Knight of Swords
Chapter 2: The Chariot
by Ajora Fravashi

*Disclaimer - I don't own Digimon. Toei does.


Sterile white light illuminated an observation room, giving everything in the area an unnaturally cool tint. Scientists from various research centers around Japan gathered here, they occupied both the observation tiers above and the room itself. Watching them to the side were those executives that had invested time and money to the project. In the center of the room was the source of their attentions.

A boy that was fifteen years of age was laid out face-down on a sliding table that was connected to a large machine, his hair pulled away from the back of his neck. A new, experimental version of a MRI machine was situated before the boy's head, its humming a constant drone under the flow of conversations that filled the room. The crowd of labcoat-wearing scientists and doctors soon parted as one among them stepped forward with a containment vessel in his hands.

Silence fell as this man strode towards the teenaged boy, nothing in either his face or posture indicating anything other than mild scientific curiosity at what results this experiment would yield. The others watched intently as he settled the bottom of the containment vessel on the back of the boy's neck, the hard plastic ring pressing against an area marked with water-soluble ink. He commented in a monotone for his colleagues' sake as he began with the predetermined procedures.

Suspended within this squat cylinder containment vessel of polymethyl methacrylate and thermoset polyurethane, a collection of hard plastics virtually impenetrable by most mundane means, was a single dense mass of data made flesh. Their studies of it had suggested that once through the so-called "digital gate", the properties of that other dimension converted to the properties of this dimension, and evidence pointed out that it worked out vice versa as well. The object was spherical in form with short spikes jutting from its dark surface, organic in composition with strands of DNA so complex that it had taken them years to map the sequences. But they had studied all they could of the Dark Seed, the only progress they could make now was to usher it along its path of growth.

Once the vessel was firmly strapped down around the boy's neck and the countdown panel activated, the scientist pushed the sliding table into position in the MRI machine. From the monitors they watched as the countdown wound to zero and the vessel's sliding lids parted to leave nothing but air between the boy's neck and the Dark Seed. Soon enough, the Dark Seed began to spin, darted towards the opening and buried itself into its new host's flesh. The intrusion elicited a violent jerk from the unconscious boy, and on the MRI scans it showed up in brilliant white due to its high-energy nuclear signature. Once it had entered, it bored past tissue and bone until it reached the medulla oblongata. One of the screens focused closer on the event area, depicting the small sphere of the Dark Seed as it stretched out and tendrils began to wrap around and into the nervous tissue. As it settled, the Dark Seed reached out with a few more tendrils to repair the damage its passage made.

Sounds of muffled astonishment rose from the less-experienced doctors and scientists as they watched, and one even began voicing questions about why the Dark Seed would repair its damage. Another rebuked him for naivete and explained that it was an action of self-preservation. A pathologist stepped forward to take tissue samples once the boy was pulled out from under the MRI machine, withdrew once she had what she needed, and strode out of the room. She was followed to a pathology lab by a couple of hematologists and an intern.

Hours passed as the scientists and doctors exchanged theories and conversed with varying degrees of excitement among themselves. After all, this was the first time they had had the opportunity to witness a Dark Seed's sowing. The boy had gone into anaphylactic and neurogenic shock and was taken to a prepared medical room for treatment, but it was not severe enough to cause permanent damage. For them all, the excitement of new experiences and advances in science outweighed one guinea pig's discomfort.


Weeks had passed with no sign of Takeru. The police had turned up nothing, and even Ryo and Koushiro's digital cloak-and-dagger games led to dead ends. Whoever had abducted Takeru did so with remarkable expertise and covered their tracks so well that nothing could be found.

Ken turned off his computer screen as yet another hour passed by with no e-mail or calls coming in from Koushiro or Ryo concerning Takeru's whereabouts. For the fifth time in his life he had lost someone he cared about, and his life since then had fallen back into an all too familiar pattern. Cry and lay listless in bed for a while. Let his thoughts revolve around "what if" and "should have". Blame himself for not being able to do anything or even being the cause of it. Bury himself in school work. Now a new facet was appearing in this pattern: withdrawing from friends. Had something less serious happened, he likely would have appreciated the attention. But not now.

Oh, they had tried though. At one point Daisuke and Ryo had even dragged him out to Tokyo Joypolis in Odaiba with the promise of embarrassing themselves at the "Dance Dance Revolution" machine. Well, Ryo had done a good job of embarrassing himself and Daisuke had proven to be quite good at dancing. Fortunately for them, Savali had chosen to stay with Ryo's mother and grandmother in Shibuya and was not able to mock them. Unfortunately, both his Jogress partners' antics failed to bring a smile to his face.

