Phantom Codewalker
Tablet IV - Scars
by Ajora Fravashi

*Disclaimer - I don't own Digimon. Toei does. If I did own Digimon, Ryo would be a major character in the TV series instead of only landing a grand total of ten seconds of screen time within the frame of two episodes and a movie.


A ball of purple and white fur cracked open an eye at the vigorous typing that had so rudely roused him from sleep, relatively annoyed but not so much that he was going to fly off in a huff. "Whatcha doing, Tamer? Isn't it a bit early to work?"

"Strengthening the cloaking perimeter," Akiyama stated in a somewhat distracted voice as he continued typing. "Motomiya's desperate and getting closer than I like. Besides, the perimeter also acts as an inverted firewall and it'll keep the codewalker from escaping."

Savali the tsukaimon snickered maliciously as he fluttered over to glance at the screen. "Say anything you want, but you hate him don't you?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about," the Tamer growled in annoyance at the virus digimon that had decided to perch on his head to get a better look at the monitor. Oh, he knew what the creature meant, but damned if he was going to let Savali trap him.

Cackling, the tsukaimon raked his claws through Ryo's hair in amusement. "Oh, you have reason enough to hate him. After all, he did steal your digimon and Jogress partner. Wait, I forget, V-mon never really bonded to you did he? And oh, how could Motomiya possibly steal something already abandoned?"

Ryo swatted at the tsukaimon on his head, dislodging Savali and sending the creature fluttering over to perch on the monitor. Savali practically purred at him, golden eyes glittering in satisfaction. "Don't you have anything better to do than pester me?"

"No, not at all. Besides, you did say you wanted me to help in the hunt, did you not?"

"Pestering me is not considered help. Go dig up something to eat and let me finish this up." One of the few certainties Ryo learned when dealing with most digimon of Savali's level: when all else fails, appeal to a digimon's stomach. As expected, the tsukaimon took his hint and flew into the kitchen with it.

With the distraction gone, Akiyama Ryo opened up the overwriting application and began to input the codewalker's signature into the identification fields. He had no doubts that it would work, all he needed was to lure the codewalker into a sense of security long enough to overwrite and reconfigure it to a low-powered digimon. It wasn't even his idea, really. Osamu was a true genius, and would have been an invaluable resource if he had the power back then to bring the boy into the Digital World. He had entrusted the elder of the Ichijouji brothers with information about this world before even knowing about Ken's existence and Osamu jumped at the chance to flaunt the abilities that made people bow at the boy's feet.

Oh, Osamu hated the fact that he couldn't enter the world his programs aided, however. He had been deeply offended when the digivice was sent to his brother instead, and kept the thing away from Ken with the excuse that the Digital World was far too dangerous a place for his precious little brother. Ryo was however certain that this action was more out of jealousy than anything else.

He did miss Osamu, however. Of course, Osamu would have raked him over coals for taking his eyes off the boy's brother long enough for Ken to get hurt, then gone codewalker hunting with a bloodthirsty zeal that Osamu was infamous for in online gaming circles. Kageko probably wouldn't be all that far behind, for she had been almost as protective of Ken as Osamu was.

Ryo allowed himself a break to raise his coffee mug to the screen that displayed Osamu's program. "To the dearly departed who would kick my pathetic ass for letting things go so badly."


He thought he had gotten rid of it, thought he had killed it when he destroyed its source code in the ziggurat. To be honest, he didn't think this of all things would happen. He really should have known better. This was the Digital World, after all, and every scrap of data ended up being recycled. Ryo taught him this years ago, yet why was he so surprised when Wormmon had been reborn or that the Kaiser turned into what Ryo liked to call a codewalker? Was it because he didn't want to remember?

This room was so familiar, but he couldn't quite remember why. Why were there so many holes in his memory? He had been here before, when he was much younger, although exactly when and why he couldn't quite recall. The last time he had been in this room, wasn't he ill with something or another?

Ah, yes. The last time he was here, he could remember Ryo ordering Wormmon to take good care of him, then walking out of that door and out of his life forever. Everyone he cared about always ended up leaving him. Really, why had he been so willing to accept Daisuke's friendship? Because it was a pathetic attempt to see his only friend in someone, and who could be better than the boy who inherited the digimon that was once Ryo's partner? Would Daisuke end up walking out of his life too?

