Digimon Destined

By Niki "NeeP" Paradis

Chapter Six:  Escape From the Collector Digimon

    "Whatever do you mean?" asked Igorimon in confusion.  "I didn't do anything...  Did I?"
    Gennai gestured to the collar that Jyoumon was wearing.  "Tell me why you gave Jyoumon that collar."
    "Well," began Igorimon hesitantly as she thought back a couple of days ago, "I remember thinking that it was unfortunate that he didn't have anything of his own to wear.  Taimon has a shirt and goggles.  Matimon has a shirt and pants.  If Jyoumon had any human clothes at all, there is no way that he could wear them.  So I made him a collar, just something that he could wear with the form that he has."  Then she looked horrified.  "Oh my," she said faintly.  "What have I done..?"
    All of the other Digimon were getting confused.
    "What difference does a collar make anyway?" asked Matimon, scratching his head.  
    "Igorimon...  Then, you do know how this project of Frankenmon's works, right?" asked Gennai softly.
    The tall Digimon nodded glumly.
    "Then tell us all how Frankenmon was able to change Jyoumon into this finished form of his."
    "Change me?"  Jyoumon's memory was hazy.
    "Well," began Igorimon, "I remember my master telling me that he hoped to catch the Digi-Destined having a bath or doing any activity that would require them to leave their clothes behind.  He said that the clothing was a means of reminding the kids of who they were.  They had something to remind them of their human forms, and he could not reconfigure them into their completed forms as long as they and their bodies were reminded of what they used to be.  So without a shirt or anything to contain their present form, it would be easy to reconfigure them into a new one."
    "So my shirt and whistle are like a glass that holds the data that makes up me, into the form that I currently have?" asked Karimon.
    "Yes," nodded Igorimon.  "That is it, precisely."
    "But how is the collar a bad thing?" asked Meimimon.  
    "Because the collar is for Jyoumon," said Frankenmon's assistant softly.  "It was made specifically for a Digimon, not a human boy.  The collar reinforced the idea of his being a Digimon, with nothing to remind him of his human self.  When I gave the collar to Jyoumon, I meant it as a gift --something to wear as he couldn't wear any of his human clothes.  I didn’t think of the consequences..."
    "Okay..." said Taimon slowly.  "Then it would help to take Jyou's collar off."  He took a few steps towards the white and blue Digimon, reaching for the buckle.
    Jyoumon backed away, growling.  "This is mine!" he snarled.  "It's a gift!  I won't let you take it!"
    "It's for your own good!" protested Tai.  "It has to come off, Joe!"
    Jyoumon lunged at Taimon, snapping at his hands.  "I said no!  You wouldn't like it if I took your goggles away, would you?!?"
    Taimon backed away.  "Okay, you win, Jyoumon.  I mean, if you put it that way..."
    "Igorimon gave this to me...  I don't have much else to wear," said Jyoumon desperately.
    The leader of the Digimon looked towards Gennai in despair.  "I don't know what to do," he said.
    The old man looked thoughtfully at the white and blue Digimon.  "Let me try something else," suggested Gennai.  "Gomamon, we're going to need that Digivice back."
    "Huh?  Oh!  Okay..."  The little Digimon pawed at the shoelace, trying to remove it.
    "Here," interrupted Meimimon.  "Let me."  With her slender fingers, she quickly untied the knot that fastened the Digivice around Gomamon's neck.  
    "Bring it over here," instructed the old man.  Meimimon did so, confusion again clouding her usually serene features.
    "What will this accomplish?" asked Matimon as he scratched his head, looking at the Digivice and Jyoumon quizzically.
    "There's probably a bright light that shoots from the thing that will clear up Jyou's mind," suggested Taimon, remembering a time when his Digivice helped cleared Leomon's mind.
    "Nothing quite so fancy," disagreed Gennai.  "Now hush for a moment.  Meimimon, put the Digivice on the floor."  The Flower girl Digimon did so, and backed away.
    "What's going on?" asked Jyoumon nervously.  
    "Nothing really," said the holographic image in a calm voice.  "Do you know whose Digivice that is?"
    Jyoumon grunted.  "Yeah, it's mine."
    "You know that only the Digi-Destined would have them, correct?"
    "Yeah..."  Jyou's head tilted to the side in confusion.
    "And the Digi-Destined are supposed to be human, right?"
    The white and blue Digimon shook his head.  "They're not human and they are carrying Digivices."
    "We used to be human, Joe!" exclaimed Soramon.  "Remember?"
    Jyoumon shook his head stubbornly.  "No, I don’t.  I don't believe you!"
    Gennai sighed.  "Um."
    "This is going nowhere," muttered Matimon.
    "Patience, Mati," countered Gabumon.  "Gennai knows what he is doing."
    "I hope so," said Gomamon softly.
    "If this Digivice is yours, then you know how to use it, right?"
    "Of course, I do!" said Jyoumon indignantly.
    "I would push the buttons to check on the status of Gomamon, and to track how far we have traveled and..."
    "How would you push the buttons?" asked the old man.
    "Come on!  Gennai!  You have to be kidding me!"
    "Humour an old man for a moment.  How would you hold the Digivice?"
    Jyoumon looked at the small electronic device on the floor.  He let out a ragged breath of exasperation.  "I would hold it in my..."
    There was a flash of memory.  A pale hand, without fur, holding the device.
    "...Hand...?"  Jyoumon looked down at his paws, as if in shock.  He alternately stared at the Digivice and at his paws in silence.
    "Jyoumon, are you all right?" asked Tiikeimon.
    "I've got no hands..."
    "Joe?" asked Soramon.
    But the white and blue Digimon didn't hear her.  
    "This isn't right..." he said softly to himself as he held up his paw to his face.  "Aren’t I supposed to be human?"
    "Jyou?" asked Gomamon in a small worried voice.
    "I'm a Digimon!" Jyoumon howled.  "I can't hold my Digivice!"  Tears started to roll down his fur-covered cheeks.
    "Joe!" cried out Gomamon.
    Jyoumon shook himself, then took a couple of deep ragged breaths.  He wiped away the tears with the back of his large paw.  "I'm okay," he said finally.  "I'm just trying to figure out who I am..."
    "That is simplicity in itself," said Izimon.  "You're Joe Kido.  You are a Digi-Destined.  You are a Digimon.  You are Jyoumon."
    "I don't think that helps much," sighed the large Digimon, as he tried to follow Izimon's logic.  
    "I think he means that you are all of those things, Joe," suggested Matimon.
    "Exactly," nodded the bug-boy Digimon.  "Four identities, one person."
    "And even more than four identities," commented Tentomon.  "Each Digivolution has an identity of its own."
    "Huh?" asked Taimon intelligently.
    "I get it!" exclaimed Agumon.  "I can be 'Agumon', or 'Greymon', or even 'Koromon', but I am still me no matter what form I take."
    "That is true," nodded Izimon.
    "But the problem that I have," said Jyoumon softly, "is that I can't help but forget that I am 'Joe', as well as 'Jyoumon'.  I have to remember that..."
    "So what you need then, is something to remind you of your 'Joe' identity," suggested Gabumon.  "Something that can be worn..."
    "That's a great idea," agreed Gennai.
    "So," asked Taimon, "What have we got?"
    Meimimon was rummaging around through the duffle bag with the help of Palmon.  "Let's see..."
    "It will have to be something that was wearing after the primary change," said Igorimon.  
    "Why's that?" asked Tiikeimon.
    "Because those would be the items that would contain the 'Joe' identity.  It is because Jyoumon was not wearing them that my master was able to reconfigure him, and the reason why he forgot about being 'Joe'."
    "That's what he meant!" exclaimed Jyoumon.
    "Huh?" asked Gomamon brightly.
    "That was what he meant by me not having anything to remind me of my sense of self, when he changed me."
    Izimon and Gennai nodded in agreement.
    "I think you are correct," said Izi.
    "Um," grunted Meimimon.  "That would probably leave out the socks and ik! --underwear..."
    "Hey!" protested Jyoumon.  "It's clean!  I just didn’t want to return to the Digital World without a clean change of clothes..."
    Gomamon laughed.  "That's my Joe!"
    "It sounds like he's himself again," chuckled Matimon.
    "What's left, Meimi?" asked Palmon.
    "Um, there is the sweater-thingy and Joe's glasses..."
    "Well," said Soramon thoughtfully, "the sweater won't fit him as he is --at least he won't be comfortable in it..."
    "And he doesn't need the glasses," murmured Matimon.
    "Is there anything else?" asked Biyomon.
    "I don't see anything," sighed Meimimon.
    "How about this?" suggested Palmon as she held something up by a chain.  Sunlight from the temple window flashed off of the silvery-grey surface of the Crest of Reliability.
    "Perfect!" exclaimed Taimon.
    "That would do very well," agreed Gennai.
    Soramon took the tag and crest from Palmon and put it over Jyoumon's head, careful not to get the chain tangled in his thick mane.  The tag and crest settled on Jyoumon's chest among the thicker fur.  "There you go, Jyou," she said to him brightly.
Jyoumon looked down at the crest.  I am Joe and Jyoumon...  I won't forget that... now, he thought.
    "Thanks," he said honestly.
    "Now that that problem has been taken care of, I think it's time for some grub!" announced Taimon.  A large rumble emanating from his midsection followed his statement.
    Gennai grunted.  "You'll have to make it quick," he said in a low voice.  "My sources say that Frankenmon is well aware of your destination, and it is most likely that he will try to intercept you."
    Igorimon's usually sunny face was serious.  "I see," she said.  "We will make it a quick breakfast, then we will be on our way."  She turned to the group standing by her and the hologram.  "Let's go dears, we haven't much time."
    Gennai's holographic image started to fade.  "I will see what I can do to slow Frankenmon down," it said before it disappeared.

