Episode 23: True Colours

Plumon looked up at the sky, blinking very slowly. It was raining-- hard. The thunder and lightning almost put her off, made her want to turn and seek shelter. Almost.
She had wandered off from the others-- not that they weren't used to that. But it had been almost a week, now, since she had been at Deekamon's hut, and surely, they were starting to worry about her. She had worried for herself, too-- she was only at Baby II level, and combat wasn't even close to an option. If an Agent came through, she would have to hide in the underbrush and hope, hiding the red gem on her forehead in case it gave her away.

To her massive surprise, it had worked, and she had arrived here just moments ago-- a place she had never seen before, quite a ways away from Deekamon's hut. She was tired and hungry, but a tight knot was tied in her gut that kept her from becoming even the slightest bit weary.

She couldn't explain the feeling that told her that she had to come here. She hadn't told the others, didn't want to give them false hope. That's what she told herself, anyway-- but there was no doubt in her mind.
This was the time, this was the place. Just... not for them. She couldn't bear to tell them that.

She didn't know that her friends would have to wait just shy of two weeks before they would feel the same.

She squinted her eyes, for suddenly there was a light that stung to look straight at, accompanied by a deafening sound, like the rush of all the ocean's water at once. It was brighter and louder than any lightning-strike or thunder-crash.
The light faded almost as soon as it had come, and Plumon's face, despite the light's disappearance, quite positively lit up, for in front of her was a crumpled form, tall and thin, lying on its side.

The little snake carefully slithered her way forward, and gently stuck her nose out. Her ear-like appendages twitched, waiting tensely for any sign of life.
"Wh--" the form whispered, and then began to cough. He almost leapt to his feet on the spot when Plumon set her head down on the upwards-facing side of his torso.

"Hello, Lukas," the snake said; the boy craned his neck, and immediately stumbled backwards, shuffling in an awkward crab-walk to get away. The snake made no move to follow him, only watched him with quiet curiosity.

"What's going on?" Lukas choked out, his eyes going wide. He frantically reached for his cell-phone, and was dumbstruck.
The purple-and-black device in his hand was no cell-phone, whatever it was. The screen was off-- no buttons he pushed did anything.

"It's... a bit of a story," Plumon replied apologetically as the human boy looked back up, but smiling so gently it was completely disarming, "but I've been waiting a long time for this."
She looked up, droplets of water breaking on her forehead.
"But let's get out of the rain."

Lukas looked up, and nodded his head once. "Mm. ... and... call me Luke."

A few minutes later, boy carrying the directions-giving snake, they were sitting at the foot of a hill, backs to a pile of rocks, and surrounded by the thickest collection of trees that Lukas had ever seen. Plumon explained the situation in her quiet voice, fielding questions from the incredibly confused boy: where he was, why he was here, what she was. The Digital World. To fight Era. A digimon-- his partner.

All this information was coming at Luke so fast, he barely had the time to process it all. It sounded like a bad dream, a cruel prank. He couldn't deny one thing, though-- when the shock had worn off, he felt a kinship with the little snake. He felt as though he could trust that everything she said was true, no matter how off the wall it sounded.
And oh, it sounded off the wall.

But he sat with his knees up to his chest and listened. He asked questions when things didn't make sense, but otherwise kept his voice down.

"... so I'm alone here," Luke surmised after a moment, breathing out heavily and closing his eyes.

"No you're not," Plumon said, looking up at him. "You've got a partner."

They waited out the rain in near-silence-- Plumon fell asleep as she curled up onto Luke's shoulders, and Luke was just too confused to do too much of anything.
It lasted quite a while, but Luke didn't keep time. By the time the clouds cleared, the sky they could see through the trees was a warm pink-orange, and as droplets of water fell from the leaves, Luke quietly ventured out -- taking care not to disturb the sleeping serpent on his shoulders -- into a clearer view.

