Digimon Protectors - The Highton View Terrace Incident (First Chapter Up)

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Set during the events of Digimon Adventure prior to Season 1 on August 1st 1995 now follows protagonist Captain Archer as he fights to saves the lives of the DigiDestined from the ruthless and cunning Daemon. In a battle against time, Archer must find a way to unite two worlds in order to save them both from Mastermind of Darkness and the wrath of the corrupted Order Agent Railius in his quest for revenge.

THIS IS A MATURE STORY. There is violence, swearing, and mature themes. You've been warned.


Welcome to the new release of Digimon Protectors. Maybe some of you remember I had posted the story here a few years ago and now it has gone into a bit of a rewrite. Now I got some art to go with it now I had the time to get some real work done on it. If you are new here, welcome to my second attempt at the multi-media project of my Digimon fan story. I will be posting chapters and art to go along with it and do an audiobook version of the story if you want to do the podcast thing. It is also an excuse to do my own little voice acting practice so everyone benefits.

As for the involvement of my readers, if you like to have your characters appear in the story be they DigiDestined, Digimon, or some other human caught up in the middle of all this I'm open to having you post them here or between chapters with suggestions to what side of the good or bad side of the line you like them. Keep in mind the setting as this is before any of the Season 1 stuff happens. The form goes as follows:

Name:

Age: If Applicable.

Level: If applicable.

Type: If applicable.

Brief history/possible involvement:


Alignment:


Hope you enjoy the read and the arts! See the First Chapter Below!


 
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Unforeseen Consequences

The rain poured down on the streets of Nerima Japan, every few seconds a red cherry at the end of my cigarette burned orange to give my later than five o'clock shadow a sharp blood mandarine hue as I walked into the uncertainty of my future. My hands were only a little cold behind the charcoal black rough leather gloves as it drew away the dart to exhale the cloud of cancerous smoke, it trailed into the air in a haze until it disappeared among the gray skies above me thinking on the day's events. The wind was strong at my back as the clocks ticked over to five in the morning. A long night overdue to be over, my ride skipping out to go drinking with the rest of my cohorts, a mixed blessing to collect my thoughts. I needed to think about the meeting and how I should either salvage it or just get my plane ticket ready to go back to Seattle.

The name's Archer. That's really all you need. I was on government business in Japan. A notable but low-key conference of those who work on the darker side of the gray lines of work wetter than the rain pouring down on me at the time. I've been to lots of places in the world, strange and dangerous all around. Places you wouldn't like. No one would in their right mind for that matter. Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, Columbia, Sudan, Sierra Leone to name far more than I should. I had lived on and off in Japan but I was actually born on a military base just outside of Toyko. Navy brat somehow turned Army degenerate and then...well it gets classified after that.

For the sake of your curiosity, the business I was on had to do with a special project. Nothing involving aliens before you start getting too far out in tinfoil hat land, just a joint effort between NATO nations. Due to the growing popularity of global terrorism, there was a push to put together some combined force, spearheaded by Japan of all places. They were looking to lift some restrictions on their constitution with US approval, we were looking for more joint training and deployment points in the area. I was just here as an advisor, translator and possibly one in the chain of command of this little outfit. We were stuck on names while we organized our candidates, I put forward Specialized Tactical Anti-Terrorist Interception Command, otherwise known as STATIC Force. When you got two shiny new silver Captain bars on your shoulder it's amazing what ends up getting jotted down on the drawing board.

The rain was starting to die off as I reflected on the meeting. Not often did much get done when you got three different chains of command from five different countries trying to hash out who foots what bill let alone who is going to do what. The droplets pattered lighter and lighter on my head as I saw the clouds thinning out above me. I pulled off my hood to get a good cold breeze going across my scruffy chin and running my hand through my long on top hair to brush out a few bangs in my field of vision. The sides were still cut down to the quick to keep in regulation with the barrette I had to sport around though so it looked a little off. Making my way across the middle of the street, just about to drag off the last of my smoke I heard a crackling in my ear of the world around me suddenly changing for the stranger.

I had a low-profile earpiece headset on, connected to my cellphone in my pocket that began to make some weird high-pitched whistling noise. Sounds like long draw 'tweeeees' winding up before dropping along with what I could only decipher as digital information downloading feedback. The street lights around me started to flicker, my watch's display flashed and randomized numbers. Electrical interfeirance? From what? Looking down the street to my left I saw building lights flash in random patterns, traffic lights flick from stop, slow and go at random. When I looked up the sky stopped me in mid-step.

Above me was not the normal stary sky that I expected as the clouds parted. It looked foreign, bands of what looked like stretches of barcodes mixed with DNA sequences unraveled along the sky. The backdrop to it looked to the striking similarities of the Northern Lights except far more detail and coated the whole sky with faint greens and bright blues. I craned my kneck up I could have sworn I made out what looked like continents, oceans, and even city lights on a world I couldn't be seeing right above me. My cigarette drooped from my lips, fell from it, and made its way down to the wet street below me. The second set of lights came from my right, my eyes darting over after a second. Headlights? Horn sounded. Speeding truck. I'm dead.

I then was struck but not by the vehicle barreling down at me to my painful surprise. Instead, a flash of robes out of the corner of my eye picked me up in a tackle at full sprinting speed into a bone-straining hit. Ripped off the ground, my cigarette fell to the pavement as we sailed back towards the sidewalk. I felt my chest almost cave in before my back hit the cement with a slam and a skid up and over the lip of the sidewalk. The only reason I didn't feel the snap of my spine was my concealed kevlar armor under my jacket and shirt that deadened the blow. Hurt like hell as I rolled over backward three times, slamming my head off a brick wall. My brian jostled in my head, my arms coming up gripping my scraped up scalp. and I slumped to the side with my vision twisting for a few moments. I heard my cigarette hiss out in a puddle.

Curled on the ground I heard another voice giving a slight groan, pulling my knees in as I drew my hand back to see if there was any blood. Yup, blood. I shook my head as i barely missed a concussion, realizing I had flown from the middle of the street at the centerline all the way back to the corner of the sidewalk. The low wall with a barred spiked fence around it symbolically guarding a large residential building, Highenview Terrance in fact as I read from the sign. I looked around to see who had saved my life so suddenly. He was even stranger than the sky was.

I thought he was wearing a very baggy tan trench coat but he was actually wearing some type of monk's robes. It was pretty basic but it has some prestige about it, nicely sewn darker tan trimmings, a solid leather belt around the middle, and some weird rappings around his hands like fight raps. Short brown hair, almost spiked but he had a very long braided ponytail down his back. Around his neck looked like a religious symbol, more like a seal of some kind with the crosses and a shield and really weird-looking symbols looked halfway between Kanji and random computer symbols. He looked in his mid thirties, younger thirties for sure, fair complexion and almost impossibly clean-shaven. On his back was something I was a little more concerned with, a very large scabbard for what looked like a massive broadsword. Medieval in nature, a cleaver of men if you will and that just made it all the more confusing. The robed man stood up to his feet as I got to my knees, squinting through the moderate pain. "Are you hurt?" He asked leaning towards me.

I shook my head as I got up using the fence to get fully up to my feet. I brushed myself off of the grime and water as the truck that nearly hit me sped down the road. Must have panicked and gunned it to avoid my foot up his ass if he got out. "You must get off the streets it isn't safe!" He pointed away.

"Nowhere is ever safe." I answered with a shrug, "Thought my number was up with that truck. What's with the getup?"

He looked confused at my statement. Narrowly avoiding death and not one side of panic he was probably thinking was a little bit strange. Been nearly killed a few times, this one was just a little more surprising and in the soonest retrospect very anti-climatic. I reached for my pack and flicked another cigarette out, I was still expecting an answer. "You know swords aren't legal to carry around here." I said well aware of the hypocrisy of what I had under my tactical jacket, 'Didn't think Japan had HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) with European leanings but---'

"Don't you understand you need to get out of here!" He insisted finally, "I'm trying to---."

"Run away Gennai?" A smooth voice called out from the end of the street, "Time to stop running now."

I looked over just a block away, walking towards us seemed to be photo negative of the man I was speaking to, but that smile on his face was enough to make my senses start to sharpen up to a fight. The robes he wore were almost the same as the man called Gennai's, except they were black with gray trimmings. They were torn and faded at the cuffs, collar, and bottoms worn by time but it looked almost intentional. I would have thought they were twins but the flesh on his face was a pale gray and his hair a solid white sheen against the street lights. What pierced me were his eyes. Blood red. The smile was sinister as he walked all on his own but with every step he took the ground started to form a thick soupy fog that stretched out behind him like a misty cloak, stretching out further and further as he walked. "Who's your friend?" He pointed at me, "Seems a bit old to be someone you might need."

"He has nothing to do with me Railius!" Gennai countered.

The guy laughed with a twinge of madness as I started to slip myself into a defensive posture, hand slowly reaching behind my back. Instincts started to kick on as that dark eather that formed along the street started to take human-like shapes. My mind was trying to process all of this insanity but training was overriding the crazy for practicality. My hand slipped around the hilt of my belt knife. "He's next to you and that's enough." Railius answered, "And you're not going to risk your mission to defend him now are you?"

I didn't answer the threat as those forms started to shift up like pulling themselves out of a tar-like substance, the smokey cloud beginning to peel away to reveal similarly dressed beings, only they had hoods and tight-rapped masks around their faces. The eyes I still saw, glowing and looking right at me with a murderous intent I knew well. Gennai stepped in front of me, reaching behind his back and drawing out that monstrous blade out in one pull. The silver steel flashed out as the sky's cleared and the lights returned to just flickering in and out. "I'll hold him off!" Gennai looked back over his shoulder, "Run you fool!"

I was not going to take a fight like this and I couldn't run anyway now trapped on the street corner surrounded. I had anticipated maybe a mugging or an ambitious kidnapping maybe but all of my equipment was under my poncho. The knives they had looked like they were made to gut crocodiles. Halfway between a kitchen knife crossed with a cleaver, the end was shaped like a fishhook complete with barbs. The pummels had spikes on the end too. Nasty but they probably got the job done like they were looking to do to me and this Gennai guy. My heart rate was through the roof now, veins on my neck throbbing but I kept composure. The tan monk stood with his sword out, ready to defend a not so defenseless stranger as he thought. They quickly circled around us, my avenue of escape not there yet. I looked around for a path out, fences and walls in my way for the moment but nothing I couldn't vault over. "I'll go right and draw them away." Gennai turned back, "I'm sorry for this."

"Don't be." I spoke simply, "Wrong place to be tonight."

Gennai glanced back at that, again confusion crossing his gaze. "You're not afraid?" He asked, "How?"

"Death comes for all of us." I answered as two of the dozen were working out who would lead first on me, "Its only a matter of how and time."

"Enough of this kill Gennai!" Railius ordered with a point of his longer version of their blades.

Gennai bolted right like a blur of fabric and flashing steel, ten of them chased after. Railus pursued with a casual stride while the others like hungry jackles after a meal. A battle cry followed those that pursued, long howling cries of rage echoing through the streets as they vanished after him. Railus walked calmly up the street after them in no hurry, metal boots clanking away as he ran his thumb up his twisted sword. The two remaining circled around me, closing the gap with their blades above their heads, dancing their steps side to side in joyful anticipation to sink them into me. I heard them chuckling like hyenas, Railus looking over at me for a moment in the middle of the street. He too was curious since my expression had not changed. "Human...you fear nothing?" He asked almost offended, "No begging? No bargaining? Not a word of why?"

I didn't answer. What was I going to say really? I was glancing between him and his two remaining creatures of my now real nightmares closing in, keeping tabs with every one of their steps. What I returned to him was a glare, he stopped mid-pace. A laser gaze right into his narrowed and even a little bit of anger was burning away into him. Railius didn't respond well to it, insult bled across his demeanor. "Kill him." He dragged the emphasis out on the words, "I don't want things like him running around."

