Behind Your Eyes, Part 1
The lunatic is in my head.
The lunatic is in my head.
You raise the blade,
You make the change,
You rearrange me 'til I'm sane.
You lock the door
And throw away the key.
There's someone in my head, but it's not me…
-From "Brain Damage" by Pink Floyd
The whole thing started on a surprisingly sunny day. It was warm and only sporadic clouds interrupted the otherwise perfectly blue sky. The sun was shining brightly and it reflected off the metal buildings of the city below. This was Full Metal City, and it had a small troupe of visitors that day.
"Andromon!" Tai called.
"Andromon, where are you?" Kari hollered.
"You don't think that the Digimon Emperor got to him first, do you?" asked Joe.
"It is possible," said Izzy.
"No way!" exclaimed Davis haughtily. "He ought to know better than to mess with our friends! Especially after this last time."
"Surprisingly, I agree with Davis," said Cody. "Ken would probably pick a different target first before attacking something we were familiar with this time."
"Still, the sooner we find Andromon, the better," Sora said. "Hey, come on you guys!" she called.
Behind her lagged the others. Yolei, TK, Matt, and the digimon all brought up the rear, letting Tai and Kari do most of the calling.
"You know, maybe we should split up and see if we can find anyone who's seen him," suggested Matt.
"That might work," said TK. "The Gardromon probably know where he is and they'd want to help him, since he's protecting them and all."
Tai stopped and considered. "That might be a good idea, now that you mention it. Okay, everyone split up into pairs and check out the surrounding area. We'll see what we can find out and meet back here in ten minutes."
"Great!" said Davis. "I'll go with Kari!"
"No you won't, Davis," said Tai. "In case we run into trouble, every team will need an active digimon. You and Kari each need to go with someone who has no digimon. Kari, you and Gatomon can come with me."
"No problem," said Kari, walking off with Tai, Gatomon joining them.
"Joe, would you like to come with me?" Cody asked.
"Sure, let's go," Joe said.
"Yolei?" Izzy asked.
"Sounds fine to me. Come on, Hawkmon!" she called.
"Feel like hanging out with your older brother, still, TK?" Matt asked.
"If he didn't," Patamon interjected, "would he have invited you to come with us?"
"I guess not," Matt said as he and TK laughed.
Everyone went their separate ways, searching the steely buildings. That only left…
"Looks like it's you and me, goggle boy," Sora said to Davis.
"Fine," Davis sighed. "Well, let's go."
"I'm right behind ya, Davis!" V-mon said cheerfully.
The mission that day was simple. Find Andromon and warn him about the Digimon Emperor's new dark spirals. With those, he could regain control of Andromon and do it without relying on a control spire. All the other digimon had been successfully contacted and warned about the new development, but Andromon had proven tough to find. And that was bad news. Andromon was an incredibly powerful digimon, an ultimate level digimon with tremendous combat potential. When he'd been taken over with a black gear years ago, it had taken three champion digimon to bring him down. And the last time the Digidestined had encountered him, not even five armored digimon could stop him. There was no doubt in many of their minds that Ken would try to regain control of him and Full Metal City.
Warning him wasn't supposed to be difficult. It was supposed to take a half hour or so, after which they would all return home. It would be easy. They'd all make it back home in time for soccer, kendo, band practice, dinner, or whatever was going on.
That was the way it was supposed to be.
Tai and Kari had just rounded a corner and were stepping out of one of the alleys when they spotted a Gardromon standing in the street, looking upwards.
"Hey, let's ask him if he knows what's going on," Kari suggested. Tai nodded and went up to the large, iron creature.
"Excuse me, but have you seen Andromon?" Tai asked.
The robot turned to face him. "He is up there," it said, pointing, its voice a mechanical buzz. Tai and Kari looked up to see Andromon atop one of the buildings. He was examining some devices, though the reason was not apparent.
"Andromon!" Kari called. "What are you doing up there?"
Andromon turned and looked down at her upon hearing her voice. He held up one mechanical finger and then made his way to the staircase. A moment later, he was on the street.
"Tai. Kari. It is surprising to see you here," the cyborg digimon said.
"How are things?" Kari asked conversationally.
"Everything seems to be working well. The Gardromon are all functioning at optimum levels, as is the city's computer system."
"That's great," Tai said, slightly impatient, "but the reason we came was to warn you."
