Level 1: Worlds

In 2007, DAAB received reports of investors attempting to buy land in the Digital World.
Facing the threat of the Digital World being developed, DAAB acted quickly.
Howard Fisher and DAAB worked to restrict access to the Digital World to a select few.
Those select few included the original digi-destined, now known as Chosen.

Stage Five- Sex

After the Digital World became increasingly colonized by the real world, one of the first things implemented was a transportation system. Since trains helped established the frontier that was the American West, many agreed that a railroad would be the optimal way to establish this new frontier. The trains ran on data, were operated by Digimon, and carried humans and Digimon through a network of rails built in the early twenty-first century. For a time, anybody on Earth could become a pioneer once more, and with partner Digimon at his or her side, ride the rails in search of new adventures.

Those days were long gone. Access to the Digital World was restricted and monitored, and the most pioneering the average person could do was an afternoon picnic.

Eventually, the gate was sealed completely. But the trains still remained.

The train that carried Matt, Kari, Cody, and Takato to their newest adventure was referred to as Worm. The trains never had official names, until TK published his novel. In Digital Frontier, the trains were actually Digimon called Trailmon, and they all had names and personalities. TK based these Trailmon on the various classes of trains running through the Digital World, and those classes eventually were saddled with the names of their digipomorphic counterparts.

Takato and Veemon were at a synch level of only 90. As a result, the Chosen were very hesitant about bringing him along, even if they could have used the pair. This was Takatos first foray into the front line. He felt a little like Takuya Kanbara, riding Worm to an unknown location- an adventure waiting just for him.

It started with the occasional attack. Just a few random Digimon raising hell once in a while. It was usually nothing to be concerned about. But gradually the attacks grew more frequent. The Raremon that sparked the Dragoism debate between Joe and Kari was just the beginning. Almost every day, it seemed like something was happening.

The network of Digimon monitoring the world kept the Chosen informed. For the next few weeks, the six Chosen were on the road frequently, taking care of each situation as it arose. But no connection could be made between the incidents- they were all in different locations, they were all involving different classes and types of Digimon, and they were all seemingly acting on their own volition. The lack of any black gears, dark rings, or the like made the puzzle more complex.

The only thing they knew was that data was being corrupted. The only question was how.

 

Ogremon, huh? That doesnt sound too bad. Cody was talking to his partner on the wireless communicator they brought along.

Tell that to the village of Koromon living here! Armadillomon replied, harshly.

Weve got Gabumon with us. And Gatomons on standby. Its nothing we cant handle if things turn ugly.

Good, because things are probably going to Armadillomon paused for a few seconds of deathly silence, before returning to Cody, I have to get out of here. Tell Matt and Gabumon to be ready to go M just in case.

M? What do you? Cody received no answer.

Did I just hear him say something about going M? Matt said. He had been quietly doing some safety checks on the rifle they brought with them.

I guess so. He disconnected before I could ask about it.

Thats strange. Its not like Armadillomon to say something that extreme. M meant Mega Level. If Armadillomon was suggesting that MetalGarurumon might be needed, it was probably more than just an Ogremon.

 

It had been a long time since Takato had any reason to wear the goggles. Today it just felt appropriate. No adventure was complete without the goggle-boy. He strapped them on as the train continued to roll toward the western edge of Server.

Kari giggled, Are you trying to imply something?

Takato looked up at her. It was still difficult imagining Kari as the young child of light from the series. It was even more difficult recalling that her brother was the original goggle-boy.

What do you mean? he asked.

Well, the Odaiba Chosen had a tradition where the leader would wear goggles. My brother started the trend, and then Tai passed them on to Davis. Then Davis passed them on to his son, Kensuke. Kari pondered the thought for awhile. But I guess well never see who wears them next.

I suppose all of your children are starting to grow up.

Adam is now twenty-one years old. And Im sure Matt and Soras kids are getting up there. Joes son Codys daughter for all we know Ken and Yolei could be grandparents by now.

Her mind was clearly wandering into some depressing territory, so Takato stepped in. Im sure theyre doing fine, Kari. After all, they had such amazing parents.

Kari forced back a few tears and smiled at him.

Those goggles look good on you.

 

Pummel Whack!!

The foursome could already hear his attack, followed by screams, followed by an explosion.

That didnt sound good, said Takato, stating the obvious.

Cody! Armadillomon ran up to his partner. Lets spare the negotiations and get down to business.

