Act III, Scene I
by Ajora Fravashi

*Disclaimer - I don't own Digimon. Toei/Bandai does. And Quest/Atlus wants me to stop pestering them about rereleasing Tactics Ogre and making a playstation version of Ogre Battle 64, so I don't own that series either.


Ryo sighed miserably as he chucked another pebble out the open glass door of the second floor sunroom that was home to Kageko's little forest of potted plants. The orders came as he knew they would. Unfortunately, he hadn't counted on them to be as severe as they turned out to be. Ken was his best friend and what the Holy Beasts were asking him to do after the D-1 Tournament and all the unpleasantness was straightened out was nothing short of betrayal.

Betrayal was necessary, Zhuqiaomon stated. With all the great evils of the Digital World neutralized, the population would become stagnant. Most monsters existed purely for battle, they needed a sense of purpose to be able to live in happiness. The boy with the Dark Seed might provide an interesting countermeasure for stagnation. After all, once the host was corrupted the Dark Seed would live in harmony with its host. The only problem with this was that the host could never be happy. Suffering was necessary, the Dark Seed couldn't bloom if it didn't have the positive attributes of its host to feed upon.

They wanted to use Ken as a puppet, though Ryo didn't know exactly how the plan would be pulled off. As far as he could tell, they wanted to let the Seed corrupt his friend's soul, keep him miserable, and let whatever Ken would become to do as he wished in the Digital World. All for the sake of preventing stagnation. It made Ryo sick just thinking of it.

Worse, Zhuqiaomon wanted him to be the one to take Ken's crest and tag, and send the boy back home with faulty memories to fester for awhile. Then they wanted him to give up V-mon and the others, wipe the little digimons' memories, and stick them under a digimental. Ryo was reminded that corruption was necessary to keep the Dark Seed from blooming. It was all the hope he had to keep his friend alive.

Strange, that. When he had originally gone to the Holy Beasts in hopes that they could help him heal the boy when Ken was first hit with the Dark Seed, they gave him an elixir that would eliminate the progress of Ken's illness and pull him back to health. Ryo hadn't realized then that this was all it could do. So here he was, doing everything the Holy Beasts asked of him just to keep Ken alive. Even now he was only on a short break before the next level of the D-1 Tournament commenced. Three more levels, three more days until he would have to act on Their orders.

If he did not comply, the Dark Seed would end up devouring Ken's soul and bloom into another Moon=Millenniumon. If he did, he would be betraying his only living friend. If he did not, Zhuqiaomon would stick a silver ring on him and make him do it anyway.

He would have to do as the Holy Beasts wished, even if the mere thought was making him feel like shooting himself. But no, They'd end up finding someone else to do it instead. Oh, he was going to hate himself for this.

Sighing at whatever had caused things to go so wrong, Ryo turned back to re-enter the house. This was supposed to be their house, but Kageko was dead and soon Ken would probably not come anymore. Past the sliding glass doors was a corridor that lead to the bathroom on one side, with Kageko's bedroom at the other side. This was flanked by his own bedroom, which was in turn followed by Ken's. No one went into Kageko's room anymore, and soon enough Ken's room wouldn't be used anymore either. He would be all alone without even V-mon for company.

Quickly he strode past the rooms and down the stairs. Even without sparing a glance at the TV screen that had been dragged before the fireplace, he could tell what Ken was playing just by the background music. Tactics Ogre, wasn't it? Osamu would kill him if the elder Ichijouji knew he got Ken hooked on a strategy game.

He remembered the day he had first introduced Ken to the game. It was innocent enough, of course, but that was the day after Osamu had kissed him. An experiment, the elder Ichijouji said, simply an experiment. Nothing personal. Yet that experiment was the clue that was finally beaten into his dense head and forced him to realize that Osamu might have had another motive for being so friendly around him when the boy refused to so much as talk to any lesser being. It was bewildering; and before he knew it, he had peeled himself from the other boy's arms, said something stupid about needing to be someplace else at the moment, and took off.