Of them all, Tokomon took Takeru's disappearance the worst. Ken's own self-pity was nothing but whining in comparison to what Takeru's digimon partner was going through. The poor thing could barely be roused to eat now. They both sorely missed Takeru, but Ken would at least try to keep the three digimon he now took care of alive. It was all he could do.

Silently, as if afraid to disturb the three sleeping baby digimon, Ken slipped out of the room to prepare some soup for Tokomon. All this depression hadn't been good for any of them or their appetites, and it had even affected Iaculmon.

Ryo had explained to him once that it was the nature of Mixcoatlmon's birth that had ended up severely crippling the creature's mental and emotional capacities. Osamu's codewalker-conversion program had only ever been meant to be used on humans that had been killed in the Digital World, not modified clones like his Kaiser doppelganger. The program was only meant to operate with a complete human, and when it encountered the doppelganger, the code parameters made up for the lack by subtracting basic abilities from the newly formed digimon. Iaculmon, its baby form, was feral at best with all the intelligence of a snake and half the reaction time. Nahualmon's intelligence could only be compared with that of a very smart crow, and at rookie level it was even more ineffective in battle than Wormmon. Both forms were genderless and incapable of speech, and he was sure that Mixcoatlmon could never evolve to ultimate or mega forms.

Iaculmon soon slithered after him, drawn as always to him. Silently Ken picked up the little winged snake and allowed it to settle comfortably in his arms. In an almost amusing stroke of coincidence he had found in a book mentions of an iaculu, an Egyptian symbol for the soul of the departed. This symbol was a snake with a single pair of wings, exactly like the false digimon. He didn't think the hieroglyph representing it had light blue scales, lavender feathers, and dark markings around the eyes that resembled the powdered malachite eyeliner that ancient Egyptians wore, however.

The snake peered owlishly at him as he prepared red miso soup for Tokomon. He wondered many times what his doppelganger might have thought had the Kaiser been able to see this, what it would be like to be turned into a fairly stupid and useless digimon. This would best be considered one of those cosmic jokes Ryo liked to bring up.

Eventually he finished fixing soup and returned to his room to present it to Tokomon, whether the digimon wanted to consume it or not. Tokomon barely cracked an eyelid open at his voice, only to glance languidly at the soup bowl and close the eye again in disinterest. It took him several more tries and encouragement from Leafmon to get Tokomon to take a few sips. Well, it was something.

Ken settled close by and pulled out a Gameboy Advance and the "Tactics Ogre Gaiden" game that Ryo had bought for him during their venture to Tokyo Joypolis. He had politely refused, of course, but Ryo insisted that he play it just to distract him for awhile. Besides, his first Jogress partner said that the game supported a link system and would allow them to train against each other, so now he had a challenge to take up once his troops were at the same level as Ryo's. Well, it wasn't that much of a challenge considering that tactical games were his forte and that he would end up wiping Ryo's troops all over the playing field, but it was something else to focus on.


Since Takeru's abduction, Yamato could hardly allow himself to sleep at nights. It was like a slap in his face knowing that his little brother was gone and he could do nothing about it. With both parents working night and day to find some sign of Takeru, all he could do was offer stoic support.

Of his parents, Natsuko was far more attached to Takeru than his father and seemed to require Yamato's presence more often now. And, somehow, he decided that he could help her cope by just being there. Come to think of it, the very idea was somewhat funny. He could hardly be considered the most selfless of teenagers, yet here he was taking care of his mother's apartment for the moment and waiting for her to come home or waiting for some call from the police.

Yamato hummed to himself as he glanced down at the rows of blank measures that awaited his penmanship. He had been trying for the past two weeks to write a new song for his band, but inspiration seemed to be eluding him completely. The empty lines showed up stark black against blank white and the contrast screaming for his attention, for him to break the monotony with notes and lyrics. Unfortunately there was nothing he could come up with that hadn't already been done before by every other rock group.

Perhaps it was the abduction that stole his inspiration along with his brother. That made some amount of sense, at least. Grunting in disgust at his inability to do something, Yamato dropped his pencil into a mug used for various writing utensils and leaned back into the chair to glare sullenly at the passively offensive paper.

For a few seconds he simply closed his eyes in an attempt to focus on some threads of thought that might lead to an idea for a song. In the midst of his train of thought, he heard a distinctive thump at the door. Well, it was something interesting, and he rose from his mother's chair to investigate it.