"Wow," he said at a volume barely above a breath. It was startlingly beautiful, the sky fading from rosy yellow to a faint purple as the sun began to sink, spotted with wispy clouds. It was almost perfectly still, the lingering smell of the earth after rain hanging in the air.

"It's a sight to see," Plumon said, suddenly, lifting her head.

"I've never seen anything like it," Luke concurred, still looking up and around. They stayed standing there for just a moment, falling silent-- again, the human boy felt like he was in a dream. None of this could possibly be real.

Plumon's voice interrupted his thoughts. "We'll have to find shelter soon," she said, huddling herself close to her partner's neck and looking up. She had explained already of Agents in the area, and now, with such a comparatively large individual, she could no longer rely on her previous tactics of avoiding them.

The snake directed Luke towards a place she had found on the way here, not far away at all. She had taken refuge in it earlier that day to hide from a passing Ogremon, and had committed its location to memory for this very purpose. It was a sort of little chamber made by the roots of a good-sized tree, dug out like a fox-hole and long since abandoned. A gentle slope led into the little makeshift room, just room enough for the human boy to sit and keep himself hidden, but not so secluded as to shut out all light.

"Not much of a hotel, huh?" Luke said with just a hint of wry humor in his tone, peering outside. He couldn't complain-- it seemed safe and dry, and in his current state of mind it was all he could ask for.


Later on in the night, Lukas was still sitting away, hugging his knees to his chest as he carefully peeked out from time to time. He hadn't slept-- how could he?
A few hours ago, he had been walking back to where he was staying, and then he was being fawned over by... he looked at Plumon, opposite him, curled up at his feet and deep asleep.

She had mentioned others-- did that much mean that there were other humans, or that there would be?
He laid his head back, and breathed out through his nose.

It was interesting.


"So, it worked then?"

Era pushed his glasses up his nose, casting a sideways glance at the digimon who had asked the question. It was sheathed in darkness, and he couldn't get it in his sights, but he hardly needed to. He could almost feel it tremble until he turned his eyes away, up to the screen-like projection in front of him.
"You say that as though it wouldn't."


In the early dawn hours, there was a pointed disturbance in the peace. The crunch of the underbrush and heavy stamping on the ground echoed throughout the little chamber and made it impossible to remain asleep.
"Stay quiet, stay low," Plumon warned; Luke needed no second bidding, all but holding his breath. Almost in unison, the small snake and the boy peered out-- and beheld a spider the size of a truck. With a glossy abdomen emblazoned with a huge skull and crossbones, furred legs, a coarse red mane, and what almost looked like a horned yellow helmet...
Well, it was a rude awakening to what an adult-level digimon looked like.

"Spider. Great," Luke groaned under his breath; he froze still when the glowing green eyes on the helmet temporarily flicked over in their direction. Plumon slithered into her partner's arms, up against his chest.
It was all they could do not to breath a sigh of relief when it turned its head away.

Luke wouldn't notice that his D-GEAR did not activate to give a reading. He held his breath, waiting. And then...

A voice. It couldn't have belonged to the spider that passed.

"Winter Solstice!"

With a sound like cracking and shattering, the spider froze in its tracks-- and was literally frosted over. With a brilliant flash of blue-white light, it was gone, and a giant egg was all that was left.

"What was that," Luke said low, looking down at the snake he held to his chest.
If she had arms, she would have shrugged.

"Hello?" said the voice that spoke not a moment ago, and a face appeared at the mouth of the little chamber. A pause later, and the voice was lowered: "I am a friend."

Plumon looked up, and her eyes went wide. "You're--" Luke followed her gaze; standing outside their makeshift shelter was a twelve-foot-tall, maybe more, monkey. He was covered in steely blue fur, with red markings on his face, body, and limbs. A tuft of paler slate-blue curved around its neck and chest, and a zig-zagged band of the same colour on both arm. A belt was strapped around his midsection, and where there was no fur -- on his underside, face, and feet -- was snow-white skin. His eyes, red with pale yellow sclera, seemed almost to see through the pair.

