Rating: PG for this chapter, PG-13 for the series
The disclaimer dance: I do not own Digimon, pretend to own Digimon, or think I own Digimon. Digimon and all its characters are copyright of their repsective owners which is not me. I am not making any money off of this fanfic. It for my (and others) sick amusement.
Let's make this simple. I have never seen the Japanese version of Digimon. I know nothing about it. All names, personalities, and places are derived from the dub shown on Fox.
The idea: old. The plot: original. The effect: Priceless.
It started with a returned test.
Ken stared at the piece of paper before him, his mind refusing to process what the teacher had written. Red ink covered the paper in so many places that the sheet seemed to bleed. Every time Ken looked at the number on the test, the cold knot in his stomach coiled tighter.
63. Ken Ichijoji had failed.
"I am known for my hard first tests. I do it on purpose. This is the highest level in this school. You have been at the top of your class for so long, I find that you honor students are arrogant. You do not know as much as you think you do. I think that I proved that to everyone here. Only two of your peers passed."
Two people had passed the test, and Ken had not been one of them. The teacher cleaned his glasses on the edge of the shirt. Then he began to write the day's notes on the board, his voice taking on the droning quality of a lecture. Students made slow from shock began to copy them down. Ken continued to stare at the sheet before him. This can't be happening... it can't.
It was only when the bell rang, signaling the end of class, that Ken was able to think about something else.
The thought haunted Ken for the next month, calling softly from the back of his mind. He hid the incriminating test from his parents, stashing it in the back of a drawer, far out of sight. But the test still dogged his thoughts. For years Ken had defined who he was by his intelligence. Now that foundation of intellect was being challenged by a single test.
On the outside, nothing appeared to have changed. Ken ate, slept, went to school, attended classes, talked, and acted completely normal. Even the other Digidestined barely noticed anything other than that Ken seemed more tired than normal. He easily downplayed their fears, and the comment was quickly forgotten.
But for all that everything appeared normal, inside Ken was a seething mass of anxiety and misery. Nightmares plagued his sleep, leaving him with vague memories of laughter and public humiliation in the morning. The stress of trying to succeed built upon already strained nerves. More than once, he cried himself to sleep his mind consumed with trying to figure out how to save his reputation from the failing grade. It got so bad that Ken wasn't even sure who he was any more, whether the Ken Ichijoji really existed or was nothing more than a thin shell of a person.
There was only one thing to do. Ken had to ace the next test. No matter what. His sanity depended on it.
It was five minutes before the test and Ken was sure he was going to throw up. The whole class was nervous. Last minute cramming was currently underway. Some of the students stood in small groups, asking questions of those who had passed the last test. Others remained seated at their desks, looking desperately over their notes. Watching their heads bent over in concentration, Ken resisted the urge to reread is notes for a final time.
I have studied for this test for the last week. I even stayed up all night going over everything Hajime-sensei wrote on the board. I know this material better than I know anything I've ever been tested on in my life. I can pass this test. I will pass this test.
That is assuming I don't fall asleep.
That is assuming I don't fall asleep.Ken stifled a yawn behind his hand. It wouldn't do for him to fall asleep during the test. It would guarantee that he would fail the class.
Hajime-sensei entered the room, closely followed by the head of the class. The class head, a girl by the name of Kumiko, carried in Hajime-sensei's briefcase. She handed the briefcase back to the teacher, bowed, then faced the class. "Stand, and bow." The sound of seats sliding against tile floor was deafening, as the class stood as one and bowed to their teacher.
As everyone took their seats the tension in the room climbed a notch. The teacher took his briefcase, and laid it on the desk. Ken found that his hands were shaking. The openings to the briefcase came undone. Ken felt light headed, almost nauseous. Hajime-sensei opened the briefcase and took out a stack of tests.
I will not hyperventilate. The teacher was coming closer, handing out the tests one by one. Ken's mouth felt dry, his heart pounding, and his breath was coming is a series of short, shallow pants. I will gasp not gasp hyperventilate. Hajime-sensei was four students away. Then three. Then two. Ken dropped his pencil and scrambled to pick it up. Cold sweat covered his body.
I can't take this. I can't take this. I can't take this.
The human mind is a strange, wonderful thing. It has the capacity to endure an amazing amount of stress. But eventually, the mind reaches a breaking point where enough is enough. In order to survive, something must give. Somehow the mind must cope.
"Is there anything else, Mr. Ichijoji?"
Ken blinked, watching as Hajime-sensei took the test out of his limp hand. His eyes helplessly followed the paper as it joined his classmates' in a pile on the teacher's desk. A very small pile Ken noted, fighting back hysterical laughter. "Mr. Ichijoji?"
"N-nothing. Sorry, sensei." Ken turned and started walking back towards his seat. Many of the students remained bent over their tests. The sound of scratching pencils filled the room. I'm one of the first ones done,Ken thought in quiet hysteria as he took his seat. I just turned in my test... and I don't remember taking it. Did I write anything down? I can't even remember the questions.
The rest of the class seemed to pass in a blur of mental accusations, denial, and hopelessness. One by one Ken's fellow students turned their papers in. Each footstep they took seemed to drive the numbness deeper into Ken's mind. Finally, the bell rung. There was one frantic rush of the desk, as last minute students turned in their tests. Then Hajime-sensei was leaving the room, and the class was free for lunch.
All around him students got to their feet. There were words and laughter, groans and jibes. Ken barely noticed them. Tremors had once again begun to race through his frames, sending his hands skittering across the desk. The smell of food from the lunches around him caused Ken's stomach to churn. He could feel the shortness of breath returning, another attack coming on.
"Yes?" His name broke through his rising panic. Ken looked up to identify the source of the voice. It was one of his classmates, a pretty girl who dyed her hair blonde and had dark eyes. After a brief pause his mind supplied a name. Nagano Azume.