I drew a sneer up my face as he continued now at a faster pace, wanting to catch up on his own prey. The blood-red eyes looked away finally and I looked to the two still twenty feet out and orbiting me. A slight wind kicked up as my feet settled on the ground, weight shifting side to side as my breath drew hard in and out. Adrenaline was making my face tingle a bit, fingers twitch and the ones on the knife flex harder into the rubber handle. I looked towards my two attackers and they both halted in place with my expression alone. "A warning." I spoke finally with a raised finger, "I haven't begged for my life yet. It's because I don't fear losing it. How about you?"

"Death is here now." One spoke back in a bark.

"Embrace it." The other offered gleefully.

I scoffed at the notion. "Come and get it."

My attackers stood, perking upright with surprise by the statement, looking between themselves bewildered. They must have been used to fear being the primary reaction, or at least the outwards appearance of it and finding none with me. They charged nonetheless, one in front of the other in a lunging sprint, knives poised to sink into me when they got that close. I wasn't going to let them.

Firing off like a bullet, my cigarette snapped from my finger in a flick and shot right into the leading physical apparition's face. In reality, all was a blur but the distinct strike of the searing ember crashed right into his eye socket burst into a spattering of burning tobacco. My knife flashed out, the morning fresh wet stone-sharpened blade slicing through my poncho all the way down with ease as I flashed forward as the attacker flinched. I ducked under his blind slash and my edge severed right through the mask around his face, his neck and split all of it open. My feet twisted, knife flipping into an underhand hold and in one rip I hauled my sliced rain protection off and tossed it into the second-standing attacker. The instant batting away of the rubber liner came as I knew it would but it used both arms to do it. Both ends of the blade clear of my attack trajectory, I lept forward and with a sick crunch through the ribcage, the bottom of my fist dug right into where I hoped his heart was. That moment of silence, the first opponent hitting the ground in a roll, my fist twisted over with distinct poping crackles as it did. Its eyes with their black pupils quivering over in the direction of my own look of indifference as I ripped the blade out.

My adversary choked a yelp, my boot rose up under my knee and I delivered a door-busting kick right where I stabbed. My impact felt like I was hitting a dense sandbag but it still lurched back, wobbled down to the ground clawing at its chest. The stuck one babbled weak incoherent nonsense, writhing like it was on a hot plate on the ground. I pulled down the zipper on my jacket and with a smooth pull out came my service pistol from my shoulder holster. It snapped in the direction of the formed being as it gripped its throat with one clawed hand holding tight. The shadowed being looked into my eyes from behind the barrel. "Embraced this." I spat back its words.

The gunshot rang out as I squeezed the trigger, two more after that to be sure. The slashed one crumpled down but instead of the familiar pink mist from the exit, the hit caused a spark of embers, his ash-coloured flesh cracking with bright fractures of bright blacklight purple. His head shattered with a single hole after the third and his head cracked open in a fire burst of orange like a sledgehammer to a glass skull. A neon purple smoke and fire surged out from his neck, the rest of his body, armor and cloth obliterated itself before my eyes. The remnant chunks churned away in a twirling vortex and into oblivion in a few seconds along with an invisible wind. I took my hand away from my eyes as the heat singed me, blinking slowly to what I just saw. 'What the hell just happened?' I asked.

A growl came from behind me, my head whipping around along with my pistol aimed. The stuck one was getting up slowly, the same black-lit glow throbbing from his chest. It was radiating into itself, shrinking and snuffing out leaving only a single line of puncture and a mangled scar! 'It not over yet human!' It screamed at me running.

I instinctively fired, each round of mine punching a set of holes you could fit under a playing card into his chest but it wasn't doing a damn thing! Out the back I caught the black dust flying out where his spine was and I worked my way up to get to his head. A heartbeat before he got into blade's reach, I swapped grip on my blade and clanged a strike off the incoming knife, parrying and slashing down the bend of his arm. It barely affected him despite I should have cut through his arm clean at the elbow, a limp but whiping flail of an aimed cut missed. His arm snapped back into place but my boot crunching his knee with a rippling crackle buckling his leg. He jabbed and swung hard, my blade parrying the strike off. I shot more rounds into his back, going for the head but he flinched out of the way until the slide action on my gun stayed back telling me I was dry. I flipped my gun in my hand to be a stubby club for the second, and cracked it off his face sending him staggering. No time or hands to get a reload as I saw him wobble back up, breathing heavy with glowing cracks all over his body. It paced around me, I mirrored his distance. Ten of fifteen in him and all center mass and he was still functioning with no worse for wear now with a robe looking closer to a cheese grater than clothing. "What the fuck are you?!" I demanded.

"Darkness and will given meaning!" He answered as his knee cracked back into place, "Now your demise in physical form!"

He twirled his blade around trying to fancy me into a mistake, I flicked my blade and parried it off and cross slash flurried him right back. He wasn't concerned for his well being, taking the hits with his forearms and even his chest at times. I carved him up every chance I found, he didn't care. I got in an upper swing of my pistol butt under his chin, spun on the spot and snapped a spin kick right to his face. My foot hit with all the intention of taking his head off but it was like hitting a wooden post, my momentum ending in that second. I landed, my feet scooted me back in a defensive stance, his face having small fissures of glowing purple on his face slowly shrinking away. He was slowing down the more I hurt him at least. I spat off onto the ground, he was getting more frustrated than I was. I beckoned him forward with my knife hand. 'Come on I don't got all night!' I challenged.

Dashing in with a snarl, our blades twanged off each other, slashes went wide on both sides as I caught an opening. I slashed his wrist with my blade, twisted it over his wrists but both of our blades ended up slipping off onto the ground. He unceremoniously shoved me and up and over I went like I was thrown from a speeding car. My back clanged off the metal fence of the wall, the entire wall vibrating all the air from my lungs. My vision again twisted in my head as he charged, my arms shooting out sideways, grabbing the bars tight. In a feat of strength, a kick of my feet off the ground I flipped up with my hips the pivot point, used his incoming torso to run up and leave him with a whipping steel toed chin kick on the way by. I landed on the top of the stone wall part on the other side, catching the top bar just below the spiked heads. The hit staggered him but he lept from ten feet away at a direct angle up at me, fingers outstretched to claw me in half. I jumped backwards, twisting in the air and wrapping my arms around his neck as he grabbed me. Too bad he didn't see me clear the fence while his neck was in line for the dulled points of the speared metal decorations.

I felt flesh again give way but a lot more resistance was met on the way down and before the first line of steel between the point and the bottom of the 'decorative' spearhead. Gruesomely it stabbed through and his neck now had three inches of a spikes through it. His shoulders in line have two on either side as well, impaled firmly on the black painted metal. I held onto him as he writhed and gargled with my arms keeping him in a headlock. One arm lose, I reached my hand into my jacket and pulled my spare magazine out from a pouch inside it, slamming it into the exposed butt of the pistol in my left fist. A clawed hand came around to my face as I yanked my 9mm out from my hand, clicked the action forward and jammed it right to his temple. "Heal this!"

I fired one round point-blank and he burst into the same flame and dust. As he faded from existence, I slipped off right through the loose sand-like substance and hit the ground with the back of my head chipping off the edge of the stone wall, a jolt of pain shot through all the way to the tip of my nose. I came to a stop on the ground ass first and in a seated position in the dirt.

I picked myself up off the flowerbed and the bush I had crushed, instinctively picking up the shell casing on the ground and putting it into my pocket. I slowly made my way over the fence, the steel points looking a little burnt but no one was going to notice, more likely the tulips I crushed with my backside. I landed on the ground, looking around cautiously and listening to any sirens or witnesses retrieving the knife I had lost. Nothing so far. I collected the casings off the ground, pain in my body numbly throbbing away as the toll of this insane fight was adding up. I was about to make a run for it when I saw Railius at the end of the block again.

I stood off to him and my pistol snapped to his direction, shoulders square and a gun aimed to wait for him to come forward just a little more. Incensed I was standing there, Ralius shook his head side the side slowly in bewilderment. My blade under my pistol pointing forward as he walked towards me, the quarter-inch gouges in the blade apparent like a small torch sliced through the metal in my lower peripheral vision. "How?" He asked me with arms wideout.

I wasn't interested in a conversation, I pulled the trigger instead. Multiple times. The rounds hit him right between the eyes within a quarter of an inch. His head whipped backward, twisting away as I walked forward landing every shot somewhere on his skull till the magazine ran empty again. I flicked away the magazine and loading in the last one I had from inside my jacket. Railius didn't fall over or burst into unearthly flames as I had hoped. He turned around to face me again and only small gouges on his face were there and they all snapped shut with a one deep breath in from his nose and a thumbing of his cheek. Fuck. "Just so you know I'm going to kill you." Railius assured with a point, "I want to know how you are not afraid first."

I didn't answer, my mind too busy rewiring my questions and uncertainty to find a way to get out of this. I glanced side to side but kept my looks mostly on him as he walked towards me with his blade in hand, flat side over his shoulder, shaking his head at me. My gaze remained the same, he was now angrily beside himself. "I can feel fear." He salivated at me with his hand like he was holding a wine glass, "I can sense weakness. You? You! There is nothing! You can't kill me! You can't beat me! Yet for some reason, there isn't a shred of fear or dread in you! Why?!"

I kept my aim up, taking slow steps backward without a word. Eyes glared right back, unyielding at him even if it was only indifferent defiance. "I don't even know myself." I responded bluntly, "Neither of us will get an answer. Either way, you can go fuck yourself."

Railius slowly shook his head some more, disbelief overtaking him. It was like he couldn't comprehend what he was seeing or hearing in me. He seemed to fight with himself, pacing back and forth a few paces across the street. Pointing at me at times, my aim following him regardless of confusion and anger changing predominance on his face every few seconds. "Okay then I have a really great idea!" Railus came up with something clasping his hands together, "I like you. Really. I do. So you get something special. You believe in monsters human?"

"Known a few." I replied cocking the hammer back.

"Then maybe this monster be more to your liking." He snapped his fingers, 'Dokugumon!'

At first, nothing happened, but from on high the sound of what started a demented sigh turned out to be an increasing roar until a bulbous form landed right behind Railus with a ground waving thud. A large being, the size of an off-road pickup truck rose up now from its landing stance. This one was a smooth bulb but still, the pointed-haired adorned rear second shape, a painted skull and bones seemingly painted on the shell on it reared up. Large tubes of limbs flared out, the hairs long and spiked on it, eight of them. A churning sensation of what that could not possibly be was right there in front of my very eyes as they went wide as they ever had been, as the masked arachnid face with long jutting horns to the side and the glassy red eight eyes popped out from behind Railius's back. A yawned open a wide fanged mouth in a roar with two large mandibles flaring out, its front legs having three-fingered clawed hands with armored gauntlets over them reaching up in curled clawed fingers. Standing eight feet tall behind Railius as he stepped aside to showcase his summoned monster. 'Can you do me a favor?" Railius asked lovingly, "Drain every drop of blood out of his body for me."

The monster's eyes showed my reflection as it lowered itself to pounce, a guttural laugh coming out of it letting me know what a voice of hell sounds like, its long tubular feet pads scratch the ground. One thing came to mind. "Next time take the cab home.' I scolded myself.
 
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The first picture of the stand-off between Archer and Gennai versus Railius and his clone goon squad. Someone's packing some hidden heat.

Now I am planning a second picture from this chapter and it is either going to be the moment where Archer stands off with Railius alone or its going to be the cliffhanger to the end of it when he's face to face with Dokugumon showing up. Any suggestion to help along with the decision is welcome!
 

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This is a little after the fight and you can see the damage to Archer and his knife to show it wasn't exactly an easy fight. I really need practice on doing comic pannels and lighting but I still like the expressions the most. And I just wanted to do the look on Railus's mug after the fight seeing this meager human defying him right to his face.
 