The Child of Kindness sighed as he closed the book he wasn't quite paying attention to and glanced across the room at the blond who was currently scribbling away at his desk. It was odd, he never thought Takeru cared much about anything beyond Patamon, Hikari, and that high and mighty code of honor the blond seemed to have... but Takeru was the one who rescued him from certain death, who had bandaged his wounds and did anything he asked to make him feel better. For the life of him, Ken couldn't figure out why.

"Hey there, feeling better?"

Ken blinked at the question, unaware that he had slipped into his own little world and his vision became unfocused because of it. "Somewhat, although I have to say that the speed at which I'm healing is much too unnatural." He lifted the hand that once sported a cast and flexed his little finger in demonstration. "This ligament should have taken weeks just to heal even with surgery, and then I should be experiencing some stiffness. But it's like nothing ever happened."

Takeru offered a slight smile at that. Ken seemed to be capable of sitting without discomfort now too, though he knew better than to ask for verification. "Yeah, Gennai said it would be like that. I don't exactly know what he did, but it's not like he'd tell me anyway."

A pause followed soon afterwards, leaving the boys simply gazing at each other and attempting to find something new to talk about. Conversation had never been a strong point between them, due mostly to other factors getting in the way. Finally, Ken asked the thing that had been bothering him for awhile.

"Why did you save me? Why do you stay with me even though you have better things to do?"

All Takeru could really offer was a shrug since he hadn't really thought about it. "Because I wanted to? To be honest, I don't know. You were almost dead when I found you, and I couldn't bear the thought of losing someone I like to think of as a friend. And as for sticking around, I figured I should make myself useful for once."

"What makes you think you were ever useless," Ken asked, somewhat surprised at the depressed look that had briefly crossed Takeru's face before it was covered up. There seemed to be more to the blond than he originally thought.

"You... you aren't the only one to have lost a digimon partner," Takeru got out after much difficulty, wishing Patamon hadn't gone off in search of food earlier as he was tempted to hug the little digimon and not let go for a very long time. "I could do nothing to save Angemon, but I had a chance to save you. It was a gamble, but..." the Child of Hope paused to look up at Ken, the tiniest of smiles quirking at his lips as he did so. "I'm glad I did it."

The raven-haired boy set his book aside as he freed up his hands to hug his knees close. That much he could understand, at least, but while he was the Kaiser he couldn't remember ever having heard of an Angemon being destroyed anywhere at any time during his reign. "When was he killed?"

"A long time ago," Takeru muttered as he tapped his pencil against the desk in discomfort. He had never really talked about Angemon's death to anyone, never felt the need to bring up something so painful. But it was conversation, at least. "I was eight or so then, I think. God, I felt so helpless during that battle."

Ken gave a wince of sympathy at that. Oh, he knew about grief alright, knew all too well what damage that kind of loss at that age could do to someone. "I... lost my brother at that age."

A short pause followed, leaving the boys to gaze at each other in a new light. Then, as if triggered by the recent discovery of mutual beginnings, new conversation arose. Stories of being the youngest members in a group and watched over by older kids with big brother complexes were exchanged, tales told of long nights spent in the Digital World being left out of discussions the older kids had that they were certain the younger kids wouldn't understand. Recollections of seemingly hopeless battles and mixed emotions those battles brought forth were spoken.

In the midst of Takeru's recounting of the battle with Pinocchimon, Ken sighed and leaned back against the headboard. Never did he think he would find someone who went through so many of the same things he did, someone who seemed to like him as a friend and understand him without even asking anything. It was nice to know that he wasn't alone. And, curiously enough, he wasn't all that uncomfortable when Takeru sat beside him on the bed.

Somewhere during one of the tales exchanged, a purple and white version of Patamon burst through the door, drawing the boys' attention for a brief second before the tsukaimon exhaled a purple fog that soon had them pass out.

Akiyama Ryo entered the room soon after the fog dissipated, frowning slightly at the tsukaimon that was making itself comfortable on the foot of the bed. "Did you *have* to target both of them?"

