Werewolf Tale X Digimon

Renegade_Productions

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For context: Werewolf Tale is one of two books I've written and published that involves a newly bitten werewolf and what he goes through before the bite and the first months after. This five part story, which is a 'what if' that comes a month after the end of the second book, was posted on DeviantART and FurAffinity months ago. It was worked on further during the recent NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November; more parts will be posted if there's interest.

========================================================================

S-Dec. 9th 2011 = 20:36 Fri. // M-Dec. 10th 2011 = 14:36 Sat. // H-Dec. 10th 2011 = 20:36 Sat. // R-Dec. 11th 2011 = 8:36 Sun.


- Part 1 -


Friday, December 9th, 2011
Time Until The Shift = Up


Alex Stryker’s previously calm breathing quickened as his phone alarm went off. The taste of blood came next as his canines lengthened to fangs, and the numbness in his hands as they reshaped into clawed paws. Each step and change that followed he waited for and reacted to, the snapping and reshaping of his bones signaling the end of the shift. He laid in his bed for several minutes after, the currents from the air conditioning sweeping his fur and helping relieve his trapped body heat. This made it his seventh time changing forms, and the only thing getting easier was the routine. Sore joints, pain and the like always came with the event.

He took a few more minutes to adjust after sitting up, his phone signaling the receipt of a message as he did so. His father in this case.



Dad: You okay, Son?



Alex S.: Yeah. It’s done.​



Dad: Good to hear. Stay safe, and we love you.



Alex S.: You guys too.​



Nathan then texted as Alex slid off his bed.



Nathan T.: Hey, man.



Alex S.: Hey. The you-know-what is over.​



Nathan T.: You feeling up for some DOOM II

deathmatch, then?



Alex S.: Think I’ll have to take a raincheck there.

Getting hungry, and a bit tired, already.​



Nathan T.: Alright. Tomorrow, then?



Alex S.: Yeah, sure. I can study over at Shane’s

place.​



Alex received no reply to the last text and set his phone aside. Before leaving his room, he finished off the water in the glass on his desk, and once in the kitchen, removed the portions of his coming meal from the fridge. Two thick ham and cheese sandwiches were the main course, the rest he ate as his interest drifted to them. All the while, Bailey kept his usual distance, though Alex could tell he was begging for a scrap. Eventually, he made an attempt to coax him over by dangling a lengthy piece of ham between his claws. The bait was refused until Alex tossed it towards his dog; Bailey snatched it out of the air with ease and waited for more.

Finishing off his meal with a cold soda, Alex made a sweep of the house to make sure every door and window was locked and all the windows were blocked by either blinds or curtains, the outside gate included. The only window he left, if slightly, open was one in his room, to let in the chill December air and let the outside scents mix with those of his room.

While waiting for Bailey to find a spot in the backyard to go, several scents of dead, likely roadkilled, animals reached his olfactory system, as well as others from burning wood logs, cooking meat and...he took two more sniffs to be sure. Someone was using a computer outdoors, probably several. After a second to think, Alex figured it was an open garage LAN party producing the scents, and his thoughts went to the session Nathan had planned for tomorrow.

By the time Bailey was ready to come back in, Alex was feeling the fatigue of the shift to his werewolf form and climbed into bed amidst a mix of scents from inside and out soon after.


Saturday, December 10th, 2011


When Alex awoke, something on the other side of his eyelids was producing a blindingly bright light. Noises akin to active circuitry were accompanying it, as were the scents of warm electronics. His heartrate shot up at the realization, and his eyes opened, only to need shielding with his right paw. The light, and likely everything else, was coming from his desktop and its monitor. His assumption that his computer was frying itself lasted only a few seconds. Nothing was giving off an electrical smoke scent.

Can’t take any chances. Alex thought as he got out of bed, intending to unplug his desktop and monitor from the wall. It was as he drew closer that other things grabbed his attention and slowed his pace. His XBOX’s controller connection lights were randomly flashing, and the digital clock on his desk was glitching out. The hell? When he reached his desktop’s chair, he closed his eyes and moved it aside, reopening them only once he was on his knees and front paws.

A moment later, the plugs for both his desktop and monitor were pulled out, and the blinding light was gone. Breathing a sigh, Alex gave his desktop’s chassis a few sniffs and visual inspections. Still no electrical smoke scents, but what had turned it on and made it do such a thing? The LAN cable made him wonder if it was something internet related, and when he looked, his XBOX was still flashing random lights. Another unplug made it stop, leaving just his desk clock, which was now flashing 12:00. Alex went for his phone to get the correct time, and reset the desk clock to 2:17 in turn. A few moments later, the fridge was on his mind. If the electronics in his room were acting this way…

To his relief, the fridge was fine, but as he inspected it, he heard the desktop in the study turn on and the fridge’s lights began to blink on and off, as did everything else with a digital readout in the kitchen. Damnit, not again. Alex then made his way into the study, intending to shut his father’s desktop off, and the house’s router as well. What made him stall was the sight of the glowing monitor…bulging, as though a balloon was being inflated behind the screen. His hesitation to move closer was all the time his father’s computer monitor needed to begin…producing…something. It moved as it emerged, as though looking left and right, and then leapt fully out of the monitor onto the top of the chair for the hutch, strands of the glowing screen snapping free of its body as it did so.

The once blinding light, and alterations to the monitor, vanished a second later, letting Alex see what had come out. An animal, or what looked like one. Its body was ferret-like in shape, white with gold highlights and black tips on the ears. A gold band was looped around its neck, in its left ear a single earring, and its tail tip was a golden ‘bell’. Its tail was also holding what looked like a smartphone, itself white and gold.

The creature then took notice of him and recoiled, almost slipping off the chair if not for its tiny claws. It made no noise, but its posture was enough to signal it was ready to flee. Alex meanwhile was speechless, if glad his werewolf form was enough to frighten whatever this thing was, and the both of them stayed silent.

Then Bailey came into the room from the other side and saw the strange creature, stopping and focusing on it without a sound. When the creature looked behind itself, likely for an escape route, and met Bailey’s gaze, Bailey’s head tilted.

“You. Stay.”

This time, Alex recoiled. This thing can talk?!

Bailey didn’t listen to the creature’s voice, or tone, and came closer instead. When he came too close, the creature leapt from the chair and bolted as soon as it hit the ground. The action, and Bailey’s sudden barking, snapped Alex out of his stunned mindset and posture, and he ran through the kitchen to cut the creature off. As the living room came into view, it was clear the creature was losing pace against Bailey, until it slipped under the table and then under the couch. Bailey in turn dug his muzzle under the couch, hoping to catch the strange creature. Alex only intervened when his dog’s claws began tearing at the carpet, his presence being enough to make him back off, but keep growling.

“Bailey, no. Quiet down.” Bailey kept growling, if lightly. “No, boy. I said stop.” Bailey refused. “Fine. Just stay there.” Now Alex had his chance to look under the couch. The second he did, the creature bolted again, this time into the dining room and then kitchen. Bailey heard its claws clicking on the tile and growled again, but listened to the ‘stay’ command Alex gave as he stood up. Alex meanwhile figured the creature was hiding in the pantry, and after turning on the lights he needed, was proven right.

“You, stay back,” the creature said when Alex found it.

“Or?”

The creature’s neck band, earring, and tail bell all glowed in response. “Or I defend myself.”

Figuring that to be the response, but still dumbstruck by what this thing was, Alex answered, “Fine, but I’m not going anywhere and neither are you.” He closed the door to the pantry behind him in response and after sitting down, leaned against it.

The creature stayed silent instead of making demands, and Alex did the same, hoping it would eventually say something. Instead, he soon heard Bailey approach the other side of the door and sniff at the gaps in the fixed wooden blinds. A few whines and scratches at the door followed.

“Bailey, no,” Alex said, to which he heard Bailey get a drink and then lay down nearby.

After several more minutes, the creature spoke. “I would like to not be inconvenienced any longer.”

“How am I doing that,” Alex asked.

“By making me into a hostage when I have done nothing to you.”

“So then why don’t you tell me why you’re in my house, and what you are.”

“You are not privy to that information.”

“Who is?” Alex got no reply. “Is it David Stryker or Alex Stryker or Alyssa Stryker?”

“Alex, and my business is with him, not you.”

Alex was torn between surprise and amusement at the reply. What did this creature want with him?

“So, Alex then. He’s here.”

“Then take me to him and let me speak to him. That is all I ask.”

Alex felt a grin come on, and repressed it. “You’re already talking to him.”

“No, I am talking to an obvious monster, not a human.”

A dagger-like sensation struck Alex’s heart at that, one he’d yet to feel. His response was delayed several seconds in turn. “In that case, your Alex won’t be here for a while.”

“And why is that?”

“Because currently he’s not the one you have in your head.”

The creature took a few moments to process the reply. “You are not the one I seek.”

“Regardless, I am the only one here for the next several days.”

“Am I to assume you did something to the owners?”

“No, someone did something to me, and this is it.”

“Made you a monster?”