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Dangerous Questions

Railus looked pleased as a roar of intimidation echoed through the canyons of the apartment buildings. I reacted and fired a round right back into its eye. I saw it flinch and then whip its head away like a child getting poked by a classmate. As it came back down, I let off three more, two landings, and my feet did the rest, along screeching as it craned its neck up momentarily blinded! Good enough! 'What are you doing ?!' Railius yelled as I cleared the corner in the distance of my hearing, 'Kill him already!'

My stride was long and right through the center of the street, escape and evade was my only chance now. I visualized straight lines through my paths, obstacles, and cover for the shortest distance. Back alleys and parkways were my only routes, narrow areas where it could not get me. An open manhole would be a blessing. I cleared blocks in under a dozen seconds, if someone had watched me blow past I was clearing my under four to the mile record. I glanced back over my shoulder and saw the creature barrel around the corner and scream rage at me, the sharp cry hurting my ears as I cut a street corner in a leap onto the other street. I slid over a hood of a Honda as it scuttled after me to catch up, keeping my momentum and putting everything I could between me and it. It moved quickly, gaining fast but I was nimble darting between vehicles and streetlights. It reared its ass-end up and shot a long thick strand of webbing up onto a high building, picked itself up off the ground, and swung towards me to scoop me off the street. I shifted off the street, stepped on the hood of a car and flipped over, missing a swiping arm as it sailed up into the air, growling at me as it missed. ~*'Acid blast!'*~ I heard the monster cry out.

I looked up and out from its mouth in a spit came a watermelon-sized glob of green slime at me at high speed. I juked right on a strained ankle pivot and dove for good measure I rolled and bounced back into my run as the fluid crashed to the ground. It burned right through the cement we ease, a few splatters burning holes in my jacket. Before it could hit my skin, I ripped it off and threw it away as the sleeve was dissolved like the street. I cut down another street as it landed against a wall high up a building, pressed down and then sprang off down at me. My mind saw where he was going to land; it was coming down right on top of me. I changed my trajectory, saw another half wall, jumped up on it and sprang sideways back towards the street tucking my feet in. The large creature landed where I would have stood as I twisted in midair, feet planting on the large skull symbol on his back for a moment before kicking off. It sprawled around trying to get me, flipping sideways itself over on its back but I missed all the scrambling greasy-haired legs and hands all at once. It growled frustrated as I hit the roof of a car on my left side, rolled and landed back on the roadway in a full dash. ~*'Web Net!'*~ It called out again.

I looked over as it bent its disgusting rear section over, I saw the spindle sack at the end of its ass point right at me. It seemed to bulge up and then explode a wet bulb of webbing, my eyes wide at what that was going to do. I threw my arm to my left, kicked off the ground, and corkscrewed through the air at my speed, one whipping past me and three more right behind it. My body contorted as I too was yelling out in adrenaline-fuelled determination, my legs flipping over and the last one gliding past between the Y of my legs and body. The attacks slammed into cars, the globs exploding out in large nets that cocooned them to the ground they were parked on. My feet hit the ground, I stumbled for a second grating my hand up the street instead of my forehead, and then was back off running. The monster kicked to its feet, traversing the vehicles and hot on my heels. I threw my arm back and fired a few bullets back in a wild aim, still managing to land a few hits in its face again. They bounced off the mask, making him only angrier as it barrelled into a parked car with a slam and a burst of safety glass. I swerved into an alleyway, narrowed enough for me and hopefully not for him. Too bad my rash turn between two buildings netted me a dead end by a twenty-foot steel fence barrier.

I skidded to a stop and tried to get back onto a street before I heard a roar and then something hit me in the back like a swipe. It kicked me like a car accident. I felt my back explode into pain as I was lifted off the ground. I soared up, flailing around in a yell as I slapped off a dumpster. I skidded across the ground, rolled sideways, and stumbled to my feet. My pistol came forward, but a ball of web caught my fist and sealed it in a cocoon of white that burned my hand with a dull heat. A second caught my shoulder, spinning me around as the weight doubled there pulling me down. A third hit me dead center in the chest, lifting me off the ground and sending me a second time up into the air. I hit the fence, rattling off the chain-link ten feet off the ground. Suspended, I felt the crushing tense webbing against my chest start to harden, breathing was almost impossible. The monster arachnid clawed its way towards me along the walls and ground, squeezing through the alleyway to get closer. I aggressively writhed around trying to break free, the guttural growling getting closer as I took my only free arm and started to cut at the webbing. I sawed through the gap between my hand and the fence, the thick material like hot glue. That face, chomping mouth and stretching venom sack fangs stretched out at me as I hacked away. Dumpsters fell over, trash cans went flying, brick getting gouged out I slashed as hard as I could. It came within striking range and my last attempted cut wildly lashed out, driving a point through the closest eye. It hit, sunk in an inch and the beast cried out angrily, rearing its head back and then chomping down on my knife arm, the two points of those mandibles puncturing through.

I yelled out in pain, blood pouring from my arm as bubbling green slime seeped out with it. My arm felt like it was catching fire going up to my shoulder, I ripped my arm away and felt the flesh tear itself in the process. In retaliation, my knife came back down in a hard stab with all my strength and embedded the knife an inch in. This time it stuck; the spider abomination threw its head back wildly trying to pull at the steel in one of its eyes. It fell out as my arm went limp, the sensation in it deadened and my brain suddenly went haywire with red and black flashes. The spider poised above me as the knife popped out of its eye, the gouge there as well as empty gaze of rage. The intent clear of what was coming next, a wide-open mouth in drooling salivation nearing my head with a heated, putrid exhale blowing in my face. 'See...you...in hell.' I spat my last words.

~*'VENGEFUL DAGGERS!'*~ I heard a voice yell out from above me.

A dozen throwing daggers shot down from above my head, trailing purple light behind each pummel and drove themselves deep into the entire middle, large back end and face of the monster. It squirmed out screaming in pain as a flash of something in what looked like leather-clad armor and a whipping black canine tail out the back flashed past with a streak of steel and neon. The monster's face split in two in a perfect thin line and then without a second more sound burst into nothing but energized particles. My head sagged down, the form wavering like a mirage before my very eyes. A hood covered its head, the tail scanned the ground in a wave as it lifted is slightly curved blade up and slid it into a hefty black leather scabbard on the back. As it turned to look at me, it seemed to have an elongated face like the muzzle of a dog and narrowed orange eyes looking up at me. That was about the last thing I remembered before darkness swallowed my consciousness.


I woke up with a gasp at the realization I was alive and inside my own home. The ceiling of my apartment. I could tell from the white-tiled roof, black lines between them and the build in the globe ceiling light. I rose off my single captain-sized bunk bed against the wall, I sat up slowly as the covers came off my body in a slow slide as I scanned the room. Desk was all there, the upgraded IBM computer and paperwork all there from last night. Safe dial-equipped filing cabinets all around the room, organized and uniform. All full to the point I might need another soon. From the open window, I heard the city buzz, the tweets of birds, and the sharp beeping of car horns breaking through the residential zone's static. The radio was playing the mundane day's news updates on traffic and the local story of the day on my alarm clock. It was ten after twelve. I didn't hit the snooze button at my usual six in the morning. The light shone in bright through the blinds as I rubbed my eyes with my fingers. It couldn't have been a dream, could it? When I looked at my left arm, bandaged up with blood-stained white rappings, I was not lucky enough to think anymore it was just a nightmare.

I got out of bed, the toll of last night's fight had taken over since the adrenaline was all gone. My fists were bruised, black splotches on the knuckles and I felt the sting of cuts. My chest throbbed, a breath in had a sting to it each time with the creaking of my ribs. The back of my head was crusty, the cut there healed but left a brown stain on the white pillowcase. My spine tingled and if I leaned the wrong way I felt a jolt of lightning shoot up it. I rolled my legs over to the side; they were heavy as tree trunks from the sprinting. I felt groggy, my stomach was raw and churning cravings for food as I stood up. I held my stomach with my hand, feeling linen raps around it for my ribs or support. On the nightstand, there were a bunch of prescription pain killers, muscle relaxers and other first aid kit items that looked used. Primitive bowls scattered the nightstand, a mortar bowl with residual red grinded powders inside it. Someone did some medical work on me. Who? 'Wait outside I'll talk to him.' A voice from the living room probably answered the question, 'If he wakes up.'

I walked over to the door, seeing my pistol on the desk near the keyboard. It was mostly intact; the magazine was out and the slide was all the way locked back. There was a small pile of brass bullet casings there as well. Nine by nineteen Parabellum. I roughly counted the rounds, which added up to what I remember firing. My wrecked Kaybar was there as well, completely unusable with the melted gouges and bent tip. This is where one would think I'd reach for the pistol, load it and walk out to get my answers. Instead, I strolled on over to the heavy closet door, opened my sock drawer on my dresser. I fished my hand under it, finding the steel pistol grip of what I was looking for, and pulled out a very much loaded sawed-off pump-action shotgun. Japan had strict gun laws, but since I don't follow those ones in my line of work this was my personal choice for home defense. I pulled the action back lightly and indeed a bright red shell of buckshot was there. Good. With it in hand, I walked out of my bedroom into the living room.

I had a surprisingly good apartment by Japan's standards, lots of room even if I was here all by myself. I didn't have a lot of in the way of electronics. Just a basic TV, a stereo radio CD player on the shelf beside it, and a laser disk player next to it. I was more into the wall of bookshelves that rapped around the apartment where would have been a blank wall. I just preferred to read really. Some of them were in Japanese, some in English, some in Russian, a few in Cantonese and a handful in Farsi which was from the Middle East. I was a non-fiction buff along with some history texts, technology books and some on fishing and mountain climbing. The large bay windows in front of the main balcony were letting a little bit of the noon daylight in, the blinds casting horizontal beams of pale yellow across the room. Next to the couch was the person called Gennai, turning back to see me brandishing a shotgun in my hands. He looked a little nervous and that became concerned when I racked the action back and forward to that universal sound of chambering a shell and not my handgun I suspect. I looked a little haggard, sore and seeking answers which added to my understandably intimidating presentation. 'I'm going to keep this simple.' I spoke up finally, 'I have a few questions if you don't mind.'

'Not at all.' He offered looking between me and my weapon, 'Go on.'

'What the hell happened last night?' I held up a finger from the pump, 'Two, who the fuck are you and they are and last can you make a pot of coffee?'

Gennai looked up to think of a good way to answer all of that request, rolling through them carefully in his head. 'You staved off catastrophe for one.' He started, 'Two, they are what are trying to make it worse by the absolute horrifying means possible and lastly yes I can make an incredibly good cup of coffee.'

'Good because I might need to sit down for this.'

I turned to my open kitchen and started making myself breakfast, my shotgun never out of my reach and an eye to the person making the joe. Gennai worked with the coffee pot to the best of his ability, measuring the scoops of the beans for the grinder. I whipped up some eggs with chopsticks, heated up some precooked salmon to round it out. I came over and there was Gennai with two cups and a pot of the black stuff. I took a seat, placed the shotgun in my lap and started shoveling the food in. I didn't even look up as Gennai sat across from me, eating methodically between sips of coffee. 'Aren't you going to ask me anything Archer?' Gennai asked after a few moments.

'I'm eating.' I answered with a mouthful of food, 'Start with mundane stuff like who you are.'

While Gennai was sitting there completely perplexed at my actions, all of this was deliberate on my part. I was sitting across from him, I was keeping calm. I was playing it like it was any other day. It made him uneasy, it would likely make him start to just admit things. Then again, he might have looked human but if wacko the white-haired clown last night was any indication, he might not have been human either so who knew. It seemed to work, like he was trying to figure me out and finding nothing to see. His eyes kept darting to me and then down again like he was searching the table. 'Archer right?' He clarified glancing up from the table.

'Indeed.' I answered, 'Now give me my wallet back.'

'How did you know I had your wallet?'

'How else did you find my address or name?' I looked up briefly, 'Who are you since you I'm just as curious.'

