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 hour?

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 Takeru's face.

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 them.

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 here.

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, the better.

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 us."

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, Libra?"

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 message.

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 electronic mail.

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, after all.

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 evil. Right?

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 war...

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 the castle."

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 be implying?

"Puppet turned puppeteer! The marionette loses his strings only to make another marionette dance." Savali gasped, then resumed laughing at him.

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 say.

"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 cards left.


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