The Remains Of Heaven
By Ryan Bodle
Chapter Eighteen: The Eve of War
After the hard days travel he had endured, his body yearned for rest but he wouldn't allow it. Several matters still needed his attention before they moved out tomorrow. Ark sat opposite Io in the command tent. After all this time, it was easier for him to thinks himself as Ark, Izzy as Io and Yolei as Faith. They were renamed and embraced by the digital world and after all they were different people now. There were maps laid all over the table in front of them. Most were now unnecessary, but just hadn't been cleared up.
"So we expect to meet their army here?" Ark indicated with a finger on one parchment.
"That's what I guess," Io answered. "They managed to rally just in time and forced us to fight at the very worst place conceivable. It's a wide open plain with no cover, they can come at us in one big wave and crush us. Even if we withstand that charge, scouts suggest there's a companion leading the army and there's more than one there."
Ark's jaw clenched. "What about marching towards this area, here? It's a very dense forest if my memory serves right."
"I thought about it, but it seems they've camped a battalion there to guard it. So there's no chance, they may even be a van guard to use as flank and that's more to worry about."
The situation was looking more grim as it went on. They were stuck between two armies of shadow creatures. One on the other side of the hills Ark had personally fled not long ago. A huge mass and no doubt the mass strength of the creatures that walked the digital world. The other was just large enough to give second thought of over running their position for safety and advantage. They would hold out long enough for back up to arrive and slaughter the digimon troops.
"There's got to be something we can use to our advantage."
"Well, the only thing I have is that with the other digi-destined here, their digimon, fully digivolved can now contend with the companions, but that's about it."
"Io, I don't have Armadillomon any more, which means Patomon can only go so far on his own. The same with Gatomon. Veemon and Wormmon can digivolve together, sure, but the rest could maybe best champion level on their own."
"Cody, I thought you knew better, any digimon can evolve on their own, under the right circumstances."
"I don't have time for your theories to materialise themselves, Io," Ark replied coolly. "I need to know what I can count on, nothing more."
"Fine, Patomon and Gatomon should be capable of digivolving to Angemon and Angewoman respectively, Angemon is a champion level digimon and Angewoman is a mega, both should prove particularly affective against the shadows."
"So we use them as the arrow head on the strike against any companions," Ark concluded. Io nodded.
"But I should warn you, Kari and T.K may have issues fighting against them. Ken as well."
"We all do, but I have faith everyone will come together to do their part, to protect this place, its why we're here," he met Io's gaze, Io was trying to guess something from looking at him. "What? We're all here to protect this world, Io. I may have forgotten that recently but rest assured I am in this because I believe in this place, still."
Io was silent, still staring at him. His eyes changed minutely. "My name is Izzy," he said plainly. Ark controlled a snigger but a smirk was left on his face. Izzy matched it with his own grin.
"OK, Izzy," Ark began to laugh, "lets go over this once more."
"Right," Izzy smiled back. "I'm wondering what we should do with Davis, Ken and Palidramon. Davis looks battle hardened enough but Ken still looks a bit shaky."
"Its just a bit of shock, he'll calm down and I'll get him ready, I need to speak to Davis though, he's become quite a fighter."
"Better than you?"
"I daresay, yes, what he did before we got back to camp was," Ark paused and looked down at the maps, through the paper, looking for a word. "Well inhuman."
"As much as I expected, Matt seems determined to look out for T.K, old habits die fast," Izzy added. "Not sure how long that will last, but it could cause problems."
"We'll keep them separated, have Matt stay with Joe," Ark advised. "If you really have that much faith in his command abilities, he'll be best placed there."
"Right, so we'll pair Davis with Ken and keep them central?" Ark nodded. "Joe with Matt, I'll post them on the far flank, less to worry about if we're being flanked from the forest."
"I suggest keeping Kari with Yolei, they've bonded quite well and it means Kari will be protected a little. T.K should be with somebody, at least to begin with."
"I'll watch him," Ark said.