Gennai flinched but as the wave of reason caught up with him, it explained a hell of a lot and he wouldn't have gotten in without my keys considering the door bolts on it. How he bypassed the alarm panel next to the door I would like to find out. Gennai produced my light tan leather wallet from inside his robes. I politely took it back, flipped through it and found everything still there, leaving it on the table next to my plate. 'To answer your question my name is Gennai.' He continued, 'I am the Leader of the Digital Order, a protector and Agent of balance to the Digital World.'

'So you're not from this plane of reality is that what you're telling me?' I wanted to clarify, 'Because you're differentiating the Digital World from this one am I hearing you right?'

'Didn't you notice the Digimon who attacked you?' Gennai was almost bewildered, 'What could you have thought it was?'

'I don't know.' I gave another shrug getting into the fish a little more, 'Head injury, drug hallucination or I finally snapped and now I'm full of happy juice in a psyche ward. Perception is reality after all in a lot of cases.'

As much as all that was hyperbolic, it was the only way to approach this and it was being methodological. Panicking or wide-eyed speculation wasn't going to help the clear intentions of that Railius guy last night was. He didn't need to twirl his non-existent mustache to get his point across. I had to believe my senses, and all of this was reality shredding. My own mind had a full legal disposition of inquiry as to what I saw, how it worked and everything else physics-defying thing I saw. It would have to wait because inquiry to another world was not the most pressing issue. 'Well they are as I am from the Digital World I assure you.' He continued, 'This might be hard to believe but there is a world in parallel with yours, a separate reality entirely comprised of nothing but digital information in physical form. It has been in existence for us for tens of thousands of years. For you maybe a few decades at most?'

I put my chopsticks down, placing them neatly in a row on the plate and even squaring them off to make it neat. I crossed my fingers, leaned in slowly and gave him an obvious look. 'Yes it does sound absolutely insane what you just said to me Gennai.' I answered dully, 'But unless I am on the most powerful drug concoction known to man and my senses were completely off up to and including this point, I'm going to go with the simpler option and believe you. Or until the drugs wear off. Who was the pale face clown and his posy?'

'That was Railius and he's a Fallen Agent.' Gennai answered grimly, 'Railius is the leader of the betrayers, those were just his crude clones, barely sentient puppets but very deadly to most. He's former Agent of the Order like myself but he and his followers were twisted by darkness and a want to replace the Digimon Masters.'

'Yes those were words Gennai.' I shook my head, 'Why you are still here talking to me anyway?'

'For one you may have saved my life by distracting Railius like you did.' Gennai continued, 'It was incredible you even survived those two and then the Dokugomon. I owed you at least the explanation and maybe...perhaps ask something of you.'

'Spit it out.' I allowed picking up the coffee.

'Who are you?'

I stopped mid sip. I stared into the small pool of coffee, the dark liquid a suitable metaphor for my bitter vast void of existence. You can't look into it unless you were inside it and even then its almost impossible to see the answers you seek. My expression elevated above stern, he leaned away like he had offended me as the mug came back down onto the coaster. Good coffee though. 'That is a dangerous question.' I replied succinctly.

'Why?' He pressed.

Okay Jay if you're going to say anything remember your briefing all those years ago. Vague but concise. Like that really meant anything. Anyone could spill their guts to anyone about working for whatever agency of the day. There was no mythical lightning to strike you down if you did. Just the hammer of the Judge Advocate General if they found out and that might as well be Thor bringing the thunder so to speak. It's the discipline, the silence and the subterfuge that kept people in my line of work alive. Since this guy could have killed me at any time instead of dragging me home, why not let on a little. See if I get more. 'My profession is dangerous and telling people about puts them at risk more than me.' I let go of the mug, 'If you looked at my wallet you'd just see another American living in Japan. An analyst at some mundane government office doesn't fit what you saw I'm sure.'

'You don't strike me as the office type that is for certain.' Gennai agreed.

'I'm a Captain in the US Military.' I stated as flat as my coffee was, 'I'm on loan to the Langley or NSA depending on who needs me.'

'You're a solider?' Gennai asked.

'For over a decade but I'm not running through deserts hunting SCUD missiles anymore.' I smiled, 'I solve problems before innocent people get killed by them these days. You are picking up what I'm laying down?'

Gennai looked hopeful for a moment, leaning in a little more. 'Then can you help me?' He asked with wide eyes.

I didn't answer for a moment, looking at him with a little harder question as to what he was about to ask. I survived last night from a lot of skill but all the Irish in history wouldn't come close to how lucky I was to live through that night. My arms crossed over, those bandage raps on my arms with the brown stained blotches there and the rest of my wounds came though where I bled as a reminder of my humility to what I experienced. While this was technically my job, saving the world from the monstrous people, but not actual monsters. This was an entirely different animal with a much larger issue to deal with first. 'Help you?' I asked, 'How the fuck am I going to do that?'

'You saw what was happening last night!' Gennai insisted.

'I did.'

'And Railius is here to destroy all of Highton View Terrace by tonight which will lead to end of your world!'

'And how the hell am I going to prove that to anyone else?'

Gennai was on the verge of saying something but then caught himself as I stood up, plate in one hand and shotgun in the other. I had finished eating and this would be a suitable demonstration, simplified as it was among all my other questions I shoved to the side for the moment. 'My profession is far more about knowledge than simple ability.' I explain walking back to the kitchen, 'I wouldn't be standing here if I was simply good at punching holes in paper with lead or hand to hand combat. Being smarter than my adversaries is what keeps me breathing and gathering critical information is more important. As good as I am, none of it means anything if I can't prove a threat is real to anyone.'

'The threat is real Captain!' Gennai finally moved to my rank, 'Real as anything you've already seen!'

I turned on the faucet to the sink and nodded. 'I agree what I saw was real.' I admitted, 'But I'd bet if I were to turn on the TV, it would turn out no one else saw or heard anything last night.'

Gennai froze, eyes widening a little as he started to understand. Good. 'If I were to ask you to prove what I ate off this dish you'd just recall what I ate.' I explained further, 'Just a mundane explanation. If you did not see me eat but saw the plate after, you'd maybe spot the few grains of rice on it, flakes of the fish and smears of sauce. Deduction but still evidence-based.'

I put the plate under the hot water, put the shotgun down and scrubbed off the surface with a still soapy sponge. 'I didn't hear one siren outside or a news helicopter buzzing around.' I washed away, 'My alarm is the news as you heard, nothing about reported gunshots let alone a disturbance. I would have loved to hear a human-interest story about how cars were spider webbed to the street but you must have gotten rid of them.'

'I...did.' Gennai sighed in admittance.

'Chucked in the Shikaro River?'

'Correct.'

I pulled the plate up from the water, the white porcelain is shiny and slick as the obvious metaphor to the now dismayed Order Agent. 'You cleaned the scene well.' I continued with my fork, 'And if I claim to an intelligence officer in Langley I got chased down the street by a giant spider after getting into a shootout with black robed monks from another dimension, I'd be laughed out all the way to the asylum.'

I dried off the plate as Gennai slowly ran his hands through his hair as my rationality thankfully was sinking in. This was just an exercise in critical thinking taken to its logical extreme with extreme claims. Even if you saw aliens and no one else did and no other evidence existed, you have to admit you didn't see aliens because there is no evidence of such a fantastical event. 'It would be like saying the fish I ate was a piece of the Lock Ness Monster and prepared for me by Princess Dianna.' I concluded putting the plate away, 'Its unbelievable.'

Gennai slumped into his seat slowly, light draining from his eyes with dismay as I came back around to the table. 'Captain I can't stop Railus's plans by myself!' He started to beg, 'I need help to stop the attack on Highton View Terrace!'

I sat back down on the chair and I held up both my hands to illustrate the injuries I had sustained. Gennai saw the grim point coming already as my arms fell back to the table. 'I'm really good at what I do and you saved me from that Dogkuga-whatever thing that was about to bite my head off.' I reminded, 'I owe you at least twice, I believe you but you want me to somehow help you have to give me something to work with.'

'I will do everything in my power to help save your world.' Gennai insisted, 'What do you need?'

Now we were getting somewhere. 'Does Railus have anyone I can point to or go after?' I leaned forward, 'How is he going to do this? Bombing? Nerve gas? Systematically execute everyone in the residential block? What?'

'Yes he has followers since he arrived a month ago which was before I did.' Gennai rushed, 'They call themselves the Datalists and they are just going to blow the entire city block up as far as I know.'

A single word sparked a thought in my head, blinking shut of the snap shots of recalled thoughts. Rumors of new groups, plenty of pinned words on corkboards with faces of suspects. Raised threat levels of people who were nothing but amateurs a month before. Someone in passing mentioned it to me from last night. I stood out of my chair and walked over to the left side of the living room, Gennai following me. I reached the door next to my bedroom and opened it to my digital nerve center. 'You might be in luck.' I signaled him to follow.

The door opened after I punched in a code to a disarm panel on the wall. The door buzzed open, the magnetic lock disengaging and I walked inside the extra cold server filled room. Wall to wall were boxes with blinking lights and dozens of wires connecting them all together made by technicians way up on the ninth level of nerdy than I would ever want to be. In the middle of the room was a desk, three monitors and a keyboard with all of the leads paring down into the back of the heavy computer tower behind it. Beeps and whirring were going off all around but I flicked the monitor on and the screen booted up. I typed in the password as the robed fighter came into the room. 'What is---.'

'Remote server to a surveillance database.' I answered, 'Datalists. I heard that before.'

Gaining my access, I worked through case files and reports on people of interest out there we had been watching. A lot of it coming from governments who want to mess with our networks from afar or slicing in domestically but one group popping up seemed like a novelty before. Now it was the first thing on my mind. 'There were some hackers that have been popping up recently.' I answered, 'Some anarchists and malcontents, the usual that get swept up in it. They've been nothing to worry about until a month ago.'

'What happened?' He inched in further.

'Almost overnight these guys start hitting way harder encrypted sites.' I pulled up files, 'Hit banks, government servers and online accesses to major companies. Punching way above their weight but broke firewalls like nothing. Got away with millions of assets and then the transfers just disappeared. The only way they could was if they had some major influx of capital for some really high-end hardware suddenly.'

'What makes you think they are with Railius?'

'They act like a digital cult is why.' I answered flicking through a few people of interest, 'And now they talking about going completely digital. Sound like something your friend might preach?'

Gennai started to walk around the room a little more, reaching out to touch some of the wires with fascination, running his palms on the dusty tops of the server boxes and listening closely to the hums. I took a few careful looks back at him, curious to what he was doing. 'What?' I asked, 'Never seen computers before?'

'These make up my world.' Gennai answered joyfully, 'This alone would make a continent and probably does...which one?'

'I need you to focus.' I reminded, 'If I can find a lead on these guys and start shouting up some chains to get some attention, I might be able to help you.'

Gennai turned to me and saw some of the information flash across the screen, coming around the side and looking at the information flashing by. 'This is promising.' Gennai seemed to read lines that were not there, 'Best news I've seen yet.'
'I know of a local reporter that was doing an expose' on cults in Japan.' I isolated files to the local drive, 'He might know of these guys, worth a shot.'

'Why do you know about him?'

'Four months ago another cult bombed the Metro line in Tokyo with nerve gas.' I reminded him if he knew at all, 'I do my own homework, I don't always trust Langley to fill me in.'

'This is where the tide might turn.' Gennai spoke to himself.

'So we're clear I'm going to do my job Gennai and see if I can get to the bottom of this.' I assured, 'If I'm going to help and I run into this Railus or any more like him, I need something from you.'

'Go on.'

'I need a weapon of some kind that does more than cat scratches and poke holes if I run into his followers that aren't from this plane of reality.' I explained, 'That sword seemed to do the job; got something to spare?'