Hold on, Armadillomon, we dont want to be too rash, Cody replied.

I dont think we have a choice, Matt said, Our top priority is saving this village. We need to at least stop him from blowing everything up.

Cody sighed, then clutched his digivice. Right. Lets go.

The Digimon began to glow white. Armadillomon digivolve to He grew, finally reaching his C-Level form, Ankylomon!

Takato remembered the process being a lot flashier in the series, but style didnt count when lives were on the line. They all rushed to the scene. The Koromon village was already in serious trouble. Ogremon had already trampled several structures.

The first thing we have to do is get him away from the village! Kari shouted.

I can handle that! Ankylomon shouted. He took aim, and launched. Tail Hammer!

It was a direct hit. Ogremon flew towards a nearby mountain. Ankylomon chased after him.

Matt began barking orders. Cody, stay with the battle. Takato, go with him. Kari and I will help out here. Takato didnt hesitate to follow Cody towards the mountain.

The battle was one-sided. Ankylomon had the upper hand immediately. As Codys partner continued to force Ogremon into submission, Cody tried not to watch.

Takato forced the issue, So what do we do with him?

I dont know, Cody replied as he shook his head, We shouldnt kill him.

Maybe if we knocked him out, we could take him home and study nah, thats too risky.

Cody! We have to do something! Ankylomon shouted. The Digimon had Ogremon up against a cliff. One more Tail Hammer was all that would be needed

Uh Cody hesitated.

Fist of the Beast King!

Out of nowhere, a fireball knocked Ankylomon away. Ogremon fell to the ground.

What the heck was that?! Cody and Takato shouted simultaneously.

It was a Leomon, emerging from the shadows, and helping Ogremon to its feet. Ogremon shook off any pain, and both turned their attention towards Ankylomon.

Oh no, I wasnt ready for two of them. Cody turned to Takato and shouted, Get the others! Were going to need at least Garurumon over here. Hurry!

Is he going to be okay? Takato shouted back.

Hell be fine for awhile, just hurry up!

Takato didnt hesitate any longer. He ran back to the village.

The evacuation process was going smoothly, and most of the survivors were literally heading for the hills. Takato found Kari in no time.

Kari! Weve got a problem! Leomon showed up and Ankylomons in trouble!

Clearly, Kari was concerned. Oh no wheres Cody?

Hes still watching Ankylomon. We have to get Garurumon there to help out.

Right Kari turned around and shouted, Matt! We have a situation!

Matt ran to them as soon as he heard her. What is it?

Leomon. Theyre ganging up on Ankylomon.

Then what are we doing here? Gabumon?

Matt didnt even have to look. His partner was right behind him. Ready, Matt.

Go for it.

Gabumon digivolve to Garurumon! The process was practically instantaneous.

Matt hopped on Garurumons back, and took a deep breath, This was a lot easier when I was eleven, he huffed, before extending a hand to Kari. Kari- hop on. Takato- get the rifle and meet us down there.

As Matt helped Kari board Garurumon, Takato ran to one of the huts. Fortunately, he remembered which one Matt stored the rifle in. After verifying that the safety was still on it, Takato held it securely as he ran back to the battlefield.

By the time he arrived, Garurumon had already joined the battle, and had successfully drawn Ogremon away. Takato joined Kari and Cody as they watched Ankylomon duke it out with Leomon.

What should I do with this? he asked, holding up the rifle.

Find Matt. Hes down there somewhere, Kari replied.

Be careful Takato, Cody added.

Takato walked downhill towards the battles. Matt was at the foot of the hill, supervising both Garurumon and Ankylomon up close.

I got the rifle.

Good, Matt said without looking, You know the rules- only when they threaten one of us. Matt ran forward to get closer to Garurumon.

Wait! Takatos cry didnt help. He was stuck with a dangerous weapon and was the last resort in case something happened. Perfect, he muttered sarcastically.

At least Takato knew how to use it. Matt had given him some training beforehand. Without an effective partner, Takato had to be able to defend himself somehow. But actually using the rifle in a battle was a different situation entirely. It was cold, it was loud, and it was capable of destroying a C-Level in the blink of an eye. The eat or be eaten mentality went to pieces when Takato held the weapon in his hands.

Leomon was providing a more formidable challenge to Ankylomon than Ogremon did.

Tail Hammer! Ankylomon swung his tail forward, another effort to bash the lion.