“Werewolf, yes,” Alex said as the image of Shane’s blood-stained muzzle returned.

“So how long will it be until the one I need to speak to returns?”

“Better question: what’s that your tail is holding?”

“That is not your concern, werewolf.”

“It is actually.”

“This device was not meant for one like you.”

“Really? Why?”

“Because you are clearly not human.”

“Right now, and how would some electronics know that anyway?”

“That is beyond my range of understanding.”

“So, far as you know, it can’t tell forms apart?”

“Humans have only one ‘form’.”

“Werewolves have two, human being one.”

The creature again took a few moments to reply. “Then show me your human ‘form’, werewolf.”

“Can’t,” Alex replied. “It’s the full moon. I’m stuck like this for a while.”

“I see no reason to repeat myself, then.”

Alex sighed out his nose. “Would it help if I told you my parents are David and Alyssa Stryker, or that I broke my leg when I was ten?”

“Information that anyone can discover and claim. It means nothing.”

The response Alex wanted to give never left his muzzle. Instead, both he and the creature stayed quiet, giving him the time needed to think of something.

“Tell you what: you let me hold that device for one minute and I’ll get out of your way.”

“No, this device is too important.”

“One minute, that’s all. Just that and I’ll leave you be.”

The creature gave no response, and Alex sat back. If he happened to fall asleep again, his mass would ensure the door remained closed and the strange creature trapped with him.

Instead, after several minutes, the creature spoke up. “One minute, and I will not let it out of my sight until then.” It then willingly came forward, albeit with its earring, tail bell, and neck band glowing, and held its tail in a way to let Alex take the device.

It was no larger than his current smartphone, though felt a bit heavier and the construction was solid with no seams to indicate manufacturing. Ten seconds passed, then twenty, with no reaction from the device, even when he pressed the only button on it. How could this thing even tell who I am anyway?

Alex received his answer a moment later.

Without warning, the device powered on with a strangely triumphant jingle and sounds of electronic tweeps. Afterwards, it displayed a barely lit screen and then upon the screen, and out of the speakers, came the words:



USER RECOGNIZED


TAMER: ALEX STRYKER

PARTNER: KUDAMON



The room was silent for a time, at last broken by Kudamon, his face aghast and eyes wide, saying, “You have my most sincere apologies, Alex.”

“It’s fine, Kudamon.” Just glad this at least is settled.

1602822658.agentbj09_kudamon_and_alex_twitter_x1280_marked.png
 
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Renegade_Productions

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- Part 2 -


Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Time Until Human Again = 30 Hours, 3 Minutes


His thoughts now swimming with questions, Alex gave the device another once-over, this time tapping the screen as well as pressing the one button. For the moment, nothing made any changes. The screen stuck to the words it displayed before.

Kudamon kept quiet all the while, prompting Alex to ask, “So, what were you seeking me out for, and what exactly are you?”

“I could say the same. Werewolves are supposed to be myths of the human world.”

“Supposed to, until one of them comes after you.”

“Hmm. Makes one wonder what else is not just a myth within this world.” When Alex didn’t respond, Kudamon continued. “Anyway, to answer your first question, I was seeking you out because of something yet to come.”

“That’s rather vague,” Alex said after a moment.

“True, but as you have implied, you have no idea what I am. If I, and I alone, gave you little or no time to agree to a request, would you?”

Alex shook his head.

“My point exactly, and that is why I am here now rather than two weeks from now.”

Two weeks? “Is something supposed to happen close to Christmas?”

“At the moment, those who sent me are unsure. Because they believe there is a chance, I and others were asked to approach humans like yourself well ahead of such an event.”

“And do what? See if we’re capable?”

“More to see if your reaction to our presence is too upsetting.”

Alex saw the logic of the idea, and repressed the grin he felt coming on. “Was that why you came at night?”

“Yes, though I knew well before I emerged that someone was up. My original gateway was closed just before I made it through, hence where you found me.”

“And if this house had just one computer when that happened?”

“Then I would have had to bide my time and emerge later. Act accordingly.”

Alex took a minute to wonder how many more creatures like Kudamon had made their presence known by now, or were in hiding until the time was right. And the event Kudamon’s handlers thought was coming… Alex’s first thought was something internet or computer related, and Christmas was ripe for internet-based games, both personal computer and console.

“So, what about you? I still don’t know what you are.”

“You will, eventually. For now, my objective is to remain with you for a while. Any other developments, we will deal with as they come.”

Developments? “Anything I should be watchful for?”

“Yes. What humans call ‘glitching’ electronics, most of all. That would be a sign that something like me is nearby, or about to be.”

“Assume it’s bad if it does happen?”

“Not quite, but at least be on your guard.”

“Alright.” Alex waited to see if Kudamon would say more, and continued when he didn’t. “I should tell you, I have to leave this house tonight, go somewhere else.”

“What for?”

“It’s something related to me being a werewolf.”

Kudamon hummed. “I see. If you have no desire to share details, I will not press you for them.”

“Thanks.”

“Though, if possible, I would prefer to come along and stay close to you.”

The focus of Kudamon’s large, golden eyes told Alex everything. “We might be able to work something out.”

“You have a solution in your hand already.”

Alex looked at the device. “This thing?”

“Correct. I can hide myself away in there at any time, and come back out when I need.”

“Oh. That’s useful, but how exactly?”

“That button on the face of the device? Hold it down for a few seconds.”

Alex did so, and in turn, the screen produced a glowing circle that expanded well beyond the boundaries of the screen, making him hold it away from his body.

“Hold it still,” Kudamon said, before leaping towards the circle. His body vanished and so did the circle a moment later, his head reappearing within the screen afterward. “And that is how you can quietly keep me at your side.”

“And you can still hear me?”

“Clearly, as well as anything near the device, or loud enough otherwise.”

“Good to know,” Alex said before he held back a yawn. Rubbing his eyes free of tears, he posed a question to Kudamon. “Since you woke me up, you won’t mind if I go back to sleep?”

“Not at all. Just be mindful of your German Shepherd; I will leave this device on my own when I feel it is safe.”

“Shouldn’t be a problem,” Alex said as he stood back up. Once the pantry light was off again, he opened the door, finding Bailey at the ready to investigate the pantry but still unwilling to come close to the wolf-man form of his owner. His dog backed up as Alex left the pantry, zipping into the tiny room to sniff around for the creature at his first chance.

“So your presence frightens everything not like you.”

“Yeah, it does.”

“I see. I will keep that in mind.”

Once in his room, Alex plugged his devices back in and then checked his phone. It hadn’t faced the same fate as his desktop or XBOX, and was lacking new texts otherwise. With the device containing Kudamon set nearby, he climbed back into bed and let sleep take over again.


* * *​


Alex awoke several hours later, though still before the sun had fully risen. Initially, he didn’t see Kudamon anywhere, and the device that once contained him was empty. There was no growling coming from Bailey, wherever he was within the house.

“Down here,” Kudamon said; his voice was coming from Alex’s left, near his bookshelf. When he checked, he found Kudamon reading one of the hardcover novels from the bottom shelf, and past the halfway point already. “Your Shepherd made no attempt to chase me while you slept.”

“Good to know, but I’ll still have to train him a bit if you’re staying with me.”

“I would appreciate that.”

As Alex got off his bed and moved to his door, he could hear Kudamon following him. He poked his head out into the hallway, seeing no visual sign of Bailey; like other times when the full moon came, he was sleeping on the futon in the guest room.

Alex gestured for Kudamon to follow the hallway, and he did so, though waited at the end for him to come close. “If you have no issue with the idea, I can balance on one of your shoulders until he is trained.”

“Or, small as you are, I can hold you with one hand.” Alex then crouched and held his paw out, onto which Kudamon could stand with ease. “Weird. I didn’t think you’d weigh this much.”

“Neither did I, even after I was told to expect it.”

Thinking back on Kudamon’s words from the previous night, Alex couldn’t help imagining he and several others like, and possibly unlike, him sitting in a conference room and being taught what a second world would be like.

Once in the kitchen, after letting Kudamon step off his paw onto the counter, Alex asked him, “This place you came from? Does it have a name?”

“Yes, but that I will tell you if the need arises to go there.”

Alex’s eyebrows raised at that. “Wait, go there? How? I’m flesh and blood.”

“And clearly not human, in that form at least.”

“That makes a difference?”

“If it does, I hope in no serious ways.”

Alex changed the subject at that. “That aside, if you have mass, and a physical body…does that mean you can eat things?”

“Yes, and it would be my first time tasting anything of your world.”

“In that case, I’ll fix up some of the best I’ve got.”

Alex then gathered some of what he needed to make ravioli, before wondering if Kudamon’s size would make eating it an issue.

“Question: have you used utensils before?”

“I know what those are, but no.”

“Hmm. The ones I have are probably too big, then.” At that, Alex gathered the things he needed to make sandwiches instead, along with a strainer full of grapes and cherries. Within a few minutes, he had enough sandwiches for both himself and Kudamon, and set everything up in the study.

