Knight of Swords
Chapter 6: Judgment
by Ajora Fravashi
*Disclaimer: Alas, I do not own Digimon. That belongs to Bandai and Toei.
It was all coming back in slow and miniscule increments. While it was
true that his memories were far from complete, Ken had hopes that they
would all return in time. He had his entire life ahead of him, after
all, and there was no rush.
Ken mulled over the most recent memories as he laid besides Takeru on
the bed they shared in the castle. Takeru hadn't tried anything that
he knew would make him uncomfortable, much to his relief. There had
been some heavy petting, but nothing Takeru did triggered an adverse
reaction. Not yet anyway, for Takeru had stopped before things started
getting too sexual. He was almost disappointed until he realized that
Takeru stopped out of consideration for him. Then the specter of the
past that had almost been forgotten in the heat of the moment loomed
over him once again. Would he ever get over it?
Why did his life have to be so painful? It had been since he was a
child. It wasn't fair. He could remember the look in Osamu's eyes
once, when they returned home after a get-together with Ryo and
Kageko. Osamu had maintained his emotionless composure when Kageko
said that she and Ryo were going out, but when Osamu dragged him back
home, he fought to keep from protesting the painful grip Osamu had on
his hand. There had been silent rage in his brother's eyes that, once
they were back home, dissolved into despair. "Life isn't fair," Osamu
had whispered before locking him out of the room for over an hour. Ken
didn't realize then why his brother did that, but now...
"Life isn't fair," he remembered Kageko stating as she extended her
palm to him. He remembered looking down at the snail he had rescued
from her pesticides. It waved its eyestalks at him as if in thanks,
and he had quickly covered the cute little slimy thing with his other
hand. She had noticed though, and told him to hand it over. "Snails
are pests, Ken. They must be eliminated before they destroy the
garden." He remembered the stern look on her face and sighing
forlornly as he opened his hands to gaze down at the snail that had
retreated to its shell. It drew out, eyestalks quivering tentatively,
just before Kageko plucked it by its shell and dropped the thing to
the ground. Before he could react, the creature was crushed under her
heel. It left shards of shell amidst a puddle of formless wet slime.
Just a pest, he reminded himself. Nothing more.
Ken's eyes fluttered open in surprise as he heard a tiny beep from his
and Takeru's D-terminals. Who would be sending them something at this
Careful not to inadvertently awaken his boyfriend by squirming around
too much, Ken stretched a hand towards the nightstand and plucked his
D-terminal from it. He thumbed open the device and waited for mail to
load as he settled back into bed. Takeru shifted in his sleep, cuddled
closer to Ken, and resumed snoring. A smile quirked at Ken's lips at
that. Takeru wasn't loud, it could best be compared to the purring of
a kitten in fact, but he did snore. Personally Ken found it very cute,
and he ran the fingers of a free hand through Takeru's hair before
glancing back at the screen of his D-terminal.
It was an e-mail from Miyako, addressed to them both. The time-stamp
indicated that it had been sent several hours ago. But if that were
so, why had it taken so long for his D-terminal to finally receive it?
Frowning slightly at that puzzle, Ken opened up the e-mail.
There is something to be said for the effects of reading text as
opposed to conversing with someone in person. The e-mail looked almost
clinical and detached, yet it didn't take much for Ken to imagine the
stress Miyako must have been under when she typed this up. A mad
unimon had trampled Daisuke and V-mon, leaving them both severely
injured. Daisuke was in the hospital now and the doctors were still
operating on him when the e-mail was sent. Iori had been with Miyako
when she found Daisuke, and the others came to wait with them when
word got out. She knew both Ken and Takeru were having a little
private time together, but could they perhaps find some time to visit
Daisuke in the next few days?
Ken leaned back against the headboard, trying to shake off the shock
that was beginning to settle in. Daisuke? Injured? What had happened
to trigger the attack? Oh gods. Daisuke was one of his best friends.
