Phantom Codewalker
Tablet II - Kurenai
by Ajora Fravashi

*Disclaimer - I don't own Digimon. Toei does.
*Kaiken (Kaiser/Ken). Violence, self-mutilation, murder. Budding friendship that should be apparent given my usual fics. Has nothing to do with my other fics. I mean it. Really.


Shadows and light flickered across the stone ceiling in patterns that were never the same. That the torchlight was dancing at all indicated that the sacrifice chamber was somewhere close to the entrance of the ziggurat and that there were reasonably strong winds outside.

A blueprint of the complex laid itself out in Ken's mind. It was more likely than naught that the Kaiser had set up the temple at the top of the ziggurat as the throneroom... that was something Ken honestly expected of the Kaiser. He was most likely chained up in the lower temple that led to the one above and housed the crypt deep within, so he had a bit of a walk to undertake to access the chamber he would need to be in to carry out his plans. But first order of business was to get out of the manacle first.

Despite the discomfort caused by the action, Ken sat up to get a good look at the ring of iron that encircled his wrist. He could just barely get the lower joint of the metacarpal that lead to his thumb through the manacle after practically rubbing the skin raw, but the joints that united metacarpals to the fingers of his hands could not be squeezed through no matter what he did. The knuckles were wider than the ring he was trying to pull them through, which left him with only one option.

With teeth ground together in anticipation of what was to come, Ken pressed the palm of his left hand against the stone plate, leaving the little finger and its corresponding metacarpal hanging over the edge. He struck hard against the knuckle with the heel of his right hand, only succeeding in bruising himself. Another couple of hits and the extrinsic ligament that connected the joints of the little finger and its metacarpal to the rest of his knuckles tore away.

The pain was blinding, worse by far than when he had been raped. It brought forth new tears and it took every ounce of willpower he had to keep from screaming in agony. After allowing time for the edge of the pain to wear off, he pushed the knuckle under another in what would be a highly unnatural position and slid the manacle the rest of the way off.

How he had managed not to faint was a question that would forever elude him afterwards. Perhaps the adrenaline that was triggered by the self-inflicted damage kept him conscious, perhaps the intense need to eliminate his doppelganger and avenge himself overrode any natural reactions. At the moment, however, those questions failed to cross his mind, and instead the primal urges of a wounded animal with nothing to lose sprung forth. Nothing else but the Kaiser's death mattered.

Pulling on what was left of his clothes had been reflex only, though he disliked the fact that he had no warpaint to play with or a weapon at his side. There was the Kaiser's knife that had been tossed off to the side and forgotten, and it would be sufficient for one of the tasks he needed to do, but for the final strike he'd need something far more damaging and useful at a distance. However, if the Kaiser had not yet secured the armory, he might be able to find a sarissa or a dart and atlatl there.

Ken slowly exited the sacrifice chamber with the knife in hand, his nerves never pausing to remind him what he had been through so far. Walking jarred his poor abused body and he was certain that this was only irritating the lacerations within that the Kaiser had caused, but nothing mattered anymore.

Thankfully it was a relatively short walk to the armory at the far side of the lesser temple, and entering it was only a matter of palming the lock and stepping through the doorway. Polearms, blades, and pneumatic guns spanned the wall parallel to the doorway and the display was flanked by matching suits of samurai armor. While the guns held a certain appeal they were also heavier than he could carry in his current state. On another wall were various models of archery bows from just as many cultures with quivers full of arrows beneath them, and taking up the space left over was a simple little atlatl with a pouch full of obsidian darts.

A beautiful tool, the atlatl. Simply a slab of wood with a groove carved into it and a hook at the end. The hook was where the butt of the dart was placed against, and a good throw would send a dart flying with more force than any spearman could manage. It was light, quiet, easy to make and carry around, and darts were just as easy to replace. One of the many underrated accomplishments in design that the Mesoamericans had managed. He took this down after tying the pouch of darts to his belt and was soon off to one of the many chambers dedicated to the program codes.

Settling down at one of the more important walls proved difficult with the tears within him, but he managed regardless. Staring at the walls for awhile helped unfold his memories and the glyphs became more familiar. For instance, the one that looked like the katakana 'ro' was the glyph corresponding to the phonetic 'a', the one that looked like the kanji for 'spine' sounded like 'i'. Everything finally fell into place. That the code was laid out much like Perl was an added bonus... of the many programming codes out there, he actually liked Perl.

