A/N:Apologies! Sincere and profound. This was supposed to be out yesterday... or well, the day before. But I went out all of that day and it was storming last night. Yeah... I didn't want to risk losing progress like that. hehe.

Thanks crestoflight3 (hehe, your theories... one of them I THINK is answered in this, as for the other... well, we'll see. :) ), Dunk234, and endlessfun for your reviews, and I know someone else followed this, so thank you for that as well.

Today there will be footnotes at the end. :D Also, the thing I was referring to last chapter does appear. Enjoy!


Chapter 6: Progress is Backwards

"What could Vamdemon want with a human girl?"

Yes, Gennai was mildly aware it was a stupid question. However, he still wasn't sure what Homeostasis wanted with the thing, and innocent though it may be, wrapping a small life up in all of this mess struck him as... well, unethical. Then again... the world didn't turn on ethics.

Lucemon examined him critically after those words, a minute smile on his face. With that expression, Gennai could now see why his nickname was spoken with as much venom as it was. He didn't walk, or run, or swim. The bastard was floating over the canoe, with that arrogant little smirk in his eyes too. To prove his point further, the angel hoveredthere over their heads. He looked towards the direction of Folder, expression suddenly pensive as he looked over there. Then, inexplicably, he smiled down at them, fixing his toga and righting himself with no modesty. "Sorry, what?"

Gaomon twitched, amber eyes glowing with malice again. "What the Dark Area..." he began and Gennai winced. Dog was all good and wound up now. "Did you or whoever do to get an interdimensional blighter on the tail of some ruddy human?"

Lucemon tutted. "Now that's not what he said at all," he admonished the dog, looking chuckled. "Really, everyone seems to be under the impression I'm controlling all of this. I'm just taking advantage of what's being given to me. I only helped her to activate a Constellation Prototype and have worked to keep the pretty girl safe. Most of it is her own talent, or... her own selection, via Nexus Mark." He frowned. "It does help that by human standards;"

"You did what?"

Gennai didn't know why, but those words, or perhaps the careless way they were spoken, they angered him. Or perhaps it was the implication. "You... You subjected someone to Euthalia?" He clenched his fists slowly and remembered, remembered screaming children and booming voices of- "Have you lost your mind?"

"I get that a lot," Lucemon informed him, unperturbed. "But yes, I did."

Gennai almost moved to attack him, though with only two oars in his hands, there wasn't much to fight with. However, Gaomon placed a paw in front of his chest, shaking his head. He, too, was bristling, an effect of his 'master' being threatened, one might say. The dog's ears were back and he was growling so loudly that Gennai had to pitch his voice over to be heard. "Are you aware," he said slowly. "Of the ramifications of performing such an act? Especially to what you call a child? There are reasons why the other eleven are-"

"That is precisely why I did it," Lucemon interrupted. The angel had no right to sound so boredabout it all. "There is power in being that young and if it is tapped into now there will be a less likelihood of fluctuations in the future. A fluctuation would be dangerous. The Constellations are created to control such possibilities. As it is," he continued. "Her youth is also being harmed by her spiritual sensitivity and synesthesia(1)."

"Synthe-what?" Gaomon muttered.

Lucemon shrugged. 'It's a human term. Synesthesia, apparently interpreting a sense through one pathway automatically activates it in another as well. I..." he hesitated. "Have experience in the area. At any rate, it is a rare condition, one that, from what she has informed my colleagues, involves colors in response to sound(2). Personally, I believe there is more to it than that."

You would,Renamon hissed in the back of his mind. Wouldn't you?

He ignored it. "Dislike my beliefs all you would like. However, if I'm correct and the formation was caused by her leaving her dimension... imagine the effects it would end up having... that was something I had to see for myself."

"Bonkers is an understatement," Gaomon muttered.

"Quite," Lucemon agreed readily enough. "Thank you for the compliment." Then he frowned. "However, I don't quite understand. Have your superiors given you trouble about this, old man? Have they protested my actions as unethical and worthy of deeming me a criminal? That is quite how you are acting. That would be rather hypocritical of them."

"Wha-What?" Lucemon gave a small sigh.

"Honestly, this is why I don't employ yes-men. Did you even listen?" The angel actually waved his hands, throwing them up in exasperation. The smirk seemed disturbing now, well, more than it already had been. It was a painful look, accusing even."She has a Nexus Mark! A mark of interference from a different entity! You know, in other words, your superiors?"

"I need proof," Gennai said quietly, now regaining his composure the more Lucemon lost his own. "I need evidence of a Nexus Mark. They have not appeared since the Chosen Children-" He clenched his hand over his chest. "Were in this world."

"Ain't the Nexus Mark some kinda curse?" Gaomon inquired. Gennai shook his head, but did not explain.