He should have known sooner. Ken was tempted to take off to the
hospital himself to make sure Daisuke was going to be okay. He had
even started rising from the bed before he felt Takeru's hand wrap
around his wrist.
"Problem, Ken," Takeru asked, looking up at him with drowsy eyes.
Sighing, Ken closed his eyes to steel himself. The thought of the
ever-lively Daisuke being confined to a hospital bed and recovering
from serious injuries was far too unnatural for him. He reiterated
Miyako's message as steadily as he could. When he finished, he opened
his eyes and was faintly disturbed by the look of mild apathy on
He had known that there had been some amount of rivalry between the
two in the past, but had been told that it had diminished over time
and he saw no reason to think otherwise. But this kind of apathy
wasn't like Takeru, not when it concerned a fellow team-mate. Maybe it
was just because Takeru was half-asleep and didn't fully understand
the implications quite yet. "Takeru, Daisuke is our friend and I
really think we should go visit him as soon as possible."
"I know that," Takeru began dourly, startling Ken with the sudden edge
in his voice. "But there's nothing we can do about it now and visitors
won't be allowed anyway until midmorning."
"Life isn't fair," the blond murmured as he let go of Ken's wrist and
settled back into bed. The edge left his voice as he watched the mark
of concern on his Ken's face, quickly taking on a soothing quality.
"Please come back to bed. You're going to worry yourself sick if you
decide to fret over this when there's nothing we can do but let his
doctors do their job. This is Daisuke. He'll be fine."
Shaking his head, Ken simply settled back into bed and curled up next
to his boyfriend. Takeru was right, there really wasn't anything that
anyone could do right now save for those whose duty it was to heal.
Tomorrow then. Tomorrow he would visit Daisuke. Hopefully.
"Now Wormmon, I know you mean a lot to Ken. That's why I want you to
stay out of trouble as much as possible. Why don't you and Patamon
stick together while you're here?"
Wormmon's antennae wilted as he recalled the words Takeru had said
when he and Nahualmon had been dropped off by Hikari at a nearby
digital gate. He didn't know why it bothered him so much, it just did.
The situation helped even less when he recalled how Nahualmon's neck
feathers bristled the moment they arrived at the castle. He wanted to
ask what it was that disturbed the other digimon, but all he could get
out of it were squawks and warbles. From what he could gather, the
other digimon could only speak in its champion form and only evolved
if there was an absolute need to. However, there was rarely any need
for it to evolve to that level. It was very frustrating.
Conversation within a group of bakumon, sorcerymon, penmon and hanumon
halted as Wormmon and Nahualmon passed by in their wandering of the
castle grounds. Nahualmon's feathers practically stood on end now in
the uncomfortable silence. Wormmon didn't like the way they glared at
him and Nahualmon at all, it was as if they were almost murderous in
the intensity of their stares. Wormmon hurried along, afraid of what
might happen if they confronted the other group.
A group consisting of nothing but vaccines.
He froze at that realization. It might not have bothered him, but then
he attempted to recall if they had ever encountered another virus in
the castle. None. No virals whatsoever. It was sort of creepy now that
he thought of it. Was that why his companion hadn't let down its
feathers since they got here?
Shivering, Wormmon turned and retraced his tracks back to Takeru's
apartment. He had started wandering when the boys were asleep, more
out of curiosity than anything else, and Nahualmon followed him for
some reason he couldn't guess. Now he knew. The other virus probably
thought it was needed or something.
"Let's go back," Wormmon suggested in a voice that quavered with fear.
He really didn't like the way the vaccines were glaring at
Nahualmon, whose puffed-out feathers made it look like an unused
feather duster, squawked an agreement. It followed closely behind
Wormmon as they backtracked, never once letting its guard down.
This lonely bartizan's attic was her living space. The bartizan
protruded from the easternmost corner of the keep, overlooking the
castle complex and beyond. The view stretched out past the protecting
giants' teeth that were the mountain cliffs and over the valleys where
an army would have no choice but to approach from. It was a brilliant
look-out point. There would be scouts placed in the bartizan proper
once the Cleansing began, but for now it was hers and hers alone. No
one dared disturb her solitude but the boy she worked for.
