even though you're surrounded," the digimon heard from behind. He spotted the reptilian cyborg digimon, Sealsdramon, looking right at him, licking his chops. The truth was that despite the numerous Commandramon around him, he would get his data. Looking around, he saw the Commandramon de-camouflaging themselves all around him.
He wasn't going to give up hope that easily. Looking up, he saw a flock of digignomes fly above him, a couple of them noticing his predicament.
He wished he could get out of that situation. It turned out one of the digignomes sensed that.
"Anything you'd like to say, Rookie?" Sealsdramon asked, brandishing his knife.
Standing in front of the firing squad, the digimon remembered his rebirth after the d-reaper invasion and hoped that the Commandramon would see that what was going on was wrong.
"Incoming!" one of the Commandramon yelled out as he was absorbed by a green data-stream. Coronamon let it absorb him as the squad dispersed.
He flew through the region between worlds, barely noticing the Commandramon who had been absorbed a few seconds before he was. Still, he hoped that he didn't have to fight against the cyborg Agumon as soon as he entered into the real world.
A dome of fog popped up out of nowhere as Coronamon emerged in the center of one of two bioemergences within a few hundred feet of each other. The lion got up before nearly getting hit by a car. Dodging the mechanical vehicle, he broke past the edge of the field, running straight into a wall. As the field dispersed, he looked around and spotted the numerous buildings that surrounded him.
"No way. This is just like those ruins right by the village…" his words were cut off by a scream.
"That's… that's a digimon isn't it?!" a woman screeched.
Past the woman was a trio of adolescents with baseball bats. Ah, cripes! The lion thought in his head as he ran in the opposite direction. He eventually spotted an alleyway and ran down it before noticing that it was a dead-end. Thinking quick, he saw a dumpster and, not knowing what it was for, jumped right in two seconds before the kids with bats turned the corner.
"What?" the leader of the squad complained. "Great, the thing must have found a way to climb the fence!"
"Uh, I don't see him anywhere," one of the others muttered.
"Of course not! The thing's superhuman and probably has super-speed too!"
Tadashi walked past the alley as he heard the guys complain. He felt nervous, but he felt that he also had to ask them what they were after. "What are you guys looking for?" he asked, confused and hoping that it was what he thought it was.
"Nothing that concerns you, chump!" the leader exclaimed.
"Yeah, it's just one of those freaks that decided to come over from the other side," the third guy said suavely as the three moved past the blond who was clenching his backpack's straps in fear.
He was beginning to have second thoughts about the whole Tamer thing as the three hoodlums left the alleyway.
Thinking about it, he wondered if the digimon that had escaped may have hid around him, though he had no reason to think that was the case. It was just the hope that was within him that made him ask that question. Looking around, he spotted the dumpster.
The blond decided to tap the sides. "Anybody in there?" he asked before realizing that he probably looked crazy for asking that question.
"Nope, nobody home!" he heard from inside the can. Crap, this guy's probably too dumb to live.
"Alright. I wouldn't want a digimon that was covered in trash anyway for a partner," Tadashi said into the air.
Then the lid lifted up and the lion… thing glanced at him. "Trash? Wait, you mean that… Oh, yuck! No wonder this thing smells gross!"
The blond chuckled. "The name's Tadashi," he said, holding out his hand to shake.
"Tadashi? No mon at the end? What kind of place is this?" the digimon asked as he squeezed out of the dumpster.
"The human world," the blond responded, deciding not to say the 'real world' since that would imply that the digital world wasn't as real as it really was. The lion shook the kid's hand before saying his name.
"Coronamon, at your service! So, you're a human, huh? I was expecting something different, like with more hair or something."
Tadashi smirked before shaking his head. "Nope!"
"Then again, I guess most digimon think of humans as looking somewhat like themselves anyway. So, you want to be partners?" the digimon inquired nonchalantly, taking Tadashi by surprise.
"Wait, you want to have a Tamer?" the blond asked in shock.
"Heck yeah! That way I can get stronger without having to load other digimons' data. Come on, what do you say?"
Tadashi thought about it for a second. He did want to have a partner, but to have it happen so sudden… "Sure. On one condition."
"And what is that?" the lion asked, curious.
"We get stronger and then we go to the digital world to save my friends," Tadashi told the digimon.
"Okay, that's good enough for me!" the digimon exclaimed, shaking the blond's hand. Then Tadashi heard a throat clear.
"You know, this is interesting and all, but, this sudden?" the duo looked in the direction of the street to see Beelzemon watching them, smirking.
"Tadashi! That's an evil digimon. It's a Mega, though, but I think you can make me digivolve!" Coronamon exclaimed.
"Don't worry about me, bub," the biker told the group. "I'm on your side!"
