Act II, Scene I
by Ajora Fravashi
*Disclaimer - I don't own Digimon. Toei/Bandai does.
*Erm, I think I should have given a slight-Joushiro warning ahead of time. Sorry. I also apologize in advance for the medical jargon ^_^. Can't you tell I'm a science fan first and foremost? Oh, and Daisuke has bad language in this, but it's to be expected given what he's found out.
Things tended to be quiet between them. It had to be, as neither were
much for small-talk, and any discussion between them was usually
restricted to theories and information. Koushiro liked it that way,
and he liked it when the person he was talking to was capable of
keeping up with him.
Jou sat on his bed, with Sakimoto Kageko's medical files scattered
around him and several books stacked to one side that Koushiro had no
interest in plowing through. Medicine was Jou's domain, not his, and
he preferred to keep it that way. This did not prevent him from
picking up bits of trivia when Jou explained something or another,
The taller of the two nudged his glasses back up his nose with shaky
fingers as he closed the final folder. From everything he had
researched and analyzed since Koushiro handed him the files, the
situation looked to be very bleak. Personally, he wasn't all that
surprised that the patient died in surgery. A pessimistic voice within
him rattled on about how he really should tell them all to just give
up, that Ichijouji couldn't be saved. There were too many things that
could go wrong, and that idea alone was distressing enough. Yet no one
who had ever thought of medicine as a career wanted to be the
harbinger of a death sentence. It was very discouraging, but he would
have to try. He may not have known Ken all that well, but it was
someone he knew, and the thought of Ken dying on the operating table
was enough to put him into the emotional state he was trying to hide
Unfortunately, that wasn't working very well, since Koushiro glanced
at his shaking hands and probably figured out what he was feeling
Koushiro needed to know just how bad the situation was, then perhaps
the other boy would be able to find a way out of this particular hell.
"I'm not making any guarantees, and I doubt it'll even work," Jou
paused to lick at lips that had gone dry with nervousness before
continuing. Oh, how he hated being a pessimist. "But we can try. Tell
Gennai that we'll need a myelogram, ECG, and X-rays taken before we
can begin. The basics of what we would need to do is perform a
laminectomy, which means we'll need the proper equipment. The
laminectomy would get the bones that cover the medulla oblongata out
of the way. Then it gets a lot more complex. From the looks of
Sakimoto's files, I'm running on the assumption that while embedded in
the cord, the Dark Seed takes a shape similar to an astrocytoma. It's
a kind of tumor of the nervous cells."
Koushiro winced. So he may not have known much about surgery, but
Jou's suggestions just sounded painful. "I take it we'll be dousing
him in anaesthesia beforehand?"
"Only way to do it," the other offered with a dry, humorless smirk. He
would just have to present the facts first, and address his feelings
about the matter later. "The problem with the Dark Seed in Sakimoto
was that its fibers were too deeply interwoven with those of her
spinal cord. Also, by the time she was operated upon, the Dark Seed
had converted the calcium in her vertebrae into a kind of shell and
that the removal of the infected bone left her without the C1 and C2
vertebrae. I'm assuming it's done the same thing in Ichijouji, but I
would like a few myelograms and so on just to be sure.
"So the situation is as follows: 1) If it's at all possible, new
vertebrae would have to be carved from surgical coral beforehand to
replace the infected bones. The problem with this is that Ichijouji's
system might reject the coral. 2) As much as the Dark Seed may look
and act like an astrocytoma, it's not one and will have to be removed
in an entirely different manner. On a similar vein, the Dark Seed's
fibers are too deeply interwoven into the immediate area on the spinal
cord. 3) Even if, by some miracle, it would be possible to yank the
thing out, the nervous tissue would scar, and that kind of tissue
scarring hampers the healing process and would probably leave him
paralyzed. And that's if we're lucky. I probably haven't touched on
all the bases, but that should give you an idea of just how bad the
A grunt of annoyance rose from the red-haired hacker as he crossed his
arms before him and peeled his eyes from Jou to glance at his computer
screen. Akiyama had entrusted him with a puzzle to solve. He was not
going to back down until that puzzle was answered and the Dark Seed
gone for good. His vision blurred a bit as he withdrew into his own
mind. There had to be an answer, somewhere. But how...