The monkey bowed his head.
"I am Rafikmon." A wry smile passed onto his thin lips. "I believe I know who you are."

Luke was frozen with shock.
... okay, so so far, a tiny snake and a giant monkey apparently knew about him. He was about to ask, but the monkey turned his head and looked to the sky. "I don't believe it's safe for you, here. You are alone?"

Luke replied awkwardly: "Uhm... uh, yeah. Just... me and this little snake thing. Plumon." At the name, the serpent curled her way onto her partner's shoulders again.

Rafikmon nodded his head. "Then you need to leave this Area as soon as you can. There's a Proxy Area not far from here."

"Wait, what?" Luke blurted.

Simultaneously, Plumon said, "wait, what?" She shook her head, looking at the monkey. "I need to get back to my-- team." She jerked her head in the direction she had been heading for days, across trees and hills and gullies.
Gently, the big monkey looked between the two.

"I do not assume you can digivolve yet?"

"Well... no," the snake replied, frowning. Rafikmon nodded his head.

"Follow me." And with that, he turned and beckoned.

"We're going to die, aren't we," Luke mumbled; Plumon shook her head.

"No," she said decisively. "Rafikmon is one of Deekamon's. He's on our side."


"Do I make myself clear?"

"... you don't want us to kill them, then?"

"Absolutely not."

"But Lord Era, they're enemies of your state-- criminals. We need to set the ex--"

"If I wanted your opinion, I would have asked for it. We just need to isolate them."


The two followed the blue monkey through more forest-- and eventually, through a labyrinthine system of caves. They would move, Rafikmon said, to a place not under Era's control until the other humans had arrived; they would have to wait in a place free of Era's control. It was better than to be sitting targets with Deekamon, no matter how strong he was.
Luke quietly went along, taking in all he could; he was trying to take this in his stride, but...

He had limits.

Eventually, they came out of the caves and into a craggy, mountainous region; it was high, the air felt thin. Vegetation was scarce and low at best, the rest of the landscape made up of brown and grey rock. It had its own sort of charm, but it was a harsh change for Plumon, who had always been used to the dense vegetation of the Wide Forest.
"I apologize," Rafikmon said when she aired her concern, bowing his head, "but the Wild Mountains are the only free area adjacent to your home. It will make it easier to return when the time comes."

It was here, in relative quiet, that Luke and Plumon spent the next week and a half; Rafikmon stayed by their side on nigh-constant vigilance, but they were free to wander wherever they saw fit to. Digimon came and went, passing through and mingling; Luke tried to remain as low-key as he could, but Plumon was at least marginally more sociable, keeping her ears open for word from the Wide Forest. Only a couple times were they attacked, and Rafikmon made handy work of those who tried. One could go over how Luke learned about his D-GEAR unit, was introduced to the omnipresent Terrafruit, talked over this and that with Plumon to try and understand the world around him-- but to divulge all of that would be only redundant to the reader.
What's important is that, as perhaps could be expected of them, boy and snake were all but inseparable. They ate, they slept, they intermingled sparingly with the local digimon.

"... so you're sure that I'm supposed to be your partner," Luke said, apprehensively, one of those days. They sat on a ledge, Luke leaning back against a rock wall and letting his legs dangle free while Plumon basked on a rock at his side.

"Absolutely," Plumon replied with a nod of her head, slithering over and laying her head down on Luke's lap. He looked at her with a bit of uncertainty, but nodded.

It was only nearing the end of that week that second week anything changed-- of course, it wasn't for the better.
The pair were jarred from sleep by a snide voice:

"Wakey-wakey, ya load of freeloaders!"

Before they could even get a good look at their assailant, Rafikmon had up and lifted the two and darted like a football player. Three dark shapes, blurry and obscured as Rafikmon began to leap down ledges with practiced expertise (even carrying Luke), were all they could catch sight of. That, and flashes, beams of light shooting into the air...
"What's going on?" the boy asked in between soaring leaps; only when they reached the bottom of a canyon did the monkey see fit to respond.