"So I guess I'm on my own," Izzy concluded.
"No, I want you to take in Biyomon and Agumon, try and use them to your advantage somehow."
"Any way specifically?"
"Their digi-destined partners, you should be able to use that for troop morale, can they digi-volve without their partners or digivices?"
"Its possible, but I haven't seen them do it without some sort of external influence yet, perhaps in the fight," Izzy suggested.
"Well if not, we can at least expect them to fight well, they're experienced, right?" Izzy nodded. "Well let's go over the battle plan. We're outnumbered approximately fifteen to one, correct?"
"That's just initial reports," Izzy answered. Ark groaned. "I think it could be up to twice that, they don't want us anywhere near the mountains."
"We always figured the Shadow Lord fled there, its possible he could have dug out the everything underneath, but we'll get to that when we get to it. The open space gives us a perfect opportunity to employ our artillery."
"I can't even guess how it will help to dwindle their numbers, it might not even help at all."
"You need more faith in my training, Izzy, they'll do everything and more than we expect, now we need an advantage over their infantry. Is there still enough time to dig out a trench?"
"If we set out early, there may be. Do you plan on a straight out fight?"
"No, we need to tip the balance, we have to take out one of the companions."
There was a silence between the two. The concept itself was unheard of between the two men. At least Izzy thought it was all but impossible. Ark knew otherwise.
"You think with Palidramon, its possible?"
"Yes, but that's not the only reason, Davis killed a companion on our way back to this camp." Again there was a silence. Izzy looked at Ark in amazement.
"Not sure, but I was there to see its body and ExVeemon more than accounted for it. With Palidramon, Angemon, Angewoman, it could be a hell of a lot easier. We'll target the general and take it out as soon as possible. Hopefully, that'll send their armies into a panic, it should be easier from there."
"So you want to use Palidramon and Davis as a strike force?"
"With Kari and Gatomon, as well as T.K and Patomon, they should be able to do the job, I'll talk to them about it."
"What should everyone focus on?"
"Keeping the infantry together, if the numbers are as big as you say they are, we'll need every bit of command we possess to hold the lines. If we can get some trenches dug up to help us out, it'd make me feel better."
"I don't know, maybe four foot deep, one or two across?"
"We could do that in maybe two hours if we had six hands working every metre along, but they'd be too tired to fight."
"That'd leave us severely crippled, we'll have to think of something else, another sort of trap. We haven't got mines of any kind, what could we use?"
"Aerial assault?" Izzy suggested.
"You have something in mind?" Ark asked. Izzy grinned back at him and pulled a map closer to demonstrate.
"I don't get it, I just did what I did!" Davis said exasperated. "How can you ask me how I did it when I don't know 'it' is?"
"You didn't even realising what you were doing?" T.K asked back in disbelief. Davis looked at him and shrugged. "Davis!"
"What? Tell me what I did!"
"When you jumped into that group of creatures, there must have been twenty, at least," Matt explained. "And within two seconds flat you took them all down. Not even Cody could do that as he is now and he's been fighting for years."
"I can't tell you how, I just jumped in there and did it," Davis reasoned with a defeated voice.
"Speaking of jump, do you realise how far you actually covered in that one leap?" Kari asked him. He looked at her blankly. "It must have been more than twenty feet and you didn't even take a run up."
"You must exaggerating," Davis answered. "Just what are you saying by all this anyway?"
"We're saying, what you did earlier was impossible, beyond human," T.K replied. "I mean maybe a digimon could be that good but one of us?"
"Like a digimon," Davis wondered. His stare was one of daydreaming ad the others could tell he was picturing himself as some glorious Mega level.
"Digital world to Davis," Joe chimed in, breaking Davis from his stupor. "The important thing is we find out exactly how you did it, it could mean something important."
"Like how?" The auburn haired boy asked.
"Well, this is the first time a digi-destined has been directly linked with saving the digital world," the older boy explained. "Before, we've all acted through the mediums of the digivices and their tags, or eggs. We've never had anything to defend the digital world with directly, not like your weapons."