As it turned out, Kudamon was well-versed in how to eat cherries; within minutes, three dozen were eaten to the pits. Bailey meanwhile was begging for scraps again, to which Alex obliged with parts of his own sandwich, though in doing so felt an odd twinge, like he was pushing his dog aside or treating him differently.

He shook his head at the idea. No, he does this all the time. This isn’t different.

“Something wrong?” Kudamon asked.

“No, just had a weird thought. Needed it gone.”

“Oh. Does that happen often?”

“Not as much anymore, thankfully.”

Kudamon hummed before looking over to where Bailey was. “If I may, how long have you lived like this?”

“Little under four months now.”

“And you remain inside the entire time?”

“Not quite. I do slip outside, into the garage, when I can.”

“Since your current form is overtly frightening?”

“Yeah. My parents saw it, as did my friends; took me a while to tell them and all of them were scared. Anyone else, they’d probably shoot me or get the police on me.”

“I see.”

“And yeah, this did frighten me for a long while. Had no idea what was truth or fiction about it until the full moon came, and even that didn’t reveal everything.”

“Hmm. Well, if you need assurance of anything, your secret is safe with me also.”

“Thanks, though if it ever happens, how can I explain what you are to anyone who sees you?”

“If that ever does happen, it would be best to let me do the talking. Though, given your situation, I believe you have experience enough in hiding things from others.”

“That’s true, and that device you brought will help a lot.”

“Indeed it will.” Kudamon then resumed eating the cherries while Alex finished the rest of his meal. When he at last tired of eating them, his attention turned to the second half of his sandwich, cut into sixths to allow his tiny hands to hold each segment.

“I’m impressed you can eat that much,” Alex said as Kudamon finished; his own meal was only half finished by then.

“We have to where I am from, though I believe I have the smallest appetite out of the many who made the trip with me.”

“Many? How many came with you?”

“Twenty-four.”

Alex’s eyebrows raised at that answer, and his response was delayed in turn. “Like you?”

“Not exactly like me, if that is what you meant.”

“Sort of. Where did the others go?”

“All over the United States, this time.”

“‘This time?’ So this has happened before?”

“At least three times, mostly in recent years and in various locations. This would be the fourth such expedition.”

“Really?” Kudamon nodded. “Then, is there a way to find or contact the others?”

“After three days, that should be possible.”

“Why the delay?”

“To ensure the twenty-four others are willing to help, rather than be frightened by our presence.”

“Oh, right. So, if they refuse or can’t handle it, their device stays off?”

“Yes, and the ones sent to them must then return to my world to report the refusal of their partner.”

“Huh. Was that why so many were sent? You figure a lot of these ‘partners’ won’t be willing?”

“A lesson learned from the first expedition as I was told. Back then, only five were sent and all but one came back. So, we assume one of five will be willing each time, though more is always welcome.”

“And what was the reason for the last three expeditions?” Alex asked after tossing Bailey another piece of ham.

“The first time, several of our own made it into this world and removed themselves from the ‘grid’, as you humans say. Hence the expedition and the human partners; we needed a way to find where they had gone. The two times after, there was anticipation of something similar or worse from our side and some of ours were sent to this world in response.”

“I take it it helped.”

“The first time, yes. Nothing serious happened, and the ones who made it here were either rounded up or dealt with. The second time, the ones who came through were more capable and caused issues, but in the end, they lost.”

“Sounds like a recurring problem, the ones who make it over here.”

“It is, but this is something we cannot stop unless humans like yourself willingly give up everything electronic in nature.”

“No chance of that at this point.”

“Indeed, so the next best option is allowing ourselves to come here, making contact with those we selected ahead of time, and being ready in case similar events occur once again.”

Though Alex appreciated Kudamon’s words and explanations, part of him worried about the timing of the arrival. His meat hunger and overnight stay at Shane’s place would be simple to handle, but his finals were only days away. How soon would he be needed, and what would that entail?

And how long would this partnership last?
 

Renegade_Productions

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- Part 3 -


Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Time Until Human Again = 19 Hours, 41 Minutes


Alex refrained from asking Kudamon for answers, instead spending a while after breakfast showing him parts of the house. As he did so, he made sure to note anything unique about Kudamon’s scent. Aside from the lingering scents of his meal, the whole of him, and nothing besides, smelled of warm computer circuitry. With Bailey keeping his distance still, Kudamon felt safe enough to resume reading the book from before when Alex returned to his room to spend some time studying.

After a few hours, Nathan texted a reminder for the deathmatch they’d agreed upon and Alex booted up his desktop before wondering if anything was going to be wrong with it. As though Kudamon sensed his question, he said, “Another person did what you did last night; their computer was fine. Our way of travel does not involve the operating system, just the computer being on.”

“Still, the light this screen was giving off was intense.”

“A result of the way we travel from our world into yours. You saw the visual representation of such travel.”

“And the glitching electronics?”

“A result of interruptions in the flow of electricity, and data to an extent.”

Alex realized within a moment the implications. “So, you came from somewhere within the internet?”

“I would say yes, if not for seeing you like that. The origin of your current form is no doubt supernatural, so I have to reason that ours is as well.”

Alex hummed in response as his desktop finished booting, showing nothing that would indicate damage, at least to the visual desktop. “Or metaphysical.”

“If we could not assume physical forms, yes.”

Alex hummed again, then searched a few places within his desktop’s hard drive and ran a hardware check. When he was satisfied with the state of his system, he opened the programs he needed to play with Nathan, then started a new game on one of the later maps, loading his avatar with ammo and weapons to practice his maneuvering and aim.

The sound of the plasma rifle firing and the death screams of the enemies, though much softer than usual, drew Kudamon’s attention again. “Taking a break?”

“Yeah. A friend of mine wants to do some gaming in a while.”

“Mind if I watch?”

“Not at all.” Alex then gave Kudamon a lift up before needing to dodge a rocket from one of the miniboss monsters.

“Ah, this I have seen before. Interesting how such old software is still in use.”

“It was well-made software,” Alex said while charging the monster and firing back with the game’s biggest gun. “And compact as well. Barely twenty megabytes for all four main parts.” Kudamon made no response; after a minute, a question crossed Alex’s mind. “That reminds me, since you came from a computer, how much space would you take up if I tried to store you?”

“In this form, two to three gigabytes I believe.”

“Wait, really? That much?”

“Most likely. The device I gave you has more than enough to account for that.”

Alex cleared some breathing room in-game and paused before asking more. “And you said ‘form’ before. How many of those do you have?”

“To my knowledge, four. This one, two smaller than it, and one larger.” When Alex’s reply was delayed, and the focus of his eyes tested, Kudamon continued. “The larger one, I would not recommend attempting to access in a place like this.”

“What about the others?”

“Should the need arise for me to recover from a severe injury, I may take the next smaller form.”

Alex felt a hint of concern at how nonchalantly Kudamon said such a thing. “Glad I stopped Bailey from chasing you, then.” Their attention was soon back on the game, and Alex finished up the map before his phone rang.

“Hey, man,” Nathan said through the speaker phone.

“Hey. You ready?”

“Sure. Same room, plasma only for a little while.”

“Got it.” Alex set things up to put him into the peer-to-peer room Nathan was using, and the deathmatch started a few moments later. The circular map was a familiar one, his starting position directly opposite Nathan’s black-armored avatar.


* * *​


“Impressive,” Kudamon remarked after Alex later claimed four kills in a row.

Assuming the comment was drowned out by sound effects, Alex gave Kudamon a nod and kept playing. Half an hour later, he and Nathan called it quits.

“You’re getting better seems like,” Nathan said.

“New set-up. Two keys for one direction of movement instead of one.”

“Makes sense.” Nathan paused for a moment. “By the way, what was that voice earlier? Didn’t sound like your dad.”

Alex and Kudamon then looked at each other. “Sound clip. Just happened to play it at the right moment.”

Nathan gave a quick chuckle. “Sure did. Anyway, I’ll catch you on Monday.”

“Sure thing, man. Good luck with your finals.”

“Likewise. Later.”

Once Nathan hung up, Kudamon was quick to say, “Quite observant your friend is.”

“Yeah. He figured out what happened to me before I told anyone.”

“Is he the kind of person we should hide my presence from?”

“I wouldn’t say so, but for now, probably for the best.” A moment later, Alex added, “The ones I’ll be meeting tonight though? Yeah, we should hide you from them.”

“Not a problem; we have the means to, though why do you say that?”

“Just being cautious. I haven’t known them very long.”

“I see. In any case, I will do my best to stay quiet when over there.”

“I appreciate it, Kudamon.”


* * *​


The remainder of the day went by faster than Alex expected. Around seven-thirty p.m., Shane texted to remind him that his mother was coming within an hour to pick him up. A way to carry both his phone and the device containing Kudamon was decided upon well before that point, though once it was, Alex unplugged his computer and his father’s, along with the router for the house. The last thing he needed was to come home Sunday to Bailey having torn up the house to get at another creature.