"Not my fault they were practically cuddling when I barged in," Savali smirked, delighting in the rise he was getting out of the Tamer. Ryo was really far too easy to needle. "Oh yes, they were talking for hours. Isn't it nice that darling Ken has someone to relate to at last? You should be happy, Tamer, since *you* certainly never made an attempt. After all, why do today what you can do tomorrow? I'm afraid it's a little too late for you to redeem yourself, isn't it?"

Refusing to answer the tsukaimon as it would be exactly what Savali wanted, the Tamer settled on the desk chair and opened up the his laptop computer. Now the hunt was on.


There was darkness all around him, no light anywhere to relieve him of his stark black surroundings. It was disorienting, he couldn't tell if he was suspended midair or submerged in liquid. None of his senses would register in his mind, and he hated it. He hated darkness, hated feeling so helpless. And more than anything, he hated being alone.

A thousand thoughts raced through his mind, all discarded before they could come to fruition. Nothing he could think of would get him out of this, and the situation was becoming increasingly distressing. Why was he here anyway? All he could remember was talking with Ken and passing out when that strange purple digimon flooded the room with equally purple fog. That fog probably triggered this dream and he was going to wake up soon enough.

Takeru took comfort in that thought even as his senses returned to him one by one. The air was temperate and still, it was so dry that his lips soon became chapped with the lack of moisture. The darkness lifted to unveil grounds that once supported life but had been salted so that nothing would ever grow from it again, and in the place of living things was death. There were forests of wooden stakes that impaled humans and digimon alike, and at the head of this death forest was a crucifix with a certain very familiar figure nailed to it. After fighting down the urge to throw up at both the vision and the fetid stench of death that was now carried by languid winds, Takeru stepped closer to get a better look at the crucified angel.

It was Angemon, of that he had no doubts. Hair that was once golden was now tarnished to a dull brown, and a couple of wings that were ripped from their sockets now laid at the base of the cross in a dirty pile of feathers and blood. The helmet had been discarded to expose the angel's face, but in the place of one clear blue eye was a gaping hole. A flood of despair washed over the Child of Hope at the sight. Who could... Why... How...?

As if to answer his unvoiced questions, a human figure draped in black strode forth. It was definitely human yet it sported huge, leathery black wings that had holes ripped in several places. The person's body was sheathed in tight leather clothing, with gloves tipped by metal claws and an all too familiar red bat emblazoned on its chest. The figure ignored his presence completely as it strode towards the angel with a lance in hand. Somehow in the light of a dark sun the figure's hair appeared a striking blue, and the wild style in which that blue hair was presented offered Takeru a horrifying conclusion.

It was the Digimon Kaiser dressed in attire that mimicked Devimon's appearance. Even the middle finger of the right glove had been painted red and brown bandages were wrapped around the Kaiser's forearms. He was so paralyzed by terror that he could do nothing as he watched the Kaiser plunge the Lance of Longinus through Angemon's side. The entry was diagonal and pointed upwards in such a way that it would have penetrated Angemon's heart, and once the lance was yanked out the angel disintegrated into dust that floated off in the wind.

This time there were no feathers floating down to the ground, this time there was no egg materializing before him. As the Kaiser stalked off with a lance that still dripped blood Takeru raced towards the crucifix, hoping against all odds that it was just a dream, that the wooden cross would disappear when touched. But the solidity of it, the way a splinter worked its way into his finger as he touched the place of his digimon's death, the pain that splinter shot into his nerves... it was far too real. No nightmare he ever had was this vivid.

Takeru sank to the salt-encrusted ground and hugged his knees close. This was wrong... very wrong. Closing his eyes against the visions of death, the Child of Hope tried to think despite his need to cry. No one was here to comfort him, and he'd have to figure a way out of here on his own.

Ken wasn't the Kaiser anymore, and was likely never to go back again. They had been sitting together and talking until that strange digimon came, and then this happened. Did the fog the creature exhaled have some hallucinogenic qualities? Was the good Ken he liked to think of as a friend out here too? Akiyama said that there was something haunting Ken, that had caused the wounds the raven-haired boy carried. Was that incarnation of the Kaiser the codewalker Akiyama mentioned? If so, how was that possible?

Wait, he remembered something Taichi was talking about long ago. Sora had been cloned by some evil digimon or another, he couldn't quite recall which. But cloning was a very real possibility in the Digital World. Maybe this was a clone? But why, and why was it a codewalker? Didn't those come into being when a human was killed in this world? If so, then what happened at the ziggurat made sense at last. Everything was falling into place.