"We're being attacked," the monkey said. "Not Agents... stronger. I don't know what they are, but you can't stay."

"We hear you're givin' shelter to some enemies of the Lord Era, and y'know, we're not down with that!" a voice cried from above; Rafikmon grit his teeth and pointed towards a tunnel.

"Go there. Straight ahead, no forks in the path-- you'll arrive at the Great Ocean. It's under Era control-- stay hidden, stay safe. Your friends will surely be sent there."
Not another word before the primate flung himself back up the wall, scurrying up with any handhold he could find.

"... I think that's our cue to go," Plumon said.

"Wish I understood what I was doing," Luke mumbled, shaking his head. He nodded after a moment.

The boy, Plumon curled tight 'round his shoulders, bolted into the cave. He had no idea what it was that had happened, but... ... honestly, he was getting a bit used to it. From behind him, there was a noise-- and the only daylight they could see was quickly dimmed as rocks rumbled down the cliff-side and covered the entrance.

Really, it was only more incentive to pick up the pace.


What felt like an eternity later, the pair spilled out onto the beach-- through a carpet of tropical greenery and, at the run Luke was at, didn't stop until he dug his heels into soft white sand. It was dusk, and the multiple moons were low on the horizon yet. The salty spray washed over them. After their time in the dry mountains, it was almost shocking.

Lukas breathed out a heavy sigh, partly of exasperation and partly of relief. Plumon slithered off his shoulders and to the ground, in the sand. The boy looked at his little partner, and said, "Do you know why Rafikmon said your friends would be sent here?"

Plumon paused. She was thinking for a moment, before she suddenly turned her head to the sky. Her eyes went wide, and her mouth hung open.
Lukas followed her gaze just in time to see it.

Out of the sky, leaving a brilliant trail behind it that began to fade even before their eyes, a shining white orb was shooting straight for them-- or, more specifically, for Luke.
Even more specifically, the electronic device, that had once been his cell phone, that he had clipped to his belt.

It began to glow and rattle, and then... from the screen, emitted a beam of light that shot for Plumon.
The little snake gave a shout of surprise as it collided with her, and dispersed its light into her body. As it did, she began to change.

"Plumon, kickstart digivolve to..." Her body grew by a large margin. Her ear-like appendages were gone, replaced with brilliantly-coloured feathers attached to the now far-larger gem fixed on her forehead. A similar plume, these feathers all-black, sprang from the end of her tail, and hard scales plated her underside. "Sampamon!"

Luke stared, and blinked a couple times.
A momentary pause.
"Holy crap, are you okay?" he blurted, falling to his knees to look at the now much-larger snake. Her big yellow eyes and her gentle expression were the same as they had been before.

"Never been better," she replied, and touched her forehead to Luke's.

"Th-- the heck was that?" Luke said, more than a little shaken. He looked at the device the light had hit, taking it into his hand; the screen had lit up, shining bright. It began to dim over time, but on its screen was flashing a little symbol. "I-- what?"

"It means they've arrived," Sampamon said simply, bowing her head.
It took Luke a moment to realize what she meant.


As, an Area away, the other children began adjusting to their surroundings, Luke was walking down the beach -- with this partner still choosing to stay on his shoulders, curling around him comfortably --, ducking into the trees whenever an unfamiliar Digimon made itself known.
Mere hours after Sampamon grew to her current form, the two happened upon a small village of Digimon in the near distance; there was visible fire-light, and the sound of laughter. That enough told them it wasn't an Era settlement, at the least. They were tired, as it had been quite a day indeed... it was worth a shot. It seemed that the moment they came any closer, directly in their faces was a little pink digimon, with dragonfly-like wings and a spear tight in his hands.

"Halt!" the little pink puffball said sharply, nearly poking the boy in the chest. He spoke fast, not allowing the two to get a word in. "I am Piximon, chieftain of this village, and so help me Yggdrasil, if you give me one reason to I will not hesitate to attack."

