Covered in Darkness
Chapter 6: Searching
by Quatre's Girl
edited by Aria, Kate
"Ken! Ken, where are you? If you can hear me, answer me!" Daisuke yelled into the depths of the temple. The group had split up upon entering the Digital World, and he and Miyako had separated again from Shurimon and XV-mon, to cover more ground. That was when they had discovered the temple they were currently searching through. It was made of rough stone, with the odd symbols that were found on many structures in the Digital World carved into the walls. The temple resembled nothing so much as a labyrinth, and was dark. Very dark. It seemed like the perfect place to hide someone, except that there wasn't any sign of Ken, Archnemon, or Mummymon at all. All Miyako and Daisuke had managed to uncover were deserted rooms with overgrown foliage covering the crumbled walls.
"It doesn't look like he's in here. Maybe we should try some place else," Miyako said softly as she put in a half-effort to try to shift some stones from one of the many caved-in walls, in hopes of discovering another room. Daisuke frowned as he came over to help her.
"We have to keep looking," he told her, and thought, 'If we miss him, I'm never gonna forgive myself!' Miyako sat back to stare at her friend.
"Well, we've checked this place twice over. I don't think we're going to find him here. We might as well check some place else instead of wasting time here," she said, standing and brushing off her hands.
"We're staying, and that's that. We don't know if there's a room or not behind this wall and we have to look!" he replied. Miyako frowned slightly at his sharpness.
"I've never seen you like this, Daisuke. Is there something wrong?" she asked.
"No, I'm fine."
"So, why are you so obsessed with finding Ken?" Daisuke didn't look up at her, only continued to mechanically push the rocks aside.
"I'm his friend," he said simply. "I can't let him suffer any more than he already has." Miyako's frown deepened.
"But, Daisuke... what if he's already given in to Archnemon? You heard Koushiro; Ken would be easier to break than one of us-"
"Miyako, he is one of us!" Daisuke cut her off, looking up to stare at her angrily. She was instantly silenced, startled at his outburst. Daisuke had never shouted at anyone like that before.
"Daisuke, how can he be?" she asked. His eyes widened in surprise before he lowered his face and began sucking in deep breaths through his teeth, trying to suppress white-hot anger.
"Ken has been trying this whole time to become friends with us, to prove that he's changed his ways. All we've done is continue to doubt him and deny him what he needs the most. He needs friends, Miyako. He needs friends he can rely on to help him when he's hurt or scared. If we were good enough friends then we wouldn't have to worry about him giving in to darkness. But all we do for him is cast him off and tell him he's not good enough to be part of our team. Well I'm sick and tired of hurting him like that! I don't care what you're going to do, but I want to be his friend, and I want to help him!" Miyako was stunned. She had never seen Daisuke this angry or sincere before. After letting his words sink in, he glared at her before turning his head away and going back to clearing the rubble. Miyako stood there, frozen.
Daisuke paused in his work. He hadn't meant to blow up at Miyako like that, but she wasn't leaving him much other choice. She could just be so inconsiderate sometimes! He sighed softly. She didn't know how much Ken had to suffer, how many times Daisuke had seen the poor boy in tears over everything that had happened to him. Ken had been hurt so much already that Daisuke wouldn't be able to stand it if he was hurt any more. But... Ken was being hurt again. Daisuke had seen it.
His mind flashed back to hours before, when he had been chasing after the van that had taken Ken away. He had yelled Ken's name over and over, trying desperately to will his exhausted legs to keep running. He kept yelling and yelling, even though his throat felt scratched, as that was the only way he knew how to reach his friend. Suddenly, when he was just about to give up, he had seen Ken's face in the window and heard him pounding his fists on the door of the van, trying to break it open. Ken had looked so terrified, so helpless. Daisuke had increased his failing speed and tried to reach the van, hoping he could be able to help Ken when suddenly, Ken's hands flew to his head and he had screamed in pain. Daisuke had seen him do this several times before. The powers of darkness had been trying to control him again, to force him to do their bidding. Daisuke had tried desperately to catch up with the van, so he could help Ken, but his legs just would not go any further, and he had fallen to his knees in exhaustion. As the van drove through a Digital Gate and disappeared, Daisuke had slammed his fists into the street, enraged at his inability to help Ken when he was being hurt.
'It isn't fair. Why does he have to suffer so much? Can't they just leave him alone?' he thought. Suddenly, a noise to his side caught his attention. Miyako had kneeled down again and was moving the rocks aside, to help him. She turned to him with apologetic eyes.