When Carol arrived, Alex left the house via the front door, saying bye to Bailey and locking the door behind him. The onset of nervousness dug under his skin once again, and didn’t waver, despite Carol’s attempts to be friendly and welcoming. The minivan reeked of Shane and his father, two scents that not only made him nervous, but with his hunger now in play, made Carol’s scent much more appealing. The one comfort Alex could take was the fee for his meat, for this month at least, was waived thanks to what happened the month before.

Once at the house, Alex waited for Carol to tell him it was fine to leave; as he neared the dining area door, Michael let him in. Shane was nowhere in sight.

“Evening, Alex.” Despite the werewolf edge, Michael’s voice and tone helped calm Alex’s nerves. “Has everything gone well?”

Alex nodded. “Studied for most of the day.”

“You and Shane both. Yamato should be here within the next hour or two, then we’ll eat and wash up.”

“How’s he doing?”

“Better than he and I thought, which is good. Still has to wear a leg brace and a cast for a while, though.”

“Ouch.”

By then, Carol had come inside and closed and locked the door. “Are you thirsty, Alex?” she asked.

“Little bit,” Alex replied. “Water’s fine.”

A moment later, Alex noticed Michael’s nose twitch, like he was smelling something. “Been working on computers?”

Remembering Kudamon’s scent, Alex answered, “Mine, yeah. Might need to switch out a part or two soon.”

“Perfect time for that. There should be sales everywhere.”

“Yeah. I’ll see what I can find.”

Once Carol had made his water, Alex thanked both her and Michael then made his way to his designated room to wait for the meat to arrive. Kudamon however was quick to get Alex’s attention when he heard the sound of the door closing.

“What’s wrong, Kudamon?” Alex said in a whisper after getting the device out of the bag holding it and checking the screen.

“Is this your safe room here?”

“Yeah. I’ll leave you here when the time comes. I won’t be too long.”

“Do you feel it safe enough for me to come out otherwise?”

This time, Alex didn’t answer immediately. All Michael had noticed were the excess traces from his fur; Kudamon’s body would produce a fresh scent, and both Shane or Michael could notice it. “So long as you stay in here, and out of sight of anyone besides me.”

“Should be no issue.”

I hope so. Alex thought as he held the device away from himself. Kudamon leapt out a moment later, the glowing ring materializing only as long as needed to allow him though. His head swiveled immediately upon landing on the bed, Alex suspecting he was looking for good hiding spots.

“Pardon my frankness,” Kudamon began after a few moments, “but this place is much worse off than your room.”

“I know. I only need it for half a day, though.”

Kudamon gave no immediate reply, instead continuing to swivel his head. The closet was his first choice of places to hide, Alex suggesting the backpack he left ahead of time. “Have both available to me. Just in case.”

Alex nodded before emptying the backpack of its contents: a full change of clothing and a couple books. He then left the backpack on the floor, which Kudamon slipped in and out with ease. “Alright. Now we play the waiting game.”


* * *​


It was nearly an hour later when Alex and Kudamon’s attentions were stolen by sounds beyond the door to the room. A door opening; Michael exchanging pleasantries with Yamato; and Shane helping his father with getting their meat inside. Alex’s stomach was two hours hungry by then, and when Shane came knocking, Kudamon bolted under the bed and out of sight.

“C’mon. Dad goes first this time,” Shane said. Alex closed and set aside the book he was reading before noticing Shane sniffing at the air. Suspecting he noticed Kudamon’s scent, Alex kept quiet; Shane didn’t bring the subject up, instead escorting him to the kitchen, towards the huge cut sitting on the kitchen counter, and its accompanying scent of warmth.

Michael waited until both of them were nearby before taking his first piece, ripping it from the slab with little regard to its size. He then looked at Shane, his signal to get his first piece, which was near the same size as his father’s. Alex then went, taking a piece only two-thirds as large; once his head was distant enough, Michael went in for more.

“You don’t have to be so reserved about how much you take,” Michael said after noticing Alex’s portions were getting smaller.

Alex didn’t verbally respond, instead using his next opening to take as big a piece as he thought he could get. After several tugs, Shane spoke up. “Here, let me.”

Michael stopped and held him at bay with a stern tone lacking growling. “Shane, let him do it. We’re not in any rush.”Alex waited for Shane to step back before trying again, adding some twisting of his head to help tear the sinew and fibers. What he finally pulled free was a piece larger than his muzzle, to which Michael said, “There you go.”

Alex then stepped back and nibbled on the piece, his eyes and attention wandering as Michael took another piece. Within a few seconds, his attention landed on Kudamon, the part of him that was peeking around the corner of a nearby doorframe.

He leaned out of sight just as quickly, Alex worrying he’d be found or his scent noticed if he stayed nearby too long, yet also wondering why he was there. For now, at least, neither Shane nor Michael had noticed, and when Alex failed to notice Kudamon’s scent after a few minutes, he relaxed some.


* * *​


“Looks like we have a lot left,” Michael said once he and Shane and Alex all satiated their hungers. “You want a few steaks to take home, Alex?”

“Uh, sure. Two’s fine.”

“We can spare three I think.”

Alex agreed to the one extra before washing the blood and related liquids off his paws and muzzle. Shane didn’t bother, instead getting what they needed to clean the blood drops from the floor.

As Alex offered to help, out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a sudden increase in brightness coming from Shane’s room; he’d seen the door closed on the way to the kitchen. What’s making that… He stopped himself mid-thought. Oh, crap.

“Hey, Shane?”

“Yeah?”

“You have any really bright lights in your room?”

“Bright lights?” Instead of asking what Alex was talking about, Shane stood up and looked in the same direction he was. Michael did the same a moment later. “The hell’s that light coming from?” Shane asked before making his way towards his room. Alex followed him, but was held back from getting too close.

When the door was opened, the pure white light inside washed over Alex’s eyes, forcing him to shield them. Shane did likewise, though didn’t take his focus off the source. Alex had no doubt it was a computer. The situation was too similar.

By then, Michael had joined them to see what was going on; like Shane and Alex, he said nothing. Alex though glanced at Michael’s paws when he came close, expecting to see the revolver, but it wasn’t there. His pulse however was elevated.

Shane then tried to turn his room lights on, but they refused to work. From his position, Alex could see only one active electronic device, and it was glitching, like Kudamon warned him.

“Shane,” Michael at last said, albeit in a lower volume. “What’s causing that light?”

“My computer. Something from it.”

“What something?”

Shane gave no answer, and the light vanished a few seconds later. Alex un-shielded his eyes just in time for Shane to turn his room’s lights on, and then growl at something.

A yelp of fright, with a childish voice to it, followed. “Please don’t eat me.”

That was all Alex needed to hear, but before he made his move, he noticed Kudamon zip past him and into the room.
 

Renegade_Productions

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- Part 4 -


Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Time Until Human Again = 9 Hours, 55 Minutes


Kudamon stopped behind Shane’s legs, turning his attention to what had spawned in Shane’s room. “Don’t let him eat me,” the unseen creature said after a moment.

“Calm down. He will do no such thing,” Kudamon said, Shane’s attention refocusing on him briefly.

“Don’t you dare speak for me,” Shane’s reply was laced with a guttural growl, to which the new creature began to whimper.

“Shane,” Alex then said. “Chill, and let me.”

When Shane’s attention turned to Alex, despite the wolf face and muzzle, he picked up on the defensiveness and confusion he was feeling. “I don’t think so, not just like that.”

“Look, it’s confusing and unreal, I know, but just let me handle it.”

“How? You’re no different than me.”

“Except in tone, rationality, and experience,” Kudamon replied. Alex winced at the remark; Shane growled again in response.

“That so? So you knew something about this?”

“Not much, no.” Alex said.

“He is telling the truth,” Kudamon said. “He and I met only last night and even I only know so much.”

“Then tell me: whose fault is it that these things are in our house?”

“Relax your accusations, Shane.” Kudamon said. “The only thing Alex is guilty of is keeping me with him, a request I made of him. Anything beyond that is no fault of ours.”

Shane let out an aggravated chuckle. “Then you’ll have no issue with me dealing with this thing.”

“Which is doing you no harm? If you do that, then I suppose you deserve the designation of monster.”

“Tell me that again when it’s a human, then I might care.”

Alex took a step forward. “Shane, chill out. Let me handle this.”

Before Shane responded, Kudamon added, “You have nothing to lose by doing what Alex says. I can promise that at least.”

Shane’s head and attention shifted from Kudamon to Alex to the mysterious creature for another few seconds before the sound of the master bedroom door opening sounded. “Shane, what’s going on? Who are you arguing with?” Carol asked.

“Alex, give Shane a hand, would you?” Michael asked as he stepped away to comfort and reassure his wife. Alex nodded then looked at Shane and gestured for him to get out of the way.

“Nuh uh.” Shane replied. “I’m not going anywhere. You come here, and deal with this thing.”

“Fine. Then step back.”

That was the extent of what Shane did; as he drew closer, Alex could almost feel a murderous intent coming off him, helped by the speed of his heartrate. When at last Alex saw the creature from Shane’s computer, his initial focus was on its body. It was a bear cub in appearance, paws wrapped in leather belts and easily twice as tall as Kudamon. Otherwise, it was covering its head and trembling.