"Yeah, you helped out during the D-Reaper invasion, right?" Tadashi inquired, smiling.
"Yup! That's when my partners got their digivice, too." Beelzemon grinned widely.
"How do we know you're telling the truth?" Coronamon asked, angrily.
Beelzemon shrugged. "Well, I ain't gonna shoot you, I promise you that. We need more Tamers around here, anyway. By the way, those are pretty lofty goals."
"Were… were you there when the others disappeared?" Tadashi asked nervously, severely intimidated by the sight of Beelzemon.
The mega nodded before adopting a somber expression. "Yeah, I was, but I blacked out as soon as I got to the field. Apparently whoever it was didn't want a digimon without a partner. And because of that, the only Tamers left are mine and Suzie."
Tadashi nodded somberly. "Have any idea what it was that took them?"
"Not a clue," Beelzemon responded. "By the way: see any other digimon running around here? I checked both digital fields and found nothing."
"Commandramon escaped? That's… that's crazy!" Coronamon exclaimed, his voice filled with worry.
"Oh, great, a Commandramon, huh?" Beelzemon grumbled. "Not my cup of tea, that's for sure."
"Yeah, no kidding!" Coronamon exclaimed.
"So, want to come to my house after trying to find the Commandermon?" Tadashi asked the digimon.
"It's actually Commandramon, but sure! Not like I have anywhere else to go," Coronamon responded cheerfully.
"Just so you know; I don't want to tell my parents about you yet. I don't know what they'll think of you being around."
"Worse comes to worse, you could always have him stay at Hypnos," Beelzemon suggested. "By the way, you're going to have to contact them." The Mega reached into his pocket and pulled out a business card. "I fill my pocket with these before coming to each bioemergence in case I run into any new guys like you. Just call this number here. Don't worry, Hypnos just needs to know about you but you don't have to work for them. They do pay well, though."
"Ooh, money… that sounds good!" Coronamon exclaimed.
"I didn't think they had money in the digital world," Tadashi said, slightly confused over the conflict between what he heard about the digital world from his friends and what this digimon said.
"Oh, where I live just got new management, so we got money too. It kind of mucks everything up, though," the lion commented.
"By the way, Hypnos has some extra training for Tamers if you decide to work for them," Beelzemon added. "I guess I'll be off. See you around kid."
Then the digimon spread his wings out and flew off as Tadashi looked on in awe.
"So, ready to save your friends?" the digimon asked.
"We have to get stronger first," the blond said with a smile.
They shook their hands yet again as a burst of glowing energy formed above their heads. Tadashi grabbed hold of it, knowing what it was. As he grabbed onto it, he saw that it was a red-orange-ringed digivice.
It was official. They were Tamers.
After looking for Commandramon and failing, the Tamer and partner headed home. Sneaking into the apartment, Tadashi looked both ways before hurrying with Coronamon past all the furniture and into the bathroom. "We need to get you washed up, buddy," the blond commented as he turned on the water.
"What? There's no way I'm taking a bath. I only use water for drinking!" the digimon complained, standing there with his arms crossed.
"Coronamon, if you want to be my partner, you're going to have to have a bath once in a while," Tadashi commented as he walked out of the bathroom for a second to grab his swim trunks. Looking around, he spotted his brother in the kitchen, looking at him in confusion. His brother, Kurita, was a large, heavy seventeen-year-old and from the look on his face, he could tell something was up.
"What the heck is that smell?" the blond football player asked.
"I… I fell in a dumpster! I'm going to take a bath to get rid of it, don't worry!" Tadashi admonished the larger teen.
"Okay…" Kurita said, not believing it as he drank a protein shake. He had just come home from practice when he smelled… that.
Tadashi changed into his trunks quickly while Coronamon looked in the opposite direction. "Is there any reason why I can't see?"
"Privacy," the blond said nervously. "Okay, in you go!" he exclaimed, grabbing onto his partner by the waist and dragging him into the tub. The digimon came up and spit out some water he accidently inhaled.
"So, we couldn't have avoided this, huh?" the lion asked.
"Nope!" Tadashi exclaimed as he pulled the curtains back. "Let's see, I have some of my brother's weird shampoo. Remember to be quiet." The blond began the process of lathering the digimon's mane.
A few minutes later, Tadashi opened the door and saw no one. Kurita's probably in his room, the blond boy thought, sneaking out with his partner behind him. Then he walked into his room to come face-to-face with his brother.
"What?!" he exclaimed, spotting the large guy, holding his digivice and grinning widely.
"Man, that was easy to find out. So, you're a Tamer, huh?" the heavy teen asked.
The blond Tamer was panicking. "Please don't tell mom and dad!"