The Child of Kindness pulled back the sleeve covering his left arm, staring at it for a moment. Given what he planned to do he did not expect to survive after his plot would come to fruition, so it would be pointless to start acting vain now and he really didn't have anything to write with. A hiss escaped his lips as he cut across the flesh of his arm to draw blood and narrowly avoided one of the major blood vessels. It would do no good to kill himself then and there without seeing this all to the end.

He coated his index finger with his own blood, ignoring the pain, and began adding his own codes to the ones already there. This particular section was the Kaiser's personal shield of sorts that protected him from any apparent danger and had to be either taken down or inverted. A few lines of code written out in blood and the forcefield would only provide protection against anything with a considerable metallic content. Simply an exception tacked on to the end, really.

With that much done and out of the way, Ken rose unsteadily to his feet, holding the self-inflicted wound shut until he could make it to the other code room he needed to tamper with.

This one required much more coding, and therefore much more blood. Sighing miserably at this, Ken began the long, arduous process of formulating the self-destruct sequence for the ziggurat that would start after a countdown that would be triggered when the Kaiser died. When it was finally done he felt rather faint with the blood loss, but he had to go on as there was still that final factor.

The trek up the steps and through corridors that passed as secret passages was long, painful, and more than once he was sorely tempted to go to sleep and let death relieve him of his suffering. But at long last he finally reached the topmost temple of the ziggurat and carefully knocked a dart onto the atlatl before continuing.

The Kaiser turned and scowled at this unexpected entry, but could not wring out a word before the dart went flying. It penetrated the forcefield he thought would protect him, and the force sent the dart plowing through his chest and out his back, its flightpath only ceased when the obsidian point shattered like glass against a granite wall.

Stunned, the Kaiser looked down at the gaping wound in his chest that had just narrowly missed his heart yet sliced open several major arteries and veins, lightly touching the oozing blood in disbelief. "How... I... I'm immortal," the Kaiser's voice rattled, clearly having trouble speaking.

"I programmed you with the same strengths and weaknesses as any true human. You may have the power to twist the natural laws of the Digital World to your will and teleport, but you're still a direct clone of me," Ken sighed, not doing all that well himself considering the pain that still burned, throbbed, and gave other unpleasant sensations throughout his body that he wished he could escape if just for a moment. "I thought it was foolish at first, but instinct won out. Abschied, mein Kaiser."

Ken turned his back to the Kaiser that was quickly bleeding to death, walking slowly and carefully down the main stairs that lead outside and to the lower level stairs that would take him to ground level.

The sunlight was warm, welcoming even though it would give way to nightfall in an hour. On the winds he faintly heard a pleasant female voice rise from the ziggurat's main temple that was so far above now. "This complex will self-destruct in T-minus five minutes."

Despite all the pain, despite his body's desire to pass out, he smiled at that voice. It was reminiscent of his only female friend, the one who was killed shortly after Osamu so long ago. Maybe he would join her and Osamu soon if the powers that be deemed him worthy.

With the memory of her face and Osamu still in mind, he settled upon the final flight of stairs and resigned himself to death.


Takaishi Takeru rarely worried about his fellow teammates like this, as they all could more or less take care of themselves. But Ichijouji had been missing for awhile now and no one had seen or heard the raven-haired boy leave. And given that Minomon was left behind, Takeru had a really bad feeling about this unexpected disappearance.

So here he was with Pegasumon, flying over vast expanses in the Digital World and worrying himself sick all the while. He considered Ichijouji Ken a friend. A little reserved and taciturn, perhaps, but given what Ken had done and had been through he really couldn't blame the boy. It was a pity that Daisuke had more courage to reach out to Ken in the first few days after the Kaiser's fall than he did.

A rather odd formation that stood out against the desert sands drew Pegasumon's attention, and the digimon asked his rider if Takeru would like to investigate. Given that this was the third of the various odd formations they had searched through in the Digital World, Takeru didn't really expect to find much within its walls but held on to the hope that they would find Ken anyway.

Pegasumon winged towards the complex and circled it. As his eyes were sharper than those of his human's, he made note of the figure huddled on the lower stairs of the ziggurat and without any urging from Takeru he dove close enough to the figure so that they both could recognize the unconscious boy.