Until the Cleansing was well underway, he wanted her to remain in the
shadows, so there she stayed. This solitude was not a new thing to
her, and she rather preferred it. Blissful silence. It was only
interrupted every now and then when the boy's patamon came in and left
food for her. A cute little patamon it was, and increasingly disturbed
by what he thought was a ghost in the tower.
Dawn broke soon enough, but she was only aware of it when she glanced
down through a crack in the attic's boards at the stone floor beyond.
Libra crept from her nest of soft blankets and quilts to stretch out
muscles that had gone stiff from lying in a ball. Her solitary nest
was much too comfortable. With a yawn, the Black Tailmon hopped from a
small crack in the attic's floor to a shelf, then bounded off that to
land gracefully on the bartizan's stone floor.
A glance out one of the windows awarded her the view of the head of an
unimon clan rallying a group of recruits for practice. She remembered
him, he was the one that the boy sent to disable a human rival. That
unimon's prejudice made him dangerous, but she had studied him
carefully. It would be tricky to get him out of the way, but still
possible. She would just have to wait until an opportunity presented
itself to her.
Smirking, Libra eyed her prey. As she toyed with her plans, the sound
of a human climbing the stairs to her tower caught her attention. She
battled the reflexive urge to flee to her attic with the reminder that
it was the boy with her partner's spirit. No one else knew she was
Lord Regent Takeru joined her at the window overlooking the unimon's
recruits. The boy didn't know of her plot, and wouldn't approve unless
she displayed unwavering loyalty to him and only him. But the time
would come soon enough.
"There's someone out there watching us," the boy said. She blinked and
looked up at him. "I don't know how I know, but they're out there."
Libra smothered a wave of unrelenting hope that threatened to wash
over her. If he knew the secret Kageko and Ryo shared, then he might
truly have her partner's soul after all. He might not remember it all,
but that was fine. The less he remembered of Kageko's love for Ryo,
Her voice was still weak with long years of disuse, but was steadily
becoming stronger each time she talked to the boy. "They are the
Furekim, digimon trained by my partner and Akiyama that had never
gained permanent human partners of their own. Because Kageko is-"
Libra hesitated at that, the topic was still highly sensitive for her.
"-not here anymore, they are loyal only to Akiyama. Not even the Holy
Beasts are aware of their existence. If They are, They have shown no
indication of it."
Takeru gave a thoughtful hum as he stared down at the recruits. He did
not want to deal with the Akiyama issue again. That damned Tamer had
an annoying habit of sticking his nose into places it didn't belong.
"Should we send an agent to alert the Holy Beasts of his interference
during the exile?"
"No, that would call Their attention to us," Libra murmured, herself
deep in thought. "It is best if we undermine his position first. If
even a few of the Furekim would join us because of your connection to
her, we may severely cripple any action he can take against
Blinking, Takeru glanced at the black cat. Did she still believe he
had a fragment of Kageko's soul? It was rather illogical, but maybe
having a few digimon assume this would elevate his own chances of
turning Akiyama's group of spies to his side. That begged the question
though, why would Akiyama's group be spying on him? Wouldn't
the Tamer want a better world too? Did Akiyama somehow know of his
plans? And how could he-
With a delicate cough, the Black Tailmon interrupted his thoughts. "I
trust you will begin with the Cleansing soon?"
"Yes, of course." Takeru gestured towards the chief unimon that had
been useful time and again. "He will head the offensive. You... I
would like you to root out Akiyama's spies for me. Does that suit you,
An odd twitch began at a corner of the cat's mouth, then stilled. "For
now, Lord Regent."
Ryo stretched back in a chair that threatened to give way if he leaned
any further, calm blue eyes firmly fixed on the ceiling. His computer
was in sleep mode, the radio long ago turned off, his mom went off to
buy groceries and had taken Savali with her for company. He could
almost swear the tsukaimon was bonding to someone who was too old to
be a Tamer or Chosen. And his dad, well, was never really around.