That had to have been one of the most astronomically stupidest things he had ever done. The day afterwards he went back to visit and hopefully apologize for taking off like that. But Ken was the only one home and he ended up dragging out the playstation to show Ken his new game. All the while, once Ken had mastered the system with a speed even he was unable to match, he had rambled on about how complicated humans were. Amidst his chattering were rhetorical questions of just how Kageko was going to beat him should he tell her, what was he going to do about Osamu now that their friendship had taken an unexpected turn. Was Osamu mad at him for running away? Would it be wise to tell Kageko now since Kageko was the closest thing to a girlfriend he had? Why did things have to be so complicated?

Ken hadn't offered much, of course. How could the boy have since this was all well beyond Ken's experience? Just a few questions, a smile, a nod, and reassurances that it couldn't be all that bad. But Ken at least listened, which was more than a lot of people would give him. Ken always listened to him, which was something he valued quite a bit. And what a stupid fool he had been, for the next day, before he could manage to apologize to Osamu in person, he had been told of Osamu's death. It had been too late, and he couldn't bring himself to go to the funeral.

Ken was the one friend he had left, and the Holy Beasts wanted to use his last living friend for their own ends regardless of whether Ken wanted to do as they wished or not. He really did not want to lose the bond they had, and yet it was necessary to at least keep the boy alive long enough for him to find a solution that would eliminate the Dark Seed permanently. But he had a little time, at least. It would all happen only after the D-1 Tournament.

Just a little time, but it was something.


There was something deliciously ironic about the fact that the Kaiser might have done more damage than the Holy Beasts expected once Oikawa decided to use someone already corrupted and easily bent to his whims. If they had known that Oikawa would develop the dark towers that presented such a threat to their powers, the Holy Beasts might not have been so quick to pick out Ken for their experiment in keeping the Digital World bristling with activity. Perhaps fate, if there was such a thing, thought it would be a grand idea to focus all the efforts of Oikawa, Vandemon, and the Holy Beasts upon the one child with a Dark Seed that still lived. Somehow Ryo doubted that the Holy Beasts realized how far out of porportion their experiment had gotten once the Vandemon-possessed Oikawa came upon the scene until the appearance of Black Wargreymon. Even then it wasn't until Qinglongmon had enough that the creature born of a hundred Dark Towers was confronted.

As far as he was concerned, had Zhuqiaomon been the one to confront the artificial digimon, Black Wargreymon would have been toasted on the spot. The twists in the grand scheme of things were almost comical were they not so dire.

Ryo opened his eyes slowly as he brushed those thoughts away. There were more immediate problems he had to take care of. Were he not already aching in several dozen places, he could have sworn Demon finally killed him off and sent him to whatever the Digital World version of an afterlife was before he would be configured as a codewalker. But here he was, curled up in a futon that had been hastily unfolded and with covers carefully draped over his body. Curled up before him was a bundle of purple and white fur. There was no way he could have gotten out of Demon's grasp unless Savali had gone in and rescued him after he had passed out. But that brought up the question: why? The little digimon owed him nothing, and was self-serving by nature. Surely the tsukaimon had another reason for doing so. Oh well, he could ask later.

Carefully the Tamer rose from the mattress, mindful of the sleeping digimon. A cranky tsukaimon was one he did not want to deal with at this moment. He was soon made aware of Takeru kneeling in a corner with an unconscious Ken cradled in the blond's arms. Unconscious? Oh shit, he didn't have much time left at all. Frantically he brushed back the rebellious lock of hair that refused to stay with the rest of the spikes and approached the younger boys.

Takeru looked up at him then, confusion and despair dulling those blue eyes that once shone with such promise and naivete. Ryo wondered faintly just how much Takeru actually cared for Ken, then brushed that unvoiced question aside. There would be time later.

"We'll have to go to the operation site regardless of whether or not Ken's awake. I'll lead the way, I'll have Stingmon carry Ken, and I want you to bring up the rear so we won't have any nasty surprises hit us on the way over," Ryo stated, automatically taking charge as he did so. Takeru blinked, evidently thrown off by something he said.

"Stingmon? I don't think he can evolve without Ken awake to trigger the sequence..."

Smiling whimsically at this, Ryo dug out his D-3 and showed it to the younger boy, unaware of just how much baggier his robes had gotten. "There's one thing that makes me different from the rest of you. I'm a Tamer, I can handle any digimon I want to. Besides, Wormmon has experience with me and that tends to make the process easier. Any other questions?"