Davis absently touched the weapons bestowed to him and then brushed the breastplate he wore. "Tai said it was a gift," he murmured. He noticed Kari tense up at the mention of his name.
"Is it possible everybody could have some sort of weapon or something that can help us, like Davis?" T.K asked.
"I could only hazard a guess, but I think so," Joe answered. "Well some of us anyway. If you look as the weapons Davis got, they represent his crests Courage and Friendship. It may be safe to say, Matt won't receive anything at all, and if that's the case, then neither will I."
Matt listened on without looking at anyone, he continued to stare at a random spot on the wall, not giving away any of his thoughts. He just carried on listening to those around him. Some of the words were clear, but many of them had started to fade into background noise. He started to think about the upcoming struggles they would face and how everyone would get through it.
"I think it may work," Kari added. "I noticed Yolei's spear and her rapier are very distinctive, it doesn't look like work anyone here in the digital world could have crafted given the situation. She could have gotten them in the same way Davis got his."
"What about Cody?" T.K asked. "Did he carry any distinctive weapons? Or Armour?"
"His armour looks resilient, but that sword is nothing but sharp and big," Davis answered.
"The thing is, we haven't seen them do anything like Davis did, even if they do have enhanced weapons of some sort. They don't seem to be able to perform feats like that. And you guys said, even Cody was shocked at what Davis had managed to do earlier."
"In any case, is any of this important?" T.K concluded.
"Its important we know our limits and boundaries and how far we can push them, we are going to war after all," Joe answered. He noticed some up turned eyebrows from those who had just joined the digital army that day. "Did you think this entire army was just a welcome committee?"
"No, but we didn't decide we were going to war," T.K said defiantly. "Besides, who's deciding how we're going to fight this war?"
"Izzy and Cody are in the command tent discussing a battle plan for tomorrow, now," Joe explained and again looked back at the surprised looks. "I thought you guys were told all this."
"Someone neglected to get us up to speed," Ken said in a distracted tone. He had kept quiet the whole time, sat in the corner and let his own thoughts carry him away. He kept playing over in his mind just a few hours back.
When everybody was back safely, Ken sought out his rescuer. There was something so familiar about the mysterious 'Lady Faith,' he had to be sure of it. Yet she had disappeared so quickly. He wandered the camp and asked passing digimon who were only too glad to point him in the right direction. Finally, he found himself outside her personal tent.
His stable breath finally began to buckle and it quivered. The inside of his stomach began to dance. He asked himself why he would feel like this, he couldn't fathom it. Then there was a small voice in the back of his head that told him why, but he didn't want to listen to it. He took a deep breath and ducked inside.
Only when he was inside her tent, did he consider the consequences of his sudden entry. His brain began to tell him how stupid he was. 'She could be changing you moron!' He scolded himself. He saw her dressing but in a different sense. She was fully clothed, wearing a plain white shirt and white pants. She was fixing a buckle which clamped on a brilliant white breastplate that looked specifically tailored for her only. Movement in the corner of her eye, caused her to turn and see Ken standing there with a look of shock.
Ken felt his face burn. "I'm sorry, I wanted to" he began stuttering. "I couldn't exactly knock I think your tent needs a bell or something." He managed. She smiled and seemed to conceal a laugh.
"I wasn't expecting you Ken, I'm sorry too," she answered him. "Please, come and sit."
The many cushions on the floor offered themselves as perches. Despite being a war tent, it maintained its identity as a girl's seclusion. Looking at the floor, Ken decided against it, they didn't seem comfortable enough. "I'm ok, thanks."
The mood turned awkward rapidly. Ken hadn't thought this far, he only thought about finding her. He hadn't given a thought to what he was going to say. He could only hazard a guess as to what she was thinking, what she would say. His jaw quivered and he tightened it, he didn't want to show it shaking. What could he say? Now seeing her there, even the back of her head, he knew it was her. He didn't have to see her face. She turned and faced him.