The clatter of hard plastic jewelcases snapped him back to reality,
and he glanced back to the other Chosen Child who had inadvertently
knocked over a pile of CDs sent to him from a pen-pal in the Americas.
Jou was really far too distressed about this for his own good, and
Koushiro thought it would be time soon enough to try and calm his
friend down. Jou picked up one of them with hands that were still
shaking and stared at its cover in curiosity.
"This is a bizarre picture," Jou stated as he studied it with more
care, distracted for the time being by the sheer abnormality of it.
"There's a hairless lab mouse with a human ear growing out of its
Koushiro blinked at him, momentarily unsettled at the oddity of the CD
booklet Jou was showing to him. The CD itself was unimpressive, it was
just by some band that Wallace seemed to think he would like for some
reason or another. But that image of the mouse was somehow familiar...
Then, as if struck by divine inspiration, Koushiro's face lit up as he
remembered just why the mouse was familiar. There was an answer after
all, and it had only recently been revealed by the Vacanti brothers in
the United States. He still had the news articles somewhere, and was
certain he could dig up more detailed reports on the internet.
With a pleasant grin at his friend, the Child of Knowledge waved Jou
over to the desk to look at his screen. "I do believe you've found our
Still a bit out of sorts, Jou joined his friend at the computer desk
and glanced at the screen in hopes of seeing something that would
solve all their problems. What there was, however, were several
windows in the process of loading a few news articles. Medical news
articles, and what interested him most was how one of the brothers
listed discovered primitive cells much like fetal stem cells but much
more capable of surviving for long periods of time. These were
nicknamed "spore-like" cells and were capable of growing into
whatever was required.
Sighing in relief, Jou settled on the chair Koushiro abandoned and
took a closer look at them. Given time, he could grow new vertebrae
to replace those that had been infected, and if they were implanted
with a batch of autologous spore-like cells, there would be no danger
of Ken's body rejecting the new parts.
Deceptively slender yet strong fingers began to knead the tense
muscles in his shoulders and neck, and he looked up quizzically at the
red-haired hacker standing over him. The smile Koushiro gave him was
soft, almost concerned.
Jou closed his eyes as he returned the smile. "Yes, thank you."
He was always secondary, no matter where he was there was always
someone more important. He wanted to be important and had hoped things
would change in his favor in the Digital World. As if intending to
prove him wrong, no one even payed attention to him in the Digital
World. He was always "Ryo's friend" and immediately told of how Ryo
saved the Digital World before. And then it happened again after the
group affectionately called the "Tag Tamers" defeated Milleniumon.
Even then, he was still a sidekick to the illustrious hero who saved
the Digital World not once, but twice. It wouldn't have bugged him so
much if Piccolomon and everyone else would stop rubbing his nose into
it. The only person who didn't was Ryo, and Ryo had been oblivious to
These thoughts stayed with him even now, as he and Wormmon strode down
the halls of some place or another that didn't seem terribly
interesting when he had been told about it. When he first voiced those
worries, Ryo had simply told him to ignore it. After all, he was very
important to Ryo and Wormmon, and that was all that mattered.
Supposedly. He shouldn't have been so ungrateful for all the kindness
his friend showed him, but he was entitled to a little selfishness.
Ken paused as he noticed Ryo and V-mon running towards them. That was
unusual. His Jogress partner stopped before him, taking a moment to
catch a breath before proceeding.
"Hey, remember when we defeated Millenniumon," the Tamer asked, then
reached up to brush back a stray lock of brown hair that had fallen
over his forehead. At Ken's nod, he continued. "I thought we sealed
and neutralized him, but he's back and we have to go see Akira now to
see what he has to say about it."
Something rubbed against his leg, and it took Ken a moment to notice
that it was Wormmon. This attempt to soothe him was something he was
used to, but the idea that Moon=Millenniumon was back was very
He allowed himself to be dragged elsewhere with Wormmon in tow. They
eventually met up with Akira, or Gennai as the Tamer was known as
while under the disguise of an old man, at some place called Sanctuary
Lake. Pleasantries were exchanged, but something struck him as wrong.
Wasn't Akira supposed to be retired now?
When he asked the other Tamer, Akira's disguise was deactivated and he
was stunned by how haggard the Tamer looked. Akira stretched out his
wrist, revealing a silver ring inscribed with the runes of the Digital
World. "They won't let me go," the goggle-wearing Tamer stated
with a mix of despair and acceptance. "Not until it is gone."