A glance out the peephole revealed nothing, and Yamato was tempted to just leave it as an anomalous sound and go back to beating a song from his mind. But the door was tightly pressed against the doorjamb and that suggested that there was something heavy pressing up against it. Intrigued, Yamato opened the door.

An unconscious Takeru had been propped up against the door and slumped backwards as the door opened, leaving Yamato little time to drop to his knees and keep Takeru from falling the rest of the way. A survey out the door provided no indication that anyone had come by to drop Takeru off, so all he had to deal with now was his little brother.

Takeru, his innocent little brother, home at last. With a thankful word towards whomever had returned his little brother, Yamato pulled Takeru up from the floor and closed the door behind them. Relief finally flooded over him as he wrapped his arms around his brother.

Then uncertainty settled in under the joy of having his Takeru back, it slithered darkly in the shadows of his mind and became more apparent with each breath. Why had Takeru simply been dropped off? Was his brother okay and should he call his parents?

Yes, that was something to do once he settled Takeru onto a more comfortable surface. With quite a bit of effort, Yamato hefted his brother from the floor and proceeded to the couch. If Takeru didn't wake up soon he would have to call someone who knew more about illnesses than he did and have that someone check up on Takeru to see if anything was wrong. First things first, he would need to call their mother.


"Ken dear, there's a call for you," Mrs. Ichijouji called out, penetrating the silence that was all too prevalent in Ken's room.

Ken looked up from his game with a start, unaware that he had been so entrenched in the gameplay that an hour had passed since his last attempt to feed Tokomon. With his curiosity piqued, Ken turned off his console and rose to exit his room. His mother was waiting for him, and handed him the phone the moment he was close enough to take it.

"Hello, Ichijouji Ken speaking."

"Hi, Ken. Think you can come over later?"

Ken's breath caught in his throat as he recognized the voice at the other end of the phone line. Takeru's voice was the last thing he expected to hear, and yet it was the very thing he had been waiting for in the past few weeks. He had so many questions he wanted answers to, but he could ask once they were together again. "Gladly. But Takeru, where have you been?"

"Mom and Yamato insisted on dragging me to the doctor's for a check up. You know, to make sure I'm okay. They tried to see if I had a concussion or something since I don't remember anything about where I've been," Takeru responded. A hint of annoyance soon rose in his voice as he continued. "I really wish they wouldn't fuss so much."

A short pause fell between them, leaving Ken a moment to focus just on the emotions brought forth by Takeru's reappearance. The weight of weeks of depression tumbled from his shoulders and left him feeling lighter than he had for what seemed like ages, yet he was still concerned. "You've been gone for weeks, of course they're going to fuss. Do you really not remember anything?"

"I remember the woman who kidnapped me poked me with a needle, but I can't recall anything other than that. Even that memory is somewhat blurry and I don't remember what she looked like other than the fact that she was really skinny. But I'm intact and safe, so that doesn't matter anymore." This time Takeru's tone held a dismissive air that indicated that he would not like to talk about that matter anymore.

"We should still find out," Ken began, then rushed his words as he heard Takeru take in a breath to argue with him. "But later. When should Tokomon and I come over?"

The voice on the other end of the line softened considerably at this. "Any time you want. I'd prefer it if I had you two as soon as possible, though."

A slight smile quirked at Ken's lips, the first genuine one since Takeru's abduction. "We've missed you, Takeru. I'll leave as soon as possible so we can get there faster."

"I'll see you soon, then," Takeru responded with a note that Ken had learned to recognize as affection. The smile on his face widened as he heard this. "Now I'll just have to convince Yamato that everything's okay and he really should go back to Dad's. Ken, I... Well, later."

As the connection closed, the Child of Kindness wondered for a few seconds about the words that were left in silence, then brushed it off. Takeru would tell him later, he was sure. He was tempted to pick up the three digimon and head out to the train station, but there was something else. The number he dialed was one he hadn't used for so long that he was surprised he still remembered it.

"Hi, Ryo house-sitting for Akiyama Minami. How may I-"

"Ryo, Takeru's come back, and it sounds like he's okay! You don't have to look for him anymore," Ken practically babbled in an excitement that was normally quite uncharacteristic for him. "I'm heading over to his apartment in a few minutes."

"Oh, that's good," the former Tamer responded, though Ken could detect the subtle hint of doubt in his friend's voice. "Unexpected, but I suppose I'll find out what happened later. I have Grandma's car at my disposal since she and Mom are shopping at a department store close by and won't be home for hours. Want a ride?"