The effort backfired when Leomon caught the tail and began to swing Ankylomon around. Ankylomons weight wouldnt send him flying far, so Leomon simply lifted him up for a brief second and slammed him to the ground.

Ankylomon!! Leomon heard Codys shouts nearby and turned to the boy.

Fist of the Beast King! He directed a shot right below Cody and Kari. It blew away the ground underneath them, sending the two rolling down the hill.

Cody, are you alright?! Kari yelled even before they reached the bottom.

Yeah Im Cody fell silent as he saw the menacing lion approaching them.

Takato! Matt shouted. He was well out of range to do anything about the situation.

Takato fumbled with the rifle. He managed to get the safety off and aimed it at the beast. A sweaty finger reached for the trigger.

He had every reason to pull it. Leomon was threatening Kari and Cody. But he couldnt squeeze the trigger. He couldnt fire off a shot.

He couldnt kill Jeris partner Digimon.

Leomons death had brought so much agony to the group. It was a scene Takato never wanted to witness again. It had turned him into a madman, which reflected through Guilmon. This couldnt have been the same Leomon, but the scene was too painful for Takato to relive.

Leomon continued to draw closer to Kari and Cody. Bracing for the attack, Kari threw herself over Cody. She was not willing to let anything happen to him.

Matt was running towards Takato, yelling, Takato, what are you waiting for?!

Takato started panting. It was too much. It was a choice between experiencing death from the past or experiencing death in the present. He couldnt take it the strain any longer

Fist of the Leomons attack was drowned out by the rifles blast.

After minutes of hearing screams, attacks from Digimon, and the occasional explosion, all Kari could hear was the sounds of her heartbeat and her heavy breathing. She slowly released her grip on Cody and slid over, falling back on the ground. Cody was still panting in the same spot Kari left him.

They looked over at Matt. He too was panting as he dropped the rifle at Takatos feet.

Never hesitate when our lives are in danger. I dont care if youre afraid to kill him. Cody is more important than any moral dilemma, he spat.

Howling Blaster! Garurumons attack successfully finished off Ogremon, but Matt wasnt paying attention. He walked over to Kari.

Are you alright?

She didnt answer. He bent down and cradled her head. As she started to cry, he continued to comfort her. Its okay. We got through it, he said, softly, You did the right thing.

I just want to go home, cried Kari.

We all do, consoled Matt.

All Takato could do was stand at a distance and watch them. He bent down and made sure the safety was back on the rifle.

 

The train ride home was quiet. Kari rested on a row of seats, a blanket draped over her. Cody sat across from her. He was silent, the brush with death muting him for the time being. Matt and Takato sat on the opposite side of the car.

At least Kari and Cody were recovering from the incident. Takato was just starting to feel the effects. If Matt hadnt run in and grabbed the rifle, Kari would have been hit directly by the attack. There was no chance she would have survived that.

Takato had a chance to save her. No- he had the responsibility to save her. But a painful memory that rose at an inopportune time resulted in hesitation. It almost resulted in worse.

Are they going to be okay? Takato asked, quietly.

I think its just a minor case of shock, Matt replied, Its the first time weve been in that kind of danger in a while.

Takato looked down. Im sorry for um

Matt shook his head. You know, youve been here for so long I keep forgetting you arent used to this whole killing thing. When you go through what we did, it becomes a part of life. Sad, but true.

Takato was about to disagree. That wasnt it at all. He had been through all the torture of having to kill before. It was something else entirely that had caused him to freeze up. But to explain that to Matt would have been a difficult chore. Takato said nothing.

After a couple minutes of silence, Takato forced himself to ask, Are you still mad?

Im more disappointed than mad. You know, theres no telling how long were going to be here. And I can guarantee that there will come a day when I wont be there to back you up, Matt sighed, In a way were all lucky. Not just because Cody and Kari are all right- but if something happened to them, it would be something youd have to carry with you for the rest of your life. I dont want to see that happen.

More silence. It was another minute or so before Takato gathered to courage to ask a question out of curiosity rather than necessity. Back there I thought I heard you said that Cody was more important than anything. What about Kari? Way I see it she would have been hurt more.

Matt smiled, much to Takatos surprise. Did I say that? Well, its a long story. Dont worry, Karis important too. Matt looked over at her. She was still resting, Shes like a sister to me. Ive felt that way ever since I can remember. He laughed quietly, I guess in a way, she sort of is.

What do you mean?