"There is a need for caution?" Andromon asked. "Why?"
"I never get to be alone with Kari," Davis mumbled. "Just once, I mean, just once would be nice…"
"Cheer up, Davis!" said V-mon. "You'll get your chance eventually."
"You're right," said Davis, shaking off his bad mood. "I just have to keep trying to impress her and one day I know she'll fall for me!"
Sora chuckled behind him, causing him to spin around. He'd forgotten she was even there. They were in one of the buildings. They went in and found that all the rooms on the first floor were empty. The lights off and the cold metal walls bare. There was a staircase and they were planning to go upstairs and investigate further.
"What?" Davis asked, frowning.
"Well," Sora began. "No. Never mind. Forget it."
"No, what is it?" Davis insisted.
"Okay," she said. "I'm just laughing at the way you keep chasing after Kari. You're clingy and it's kind of cute."
"You think Kari thinks it's cute?" Davis asked hopefully.
"No, I think she thinks it's funny," Sora said. Davis' shoulders sagged.
"I mean," she went on, "you're obsessed. And trust me, girls don't like it when guys chase them and pester them and spend all of their time trying to impress them and ending up looking like goofs."
"Hey, I'm not like that!" Davis exclaimed. "Right, V-mon?"
V-mon looked away and scratched the back of his head. "Well…"
"Come on, back me up here!" Davis said, causing Sora to start laughing again.
"Listen, I'm sorry," she said, "but this constant obsessing is dumb and you're never going to get Kari to like you that way."
Davis frowned. "Yeah, well, what do you know?" he retorted. "At least I'm not afraid to say how I feel, bottling things up like some people I know."
Now it was Sora's turn to frown. "What are you saying?" she asked, suspiciously.
"Oh, nothing," Davis said, grinning. "Hold on, I feel a sneeze coming on… Ah-ah-ah-chyoulikeTai!"
"Bless you," Sora said, crossing her arms, scowling at him.
"Thanks," said Davis, smiling mischievously. "Now, come on V-mon, let's go check out the upstairs!"
"I'm right behind ya!" The two of them took off faster than Sora would have expected and were up the stairs before Sora could even react to his sudden enthusiasm. She sighed quietly and followed behind.
When she got to the staircase, however, she heard a noise behind her. She turned and peered into the shadows of one of the rooms to try and discern where the sound came from. "Hello?" she asked. "Is there anyone there?"
The answer came in the form of two long, metal tentacles that shot out of the darkness and quickly wrapped around her waist and mouth. The one around her mouth muffled her startled cry and the two dragged her into the darkness as she struggled helplessly.
A cold, emotionless voice was there with her. "There, there," it said, doing nothing to soothe her. "Just hold still. This will only take a second, my dear. You may feel a slight sting…"
Then there was a sharp, driving pain in the back of her head. The blackness became complete.
"So, now the Emperor can command a fully evolved digimon with greater ease?" Andromon asked.
"You got it," Tai said.
"Thank you for the warning. I will be sure to tell all Gardromon to take extra precautions. I would hate for them to come under such influence again."
"Well, it was good to see you again Andromon," Kari said.
"I reciprocate your feelings," Andromon said, smiling. "I wish you could stay longer, but I suppose I must prepare for the storm anyway."
"Storm? What storm?" Tai asked. He was answered by the sudden sound of distant thunder. Tai looked up and saw a massive black cloud sweeping in over the city. The blue sky was rapidly being covered this cloud. A slight chill set in as wind began to blow.
"My instruments picked it up earlier," Andromon said. "That was what I was doing when you arrived. It may become severe."
"Well, let's get the others and get back home," said Tai to Kari. Kari was about to respond when they heard something.
It was the sound of Davis yelling for help.
"Davis, what is it?" TK said, he and Matt arriving on the scene first.
"It's Sora! She-oh man!" Davis said, frantic.
"Sora?" Matt asked, pressing for details. "What about her, what happened?"
V-mon spoke up. "She's out cold! We can't wake her up!"
TK and Matt went inside and saw Sora laying sprawled out on the floor. The two of them rushed to her side and tried to revive her.
"Sora?" Matt said loudly. "Sora, can you hear me?"
"Sora, wake up!" TK said, shaking her hand. To his dismay, he found it was completely limp. There was no evidence that she could feel anything at all.