    Breakfast was short and cold.  There was no time for a hot meal.  
    They ate in the front foyer of the Shrine, around the fountain.  They were finished quickly.
    "We must hurry," said Igorimon to Taimon.
    Tai nodded.  "Just take what we absolutely need, guys," he said to the others.  "We're gonna have to travel light.  We want to beat Frankenmon there."
    "But can't Frankenmon just travel through those spatial rifts that he makes?" asked Tentomon.  
    "It will be a challenge to beat him to the laboratory," agreed Izimon as he checked once again the knot on his makeshift strap of this computer bag.
    "The distance that my Master can travel in his Inter-dimensional rifts isn’t very far," commented Igorimon.  "We may be able to get to the Lab before him, but we must hurry."
    Only the bare was packed.  Just enough food and water to last the Digimon to the Laboratory, according to Igorimon.  It was fortunate that whoever it was that built the Shrine had the foresight to stock it with provisions.  Small bundles were tied and distributed to those who could best carry them.
    "Okay!  Let's go, everybody!" cheered Taimon.  "And remember, that this could be our last day as Digimon, so let's all enjoy it!"
    Agumon snorted.  "Speak for yourself!  I'm planning on remaining a Digimon, thank you very much."

    Despite their need to make haste, there were some Digimon who weren't all that anxious to go.  It took a bit of time to convince them to leave.  
    Some were easier to convince than others.
    "It's a shame that we have to leave this place," sighed Biyomon.
    "I know what you mean," said Gatomon.  "This is certainly a peaceful place."
    "I have never felt so safe since I came to the Digital World," said Soramon.
    "That's true," agreed Taimon.  "But we can't stay.  We have to get to Frankenmon's Lab."
    "I know, I know, but I am going to miss this place."
    "Noooo!  I don't wanna goooo!" wailed Meimimon as her friends pulled her away from the front column that she was clinging on to.
    "Let's go, Mimi," grunted Izimon as he and Palmon pulled on her feet.  "We have a world to save."
    "Meimi," chided Palmon, "What kind of example are you setting for the others?"  
    The flower girl Digimon finally loosened her grip on the column, and fell flat on her face.  Both Palmon and Izimon held their breath, waiting for the on-coming temper tantrum.  But without another moan or word, she got up, brushed off the front of her dress and strode away from the entrance in a very dignified manner.  Both Izimon and Palmon let out a sigh of relief and followed.
    They left the shrine.  Everyone was already missing the place before they finished descending the steps.
    "That was a really nice place, wasn't it, Meimimon?" asked Palmon to her partner.
    "It was wonderful!" agreed the flower girl Digimon.  "Not quite as nice as the hotel that my family stayed in last summer, but I think I liked the temple better."
    "Maybe that is because the shrine was meant especially for us," suggested Soramon.  
    "That may be it," said Meimimon thoughtfully.
    "Do you think we might be able to go back there someday, Sora?" asked Biyomon.
    "Who knows?" Soramon smiled at her friend.

    They travelled on towards the laboratory.  As they walked, they noticed that the scenery was getting wilder, both in density and shape.  The trees were growing in odd angles and sideways as well as upwards.  Flowers were in brighter colours, as well as striped, polka dot and plaid.
    "This is impossible," breathed Izimon as they pushed their way through tall pink and yellow grasses.
    "What's impossible?" asked Igorimon, in confusion.
    The bug-boy Digimon gestured towards what seemed to be a rose bush, and every rose was a different colour and pattern.      "All of this!" he said in exasperation.  
    "It is very possible," replied Igorimon.  "As you can see, this is all here."
    "But... "
    Meimimon smelled the fragrance of a yellow and blue checked flower.  "Do you think that it is possible that someone was changing things out here?" she asked.
    "Changing things?" asked Izimon.
    "Yeah," agreed Tiikeimon.  "Like how Frankenmon changed us.  You said it is like programming, what he did to us."
    "And since everything here is already digital..." suggested Matimon.  
    "It would be easy for someone to reprogram the environment," said Tentomon.
    "Take a look at what Piedmon has already done to the Digital World," said Soramon.
    "That's right!" agreed Biyomon.  "He made a lot of changes."
    "You're correct," Izimon finally conceded.
    "But, I wonder," mused Taimon, placing a hand on his chin as he walked.
    "What is it, Tai?" asked Agumon.
    "Do you think that Piedmon twisted the Digi-World on his own, or do you think that he had help..?"
    "Like, from Frankenmon?" asked Jyoumon.
    "Um," grunted Igorimon.  "That may be a possibility."
    "I don't understand," said Karimon.  "Why does anyone want to change the Digital World into something ugly?"
    "Some people who have power, think they can use it to show off," said Gatomon.
    "Why?" Karimon was confused.
    "I think that people like Myotismon and Piedmon think that if they show off their dark powers in one huge display, they can scare everyone into obeying them.  That way, they don't have to use their powers constantly to make everyone do what they want, because people would do it out of fear."
    "That's awful!" exclaimed Tiikeimon.
    "Yeah!" agreed Patamon.
    "So, do you think that once we deal with Frankenmon, the Digital World will return to normal?" asked Matimon.
    "If he is the one responsible," said Izimon.
    "But what if he isn't?" asked Gabumon.  "What if it is Piedmon who is responsible for what happened to the Digital World?"
    "Then we deal with him too," said Matimon grimly.
    "But will that be enough?" asked Biyomon.
    "Let's hope so," said Taimon.