Matt continued to laugh, before eyeing Takato and toning it down. Never mind. After a few seconds, he spoke again, Its a little hard to explain whats going on with Cody. We didnt really want to tell you, since we arent exactly sure what happened either.

What happened?

Matt looked down. A few months after we got here Cody died.

Uh Takato looked over at Cody, still seated quietly across from Kari, He doesnt look dead to me.

Thats because its not exactly Cody. Hes a, uh... whats the official term? Matt retrieved it from his memory, An I-Level Hybrid.

Takato blinked. He understood none of that.

Okay, you know how the basic building block of life is data in the Digital World? Takato nodded. And that all that molecular crap that makes people is transferred into data when they get here? Takato nodded again. And that when a Digimon is deleted, the data is eventually recycled and re-processed, creating a new Digimon?

Takato didnt grasp that. It wasnt the case before. By his experience, deletion of one Digimon was usually followed by another Digimon absorbing the data.

He nodded anyway. He never was one to concern himself with details. That was why he never asked about Cody before.

Matt continued, So what happens when a human dies in the Digital World?

Um I dont know. What?

We didnt know for a long time. So far there have only been eight deaths in the Digital World, and five of those are only in theory.

In theory?

The original five digi-destined. We know they got into the Digital World, but after a hell of a lot of research, the eggheads who study this kind of stuff say they never got out.

Ah so who else?

Lets see, there was that Oikawa guy from TKs book. Hes considered number six. There was one kid that got smoked by a Knightmon, but he had it coming. I heard he was a pain in the ass to researchers. Anyway, my father-in-law Soras Dad his crew was able to study what happened to the kid. Data regenerates into a digi-egg, just like a Digimon. The egg hatches, baby comes out, and he has the same data as the dead guy. He goes through the levels of digivolution like a Digimon. Right now, Cody is at the In-Training level, so he looks about eight or nine. When he's ready to jump to Rookie... he'll suddenly transform into a teenager.

Wow. Takato was genuinely interested. He hadnt even heard of such a concept. The ramifications of endless life were pretty fascinating.

"Yeah. However, the whole recycling only works that way once. If a Hybrid dies, it's lights out. That's why Cody's so important to keep safe. He's already using his second chance."

"Gotcha." Takato took another look at Cody, still gazing at Kari.

Takato spoke to Matt without looking, "I suppose Cody still has all his memories of being a Chosen?"

"Actually, no. He has the same data as Cody, but his memory was completely eradicated."

"That's awful."

Matt nodded. "I guess. We fill him in on the important things. He knows what he needs to."

Takato continued to watch Cody. Takato was trying to forget his past. He was putting it behind him, in spite of the constant queries of the other six. Cody, however, had no choice. He had a wife, a daughter, and a career. Now it was gone. Takato was trying to make a blessing out of what was a curse to Cody.

 

Izzy couldnt keep his eyes off her. His world seemed to be transformed and his work took on a whole new meaning.

His daughter had finally broken through.

She was very quiet, and had said very little since she arrived. But Izzy didnt mind. He didnt know what she had to go through to get here. Presumably, she had risked her life. It was also possible that she had escaped from something awful. She was not her normal, witty self. Instead, she looked hollow and scared. She was afraid to even ask her own father for something simple like a glass of water. The details were still cloudy.

He typed frantically on his computer as she told her story, barely keeping her voice above a whisper. Each observation had to be recorded. It was the only way to figure out what was going on.

and then I and then I came here.

Her story wasnt plausible in this reality. Most troubling was that the story half involved people and things Izzy knew were real and the other half articles of complete fiction.

Izzys worst fears seemed to be coming to pass. He had heard the stories of the simulations- the real-time virtual realities where the victim would be strapped into a chair and exiled to a virtual world forever. But it was only one of several possibilities.

Hypothesis 1, he typed later, After volunteering for one of Goros experiments, she was trapped inside this virtual world. Trapped inside for an X number of years, Mari was convinced that it was the true reality. However, too intelligent even for the program Deus, Mari managed to open a rift from this virtual world into the Digital World. Izzy looked at his screen. It was possible. He had always believed that Mari possessed intelligence that would surpass his one day. And although passage from the real world to the Digital World was restricted, that may not be the case with a virtual dimension.

No- that couldnt be it. If the virtual world truly was different, then there was no way the experiment would allow the same physical characteristics to exist under a different identity.