Just then, Joe, Cody, Yolei, and Izzy came in, bringing Davis in with them.
"What's wrong with her?" Yolei asked worriedly.
Joe, his face stern, knelt down next to Sora, slightly pushing Matt and TK out of his way. Joe wasn't a doctor by a long shot, but he was definitely most qualified to examine her.
He checked her pulse and put his hand of her nose and mouth. He opened her eye and pulled out a little flashlight from his pocket and shined it in her pupils. He took note of the results and stood up.
"What is it, Joe?" Cody asked.
"Well, she's alive," said Joe, "and she's definitely not conscious. But I'm not sure about why. Her eyes are moving and her pupils are contracting normally."
"What does that mean?" Matt asked.
Joe was about to respond when Tai, Kari, and, to everyone's surprise, Andromon entered.
"What happened?" Tai asked, astonished. "Did someone do this to Sora? Davis, you were here, what happened?"
"I-I don't know," Davis stammered, still panicking. "I went up the stairs for a look and when I came back she was like this!"
"You mean you left her?" Tai asked, his eyes angry now. "Alone? Unprotected? Davis, how could you have been so irresponsible?"
Davis stepped back, hurt. He turned away, not looking at Tai.
"Well, come on, let's get her to a hospital!" Tai said, forgetting Davis, going to lift Sora.
"Tai, hold it!" Joe said, standing in his way. "We don't know what caused here injury. If she has back trauma, moving her might kill her!"
Tai froze and listened to Joe.
"As I was about to tell everyone," Joe began, "I'm not sure what caused her injury, but her symptoms are bizarre. She isn't acting like someone who's been 'knocked out.' It's almost like she's been drugged or something. It's more like she's asleep and can't wake up."
"Well, what should we do?" Izzy asked.
"I think it would be a good idea if we all tried to carry her carefully to safety," Joe said. "But unfortunately, I'm not sure if it's safe to transport her back to earth. The return trip home is, well, less than smooth, if you know what I mean."
"Well, where can we take her?" Yolei asked.
"I have a suggestion," Andromon interjected. "Not far from here is a facility that has examination instruments that might help determine what her injuries are. It is usually used for defective robots, but we could use the instruments on her just as well."
Joe nodded. "That's probably our best option. Okay everyone; let's lift her. Make sure we don't jostle her spine, just in case."
Joe, organizing things, held up her head as they moved her. To his surprise, he felt a small metallic knob at the back of her head.
"Ready, Andromon?" Joe asked.
"It should be in working order," Andromon replied. "Activating x-ray."
Joe watched as an odd looking device scanned Sora, displaying her skeleton up on a view screen. Joe took a careful look at it, furrowing his brow.
"I can display the picture in three dimensions, if that would assist you," Andromon suggested.
"Good plan," Joe said. "Let's see it." The display came up and Joe studied it for a moment, intently looking at every bone.
"Well?" Tai asked.
"Well, the good news is nothing's broken, which means she's probably not been seriously injured," Joe said. "The bad news is that there's something else here and I have no idea what it is."
Joe went over to Sora and lifted up her head for everyone to see. There, imbedded in the back of her head was a small, metal knob. Yolei flinched. Izzy came in for a closer look.
"Fascinating," Izzy said. "It appears to be a machine of some sort, although I've never seen one like it. Andromon, could you scan it?"
Andromon complied, using his optic sensors to see things that the others couldn't. "Analyzing…" he said. A moment later he said, "It appears to be some kind of artificial neurotransmitter. It may be disrupting Sora's consciousness."
"Well, then, maybe if I can loosen it…" Joe knelt down and touched the object, intending to get a closer look at it. To his and everyone else's surprise, a jolt of electricity shot up Joe's arm, knocking him backwards.
"Joe, are you all right?" Tai asked his friend, helping him up.
"Yeah, fine," Joe said, wincing a little. "What was that?"
"My guess is that it's some kind of security system," Izzy hypothesized.
"You mean, like a way to keep us from taking it off?" Cody asked.
"Precisely," Izzy replied. "We'll need to run some tests and figure out some way to disable it without hurting us or Sora in the process."
"Well, I think I know how we can help Sora," Davis spoke up. "By finding Ken and making him tell us what he did to her."
"You think that the Digimon Emperor did this?" TK asked.