Gennai thought to himself, fingers on chin before the lightbulb went off on the top of his head. He reached behind his back and produced a small scabbard, looked like a dagger of sorts. Medieval style. He pulled it out and presented it to me, yup old school no frills narrow dual-edged dagger. Six inches long, leather strand thread grip and a shiny brass hilt and pummel. I twirled it to myself, through my fingers, and back into my palm with a flip. 'Not exactly my style of knife.' I remarked.

Gennai held his palm over top of my hand, a flashbulb of fluorescent blue that turned to deep red in the next second. The blade melted like molten plastic in my hand and I would have dropped it if it didn't snap back into a completely different shape and it was my knife from last night! The good old pig sticker Kaybar knife shone a light tinge of orange through the metal. I tossed it to myself a few times, measuring the balance on one finger. 'Try that next time.' Gennai offered with a smile, 'I'll see what else I can get. Use this if you need to communicate with me.'

In his other hand came a smaller device than I expected. It was a very rough bronze thing the size of a wristwatch without the arms. Crude screen in the middle like those stupid wrist games the kids were wearing over here all the time without the straps. There was a thick black antenna on it too, a few buttons on the side and the same symbols on it that were on Gennai's amulet. There was a small port on the side, looked like a headphone jack. 'It's a crude prototype but it will help me keep track of you.' He explained more, 'You can contact me with it by clicking the screen button when you have something.'

'This will take time.' I said going through files and compiling the information, 'I'll check in with you when I get a lead and I'll start barking up some chains. Might get lucky.'

'We will need it.' Gennai said heading towards the door, 'I will have my friend keep an eye on you.'

'Your friend?' I asked looking back, 'Who?'

'The one who saved your life.' Gennai said with a farewell glance.

'Hey wait a second who are you talking about?' I said getting up as a download was going.

As I made my way to the door a flash of light came and a snapping of discharging sparks went off. Everything electrical went haywire for a few seconds, screens and lights flickered. Just as fast as I got to the door and through it, Gennai was gone with a distinct smell of ozone hanging in the air with small particles of white fading away. Then I smelt dusty fur.

You get used to feeling constancies and when disturbances happen. Could be the sounds of specific trees swaying, creaking of old logs, the loss of bird noise when someone approaches. The saying it is too quiet is a real thing. Situated in here the air came in a certain way, the colder air causing a draft of warmer air to come in causing a consistent slight breeze. The air stopped from behind me as I heard a phasing of energy-like noise and when I turned back I was staring right back into the two eyes I had seen the night before.

The narrowed orange pupils honed in on me like beams from a laser, eye to eye it was slightly taller than me but the canine ears perked up over its head about a foot over its head, pointed at the tips with thin black fur through holes in the fabric. The head was mostly cloaked over with an ash gray hood, hard black shadows covering over the face. It had a and matching cloak that went almost all the way down to the floor, dulled iron studs over the shoulders with a fitted plate attaching it to an armor piece. I skipped a foot back using a boxing juke to gain the distance, it didn't even flinch. I further studied the human-like arms were crossed over, wrapped up in leather fabric with studded black leather gauntlets all the way up to his elbows. It was humanoid in shape, stood up straight like he was at attention. The chest was under some sort of tight blackened leather chest piece, bandoleers of old kunai style throwing knives over all the pockets and pouches with what looked like little in them if anything. The armor continued with some rough leather tassets and front loincloth, hooked on with a lot of belts. The feet were digitigrade, the large paws clearly belonging to a wolf of some kind, the same short black hair all the way down to the curved claws at the toes shown. The tail swayed side to side, the arms unfolding to show the thick four fingers and thumb tipped off by a blunt claw. 'How did you get past me?' I pointed without missing a beat, 'That was impossible.'

Right before my eyes, he started to phase out of my sight, splitting into fragmented lines before snapping out of existence. I took a guess and whipped my head around, the same phenomenon happening except in reverse leaving him standing the same as before except behind me. Bent space-time? Moved to fast for my eye to capture? Illusion? Whatever it was if anyone on Earth could do that you could end wars. 'Something I can do.' He answered as bluntly as I would, 'Any other burning questions?'

We were silent for the moment, the eyes' glow from behind the hood even in this well-lit room I couldn't see inside of it that it was all the way forward except what looked like the end of dog's nose. 'Since you're here I suppose you were the one who saved me last night in the alley.' I extended my hand out, 'That was right out of a comic book or something what you did. Amazing.'

His eyes seemed to soften a little bit, the glow lessened and then raised right back up as he saw my hand out. Instead of shaking, he nodded his head down closing his eyes briefly, returning back up to his pillar-like stance. 'Think nothing of it.' He spoke with a swish of his tail sideways, 'It was foolish for you to think you could fight a Dokugomon and live.'

I didn't have to be that smart to see a bit of condescension, this one came from the superiority of authority. I was the one still breathing because of him so I guess I had to eat the statement. 'If there wasn't a fence I would have gotten away.' I countered, 'Still, I like having a heartbeat so that's one I owe you too. Although you didn't save me out of the kindness of your heart did you?'

'No.' He confirmed, 'I did it because Gennai asked me to.'

'Fair enough.' I nodded, 'You owe him something?'

'A reward for a service.' He said walking around me in an orbit, 'He repays me later for helping him. Now he asked me to stay here and watch you.'

'Means to an end.' I coldly conceded, "You got a name?'

He slowly took off that hood and mask, both hands pulling the fabric away from the front all the way down the front of his face. He pulled back his ears down and revealed the face of a canine with way more humanoid features than I would have expected. A thick muzzle halfway between a jackal and a wolf, the thin fur and the thick throat and snout indications of both popping through. Those orange eyes slowly faded in the light, but they remained as piercing as could be. There was a scar down the side of his left eye and the expression was that of annoyance he had to indulge my curiosity. 'My name is Cyrismon." He answered with a bow of his head, "The Shadowed Ranger of Server."

Up to this point, my mind was churning through a lot of information, swelling in the back of my subconscious. Most of it was in the form of my reality slowly encroaching on breaching insanity. Nothing I was seeing was making logical sense but now I have stuck maybe a sight that threatened the rest of my composure. It was like some audience in the back of my head was losing their collective shit behind two-way glass, all clamoring over a hundred panicked questions. My expression changed as they were clawing through my expression, twitches and rapid blinks. I needed to stop it before it went too far. I held up my hand slightly towards him as I worked through my mind how to handle this overly like I was trying to stop myself from losing my shit right there. 'You are not what I expected to see behind that hood.' I could only say, 'That's a lot to take in.'

'I was not expecting to hear you fought two Agent clones to a standstill or almost outrun the Dokugomon.' He answered back, 'Yet here you are. I want something from you in return for your question all being fair.'

From one of the pouches on his curacies, he scooped out my zippo lighter! It was in my jacket I had thrown off when the acid attack hit the sleave, nothing else save my cigarette pack but I could live with losing the five I had left. If he had procured it from the street, perhaps he was the one to help Gennai with the purging of the scene. He held it in his palm with the etched engraved letters on it that said "RANGER" in the upper rocker banner, the year under it was '88'. 'This was the only thing in what remained in your jacket.' He offered it to me, 'The word on it is the same as my title. What does it mean here on Earth?'

I reached for it but he snapped his fist closed around it, expecting an answer first. Lucky I really like that lighter. 'United States Army Ranger.' I answered honestly, 'Chosen soldiers who took the challenge to be the best the Army has to offer to defend our country to the best of our ability.'

That was the jingoistic answer. Really we have jumped up infantry who were crazy enough to dive out of perfectly functional aircraft. Still, got to take pride in the fact I made Best Ranger twice in a row before I moved on to Delta. 'I fight to protect Server from those that would destroy or exploit it for their own gain.' Cyrismon answered, 'Perhaps we have at least a duty in common.'

The Digimon tossed it to me a little faster than someone else would have tossed it, my own hand snapped up and caught it when it slapped off my palm before it hit my face. His head tilted to the side as my hand lowered down, a smug smirk up one side of his face. That was on purpose. Clever. 'And you have a select set of abilities few humans I've seen have.' He seemed to allow, 'You might live to see the end of this day after all.'

'You've met humans before?'

'Long ago.' He answered simply, 'That is none of your concern. Your work is. So if there is nothing else, continue it.'

With that he turned away and went to the balcony window, looking out through the blinds onto the city. That's where he had been all along? This time he didn't phase out of existence or sight or whatever it was. I tossed the knife to myself as I turned around to go back inside my office as even I could tell he didn't want to talk. 'I am curious about one more thing.' Cyrismon stated to my surprise, 'I'd understand if you didn't answer.'

'Go on.'

'What caused all the rest of those scars on you?'

It wasn't any mistake the second you saw me with my shirt off I didn't look like a fitness model despite you could see every abdominal muscle on my stomach. I had more stitch marks in me than a pricey suit, lots of nicks and scrapes and a few bullet holes healed over. The one over my eye was pretty distinct but I've had that since I was a teenager, the cheek cut a slash from an exploded AK round off some cover in Somalia. The burn mark that went over my shoulder when my uniform caught on fire once. Lucky to be standing or I'm just hard to kill, I was still here and I was going to keep going when others could not. The reason was pretty mundane as I came up with an answer. 'Mistakes of inexperience and bravado for a few.' I capitulated, 'Rest mostly the price of spending time in combat. Why?'

When he turned fully around Cyrismon came right up to me with a very intense look on his face looking down his muzzle at me. 'Then heed this warning I have for you that Gennai didn't have the courage to tell.' He pointed, 'You fought mere apparitions of Railius's power, sentient manifestations. If you come across an actual Fallen Agent or Railius himself, luck won't be enough to save you.'

'Duly noted.' I slowly worded and went back to the office, 'I'd better get back to work.'

'Not just your world on the line Captain.'
 

CPT.ARCHER

Ain't got no mojo...
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What Is At Stake​

As the sun rose on the world which will be mine, it was only a matter of time until I got what I had earned. That is the simplicity of it all. There is no question in my mind at all of what I shall have because I know it will be so. I watched this world from on top of an office tower building, the wind blowing my black cloak across to my left, seeing what mine will be soon enough. I surveyed my future property and the lives I will control, all of them slowly getting into their daily commune to their rat race, never once looking up to the top of this tower to see their future ruler above them waiting to take control. It would be no different since they were mindless enough. It was owed to me by rite, the suffering I endured shall be returned for all the ingrateful drones humans really are. By the time the sun set, it will all be over.

You know I am right. Mindless lives of directionless things led by those with the ability to direct humanity on the bloody path of its own destruction. You follow pieces of cloth on a pole to death and die for it, you believe in leaders who blatantly lie, you idolize past times of ignorance and bigotry as 'the glory days'. You live in the bliss of the horrors around you, live uninteresting lives anyway and go home to waste your life watching the television to rot the minds you have. Those who aspire for more are just there to make themselves feel better that they do more than just wallow in stupidity and act superior to you the rest of the group even if they don't show it. They know they are better than you and I am better than anything you could ever be. At least with me running things, you'll all be equal. Equally working to my whims and given much-needed direction.

My name is Railius. The name was given to me when I was created. It was a simplistic name given to me by my betrayers who called me their equal but treated me not as such at all. So, no one is ever my equal because that would be redundant. More powerful than I and that is a threat. Weaker is easier since I can control that. Simplify it and mold it. The way I will.

So much is unknown about me and that is the way I like it aside from my reputation as someone who will ruthlessly now pursue what he wants now. I'm not going to give you the honor of knowing even the slightest about me. It is beneath me to even to soliloquize my mental prowess to you as it is but for the sake of telling you what you will experience soon enough. All you need to know is I am True Agent. We weren't always called that. We were originally part of the Order, those tasked with maintaining the order of the Digital World. While there were those with being content of keeping things balanced and unchanging, we wanted to change the world a little bit to make it more interesting, have it evolve. Things worked fine but with a few...over embellishments things became tense. When asked to stop we appeared to be and continued anyway in secret. It all came to a crash one day when the Digital was reset in a calamity so destructive the it never recovered as far as I knew or saw. Blame was all theirs but that is but a memory only I possess now. What I built, my visions and my legacy destroyed by others interference and betrayals and I am the one cursed? The monuments, the civilizations and heights the Digital World climbed to where all my doing not theirs! They shall know the depths of their destruction soon enough.