Lucemon, however, was happy to continue. "Not unless Fate is a curse. It's just a mark that says: 'We of a higher place are using you to fulfill our will, since we cannot carry it out.' For example," He turned around and parted his hair in the back. There was a swirl shape imbedded there, and while it looked like a scar, Gaomon could smell blood from it, scabbed over, but at one point recently, it had been bleeding. "I have had one on me for quite a long time. Since I first hatched, if I recall properly. Having this, I also have proof that she has a mark of her own. Those with these are blessed, or cursed depending on the interpretation or prophesy, with a great task, and the power needed to achieve it. We recognize one another, as we are recognized by the beings above us, pulling our strings. It was on her the night she appeared, blazing the sky like a sunrise, as you recall."

Gaomon nodded. "Da cocoon was a safety measure, b'cause o' da Nexus... den how did she get it? Can dey affect the human world?"

"Who knows? They're powerful creatures, if not gods." Lucemon shrugged. "I do believe that it is unlikely that they did. I believe that was a human's work, being unable to cope with the situation they are in right now. The others likely took advantage of it, the way they take advantage of destructive situations. Don't they, old man?"

Gennai didn't answer still. He had turned the words up to Homeostasis. It shouldn't bother him, all of this should not. This was his duty, to ensure the Digital World had a future to remain, as Homeostasis bid. There was nothing that could not be sacrificed to achieve that. Nothing. He had gone into his almost total isolation to ensure that he didn't have to concern himself with anything else. Yet... somehow, in a part of his mind that registered that people mattered, in the part of him that had reluctantly decided to come outside, he hoped this was not true. If it was, then if he went to pick up this human as ordered, he would doom them.

Did you mark this child?

It was silent and for a moment, he believed the silence was not hesitation.

...We did.

The word why brushed at his mind, begging to be asked. But he didn't need to. He knew why. It was deemed necessary. It was deemed important and a justifiable sacrifice. The human would probably die... and whatever objective they needed her for would be achieved in the process. That was the idea of the Nexus Mark. Lucemon was only still alive because the mission had not been completed yet. He was sure of it.

Then... then what? What was he supposed to do?

"Don't you screw them up anymore A kid made you, saved me. Honor that, you bastard."

But he had orders to complete and that made him retrieve her. What was the right thing? Duty? Or honoring a dead man's promise. Gennai sighed and closed his eyes. What was the right thing for him to do?

Gaomon turned back to his fellow Digimon, who was pushing the boat forward with a golden light. "'Ey, Prince."

"Hm? What is it, doggie? Need a treat?" He didn't seem all too interested in either of them anymore, more focused on getting them to Folder before dawn.

"Yeah, I'll eat yer arm," Gaomon snarled. "Does dat guy Vamdemon have one o' dem marks?"

"Probably. He has committed a fair few amount of crimes that have increased his power exponentially. Also, it's not like there are millions of Perfects and Ultimates running the world capable of destroying him. Even I would have a tough time of it." He let out a puff of breath and pushed the boat forward again with a grimace. "Now a human shows up, one with a power surge large enough and dense enough to create a natural cocoon around its host and likely, due to its nature, counter his own? Please. If I was in that much danger, I'd go after that myself."

"Nature..." Gaomon was looking at Gennai, who seemed only to be rowing forward for a need of something to do. He barely even saw the paddles touch the water. "Like... "Nature Spirits" or sommat?"

Lucmeon smirked. "You're smarter than I thought."

Gaomon rolled his eyes. "I get that a lot. Den why don't you just go yourself? Go get her, I mean."

Lucemon sighed. "I just complimented you and then you bore me with that rot?" He waited for Gaomon's snarling to quiet before he said, "She won't be safe with me, much as it pains me to admit it, Her powers will go out of control, she'll still disappear, any number of things could happen that are preventable with the She will endanger my Kingdom if she somehow is incapable of turning Vamdemon to dust. And I will start to coddle her... and coddling will get her killed." He turned a burning gaze onto Gaomon at these words. "I have seen enough death, doggie. I have caused more of it in a few thousand cycles than I am willing to divulge. I'd like to prevent this one, even if it means she hates me for it."

Gaomon, surprisingly enough, nodded. He glanced at Gennai. "Don' think I've lived long enough t' know it at da expansive way that ya feel ya do, but... I feel it."

"Well," Lucemon sighed. "At least you do. Now... your friend needs to see reason."

"Reason?" Gennai repeated, looking up from his thoughts to glare at him. "Reason? This is not a simple decision, you must-"

"It is quite simple. You save her, or she dies." Lucemon floated to look down at them, expression turning back towards Folder. "Make yourself available for a change. Do something. You've waited long enough."