"Who else?" Davis shrugged. "I mean, who else is smart enough to come up with some lousy machine like that anyway? And who else would want to hurt Sora? Everyone likes her. The only person who'd do anything to her would be Ken. I say we find him and force him to tell us what he did!"
"He makes a good case," said Yolei. "I'm in!"
"Me too," Cody said.
Kari thought for a second and then she too nodded her assent. TK likewise stepped forward.
"Hold on," Tai said. "What about the folks back home? It's getting late. We'll need to make sure no one gets worried or suspicious or something."
"So, we'll send someone back to cover for us," TK said. He looked over at Matt. Then everyone else did too.
"What?" Matt asked. Then, it dawned on him. "Why me?" he asked.
"Because you've done it before and done a good job of it," Tai said. "I should- I want to stay here with Sora."
"Okay," Matt said. "I'll just talk to everyone's families and tell them-" Matt stopped, his eyes growing wide. He remembered what happened last time. Jun.
"OH NO!" Matt said, putting his hands up. "I'm not talking to Davis' sister again! No way!"
"Oh, come on," TK said. "Couldn't you just-"
"No! Nononononononono! NO! NO! NO!"
"Do it for Sora, Matt," TK cut in.
Matt was silent for moment, straightened himself out, and said, "Fine. I'll cover for you."
Everyone thanked Matt as he left to go find the TV set that would lead him back home. Shortly after him, the five young Digidestined left on their search for Ken. That left Joe, Izzy, and Tai to look after Sora. Andromon said he had to go secure the city, in case the storm got bad, but that he might return later if Izzy needed help running the equipment.
Tai watched Izzy and Joe as they worked together on helping Sora. Izzy was trying to use Full Metal City's technology to their advantage and Joe was using it to apply to medicine. Tai didn't understand a word of it and, eventually, he drifted off to sleep.
He awoke later to Izzy shaking him.
"What is it?" Tai asked. "Did you find anything?"
"As a matter of fact, yes," said Izzy. "We found something incredible."
Tai stood up from the chair he was sitting in.
"Uh, you may want to sit down for this, Tai," Joe suggested. Tai, puzzled, sat back down.
"Well, we got the machines here to run a brain scan on Sora to determine how the device attached to her head is affecting her neurologically," Izzy said. "You with me?"
"Yes," Tai said. "I think so."
"Okay," Izzy continued. "Now, we found that it's disabling her cerebellum, keeping her subdued. However, it's also relaying some kind of coded message to something inside her brain. When we checked, we found something astonishing. We found some kind of electric entity within her brain. It's as if there's another presence inside her head with her!"
"You mean, someone else is in Sora's head?" Tai asked, bewildered.
"Well, we aren't sure who or what it is, but yes, it appears to be at least somewhat sentient, since as soon as Joe and I detected it, it vanished, as if it was trying to escape detection. We believe that eliminating this foreign entity from Sora's mind is the key to shutting down the device that has rendered her helpless. The sooner we get rid of it, the better."
"So, you're going to perform brain surgery?" Tai asked, unbelieving that Joe could attempt such a thing.
Joe chuckled slightly. "No, I'm not going to operate. Well, not in the conventional sense, anyway."
Tai was more confused than ever. "What's he mean?" he asked Izzy.
Izzy tugged at his collar nervously, obviously preparing to drop the bomb on him. Tai sat back in his chair.
"We've found a way to create an electrical link directly inside Sora's brain," Izzy said. "Normally, it would be used on a mechanical digimon, accessing its computer like brain and allowing it to be adjusted. This would be done using another, similar digimon with functioning, usable knowledge. That is, put the other robot inside the first robot's head and have it say, 'Here is the right way to function.' From what I can tell, it is fairly successful. The problem here is that Sora's brain is much more complex and isn't as easily fixable as a computer. Do you understand what I'm getting at, Tai?"
Tai looked at him for a minute. "No," he said slowly.
Izzy wiped his brow and tried to think of how to tell him. Joe, picking up the slack, took over.
"Okay, Tai," said Joe. "Let's say that Sora lost her cat in a tree."
"Sora doesn't have a cat," Tai said.
"It's a rhetorical situation, Tai, now pay attention!" Joe exclaimed.
"Oh, okay," Tai said, trying to remember if he knew what "rhetorical" meant.
"Like I was saying: Sora has a cat stuck in her tree. She calls the fire department and they come and get the cat out of her tree and everyone's happy. Got that?"