“It’s okay,” Alex said as he stepped into the room. “I won’t hurt you.”

“That I can assure you of, Bearmon.” Kudamon said as he also drew closer.

That’s his name? Right away, Alex wondered if he and Kudamon knew each other.

The ‘Bearmon’ relaxed its guard for a moment, only to resume it upon seeing Alex’s werewolf form. “No, I don’t trust you.”

“You have my word. Alex means you no harm.” Kudamon replied as Alex lowered his body into a sitting position. “Or would you rather talk to me?”

“I don’t wanna talk, I don’t wanna be cornered by monsters.”

Alex sighed to himself. “We do wanna talk, though. At least find out why you’re here.” When he got no answer, Alex looked aside to Kudamon, who matched his gaze.

“I doubt he was carrying a device with him,” Kudamon said. “Otherwise, I suspect there is something here he wants and he crossed over because of it.” Kudamon then returned his attention to the Bearmon, and asked, “Am I correct?”

“...Yes.”

Kudamon gave a hum in response.

“What is it you wanted?” Alex asked.

“...Sweets.”

Alex was left surprised yet amused by the answer. Shane, however, began growling again and remarked, “That’s it?!”

“Shane, please quell that anger of yours.” Kudamon replied. “You will do no one any favors with it.”

“Bite me.”

Already, Bearmon was hinting at clamming up again. “Kudamon, how difficult is travel from there to here?” Alex asked.

“That depends on who you ask, and the method. It was straightforward in my case, but I had help and plans. For this one, judging from his behavior, it had to be stressful.”

“Yeah, and ‘sweets’ is too general a reason.”

“Agreed. Bearmon, give us some more details, if you would.”

It took several seconds for the Bearmon to talk. “A place that makes sweets. I wanted to see that, try some.”

This time, Shane answered first. “Then you’re several years too late.”

“How so?” Kudamon asked.

“The ‘place that makes sweets’ around here?” Alex began. “It’s closed down, and part of it got demolished last year. Everything it used to make is made elsewhere now.”

“I see.”

“But, I was promised it was here.” the Bearmon said, his attention now on Alex.

“It is, somewhat. The main building and some other parts were left up as landmarks and historical sites, but the actual factory is long gone.”

No words were spoken as the Bearmon processed what Alex said, its head eventually hanging in disappointment, if not defeat. It sighed deeply before speaking again. “So all I was sold was lies.”

“I’m sorry to say, but yes.” Alex replied.

“You have my sympathies, Bearmon.” Kudamon added.

“So, that settles that.” Shane said.

“True, but now comes our job.” Kudamon said. “Bearmon, even given your circumstances, we have to send you back.”

“Just like that? Didn’t you say the trip was stressful for me?”

“My apologies, but Alex and I have a job to do.”

The Bearmon then looked at Alex. “Please, don’t do it so soon. Even if the place is gone, I want to see it. At least that.”

Alex looked over to Kudamon, then back to Bearmon when he continued.

“Show me this factory, what remains of it, and I’ll leave. No arguments.”

Alex waited a few moments before responding. “That sounds reasonable.”

“Except that none of us are leaving this house until the full moon has passed. Alex knows that,” Shane replied.

“In that case, Bearmon will stay with Alex and myself until we can leave.”

“Fine. I don’t feel comfortable with either of you hanging around, anyway.” Shane then stepped back and thumbed to his left, waiting until Alex was in the guest room with Bearmon and Kudamon before closing his room’s door.

“My apologies again, Bearmon.” Kudamon said.

“I’ll get over it, eventually.”

“I think he means the situation you ran into here.” Alex said.

“I know. I was expecting humans, not creatures like you.”

“As was I.” Kudamon said.

“I’ll be human again come morning.” Alex said.

“How soon is that?”

Alex checked his phone for the time. 11:15 p.m. “At least nine hours.”

“Okay.”

“That aside, I’m getting tired. I should turn in.”

“Um, is there a place I can sleep?”

Alex looked around for something to make a bed with, coming across some spare sheets in the closet. “This should do the trick,” he said as he made a simple bed.

“Thank you.” Bearmon wasted no time laying down and closing his eyes afterward.


Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Time Until Human Again = 1 Hour, 23 Minutes


When Alex awoke, he heard Bearmon and Kudamon talking about something.

“...about this factory, but I have no reason to doubt him.”

“Huh. By the way, what is he anyway?”

“A werewolf.”

“A what?”

“A human that takes the form you saw last night every so often. Once enough time passes, the form goes away and he becomes human again.”

“And that was how you first saw him?”

Kudamon’s response was delayed. “The moment he changes back is when I will first see his human form.”

“Oh. Crazy.”

“Indeed. Humans have more surprises to them than we all thought.”

Alex then moved his body and made a noise, silencing the two of them for a moment.

“Morning.” Bearmon said with a waving of one paw.

“Likewise.”

“You still tired? Was I too loud?”

“No, you’re fine. Just groggy, that’s all.”

“Oh. Well, I’m looking forward to seeing the factory today.”

“Same here. Though, that reminds me, I don’t think people will take it very well if they see either of you walking around.”

“I already discussed that with him while you slept,” Kudamon said. “We should look for a route to take that is away from any roads.”

“What about the device you gave me? Can’t he fit in that?”

“We tried, and it seems the device only works with me.”

Alex sighed, then stayed silent as he thought about such a route. “Lucky for us then that it’s almost a straight shot to the factory. Just a long walk otherwise.”

“Walking’s fine.”

“Though, I think it would be better if we sent you back at the house where I arrived, rather than come back here.” Kudamon said.

“That means taking a few routes I’ve used before, but it should work.”

“Good to know.”

Once out of the bed, Alex checked his phone again and set the final alarm. A little over one hour remained and it went by faster than he expected.

Barely a minute before the alarm went off, he said to both Kudamon and Bearmon, “You two might not want to watch this.”

“Watch what?” Bearmon asked.

“What’s coming up.”

The alarm soon went off, and Alex felt his heart rate increase, quickening his breathing as well. He knew what was coming first and leaned against the bed in preparation for it. Bearmon’s voice and questions meanwhile grew concerned. “What’s going on?”

“His form change.” Kudamon said.

As Alex reacted to the crunching up of his stomach, he caught himself. Once the bones of his ribcage began popping free and contracting, he let himself down to the floor. His muscle structure was next to change, reducing the weight of his body. The bones in his head and legs changed next, back to their human forms. All that was left then were his hands, ears and tail, and then it was over, his pelt the only remaining part.

As he lay on the floor, recovering his stamina and trying not to pant, Kudamon and Bearmon entered his field of vision. Both were speechless, and borderline terrified. Alex lifted one arm to give a wave to them.

“That was…very worrying to watch.” Kudamon said.

“I told you not to.”

“But what if something had happened to you?” Bearmon asked.

Alex decided to let him win that one. “Point taken.”

“I think something already did.” Kudamon said. “Humans do not have fur, much less this thick.”

“Yeah, we don’t.” Alex then, with no effort, brushed a swath of fur off his shoulder and neck, to which Bearmon seemed even more horrified.

“Your body was hiding all of that?!”

“Yeah. Don’t ask me how, though.”

Alex brushed more of his fur off before someone came knocking. Kudamon and Bearmon both bolted before Carol opened the door and peeked in, her expression giving no hint that the events of the previous night were on her mind. “Ah good, you’re finished too.”

“Yeah. Morning, Ms. Bryant.”

“Same to you, Alex. Here, I brought you your towels.” She then set them on the nearby nightstand. “Shane’s getting freshened up. He’ll tell you when your turn comes, then we’ll clean the fur up.”

“Alright. Appreciate it.”

Carol simply smiled and closed the door to the room. Only after a minute did Kudamon and Bearmon come back out. “I suppose that means we have to hide while you step out.”

With Kudamon’s hiding spot already decided, he and Alex soon decided on the closet as the best place to hide Bearmon. “Chances are I’ll have to say something about you two eventually, but for now, this setup should work.”

“If you have to, just tell them I’m sorry. They should understand, right?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

Bearmon nodded with a smile in response.
 

Renegade_Productions

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- Part 5 -


Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Moon Phase = Waning Gibbous


Once Alex had freshened up and dressed, he left the bathroom to find Shane leaning against the guest room door. His expression was all Alex needed to get that he was still miffed about last night.

“Get in here,” Shane said before opening the door.

“What exactly do you want me to say?” Alex asked.

“Just do it.”

For a moment, Alex feared he was about to lose his access to the monthly ration. “If you’ll at least hint why.”

“Last night.” Shane then pointed into the room. “Move.” As soon as Alex went inside, he shut the door and started talking. “Dad couldn’t convince Mom nothing serious happened last night, so here’s the deal. You’re breaking the news and details to her, and Dad, before you leave.”

Alex relaxed a bit, but Shane’s tone still bothered him. “Fine, but do you honestly believe any of this was on me?”

“You brought one of them here.”