Izzy had always tried to imagine what his daughter would grow up to look like. The girl sleeping on the futon nearby fit the description exactly.

Hypothesis 2, he typed, Mari worked diligently on her own to discover a way around the barrier and forcibly enter the Digital World. But during her entry, her data was corrupted somehow, leaving a gaping hole in her memory.

That was more likely a story. It was rare for it to happen; in the many years Izzy spent researching the Digital World, data corruption to a human only happened a couple times. They were very messy ordeals, made worse with the court systems. Izzy smiled at the memory of Cody pulling his hair out over one such case that ended up in the World Court.

If that hypothesis proved to be true, it would be difficult to recover the data, but possible. As sad as it was that Mari was literally not all together, this was the most optimal diagnosis.

Izzy could barely proceed with the third possibility, but forced his fingers on the keys.

Hypothesis 3 her effort to open a gate was discovered by the government. She was prosecuted and banished to the Digital World. Her memory was cleared and replaced with an entirely different one, and dropped here as a scared girl who lost her way.

Sad as it was, this was a frighteningly real possibility.

Izzy forced himself away from the computer. He could spend hours trying to analyze the past to determine what had transpired. But the question of what to do with her now was something no computer would be able to tell him. She was still the sweet Mari he remembered. She still reminded him of her mother, his wife, who was hopefully still at home in the real world. He still missed Aya, and knew that Aya missed him too.

The chances of him returning to the real world were next to nothing. Not without sacrificing everything that he stood for at least. But Mari didnt belong here. Even if she risked the journey to the Digital World on her own, she didnt deserve to remain there for all eternity. And Aya would be lonely with neither husband nor daughter at her side.

Izzy decided that if she couldnt have both, she would have one. He was determined to send his daughter home.

 

Takato waited as TK walked out of the cabin after debriefing Matt. TK glared at Takato. You are the luckiest bastard in the world, he said before continuing on towards the research facility.

Takato looked down. He still felt bad about the whole thing. Matt stepped outside and put a hand on his shoulder.

Dont worry about it. If you actually went through with it, hed be mad at me for letting their lives fall to you.

Am I that unreliable? Takato asked.

Sorry, I didnt mean it that way. Look, go help Joe with the firewood. He could use some help. By the time you get back, youll have forgotten all about it.

Takato nodded and walked into the woods. He found Joe analyzing one tree carefully.

Hey Joe. Matt says I should help you.

You know, if you strategically remove one tree from the woods, the whole forest can grow because of it. Also, we need the firewood, Joe said.

Just let me know what I can do to help.

Right. Its too bad Gatomons not here. She could probably take this down with her claw. Those are really sharp.

Joe stood up next to Takato. But Im sure we can improvise wait Joe walked up to the tree a second time and walked into it. Then he exited. Shoot, its a hollow. No sense chopping that one down.

Both ended up settling for sticks on the ground. Hopefully the lumber supply would last for a little longer.

Joe started up a conversation, Heard about what happened at the Koromon village,

You did? Takato replied, nervously.

Yeah. Ogremon and Leomon Joe pondered the names, Something awfully familiar about those two. They arent two Digimon youd picture together, but for some reason, it doesnt seem unusual for them to be in cahoots.

Oh I dont suppose you heard about

Joe shook his head. Yeah, I know. I wouldnt worry too much about it. When I was your age, I probably would have dropped the gun and ran.

Better than freezing up. Takato wasnt feeling better.

Well, the best thing you can do is to put it all behind you. Dont let it happen again, but dont let it bother you next time.

But I almost killed Kari how can you say I should just let it go?

You flipped a coin, and you won. But dont dwell on it. Just remember that next time the coin may not land the way you want it to.

Takato wasnt satisfied. I dont remember any of you guys doing that. You were always there for each other. Even when you were scared, you seemed to pull through.

Well, half of that is TKs fault. The book made it sound like we adjusted to this place pretty quickly. But we were all scared out of our minds for the first couple weeks. Those early digi-volutions didnt happen as early as he made it look. For every one time when we actually stood up to the bad guys, there were three times when we either hid from them, or ran like hell. It doesnt surprise me that those encounters never made it in there.

Why did he take them out?

Who on Earth would want to read four chapters of kids running away from monsters? That books long enough as it is.

 

Takato tried to follow Joes advice and forget about the incident. He instead recalled the talk with Kari about their children. Unlike the others, except for Cody, Joe rarely talked about his son.