Bewildered, Ken looked up at Ryo for anything that might decode
Akira's cryptic response. Ryo's expression was carefully shielded,
however, which meant that he was going to have to ask for an
"Millenniumon seems to be quite taken with you, Akiyama," Akira began,
suddenly grinning like a maniac when he had been sullen only moments
before. "He keeps coming back for your head. How many times will he
have to return before he finally gets it?"
Ryo's grip on his hand tightened, and he gave it a reassuring squeeze.
Some people had recurring inner demons to deal with, Millenniumon had
become a very real demon that tormented his friend's dreams in the
darkest nights. "This will be the last time, hopefully. What's the
Akira led them to a room that had a map of the Digital World laid out,
then pointed at the broad expanse of desert close to the cottage Ryo
built a while ago. "Piccolomon's identified Moon=Millenniumon in this
area. The Holy Beasts wants you to take care of him before he presents
a serious threat to their power over the Digital World. The Holy
Beasts are 'They Who Must Be Obeyed', after all. Fail to obey, and..."
the Tamer extended his arm before them, wriggling it a bit so they
would take notice of just how tight the ring was. "Well, no one fails
to obey once they stick one of these on you."
Ken stared at the ring in fascination. It looked like a holy ring in
form, but it was made of the wrong material and looked to be made only
for humans. Was it possible to make something like that, but for
digimon? What did it do anyway?
Before his thoughts could proceed any further, Ryo bade farewell to
Akira and dragged him out of the room.
They stayed at Sanctuary Lake that night, and he didn't think any more
about that strange ring. In the morning they were off to the desert,
their digimon partners bouncing with joy at the prospect of going into
battle once again. On the way, Ryo told him everything about the Holy
Beasts, explaining that they were the hegemony whose influence spread
across the extent of the Digital World. They were the ones who brought
Chosen Children and Tamers to this world. They also couldn't care less
what happened to their humans since every Chosen Child could be
replaced. They were the ones who ordered the humans around to fight
battles they refused to dirty their own hands with.
Something within him wanted to rebel against this, against the way the
Holy Beasts used his kind at their whim. The night he and Ryo won the
battle with Moon=Millenniumon, he scribbled out a note to himself in
hopes that it would help him remember once the Holy Beasts had his
memories locked away. This note was to be given to Wormmon with the
order that Wormmon was going to give it to him when he returned to the
On this note he scribbled out the words from Ryo that had become a
mantra to him, then under those lines...
"If there are lapses in my memory, They are responsible. Some
day a rebel will rise up against Their reign." Just before he sealed
the note completely, he recalled Akira's appearance, and opened the
note again to add something else: "I refuse to become Their slave as
They have done to others of my kind."
Retribution. While he was the Kaiser, his game of conquest had been an
unconscious act of retribution against the Holy Beasts. While he was
the Kaiser, he couldn't remember why he wanted retribution or who They
were, but somehow his mind had associated Them with the native
population of the Digital World. They were likely to enslave
him if he did not enslave Them first. That was his act of rebellion.
Stupid of him to have written that note so cryptically. Sighing, Ken
opened his eyes to a room that was only illuminated by the soft glow
of a single nightlight. Takeru slept curled up besides him, lips
slightly parted and moving ever so minutely with each breath. He
reached out to brush away the strands of golden hair that fell over
Takeru's cheek. The Child of Hope was really quite adorable and looked
so innocent in slumber. He liked that, perhaps more than he should.
Ken withdrew his hand as his thoughts wandered someplace he had been
trying to avoid since the incident in the desert. What the
manifestation of the Kaiser did to him suggested that he was certainly
capable of such violence. Of course, it also suggested something else.
He had never been attracted to the opposite sex, and never really
found them all that interesting to begin with. Nevertheless, he was
still young and perhaps that would change in time. But somehow he
doubted that. Was he actually gay? Somehow that neither surprised or
worried him. He had spent too much of his life trying to be someone he
wasn't, and he was sick of hiding from himself. If he was what he
suspected he was, so be it and screw anyone who wanted him to be
otherwise. By some miracle or another, Takeru liked him enough to want
to kiss him; and once he ground out his phobias for the moment, he
enjoyed the kisses that followed afterwards.