    They walked on for a bit more.  Grasses as high as Igorimon's chest made the trek difficult.
    "Pushing through these weeds is tiring me out," complained Jyoumon.  "Can we take a break?"
    "Yeah!" chimed in Gomamon, who couldn't even be seen for the tall grasses.
    Taimon made the motion as to wipe the sweat from his brow only to find out that as a Digimon, he didn't sweat in the same manner as he would if he was human.  He panted instead.  "That may be a good idea," he said.  "What do you think, Igori?  Can we stop for ten minutes?"
    Igorimon nodded listlessly.  "I think we should," she said.
    Everyone, but Igorimon fell to the ground in a heap.  She settled onto the grass more gracefully.
    "How much further, Igorimon?" asked Karimon in a quiet voice.
    "Not much further now," replied the tall Digimon in an equally quiet voice.  "If nothing goes wrong, we should be able to reach my Master's laboratory by nightfall."
    "So this really could be our last day as Digimon," said Soramon softly.
    "I'm gonna miss it," said Tiikeimon.  "I like being able to fly."
    "You know something?" said Jyoumon suddenly.
    "What?" asked Gabumon.
    "I'm not certain that I want to be human again," he said.
    Everyone looked to Jyoumon, and to make certain that he didn't lose his Tag and Crest.
    Jyoumon snorted, knowing what everyone was looking.  "This is me talking, guys," he assured them.  "I'm just saying that I wouldn't mind staying a Digimon."
    "Why's that?" asked Tiikeimon.
    Jyoumon stood up and stretched.  He sat back down before answering.  "You know how I am as a human, right?  Always complaining about allergies, discomfort, missing my studies, you know?"
    "Well, yeah..." said Taimon hesitantly.
    "I don't get it, Jyou," said Matimon.  "When this all began, you were the one making the most noise about wanting to be human again."
    "I know..."
    "So, why the change of heart?"
    "Think of it this way, Mati...  Right now, I am a Digimon."  With one paw, Jyou gestured to himself.  "I have no allergies, I am very comfortable in this body and I can swim.  I don't have to worry about drowning as much as I used to.  And without hands, it makes it difficult for my dad to insist that I become a doctor.  I could actually do what I want."
    Everyone was looking at Jyoumon thoughtfully.
     "But you know that we have to be human again," said Soramon.  "Right?"
    "I know that I have to do what I can to fight Piedmon," Jyou said slowly as if it was something that he'd rather not think about.  "But why can't I fight him like this?  Do I really have to be human?"  
    "Gennai says that we have to be human again," said Tiikeimon.  
    "Otherwise our partners can't Digivolve to their Mega forms," finished Karimon.
    "Why can't I just find a way to let Goma to Digivolve to Mega while I'm like this?"
    "We don't have the time," said Matimon.
    "We're almost at Frankenmon's laboratory anyways," said Agumon.
    "Why not just become human like the others?" asked Gabumon.
    "But I don't want to," protested Jyoumon.
    "But what about your family?" asked Meimimon.  "What will your family say?  Don't you think that they would be upset?"
    Jyou thought about it for a moment then shrugged.
    "Maybe.  But I'm the youngest of three boys.  Mom and Dad would still have Jim and Jon*.   They wouldn't miss me too much.  They can become the doctors that Dad wants."
    "Joe!" exclaimed Meimi in shock.  "That's very selfish of you!"
    "Yeah," agreed Soramon.  "That isn't like you at all, Jyou."
    Jyoumon bent his head down and tightly shut his eyes.  He was so tired of giving in.  Why must I be a doctor like my Dad wants me to be?  He still has Jim and Jon...  They can be the doctors, can't they?
    "I mean, that I am so tired of doing certain things because that is what everyone expects me to do," he said earnestly.  "Why can't I just do what I want to do?"
    No answer.  The silence went on for a moment, everyone waiting for someone else to say something.
    "Because, you're not that kind of person, Joe..." said Gomamon softly.  
    Jyoumon looked down at his partner.
    "What do you mean?" he asked.
    "I hate to tell you this, Joe, but you're not a selfish kinda guy.  You'll do what you have to do, because you know that it's right."
    Jyoumon stared at Gomamon for a moment before replying.  Then he smiled sheepishly.
    "Yeah, I guess you’re right."
    "Once we get the important stuff done, then you can do something for yourself, okay?  I'll even help you."

    They began their trek again, lead by Igorimon.  Through fields full of still extremely colourful flowers, and over streams they walked.  But at least the riotous flora seemed to be calming down.  It looked as if Piedmon's evil influence hadn't affected this particular part of the Digital World, but the air was hot and heavy, as it would become on Earth before a really large storm.  Everyone was getting nervous despite the pretty scenery.  It was too quiet.
    "So, when are we gonna be attacked?" asked Jyoumon in his typical paranoid way.
    "I dunno," replied Taimon.  "I'm hoping that we won't be, but something doesn't feel right."
    "I don't see any other Digimon," commented Tiikeimon.
    "Or anything else for that matter," commented Gabumon.
    Igorimon said nothing, but everyone could tell from the look on her face that she felt that things weren't quite right either.  But she turned to her charges and tried to smile brightly.  "Not much further dear ones," she said.  "We should still be there before sunset."
    "Then what, Igorimon?" asked Agumon.
    "That would depend," replied the tall Digimon.  "Let's wait until we get there before we figure out what to do next."
    "Um, are you certain about that?" asked Izimon.  "Shouldn't we have a idea of what we are going to do?  I'd like to know what our options are."
    "There is only one entry into my Master's laboratory, and my Master knows that is where we are going."
    "How would he know that?" asked Tentomon, buzzing to keep pace with her.
    "Where else would we be going?" asked Matimon.  "It doesn't take much for anyone to figure out that the only place for a possible solution for our problem."