There had always been business trips and meetings, and sometimes he
wondered if that grassroots merchant from Hokkaido that Mom had met
was the same person he called Dad.
It wasn't the first time he doubted his sanity, not when his vision
phased out every now and then. When that happened, he saw ghosts of
people and things that didn't exist in the here and now. Before Mom
had gone off to the store, he saw ghost images overlapping her. One
was her in a Red Army uniform, others of her in various outfits and
hairstyles. One ethereal image showed her carrying another child,
which would have been nice save for the fact that she couldn't have
another child. He was her only child for a reason. Then the
transparent ghosting effect bled over to the rest of the house. Savali
staying, Savali leaving with her only after needling Ryo a bit, which
he hadn't done in the more tangible memory. Savali not being there at
all. Ghosts of furniture set in places they hadn't been before.
It had happened before, but for the life of him he couldn't remember
exactly when. He raked his mind as he stared up at the ceiling, but
could recall nothing. Why?
A small beep interrupted his thoughts. Blinking at that, he shifted
his glance to his D-terminal (not really mine) and got up to
pluck it from his bookshelf. A message had been sent from Ken, obvious
since no one else really bothered with him. He had never been a member
of any of the Chosen Child teams despite his wish that they'd at least
acknowledge him. No, it had always been the Gennai Order, and that
never really gave him the sense of belonging he wanted. Secrecy,
emotional detachment and espionage had always been the forces at work
within the Order, it was required for the kind of work they did.
Shaking his head at that, he thumbed open the D-terminal to read Ken's
Daisuke had been trampled by an unimon and was now in the hospital
according to Ken, who had been sent an e-mail from Miyako. Ryo didn't
see why it should concern him, but Ken was his friend and he was
supposed to be there for the boy. Paying attention when Ken needed it
was expected of him, so he read on. Takeru was acting strange of late,
Ken noted, and disappeared from his side for long intervals. Wormmon
and Nahualmon were becoming increasingly uneasy in the "retreat", and
Patamon quite literally knew nothing of what was going on. More to the
point, when Ken tried to go anywhere without Takeru, he was blocked at
every turn by numerous vaccine-type digimon and gently pressed to go
back to the apartment. It was quite frustrating, but he couldn't do
anything and was thus seeking the company of an old friend through
Frowning, Ryo set the D-terminal back on his desk and contemplated
what Ken had just revealed. He hadn't a tangible clue just what Takeru
had been up to these past few months and therefore had his group
simply poke around for the most part. They had been unable to gather
much of anything, but they were watching nonetheless. Waiting and
watching with an uneasiness that was echoed by all within the Furekim,
from the smallest baby to the largest Perfect. But the unusually large
concentration of vaccine-type digimon in Takeru's castle was starting
to worry even him.
He dug around a drawer full of electronic parts before finding a USB
cable to hook the D-terminal up to his laptop. With the two devices
connected, he opened up the laptop and began typing up a reply once
the system went out of hibernation. While he could have just done so
on the D-terminal, he wanted to check on some reports from the
Furekim too. Just to keep an eye out. Now he was downright suspicious,
what other reason would Takeru be building his castle and amass an
army of nothing but vaccines and datas but for a war? He didn't
understand why, but he understood the simple truth that he had been
trained as a soldier and thus was driven to fight against injustice
for higher powers, whether he truly wanted to or not. But was what
Takeru doing an injustice or should he just wait and see?
The e-mail was simple, he asked Ken to keep an eye out and tell him if
Takeru did anything strange, and maybe have Wormmon do a bit of
investigation if it was possible. Information was the greatest weapon,
While the D-terminal's e-mail program was busy trying to connect to
the Digital World, Ryo spent the time porting into the main Gennai
computer. Once within the dead man's system, he had a digital
projection rendered and sent to the Furekim base. All the while, the
e-mail still would not go through. Maybe just a time lag?
There were other things he had to worry about right now.