Kurita rolled his eyes. "Right. They'd probably kick him out," the football player said, pointing at the lion-like digimon. "For now, your secret's safe with me. Just don't get yourself killed, okay?" He had something on his younger brother, not that he was going to use it. The two brothers were actually completely in the dark as to their parent's views on digimon. "Dang, man, so you're following in the footsteps of your friends and heroes, huh?" the large teen asked. "You have no idea how jealous I am."
"You're jealous?" Tadashi asked, giving his brother a confused look. In response, Kurita nodded.
"Bro, you remember how I watched Digimon with you all the time, right? I have to admit, it was an awesome show." He smiled widely. "So, now you can save the world. Just don't let it get to your head."
"Uh…" Tadashi didn't know how to react. In fact, he was the one that always looked up to his older brother. He couldn't imagine the guy looking up to him.
"Remember the immortal words of Uncle Ben. With great power comes great responsibility. Just don't light anybody on fire while you go fight crime."
"Please, like we'll do that!" Coronamon objected.
Tadashi chuckled at that. He and his partner were so different. Maybe it would help him even out. The digimon was fearless, something that the blond boy wasn't.
"Yeah, there's not much crime to fight here, anyway," Kurita remarked. "Just keep quiet. We'll come in and feed you after dinner, Coronamon. By the way, it's great to finally meet a real-live digimon."
"It's great to meet you, too!" the lion responded in a smile.
Tadashi looked forward to what happened next.
Elsewhere, a reptilian soldier wandered the streets of Shinjuku, tired, hungry and a failure. This Commandramon was considered the worst of his squad, but he realized that Coronamon was still at large. He felt that if he deleted the digimon, he would be able to get back to the digital world with honor.
Except that was the problem. He had no idea where the stupid, loud-mouthed lion was or how to get back to the digital world.
"We definitely made a killing, didn't we? Who would have guessed that marketing lemonade as an energy drink would be such a hit!" Commandramon heard someone say. It was dark, but there was a trio of boys wandering around with wads of bills in their hands.
"Oh, heck yeah, man. Tadashi's an idiot for not coming along!" a different boy from the first, this one with buzz-cut brown hair and a black shirt. "Think of how much money he would have gotten."
Commandramon knew exactly what was going on. These were human children and apparently they killed somebody. Maybe the leader of this group, the guy with the long brown hair, would make an optimal partner in crime. The cyborg soldier didn't want to have an actual partner with a digivice. Such a thing would probably cause the Dragon Lord's wrath to come upon him if he knew. Commandramon shuddered at such a thought before jumping out in front of them, causing them to freak out.
"You, the human with the long hair! You will help me find my prey!" the digimon shouted.
"Uh… no way…" Yuji said with shock.
"I think you should do what he said," the buzz-cut boy stated in fear. "Guns are totally illegal in Japan! This ain't gonna be good!"
"So, will you help me make a killing or am I going to have to find somebody else?" the reptile asked.
"Oh, dude, make a killing means making tons of dough," Yuji corrected. "We didn't actually kill anybody."
"Okay, then I'm wasting my time here!" Commandramon complained before pushing his way past the trio. "I don't eat bread, only meat."
Yuji gritted his teeth. He had a chance to become a Tamer before Tadashi, or so he thought, and he was just letting it slip away like that. "Hey, wait, lizard-guy! I'll help you find that digimon."
Commandramon looked at him with bright eyes. "Re… really?" he stuttered out.
"Yeah, sure! Come on, you've got to come with me. I'll give you a place to stay while we find this guy!" Yuji exclaimed.
"Of course! I shall follow you to your base of operations and we can get started… after I get something to eat," the digimon said as his stomach began to growl.
"Sure thing, buddy!" Then Yuji turned to his friends. "You guys better not tell anybody about this, okay? I want to tell Tadashi myself. If you don't tell anybody, I'll try to find you a partner."
"Oh, okay. Sure thing. It ain't gonna be easy, but sure, boss!" the boy with the crew cut, Taizou responded.
A/N: Just one of those numerous ideas that's been going through my head lately. Believe it or not, the only OC so far in this fic is Kurita (guess who he's named after). Everyone else can be found on character lists. They also appear as extras in the TV show (case in point, 'Snakes, Trains, and Digimon' has pretty much all of them in it), so I had to basically create their personalities from whole cloth. Hopefully it worked. Let me know in a review.
My ideas for the story, in order to prevent a Kudzu plot from forming, is to divide it into smaller story arcs, kind of inspired by the Firefly fanfic Forward's structure. There will of course be plot threads going through the entire story (The missing Tamers of Shinjuku and the Dragon Lord are the only two from this arc that I can think of). I have ideas going until the fourth arc.
If you're wondering, this takes place in a different universe from my Digital Union fics (there are a few nails here and there, though some things still happen in spite of them). Case in point, Ayaka and Miki's partners are switched around.