    "What's wrong, Tai?" asked Agumon in concern as they walked along.
    "Um, nothing," replied Taimon.  "Just thinking..."
    "About what?"
    The lizard-boy Digimon sighed.  "Well, I was thinking of that midnight snack you and I were getting a couple of nights ago.  You know?  From the kitchen?"
    "Yeah?" asked the small dinosaur.  "What about it?"
    "It's just that I wasn't wearing anything..."
    "And we were in Frankenmon's house.  If Frankenmon showed up then, I could have wound up like Jyoumon!"  Taimon shook his head.  "I could have been reconfigured and losing my memory!"
    "But you're not," replied Agumon.  "And besides, Joe's doing much better now.  He knows who he is!"
    "Yeah, I guess," replied Taimon, sneaking a side look at the large white and blue Digimon.  But he still isn’t quite...  um, right...

    They continued to trudge along for a while, until Igorimon called for a rest to have dinner.  They settled under the branches of a large tree.  The sun was low on the horizon.  The atmosphere was very gloomy, yet no one suggested lighting a fire to ward off the soon to be coming darkness.  There  just was no time for one.
    The mood during the meal was subdued.  Without a fire, Igorimon could not cook and the Digimon had to settle for plain rations.
    They were finishing their meal in silence when an evil laugh echoed through the air.
    "Looky!  Looky!  See what I have found yet again!" called an evil voice from above.
    "Not again..." growled Matimon.  "Why do we have to put up with this...?"  His voice trailed off as he looked at his little brother.
    "Let's just end it," muttered Taimon.
    "Come on, kiddies! Wait 'til you see what I have in store for you!" she called down at them.
    "Why don't you come on down and fight?!?" shouted Gomamon.  "Or are you too chicken?!?"
    "Why should I soil my hands on the likes of you?" she taunted them.  "I rather watch you all get humiliated, or killed."
    "Like you were successful the last few times?!?" yelled Soramon.  
    "Maybe this is the time, I'll get lucky.  If not, I guess I will keep sending Digimon at you until Frankenmon gets to his lab.  Then it won't matter."
    The Digimon all climbed slowly to their feet.
    "Get ready to fight guys!" called Agumon.
    "Oh no you don't!" came a disembodied voice.  It seemed to be a cross between husky and feminine.  "You will not have these ones!  They are mine!"
    A shadow formed under the fugitive Digimon.
    "What the heck..?" exclaimed Taimon.  
    "Let's get out of here!" cried out Jyoumon, as he started to move towards the end of the darkness forming under him.  But he didn't get far as the darkness under them became a pit.  Sixteen Rookies and one Champion Digimon fell into a black chasm.  
    "No!" shrieked Lady Devimon as the hole sealed up afterwards.  

    They awoke in blackness.  A single light shone down on them, not allowing them to see beyond.  
    "That's right, my Darlings," said a syrupy voice.  "Time to wake up."
    "Where are we?" asked Soramon.
    "You're in my abode, Precious one," said the voice.
    "And where is that?" asked Tentomon.
    "Oh!  Hang on!  Let me get the lights."  There was a crashing sound as if someone was stumbling around in the dark.
    Taimon took the moment to look at the others.  Everyone was starting to move except for Igorimon.  The kind Champion was still unconscious.  
    "Anyone get the plate of that Semi that hit us?" moaned Jyoumon.  "This headache is gonna last forever, I know it."
    "Hush, Jyou," commented Gomamon.
    "How is Igorimon?" asked Palmon anxiously.
    "She seems to be just unconscious.  She's still breathing at any rate."
    There was the sound of more crashing.  Then the lights came on.
    The Digimon found themselves to be in a huge cavernous room.  Every wall around them was covered with over large shelves.  The shelves were full of domed glass display cases.  That was nothing compared to what was in the cases.
    For almost every case had a Digimon inside.  Most of them were Rookies and In-Training Digimon, all though there were a few Champions and a few Babies.  Some of them were sleeping, some were crying, some were banging on the walls of their glass prisons.  Most were just sitting listlessly.  
    "Mati..?" said Tiikeimon softly.  "I don't like this place..."
    Matimon held his little brother to him, in an attempt to shield him from the view around them.  "I know, Squirt," he replied in a voice as equally soft as his brother's.
    "What is this?!?" demanded Meimimon shrilly.  "What is going on?!?"
    "Why are all these Digimon here?!?" demanded Palmon.
    The oily voice came back to them.  "You see, my Treasure, these Digimon are part of my Collection."
    "Your collection?" echoed Gomamon meekly.
    "This isn't right!" cried out Gabumon.  "No Digimon should be kept here like this!"
    "It is quite all right," said the voice.  "They all accept it in the end."  And then the speaker stepped into view from behind one of the huge shelves.
    A collection of sixteen jaws dropped at the same time at the sight of this huge Digimon.  From the waist upwards, this Digimon resembled a very wrinkly old woman with green-tinged skin and small eyes with golden irises.  Instead of hair, her head was covered with dark green vines with thorns and the occasional small flower.  Her hands were long with tendril-like fingers.  She wore a deep purple sweater over a old lacy blouse.  From the waist downwards, she had a potbelly and tentacles.  It was hard to count how many tentacles she had.  There might have been twenty or more.
    "Who are you?" demanded Taimon.
    "What do you want with us?!?" asked Izimon.
    "My name is 'Atsumamon'."  The large strange Digimon gestured to the shelves.  "As you can see, I am a collector.  I collect Digimon.  I have never seen Digimon such as some of you, and I simply must add you to my collection."
    "Add... to your... collection..?" asked Matimon in disbelief.
    "I really don't like the sound of this," muttered Gatomon.
    "We really can't lose anymore time," hissed Karimon as she pulled on her brother's shirt.
    "I know!" hissed Taimon in return.
    Jyoumon looked up, way up, at their hostess.  "We're really sorry, but we can't stay.  We have to save the Digital World from Piedmon."
    "We gotta become human again!" exclaimed Tiikeimon.
    "Forget it!" shouted Atsumamon.  "Someone else will have to save the Digital World!  You belong to me now!"  The huge Digimon wrapped her tentacles around each of the Digimon.
    "Frankenmon and Piedmon will have to find some other Digi-Destined to play with.  I am not going to let you be harmed by     those maniacs up there.  As for that old busy-body, Gennai, he will have to find some other Digi-Destined to go save the world, as I am not about to let you go."
    She looked into the eyes of Jyoumon.  "You don't really want to become human again, do you?"
    Jyoumon's eyes drooped as if in a daze.  "No, not really..." he said in a faint voice.
    "I do!  We have a world to save!" Taimon shouted as he struggled.  He glared at her and began to prepare a Petit Fire to shoot at her.
    The giant Digimon put a huge finger to his mouth, extinguishing the small fire.  She looked at him and smiled at him.  "Do you really want to lose this talented body of yours?  Do you really want to be ordinary?" she asked as she gazed intently into his eyes.
    She's right, thought Taimon as he thought it over.  What's the point of being human?  We're much weaker that way.  This way, I am strong, right?
    "I guess not," replied Taimon finally in a far-away voice.
    "So, if you stay with me, you won't have to change back."  Atsumamon continued her argument.
    "Makes sense," replied Taimon.
    "I thought you would see it my way."  She strolled to the shelves, and lifted the glass covers off of a couple of the display cases with a couple of free tentacles.  She deposited Jyoumon on a purple silk cushion on one base and Taimon onto a blue cushion on another base on another shelf.  "There you go, my treasures," she said.  "You'll be safe in there."
    The two Digimon didn't say anything, as she replaced the glass covers.
    "Snap outta it, Jyou!" shrieked Gomamon.
    "What are you saying, Tai?!?" cried out Agumon.
    Atsumamon looked at the two Rookies as if for the first time.
    "Oooh, a Gomamon!" she cooed.  "I don't believe I have one yet."  With her tentacle, she lifted the small white and purple Digimon to an empty display case on one of the shelves.  
    "Hey!" yelped the small Digimon.  "Let me go!"
    Atsumamon looked into Gomamon's bright green eyes with her golden ones.  "You don't really want to go, do you?" she asked.
    "Um, no, I guess not," replied the little sea-mammal Digimon.
    "It's her eyes!" shouted Matimon.  "Don’t look into her eyes!"
    But it was too late for the sea-mammal Digimon.  He was quiet as the collector placed him onto a green cushion and replaced the cover.
    "Don't you want to stay with your friend?" Atsumamon asked Agumon with a glance.  
    Agumon was too late in closing his eyes.
    "I guess so," the small dinosaur replied.  He got a green cushion of his own.
    Their captor looked towards Matimon, who promptly closed his eyes.
    "So you think that it is my gaze, Precious?" asked Atsumamon.  "Are you certain?"
    "You can't keep me here!" shouted Matimon.  "Glowing Blaze!"  He spat his attack at her.
    She brushed it away.  "Come now, you don't really want to hurt me, do you?"
    "Um," said Matimon at a lost.  He struggled.  "I don't know..."
    "Here, you can stay here while you decide."  She placed him on a yellow cushion and covered him.
    "Matt!!!" shrieked Tiikeimon.
    "Blue Blazer!" shouted Gabumon.
    "Super Shocker!" cried out Tentomon.
    Many of the others wanted to attack as well, but that required the use of their arms, or wings in some cases.  And others were too upset to attack.
    But Atsumamon didn't react to the attacks at all.
    "Kari!" shouted Gatomon.  "It's her voice!  If she directs her attention to you, you won't be able to help yourself!"