“And if the other hadn’t come into this house, on that one night?”

Shane didn’t respond immediately. “Whatever. Just do what you have to.”

“You didn’t talk your dad into cutting me off, did you?”

“No. That’d be stupid.”

“Good. Just making sure.”

Shane left the room a moment later, and Alex moved to recover Bearmon from the closet. “I heard. Guess we have no choice now.”

“It’ll work out.” Alex and Kudamon then began discussing, in lowered voices, what things to say before leaving the room.

Again Shane was waiting for them, his attention initially on Bearmon, who hid behind Alex’s leg. “In the kitchen,” Shane said with a tilt of his head to the left. He stayed where he was as Alex walked past.

In the kitchen, both Michael and Carol were making breakfast, Michael stopping as Alex came close. His expression was neutral, backing up Shane’s earlier claim. “Morning, Alex.”

“Shane said you needed something from me?”

This time, Carol stopped and looked towards him. “Just an explanation of what happened last night.” Michael said.

Despite what Shane had said, and the fact that Carol had no doubt seen worse, Alex felt some of his confidence wither. “Alright. This may be hard to believe, but something came out of his computer. A physical something.”

“That’s a new one.”

“Was to me too until Friday night. One of these things also came out of my computer.”

“The white one?”

“Yeah.” Alex then pulled the device from his jacket pocket and held it face-up, in response to which, Kudamon left it and stood on his arm.

Carol’s immediate reaction was much like Alex’s mother upon seeing him as a werewolf, except there was more curiosity than horror in her visible expression. Michael however appeared more confused.

“My apologies for worrying you both last night.” Kudamon said. “My intentions were anything but.”

“Wasn’t there another, from Shane’s computer?”

Alex looked down at Bearmon, who gave him a nod. “He’s right here.” Alex continued talking as he made the effort to pick him up, his weight slowing the attempt. “And he’s not dangerous. Just was looking for something and wound up here.”

When Bearmon was lifted into the view of Carol and Michael, he turned his head slightly to look at them before giving a quick wave and a ‘Hello.’ When neither of them responded, Bearmon looked back at Alex. “I upset them, didn’t I?”

“No, this is normal behavior for the average human.” Kudamon replied from his position atop Alex’s head, before turning his words to Shane’s parents. “I understand you must have many questions. I will answer them as best I can.”

“I’ve got one.” Shane said as he came around Alex’s left. “What exactly are you?”

“AI programs, digital creatures, probably both.” Alex said.

“Correct, on both counts.” Kudamon said.

Shane chuckled in response, but in a way that implied ‘I can’t believe this’.

“Of course, neither of us expected to run into werewolves in this world.”

“Yeah,” Bearmon said. “That scared me.”

“Seriously?” Shane asked, still chuckling.

“It’s not funny. It really did.”

Things went quiet again until Shane stopped chuckling. “So, now that we know all of this…” Michael began.

“Sir, if I may?” Kudamon said. “Keep the word of our existence a secret. Alex was supposed to be the only one who purposefully knew, but due to these circumstances, all of you are now involved.”

“Involved? How?”

“That you know we exist, and that others like us can cross over into this world.”

“From where?”

“The simplest answer would be ‘the internet’, but such crossings are possible anywhere there is electricity flowing.”

“So how much risk are we all in now?”

“No more than before. It was just bad luck that Bearmon came out of a computer in your house on the night of your full moon.”

“And you’re not going back until you see the factory, right?” Shane asked.

Bearmon nodded. “I just want the trip here to be worthwhile, that’s all.”

“Myself, I intend to stay with Alex for a while.” Kudamon said. “And this kind of situation is why.”

“I see.” Michael said.

“Is anything else on your minds?”

“Are you coming back here after?” Carol asked.

“No.” Alex replied. “I’ll send him back at my place.”

“We appreciate that, Alex.” Michael said.

Alex then set Bearmon down and got the steaks from the fridge, offering both Michael and Carol handshakes and thanks for feeding and housing him. Outside, it was a dark overcast with a cold wind blowing, the street thankfully lacking any moving vehicles.

“Brrr.” Bearmon said after a moment, his huge paws wrapping around his body.

“You’re cold?” Alex asked through his hunting mask.

“You’re not?” Bearmon replied.

“A bit. I’ll warm up on the way.” Alex then set his skateboard down and picked Bearmon up again, kicking off once both had a good grip on each other. He was quick to make his way to his old middle school and follow the sidewalks that were smooth enough to skate over; Bearmon’s weight made doing even an Ollie nigh impossible.

Alex soon passed the church and turned onto the street leading to the old sugar factory. So far, only two cars had passed him -- both times he told Bearmon not to move -- and only once did he have to stop and catch his breath. On the final stretch, he put the bike lane to use to avoid the rougher sidewalks, coming to a stop near the bridge over Oyster Creek.

Bearmon said nothing for a while after Alex got the both of them over the creek and as close to the old factory as possible. The land was surrounded by chain link fencing, with signs in a few places. Some with historical facts, others information about who owned the land the fence was guarding.

“So this is all that’s left.” Bearmon eventually said, sounding like his mood had sharply dipped.

“Yeah. I never got the chance to go inside myself. Would’ve been too young to remember much, though.”

“They would have let you taste what they made, right?”

Alex nodded. “Fresh from the factory, before it shipped to other places around town. Did that for years.”

Bearmon then went back to staring at the old buildings and lot.

“How long has this building been standing?” Kudamon asked.

“Since eighteen-forty-three, so…almost a hundred and seventy years.”

“Guess that’s why I was promised that it was here.” Bearmon said.

“Probably. It was a half truth, however you look at it.”

Another few minutes passed with no talking, and then Bearmon sighed and said, “I think I’m satisfied. Thank you for doing this for me.”

“You’re welcome.” Alex then held out his right hand, to which Bearmon had to figure out it was a handshake gesture. Despite whatever made him up, his grip was far stronger than Alex thought.


* * *​


As Alex closed in on the drive way to his house, he stopped his skateboard and stamped the tail, pushing the nose into his waiting hand. He couldn’t smell Bailey outside, and the vehicle his parents were driving wasn’t there either.

“Bearmon, I’ll have to leave you in the back for a few minutes.” Alex said as he headed for the house.

“What for?”

“Don’t want my dog to get excited and start chasing you.”

“Oh. He’s not mean, is he?”

“No, just loyal and protective.” Alex was close enough to touch the gate a moment later. “See if you can climb over.” Bearmon succeeded within seconds, dropping to the ground after. “Alright, good. Hang tight. I’ll be right back.”

Inside, Bailey was ready to jump up and greet him, his tail wagging wildly. “Hey, boy. I missed you,” Alex said as he returned his dog’s affection. “Were you good for Marcus and Catherine?” Bailey barked in response. “That’s my boy.” Bailey then shifted focus to all the scents on his clothing, looking up at him when he’d sniffed enough. “Yeah, I know boy.”

Alex then got to work reconnecting the house’s router and plugging in his father’s computer before moving to the hallway and closing its door behind him. His own computer was then reconnected before he headed for his parent’s room to retrieve Bearmon.

“Some warmth at last,” he said once inside.

“Hope the trip back is much the same.” Alex said as he pulled Kudamon’s device out of his pocket. “All clear.”

Kudamon emerged with little pause, and made a perch on and around Alex’s shoulders and neck. “Bearmon, are you truly satisfied? Once we send you, it cannot be reversed.”

“Yeah. I said no arguments, and I meant it.”

“Then let us begin. Alex?” Alex hummed in response. “Press the button on the device once, then tap and hold the screen for five seconds.”

Alex did so, and upon the screen came a series of strange symbols, along with what looked like a QR code, with hexagons instead of squares.

“Now, turn your computer on and hold the screen of the device close to the monitor.”

Alex did so, to which nothing happened for almost five seconds. Then came the telltale sign of tweeping electronics and the screen began to glow a bright white again.

“That means the gate is open. Bearmon, whenever you are ready.”

“Alright. Just pull that chair out.” Once Alex did, Bearmon climbed onto it and stared at the solid white screen for a minute. He then looked at Alex and thanked him again before reaching for the gate and being pulled through, the gate closing a moment later and the screen returning to the main desktop.

“And he’s gone.” Alex said.

“Yes. A job well done.” Kudamon said.

“Any chance he might come back?”

“There is the possibility, but I highly doubt it. He was only the curious type, and was scared when he got here. Satisfying his curiosity should quell any desire to come back.”

“Good to know.”

“But keep in mind, he was only one and easy to satisfy and send back. Others may not be.”

“That sounds ominous.”

“Factual more than anything, but true nonetheless.”

Before Alex could respond, his stomach growled and he placed a hand over his abdomen. “Oh, right. Skipped breakfast.”

“We should remedy that, then.” Kudamon said before Alex made his way to the kitchen to fix them both something.
 

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An interesting premise, I wasn't sure how well it would work out but so far it seems to be developing well, best of luck with this!
 

Renegade_Productions

Ain't got no mojo...
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Part 6


Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Moon Phase = Waning Gibbous

6:43 p.m.