The blond simply shook his head as he pulled Ken up with him. Ken was so much more lighter now than the boy used to be, and it made him sick with worry. From what Akiyama said, it didn't look that there was much time left at all. A command from the Tamer had all three digimon in the house bounding into the room. The only one that looked in any way displeased with the summons was Savali, and Takeru figured that the tsukaimon just wasn't pleased with anything unless it was making someone else miserable. Piccolomon was still on patrol from the looks of it, and wasn't likely to be joining them on the journey to the site Ryo picked out for the operation.

They were told of what had to be done, of what to look out for. And for the time being, the Tamer had Stingmon answering to him. With Ken unable to do much of anything, that was the only choice they had.


"Daisuke, could you repeat that please?"

Daisuke glanced up from the notebook he was absently flipping through, looking as nonchalant as he knew how. As if reminding a small child of something important, he repeated his statement. "Ken's in the Digital World and probably needs our help. I think we should go help him. Don't you?"

"I thought that was what you said," Iori muttered softly as he drew his attention from Armadimon who was currently snoozing beside him. While he may have long since accepted Ichijouji into their ranks, he had never become as close to the former Kaiser as the others were. And certainly not as close as Takeru got now, if the snippets of delighted conversation passing from Daisuke to Miyako and back again were any indication. But Ichijouji was one of them now, and far be it for him to deny another Chosen Child assistance. While he had certain issues to work out concerning his morally-rigid upbringing and just what all this concerning Ken and Takeru's relationship meant to him, he was not going to let it bother him for the time being. As much as his upbringing said how wrong that kind of relationship was, they were his friends too and he wasn't going to let his morals get in the way of friendship again. "This is the Demon problem, isn't it?"

"Bingo," Miyako interjected, making her trademark sign as she did so. "We're not sure where he and Takeru are, but we're pretty sure they might get themselves in trouble, especially with Demon out on the prowl. Holy Angemon and Stingmon won't be able to handle Demon on their own, and I would like to see our friends survive long enough for me to talk Ken into a wedding dress."

Rolling his eyes at this, Daisuke shut the little notebook. "I really don't think Ken's interested in playing dress-up with you, Miyako. In fact, if you so much as speak of it again I think he'll run to Demon willingly."

Miyako stuck her tongue out at Daisuke before countering. "You're no fun." This, of course, began a minor raspberry war that was only interrupted when Hikari cleared her throat. Given that she had been silent all throughout the meeting, this drew everyone's attention.

"We can use our D-3s to search for them. We've done it before and we can certainly do it again."

Oddly enough, of them all Hikari was the only one that didn't really have an opinion one way or another about Ken, Takeru, and their involvement with each other. So long as they were happy, she said, there was no point in bringing such attention to their relationship. This had been stated with the tone in her voice that suggested that she would not like to comment further. Miyako wondered briefly if Hikari had problems she wasn't ready to talk about yet, and made a mental note to address that as soon as possible once they were alone.

"Sounds great," Daisuke suddenly enthused, pleased that Hikari was finally responding to something. He did like her as a friend, but the girl could be so withdrawn that it was hard to talk to her about much of anything. It was probably a good thing that his crush on her finally died out. "We should head out now, I guess. Miyako and Hikari, since you will probably be the only Jogress pair we have available, I'd like it if you keep your partners from expending too much energy. We'll probably need it if Demon decided to show his face. Will you be so kind as to do the honors, Miyako?"

With a grin, the purple-haired girl brandished her D-3 and lined its screen up with the computer screen in Daisuke's room. "Digital gate, open!"


There were few things it enjoyed over the short course of its life. The way the wind brushed against its scales and feathers, the freedom of flight. But far above its love for flight was its love for the hunt. Someone that seemed like another version of it was somewhere out there, and its liege counted upon it to bring the Other to him. This was all the meaning of its existence, and it simply assumed that once its purpose was done with, Lord Demon would destroy it. Not because it was in any way powerful, nor because it may have annoyed Lord Demon once. No, it was simply because of what Lord Demon said it once was. It would be destroyed because Lord Demon said it was once human, and humans were detested by those digimon that made up the Demon Corps.