    Up on the shelf, Gomamon was watching the battle.  Why are they fighting? He asked himself.  If they would just listen to Atsumamon, everything would be fine.  The Rookie looked towards the display cases on either side of him.  The one to his left was empty, but the one towards his right was not.  Inside was a small Bukamon, curled up on a small purple cushion.  He was crying.  
    Gomamon blinked.  Bukamon are not that common, and he was disturbed to see one crying next to him.  It was his duty to cheer the little guy up.
    "Hey there, little guy," he called through the glass.  "I'm Gomamon!"
    There was no reply from the In-Training Digimon.  Just the sound of sniffling.
    "What's wrong?"
    One blue eye opened and looked at him.  "I want to go home," he said.
    "Home?" asked Gomamon confused.  Why would anyone want to leave this wonderful place?
    "Oh, that's right.  You're new."  The In-Training Digimon righted himself and looked at him.  "When Atsumamon's spell wears off, you'll know what I mean."
    "Huh?" asked Gomamon brightly.
    "I have been here for a very long time," sniffled the tiny Digimon.  "When I was first brought here, I was just a Pitchmon.  I was very happy to be here at first.  Then I started to miss all my friends at the Primary Village.  And I became sad.  But when Atsumamon speaks to me, I forget how unhappy I am, just for a little bit.  But I still want to go home..."
    "A spell?" asked Gomamon.
    "Yeah, it make you think you're happy for a little bit, and you don't want to argue, but it doesn’t help the lonely feeling."
    "I'll be your friend!" said the small white and purple Digimon in a cheerful voice.
    "You will?" asked Bukamon.
    "Sure, I used to be a Bukamon once," confided Gomamon.
    "You were?!?" exclaimed the tiny Digimon.  "Wow...  Why are you so big now?"
    Gomamon grinned.  He was glad to take the little guy's mind off his predicament.  "I Digivolved.  Right after I met Joe!"
    "Who's Joe?"
    "He's the white and blue Digimon over there," said the Rookie, pointing to where Jyoumon was on another shelf across the room.  "But when we first met, I was a Bukamon and Joe was a human."
    "What's a human?" asked the Bukamon.
    Gomamon grinned as he forgot the battle in front of him to describe his best friend to the little guy.


    "Okay, lady," said the strange Digimon.  "Where's this great battle that you promised me?!?"
    Lady Devimon was at a lost for words.  "Um..." she said, stalling for a moment.  "They were here a bit ago..."
    "Oh?" said the strange Digimon.  "And where is this group of Digimon that you promised?  Did they just vanished into thin air?!?"
    The tall evil Digimon slumped forward.  "No...  They fell into a hole in the ground..."
    "And where is this hole?"
    "Um, it disappeared."
    "Yeah, right."  The strange dark Digimon shrugged, and turned away.  "Well, if they come back, give me a whistle."  He started to walk away.
    "Wait!" cried out Lady Devimon.  
    "Nothin' doing.  I got better things to do wait around for opponents that may or may not show up.  See ya around, Toots."
    The evil Digimon watched until her erstwhile ally disappeared over the horizon.  Then she gave a howl of anguish and slumped down against the trunk of the tree where she found her quarry earlier, and sulked.

    Back in the hole in the ground...