You know, I dont really hear much about your son, Takato said bluntly, I mean, Sora and TK talk about their kids, and I feel like I know Karis son, but yours

Sad to say it, but hes another thing Im trying to put out of my memory.

Why? Whats wrong?

Joe shook his head. Nothing really. But we have to live our lives without regretting the decisions we make. His memory obstructs that.

Takato didnt understand. But you still love him though, right? And your wife too? I dont see how that obstructs anything.

Well, Mizuki and I never really had what youd call true love. We were good friends, not much more. Joe smiled, After we realized that we were probably the only two people who could tolerate each other we got married. There wasnt any passion in our relationship, but we got along great. Sure beat living alone too.

But you didnt love her? Thats kind of sad.

Joe shook his head. Who said I didnt love her? I loved her as a friend, isnt that enough?

Well I always thought marriage was about

Serious romantic love is dangerous, Takato. It drives people nuts. Look at Matt and Sora. They tried to go from friendship love to romantic love and they ended up hating each other. Once they went back to friendship love they were fine.

You dont think Matt and Sora were meant for romance?

Again, Joe shook his head. I dont know. She just picked Matt out of the blue. The way she did it, I wonder if she could have picked anybody. We were all really close.

Now transfixed by the frank discussion of the romantic background of the Chosen, Takato prodded the issue further. So why do you think she picked Matt?

Joe shrugged. Dont know. I hear hes good in bed.

With that, Takato immediately stopped discussing the romantic background of the Chosen. He put the conversation back on course. So you really think forgetting about your wife and son makes you feel better?

It doesnt make me feel worse, thats for sure. But like I said, I didnt have a strong romantic relationship with my wife. Now look at Kari. Shes a perfect example of someone who should forget about their past. She was happily married, romantic even, and was actually succeeding at raising a child. Thats a delicate art, you know.

Im sure. Takato looked back towards the camp. He was too far away to see anything, but he immediately understood what Joe was getting at. Kari would probably give anything to see her family again.

And Cody... Joe continued, lets just say hes much better off than he was in the real world.

But he has no memory of the real world how does he know? Takato was still coming to terms with what happened to Cody.

Joe started to clean his glasses, Trust me. I think Cody just wasnt meant to be a grown-up. The part of the innocent, yet responsible child suited him a lot better.

What do you mean?

Well, his first problem was that he was a lawyer. Worse yet, he was one of those lawyers that set out to clean up the profession.

I take it he failed.

Miserably. It seemed like every day he had to compromise his ethics. He was good at his job, but the job wasnt good to him. Joe put his glasses back on his face. And Id almost hate to bring up his love life.

His love life? Takato readied himself. He still knew Cody as a nine-year-old. Despite his fear of some disturbing mental images, he allowed Joe to continue. It seemed as if Joe wanted Takato to hear the story.

More specifically, Akane Aomori. The girl of his dreams. Smart, mature, polite and a big fan of martial arts, especially those kendo guys. If she wasnt six years younger than me I probably would have fallen for her myself.

So what happened?

They were the perfect couple all through college. At least he thought. But he never was brave enough to pop the question. Maybe if he would have, she would have understood how committed he was. And maybe she wouldnt have left him after graduation to pursue other opportunities in Fukuoka.

Thats awful, Takato was slowly being reminded of his own failed adventure in romance.

She was the one meant for him, and he let her go. He ended up marrying Junko, but even then, he still never forgot the one that got away. Junkos nice, but I could tell she was always more of a consolation prize to Cody.

Takato nodded. He was slowly starting to piece together how successful married life was to the twelve Odaiba Chosen. It seemed pretty divided. There were a few who were parts of very happy couples like Kari, Tai, Davis, and Izzy. Some were average- not a match made in heaven but workable. Previous discussions with TK prompted Takato to include Ken and Yolei on that list, while Joe and Cody were recent additions. And then there were the rocky marriages- Sora and Matts definitely applied, and a few seemed to hint that Mimi was unhappy. Everybody said TK belonged to this group, except for TK himself.

It was a sad situation either way. All six were separated from loved ones, even if Matt and Sora only were apart from their children instead of their spouses. And Cody seemed to be unique.

Takato was beginning to understand Joes point. and then he died and forgot it all.

Joe nodded then quickly looked at Takato. Who told you that? I thought everybody else didnt want you to know.

Oh, Matt told me. On the way back from the battle, Takato answered. It didnt seem like a big deal.