Gaomon watched Gennai's eyes and hesitated. He remembered the rumors of milky eyed zombies with scrambled data. He remembered the lower population of eggs. He remembered his friend's face. "Dat keed..." he said slowly. "Why'd you send her to that place?"

Lucemon shrugged. "I don't know. I had a hope. I hoped she could resolve the conflict there, could call to the thing killing ceaselessly over there... and get it to stop. Because she's a human, she can't be infected. Because she is marked, she is not easy to kill. Because there are humans there... and she deserves to see her own kind. Because, by coincidence, she was unlucky enough to be here and be trapped here. Perhaps..." He clenched one fist bitterly. "Perhaps I wanted to defy the higher powers a little bit and... save her. If the Tempest was contained, she could possibly return with the other humans." He smiled again, though this was less mocking. It was an old man's smile. "As I said, doggie, I am tired of seeing people die. However... it exhausts me more to see people break. You can bury the dead, but you can't heal the broken."

He sighed. "I simply hope my old friend is wrong, and I am not too late."

For a while, there was silence. Gennai had fallen into a curious state of silence and mechanical repetition. Lucemon continued to urge the craft onward. The other Digimon merely watched them, thoughtful.

He felt pity for the old fart. The man didn't understand; he was too focused on orders, on commands for a future not even laid out yet, than on the world he was planning to save. He was a self-admitted hermit. He hadn't experienced the endless razing that stalked the continents or seen the measures taken to rid the world of it that were failing. He was simply focused on the next order, and the next. The scope... was beyond him.

But it wasn't beyond Gaomon. And... this was his master's mission

Poor old man, Gaomon thought fondly, rising to his back paws. "if Vamdemon gets the keed, we're screwed, righ?"

"It's a possibility."

Gaomon sighed. "Th' gods 're dumb. What kinda plan relies on one kid bein' able to be dat important?"

"Like you said, a stupid one." Lucemon sighed. "There is a reason that, until now, there haven't been Chosen Children."

She really wished her legs weren't so tiny. She couldn't run all that fast.

Lucky for her, she had big eyes, eyes with which to follow the light and its happy humming of delight. The lonely child was very bouncy now, which was good. It was very good.

Behind her, someone screamed and the sound was pinkish-red. Hikari's heart ached at the sound, but she forced herself to not go back to it. She knew very little of what it could ean, but she had an idea. It had been there when the world was trying to eat her. Lucemon's voice had been covered in it. Anger. Anger born from love.

Renamon-san...

At least she would be safe. She had led the lonely child away and made him leave his toys. They weren't really toys, but Hikari knew that was how the child saw them.

Hurry, whispered the color. Hurry, hurry, hurry!

"I'm tiny, stop it!" She shook her head. She didn't know a lonely color could be so... so bossy! It was like Onii-chan when he got mad at Mom and wanted something. Thankfully, the voice quieted, and the color winked almost out of sight. She was good at this now. She had watched every color she could, like Babamon had said to do.

Around her, the trees were moving, voices murmuring in low, dark purples and blues that made her head ache. Over the pain, the little girl kept running, only stopping to sip from a small bit of water. Hikari never waited long. She was lonely too, in this place, without Renamon, or Onii-chan... or someone. Just someone to make things fun would be okay.

No one should be lonely. No one should feel that they are always alone.

"Come out," she called, trying to sound happy. "Come out here, come out!" It was getting harder and harder, Hikari noticed, to be cheerful, to be okay. It was getting harder to smile. She wanted to sit down and cry again.

No. Lucemon warned her not to cry.

She was going to play with the one who had hurt Renamon-san.

She was going to win, too.

"All right, this settles the rot." Gaomon sat up, after an hour or so of ponderous thought. "Yer takin' me up to Folder."

Lucemon raised an eyebrow, having perched himself to hover just to their left. "Oh, I am."

Gaomon nodded. "Yah. The old fart 'ill figure his self out. But... we cain't wait fer 'im to do dat. You can' fer sure. I'm plenty fast. You drop me there... and... I'll... I'll figure sommat out."

For a moment, Lucemon was silent, as though believing he wouldn't keep his word. Then, he lifted Gaomon by the waist and shot off. "Hold tight there. You're too interesting to die by speed flight."

Gaomon chuckled. "Gotcha, ya crazy berk."

A dog's duty was to his master, even to his messes.

"Tell me where."

"No."

Renamon's glare was worth admiration, Vamdemon reflected. Powerful resolve. Pain tolerance was high as well, considering the fox had already been badly wounded by the time that they had arrived. He knew the human had been here. The mark pulsed under his glove, probably sensing traces of power. But it was gone now and it was likely the Digimon here knew where. However, it seemed to get a kick out of not giving the vampire the answers he was looking for. She didn't even scream. She laughed.

"You are either a crazy broad," Pagumon said with a smirk. "Or a possible infectee. Maybe both."