Human... how could a simple, low-power virus like it have been human? It didn't look like it could have been of the same species as the Tamer it brought before its liege. And yet it was drawn to the scent of the human that Lord Demon wanted. Blood calls to blood, Lord Demon said, and that was that. It asked no questions because no questions came up. This simply was the way things were. No curiosity, no regrets, no emotions, just acceptance. It was never capable of even the limited emotions that most digimon had. All it cared for was flight and the hunt.

Mixcoatlmon spiralled amidst the sheltering clouds, heedless of the chilly ice crystals that pelted against its scales and feathers. It was close, it knew this instinctively. Even as far above as it was, it could sense its own blood singing for the Other.

Eyes far sharper than those of a true serpent focused upon the convoy many meters below it. The Tamer was settled in a mechanorimon, with that traitor tsukaimon clinging to the mechanorimon's arms. The Other could be seen riding in the arms of a stingmon, and these two were followed closely behind by another human on a pegasumon. They were all flying over a mountain range. It hissed to itself as it tried to calculate just how he was going to stun the insectoid digimon and snatch its prey. The stingmon was well-protected and could be fast if necessary, so it was just going to have to be faster.

With a breath drawn and held, Mixcoatlmon hovered for a second before folding its wings tightly against its body. It dove and embraced gravity's pull, relishing the sheer energy of the act. Within seconds it slapped its tail against the stingmon's head, coiled the lower part of its body around the Other to drag the human with it as it opened its wings, and pulled away before the convoy could gather their wits.

The flight afterwards was unimpressive once Mixcoatlmon lost those who were following it within the clouds. It had its prey at last. Lord Demon would be pleased with it and its purpose would be fulfilled. Thus, it too was pleased.

It could feel the Other squirming weakly in its coils. Such fragile things humans were. The merest squeeze could crush the Other's bones and kill him. But that would make Lord Demon angry, so it was not going to do such a thing. Mixcoatlmon pulled out of the clouds briefly to verify its location. Yes, it would be there soon. Just a little further.

Soon enough it arrived at the hollowed-out skeleton of a cone volcano that had long ago died out. This was the home of the Demon Corps, where all those who served Demon gathered. This was all the home the feathered serpent had ever known. It glided easily past the guards, only pausing to be allowed into the heart of Demon's lair.

With what could have been a satisfied toss of its crest feathers, Mixcoatlmon uncoiled and settled the human before Demon's throne. With its duty done, the feathered serpent fluttered aside and waited for new commands.

Ken glanced up sluggishly at the evil digimon. One second he had been sleeping peacefully with dreams of flying, and the next he had been snatched away and dragged into what felt like a pool of ice crystals with the coils of a snake around his torso. And here he was, sitting before Demon. He was too weak now to do anything more than sit, and was too listless to understand what Demon was saying to him. Any energy he may have had was gone now. Where did it all go?

He merely watched as Demon rose from the throne and picked him up off the floor. All he wanted to do was sleep for an eternity. Why wouldn't people just let him sleep? Demon was saying something else he couldn't be bothered to understand, and then...

Something rose up within him, vibrant with the energy he had lost. It bade him to sleep, and sleep he did. It would take care of the danger that Demon presented, all it needed was the use of his body. He was too tired to protest.

Within the body of the Child of Kindness, triggered by the threat to its host's life, something began to awaken. It was only partially aware, yet this was just enough.

The Digital World had not seen it in years, yet it came back. This was simply the way of things, Millenniumon always came back. It was too early for his resurrection, but he would have his own body soon enough. There was a threat to be taken care of, however, and it was best to eliminate it before it could eliminate him.

Ken's eyes glowed the color of that which had not walked the expanse of the Digital World in years: an unholy, bloodthirsty red. He yanked himself from Demon's grasp and gave a grin that was not his own as he floated in a way no true human could manage. For Ken was asleep, and Moon=Millenniumon was half-awakened by the presense of another mega-level virus. The voice that shaped his words was not his own, yet both host and parasite harbored the desire to be that which was uttered.

"I am the harbinger of the twilight of the gods."


Ajora: And thus the whole reason for this fic's title ^_^.


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