Telling his parents would probably have to wait until he moved out,
but he rarely conversed about his personal life to them anyway. The
other children were likely to find out on their own if he wasn't
careful, though that hardly worried him. Miyako had probably read
enough shoujo manga and most likely wouldn't be surprised. Iori he
wasn't sure about, but that much was to be expected. Hikari probably
wouldn't care since it didn't involve her. He was unsure of Daisuke,
but the goggle-boy was hardly the type to shun him just because of his
orientation. Daisuke held friendship in too high a regard to drop him
because of something like that. Knowing the other boy, Daisuke would
probably even fully support him. It was so nice finally having friends
Before his thoughts could continue, he was interrupted by a sharp pang
of hunger. Certain that he hadn't eaten for a while and would have to
amend that, Ken rose from the futon he shared with Takeru and padded
past their sleeping digimon partners to exit the room. The oriental
architecture hinted that he was in the house under Sanctuary Lake.
Just wonderful, he had fainted again. Ken still remembered bits and
pieces of the layout and wasn't long in finding the kitchen. A
coffeemaker was active in keeping a half-empty pot warm, which
probably meant that Ryo was pulling an all-nighter. Ignoring it for
the moment, the boy dug into the pantry and drew out several rice
cakes. They would do for the moment.
Ken took a moment to pour an extra cup of coffee in case Ryo needed
it and strode off to the den that many Tamers before Ryo had used.
Studies, dens, libraries, and fireplaces, what was it about those that
made them absolutely required in the building of any structure used by
a Tamer? No Tamer dwelling he had ever been in was without at least
one of those, though he had heard that Oshiro's original house in a
snowy section of the Digital World held all three plus a fireplace
that made the others green with envy. Sanctuary Lake was Gennai's home
and had been passed down since Gennai's death from one Tamer to
another and was always used to harbor Chosen Children that were in
danger or needed a place to hide.
Ryo had been trying so hard to train him as a Tamer, going so far as
to introduce him into their oddball culture and introducing him to all
of those that were still around. But Ryo had been oblivious to the
pitying glances and condescending words they offered, though Ken was
made too aware that they did so because they knew he couldn't be one
of them. Years afterwards that nagged at the back of his mind,
taunting him with the fact that, if it wasn't for Wormmon's presence,
he would have been a genuine Tamer. That was eventually warped by the
Dark Seed and Oikawa's manipulations into resentment towards Wormmon.
The closest real Tamers got to a bond was the temporary bonds they
shared with at least two digimon over their lifespan, and even then it
was a rarity when those bonds reached the depth that the Chosen had
with their digimon partners.
He was tired of feeling the need to be something he wasn't. Why
couldn't he ever be satisfied with who he was?
The den was already open, and partially muted death metal music made a
feeble attempt to pound as it would were the volume any higher. The
current song was something in very bad English, by that band Ryo liked
because the group tended to do everything from neo-classical
symphonies to death metal to angsty romantic ballads. Ryo was also
fond of it because the band members tended to have their hair dyed
outrageous colors and one of them was a male crossdresser who had no
problem passing himself off as a woman. Of course, that last bit could
probably describe any number of other Japanese rock bands who had
never escaped the '80s.
The Tamer himself was seated at a computer and typing away on it, and
it wasn't until Ken cleared his throat that Ryo looked up and noticed
him. Ryo grinned tiredly at him, looking as if nothing had ever
happened to upset the Tamer.
"You're up now, good. Koushiro and Jou want to know if you're allergic
Ken blinked in mild surprise at that question. "Not to my knowledge.
What's this about?"
"They've figured a way to get that Dark Seed out of you, but need to
know what allergies you have so they can find some suitable
anaesthetics for the operation." Ryo rubbed at his bleary eyes before
taking a brief moment to send Ken's answer to Koushiro. He did so hate
all-nighters. "Surgery's the only way to go, apparently, but you'll be
out the whole time so you shouldn't be feeling much of anything."
Mixed feelings began to well up within the Child of Kindness at this
revelation. There was hope after all, but there were always risks that
came with surgery too. Knowing what he did about his own recurring
streak of bad luck, it was more likely than naught that things would
end up turning for the worse once he was put under the scalpel. Tack
on the fact that he had never been operated on before, he wasn't quite
sure what to think about all this. "Surgery? I've never..."