The projection was almost an extension of himself, though clad in the
typical robes of the Gennai Order instead the cargo pants and blue
shirt he was wearing now. There was also limitations that made using
the projection system more problematic than it was worth. Sensory
input was severely crippled and only visual/audio was of any decent
use, mobility was restricted to a radius of a couple of meters within
the exact coordinates the projection had been sent to, and there was
always the threat that the connection would be severed by nothing
other than electrical interference anyway. But for now, until he could
get the programming for his own D-3 recoded and recompiled, this was
all he could rely on.
The home base for the Furekim, located in the ruined part of the
machine city, was just as he remembered it. He had projected himself
into the cafeteria where he had spent countless hours before just
sitting around with the digimon that made up the Furekim and having
long, pointless conversations that never really seemed like much
compared to the brevity of more important matters. He counted on them,
they counted on him. It was a nice, honest relationship.
A few dokunemon, gizamon, and Youji's first Betamon noticed him first,
and cried out to their comrades that their Tamer was back. Soon enough
the cafeteria was flooded by the presence of everything from the tiny
zurumon babies to the large eyes of a couple of brachimon peering
through the windows. Despite his real body being on Earth, he felt a
brief surge of fondness. He was back home and hadn't thought he would
miss this place as much as he did.
"Good of you to return, as a projection if nothing else," Lynxmon
began, stepping gingerly around the bodies of the other digimon.
"Would you like a field report, Ryo?"
Shortly after Ryo had nodded, Lynxmon began his presentation. Unallied
vaccines had drifted to the banner of the Three-Edged Sword, its base
in the Segfault mountains. They had heard that a Chosen Child was
heading the banner of the Three-Edged Sword, but were not quite sure
which. The pegasumon they saw every now and then indicated Takeru.
Regardless, this child had made promises that nothing "evil" would
ever hurt the digimon under his banner, and had formed an alliance
with the head of an unimon clan known for his hatred of virii.
Mushmon, who had barely managed to infiltrate under his vaccine Bitmon
alternative evolution, heard the rallying speech and had been so
spooked that he fled before hearing it all. Unimon was stoking the
vaccine/data troops for a war and preaching hatred against those
digimon who had the greatest inclination towards turning evil.
The virii among the Furekim started shifting nervously once Lynxmon
reached that part of his presentation, quite uncomfortable with the
implications. While it was true that those digimon who presented the
greatest threat to the Digital World and had to be struck down by the
humans were viral, it didn't mean that they were all inherently
Lynxmon plowed on, detailing what Mushmon had told him. All evidence
pointed towards the beginning of a racial war. They didn't know yet
where the first attack would commence, but it would be prudent for
them to remain on high alert.
Ryo took a moment to absorb all this. Why on earth would Takeru, if it
really was him, want to commit what would pretty much amount to
genocide? He just didn't get it. He was so caught up in pondering the
"why" that he didn't hear Lynxmon until the armored digimon addressed
him a second time. Something about visuals.
At his nod, Lynxmon barked out to a couple of gekomon who carried a
few stills that a flymon had taken before she was killed by a swarm of
airdramon. The first picture was of the castle in the Segfault
mountain range: strong, proud, and nigh inaccessible. The second was
taken just within the curtain walls and displayed the barracks, large
enough to house an army or two. The third displayed the food storage
buildings, fat with stock from gardens that would pull the castle
through a siege indefinitely. Ryo murmured a curse under his breath at
that. So much for the siege approach he wanted to try. And the last
was of the banner of the Three-Edged Sword.
Ryo blinked, he didn't recognize it at first. But then...
"Wow, you got a real crest! Can I see?"
Kageko grinned proudly and dug out the tag and crest that hung under
her shirt. The crest was silver, bearing a silver two-edged sword that
had a strange flame-like etching around the blade. Ryo cocked his head
curiously at it and pointed out the flames. "What's that?"
"Understanding is a three-edged sword, Ryo. Your side, their side, and
the Truth. The flame is the third edge, Truth."