As I stood looking down at my soon-to-be new property, someone was not as content with the vision of the future I had. Telling me through my contact I was to meet him here, landing behind me to my left was the Mastermind of all of what would be to come. A true manipulator of the evil incarnate, in ragged red robes through only which his pale blue eyes gleamed out from under his hood out to the world in front of him. Hands either crossed into the wide tattered sleeves or reaching out to kill his opponent, he floated silently up to the ledge to look down with me. The indiscriminate markings along the sides of his robe and the pure gold buckle that held it together gave him the wonderful sense of dread as his leathery blackened purple demon wings flapped slightly he rose up to stand on the ledge with me. He was Daemon, the Mastermind of Darkness.

I had come across Daemon when he first fell from the sky in the Dark Ocean. Defeated by a simple portal opening by a DigiDestined, in his first moments he swore vengeance upon all those who bore the title and upheld a Digivice. I took it upon myself, even though I was distastefully weaker then, to offer my services in such a task. Soon hundreds of us banished rose up to my side and proclaimed ourselves the True Agents and offered our services. Through the studies of what we had available to us in this draining world we lived and we were exiled to, we came to rise with powers conjured from the depths of the ocean itself and found our way to the past. Once it was opened, we came to this world now to take what would be ours in time regardless. ‘Railius.’ Daemon's growling but soothingly evil voice, ‘Tonight will begin our world as we see it.’

He wasn’t aware of last night yet? Unlikely but why was he not bringing it up? ‘I still I don't know why we do not strike now.’ I looked over at him, ‘Why do we keep waiting?’

‘In time we will.’ Daemon assured with a sinister soothing tone, ‘This world will be ours for the taking when all goes well tonight.’

‘All of Heighton View Terrace will be gone.’ I laughed, ‘All I need is a few precious minutes and then all will be flame.’

‘Our strike will be absolute but timing is key Railius.’ Daemon turned to me, ‘The precise moment will be waited for.’

‘Precise?!’ I demanded, ‘You know who those children are and I can kill them right now!’

‘You will wait Railius.’ Daemon simply stated.

I turned to him with my need bared at him, fists clenched tight enough to suffocate any human being in a matter of moments. ‘What is there to be secretive about?!’ I protested, ‘Look around you these humans are our slaves and vermin under our presence as we speak! We are going to destroy this world down to its foundations anyway! Here, I will show you!’

I flicked my hand out and my cursed blade shone through my hand, materializing instantly. I got on the ledge and leapt off to show Daemon exactly what I mean. I’d keep the damage localized, a few mere blocks to show it be nothing of consequence. Before I could unleash my presence to the world a hand caught my throat and my downward momentum stopped abruptly. Back onto the roof I came and was held up with the curled long fingers of Daemon, him looking up at me as he held me up above his head with the same dead look through his hood. ‘Are you truly that foolish Railius?’ He demanded as he squeezed even tighter.

‘Foolish?!’ I rasped out through the pressure, ‘We are more powerful than any human being...’

‘And what did that power do for you last night?’ He shook his arm once as if I was a common mongrel, ‘I do everything except hold your hand and Gennai still got away from your grasp!’

Daemon drew his arm back and threw me down, dashing me across the ground with the force to crack the cement. My body winded I did not even try to get up as he was already standing over me as I came to a stop on the ground. I knew not to stand up just yet. ‘Gennai is flailing in the wind here.’ I protested, ‘I nearly had him!’

‘And this human caused all of your misfortunes?’ Daemon mocked, ‘So much for the Designer of Digivices.’

Daemon drifted off and turned his back on me at the reminder. The temptation was there, blade in hand looking to drive it right through his back. In time. Instead, I stood up and promptly swatted away some of the dust off my robes letting my sword dissipate into nothing for the time being. ‘What have you discovered about this human Gennai saved last night?’

‘He is human.’ I sneered, ‘What more is to say?’

‘A human you sent Dokugumon after and the spider never returned to his lair.’

That I did not know and my momentary pause gave it away even if it was a second delay. Daemon looked back to see me shift a bit. ‘Apparently a capable one.’ I offered an explanation, ‘My acolytes are in search of his identity. So far nothing on the human world about him in any public record, picture or otherwise. A deeper search of more restricted areas are being done. Easily accessible thanks to my innovational use of Datamon will yield the full result when I return to the temple.’

‘Tell me what this human was like.’

‘What difference does---’

‘Do I need to repeat myself Railius?’

I stiffened at the suddenness of his interest in him. I recalled the night looking into those eyes of his. Stone solid sameness. All…rage and defiance. It wasn’t even at me per say at times. Seeing him there was more akin to seeing a force of unearthly hate yet it seemed justified. ‘I will say that I never expected him to defeat one let alone two of my shroud clones in hand-to-hand combat.’ I admitted, ‘There was a brutalness to his fighting. He matched their speed and their ferocity, I had never seen any human fight like that. I…don’t want to admit it but it was a…pleasure to watch.’

‘My mistake was in underestimating humans.’ He allowed a flaw to show, ‘I thought they were incapable of facing true power but they have it hidden within them. You look at one and project weakness onto the rest. Do not mistake their frailty for their lack of willingness to commit or inflict violence.’

‘Puny as it is effective against beings like us.’

‘Their power is in their technology and weaponry!’ Daemon scolded, ‘Humans can resort to a barbarity level of spiteful violence rather quickly if cornered. Scorched earth is not a euphemism for burnt grass Railius as you should know. They will use every means they have to destroy us so we must prevent whatever they might mount against us before we strike tonight.’

The Mastermind had me there. This very nation not even fifty of its years ago had been ravaging their way across a globe in a bid for global supremacy along with other powers just as ambitious. ‘This one human I feel is different.’ Daemon swiftly entered my personal space, ‘If there is one there can be more. Gennai no doubt will have recruited him in his aim to stop us on Earth. And if I say he’s a problem that makes him a priority until tonight’s done. And since I am far too busy with my end of our deal that makes him a problem you are to deal with. Correct him.’

I snarled at that, the order while against my own interest of my plans it was an indisputable one. Daemon could end me in an instant and he never took insubordination from any creature. I also could not allow something like him to walk around bothering my plans. I still bowed my head down in agreement. ‘As you command.’ I agreed with an angered sigh. ‘I'll be sure to make it fun somehow while we wait to take what was stolen from us.’

Daemon took to perch on the edge of the building as he saw I was going to do as I was told. ‘You’ll get your vengeance as you desire Railius.’ He remarked, ‘But you will do as I say or you won’t. Is that understood?’

‘I am but the obedient vassal of your will.’

‘Everything but obedient.’ He remarked, ‘Just remember who you are serving and see through your end of our arrangement, and you will get what you earned.’

With that he was gone off the edge, disappearing in a winged flight out of sight. I turned away to my own tasks, swearing in my own mind that before this day, only one of us will get what the other wanted. Daemon might have been the Mastermind of Darkness, but my mind-forged our world before he could even comprehend it. What I had planned he’d never see before it was too late for both these worlds.

Just the way I wanted it.



 

Mon-Ohma

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Interesting so far. :)
 

CPT.ARCHER

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It All Adds Up


You’d have thought in the world of instant communication, telephones and fax machines there would be this immediate mobilization of forces around the globe as you’d expect with something so urgent. With what I was transmitting you’d think it Sunday following Saturday obvious, but you’d be astounded to find out it is never how it works. Nothing ever moves faster than human comprehension, especially when the rhythm of the anticipated is to be interrupted. Informing of a new threat is a slow, methodical process and often either need mounds of evidence to move at all or so profoundly shocking it abruptly shifts at a breakneck pace to compensate.

The world I had lived in for over five years since I left the regular armed forces operated not like your typical expectations of dealing with threats. This isn’t like your typical emergency line calling the police in the case of a break-in or reporting a murder. Those responses where you can summon help are already allocated to deal with the mundane troubles of the population being the population. There is always an emergency to deal with. The threats the higher agencies like the FBI or MI6 deal with are engaging with foes of way more sophistication than your local crowbar expert. There are thousands of people crammed into cubicles and packed command rooms looking more akin to the Stock Exchange on sell-off day monitoring everything from other spy activity to conducting covert operations to countering terrorists looking to burn everything down. Dozens of departments segment to those who watch specific threats and crimes so to speak. Multiple apparatuses are hard at work to watch and react to the actions and information’s provided by informants and field agents like myself.

To simplify this down so you’re not buried in jargon, I am what you could call a special task field agent, assigned to the Special Activities Division. My main function was to be what teams needed me to be in the wide range field of a counter-terrorist specialist. I could do anything from conducting surveillance, infiltration or combat operations depending on what I was needed to do on top of what I had to moonlight depending on staffing. My assignment until last night was the intelligence conference attendee attaché, advisor to the board and Liaison officer to special operations via Langley. Officially I was here for the conference. I was a local, spoke the language perfectly so it made sense to have me be there as a translator and advisor. Off the record, more accurately in case of a real emergency, had things had gone far worse with Aum Shuriko after their nerve gas attack three months ago, we’d have been tasked on tracking down all the loony toon characters. Well, nothing further than the bombings and gas attacks since that day in May but the police were handling it fine enough. The cult had amassed millions of dollars, truckloads of weapons and the last thing anyone needed was that ending up in the hands of the Triads or the Yakuza or worse. I had been monitoring the situation on and off on top of future assignments as well so I had some latitude to act on new threats. Let’s say if through my own intelligence-gathering I came up with something to add to the effort, a weapons deal going down in Kyoto between some Aum members and a gang for instance. Be it from my own initiative or someone pointing me in a direction it doesn’t matter. If I ran it up the flag pole like that it would be taken as near gospel thanks to my reputation of being very meticulous and accurate field agent. It would be actioned on appropriately and as my handler would say I earned a cookie. Apparently, there is a pile of them somewhere, I have to go into the local office to get them according to her. It would be delt with by the local police and that would be that. Another day, another disaster averted.

All of that had nothing to do with what I was doing now. This was a totally unrelated group with no history of violence, just alleged cybercrimes. Even with the raw data of information, the little I could find, none of it could be used in a courtroom. It was thinner than I remembered, the files had been removed or amended it seemed. What I had to do was raise an alarm over something seemingly from whole cloth and in a way that would be taken seriously fast enough.

You need to understand what I would be saying is happening would be impossible to happen. The mindset of intelligence groups, or anyone with an inch of sense, is there are predicable and perceivable threats. Lone wolf types like the Unibomber slip below the radar in rare cases but realistically caused little damage save a few lives lost. The World Trade Center Bombing, one of our largest failures to date, was done by a group of Saudi nationals driving a fertilizer bomb into the basement of a big building. That attack took three men years to pull off and despite how they got one over on Uncle Sam, they still had movements that could be tracked. These guys were almost as covert as I was and a few mishandling by the FBI and the CIA never talking to the former. Lesson learned. We at least will be looking for truck bombs from now on from looking back. What I was warning about was so out of the ordinary and out of the clear blue sky it might as well be alien invasion I was warning about.

The Datalists were an unknown and entirely new organized sect of religious kooks to all the sparse reports out there. Until this very morning no threat to anyone according to everyone who’d look, except now me. I’d be claiming this new organization was the verge of the next mass murder attack in Japan in under three months from the last? While I was a credible source and I was known for my field work this would come across as being clairvoyant. I had no evidence to drop on a desk or be prepared to present to a room of suits in Langley or Washington. They were half a world away as well. I went through three smokes in a row thinking on every step I had to even get this ball rolling in a timely way. If I was going to even to have a hope to stop this, I had to raise enough smoke on existing information and get the alarming messages in the right peoples’ heads. This wasn’t even mentioning the fact there were Digimon and these Fallen Agents running around which no amount of emails would convince anyone. I had to leave all of that out so I got to work with what I had.