The confirmation of it would have felt like a sick joke, but something stopped that. Before he could about what he was saying, something escaped his lips. He didn't even catch what it was. He saw Yolei blush furiously and bow her head slightly. Did he just say that? It sounded like 'you're beautiful.'
"I had dreamed so often what it would be like to see you again Ken," she spoke before he could. "And now the time is here, I can't think of what to say."
"Me either," Ken answered. "I'd been thinking about this ever since we met Cody." There was more silence. A thousand questions were burning through Ken's mind. He had to ask something. "Yoeli?" She faced him at that and smiled. "Did we" he stammered. "Did we have something before?"
Yolei smiled gently, warmly and serenely. It was encouraging in a way. "We could have had," she simply answered.
Almost afraid to ask because he knew the answer, Ken went on. "And now?"
She still smiled, though this time it was a brave one, she tried to maintain her sincerity, but couldn't. "I'm an adult now, I couldn't do that to you Ken. I couldn't keep you, it wouldn't be fair now that I'm so much older."
"Is that it?" Ken answered. "Any guy would kill to be with you, I mean, look at you!" Her face began to turn red again. "If anything, I'm surprised you'd want to be with a kid like me."
"It's not as simple as that," she told him. There was a tear in her eye. "I have to let you go now."
"What if I won't go?"
The tears began to stream down her cheeks. "Then I have no choice but to send you away."
It was like a knife to the heart, he could almost feel it stop beating. The last thing he ever wanted to hear. It couldn't just finish like this. "Please," he begged. "Don't."
"Please don't make me, Ken," she begged back.
"But if," Ken said back with a grit of determination. "If we ended this war, and destroyed the source of it all." He stopped tried to compose what he was going to say clearly. "It was something Davis had seen, a visit from Gennai in his dreams, and Tai and Sora. If we destroy the source of all this, we could turn time back, reverse everything done to you."
She took her time to answer. "We can only hope," she told him. "Nothing more." It was as if she dismissed the idea already. He chose to ignore the tone in her voice as she said that. One more question, one more thing. If he was never going to be with her, he needed one last thing at least.
"Can I ask you one favour?" He asked.
"Anything," she told him.
'This sounds so stupid,' he told himself. He couldn't believe he was going to say this. "Can I at least kiss you? Just this once?" 'That sounded so stupid,' he reminded himself. Now he was left waiting for her answer.
She smiled and another tear fell from her eyes. She didn't answer, she didn't dare leave him in awkward silence. Instead she walked over to him and held a hand out to his cheek, stroking it lovingly. She looked into his eyes, they looked scared. Her jaw started to quiver and she held it tight as she looked into his eyes a moment longer. Then she ducked her head to his.
"I think its best if you leave Cody and Izzy to make the plans, they're both experienced at this sort of thing now," Joe explained as Ken brought himself back from his memory. He couldn't help linger on it though. "If you're determined to do your part, listen to what they have to say. They'd be our best chance of getting through this."
"Oh I wouldn't be that confident," Cody entered the tent with a grin. "We have come up with a plan to fight the shadow tomorrow."
"So lets hear it," Matt answered grimly.
"Its complicated, but the goals are simple. We think the numbers we are likely to face are too much for our army."
"So how do we fight?"
"Shock tactics and guerilla warfare will come into play, we basically plan to take out the general with a multi speared attack," Cody answered. "You all need to listen carefully. Our intelligence on the enemy was severely lacking and now we're pinned between two armies. We have to make this work or there'll be nobody to defend the digital world. There'll be nothing but shadow that blankets the world."
There was a small whisper of metal scraping against metal as Davis put his two weapons together and growled lowly. "Not on my watch."
A/N: Sorry, I bet it seems like a filler chapter but I wanted to kind of calm the scene a bit. I'm planning an all out war over the next three four chapters but that may change dramatically. Who wants to read about non-stop fighting through all that? Well let me know either way by leaving a review. Thanks!