Takeru nearly fell off Pegasumon in his rush to get to the boy's side, stunned at the amount of damage done to Ken and wishing that he had gotten there sooner. The pallor of Ken's skin and the trail of blood that spattered down the stairs hinted that the raven-haired boy didn't have all that long to live. Unnerved at how light Ken was when he picked the boy off the stone stairs, Takeru hefted Ken onto his mount's back as carefully as he could in his rush and joined soon after.

"T-minus one minute to self-destruction," stated a rather pleasant yet cold female voice rising from the building at the top of the ziggurat. Takeru whipped around to gaze up at the temple, his eyes widening unconsciously at the announcement of approaching doom.

The equine digimon needed no encouragement from his rider, only allowing the boy a moment to grab onto his mane with one hand and the other arm circling Ken's shoulders before spreading his wings to rise into the air. It took more flapping than he expected to undertake to access an updraft that would take him and his rider a safe distance away, but thankfully he had barely managed to escape the blast range.

Out of morbid curiosity, Takeru looked back past his shoulder to watch the explosion. As explosions go it wasn't too big and it was certainly successful in its job to reduce the complex to rubble, but he shuddered at the thought of what would have happened if he hadn't taken it upon himself to search for Ken.

As Pegasumon rode the wind, the blond looked down at the unconscious boy in his arms. Ken needed to be hospitalized as soon as possible, but this was the Digital World and Takeru had no idea what to do with Ichijouji other than clean and bandage that nasty cut in the boy's forearm.

"There was a cottage back where the river separated the forest from desert, wasn't there? Perhaps you can patch up Ken in it," Pegasumon suggested, somewhat worried at the distress his human partner was practically radiating.

"Yeah, let's go and hope the owner doesn't mind visitors," the blond replied tonelessly. He was not about to lose a friend now due to inaction on his part, and with that thought he unconsciously gave Ken's shoulder a light squeeze.

The cottage in question was situated on the forest side of the river. Why there was no vegitation past the western bank of the river while it flourished on the eastern side was one of the many mysteries of the Digital World that would never be answered. But there was a cottage that looked rather inviting and at that moment its presence was all that really mattered.

Takeru carefully laid Ken out on his mount's back before dragging himself off, rather disturbed at the multiple lashes on the boy's back that he hadn't noticed before. That would have to be taken care of too. In his rush he nearly fell off Pegasumon once again as he dismounted, taking a moment to right himself before running up to knock on the door.

The man that answered the door had to be in his early twenties at most. He had brown hair that was spiked back with sky blue eyes that sparkled in amusement and curiosity, and a white robe with burnt umber pipings draped over his form. Much to Takeru's relief he looked rather friendly.

"Hello, may I help you," The man asked, the amusement in his eyes tapering off as he got a good look at the urgency in Takeru's face.

Steeling himself against the rush of emotions that threatened to flood over him, Takeru began slowly. "My friend is hurt really badly, and I- I think he might die. P-please let us stay..."

"Certainly," the man nodded tersely, looking out past the blond to get a good look at the injured friend lying across a Pegasumon's back. There was something very familiar about that boy... if the hair was shorter and had a different cut, it... it... oh god no, not *him*...

Takeru was nearly shoved off his feet as the robed man pushed past him with the most stricken look Takeru had ever seen in anyone. He watched in surprise as the man pulled Ken off Pegasumon and held the boy in a tender embrace.

This was certainly bizarre, and before Takeru could go further into his thoughts the man returned with Ken in his arms and tears in those once merry blue eyes. Rendered speechless at this whole display, Takeru could only follow as the man shuffled back into the cottage.

It was a nice cottage, really, and originally meant to house three humans if the furnishings were anything to go by. Set on the mantle above a fireplace was a small group of framed photos, and hung above that was a painting of a sword lying across a shield with a single rosebud settled upon the blade. Whatever it meant, Takeru really didn't care to ask at the moment. There would be time later.

Within a rather comfortable-looking bedroom, the robed man laid Ken out on the boy's stomach before cutting away the tattered shirt and jacket. Takeru winced at the criss-crossing marks on Ken's back, some of which bit deep enough to draw blood. The man looked pale as he whispered his thoughts, that this was done by a whip.