    "You think that you have figured out my secret, Little Trinket?" asked Atsumamon to Gatomon in a syrupy sweet voice.  
Gatomon wasn't listening.  She was humming a song she remember playing on Kari's radio back on Earth.  Anything to block out the sound of the huge Digimon's voice.
    "Leave her alone!" shouted Izimon.  "You are nothing but a humungous bully!"
    "Do you really think so?" asked Atsumamon as she lifted the bug-boy Digimon to her wrinkly face.
    Izimon was trying to think of some tune to hum.  But his brain was full of facts, and not melodies.  He swallowed as he realized that he was going to succumb to her influencing powers as well.  In a final act of defiance, he stuck out his tongue and blew a raspberry.
    "Stop that!" demanded their captor.
    Izimon stopped as he was told.  He felt happier when he did so.
    "That's it," said Atsumamon as she placed the bug-boy on a red cushion and secured him.
    "Izzy!" yelped Tentomon.  "Let him free, you big bully!"
    "It's all right, Tentomon!" came Izimon's voice faintly from behind his glass prison.  "I don't really want to leave."
    "That's not you talking Izi!  That's her controlling you!"
    "It's not so bad..."
    "But what about the Digital World?  What about your parents?"
    Atsumamon place one of her long green fingers over the bug-Digimon's mouth.  "That is enough.  Let's get you safe and sound."  She quickly put Tentomon into a case of his own, even before the spell was complete.  But once deposited on a soft black cushion, Tento had no desire to protest.
    Soramon was frightened for herself and Biyomon.
    "Why are you doing this?" demanded Biyomon.  "We've never done anything to you!"
    "Biyo!  Don’t talk to her!" shouted Sora to her partner.  But even as she spoke, she knew that it was too late.
    "I know that," replied the huge Digimon to the small pink bird.  "And I don't want anything to happen to you either.  I want to keep you all safe, here with me.  Do you understand?"
    "Yes, of course," replied Biyomon faintly.  
    Atsumamon turned her attention to the other feathered Digimon.  Soramon was humming like crazy, trying to block the sound of the collector's voice.  But the huge Digimon put a stop to that by placing a finger on the feathered girl's nose.
    Soramon gasped as she opened her mouth to breath.  And no one can hum with their nose plugged and their mouth open.
    "Everything is going to be all right," soothed Atsumamon.  "You don't need to panic.  Just relax..."
    Sora had no choice but to listen and obey.  Once she was quiet, Atsumamon lifted her and Biyomon to their own display cases, both with red cushions.
    Meimimon shrieked.  "Keep away from me!"
    "Shhh," shushed the Keeper.  "You will be all right.  Keep calm now."
    "No!  No!  No!" cried out Meimimon, drowning out the hypnotic sound of Atsumamon's voice.  The huge Digimon tried to silence her by covering her mouth with her huge fingers, but the flower girl Digimon's thrashing around in the tentacle's grip made it difficult.
    "That's it, Mimi!" shouted Palmon.  "Keep it up!"
    "Huh?" asked Meimimon as she paused to listen to her partner.  
    That was all the time that the collector needed.  "You will be quiet and be good now.  Okay, my Pretty?
    "You think I'm pretty?" asked Meimimon as she began to fall under the spell.
    "No!" cried out Palmon.
    "Of course, I do," said the huge Digimon as she carried Meimimon to another display case.  "There you go, a place to show you off."
    Meimi smiled as she settled on her pink cushion and waited for the glass cover to settle in place.
    Palmon was upset.  Her petals were quivering as she realised that there wasn't really anything that she could do for her partner now.
    "It's all right, Little Sister," soothed Atsumamon.  "You know that I wouldn't hurt your partner, right?"
    Palmon thought of a few words that she knew that she shouldn't even think of before the spell settled over her.  "Sorry about that," she said finally.
    "It's quite all right," replied the large tentacled Digimon as she settled Palmon on a cushion of her own.
    Tiikeimon was starting to panic.  He, Karimon, Patamon and Gatomon were the only ones left.  He wanted his brother to come and help him, but he realized that Matimon didn't want to help.  More like he was unable to want to help.  He felt quite alone.  The Digimon Collector turned her wrinkly face to him.  Tiikei swallowed.
    "You leave T.K. alone!  Boom Bubble!" shouted Patamon, releasing his attack, aiming for her face.
    The small sonic attack bothered the strange Digimon, even though it didn't hurt her.  "Stop that!" she commanded.  But Patamon continued, as if her words had no effect on him.   "Boom Bubble! " he cried out again.
    "Keep calm, my treasures," Atsumamon tried to focus her energies on Gatomon and Karimon, but another Boom Bubble struck her in the face and her words lost their cloying power.
    Tiikeimon then realized something.  Patamon's attack distorted the sound of Atsumamon's voice so that it didn't have the effect on them.  He wanted to help with his Thunder Clap attack, but his arms were bound to his sides by the tentacle that held him.  But he cheered his partner on.  "Go, Patamon!"
    Despite the one little ray of hope, Gatomon was still getting a bit hysterical.  "We have to get outta here!" she shouted, trying to struggle out of Atsumamon's grip.  
    Karimon saw Gatomon's predicament and knew that she had to calm her partner down before they could do anything.  She began her attack, the Soothing Purr.  The soft rumbling sound filled the chamber.  Gatomon heard the sound, and settled down immediately.  Many of the Digimon trapped inside their display cases began to stir, shaking their heads to be free of the stupor that their captor had put them under.  They began to cry out.
    Atsumamon straightened up, startled.  "Hush, my little ones...  You must calm down!"  She used her hand to stop the Boom Bubble attack before it hit her face.  Some of the Digimon behind glass settled only a little.
    "Her power isn't affecting everyone!" exclaimed Karimon.
    "I know!" agreed Gatomon.  "She must only be able to handle a few at a time."
    "And Patamon's Boom Bubble messes with her power!" shouted Tiikeimon.
    Atsumamon appeared to realize that as well.  She turned to the small Digimon that seemed to be immune to her power.  "I hate to destroy a little gem like you, but..." she transferred Patamon from her tentacle to one of her hands.  "But to hang onto the others, you must go..."  She brought her other hand towards the small Digimon and started to crush him in between them.
    "No!  Patamon!" shouted Tiikei.  He noticed that her grip on him loosened and he started to wiggle free.  He saw that both Karimon and Gatomon were doing the same.  But that wasn't as important as saving Patamon.  "Thunder Clap!" he shouted as the brought his hands together and released his attack at her back.  
    The huge Digimon ignored it as she concentrated on squeezing the life out of Patamon.
    He flew around and tried aimed a Thunder Clap to her face.  It was also useless as she was not trying to use her ability.  She was merely using brute strength.
    "Tiikeimon..." whimpered Patamon.
    Tiikei was mad.  Here was the moment that he needed to prove to his brother and everyone else that he WAS capable of fighting on his own.  But everything that he tried wasn't working.  What can he do?
    "T.K.!" shouted a familiar voice.  The flying Digimon spun around until he saw his brother with both fists pounding on the glass.  "You can do it, Little Brother!  I know you can!"
    "How?" wailed Tiikeimon.
    "Digivolve!" shouted Matimon.
    That would definitely work.  
    Atsumamon was concentrating on removing the little flaw, Patamon, from her collection when she heard the yell from behind.
    "Tiikeimon Digivolve into...  Takerumon! "
    She looked up from the small Digimon in her hands to the shining being before her.
    When the glow faded, a fierce looking Digimon hovered before her.  This particular Digimon, she noticed, was not as adorable as he was when he was still a rookie.  He was humanoid, covered with golden brown and cream coloured fur.  He had long blonde hair flowing down his back, and sported large bat-like wings of the same colour as his fur.  He wore a green loincloth and a halter with a blue gem that matched the one on T.K.'s green hat that he was wearing and green gloves.  And he looked very mad.  
    "Let him go!" he shouted and a golden spear appeared in his hands.
    "Do you really want to..." began the huge Digimon in her syrupy voice.
    "Sonic Blast!" screamed Takerumon before she could finish her sentence.  The scream resounded through out the chamber, destroying the hypnotic harmonics that was her power.  It also shattered all of the glass cases on the shelves, and it cleared the remaining fog from the heads of all of the Digimon that just found themselves free.
    Atsumamon dropped Patamon and used her hands to cover her ears.
    Once freed, the small Digimon realized that he had to help his friend.
    "Patamon Digivolve to...  Angemon!"  The angel-Digimon entity replaced the small flying mammal.  He immediately went to join his partner.
    "Don't you realize that it is wrong to keep Digimon prisoner for your own amusement?!?" demanded Takerumon.
    "This is my collection!" shrieked Atsumamon, her voice not nearly as pleasant as it has been.  "You will not take it away from me!!!"  Her tentacles slashed out all over, trying to knock the two flying Digimon from the air.  Angemon used his Angel Rod to deflect the tentacles away from him.  Takerumon used his Golden Spear.
    There was a soft voice that cut through the fighting.  "All of the Digimon are conscious and are aware of where they are and they are free," said Igorimon from the floor where she fell from Atsumamon's clutches.  "They are no longer yours to command."
    The huge Digimon snarled.  "Then I shall start over, and begin my collection anew.  You have not stopped me!"
    "Yet," muttered Tiikeimon.  "We have to keep her from doing this again," he said to his partner, who nodded.
    "This cannot continue!" shouted Angemon.  
    "But you don't want to stop me, do you?" asked the huge Digimon, as she flung all of her tentacles towards them.  But neither of them could hear her.
    "Sonic Scream!" screamed Takerumon again.  The huge Digimon, flinched, then froze as she threw her hands to her ears.
    "Hand of Fate!" shouted Angemon at the same time and a ball of glowing light formed around his fist.  Then, he shot a beam of light at the now defenceless Digimon.  The shaft of light went through her and she screamed.  Then she exploded into brilliant blaze of dispersing pixels.
    "All right, T.K.!" shouted Matimon.  "You did it!"
    When the brilliant light dissipated, all of the Digimon shook their heads.  A lot of the In-Training and Baby Digimon were starting to wail.  
    The little Bukamon that Gomamon befriended did not though.  
    "She's gone," he said in amazement.
    "Yeah," agreed Gomamon in the same tone of voice.
    Jyoumon bounded over to them.  "Are you okay?" he asked his friend.
    "I'm okay, Jyou," grinned the small white and purple Digimon.  "In fact, I was telling my new buddy all about you."
    Jyoumon looked towards the small grey Digimon.  He smiled at the little creature.  "Hi," he said.
    "Hi!" chirped the little Bukamon.  "Pleased to meet you!"  
    "Same here," grinned Jyou.
    "Hey!" shouted Taimon from across the huge chamber.  "Any ideas on how to get outta here?!?"
    As if on cue, shimmering lights appeared all across the chamber as Digimon started to disappear.
    "What's going on?!?" cried Meimimon in alarm.
    "We're going home!" cried out the little Bukamon joyfully.  He turned to Gomamon, flew over the shattered glass from his display over to him and gave him a quick hug.  "It was great meeting you and Jyoumon," he said.  "Thanks for helping me!" he said as he too started to glow and fade away.
    "Bye," said Gomamon softly, and everything around him started to brighten and the next thing he knew...