Surprised at the offer, Ken allowed several seconds to pass by in silence before he spoke again. "I don't want to be any trouble, and Shibuya is so much further from Tamachi than Odaiba is-"

"Not that much," countered Ryo. "Besides, I have business in Odaiba and the estrogen here has been killing me. I need to get out of here and you need a ride. I don't see any problem."

A brief frown passed over Ken's face. "But I wanted to be alone with Takeru for awhile-"

"Which you can't do if Ms. Takaishi hovers over Takeru as I suspect she would. I'd like to talk with her about a few things." There was a pause as Ken heard the faint sound of movement at the other end of the line, and the tiny clatter of keys soon followed. "I should take off now if I want to avoid the worst of the evening traffic. See you in a few minutes, Ken."

Ken voiced his thanks for the ride and hung up, still somewhat giddy from his brief talk with Takeru. Takeru was back, safe, and seemed to be perfectly fine. Still, he wanted nothing more than to be able to hold his boyfriend close now and that everything would go back to normal. Tokomon would return to the way he was before the depression. Everything would be perfect again.

It was twenty minutes later that Ryo arrived. The moment Ken heard the doorbell, he darted out with a quick goodbye to his parents, a digimon in his arms, and two more trailing close behind. He had told Tokomon that Takeru was back, but even that information failed to rouse the little creature. Hopefully that would change once he handed Tokomon back to Takeru.

The traffic on Rainbow Bridge was horrible, and often there were jams that left them sitting in an idling car for ten minutes at a time or more. In that time Ken told his friend of Takeru's call, their situation failing to hamper his good mood and that in turn rubbed off on Ryo. Ryo simply seemed to be happy because he was, and Savali had not voiced a stab of sarcasm towards them the whole ride. All in all, despite the traffic, everything seemed to be going along fine.

Ken was still smiling when they reached the Takaishi apartment, his arms full with Tokomon and a shoulder was occupied by Nahualmon. Wormmon inched close behind since there was no more room for him in Ken's arms. Takeru's mother greeted them with a relieved expression on her face and invited them in. The moment Nahualmon hopped off his shoulder and Wormmon was forcibly dragged away by a sadistically cackling Savali, Ryo took Ms. Takaishi to the side for what was bound to be a very long discussion about journalism and left him alone with Tokomon to check on Takeru.

The door to Takeru's room was slightly ajar, and the light of dusk streamed from the opening with colors few artists could hope to emulate. Only the faint sound of breathing penetrated the silence. Curious, Ken opened the door further to peek in.

"You're late," whispered the figure seated on a bed with knees drawn up. Blue eyes gazed at him with an expression he couldn't read, and for the first time in years Ken couldn't fathom what was wrong.

Ken stepped within the room to close the door behind him. Takeru was probably just having a bad day, nothing more. "Ryo and I got caught in traffic, that's all. It's Ryo's last day in Tokyo and he wanted to ask your mother about something."

Those blue eyes narrowed just a bit at the mention of his friend's name. "Last day? He'll be going back to Hokkaido, then?"

"Yes, there's no more reason for him to be here," Ken stated, still puzzled by Takeru's odd behavior. In an attempt to change the subject, he held out the sleeping Tokomon. "Tokomon's been sleeping so deeply lately. I've tried my best to take care of him, but I really think he's better off with you."

Tension dissipated then as Takeru rose from the bed to step before him. Tokomon stirred at his human partner's touch and leapt from Ken's arms to Takeru's in absolute joy. As Tokomon babbled his happiness at seeing Takeru once again, Takeru relaxed and smiled at his boyfriend. "Thanks for taking care of Tokomon."

A tiny smile spread across Ken's face in response to Takeru's. Mindful of Tokomon's presence, he leaned forward to plant a light kiss on Takeru's lips. "Welcome home," the Child of Kindness murmured before returning again to kiss his companion.

Tokomon, well aware of the fact that the humans probably wanted a little more privacy, hopped out of Takeru's arms to watch from the side. Well, at least he had Takeru back, and everything was going to be all right.


Takeru stared down at the sheet of paper in front of him. The test questions were ridiculously easy, but he just couldn't be bothered to answer more than half of them. His mind circled constantly around Ken now, everything was about Ken now. It hadn't necessarily been that way before his disappearance, but the seeds of obsession seemed to have grown since then. He disliked the fact that Ken was now a Tamer, disliked even more the fact that the job seemed to be taking up more and more of Ken's free time. More than anything, he hated the idea that the Holy Beasts were now keeping a very close watch on Ken, even if he had never seen them hovering around during Ken's training sessions. They probably had spies keeping an eye on Ken for them.