The forest of wooden stakes and corpses melted away when Takeru opened his eyes again, leaving only the monochromatic salted plains and overcast skies. Takeru rose from where he was sitting and took a good look around. Everything was the same: grey, featureless, lifeless. Why he walked in the direction he did, he wasn't sure but it seemed as good an option as anything else.

It seemed like he wandered forever before he found something that stood up sharp and proud against the landscape. It was the same white lance used to kill Angemon, and with resolve set in his face he yanked it from the ground. He was going to find Ken, hopefully before the codewalker got to the boy. How, Takeru didn't know, but nothing got in his way when he set his mind on something.

Takeru resumed his wandering despite the hopelessness of the situation he was in. Once again it seemed as if he was wandering for an eternity before he paused to look at the lance in his hand that still dripped with blood. Damned if he knew why it was doing that, but he didn't particularly care at this moment. An idea formed in his mind, something about how he had found the lance, and he acted upon it.

Light from an unidentifiable source seemed to glint off of the lance's polished shaft as he lifted it high in the air with the bleeding point aimed downwards, intensifying when he struck the lance into the ground and the dead grey world shattered like glass around him. In its place was darkness once again, but this time the darkness was relieved in places by flickering torches situated on the corridor walls every two meters. The lance was still in his hand, and he gripped it tighter just in case something unpleasant was going to show up.

He passed empty rooms, many of which had frescos, murals, and bas reliefs depicting battle scenes. Scrawled on the walls were codes that looked to be somewhat familiar, but he wasn't concerned with that. There was all the time in the world to think about it after he found Ken and would leave this nightmare world. Takeru wasn't quite sure where he should be going, but the corridors at least offered better options than the dead grey world he left. Thankfully, he could hear something fall close by.

The sound led him to a chamber that was bigger than the others and better lit. It took but a moment for his mind to register just what was going on. Oh, the Kaiser's back was to him and the wings obscured his view, but he did notice the figure struggling futilely in the Kaiser's arms and it was just enough to trigger his actions. Takeru pressed the bleeding point of the holy lance against the base of the Kaiser's skull. "Step away from him. Now."

A growl rose from the Kaiser's throat at the unwelcome intrusion. He was certain Takaishi wouldn't have figured out a way out of the hell of his making, or into here for that matter. That the blond had the gall to interrupt him while he was forcing himself on Ken was also somewhat surprising. However, he could turn this around to his advantage just by teleporting behind Takaishi and knocking that lance from the boy's hands.

It was a simple process in the Digital World, really... so simple he was surprised how few creatures used it. Just imagine where you wanted to be, focus solely on that image, and you were there. But there was something infringing on this ability which the Kaiser couldn't quite pinpoint, and it was becoming quite infuriating. Then, somehow, it seemed as if an invisible wall of fire was trapping him in place and was quickly closing in on him. He couldn't move, couldn't breathe, couldn't figure out what was happening to him.

Then, as quickly as he had come into being, the codewalker simply deconstructed and vanished.

Takeru stared at where the Kaiser had been standing, wondering what had just happened. From the point when he had pressed the lance's point to the Kaiser's skull to when the codewalker simply disappeared, only the span of a minute passed. Oh, he thought his eyes were playing tricks on him when the image of the Kaiser seemed to flicker briefly, but that was quite unexpected. Shifting his gaze to the boy who was staring back at him in astonishment, the blond sighed and lowered his lance before extending a hand to help Ken up.

Ken hesitated a moment before taking the offered hand and allowing Takeru to pull him up from the altar his doppelganger had pressed him against before... no, he wasn't going to think about it. Not anymore. He was tired and didn't want to deal with what was done to him ever again.

Frowning slightly as Ken flinched at his touch when he reached out to brush away a lock of hair that was shielding the boy's face, Takeru withdrew his hand to pull his lance into an upright position. For some reason holding the holy lance was rather comforting at the moment. In an attempt to process this all Takeru cocked his head as he watched his friend shrug on the remains of a shirt that had been ripped and tossed aside. "You do know you can talk to me about anything, right?"