"Daisuke... I-I'm sorry. It was wrong of me to judge Ken like that. I'm going to help you look anywhere you think we should, so we can find him... okay?" she asked. He smiled in gratitude.
"Thank you, Miyako."
They continued to clear away the stones. As they worked, Daisuke thought, 'Ken, we're going to find you. We're not going to let the darkness take you. Don't give up hope.'
"Ken-chan! Ken-chan! Please answer me, Ken-chan! I'm here to protect you!" Wormmon shouted. He was crawling some ways ahead of Iori and Yamato, alongside Garurumon, who was also calling out for Ken. Digmon was searching below them in the Digital World's underground systems. They were in a forest, full of lush plant life and the occasional misplaced road sign, but had uncovered no sign of Ken or his captors.
"Ken! Are you there?"
"Yamato, do you think I could talk to you for a minute?" Iori asked his older companion. The other boy looked at him curiously and slowed his pace so they were out of hearing range from Wormmon and Garurumon.
"What is it, Iori?" he asked. The Chosen Child of Knowledge and Reliability looked uneasy.
"I was just wondering how you can trust Ken," he said quietly. Yamato's features sharpened into a confused frown.
"What do you mean?" he asked, puzzled. Iori squirmed slightly, seemingly trying to find the right words.
"Well, you saw how awful he was when he was the Kaiser. What if he's reverted back into that state? Koushiro said it would be easier for him than for any of us. How can you just go off to look for him without knowing what he'll be like when we find him? Don't you care that he could hurt you and everyone you care about if he's given in?" he asked. Yamato stopped walking and stared at Iori. After a minute, his look softened and he smiled slightly.
"I can look for him because I want to be his friend. From what I know of him, he's seems like a wonderful boy, and I want to be friends with him. There's nothing more to it than that," he replied. Iori still looked puzzled.
"Listen, Iori. The powers of darkness want to make whoever their victim is feel alone and frightened. So, if Archnemon is aiming to turn Ken evil again, she is going to try to make it seem like no one cares about him. All we can do for him right now is look for him and try to let him know that he has friends who care about him. Even if he does give in, we can still prove to him that we're his friends, and that might be enough to turn him back. I can try to prove it that I want to be his friend and that I want to help him," Yamato explained. Iori frowned slightly, processing the information.
"So, you don't care that he might hurt you? You're still going to try to be friends with him no matter what?" he asked.
"Exactly. It's the least I can do for him. What about you?" the older boy asked. Iori's frown remained.
"I'm just not sure yet." Yamato smiled at him.
"Well, I bet you'll realize what you have to do soon enough. C'mon, let's go see if Wormmon has found anything."
"Did you find anything?" Takeru called to Hikari from Pegasmon. She came out of the small hut and shook her head.
"No one in this village knows anything about Ken being kidnapped," she replied. Takeru and his Digimon landed next to her. He looked around for her Digimon.
"Where's Tailmon?" he asked.
"She's in the next village. Did you get any information?" Takeru shook his head.
"No. Nobody in the town I checked knew where Archnemon or Ken were," he replied. Hikari hugged herself.
"Takeru, I don't like this at all. Archnemon can't be that well-hidden and if there were humans here, the Digimon would know it."
"I know what you mean. It's like they just disappeared." Hikari's grip on her arms tightened.
"I'm scared for him, Takeru. I can feel the darkness and it's growing bigger. If we ever want to see Ken, we're going to have to find him soon. I don't think he's going to be able to hold out much longer," she whispered, fear in her voice. Takeru touched her shoulder lightly.
"It'll be okay, Hikari. We'll find him, I promise," he assured her. A small beeping caught his attention. He checked the clock on his D-3.
"Well, it's time to report back to Primary Village. Let's get Tailmon and go," he said. She nodded. They climbed on Pegasmon and flew off.
By the time Hikari, Takeru, Pegasmon, and Nefertimon got to Primary Village, the others were all waiting for them. They sat in a circle around a printed version of Koushiro's map of the Digital World. Hikari took out a red pen and they began crossing off the parts of their designated areas that they had already searched. Wormmon seemed to get more depressed and Daisuke seemed to get more determined with every section they crossed out.
"Where are you, Ken-chan?!" Wormmon cried. Hikari smiled faintly at him.
"Don't worry. We'll find Ken soon," she assured him.
"I have to admit, it is a little discouraging that we haven't found a trace of any of him, Archnemon, or Mummymon, and we've searched so much," Iori stated. Daisuke stood, determined.
"Well, that means there's less area for us to search now. C'mon, let's get back to work!" he said, anxious to be off. The others agreed and stood, ready to split up again.
