The cloaked SoC Digimon gazed at Loogamon and Eiji Nagasumi from atop the building roof in Wall Slum as the duo headed to their mapping job.
"I wasn't told that they’d be Mindlinked..." The cloaked Digimon spoke up suddenly to somebody who wasn’t there.
—I hadn’t been told of it. Also didn’t expect him to suddenly show up with his limits unlocked.
The reply came through voice chat.
"Never mind the new kid," the cloaked Digimon said, "I wonder if that dog... Loogamon noticed that I was Mindlinked too."
"Well, I can’t be sure." The voice of the person on the other end belonged to the SoC interviewer.
"You asked the Demon Wolf of the Castle of Nine Wolves to map Ninth Avenue…" the cloaked Digimon said with some concern. "For a test, isn’t that way too easy?"
"You're right," the interviewer said. "This sort of test wouldn’t be semi-A level for the likes of them. I’ll be making a few adjustments."
The interviewer was up to something.
Once Loogamon reached ground level, he headed further underground.
"It’s a shortcut," he assured Eiji.
They reached an underground station platform.
Chug, chug, chug, chug…
In front of a bewildered Eiji… a Wall Slum train came to a standstill.
Eiji stared out in a daze at the rapidly changing scenery outside the train as he held onto a hanging strap.
"The Slum Loop Line subway…"
The interior of the train was very familiar. In fact, it looked similar to the Tokyo metro system that he normally used. The only difference was that the passengers on the train were not humans, but Digimon.
The subway map had characters on it that Eiji had never seen before. He wasn’t able to read any of the advertisements within the train or at the station.
"What is this? Digimon language?"
"It's forbidden to cause trouble in the subway," Loogamon said matter-of-factly.
"Forbidden… so, no fighting?"
"It’s a public place, so mind your manners."
Saying this, Loogamon laid down, taking up three whole seats to himself. The Digimon around them look annoyed, but apparently it wasn’t a breach of manners.
What the heck were considered good manners to Digimon? Eiji had no idea.
The subway train passed through a stop every 2-3 minutes. Eiji was fidgety and restless, partly because he couldn’t read the characters on the map, which he found out was called DigiCode.
"I’ve been thinking about Mindlink," he said to Loogamon as a way to distract himself. "Is me being in your Digicore similar to… like a human riding a Digimon? Am I the ChuuChuumon earlier who was riding the Damemon?"
"Don't compare me to that piece of poop!"
"It's not like that then? Hmm..."
"Not even close! Where do you think your real body is right now?"
Eiji's consciousness was currently within Loogamon's Digicore. Since his physical body wasn’t here… it must be back at home, leaning against the wall of his loft…
"That’s right. Your body fell asleep like that. Your consciousness doesn’t return back to your body unless you break the Mindlink."
"Huh... Well, that’s fine, whatever."
"By the way, Loogamon..."
"What is it?"
"Since I’m able to touch you now… Can I touch your toe beans?"
Since Loogamon was lying on the seats on his side, his paw pads were visible. They looked plump and squishy.
"No. Why do I have to allow what you want?" Loogamon said grumpily, showing his teeth.
"No, huh... The dog I used to have wouldn't let me touch his toe beans either."
"I'll kick you out of my Digicore if you keep talking rubbish like that! Also, from what I’m hearing in your stories about that dog of yours…"
"He probably didn't think of you as his master. He looked down on you for sure."
A surge of passengers got off and got on at the next station. The Digimon who boarded the train reacted in surprise when they saw Eiji.
"Hey, Loogamon... I feel like all of the Digimon are staring at me."
"Well, it's rare to see a human here."
"Oh... so this is like if a Digimon was Hololized and riding on a train in the real world."
No wonder he was attracting all this attention.
Since it didn’t appear likely that he would be harmed, Eiji took the opportunity to take a closer look at his surroundings. The Digimon in the passenger compartment seemed to mostly consist of one single type.
"---Almost all of the Digimon here have corrupted data," Eiji observed. "They look injured."
"Most of Wall Slum’s inhabitants are Digimon that were originally used by humans," Loogamon said matter-of-factly.
Now that he mentioned it, Eiji could see that a majority of the crowd were cyborg types or machine types, which were favored by code crackers.
"They’re all Digimon that were used by humans and discarded for some reason or another," Loogamon said. "They screwed up on the job, or were entrusted with the security of some company's servers and got destroyed from an attack or something."
Eiji was astonished.
It was true that code crackers used and abandoned Digimon regularly.
Although it was not generally known to the public, governments, military, mega-tech companies, and other important servers and data centers were already using Digimon in their security. Digimon got used up there on the daily.
No matter how carefully tools are treated, they eventually break. When they fail, they fail. That was how Eiji had felt about it before now.