And then there was Akiyama. His pencil's tip broke when the thought of Akiyama's friendship with Ken caused him to stab at the desk in frustration. Akiyama was a nice guy, yes, but Ken was his and he did not like the concept of sharing at all. Thankfully, Akiyama's job of teaching Ainu kids in Hokkaido took up time that might otherwise have been spent online with Ken, and thus was well out of the way for the most part. Daisuke was always around though, always being so damn chummy and enthusiastic around Ken that it was starting to set his teeth on edge whenever he saw the goggle-wearing boy. Akiyama was out of the way, but the other would have to be dealt with before Daisuke started getting any ideas about infringing on his territory.

But how? For now, at least, he should probably just keep such thoughts and emotions to himself. There was nothing else he could do at this point in time. Perhaps later he would have his opportunity to warn Daisuke off for good. Perhaps later he would be able to figure out who gave him the crest and tag that now hung around his neck, the emblem in the tag representing a silver stylized sword. Perhaps later he would find out who gave him the silver D-3 that occupied the pocket he once held his own in. But he had to be patient, for all things will come in time.


There comes a time when one looks into the mirror and realizes that what they see is all they will ever be. For some this comes early in life, for others it may come later. For Ryo, it came at a point in his life where he had come to accept the failures and regrets that had accumulated over the span of his relatively short life. He once had a dream of becoming an architect, but that had died when he sold himself to the Holy Beasts. Now, thanks to Japan's rigid school system, he would never be able to pick up where he left off.

Oh, his mother had offered to send him to the university at Vladivostok instead, saying that she knew people there that would be able to help him. His mastery of Cyrillic and his mother's native language was tentative at best, however, and would have to be improved if he wanted to take her up on that offer. But for now all he could claim for a future was the teaching job for a local Ainu tribe, one that paid very little due to poverty. They did appreciate his help, though, and the occassional hand-made gifts had more sentimental value than any money they could dig up. He still hadn't a clue as to why they would make things for him just because of what he did.

All in all, life seemed to be going fine. He was still suspicious of Takeru's sudden reappearance, but there was nothing he could do right now. Ms. Takaishi had given him all the information she had concerning Takeru's examination by a doctor and there just wasn't anything wrong with the boy. Doubts nibbled like fish at the back of his mind. This simply did not make sense. Why would someone kidnap Takeru, drop him off later, and leave no marks that would show up in a thorough medical examination?

"You're worried," a dry, deep, yet quite female voice uttered, drawing his attention back to the present. He blinked and looked up from the embroidered sash he held with the intention of tying it around the thick chikarkarpe overcoat he wore during his outings to the local tribe establishment.

"Yeah," Ryo replied as he tied the sash's knot. "Nothing about Takeru's abduction makes sense. From what Ken says there's been no obvious change in Takeru's usual behavior and school performance, and Takeru just doesn't remember anything. I'm very worried that something... wrong might happen in the future."

At the kitchen counter, Kumi chewed on a carrot in thought for a moment. Savali took her distraction to his advantage and made a beeline for the half-hidden package of sweets in the pantry. "In Russia, we have a saying: 'There will come a time when the seed will sprout'. All things will come in their own time, and there's no point in worrying about what might or might not come in the future."

"Bad things always happen sooner or later," the tsukaimon piped up cheerfully from somewhere in the pantry. "So why worry about something you don't have a hand in? Oh, I forget, you can never stay out of trouble anyway, so you probably will have a hand in whatever happens."

Before Ryo could come up with a retort, his mother turned and pulled Savali out of the pantry by the wings. "Savali, that's supposed to last us a month. Ryo, would you mind taking the punk with you?"

Sighing, Ryo plucked the tsukaimon from his mother's hands and held him firmly so that Savali would not squirm out easily. "Yeah, sure. I thank the gods that Savali doesn't know the language. Have fun at the Fishery, Mom."

With rather dark thoughts concerning recent events and a travel bag to keep Savali in for the trip, Ryo left the house and started up the old, worn out motorcycle he used as transport to the nearby tribe. Well, there was nothing he could do now but wait.


Ajora: Just a few notes here: the Ainu are the native people of Hokkaido, Sakhalin, and the Kurile Islands and share many similarities to the North American natives. Chikarkarpe are cotton clothing embroidered with patterns unique to the culture. And yes, there are plenty of double meanings about in this fic ^_^.


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