Luke didn't want trouble; he responded in a low, humble tone. "We just want to know if we can stay here for a night," he said, lowering his eyes. Big shiny coal-black eyes or not, Piximon's gaze was intense-- and the puffball said nothing, but his eyes flicked to the snake.
Sampamon suddenly shifted her body, curling her tail around Luke's shoulders; gently, she unclipped his D-GEAR unit from his belt with her mouth, holding it up to Piximon.

Piximon narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Is that what I believe it is?"

Sampamon, the device still in her mouth, nodded. Luke held out his hand, and she placed the digivice in it before slithering back onto his shoulders; he held it out for the strange digimon's inspection. Piximon snapped it up, turning it over with his non-weapon-wielding hand.
Luke was about to ask what he was doing when he tugged on a small tab, and out of the D-GEAR slid a little card-like object, a shining white symbol on it.

"Your Virtue," Sampamon said low, seeming a bit surprised, herself. "That... light, must have activated it," she reasoned.

He didn't get an answer immediately. Piximon, seeming satisfied -- begrudgingly -- nodded as he slipped it back in, and held the device back out, pushing it into Lukas' hands. They were lead nearer to the collection of thatched huts, but before they entered the circle of light given off by what seemed to be a large fire in the "town square" of sorts, Piximon held out his spear.

"Wait here."

And wait they did; Luke stood almost stark-still as he watched the retreating little digimon. "I guess we can call ourselves lucky," he said quietly, "to... well, have survived, for one. But to have run into non-hostiles." Sampamon nodded.

"I can't say we should think it too unusual, though," she mused. "Deekamon told us that there will be holdouts and rebels until the day that Era is overthrown." She looked up, watching as the moons slowly rose overhead. "He said we're born with a sense of what's right and wrong, and how things are supposed to be."

Lukas paused, then nodded and smiled just faintly. "Mm."
They fell quiet, waiting for Piximon's return; it was a minute later.

"I sent many of my villagers to their huts," he explained, indicating the village behind him. "So as not to give them too much shock."


It was nice, really, to be sitting and alongside a fire. Indeed, Piximon had sent away most of the digimon; only a brown rabbit with pink markings, Lopmon, sat alongside, quiet and serene.
"Why are you traveling alone?" Lopmon inquired, adjusting his position on the log upon which he sat. "I was under the impression that the Virtue Warriors came as a group of seven."

Luke paused, and drew his knees up to his chest. "I'm not entirely sure," he admitted. "I just... kind of arrived here, and kept getting told I'd have to wait for the... uhm, others."

"There's a reason, I'm sure," Piximon said, with a peculiar air. It left a second half of the sentence unsaid, but clear: and I'm sure it's not good. "But that's neither my place nor my expertise. We will keep an eye out for your allies should they come our way."

Luke paused, and looked quizzically at Sampamon; her expression said, I'm as clueless as you.

For perhaps an hour, the pair rested themselves and spoke with the two friendly-enough digimon; they explained what they had been doing, while Lopmon explained that his was a village of, indeed, holdouts, rebels, refugees, and the like. They exchanged pleasant discussion, and even Piximon seemed to be a little less prickly as time wore on.
But as could be expected... the time, and the rush of the preceding day, began to take a toll on the boy and his scaly partner. Piximon led them to an empty hut and allowed them to stay there. They took the offer graciously.



"Not yet."


In the middle of the night, there was a pointed disturbance in the sleep of the entire village.
Now, call it crazy, but it might just have been the tremendous sea-serpent that had managed to bring itself up onto the nearby sand, and was spewing its ice and freezing water every which way-- and the fact that their human guest and his partner had gone to fight it, having been awakened by the strangest gut feeling immediately prior to its arrival.

For the first time, his D-GEAR spoke to him.