"Or," she said slyly. "Not cowed by mere paper cuts."

"Wouldn't call Bloody Stream a couple of paper cuts. That's insulting." Pagumon, too, seemed to be pleased. He wouldbe useful after all.

Renamon coughed and laughed. "I live to please." The eyes turned on Vamdemon and he held back a hiss.

Mockery. Mockery was evil.

He turned from those disgraceful thoughts and smiled, cajoling. "It would please me if you told me where the human had gone."

"Sure it would," she agreed easily enough. "But the world isn't meant to be easy, or pleasurable. The world is a cruel place, cruel and beautiful."

Vamdemon sighed and raised his red whip. "Then I shall have to teach you more of its cruelty."

Renamon smiled sadly. "Run my dear," she said with a loving laugh. "Run."

She ran.

The sounds whirled in and out of her ears and eyes. Sometimes she saw the teal glimmering between the trees, or heard a humming against the water. But she followed it. She chased it down with all of the energy in her small body.

This way!Hikari almost stopped, transfixed by the purple and gold of a high, gentle tone. Come on! She knew that voice, she realized, stepping forward again.

"You... you are that boy." She relaxed. She had been worried he would never come back like he had said he would. "Where did you go?"

Iris, he corrected.I would have been back sooner, but many bad things have happened here. I was trying to make them a little better.She nodded. Couldn't be sad for that. For a moment, she glimpsed his features again and saw a deep-set frown.

Hikari felt bad for him. He must work hard. "I... um... I'm glad you're okay."

You're probably the only one, the other said with a laugh. But thank you.

She didn't know what to say to those words, because they were sad and she didn't know why, so Hikari settled for a nod. "Where are you taking me?" As she said these words, Euthalia's gems flickered and she found herself up in the air. "Waah... what are you doing?"she squeaked. "I dunno how to steer!"

Euthalia seemed to ignored her. [Preparations for Anesthesia mode beginning. My master, you need to get used to the controls.]

Hikari frowned. "If you say so..." Euthalia was a very strange device. It put words in people's heads and made them fly. She wondered if it was using her energy to make her fly. Lucemon said it would use her energy for stuff.

It was okay. Flying was cool.

[Don't worry, master. I will teach you.]

Hikari smiled, pacified. "Teach me now, please!"

[As you wish.]

Slowly, strange strings of thoughts poured into her head, as they had the day she had met Euthalia, and when the egg had left her dad's computer, calling her to it.

As this happened, Iris looked on, a small smile on his face. Your spirit is bright,he noted. I envy you for it.

Hikari took a moment to take in these words before tilting her head with a frown. The process was still going on in the back of her mind, so she experimentally tried to swoop under the bright colors. "But yours is bright too. All purple and yellow and sunny. It's really pretty!"

Iris chuckled. Silly, silly. I remember children like you.Hikari frowned and Euthalia made her turn the right way up again, so she could avoid a tree. I'm taking you to where the lonely color is. He might lead you the wrong way; he does that.

"You call it that too?"

That child has always looked lonely to me.Iris decided not to gently remind her that he was a magical being who talked in her head. It probably didn't matter. She watched his color spin around her and through a tree. She wondered if she could do something like that someda- oh, that wasn't important right now. She had to finish hide-and-seek, and play the next game... and the next...

A chill ran up her spine and she stopped in mid-air. Hikari dropped briefly, but Euthalia pulled her back up by her arms, leaving her to shake her eyes were focusing on teal, low, dark teal.

"That foxie..." the lonely color whispered. "Was that fox lady your friend?" She nodded, feeling ready to puke. "A bad man made her go away. She was brave, but he took her and ate her anyway."

Hikari was silent a moment. Then the bracelets she wore were covered in golden lines and she screamed, a raw wail that was only eclipsed by the roar of white light from her small body.

The light roared and the ground burned.


(1) Synesthesia is a real thing. Media tends to portray it, from what I've heard, a little oddly. It is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. It is not considered a handicap, and most synesthetes are unaware of it being unusual until someone points it out. Specifically, Hikari has chromesthesia, as in she sees certain sounds as colors. For anyone who knows about this, the way I'm portraying it isn't the way it actually occurs, mostly in regard to what sounds she's hearing.

(2) Euthalia's name is a reference to a butterfly. That's the only part I'm telling you about her. :D

(3) Surprised no one has brought this up yet. Time is weird in this fic. Hikari has been mentioned, think it was in the first full chapter actually, to have slept days, and has allowed Renamon to carry her this whole time. This is because she's still stuck on Earth rhythm, even though she can see the passing of time in the Digital World, she's not, as said, accepted into it. So... yeah. I thought I should tell you that.

And... if there's anything else you think I can answer, please drop a PM! Bye~ next chapter will be out on Friday.