The Tamer fought down the bile rising at the back of his throat.
Kageko was dead, yet her crest's symbol was being used as an emblem of
Her form was paler than usual thanks to the Reload Machine's limited
video transmission capability. It had been shortly after he told her
about Millenniumon luring him to the mountain just before it exploded
and ripped the Digital World in two. "Look, if Millenniumon wants to
play games, well fine. We can play games too, only we can play them
better because we have the truth on our side. You can't kill the
truth." Kageko paused in consideration at her words, then donned a
humorless smirk. "Actually, you can kill the truth, but it always
comes back to haunt you later."
Shaking the memories away, Ryo quickly responded to Lynxmon's query.
"I'm fine. Please keep an eye out for now and let me know immediately
when the troops start moving. I've got to go before the connection
gets cut off. Take care, everyone!"
The digimon that made up the Furekim waved farewell to him before the
connection began sputtering and the video/audio gave out completely.
These projections never lasted long.
Sighing, Ryo leaned back in his chair again, turning over the new
information in his mind. He was so caught up in his thoughts that he
hadn't noticed when his mother and the tsukaimon returned. The two
ended their banter long enough for Mom to put the groceries away and
Savali to drift over to annoy him.
Savali glanced at the e-mail that was still trying to connect. He was
familiar enough with the process, having watched Ryo do this several
times, and was curious as to why it was taking so long. He wasn't
above asking about it either.
Ryo shrugged at Savali's question. "I think there's a time-set block
or something to prevent Ken from getting relevant information until
it's too late to act. Damned shame, I was hoping that he would help me
dig up information on Takeru's actions. We need someone like him in
Blinking, Savali regarded Ryo for a few seconds with a curious
expression the Tamer couldn't quite read. Then the tsukaimon howled in
laughter. "The puppet becomes the puppeteer! This is brilliant!"
"Huh?" Ryo stared blankly at the tsukaimon. What on earth could Savali
"Puppet turned puppeteer! The marionette loses his strings only to
make another marionette dance." Savali gasped, then resumed laughing
Ryo's eyes narrowed. "I am not using Ken."
"Yes you are! Yes you are!" The tsukaimon grinned maniacally. "You're
just in denial. So, how does it feel to be manipulated by all the
higher-ups in the Digital World, then gain the opportunity to use
someone in turn?"
Anger rose within the Tamer and only a tentative handle on his temper
kept him from reaching out to smack the tsukaimon. With a growl, he
rose from his chair to pick up his travel bag and stalked up to the
front door. "Mom, I'm going to Odaiba to check on Daisuke for Ken and
ask him about an attack. Alone."
Before either Akiyama Kumi or Savali could respond, the door was
slammed shut and Ryo on his way to Tokyo.
All was silent in the little bubble of solitude that was a grey
Subaru. Yoshinaka Reiko watched traffic go by with bored disinterest.
All seemed to be going well with the Takaishi boy, but there was
something else that she wanted and hoped that the syndicate would be
willing to allow her to claim. She wanted her son back.
Oh, she knew Oshiro was dead, but everything about the Akiyama boy
reminded her of him. Oshiro's mannerisms, appearance and physique were
reflected in Akiyama Ryo. There were differences, certainly, but she
would accept them. The problem was in getting the younger boy to
believe that he was Oshiro. But she read things, psychology
books that would prove immensely helpful. However, she needed the boy
in her presence to do anything.
Her cellphone rang then, interrupting the silence with a short, shrill
rhythm. She flipped it open to listen to whatever the syndicate would
"Mrs. Yoshinaka, we do not approve of this plan, but will grant the
materials and private space necessary for you to carry it out. Do not
let this distract from your main purpose. You will find directions to
the warehouse in your e-mail and the materials will be available
there." With that, her employer's secretary closed the connection.
With a rare smile on her gaunt face, the woman opened her laptop to
see if anyone under the name of Akiyama Ryo was travelling lately.
Ajora: Well, that took longer than I expected. Sorry. Four or five