    The group of seventeen Digimon were right back to where they started.
    Lady Devimon was brooding under the same tree where they had their lunch earlier.
    They stared at each other for several minutes.  
    "Took you long enough," growled Lady Devimon.  
    "What do you mean?" asked Gabumon.
    "The Digimon that was going to fight you got tired and left."
    "So, you have no one to fight us?" asked Tentomon incredulously.
    Taimon started to snicker.  Agumon joined in.
    Soon all of the others were fighting to keep from laughing at the evil Digimon's predicament.  
    Lady Devimon's face went red.  Then it went redder.
    The Rookie Digimon and the three Champions couldn't stop laughing.
    "That's enough!" screamed Lady Devimon.
    The Digimon stopped laughing.
    "That's it!" she shouted.  "I refuse to sit on the sidelines any longer!  I now know that if I want this job done right, I will have to do it myself!"
    "You're actually gonna fight us?" asked Matimon in disbelief.
    "I will personally take pleasure in destroying you inferior Digimon."
    "Get ready to fight, guys!" shouted Taimon.
    Takerumon and Angemon started forward.
    "No," said Igorimon, putting her hand up.  "Let me handle her."
    The other two Champions paused.
    "You, little servant?" taunted the evil Digimon.  "What can you do to me?"
    "More than you think!" exclaimed Igorimon.  
    "Prove it!  Darkness Poison!"  A huge stream of darkness shot out of the hand of the evil Digimon, heading straight towards them.
    "Shield of Light!" shouted Igorimon as a shimmering dome surrounded them.  The dark stream stopped and disappeared once it hit the light.
    Then to the surprise of the others, Igorimon stepped through the shield to face her opponent proper.
    "Did you really think that I was helpless?" asked Igorimon of Lady Devimon.
    "Perhaps, but that was a defence technique," sneered the evil Digimon.  "What pathetic method do you have for an attack?"
    Igorimon just stood there, not saying anything.
    "Black Wing!" shouted Lady Devimon, releasing her secondary attack.
    "Sparkle Bursts!" shouted Igorimon as she released small glowing balls of light that exploded on impact into brilliant light.  The light destroyed the dark attack.
    Lady Devimon was becoming annoyed.
    "Do you think you're tough?" she asked acidly.  "I can prove otherwise!" The evil Ultimate Digimon went charging towards Igorimon.  But Angemon and Takerumon blocked her with their weapons.  She paused momentarily to regard the two Champions blocking her path, then with terrific strength, she managed to physically haul them aside.  Takerumon crashed into the tree and Angemon ploughed into the ground in the opposite direction.  As the Rookies gasped, Lady Devimon laughed cruelly.  
    "You leave them alone!" shouted Igorimon.
    "And tell me, little servant...  What are you going to do about it?"  With another evil laugh, the Viral Digimon sent a blast of her Darkness Poison towards both Angemon and Takerumon.
    A glow enveloped the Champion Data Digimon.
    "Igorimon Digivolve into...  Titaniamon! "  The light then disappeared to reveal a being unlike any that the Digimon behind her have ever seen before.
    A woman with pale green skin and long copper coloured hair now stood where Igorimon used to be.  She wore golden armour and held a slim shining sword.  She had shimmering gossamer wings that vibrated behind her.
    "Spirit Shine!" cried the new Ultimate Digimon and what seemed to be shimmering faeries of light raced to intercept the dark beams before they hit Takerumon and Angemon.  The dark beams and light sprites collided and vanished.
    "How can you counter my attacks so effortlessly?!?" demanded Lady Devimon.
    "Darkness is no more than the absence of light," replied the tall beautiful Digimon.  Once you bring Light into the Darkness, the Darkness is no more."
    Red eyes opened wide with fear.  "What are you..?" asked the evil Digimon.
    "I am 'Titaniamon'.  I am the protector of the Digimon-Destined."  The tall Digimon raised her shining sword and pointed it at Lady Devimon.  "And you are leaving here now, or you are going to be deleted."
    Lady Devimon scowled.  "You haven't heard the end of me!" she shouted at the Rookies.  Then she spread her wings and took off.  She headed straight towards Spiral Mountain.
    "I think that we won’t see her for a while," said Titaniamon as she turned to her charges.  Her blue eyes were merry as she regarded them."
    Everyone was speechless.  For a moment.
    "Wow!  You were fantastic!" exclaimed Meimimon.
    Most of the others cheered.
    "Tiikei!" shouted Matimon as he headed for his brother.  Gabumon went towards Angemon.
    "I'm fine, Matt," grinned Takerumon briefly.  Then he shimmered as he shrunk down to something that was much smaller.
    Matimon grinned as he picked up a small mouse-like Digimon with cream and white fur.  "You still fine?" he asked his smaller brother.
    "Yep," squeaked the little Digimon.  "I guess you can call me 'Tekumon'."  He grimaced.  "Sorry that I couldn't help Titaniamon."
    "You did fine, Little Bro.  You did great against Atsumamon.  You and Angemon both."
    "I did, didn't I?" said Tekumon with a tired grin.
    "Yeah, you did great T.K.," cheered Patamon as he and Gabumon came over.  Then they went back to the others.
    "You definitely showed her!" laughed Taimon.
    "Prodigious!" cried Izimon and Tentomon together.
    "You and Angemon were very brave," said Titaniamon.