However, Joe was concerned. Then he chuckled, Well, Sora really didnt want you finding out about that. So dont let on that you know. And definitely dont tell her Matt told you. Hell be sleeping on the sofa for a month if you do.

Whats the problem? Its just Cody dying and being reborn. Its a little strange, but I dont see whats wrong with me knowing.

Well, it all has to do with Kari and TK.

What do Kari and TK have to do with all this?

Codys rebirth was a clear sign that TK and Kari were having sex, Joe blurted, forgetting for a moment who he was talking to.

Takato looked up in surprise. What? Matt didnt say that.

Joe looked up and slapped his forehead. Oh shoot now Im in trouble if Sora finds out.

So TK and Kari are in a relationship I was starting to wonder. Takato wasnt so nave that he didnt notice the way the two behaved. After more than a year, there was plenty of evidence to suggest that the two were together, but nothing was concrete.

Yeah, well dont let on that you know. Some of the others dont really approve of it and none of us really talk about it much. As far as Im concerned, they can do what they want as long as I dont have to hear the details.

Well, I guess theyre both consenting adults. Do the others have a problem with it because theyre married? It wasnt Takatos place to take a stand on the issue, but the thought was still a little troubling. Especially since Kari was previously in one of the happier marriages of the group.

Joe smiled at Takato. See. This is what Sora doesnt understand. You drew your own mature conclusion about it all. And a very valid one at that. Age doesnt necessarily mean the same thing as maturity. I mean, look at Cody, hes the most mature out of any of us.

Takato nodded in agreement, before prodding further, So what was the clear sign that TK and Kari were together?

This time, Joe was hesitant, but decided to spill the beans. Well, theres always an abundance of data in the air, and theres always a little bit that has the properties of a digiegg. Usually, when a Digimon dies, the digiegg data attracts the loose data. But since the loose data is heavier, the digiegg data is pulled in. A mass of digiegg data comes together around the loose data, and preserves it.

Okay Takato pretended to understand.

Well, when Cody died, his loose data wasnt attracted to the digiegg data. Instead, it found a different, more suitable egg, nearby.

Okay Takato still didnt get it.

The, uh egg was more attune to a humans data because it was in fact a humans egg

Again, Takato pretended to understand until he figured it out. He stopped and turned to Joe with a look of pure shock.

Joe smiled and nodded, Thats what I said. He kept walking. Not satisfied with having warped Takatos mind already, he continued, Codys data took over an already fertilized egg, replaced the chromosomes and rewrote the DNA. Its a shame so few people were around to witness the first human to give birth in the Digital World.

Poor Kari Takato said.

Poor Kari? Poor all of us. All hell broke loose when it happened. I got the worst end of it I had to deliver the darn thing.

How long before you knew it was Cody?

Well, we knew that humans who die were reborn as Hybrids, and when we figured out that the baby was a B-Level Hybrid, we guessed that it was Cody. Joe paused, then reflected on the whole thing, I suppose it wasnt really that hellish. It was just dramatic. All these new curve balls were thrown at us. I mean, Izzy and I had spent our whole lives working with the Digital World, and when Kari gave birth to Cody we pretty much threw our research out the window because we realized that we still dont know a damn thing about this place.

Wait a minute did you say Izzy? Takato had obviously picked out something he wasnt supposed to, because Joe jumped back in fear for the first time in the conversation, despite his previous openness.

Um did I?

Yeah. Was he with you guys? What happened to him?

Joe was silent for a moment before continuing to walk back. He used to be with us. But even Im not willing to tell you what happened. Its too painful.

Why?

I suppose I should have asked if youve ever been in love, Takato.

Takato looked down. Joes previous advice and Joes current question were working against each other.

Yes, he answered, trying not to recall the image of Jeri smiling brightly at him.

Joe made an observation and replied, Im guessing it didnt turn out well.

No, Takato answered in the same tone.

Well, when you forget about her make sure to forget about the emotions she pulled out of you. Trust me. Joe turned towards the camp as they finally neared it. He gave Takato one last clarification, If you do that you wont turn into TK and Kari and you definitely wont turn into Izzy.

 

I hope this works.
If it doesnt, I dont know what Id do with myself.
But we have to try, dont we?
Promise me that when you get back, youll tell them that were alright.
I still dont know how you got here, but Im glad you came.
Ill always remember you.

I love you, Daddy.