"Oh, if you're going to go off again maybe I should have spared the trouble of coming all the way out here," came a sickeningly familiar voice from behind them. The group spun around to find...
"You," Daisuke hissed.
"Me," Archnemon replied with a smile. She was standing on top of one of the oversized blocks that made up Primary Village. Daisuke's eyes narrowed in anger.
"What did you do with Ken?" he asked, rage apparent in his voice.
"That little brat? Well, I do believe that's my personal affair," she said haughtily.
"Tell us where Ken is or we're going to attack you," Takeru growled, D-3 ready. Archnemon flicked her hair casually.
"Do what you like. If you attack me, you know I'll never tell you where I hid him away," she said. "I'd also be forced to take out my annoyance at being attacked on Ken, and I'm just not sure his body can take any more punishment right now." Daisuke was positively shaking with rage.
"What did you do to him?!" he asked. Archnemon smirked. Daisuke clenched his fists.
"How DARE you!" he yelled, starting forward. It took Yamato, Miyako, and Takeru to hold him back, and he struggled madly against their hold.
"Archnemon you're never going to get away with this! Let me go!" Daisuke yelled.
"Daisuke, there's nothing you can do right now. I know it's hard, but you can't fight her," Yamato told him, tightening his hold on Daisuke's arm.
"Don't worry, Daisuke. We can make her pay when we rescue Ken," Takeru said. Archnemon laughed.
"Stupid boy. You're never going to see Ken again... at least, not as your friend. I'm going to make sure his mind and soul are twisted beyond any recognition. Content yourselves with that thought and this," she said before throwing something to Hikari. She jumped down from the block and ran out of sight, Daisuke yelling after her.
"Archnemon get back here right now and tell us where Ken is!! ARCHENEMON!!!"
The Chosen Children once again sat in the computer lab, staring at the object that had been thrown to Hikari. It was a cassette tape. After calming Daisuke down, they had left the Digital World to bring it to Koushiro. He was studying it carefully.
"It just looks like an ordinary tape. I can't find any possible traps on it," he said after looking it over.
"What if it contains subliminal messages?" Iori asked. Koushiro shrugged.
"Those don't affect the brain as much as most people think. Even if it did, we could keep a careful watch on each other to make sure we don't do anything drastic," he replied.
"I think we should play it. It might help us find Ken, and I'm willing to try anything right now," Hikari said. The others nodded and Koushiro popped the tape into a cassette player. He hit play and the tape began playing.
A tiny gasp was the first sound they heard. Then came a voice, a small whisper. The voice was filled with so much pain that tears came to Wormmon's eyes upon hearing it. Everyone recognized the person speaking.
"Help me... please..." It was Ken. There was a brief pause in the tape, as if he was getting a response from someone.
"I-Iori... no..." Iori turned his head away, tears shining in his eyes.
"Please... don't... leave... me..." Ken was pleading for them to help him. There was another pause.
"M-Miyako... why..." Miyako covered her face with her hands.
"T-Takeru... help... me... p-please..." Small sobs could be heard from the tape. Takeru removed his hat and clenched it in his fist. There was a long pause.
"H-Hikari... p-please...come... back..." Hikari let out a small cry and buried her face in Takeru's shoulder.
"D-Daisuke... please... Please... d-don't... leave... me... alone... I-I... need... you...to... help... me... p-please..." The crying was getting louder, Ken's words and sobbing choking and painful. Daisuke stood there, unmoving.
"Wormmon... no... please... no!" Tears poured from Wormmon's eyes as Ken desperately cried out to his partner, sobbing.
"Wormmon... please... come... back... Wormmon... Wormmon... WORMMON!!!" Ken's screams faded out, only to be replaced by long, cruel laughter. The tape shut off and Koushiro turned to the other horrified and sorrowful Chosen Children.
Everyone jumped and turned to see what had made the noise. It was Daisuke. He had punched the wall hard enough to dent it faintly. He sank to the floor wordlessly, holding his bruised and slightly bleeding knuckles. Miyako ran over to him.
"Daisuke, are you all right?" she cried, taking off her bandanna and wrapping it around his hand.
"We're going back," he whispered, his emotions unreadable.
"We're going back to the Digital World. We're going to find Archnemon and make her pay for what she did to Ken." The others nodded solemnly.
"Let's go," Takeru said.
"Good luck," Koushiro said. Daisuke stood and held out his D-3.
"Digital Gate open," he murmured. "Ken, we'll find you and make Archnemon pay for what she's done."