Immediately I began making phone calls while trying to draw up as much information from my database as I possibly could at the same time. The rapidness of my fingers on the keyboard while waiting between transfers through various departments kept the gathering of data sounds going. I had out on my desk all my passwords and key phrases to bypass the checks to access the sensitive data when I had to. There were few reports on the Datalists that were helpful. While the name came up to the cyber security division for all the wire fraud and breaking into mainframes, this was pretty tenuous at best for proof. Different countries were affected, there were no real life names and it was financial white-collar crime. So I had to interject some urgency. I slipped in some observations group called the Datalists might have had some links to Aum Shurikio since many of their members had tried to form splinter groups. Throw in a mention of a lot of their bomb making inventory was still unaccounted for along with crates of Ak74s still missing. The ticking typing of my fingers to formulate these flag-raising information dumps was accompanied by the sound of my fax machine sending the printed versions off to multiple numbers. While they were sending off, I stood up to get some more of the coffee while waiting on my online requests to come back or my phone to go off with the first call back I was expecting.

As people were now shouting into telephones somewhere in the world now aware of a possible attack because of me I could afford a few minutes out to get some more coffee. People were being mobilized, intel being collected and the general feeling of a hornets nest kicked swarming around the southern hemisphere for a fight that was to come. Far out of my hands and waiting for files to be downloaded through the phone line, I came back to the front room to see what may as well be my alien guest was doing. I stopped dead in my tracks at what I saw.

In the middle of the room Cyrismon was there plain as day but now was passing the time in his own way, practicing fighting forms. It looked like taichi on the speed with more than enough strikes thrown in, only the sound of the rushing air around him being heard as he moved. The blinds were shifting from feet away, himself creating a breeze in the room rivaling the AC. Kicks, flips in place, drawing of blades to strike out in a flash of blackening steel all happening in front of my couch in front of the TV. I watched for a few moments with my last sip of coffee swirling around in my cup, impressed at the very alien but understandable martial arts demonstration before me. He was utilizing a lot of clawed hand slashes to which I at first thought was strange until I remembered he had claws on his fingers. The digital creature came to a stop in the middle of a backward strike, seeing me nodding my head and golf clapping silently. “That how all you Digimon relax?” I asked as I made my way to the coffee pot in the kitchen.

“I have much on my mind.” He answered sheathing a dagger, “And I don’t want an audience Captain.’

I filled my coffee cup from Gennai's brew, the furry fighter watched every one of my moves with intent focus right back. Guess he didn’t like telegraphing his moves since I had watched him first. ‘Well you might as well not menace the drapes or scare the couch while you do it.’ I answered turning back, ‘I got a room for that kind of stuff, might be more your speed.”

I crossed to the other side of my apartment to where a second bedroom would have been. Instead when I keyed in the passcode, the room opened up into a wide open space. A half gym and half armory, all paid for by Uncle Sam.

The floor was all fall mats with a raised floor section in the middle for the forms I practiced. Around the square were dumbbell and squat racks and a single bench with a barbell rack with plenty of weight loaded. There was a long-distance treadmill in one corner, a punching bag hanging from the ceiling across from it too that I had rapped up in extra duct tape over the years. The ceiling had a chin-up bar bolted to the roof for the upper body when I felt like trying to pull the ceiling down. The walls were more modern looking and reenforced with metal grating for what was the real attraction to anyone looking to arm up.

The wall that would have been facing the ten story drop as to prevent anyone from drilling in to get to the hardware was dedicated to the weaponry of the room. From left to right were handguns, submachine guns and then lastly assault rifles and a few sniper rifles. Each had their own corresponding magazines on a shelf under each weapon which were loaded up. They didn’t have the bolts in them so the guns were useless until they were put in. On a less restricted rack were a wall of knives, katanas, bokkens, long staffs and other hand weapons like brass knuckles and switch blades. There were a few hard case boxes with equipment in it like holsters, vests, and tactical gear like radios and miscellaneous kit. A lot of the more novelty items were my personal collection from all around the world, hobbies of traveling and picking up things. Of course, I had my own set of equipment but it was already signed out to me and in my room. I had other stuff hidden around the house too in case anything got dicey, the shotgun I had out already for example.

Having this kind of equipment wasn’t just because I was trusted or as a reward for service. Places like these were holdovers of our Cold War with the Russians and Chinese for the last fifty years. Or so they tell me; I’ve only ever seen two others like it in Budapest and what used to be East Germany. According to government lawyers, this place was left in my name when I turned eighteen, some family I never met before died and left it to any remaining family. Even a sizable bank account to top it all off. All of my immediate died in an alleged sea accident and they never left me a dime. When I went more covert, an offer came up to turn it into a safe house for the CIA. Pretty much made living here free with my alias name on the ownership papers. The stuffy office drone apparition I mentioned to Gennai earlier if you were curious. Over the years we made it into a sort of field station complete with the secure terminal and phone line in the building. I was the caretaker so when I was in town I was the man to give access and give briefs to the agents. It made me the official armorer too, responsible for the arsenal here. No matter what the movies tell you, these weapons had to be signed out and tracked. At least to us. I had the triplicate forms and everything. Even the throwaway guns which were procured through less legal means I had to take account of who at least took it. Nothing left here without a meeting or notice to me in some way, only exception was when I wasn’t in town. My local handler and contact to Langley was the only other person authorized to be in here aside from me. She took care of the place when I wasn’t around. Kept it clean I got to say. Never understood why she never slept in the bedroom and just slept on the couch. I went as far as to get a new mattress and sheets for her. The reason for the dojo was my it was a training room but I also had a third hat as a combat instructor. Langley often asked if I’d take an instructor roll or fill in for someone to teach agents how to fight. I considered it a short vacation, a lot less to worry about, and a good way to catch up on reports. Even in the special forces world there is paperwork.

It was lit by a few panel lights but under one such light in the middle of the raised mats was a judo-based wing Chun wooden dummy. It wasn’t shaped like a person as the name would imply, it was a single long trunk of polished wood with two dowels sticking out at one level, one in the middle and a last angled piece of wood out. They were supposed to represent attacking limbs to deflect. They were fun to mess around with and really good for counter strikes practice. A lot of the deflections and parries I used last night came from the system. The dummy was a cherry oak color with no give so I put a thin matt pad on the top section and middle for strikes. I took off my shoes, kicking them to the corner out of respect to the room I made. Cyrismon followed me in, looking around he knew what this place was as well. A brief hint of a smile came up to his muzzle even. “All I know is war.” I admitted simply, “All I’ve ever wanted to do was fight, might as well be for something towards an end. And you better be good or you die.”

I ran my hand along the punching bag, pushing it away with my fingers. As it swung back I drove a snapping punch into it. The thick hide crumpled and the internal bags of sand buckled under the force, bending the entire bag in half for a split second. My mug didn't spill a drop. “Strike first and strike once.” I took a sip, “Take the best at what your allies and enemies do and use it to your advantage. Might not like Russians that much but Krav Maga is useful.”

A hand ran along the weapons on the wall as I walked around, hearing the echo’s of every crack of around firing off from them. The melee weapons, the knives, tomahawks and even the old katanas and newer forged swords I collected their distinct clangs and wacks upon impact. “I know all my weapons as well as I understand my abilities.” I looked over at Cyrismon, “I know the intended purposes of all of them, their strengths as well as their drawbacks.”

‘And those books that line your walls outside?’ Cyrismon asked, ‘They about fighting?’

“Some are.’ I nodded, ‘I assume my enemies aren’t stupid or backward no matter where they are from. I have met many fanatics with university degrees, schooled in military colleges and some who were street wise geniuses. Thus, I make sure my mind is as sharp as theirs can possibly be.’

I pushed off the wall and saw Cyrismon was looking around in the room with curiosity, gravitating to the dummy on the mats. “This is my life.” I summarized, “It’s what I'm good at, for better or worse. But I’ll leave you to it since you don’t like prying eyes anymore than I do.”

Cyrismon laid his hands on the wooden dummy for a moment as I turned away to leave. ‘Why do you not let people see you fight?’ Cyrismon asked.

‘Part of the job to not let people see what I can do.’ I answered.

‘Well since you watched me mind demonstrating how you use this?’ He indicated to the dummy, ‘Fair play after all.’

Wasn’t exactly expecting to do anything in here but since the phone had not gone off why not. I wasn’t so injured I couldn’t show how this thing works. The dummy wasn’t exactly common knowledge even to martial artists and it certainly wasn’t user friendly in what to do with it. I put down my coffee mug on a narrow shelf and stepped up onto the mating. ‘I won’t baby talk you through it.’ I assured, ‘This is just for in close strikes. Goal is to strike and block or avoid at the same time while moving or striking.’

I set up in front of the arms, Cyrismon stood off with his arms crossed watching me intently. ‘And you’ll get ten seconds since that’s all I watched you for.’ I held up a finger.

My hands came up between the two dowls, fingers loosely flexing as I plotted my sequence forms to do. I took a deep breath in and then out and began with the movements with noticeable forms. Even when my fist connected with the pad, my style allowed me to either have my forearm or elbow on either arm contacting one of the simulated wooden limbs. My feet only shuffled from one side to the other, in my mind shifting out of the way of a strike to come in and hit. I made sure to hit with palms, a curled fingered chop or ridge strike or a direct flat strike to the pad. This thing was bolted to the floor so it could take the abuse I was giving it, making a horrible creaking racket the sound proofed walls absorbed. When ten seconds had passed I scooted backward, a hiss through my teeth at the end as I rose out of my stance. The wolf jackal’s expression was a fading fascination since I had stopped, a slight sheen on my forehead from even that ten seconds I had thrown into it. ‘Good for practicing counters up close.’ Cyrismon moved in next to me.

When the bipedal wolf creature moved in front, he mimicked my stance in front as I stepped aside. What happened next was nothing but a blur and a loud three strike succession I only picked up in snapshots where he hit. A straight shot to the head pad blocking two angles, a knee strike blocking two dowls at once and ending with using one hand to hold himself up on the ground, a foot to block one limb and the other landing right in the center that would have kicked the entire dummy off the floor if it wasn’t bolted to the ground. The Digimom held that pose for a good ten seconds before looking up at me. ‘It doesn’t hit back though.’

I again gave the golf clap to him as he came back to his feet, it was impressive. Good thing he was supposedly on my side. Let us test that. I walked towards the heavy bag and limbered up my leg in a few steps. ‘Well the nice thing about how I fight is when I hit someone---’ I swung a sidekick on the last word.

I threw every bit of my strength into the canvas siding in my leg strike and the bag, which was by not any means soft-skinned, struck with the crack of a gunshot. I felt a rush of satisfaction sting up my bare skin and hardened bone not giving a damn. The bag lost its telephone pole figure and bent nearly in half, lurching into the air a bit. Dust even flew off it as it swung up leaving a permanent dent. I held my stance, leg out when my hips engaged in a snapshot like pose akin to Cyrismon's style. The bag came back to a stop against my shin. I turned my head back after a few seconds and shot him a grin as I came back down to a normal stance. The Digimon eyes were slightly wider for the second before they returned to normal. ‘They don’t hit back.’ I finished.

I went back to my coffee, hopefully, it wasn’t too cold by now, reaching for it to pick it up. ‘I said you possessed skills few humans do but that isn't enough.’ Cyrismon’s words came out slowly, ‘You’re smart enough to know that.’

‘I know they aren’t.’ I admitted taking a sip again.

‘Then why are you even contemplating it?’

‘I have to.’ I answered, ‘Observe, adapt and overcome. Been doing it since the second my world met yours. Same as you about me right?’

Cyrismon didn’t seem surprised at the accusation. If he was anything like I suspected, he would be doing so by default. ‘You’re not someone I’m unfamiliar with.’ He answered surprisingly quickly, ‘One look at those guns now, your scars last night and your eyes the entire waking time I’ve seen you told me all I need about you.’