Seadramon. Adult-level Aquatic digimon. Not the most intelligent of digimon, it cannot speak and acts almost entirely on instinct. It attacks by freezing the water it can spray at enemies with its Ice Blast technique..

"Shadow Shock! Shadow Shock! Shadow Shock!" Over and over again, Sampamon fired out black bursts of energy from the gem on her forehead, but they either dispersed before they reached her enemy or simply failed to harm it when they did.

"Crap," the boy mumbled, having had to have run almost a quarter of the way around their enemy to stay unharmed. He steadied himself and cupped his hands over his mouth to yell at the snake. "Are you okay!?"
Sampamon nodded her head, but she had a pained expression on her face.

Luke was less than convinced, but more pressing matters were at hand. Seadramon whipped his tail around -- indeed, followed by his entire body -- and was poised to crush the boy under it.
"Ah, crap."

And then there was a bright light that cut through the night like a knife. Both Luke's D-GEAR and his parter began to glow bright white.

Kickstart digivolution, begin.

"Sampamon, kickstart digivolve to..." For the second time, Sampamon's body grew exponentially-- she was almost on-par with the tremendous sea monster by the time she stopped growing. Spikes burst out of her back, razor-sharp, while the ear-like appendages returned, growing out alongside a shaggy mane of grey fur. The feather-like tip of her tail burst into brilliantly-coloured fur, while a golden ring appeared, floating around the near-end of her tail.

Seadramon had turned his attention right quick. Yellow eyes narrowed, Serpemon faced the great beast, and her lip drew back.
"Not a mistake I'll recommend you make again."
And then she opened her mouth wide, revealing knife-sharp teeth.

"Spectral Blast!"
Even in the moonlight, Luke looked around-- for a couple of seconds, all of the colour in the area around him was gone, reduced to shades of grey as a tremendous black blast of energy fired out of his partner's mouth and smashed into Seadramon. When it did so, the colour returned to the area.

The enemy snarled, put down his helmeted head, and threw himself towards Serpemon.

She met him in the headbutt, wrapping her body around his and squeezing like a constrictor. Seadramon retaliated by firing a chilling blast of ice into Serpemon's face, and she gave a cry, loosened enough for Seadramon to wriggle out of her coils and throw her to the ground. He reared back and prepared to attack again, before Serpemon suddenly thrashed her body, waving her tail slowly.

"Hypno Tail!" Her tail began to gain an ethereal glow, and Seadramon seemed more than a little mesmerized by it.

In a trance, he barely noticed the land-based snake suddenly snapping her head up, striking like a cobra, and clamped her jaws around Seadramon's neck. It was their foe's turn to glow-- and this time, it was his entire body, as in a moment his data shot into the air like a beacon in the night, leaving only an egg behind.


Serpemon bowed her head.

Luke was dumbstruck, until he heard a clapping; Piximon was floating not far away, his spear laying on the ground. The pink little digimon flew over and picked the egg up, and spoke. "You really are a Virtue Warrior, aren't you two," he mused, and turned.
A flash of light later, and Serpemon was on Luke's shoulders again. The boy bowed his head, and said only:

"Thank you for your hospitality."

Piximon could only watch as the human turned and began to walk away.


It was still dark, not even close to daylight, when... whatever it was, happened.
"Luke!" Sampamon cried out, but by that point, it was entirely too late. He felt something that felt like a metal baseball bat smashing into the base of his spine. The boy -- and the snake's -- vision went white, searingly bright, but he felt as though his eyes were being forced open by an invisible force. He couldn't see anything but the light, almost burning his retinas. There was a horrible sound, a screeching and a cracking, the sound of otherworldly cries of pain, and one very worldly cry.
Though he couldn't see anything, he could hear Sampamon screaming in pain entirely too close, and the sound made his stomach begin to turn.