"Okay, now let's take that same situation, only let's pretend that you are the fire department, the cat is that artificial entity, and the tree is the depths of Sora's unconscious mind. Now do you understand?"
Tai looked at him for a minute. Then, he slowly nodded. "Oh, I see." Then his eyes widened as he really understood. "Whoa!" he yelled, jumping out of his chair. "You mean you want to put me inside Sora's brain?"
"Well, we tried to sugar coat it, but yes, that's basically what we mean," Joe said, smiling.
"We can hook you up to a machine that will transmit your conscious mind into hers," Izzy explained. "Once inside, you can search for that other alien mind and identify and possibly eradicate it."
"How would that even work?" Tai asked, astonished.
"Well, it would be a lot like getting downloaded to the Digiworld from Earth, actually," Izzy answered. "The world of Sora's mind would be visually represented and navigable just like any physical place. The downside is that you could see a variety of things in there that you'd have no way of anticipating as they were unique to Sora's mind."
"Don't you think this is kind of like… I don't know, violating her privacy or something?" Tai asked.
"Well, maybe," said Joe. "But if it helps Sora, it has to be done. You'd just have to mind your own business and not goof around once you were inside."
"And to be fair, Tai," Izzy said, "it doesn't necessarily have to be you. We think you should do it because you simply know her better than either of us. Joe is needed here to monitor her condition and check to see where someone was in her brain. I confess, I have no knowledge of the brain's anatomy and Joe would simply be the better choice to monitor that. However, I know Sora fairly well also, and my knowledge of psychology might help as well. The only thing is, I'd have to train you to monitor me personally and see to it that I get connected and disconnected safely. It has to be done one way or the other, Tai, and if you say no, then I'll go instead."
Tai looked down, contemplating carefully his options and the situation on the whole.
"You really think that sending me gives her the best chance of surviving?" Tai asked.
"Then I'll do it."
Tai found himself laid out on a metallic table, a curving, glowing pink visor suspended about six inches over his head.
"So, what does this thing do anyway, Izzy?" he asked.
"This will upload your consciousness and put it in Sora's basically," Izzy said. He pressed a few buttons on a computer next to Sora's table and a buzz was heard. "The link to her mind is ready. How are her vitals, Joe?"
"She seems fine," Joe said. "Vitals are good and her condition is stable."
"Okay," Izzy said. He then walked over to Tai. "How do you feel, Tai?" he asked.
"Nervous, actually," he said.
"Don't be," Izzy said, smiling. "You're the brave one and the braver you are, the better off you are. Now, let me brief you before we send you in.
"Once inside, you are going to be surrounded by a world of Sora's creation. It will look different in different places, but it shouldn't be anything too weird. Sora's a down to earth person and she ought to have a fairly rational mind. If you see anything that looks like it's alive, that's an active part of her mind, part of her personality that is important to her function. I'd advise you not to anger or contradict or fight any of these beings, since they are capable of controlling the whole world you will be in. They can be extremely dangerous, Tai."
"You mean, I could get killed?" Tai asked.
"No," said Izzy. "However, if you suffer severe trauma, you could fry your nervous system and end up a vegetable."
"Oh, that's comforting!" Tai said.
"That's a worst case scenario," Izzy dismissed. "I've hooked up a mechanism that will allow me to communicate with you at all times, see what you see, and basically be your guide. You should be fine. Even so, don't take risks. If Sora doesn't like you in her head, she'll show no mercy. Like I was saying about animate objects in her mind, keep your eyes out for anyone that looks out of place. In all likelihood, that is the invader and you'll have to track it and find some way to eliminate it. Perhaps, if you're lucky, Sora will be made aware of the intruding presence and extract it herself. Still, the entity is hiding itself well and you'll have to search hard to find it."
Tai nodded. "Okay. I'll do whatever it takes."
"Good," Izzy said, stepping away. "Is Sora still stable, Joe?"
"She's fine," Joe said. "Although I don't know how anyone could be 'fine' when they're about to have you put inside their head, Tai," he joked.
Tai chuckled. "Just do your job and I'll do mine, Dr. Kido," he said.
"Preparing to upload," Izzy commented. "Okay, I just have to press this button and the link should be completed. Tai?"
"Yeah?" Tai asked.
"Brace yourself. And remember to think happy thoughts."
To be continued…