 

The next couple weeks were uneventful, with the frequency of corrupted Digimon decreasing. To Matt, to Kari, to TK, and to Takato, it was signs that things were getting better. But to Sora, to Joe, and to Cody it was merely the calm before the storm.

Oh yes Matt had a habit of talking in his sleep. Especially when his dreams were particularly emotional and/or enjoyable.

Mmm The smile on his face said it all as he clutched his pillow.

Oh, Riley he moaned as he held it tighter.

A klaxon blared. It wasnt deafening, but it was annoying. It did its part to wake Matt up.

Huh? He wasnt used to waking up to the sound of an alarm. He returned his pillow into place and turned around.

Sora? He checked to see if his wife was awake, but she wasnt even in the bed.

Matt jumped out of bed, threw a shirt on, and left the room. He found Sora sitting on the sofa in a robe, staring expressionlessly at the research station.

Sora? Whats wrong?

Were you having a pleasant dream? she asked, although she already knew the answer.

Uh I what do you mean? Matt knew exactly what she meant, but playing stupid usually was his most reliable strategy.

You really should stop talking in your sleep. She didnt even look him in the face, and Matt felt her glaring at him. He was in hot water.

Whats going on? Fortunately, his brother and Kari had left the opposite room after hearing the alarm. TK looked out the window, but Kari went straight for the door.

Well talk about this later. Sora said as she joined Kari in leaving. TK and Matt followed.

They walked across on bare feet to the research station, where the noise came from. Cody and Takato were already inside. Cody was typing on a computer while Takato was trying to manage a massive load of printouts being spewed.

Matt helped Takato with the paper while TK asked Cody, Whats going on?

Something big, TK. Im not quite sure, but its coming from File Island.

A sigh of horror came from Kari. She barged into the conversation, Gatomons over there!

I know. I just got a line of communication open. Cody was able to get a screen of Gatomon on the computer.

Can I talk to her?

Shes your partner. Go right ahead. Cody stood, allowing Kari to take his seat.

Gatomon? Whats wrong? Kari spoke into a nearby microphone.

Gatomons reply came through the speakers so everybody could hear. Kari, Im glad you guys are up. I dont want to alarm you, but were going to need everybody over here pretty fast. Take some time and get everything you need together. Running into this isnt going to help, but the sooner, the better.

Itll take a little time to get Patamon, Gomamon, and Gabumon back here but well go as fast as we can, TK answered.

Good. Ill start the evacuations now so no innocent Digimon get hurt.

Okay, but be careful. Kari was so close to the microphone that her voice was likely to distort on the other end.

Dont worry about me, Kari. Its just a good thing I noticed it now instead of tomorrow night.

Kari had no answer. She just nodded, even though Gatomon couldnt receive that signal. Meanwhile, Matt was inspecting the printouts as Takato tried making some sense of them.

Whats going on? What is all this?

Matt was grim. The printouts were mostly data, but even the most amateur digitologist could interpret what it meant.

He looked up at the others. TK and Sora exchanged knowing looks. Finally, Matt turned to Takato.

Its Daemon.

To Be Continued in Stage Six- Hell

 

Authors Notes
This stage is interesting because it almost seemed safe. Some of the backstory filled in, some action, and a much-needed explanation. But then it all went to hell after Joe explained the whole story. And little perverted Matt didnt make things any better.

Although the stage was mostly in Takatos limited perspective, it was still clearly about the Chosen and their adulthood. Hence the title. The expository about how the Odaiba crew grew up, including Kari comments on the children, Izzy remembering his wife, and Joes discussion of romance and marriage, all have two purposes. One is simply a little insight into what happens in the romantic field of their lives. The second is that this all is important material to remember when Level 2 comes around and the stories come to life.

Another important thing to keep in mind for the future is Mari. She only barely registers on the radar this chapter, but her story in the Digital World becomes absolutely essential in Level 2 and 3.

All of the children and all of the spouses have names. Most, as I always seem to do in fanfic, are derived from other animes. Most of the names dropped are named that way for a reason, and carry a symbolic meaning. The only two that dont are Mizuki and Mari, which is strange because Maris by far the most important character of the lot.

Just to recap-
Happy Marriage- Kari, Tai, Davis, Izzy
Average Marriage- Ken, Yolei, Joe, Cody
Problematic Marriage- Matt, Sora, Mimi, TK

This ends Level 1: Stage Five of The Connection

Stage Highlights