    By this time, the sun had just set.
    "We're running late," sighed Titaniamon.
    "We're not gonna make it, are we?" asked Jyoumon glumly.
    "Not tonight at any rate," said the tall Digimon.
    "Frankenmon has beaten us over there, hasn't he?" asked Karimon.
    "More than likely.  But I think there is still a chance."
    "Are we going to travel through the night?" asked Biyomon.
    "I hope not," said Meimimon.  "I need my beauty rest."
    "I think that it would be dangerous to continue at night," said Soramon.  
    "We wouldn't be able to see where we're going," said Palmon.
    "We wouldn't be able to see any of our enemies either," said Matimon.
    "But we don't have much time left!" exclaimed Karimon.  "We have to get going!"
    "We can't continue," said Gatomon.  "We went through a lot today, Kari.  Everyone's exhausted."
    "But you can't sleep!" exclaimed Karimon.  "We must get to the laboratory before it is too late!"
    "It's too dangerous," said Taimon.  "It's better to rest up now, because we're gonna need the energy tomorrow."
    "But what about Jyoumon?"
    Jyoumon was already asleep, curled around his partner, snoring.
    "Jyoumon will be fine, dear," said Titaniamon.  "He knows who he is."
    "No, dear," said Titaniamon finally.  "Taimon is right.  There is no possible way for you to fight my Master unless you have the energy.  You have to rest.  We will find a way tomorrow."
    "But..." protested Karimon again.
    "Sleep.  I will use my abilities to protect and heal you all."
    The Cat-girl Digimon gave up protesting as she realized just how tired she was.  She sighed and settled down between Gatomon and Taimon and swiftly fell asleep.

    Taimon couldn't sleep.  He laid on his side, staring into the darkness.  He knew that he absolutely needed to sleep, but doubts about the upcoming battle plagued him.  He sighed.
    "Hey!" whispered a voice near-by.  
    "Huh?" asked Taimon softly, squinting around in the darkness.
    A small shadowy deformed figure came waddling out of the shadows.  Taimon sat up suddenly, trying to make out the details in the too dim light.  But he couldn't.
    "Who are you?" he asked in a nervous whisper.
    "Just a friend with some questions."
    "What do you want?"
    "Do you really want to be human again?" asked the hidden Digimon.
    "I have to be," replied Taimon.
    "Do you?  Wouldn't it be better to be a Digimon, with the abilities of one?"
    Tai was getting suspicious.  "Y'know, I have already had this conversation with someone else today.  I didn’t like how that one ended."
    "Perhaps.  But Atsumamon doesn't really know what is going on.  I do.  But wouldn't you be happier as a Digimon?"
    Taimon sighed.  "I think it would be great to remain a Digimon, but the prophesy requires me to be human, so human is what I have got to be."
    "Ah, I see," said the hidden Digimon thoughtfully.  "I guess that I can't convince you otherwise."
    "Nope," agreed Taimon.
    "Thank you for your time then."  There was a pause.  "I have something for you."
    "A means to keep you safe from Piedmon, in case your quest fails..."
    "What do you mean?" asked Taimon.  "Who are you?!?" he hissed, his voice rising.
    "Relax, my friend.  I will not harm you."  Something glinted silver in the dim light.
    "Oh, really?" Taimon was now sceptical.  "What's that?" he asked gesturing towards the bit of silver.
    "This?  Why don't you take a closer look?"
    The lizard-boy Digimon leaned over...
    A blinding flash of light burst in front of Taimon's face.  He felt a sudden burning pain running through his body.  He screamed.  There was a rustle as the hidden Digimon made good his escape.
    Suddenly Igorimon was right beside him.  "What's wrong, sweetheart?" she asked in a worried concerned voice.  
    The other Digimon were starting to sit up.
    "I dunno," moaned Taimon.  "There was a small Digimon who was asking questions about how badly I wanted to be human again.  I told him that I needed to be human again, then he zapped me..." He clutched at Igori's arms.  "It was Frankenmon's device!" he cried out.  "I know it!"
    "Frankenmon was here?!?" asked Soramon.
    "No.  This guy was way too small."
    Igorimon was upset.  "I should have remained as Titaniamon!  I would have been able to prevent this!"
    "It's okay, Igori," sighed Taimon.  "It's not your fault.  This guy was going out of his way to be sneaky!"
    "So what's gonna happen now?" asked Matimon.  "Are you gonna change?"
    "I dunno..."
    "But you're wearing your shirt and goggles," said Agumon.
    "And isn't that how you prevent the changes?" asked Biyomon.  "They will keep you reminded of your 'sense of self'.  --Isn't that what Igorimon said?"
    "Even if he did zap you," said Jyoumon.  "There's no way you can wind up like me."
    "Um."  Taimon shivered.  He felt a little sore all over.
    "Isn't that right?"  Jyoumon turned to Igorimon.
    "Whatever happens," said Tentomon, "there is nothing that we can do about it right now."
    "We will figure everything out in the morning," said Igorimon.  "Get some sleep.  All of you."
    The Digimon settled back down for the night.
    "It'll be okay, Tai," said Agumon.  "I'll be here for you."
    Taimon nodded.  He was exhausted.  "Yeah, you're right.  Things will be fine, thanks Agu."  He laid back down again, and despite the odd nagging feeling that he should be wide awake with panic, Taimon had no problem falling asleep.


* Jim=Shin   Jon=Shuu.  I acknowledge that there are a total of 3 Kido sons.   But I want to keep the English naming scheme.  So, I will call the three Kido brothers: Jim, Jon & Joe.  (If Fox Kids weren't so darn lazy, I am certain that they would have named the second Kido 'Jon', instead of combining the two brothers into a single 'Jim'.  That pisses me off.)  For those of you who don't like it, deal with it.

I would like to thank MoonSheen and CyberWormmon for their ideas to get me past my writer's block.  I also want to thank everyone that threatened me to get on with this story as well.  

Chapter Seven

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