Alex poured over the notes on his desk as night drew near, taking sips of water every so often. Two exams tomorrow, then two more on Tuesday, and the semester would be over. Nearby on the same desk, Kudamon was pouring over another book; he’d finished his first one earlier in the afternoon and had since moved on to the sequel. Bailey meanwhile was resting atop Alex’s bed, his attention no longer on Kudamon, unlike earlier in the day.

“Will you be taking a break to eat?” Kudamon asked after turning another page. The home cooking scents from the kitchen were no doubt the reason for the question.

“Yeah I will, and I’ll bring you something too.” Alex replied, before adding. “You want more fruit, or...?”

“If you can, bring me some of what your mother is making.”

“Will do,” Alex said before getting back to studying. Within the next half-hour, dinner was ready, and Kudamon slipped into the device while Alex stepped out.

“Are you feeling confident about these exams, Alex?” his father asked a few minutes into dinner.

“Yeah.” Alex said after finishing his bite of fettuccine and chicken. “Literature and math won’t be hard.”

“Good to hear.”

“I just hope we get some snow for Christmas,” his mother said.

“If it reaches freezing by Christmas Eve, we might.”

Alex silently hoped for the same.

Once his plate was finished, he went for seconds, making sure to get enough for Kudamon, only for doubt to enter his head. Suddenly wanting to eat in his room would raise suspicions, and the last thing he needed was either of his parents walking in to find Kudamon, at least before he was ready to tell them of his presence.

After a minute to think things over, he moved the portion to a smaller bowl, something easier to hide in his jacket, and covered it with paper towels. Once he was convinced his parents wouldn’t notice, Alex made his move, leaving the kitchen and dining area with a “Be right back.”

Back in his room, he said to Kudamon in a whisper, “Got some,” and set the bowl down near him. Bailey’s head rose at the same time, and his nose was quick to catch the new scents. “No, Bailey. Stay there.” Alex then left the room, telling his mother thanks for making dinner when he next saw her, then leaving again with a glass of ice water.

When he returned, Kudamon had already begun eating some of the sauce covered noodles; his head was fixated on them and barely moved to look in Alex’s direction.

“How is it?” Alex asked after he closed the door behind him.

“Amazing. I can see why some want to come here for the food alone.”

“Enjoy it while you can, then. I got most of what was left.”

“I will. Thank you, Alex.” Kudamon slowed his eating speed in turn, though still finished the bowl’s contents within a quarter hour. Alex waited for his parents to leave the dining room before making a move to drop off the bowl, returning soon after with some treats for Bailey.

“Alex, about tomorrow.” Kudamon said as Bailey caught one of the treats.

“Yeah?”

“Is there anything I should know before these ‘exams’ begin?”

“Just one major thing: keep completely quiet until I give the okay. If my professors hear you trying to talk to me, I’ll be in trouble.”

“I see. Then we should make plans for if something happens that requires our attention.”

“Another creature coming across?”

“Among other things.”

“Like what other things?”

“There is the possibility that the one who chose me tries to reach out to you. That I cannot control, and he is an important figure where I come from.”

“Does he have a name?”

“Yes, Seraphimon. When he speaks, you will know. His voice is unmistakable, even to those who do not know him directly.”

For a moment, Alex imagined an imposing dragon-like figure as the source of the voice Kudamon was referring to. Then the ‘seraph’ part of the name got his attention. I know I’ve heard that word before. It didn’t take him long to figure out what it meant, and now he was picturing something akin to an angel.

“Something on your mind?” Kudamon asked.

“Was. I think I figured it out.”

“Ah, good. About tomorrow then, you already know you should watch for glitching electronics, including lights.”

“Yeah, but what if I’m nowhere near where something like that is happening?”

“Precisely. As it happens, the device I gave you can detect when such events are happening nearby and warn you.”

“How nearby are we talking?”

“Within one mile, as I was told. The device will tremble and make a noise when it happens.”

“Oh. Wonder why I didn’t hear it at Shane’s place.”

“Because the noise is no louder than anything from your phone.”

Alex hummed at that. “In that case, would you have any issues with me wrapping the device with a T-shirt or something? Just to muffle the noise a bit.”

Kudamon took a moment to think. “So long as you leave it wrapped loosely. That way I can get out if the need arises.”

Alex nodded. “Will do.”

As the rest of the night wore on, Alex got himself ready for bed and stuffed away in his backpack everything he needed to wrap up the device. All the while, he hoped that nothing would happen to disrupt his exams or get him trouble.


Monday, December 12th, 2011

Moon Phase = Waning Gibbous

5:45 a.m.


The next morning, Alex awoke to Bailey resting back to back with him, Kudamon still in the device and sleeping. Already, he could hear someone in the kitchen, most likely his father, and by the time he was about to leave, his mother was just waking up.

“Good luck with your exams today,” she told him while giving a lengthy hug. Alex followed suit with his father before telling them both thanks.

Once at campus, he had little over half an hour to study a bit more; his Literature classroom was unlocked and empty, giving him time to test the set-up he’d decided on. “Try saying something, Kudamon.”

“Alright. How well can you hear me?” By the time he finished, Alex had wrapped the device twice with two tees.

“Barely,” Alex said in reply.

“And you wrapped the device loosely?”

“As loosely as I can.”

“Alright. Best of luck to you.”

“Thanks, Kudamon,” Alex said before stuffing the device and tees back in his backpack. The remainder of the half-hour passed before he knew it, and the professor was soon handing out the exam papers, as well as reiterating that no electronics were to be on. Alex felt his pulse rise a bit at that, and with each question he answered, he kept hoping that the device would stay quiet.

Half an hour passed, without a sound.

Then forty-five minutes passed.

Then, an hour passed.

Alex jumped when something made a noise, several yards behind him. “I heard that,” the professor said, to which the student responsible tried to apologize. Alex meanwhile exhaled and went back to his own work, filling in the last questions’ circle as the seventy-five minute mark was reached.

Once he was certain everything looked good, he gathered his things and made his way to the professor’s desk. “See you next year,” he said as his scantron and test sheets were dropped off.

Outside the classroom, things were quiet and few students were around. He had the device in hand soon after and gave Kudamon an update. “That leaves one more exam for today?”

“Yeah. I’ll be going home after that, and coming back here tonight.”

“What for?”

“Study session with my friends. All of our last exams come tomorrow.”

“I see. Is it the same situation as before?”

Alex kept quiet as another student walked past, answering once he felt in the clear. “Not quite. If the device goes off, I can freely act.”

“Good to know.”

Alex then spent the following hour doing some last minute studying, half of it with Nathan nearby. When the professor arrived, they inched apart, telling each other good luck once the exams were handed out. Alex felt the tension come on again as he began, though with his first class behind him, not as severely. Half an hour passed with no issue, then a full hour. His exam was completed within the five minutes that followed and after a quick check, he turned it in.

“Enjoy your Christmas break, Alex,” the professor said as he left the room.

“Likewise.”

Outside the room, Nathan was waiting and listening to something on his phone. “Two down, two to go,” he said upon noticing Alex’s presence.

“Believe me, I can’t wait.” Alex replied. As he followed his friend downstairs to the common area, he resisted the urge to get the device out. He’d wrapped it loosely enough to let Kudamon hear him anyway.

“I’m gonna stick around for a little while. Hang out in the library.” Nathan said.

“Alright. I need to check on Bailey, let him outside and such. Should be back around five.”

“Alright. Later, man.” Nathan said, before the two departed with a fist bump.

Once outside and far enough from the main doors, Alex pulled the device out. “Alright. Clear.”

“How did things go?”

“Smoothly. Was a bit nervous I’d get called out, though.”

“That reminds me. Tomorrow is the third human world day since you received this device. You should be able to reach out to the others then, and they to you.”

Recalling the hour Kudamon had come though his father’s computer, Alex couldn’t see a reason that any of the others would reach out to him immediately. Later in the morning was a possibility, though.

“Would that work like a phone call, or are you not sure?”

“I would assume so, but I cannot say for sure. I never saw how the devices work in every capacity.”

“So then, best to assume it would be like that Seraphimon you mentioned.”

Kudamon nodded in response.


* * *​


Back at the house, Bailey was let outside, with a few rounds of fetch in the front yard following. With the house to himself for the day, once Alex had coaxed Bailey back inside, he asked if Kudamon was willing to let Bailey get used to his scent.

“So long as you are willing to hold him back if he acts up,” Kudamon replied.

“Already am. He shouldn’t, though.”

“We shall see.” Kudamon then stood where Alex directed him, near one of the legs of his bedframe.

Shortly after, Alex returned with Bailey, whose attention locked on the strange creature. “It’s alright, boy. He won’t hurt you.” Alex said as he stroked Bailey’s head and neck. He then directed his words at Kudamon. “So, you want to move closer, or me move him closer?”

“The former, unless the latter works better.”