To Luke, it felt like something was invading his mind on a primal level-- and it felt incomprehensibly wrong. And that was before it felt like his every limb was being ripped out of its socket, that there was a force threatening to rip his head off of his spine. A scream ripped out of his own throat, and it felt like it wasn't of his own will-- he couldn't stop the sound from escaping him. He lost all sense of time-- whether it had been going on for thirty seconds or thirty minutes was completely lost on him.
There was a rush of a strange force beyond the screaming, and the sound of howling wind suddenly reached his ears, as the screams either tapered off or had simply become background noise. It was bitterly cold-- a product of the wind, perhaps?

Three-- no, four -- blurred black figures suddenly faded into view, saying words that Luke could not make out over the wind and how hazy his mind had become.

One of the black figures stepped closer, and it felt like there was something choking Luke.
Those one word was all he heard, before everything went black like a TV turning off.


When he finally came to, he felt like his entire body was numb-- in fact, he realized he could not move. There was an unfamiliar... presence? in his mind, like something was sleeping there in the corner. Everything was black-- and only after a moment did he realize it was because his eyes were closed, but he could not open them.

Suddenly, his eyes were forced open. He was in sitting a dark room, barely lit, with stone walls and stone floor-- almost like a prison cell.
He had no control over where his eyes went. He tried to open his mouth, and found that he couldn't. He didn't seem to have a form of his own at all, simply exiting at some point in space. When his eyes were forced to look down at his body-- but it distinctly didn't feel like his. It felt like he was looking through a window at someone else's body-- a tall one, with purple skin and a mask over most of his face.

He didn't seem to have a form of his own at all, simply exiting at some point in space, living in another body.

There was a small black lump on the ground next to him. He was forced to his feet by some unknown force, and then his mouth opened. The strange presence he had felt in his mind stirred to life, and... took over.
"Reimon," he said, but it wasn't him-- he didn't say it at all. It wasn't his voice, not his will. The black digimon looked up, and somewhere behind its big yellow eyes, he felt the faintest hint.

He felt like a puppet, his mind intact but his every movement down to his breath and his eye movements the work of someone else.

He felt it every time the body's hands closed around a digimon, every time energy flooded into the body.
He felt it when he saw his supposed-to-be teammates-- when he was forced by that invisible presence to almost kill their digimon. When he saw and conferred with Era, the man who had done this.
And he couldn't do anything about it.

He felt it when, as time went on, he saw more and more of the light in the black digimon's eyes as she changed form. He felt the thing in his mind become more and more one with him. He felt it go mad; he felt it begin to lose its cool, burning at his brain, at his soul, when she began to question it.
And he couldn't do anything about it except feel it seep into his soul. The more it did, the less stable it became.

And so he lost hope; he began to feel that there was nothing he could do. He was not in control-- he went dormant, not wanting to feel another digimon die by his hand.
He felt every blow of the attack when the body faced down, against the boy's battered, useless will. The searing pain felt just as though it would have to a human, though the strengthened body kept him alive.

The other mind broke, he felt, when he saw Sanmon's body ripped from her.
He felt that searing, burning, rip-his-body-apart feeling again when Era took this body away from him. The white light.

And then he hit the ground, his entire human body feeling as though it were gaining feeling after too long on a numbing agent. He heard voices, distant yet close, and they were too hazy to make out.
"SAMPAMON!" ripped from his throat.
He stumbled forth, forcing himself forward in the clumsiest way, to grab the egg.

He heard a low whistle, and turned his head.

"... I..."


The group did not move all that day; they brought Luke back to the demolished site of the battle, set up camp again in the wreckage and the fallen trees. They sat around a fire, talking with eachother; Luke stayed silent.
It was nightfall before he found his voice. He had stared at the ground the entire time, and continued to do just as such.

Still holding the black egg tight to his chest, Luke hung his head. He had just re-told this entire story, in abridged format, to these new children and their partner digimon-- the ones he was supposed to have teamed up with. He couldn't bear to look them in the eye.

It was that boy -- Simon -- who spoke first, yet again.

"Welcome to the team, buddy."

[Chapter 23: End]