I didn’t answer right away. Where was he going with this? I wasn’t about to endure a lecture or an insult. Let’s instigate a bit though. ‘Pick what you say next carefully.’ I warned, ‘You don’t know me.’

‘Oh?’ Cyrismon approached brazenly, ‘You’ve nearly been killed twice in less than a day. Doesn’t bother you one bit. You’ve shown me this shrine to preparing for violence. What you do as you said. And you have eyes I have seen for most of my existence. They are the eyes that stared into the void of evil and never blinked.’

Cyrismon stood right over me and made sure he was in my personal space. ‘It's because they are just like mine.’ Cyrismon nearly hissed, ‘Make no mistake its not why I don’t trust you around me. People who aren’t looking to see tomorrow tend to take others with them is why.’

I was not ready for that statement and my furrowed eyes gave it away. On a fundamental level it was somewhat correct in one way but wildly simplified to being absolutely false on the facts. He did not know me nor the consequences of my chosen profession. In a second feeling my body heat up and my eyes widened, it caused Cyrismon to shift backward like one moved away from a burst of a fire surged in front of him. It wasn’t fear, it was a genuine surprise. It did hit different with the point and as my breath sucked into my chest to retort when I heard the phone in my office go off. Knowing who was calling was far more important compared to this discussion. I just raised one finger at him as the wolfman seemed to relax, returning to the studying gaze he had before. ‘Don’t follow too close and you’ll have nothing to worry about.’ I answered turning to walk out, ‘Its why I work alone, just like you right?’

I didn’t know if Cyrismon reacted to my own observation about him. Someone who looks like an assassin from antiquity complete with hood and dagger clearly isn’t a crowd person. If I had to put a gentleman’s wager on what he did do was either he remained stoic or gave some indication of the touché response. Not exactly a dig at the Digimon, we all had our reasons and despite the accusation which still had the tingling remanence of my almost outburst I just let it go. I wouldn’t like me much either. I had to keep it out of my mind as I swooped into my room and picked up the phone off my desk. ‘Hello?’ I spoke.

‘Line is secured Captain Archer.’ The chipper female voice came through the phone, ‘Agent Izumi as per usual. You’ve stirred up a lot of the office with your last few faxes, care to elaborate?’

Agent Izumi, native-born Japanese American and one of my handlers on this side of the globe at the CIA. Quite the resume for someone her age. Marine Corps Intelligence Officer and was scouted by Langley for her work during the Gulf War, even got her out of her contract early to work for them sooner. Met her a few times over the years, only once in the field and it was for a local assignment in surveillance on some Chinese agents who were operating in Kyoto. Good looking and sharper than most scalpels, she was a very smooth talker and like a good agent always trying to sus out information from everyone. It made me wary but I don’t know if Izumi was doing it out of curiosity or wanting to find dirt. I took my seat and started to flip open my complied reports to get started. ‘I have reason to believe we have a very imminent threat here in Japan and I’ve sent off the reports as fast as I could.’ I answered, ‘I need this pushed up, get some more eyes on this and corroborate this with our local allies expediently.’

‘I’ve gone over some of what you’ve sent in and across a few other pairs of eyes and this is very much troubling if true.’ Hikari allowed, ‘Key is if. You have any more substantial corroborating evidence coming our way?’

I had information and sources which could have easily convinced everyone in the world this was going on. Problem was one of them was a human looking being who could transmute matter wasn’t about to talk and the second was an upright walking dog like creature in leather armour who wasn’t either. ‘That’s why I needed to call in for what I am going to do to get it.’ I answered, ‘I’m going to conduct a hasty field operation but I need to you to be ready to distribute a full red alert on an agency level.’

‘Captain you know you’re supposed to give in person briefings for this kind of event.’ She almost scolded, ‘We have in-field assets already committed on assignments and if you want us to piss off everyone back in Virginia by taking our eyes off the situation with the cultist's bombings attempts to help on your personal project we are going to need something solid.’

I lifted up one of my newspapers which had an article written by a local reporter on the subject, circling the name at the bottom as a person of interest, Hiroaki Ishida. Quite the intrepid reporter for certain and one of the few brave enough to write articles on the Aum Shurikio warning about them for almost a year with his work. What caught my eye was he did write a few articles about these Datalists just last week. I had my suspicions about him though because not many reporters would be so keen to go after a group known to make people disappear. ‘Did you get my request on Hiro Ishida’s involvement in the Aum Shuriko case?’

‘I have it right here.’ Hikari answered, ‘Ishida is by all accounts an investigative reporter with Fuji TV and was feeding information about Aum Shuriko to a trusted contact inside Tokyo Metro police, specifically a Sergeant Hida in Zero Unit. We know this because he was the lead officer that lead the raids on their compounds after the gas attack. Both of them met while serving in the Japanese Defence Force.’

Two very civic-minded and dedicated men, something to work with. ‘Ishida was warning the country about Aum and no one listened.’ I informed, ‘Now he’s made mention of the Datalists are a problem so why wouldn’t I take at least a look in the midst of the rest of the issues?’

‘Captain you are asking myself and everyone at this field office to be on standby for you.’ She preverbally leaned in, ‘Now I have no reason to doubt you but as the station chief said he wants more than string lines on a corkboard.’

So far it was working, not doubting me was all I was really hoping for. I wasn’t expecting much action on their part right now. Put yourself in their position. A field agent is warning of an attack no one would have a clue about and connecting a new group to it to the last doomsday cult was tenuous at best. There would be a lot of stand-alone evidence to support it which I didn’t have at the moment. Investigations take time, involve research and surveillance. You needed to have someone be skeptical just for the sake of being thorough. Wild eyed speculation just leads to wasted time and lives if it gets out of hand. ‘If I’m right I’ll have all the information to you in a few hours.’ I offered, ‘I just need you in the office to be ready.’

There was a brief pause on the line, a distant tone in the background in the confronting tone I could make out but no words. ‘I trust him sir.’ I heard her say.

I was on speaker? Good. It meant I was in a conference room with other people whose attention I had now. ‘Captain Archer this his Station Chief Mako.’ A very brisk cadence toned man stated, ‘I understand you are planning to do this on your own?’

The Station Chief was a man who long ago left the field, a relic of the Cold War against Soviet and Chinese influence in Japan using his wealth of experience to direct the new generation of spy. Couldn’t blame him for being in a perpetual state of gruffness since he was one of those Vietnam Veterans who probably was in the Cambodian jungle more than Saigon Valley if his reputation was anything to be confirmed. A military intelligence officer who got slated into a desk due to injury or just too damn tired to crash through the bush so to speak. Spoke to him mostly in his office or a meeting setting, brisk as a cold breeze. Short, stocky and a flat top brush haircut with the leathery crows feet around his eyes. Drank ice water like I did, always a glass on his desk if I remember if it wasn’t coffee. ‘Its what I do sir.’ I answered, ‘I want to confirm I’m right first hence why I’m calling in with the information I sent in and my plan of action.’

‘Captain I have every field agent available working the Aum Shuriko cases and we are stretched thin as it is.’ He reminded me, ‘Before I pass this to Langley or Washington like your emergency request suggested I need some surveillance before I further action this. And I don’t like agents braving the unknown.’

‘That’s what you pay me for sir.’ I answered, ‘If I’m right we’ll need further action, if I’m wrong I’d have wasted my only my time and gotten out of the conference you didn’t want me in the first place, sir.’

There was a bunch of murmuring on the other end. It sounded agreeable. ‘I’ll task Izumi to you until this is resolved.’ Chief Mako agreed, ‘She’s your go-to. I want you in front my desk with a report before the day is out no matter the outcome. Are we clear Captain?’

I don’t know if I can type as fast as he wanted but that’s good enough. ‘I’ll be at the office no later than 2000 local time with my findings Chief.’

‘I’ll authorize it then.’ He decided, ‘Bring back what you can, stay out of legal trouble and we will assess your findings and on move from there. I don’t want to come looking for you either Captain you understand me?’

There was this surreal feeling of effectively lying by omission to my chain of command, people I worked with, and had trust in me to be honest. Deception was for the enemy's detriment and here I was not letting on all I know. While had no problem lying to someone if there was a reason to, I preferred using facts and specific information to get what I wanted. Coercion is easier with manipulation. The problem was if I did tell the entire truth I might as well size myself up for the straight jacket now. It would be preferable to what I was in for or whatever the Chief would assign me to for wasting his time. If he had to come looking for me, chances were I’d be dead anyway. ‘Acknowledged.’ I replied, ‘See you in a few hours.’

‘Hurry back Captain.’ Izumi’s voice came in before the line hung up.

I put the phone down and the moment I looked up there was Cyrismon at the door. I wasn’t going to assume he wasn’t capable of hearing everything I said with the radar dishes for ears. I stood up from the desk briskly and came around it. ‘You lied to them to get permission to save your world?’

‘Wanted me to tell them about you and Gennai?’ I asked, ‘Full honesty isn’t going to help and I’m sure you do not want to end up on an exam table with a very curious scientist with a scalpel in hand.’

I’m not going to pretend for a moment there would be a rational reaction to the discovery of a humanoid wolf creature that just appeared on Earth from out of nowhere. I wasn’t unaffected by the prospect of another world existing and creatures completely different from anything we saw in nature. Standing right there was something so alien to me I could only just accept it and losing my composure wouldn’t help. Watch enough movies about first contact and you’ll get a rough idea of how things would go. Very bleak and honestly nihilistic to think everything out there is hostile to us, thus be hostile first. The darker reason was since we as a race had a history being the more advanced imposing our will on the natives who were not. Alone I could be rationally spoken to by Gennai, calmly explain the circumstances and let it sink in. The Order Agent had done this and it was correct in the approach. If he tried it at the office to some room of CIA agents or heaven forbid a government building it would have gone to pot in about five minutes. If they didn’t drag him off as a lunatic for an evaluation, he did look human after all, he’d be arrested for certain. If Cyrismon had shown up to the event he might as well have invited the living autopsy he’d certainly get, conscious or intelligence non-factor. They might have met me except I’d be having them in cuffs and escorted back to Nevada and Area 51 if either were lucky. ‘What does this Ishida person know that is so important?’

‘Ishida predicted the last cult’s motives and actions.’ I answered, ‘Everyone called him an alarmist at first, right up until transit riders were foaming at the mouth and their nervous systems shot to pieces by Sarin gas the cult had made. If anyone knows anything about the Datalists it’s him. Lightest of leads and its is a long shot.’

Cyrismon seemed to understand the analogy, the impression I was getting he knew a lot of human culture and euphemism than he was letting on. ‘You don’t sound confident of your chances at all Captain.’

I came to a stop at the door of my room right next to him, my eyes shooting him a grim glance. ‘You were there when I spoke about knowledge is just as important?’ I asked.

‘Every word.’

So he can remain invisible for extended periods of time. That is utterly terrifying if I wasn’t considered friendly. ‘The reason I had to pry out permission wasn’t that I didn’t have the authority to do this.’ I explained, ‘It's just an insurance policy so they know what is going on, and they authorized to send someone else in case I don't report in or get killed.’

If Cyrismon had any semblance of concern to my well-being since it was his task, I saw a drop of it in the form of a shift upwards of his muzzle at my last word. ‘I am going into this situation cold and blind.’ I stressed to him, ‘I have no time to gather information on suspects or locations, I’ll have to cold read the situation on the move. I have no idea their capabilities, I’ll find out on the fly and adapt. I have little time to waste so my methods are going to be direct and blunt, and they usually aren’t painless to get compliance. Knowledge gained normally prevents such things but what methods I am left with means it will get bloody. I’m not looking forward to it.’

The Digimon didn’t seem to like the situation, it certainly made two of us. ‘What are you going to do?”

‘One of the two things I’m good at.’ I pushed past him to my armory to prepare my mission, ‘Solve the problems others can’t on short notice.’
 
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