"I know. I'll explain everything later," Ken whispered as he stepped slowly towards the room's exit, his pace due more to his thoughts than anything else. Really, why had Takeru come out here and rescue him? What happened to make his doppelganger disappear like that? It was something to ponder.

No more words were exchanged between the two as they left the complex both Ken's psyche and the Kaiser's manipulations had constructed and returned to the waking world.


Such a simple little thing it was, and easily breakable when one thought along such lines. The digital egg that now occupied the Tamer's lap was simply grey in tone with splatters of black that were few and far between. What exactly it would hatch into, Ryo really didn't know, but all he could be certain of that its evolutionary path would be that of a low-powered virus. It would retain no memories of what it had been or of its purpose when it was the codewalker, Osamu's program made the wipe complete.

With a quick command to Savali, the tsukaimon took the egg from his hands and flew off to relocate it to the place where all viruses inevitably were hatched. Now he was alone to handle what was certain to be an inflammatory reunion. Lovely. And even better yet, the boys were awakening now.

Ken was the first to sit up from where he had been laid out, his eyes instantly falling upon a figure that was far too familiar. His body stiffened as the person's very presence elicited from him a flood of emotions he fought to hold back. The feelings of abandonment, anger, depression, so many others that he couldn't name, they all presented themselves at once. But the reminder of Takeru's presence rose above those emotions and Takeru definitely didn't need to see this.

Ryo sighed to himself as he allowed the boy to jerk him up from his seat and drag him out of the room. After all, he certainly deserved everything his former Jogress partner would throw at him. Once they were in the solitude of the study, Ken stepped away and glared at Ryo.

"Why did you leave me when I needed you," the raven-haired boy started as he watched the Tamer settle into a chair. Ryo had never been very hard to read, but that had been back before the Tamer left him. Now he couldn't tell what his former friend was feeling or thinking at all and it was somewhat disconcerting. In what might have been an attempt to escape his heated glare, the Tamer looked away and brushed back a lock of hair that escaped the spikes.

"I didn't exactly have a choice."

"Oh really? I suppose your job and status as the last of your kind were far more important for you to concern yourself than with someone like me."

Ryo flinched at the particularly sharp words Ken threw into his face. Savali was right, he had no chance to redeem himself to his only friend and Jogress partner. Well, he'd just give Ken what answers he was allowed to bestow before letting the boy walk out of his life. "I don't suppose you remember what happened after we battled Milleniumon, nor am I allowed to explain in length. But afterwards you became so ill that all of us were emotional wrecks. I had to sell my own freedom in exchange for the power to heal you. They wouldn't let me go back with you to Earth, they insisted I sever all my emotional ties and concentrate on the tasks they required me to undertake. Do you have any idea what it's like being told that you couldn't go back home and couldn't be with people you care about?"

"Who are 'They', Akiyama, and why would 'They' have any power over your life," Ken queried as he folded his arms across his chest. He really didn't like this situation, nor did he like the forces that drew them far enough apart that he was here now trying to find justification for being abandoned and turning into what he did. Trying to find something or someone else to blame for his fall from grace.

"There are powers far stronger than anyone could guess at work in the Digital World," was Ryo's reply. He never did like talking about the Four Holy Beasts, and was certain there was some law or another out there that said he couldn't speak of them anyway. "They're the ones I went to when I was desperate and afraid of losing you. I'm not really allowed to talk much about it."

The silence that fell between them was uncomfortable in its intensity. Sighing as the strength of his emotions managed to taper off, Ken leaned against one of the bookshelves. The knowledge that someone who was once as free as Ryo was now sworn to serve higher powers weighed heavily on him. Despite the job the Tamer performed, Ryo had been free of such bonds, and now...

"The phantom that had been haunting you... it's been neutralized and won't hurt you ever again," the young man offered at last, hoping it would at least loosen the tensions between them. Unfortunately, Ken seemed to freeze at the very mention of the codewalker. "When all this is over, I'll tell you everything you want to know," Ryo smiled slightly in what he assumed was a reassuring gesture as he rose from his chair to deactivate the summons light that began blinking the moment he brought up the subject of the codewalker. He never did like the Holy Beasts' sense of timing either.

"I'm being summoned again," Ryo muttered dourly as he strode up to the doorway. "I'm sure you can recall or figure out where everything is, so feel free to take anything you need."