"Listen, Takeru" the man began, reaching up to brush back a lock of hair that had fallen free of the spikes and hung over his forehead in what could only be a nervous gesture. "Ken is going to need the help of someone who knows medicine better than I, so I'm going to see if I can summon a couple of Swiss Destined Children who dabble in such things. Think you can patch up what you can before they get here?"

"I'll see what I can do."

Bowing to him in thanks, the robed man then rose and trotted quickly out of the bedroom. Takeru looked around in a mixture of desperation and panic as he tried to find something to staunch the bloodflow. Out of the corner of his eye he noted a blur of orange and cream that flapped in and abducted his hat. Patamon dropped the hat on the wound in Ken's left arm and pressed up against it.

Well, so much for the hat. At least it was doing some good now and left him with time to find better supplies. With a quick 'thanks' to Patamon, Takeru rose from the side of the bed to see if he could dig up something from the bathroom. Once armed with a bowl of warm water, guaze, antiseptics, and other basic medical supplies, Takeru returned to the bedside and began his work.

It wasn't until later, once the majority of the external wounds were cleansed and bound under layers of bandages, that Takeru began to wonder about just how the robed man knew of Ken. Or of himself, for that matter.


There had been three of them, the Tag Tamers. The white-haired girl he called 'Kage-chan' who had given him more attention than his own mother ever did. Ryo, the first person ever to offer him friendship. Ryo always had such nice, merry blue eyes and that odd nervous reflex that kicked in every now and then which would make him brush back the wild lock of brown hair that always hung over his forehead. Ryo and Kageko already had their crests, and never failed to encourage him when he got depressed about not finding his own. They were the best friends he ever had.

Kageko was the first to leave, killed in a car accident uncannily similar to the one that had killed Osamu. He didn't blame her for that. Then Ryo left right after the battle with Milleniumon, saying something or another about being needed by the Powers That Be which presided over the Digital World. He had not seen or heard from Ryo since and he was certain that Ryo abandoned him.

Ken woke up with these thoughts floating around in his head, feeling bitter regret on top of the dull pain. Why had Ryo never contacted him? He knew Ryo and Kageko had been involved with each other on a level he didn't understand back then, and that Osamu and Ryo had been friends of sorts, but didn't he ever count? Was it because Kageko and Osamu were dead that Ryo couldn't bear being reminded of them anymore?

And why wasn't he dead?

A limited survey around the room hampered slightly by the fact that he was lying on his right side revealed it to be somewhat familiar, although he couldn't quite remember why. Sunlight flooded the place, and across from him was rather familiar boy sleeping in the chair at his bedside and a ball of orange and cream fur curled in the boy's lap. What was Takeru doing here? Was Takeru the one who ripped death from him?

Sighing, Ken settled back on the bed and assessed the damages. His left hand was in a cast, and bandages were wrapped around his arm and torso. The hand still ached but it hurt far less than it had been. The whip marks had been reduced to a dull throb, so the only thing that still hurt considerably was the fragile tissue inside him that the Kaiser had oh so unceremoniously ripped during the rape. Even then it was not as bad as it had been.

Takeru awoke with several muscles cramped thanks to having spent the last few hours sleeping in a chair. The night had been a long blur of three rushing people and mysteries no one would explain to him. At least Ken was on the path of physical recovery.

"Hey, are you hungry," Takeru asked of the wounded boy with a tired half-smile on his face that probably did nothing to hide his concern. The question of who had done this to Ichijouji had plagued his mind all night and the robed man known only as 'the Tamer' avoided replying to him as much as possible. Afterwards the Swiss kids had left and the Tamer did something that Takeru didn't get to see due to being locked out. The Tamer told him nothing except that the man was needed elsewhere and could not attend to Ken's recovery.

This, of course, meant that Takeru was alone with Patamon to take care of Ken as much as he was able to. Although he had to admit, at least they were useful now, and he figured Ken needed sustenance to recover.

Ken closed his eyes, wishing that Takaishi wasn't there to see him like this. He hated being seen by anyone like this, hated to be seen as weak and easily hurt... especially by those he knew. But if an answer would get Takeru out of the room, so be it. "Somewhat."