"Don't worry, we'll take care of it," the Tamer began nonchalantly as
he popped open the CD player and replaced the music disc with
something more soothing. Once done, he returned his attention to his
Jogress partner and eyed the steaming mug appreciatively. "Mind
sharing that coffee?"
Murmuring a quick thanks as Ken handed him the cup of coffee, Ryo took
a few sips before going into length about Jou and Koushiro's ideas,
detailing everything he could as he went along. While he didn't
understand half of the medical babble Jou messaged him with, he did
have an impeccable memory and recited it all without once referring to
his logs. At one point during his recitation, Ken settled on a clear
area on the desk and nibbled on one of the rice cakes. The questions
came the moment he finished.
"Vertebrae will take a while to build even if you do have a structure
on which the cells will grow. How do you plan to accelerate the growth
"Simple," a mischievous smirk quirked at his lips as Ryo said this. He
reached into one of the large pockets in his cargo pants and pulled
out several phials of a viscous fluid, reddish-brown in color. Then he
dragged out a clear plastic bag containing fine beige powder. "The red
stuff is wet-form nanotechnology. The dry beige stuff acts as a sort
of catalyst for them and the speed at which the red stuff works is
dependent on how much beige stuff is available. I've used these before
and they worked pretty well the first time."
It took more than a couple of seconds for Ken to regain his wits.
Nanotechnology was possible, and he'd read a few articles on it in the
past, but to think that examples of it actually existed and were shown
to him was astounding, to say the least. "How... where did you get
"Now now, if I told you the Holy Beasts would be breathing down my
neck again. I'll already be in more than enough trouble once all this
is over with. You're clever enough to figure it out on your own."
Ken grimaced. Trust Ryo to be infuriatingly cryptic when the Tamer
felt the need to. But Earth's technology just wasn't that advanced,
Ryo must have gotten it from elsewhere. Given that he had witnessed
evidence of other dimensions during the BelialVandemon battle, this
didn't surprise him. "I think I already have."
Grinning at this, Ryo set the phials and bag in an empty box to the
side. "Knew you would. I'll be heading out to take care of Jou's
shopping list, would you like to contact anyone in the real world
while I'm out?"
"Contact? Isn't that a bit dangerous?"
"Nah," Ryo reached over and pointed to something on the laptop's
monitor. It was just a simple little icon of what looked to be a
mirror. "To anyone trying to trace this connection, it'll look to be
originating from over a hundred different areas of the Digital World.
One would have to be very patient to find the real one. Not even
Etemon or MugenDramon were able to track it down with their impressive
networks. The computer has a microphone and speakers, so you can
simulate a phone call if you like. There's also a digital camera that
you can hook up to the computer and use to create a hologram if you
feel like it. Anything else?"
Ken simply shook his head, more bemused than bewildered by the sheer
amount of technology at the Tamer's disposal. He watched as his former
Jogress partner rose from the chair and dragged along the coffee mug.
"Oh, one last thing. Savali's out spying for me. When he comes back
he'll likely be in a bad mood and will be more than happy to take it
out on you. Just ignore him and he sometimes gets bored and goes
away." With that said, Ryo waved goodnight to him and slipped out of
The boy wasted no time once Ryo was out to use the computer to his
advantage. The others were probably worried about him, and he hated it
when people worried over someone like him. The first number he had the
computer dial was the one to the Ichijouji apartment, and he spent the
next few minutes reassuring his parents that he was safe and that they
shouldn't concern themselves over him too much. Once that was taken
care of to the best of his abilities, Ken dialed up a second number.
Much to his surprise, Daisuke jumped on the phone the moment the first
ring finished. Ken barely said one word of greeting before the
goggle-boy began frantically ranting at him.
"Man, Ken, where've you been?! We've been looking all over for you!
And we can't find Takeru either. Hikari and Iori's worried sick about
him, and I think Miyako's roped that Takenouchi chick into scouring
Tokyo with her for both of you right now."
"Daisuke, listen, Takeru and I are safe. We're probably in the safest
place we can be that still has a breathable atmosph-"
"That's nice," Daisuke cut in, obviously impatient. "But dude, where
are you so I can see that for myself?"