"Are you feeling okay? You look pale. Maybe you should see the school nurse?"
"I think I will. Thank you." Ken put a hand to his eyes, trying to stop the sudden pain that blossomed behind them. Azume frowned in concern as Ken got shakily to his feet.
"Can you make it? I can... I can walk you to the nurse's office if you need me to."
"No. I can make it on my own," Ken replied with a faint smile. His back, neck, and head were a network of pain. Few students noticed Ken's departure from the room. Somehow he made it to the nurse's office, despite the pain and the graying of his vision. There he remained for the rest of the day, too sick to attend his afternoon classes.
It was the next day at the end of class before the tests were returned. Hajime-sensei handed them to Kumiko who walked slowly around, laying each test face down on the desk. Ken watched the piece of paper laid before him with the same sick dread he'd felt right before the test.
"Overall the grades were much improved over the first test. However, I fear that some of you will still be disappointed with your grades. I suggest in the future that you take these tests much more seriously. You only have four more to bring your grades up and with some of your homework scores, you will need every point."
One by one the students turned their papers over. Muffled groans and even a few gasps of shocked followed. Ken resigned himself to failure as he stared at the back of the test before him. It won't be so bad. I'm no longer the famous boy genius anyway. No one will be too surprised or disappointed. Except maybe my parents. But they'll understand if I don't make it into the absolute best high school. They love me for who I am, not who I was.
I just wish being myself was good enough.
"Aren't you going to look at your test, Mr. Ichijoji?" Hajime-sensei asked from the front of the class. Ken jumped, looking startled and guilty.
"Yes, sensei." With a feeling of resignation, Ken turned the test over. His grade grabbed his attention, bold red ink against stark white paper.
75/75. A perfect score.
"Congratulations go to Mr. Ichijoji, who got the only perfect score on the test. Everyone should strive to follow his example." Then Hajime-sensei started writing on the board and the class started to copy his notes.
A perfect score? But that's not possible. I don't remember taking the test. How could I have gotten a perfect score?
As his fellow classmates copied down the notes, Ken looked over the answers. It was his handwriting. The kanji were as neat and precise as always. Possibly they contained an elegance that his writing normally lacked, but it was still his handwriting.
He wished he could say the same about the answers themselves. Ken recognized none of the phrasing. Some of the kanji used were only vaguely familiar to him, and one was unknown. There were no stirrings of memory as he read over the answers, no faint traces of recognition. Nothing. It was like someone else had taken the test for Ken.
What is happening to me?
I am not evil.
Not really. Oh, I admit that I am slightly sociopathic or perhaps just narcissistic. What ever the name you want to give it, I really do have a hard time understanding when others are in pain. Correction, I have a hard time caring when others are in pain. But that, in itself, does not necessarily make me evil.
For instance, I do not go out and kick puppies for fun. If the mutt were in my way I'd kick it. It is only slowing me down lying there. However, I don't search out puppies to kick around. Only someone truly evil would do that.
The whole Digital World incident? Understand that to me it was a game. The digimon weren't living, breathing creatures. They were programs, bits of data powered by an extremely sophisticated AI. I issued commands and they executed them. If a program refused to do its appointed task, then I saw it as my job to simply re-write the program until it was more suitable. In my mind, I couldn't be wrong.
Yes, I am very much aware how childish a viewpoint that is. If anything, that was one of my greatest weaknesses. I might physically been eleven, I might intellectually been twenty-four, but emotionally... emotionally I was a five year old with a god complex. Then again, what five year old doesn't think the world should revolve around them? The Digital World was my playground, there for my amusement only.
I think it is a sign of my maturity that I can admit that I once had faults.
As for when the Digidestined tried to stop me... well, look at it this way. When you were younger and your parents tell you to stop eating candy before dinner, you don't think you're in the wrong. You think that they are wrong for telling you what to do.
That is exactly how I felt when the Digidestined started messing around with the Digital World. Here these kids were screwing with my game, ruining my carefully laid plans. I was indignant at first. Then i was outraged. Then I was vengeful. It never dawned on me that I was wrong.
My defeat at the hands of the Digidestined, my loss of control over Chimeramon, the loss of Wormmon... that was what finally jerked me out of my megalomania. I was beyond shocked. I was numb. It never occurred to me that I could be defeated. The idea that I could be the villain never crossed my mind.
I admit it. I could not handle defeat. It was because of this that I lost my role as the dominant personality. I retreated to the dark corners of our mind and Ken, up until then the recessive personality, took control. I sulked for a while, threw a few tantrums, then decided that the best thing to do was make sure it didn't happen again.
Looking back, I suppose I could have convinced myself that it was all the Dark Spore's doing. That I would never have failed had it not influenced me in some way. It would have been easy to do. Yet I knew that wasn't true. Oh I have no doubt that it greatly influenced me. But in the end, I made the decisions and I have to live with the consequences.
Besides, now that the Black Spore is dormant, it cannot affect me without my help and yet I remain very much the same person.
All in all, my reclusive life is not so bad. Sure I am no longer completely in control, a fact that can occasionally irritate me more than it should. Yet I don't miss out on anything. I am always here: listening through Ken's ears, seeing through Ken's eyes, and feeling through Ken's hands. Most times he doesn't even realize I am here. I come out every so often to deal with the problems Ken won't, or can't, deal with.
I am the decisive one. I am the ruthless one. I am his intelligence and his drive to succeed. I am his logical side unhindered by emotion. I am cold. I am calculating. I am manipulative. I am the one that protects us from those that would gladly see us fail. I am an inseparable part of Ken Ichijoji.
I am the Digimon Emperor.
Knowledge is Power
1/3 of the series
© 2002, Tsaiko