Ken simply nodded as he watched his first Jogress partner shrug on a robe over the khakis and blue shirt that was once Ryo's standard attire. Ryo had cared enough about him to give up the freedom that the Tamer considered as precious as life itself, he couldn't hate his friend after learning that. But there seemed to be something missing out of all this.

"Ryo, wait..."

The Tamer turned back to look at him in curiosity. "Yes, Ken?"

"I'll come visit sometime," Ken smiled as a grin of relief flashed over the Tamer's features. "If you're willing to have me over."

"Of course."



Takeru attempted to curl up into a tighter ball despite Patamon's pawing at him in an attempt to get him to wake up. Taking care of Ken during the raven-haired boy's recovery had been tiring and ended up drawing more hours from his usual sleep schedule than he was used to dealing with. Right now he at least had the time to make up for that.

Unfortunately, Patamon wasn't going to allow him that for the moment. The little digimon continued pawing at his human partner until Takeru sat up in bed and mock-glowered at him.

With a yawn the boy stretched, and in doing so he noticed the little metal thing that was clenched in the same hand he held a holy lance in during that horrifying nightmare. Surprise rose in Takeru's face when he realized that he was holding a genuine tag in his hand that was much like the ones he and his group had in their first endeavors in the Digital World. It hadn't been there when he first passed out.

Patamon noticed his partner's questioning look and practically beamed. "The Tamer said it was needed to find Ken in the dream world, and since you were unconscious too he needed you to point him to the codewalker. So he gave that to you hoping it would act as a divining rod or something. And-" the little digimon wheezed a little before taking another breath and continuing. "He said that if you pointed the dream world embodiment of that at the codewalker, he could set his trap and reconfigure it. The walker thing, I mean."

So that's what the lance really was, and why the Kaiser seemed to just disappear. It made some sense, at least. "So this is Ken's?"

The little digimon nodded vigorously. "Yeah! The Tamer said to give it to Ken when you wake up. Oh! And there's no bloodstains on your hat anymore! It's on the dresser if you want it."

Shaking his finger before his partner's face, Takeru reached out to grab the fisher's hat and throw it on. "We do not mock the hat."

Shortly after having straightened out the room a bit, Takeru wandered out into the living room with a Patamon firmly planted on the top of his head. Ken was standing before the framed photos on the mantleplace and was dressed in a Tamachi school uniform that looked like it had never been ripped. There seemed to be a look of sadness as Ken's eyes lingered on the images of a far more innocent childhood.

"Say Ken, ready to go," the blond asked hesitantly, slightly relieved when the sadness seemed to disappear. "We have one last Holy Stone to protect, and Daisuke's probably besides himself right now trying to find you."

Ken nodded before moving to pick up one of the framed images. It was a small one, really, but it meant much more to him than its size would indicate. Set against a background of a wildflower field was a girl with white hair sitting next to a teenaged boy who was grinning at the camera. In the safety of this boy's embrace was another boy that was much younger, who glanced over at the girl in a lazy manner that suggested that he would much rather take a nap.

It was something taken on his birthday, Ken recalled as he took it out of its frame and slipped it into the inner pocket of his uniform jacket. Ryo wouldn't mind, and it was from one of the few happy days he had in his life. With a silent farewell to his innocence, the boy strode out of the cottage with his friend in tow.

Hidden in the tree branches that loomed over the cottage was a pair of glittering yellow eyes set in a body that could best be described as a ball of purple and white fur. The tsukaimon watched the boys progress down the river, thinking to himself as he did so.

Well, things certainly turned out much better than he anticipated.


Ajora: I would have gotten this out sooner, but the idea for a sequel fic was nagging me and I've been spending some time fleshing that one out. And yes, there will be an epilogue that will lead up to the new story in this universe.

The Lance of Longinus was the lance that a Roman centurion used to poke at Jesus during the crucifixion to prove that the guy was indeed dead, although in certain variations it's said that Jesus asked the centurion to put him out of his misery. Regardless, it is said that whoever possessed the spear and understood its powers for serving good and evil could conquer the world, though anyone who dropped it would die soon afterwards. The spear is also known alternatively as the Holy Lance or Bleeding Lance.


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