"Great," the blond grinned as he rose from the chair to stretch. Patamon tumbled out of his lap and flapped away to raid the kitchen. "Just a warning in advance, I'm not that great a cook. Do you want anything in particular?"

"Not really," Ken replied in a monotone. It wasn't until he heard the door open and then shut shortly afterwards that he opened his eyes once again.

It was then that they returned, the memories of what had been done to him, the cruelty in the Kaiser's eyes during the rape. What was worse was the fact that the Kaiser won just by performing one of the most basic acts man was capable of. It was only sex, yet it devastated him in ways few other things could.

Why didn't Takeru just leave him out at the ziggurat to die?


It would be awhile before the stove would be hot enough to boil water, so Takeru spent a couple of minutes looking at the photographs that graced the mantle. There was one solitary photo of a girl with hair so pale it appeared white, who was gazing out with ice blue eyes. Another photo depicted the girl and a teenaged boy in a blue shirt and khakis, both grinning and holding up a rather embarrassed-looking kid with dark hair and amethyst eyes between them.

Eyes widening at this, Takeru inspected the rest of the framed images. The younger boy was Ken at around the age of six or seven, it had to be as there were far too many similarities between the two. The older was the Tamer, and there was something oddly familiar about the way robed man carried himself, about how the eyes crinkled in amusement. What it was, however, Takeru couldn't put his finger on it quite yet. But from the looks of it this had been Ken's home once, and Takeru wondered faintly what happened since Ken never once mentioned it or said anything about the Tamer for that matter. Too many mysteries.

Once he finished with the meal of white miso soup and rice balls and left Patamon to devour what remained in the rice pot, the Child of Hope returned to his patient's room armed with a tray full of food he had sprinkled with something the Tamer left on the counter. The fine beige powder had been left with instructions explaining that it was necessary for Ken to ingest it to take care of any internal injuries. Takeru wasn't about to argue.

The view he witnessed once he reentered the room was something he had seen only once before. Ken was... crying? Why?

Takeru hated seeing anyone suffer, and his heart instantly went out to the raven-haired boy currently sobbing into the pillow. Something bad happened in that complex to reduce Ken to this, and Takeru was certain now that it was the same thing that nearly killed the boy. Silently setting the tray on a dresser close by, Takeru soon knelt before Ken and reached out to stroke the mop of tangled raven hair reassuringly.

Ken froze at the unexpected contact. Had he been so lost in his own misery that he hadn't heard the blond enter the room? Silently berating himself for his sensory lapse, Ken wiped away the tears with the undamaged hand.

"It's alright to cry, y'know," Takeru whispered reassuringly as he withdrew his hand, giving an almost self-deprecating grin before continuing. "Hey, I did more than my fair share of that when I was a kid. Still do sometimes. There's nothing wrong with it, and it helps most of the time."

Blinking, Ken stared at the blonde. He had never seen Takeru cry... not openly at least. It made him wonder just how much of Takeru's cheerfulness was a facade.

"You... you won't tell anyone about this, will you?"

"Of course not! But if it helps, I formally promise that no one will hear of how I found you or what went on. On my honor, whatever that's worth," the blond stated in all seriousness. He didn't know Ken all that well, but at least he knew that no one would want such a private moment revealed to anyone. "You know, it helps me feel better when I cry with my arms around something. So if you want to cry on someone's shoulder, I'm available."

After a moment's hesitation, Ken wrapped his arms around the other boy and buried his face in Takeru's shoulder. It was oddly comforting to hold someone like this, despite the relative awkwardness of their positions. He wouldn't have even done this normally, but something within him responded to the offer in a way he hadn't since Ryo had abandoned him.

With a slight smile, Takeru carefully gathered the raven-haired boy into his arms. Hopefully Ken would feel better afterwards and eat most of what he fixed. And once the Tamer came back, Takeru swore he was going to get all his answers, whether the Tamer was willing or not.


Ajora: Special thanks to Dad the Archaeologist for technical help and answering all my questions concerning Mesoamerican technology and rituals (and showing me some slides of a dart being driven straight through a wooden target by a group of archaeologists demonstrating Mayan war tactics and the use of atlatls. Really, those things are deceptively powerful), and Meimi for letting me borrow her creation, Kageko. Ryo co-starred with Ken in the Wonderswan game "Tag Tamers" and as such isn't mine. I wish I could claim him, though.


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