Ken sighed and began to massage his temples. He wanted to tell his
friend, but there was so much at stake right now. "I can't tell you
yet, there's someone who wants something I have and will go through
any lengths to get it. That's why I'm in hiding."
There was a pause at the other end of the line that lasted longer than
he liked. Soon enough, however, he finally got a response out of
Daisuke. "Shit, it's that jerk Demon, isn't it? Man, I knew we should
have gone to hunt him down right after BelialVandemon. Why won't these
fuckers just leave you alone?"
He simply gave a noncommittal grunt at this and let Daisuke blow off
steam for the moment. Once the goggle-boy's temper wound down, Daisuke
asked how he was and if things were going alright. He didn't want to
burden the other boy with his fears about the Dark Seed blooming, so
he said nothing about it. He knew that his "I'm okay" was hardly
something Daisuke would accept, but Daisuke did not press on the
matter. Nevertheless, there was something else he wanted out of the
"Daisuke? What would you think if I said I was... um... different than
most other boys?"
There was another pause, this one shorter. When Daisuke answered, the
boy's voice was calmer, more serious than usual. "You're my best
friend, Ken, I don't think that would matter to me. What's this
Suppressing the urge to fidget, Ken steeled himself and continued. "I
think I'm gay."
Once again to Ken's surprise, he heard a short laugh at the other end
of the connection. "Oh man, is that all? I thought you were gonna say
you like to dress in skirts or something. Then I'd have to turn you
over to Miyako and Mimi."
"Um, no. I'm not that different," the raven-haired boy muttered
dourly. Miyako mentioned once how cute he would look in a dress and
if he would mind if she and Mimi dolled him up, and he had yet to
forgive her for that. He really didn't think he was that
effeminate. Was he?
"Thought not," Daisuke responded, chuckling lightly as he did so.
"I'm thinking you figured this out because you like someone like that.
So, who's the lucky guy?"
The urge to fidget became overwhelming, and Ken began tapping on the
desk's surface as his nervousness increased. "Promise me you won't
"I promise. I'd do that pinky-swear thing too, but it's kinda hard
doing that over the phone, y'know?"
The words that followed were rushed. "It's Takeru. He likes me too,
so we've kinda gotten together now."
"Takeru," the goggle-boy's voice held a note of... what was it,
satisfaction? Before Ken could ask about it, Daisuke continued. "How
did I know this was coming? Man, I wish Miyako was here right now."
Daisuke's voice now sounded smug. "We had a running bet on how long
it'd take you two to get together and start dating. I win!"
Ken merely stared blankly at the computer's screen, too stunned to
think much of anything coherent. Had the mutual attraction between him
and Takeru really been that obvious? He was still fishing around for
words when he heard something crash at the other end of the line. The
panicked voices of Daisuke's family soon followed, and he could hear
Jun yelling something about monsters.
"Listen, I've gotta go and get XV-mon into action," his friend began
frantically before he could so much as ask what was going on. "Been
nice talking, but I'm getting a serious sense of deja vu with that
MarineDevimon flailing around outside the apartment building. No
matter what happens, don't come out of hiding. We'll take care of it."
With that, Daisuke hung up.
Moments after Ken heard the dialtone, he finally broke the connection.
Why was a digimon, probably from the Demon Corps, attacking Odaiba
when the Demon Corps was said to have something capable of hunting him
down? There might be a possibility that they were hunting for hostages
to draw him out, but the other Chosen would put up too much of a fight
to place themselves in a position to be captured. Wouldn't they?
Sighing, the Child of Kindness slumped back against the chair. The
feeling of helplessness weighed heavily on him, and despair began to
well up to drown him. He should be out in Odaiba helping Daisuke with
the monsters, but it was too dangerous. Demon wanted the Dark Seed and
probably knew that making an attack near where his friends lived might
draw him out to surrender, but even if he were to surrender, he didn't
have the energy anymore to walk around without needing to rest after
an hour. He was so tired nowadays, so very tired.
There are always casualties in war, sacrifices always had to be made.
So be it. He was so damn tired. Soon it would be time to sleep.
Ajora: Um, the Millenniumon thing... You have to feel sorry for Ryo,
really, as Millenniumon is the final boss in every game Ryo's been in
so far ^^;, and he outright taunts Ryo in the first few minutes
of Tag Tamers. Poor boy, he has his own Devimon to haunt him.