"Normally those Digimon would die a dog’s death and revert back into Digieggs…" Loogamon said. "But as they survived by slurping up the scrap data that drifted along the outer security wall… they built up houses, villages, and towns. As long as they can find their way to this place, Digimon who were abandoned by humans can survive. The stray Digimon that gathered together here are what became this city—this slum."
A slum known as Wall Slum.
"I thought humans were pretty tough, but Digimon are strong too," Eiji said, impressed by the very life force of the Digimon.
"This trash heap of a slum is the last paradise for stray Digimon... Some of them may have gotten fed up with humans and drifted away on their own. Others may have wandered here due to some kind of trouble in the Digital World beyond the wall. Nowadays, it’s not unusual to find Digimon who were born and raised in this slum."
The subway shot out above ground. The sound of wheels treading along rails thundered. The red, polluted surface of the river beneath the truss bridge was spread out into the distance.
Eiji learned from Loogamon that the slum was full of Digimon like Chuumon who were proliferative everywhere, the mutant Damemon — and other Digimon who had adapted and evolved to live happily in an environment polluted with garbage data.
"Do the Digimon here not get along with each other?"
Chuumon and ChuuChuumon had been fighting over food. The rule of no fighting allowed on the subway meant, when you flipped it, that there was plenty of fighting allowed everywhere else.
"Basically, everyone is poor here, and that’s the reason for it all," Loogamon said. "Those in the slum can't consistently feed themselves, so fighting is a daily occurrence. There are turf wars, and Digimon in each neighborhood who acts as its boss. Only in this subway and in the center of the slum, Avenue Zero, is there an unspoken noncombatant agreement..."
"The center of the slum..."
That must be the blank area on the map that the cloaked Digimon had shown them earlier.
Eiji looked out the window. Upstream of the river was a mountain peak at the center of Wall Slum, made hazy by static.
"I can't see it very well... What kind of place is it?"
"It has the gate that leads to the inside of the security wall— The Wall Gate," Loogamon responded.
"Inside the security wall… You mean, the ‘deep’ Digital World?!"
This Wall Slum was, without any doubt, a part of the Digital World. But the deep part of it that was protected by the wall protected the "original shape," in a sense, of the Digital World…
"It would be an unknown Digital World for you humans. The Wall Gate controls the flow of data into the Digital World and prevents unauthorized entry."
The train crossed the river and slid back underground. The subway cars went dark for a moment, then sparks flew, and the lights came back on.
Eiji thought a little bit.
"---This Wall Gate prevents code crackers... us humans from getting in?"
"It’s not only humans," Loogamon said. "It also includes Digimon who have been used by code crackers and hackers. That’s all of the Digimon in Wall Slum"
"Huh? All of the Digimon here?"
None of the Digimon on this subway were able to return to the Digital World.
"This Wall Slum has perpetually been affected by real world data via the network," Loogamon said. "Once a Digimon is contaminated by real world data, it can never return to the Digital World. They lose the ability to pass through that gate."
"On whose authority?"
"The Digital World's system... is all I can really say about that. To put it in human terms... our god, so to speak? For the Digimon of Wall Slum, the inside of the ‘wall’ is their long lost home..."
"Loogamon... Do you know what's on the other side of the "wall"?
"We're getting off here."
Loogamon got up from his seat.
Eiji had no idea of what route they’d taken, but he heard the announcement say, "Next stop, Ninth Avenue. Ninth Avenue."
Eiji’s mind switched over into work mode. First, he had to fulfill Ryusenji's request and pass the SoC entrance exam.
"So we’re mapping Ninth Avenue…" Eiji said. "I wonder what kind of place it is."
"Find out when we get there."
"You sure seem to know a lot about Wall Slum, Loogamon. Have you lived here before?"
Loogamon had been stored from the beginning as his Child-level stage in the Digimon Linker. Eiji hadn’t bothered to ask before where Loogamon had been and what he’d done before then. It had never occurred to him that Digimon could have a past.
"I don't remember."
The sudden confession confused Eiji. "What?"
"My memory is hazy from one point to another. I know that I grew up here in Wall Slum. But I only remember when I was just a brat at Child-level. Everything else after that is vague…"
Loogamon said that he knew about the Digital World and Wall Slum, but he couldn’t remember much about himself.
He had no idea who he was here…
"Is it amnesia?" Eiji asked. "Seems kind of half-assed, though."
"Whenever I try to remember, it's like there's a haze around my Digicore."
Like fog settling down on my memories.
"Come to think of it, that Chuumon and the others said something of interest," Eiji said. "They seemed to know about you. Spoke reverently to you, calling you the Demon Wolf and Boss and whatnot…"
"After coming to Wall Slum with you and listening to them... I feel as if my memories are returning little by little," Loogamon said. "That’s why I said we might find more out when we get there. I get the feeling that there's something at Ninth Avenue. Something that's very important to me."
Character design/illustration: malo