“Training takes time, so your choice,” Alex said as he tightened his grip on Bailey’s collar. Soon after, Kudamon began to approach. Bailey’s tail wagged in response, and he didn’t bark, though he did lean his head down and forward and sniffed the air. “See, boy? Nothing dangerous about him.”

Kudamon stopped moving a moment later, but stayed quiet for a time. “This should do for now I think,” he eventually said.

“Alright. Good boy, Bailey.” Alex then pulled a treat from his pocket, to which Bailey’s attention finally broke from Kudamon. He lead his dog away as he ate the treat, to the kitchen to refill his bowl.

As the following hours went by, Alex alternated between studying, gaming, and thinking about how to counter any sudden noises or calls from the device. His last two exams would last for four hours, and just more cloth didn’t feel like enough.

“Are you still concerned about the device?” Kudamon asked.

“Yeah. Trying not to be, but...”

“The two pieces of clothing you used before did a fair job. I see no reason to suspect that they would fail you so suddenly.”

“Good point, but still.”

“It will be fine. I am near certain.”

Alex gave a nod in response, though silently made a plan to include another tee-shirt for tomorrow.


* * *​


“One more semester to go,” Marcus said while everyone else was looking over their notes and books.

Alex glanced at him in response; the both of them, as well as Nathan and Catherine, hadn’t said a word in over an hour. “Getting bored?”

“Little bit. You guys?”

“Not really,” Catherine replied.

“Same, but…” Nathan stopped and stretched, popping a few joints in turn, “I could use a break.”

“Same here,” Alex said. He slid his notes and books aside before getting a fiction paperback out of his backpack. The common room where he and his friends had chosen to do their late night study session was occupied by only seven others, all spread around a room large enough to hold a few hundred, the large glass windows along the north side allowing in much of the waning gibbous moonlight.

Several minutes later, it became the main light source as all the lights of the building went out, leaving just the emergency lights.

“Oh, boy,” Nathan said as he turned on the flashlight on his phone. Marcus did the same, Alex leaving his nightvision to do the job.

“Wonder how long this’ll last.” Catherine said after a few seconds; everyone else in the room had begun muttering and making remarks by then.

“Probably not long.” Alex said. A few seconds later, he was proven right as the lights came back on, as well the air conditioning. Seconds later, it made a noise akin to sputtering and a few lights along the ceiling began blinking.

Oh, no.

Alex looked over to his backpack, at where the device was stashed, just as it began to vibrate and make a noise.
 

Renegade_Productions

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- Part 7 -


Monday, December 12th, 2011

Moon Phase = Waning Gibbous

7:53 p.m.


Before thinking too long about the situation, Alex grabbed the device and slipped it into his jacket pocket before getting up. “Might as well use the restroom,” he said.

“Good idea.” Nathan then got up and followed him, the last thing he wanted to happen.

Once inside, and in a stall, Alex got the device out and faced the screen towards him. Kudamon noticed, but didn’t speak upon seeing Alex’s finger in front of his mouth, nodding instead. A moment later, Alex got back up and left the stall, faking washing his hands before leaving.

“Another one?” Alex asked once he felt in the clear.

“I did notice something when the lights went out.”

Damnit. “Where?”

“I have no idea, but as I said, electricity is all that is needed.”

“Not just computers?”

“No, but if this place has a lot of those, we will need to search.”

Right away, Alex’s thought process was on the computer lab on the second floor. “Or, maybe not.”

He made his way there a moment later, via the stairs near the common room, though tried not to act like he was in a hurry. Several students, as he made his way to the room, were heading in the opposite direction, though none looked nervous or concerned, just annoyed.

He waited for them to pass, then looked at the screen and nodded. “How certain are you about this?”

“Pretty certain. If I’m wrong, then yeah, we go room by room.” Kudamon nodded in response.

A short time later, Alex neared the the hallway leading to the computer lab. The ceiling lights were all out, but something was producing the same bright light he’d seen at his home and Shane’s.

“Yep, I was right.”

“Let me do the talking again, then.”

“Sure thing,” Alex said before making his way to the lab’s door. The computer with the glowing screen was thankfully facing away from him, and the only thing keeping the room lit. He briefly considered locking the door behind him, but the staff could easily open it again and the windows would expose anything going on inside. “We’re gonna have to be quick about this.”

“Of course.” Kudamon said, leaving the device a moment later. “But for now, see if you can…” Kudamon then looked around the room. “Cover the windows.”

Alex made his way to the printer at that, ejecting the paper tray and taking a handful of sheets. Nearby was a stapler and tape dispenser, both of which he used to make crude coverings for the long windows. As he came close to finishing, he looked up, finding the computer was producing a body much larger than Bearmon’s. So large in fact it looked like it could stand shoulder to shoulder with him.

“Oh, no.”

“Try to relax, Alex.”

“Trying to.” Alex said as he got the first cover in place. By then, the body of the new creature began to show its colors and more details. It was brown and gold, and metal, in the shape of a crude, rounded robot.

“What is that?”

“Call him Guardromon.”

Alex stared at the form of the new creature a moment longer before resuming covering the windows. He finished covering the second just as the light from the monitor went out, leaving things pitch black until the electricity began flowing again.

When the lights came on, the Guardromon was quick to look around and spot him. Unlike Bearmon, this one gave Alex immediate concern.

“Guardromon. Down here.” Kudamon said as he moved to let himself be seen.

The Guardromon made a single hum and looked down, but said nothing.

“May I ask why you are here?”

Instead of answering, the Guardromon refocused on Alex, who was now gripping the device a bit tighter. “Only if that one remains quiet about me.”

“Alex already knows not to speak openly about us, but if other humans enter this room, it will be a moot point.”

Remembering the campus had cameras along the hallways, Alex spoke up. “And we can’t leave this room. There’s a camera watching both doors.”

“Not a problem.” Guardromon’s right arm then produced a tiny, missile-looking creature, held in place with a tiny clamp. “I will deal with it.”

“Hey, whoa.” Alex said, a cold sweat coming over him. “No way.”

“A camera is just technology. It can be rebuilt after being destroyed.”

“Yes, but doing that will cause too much commotion, possibly bring law enforcement.” Kudamon replied.

The Guardromon sighed. “Then what must I do? Remain here until the inevitable happens and I am seen?”

“No,” Alex said. “We just send you back, avoid property damage and mayhem.”

“Beg your pardon, but I made this trip for a reason. A single camera will not deter me.”

“There are many more besides that one, all over this building.”

“Really? Why didn’t you say so?” The Guardromon said before retracting the living missile and swapping it with another one made up of several smaller ones. “This one will do better.”

“Guardromon, if you please.” Kudamon said. “That kind of action will not help you nor us.”

“Then pretend you never saw me. That is what one of you already promised.” At that, the Guardromon began to move towards the other door.

“Guardromon, wait. Do not be a fool about this.”

A second later, Alex also made a move, to cut off the Guardromon from leaving the room. As he slid to a stop between the creature and the door, he could feel his racing heart pumping in his ears.

“Out of my way, human.”

“Not a chance. You can get what you need without destroying things.”

“You don’t know what I want.”

“So then why don’t you tell us?”

“Because you don’t have the means to make it come true.”

Alex’s attention moved to Kudamon at that, who shook his head and whose earring, neck band and fur highlights were starting to glow. “Not good enough.”

A moment later, Alex caught sight of the creature’s metal fist coming towards his chest. When it impacted, the air in his lungs was forced out, his eyes widened, and his hands reached for the spot where he was hit. Kudamon shouted his name in a mix of surprise and horror, just before the creature grabbed his shoulder and threw him aside, costing him his balance.

On the floor, the shock of the last few seconds left Alex trembling, gasping and covering his chest with one of his arms. “Neither are your reflexes,” the Guardromon responded.

“How dare you!” Kudamon said, his voice now dripping with disgust.

“I warned him.”

Instead of responding with words, the parts of Kudamon’s body that were glowing became even brighter. “Zekkoushou,” he said before the room became so bright Alex was forced to close his eyes. “Sei Dan,” Kudamon added, to which Alex heard the Guardromon grunt.

“A dent!? You…dented my…”

“I will do much more than that in order to deal with you.”

The conviction in Kudamon’s voice pushed Alex to brush aside the pain in his abdomen, though his breathing was already taking on a growling edge.

“Is that so?” the Guardromon said as it aimed the cluster of missiles at Kudamon, who immediately took off to take cover near the computers. The missile split into three after it was launched, each tracking where Kudamon was running; one hit the floor, another a power strip, and another a computer case. The destroyed power strip popped and began sparking as well as smoking, the computer case being left charred and with its components blown out; the wood floor was left with a smoking hole.

Holy shit. Unsure of what to do, Alex’s attention flipped wildly from Kudamon to Guardromon to the damage from the missiles. Meanwhile, the device Kudamon had given him began to give off a noise, and when he laid his eyes on it, its screen was glowing.

With it so close to his shoes, Alex kicked and slid the device towards his hand. Once he was holding it, a voice sounded from it. A deep one, a reassuring one, saying his first and last name. Alex had no chance to question it before it continued. “Listen well, and act swiftly.”

Alex had no chance to respond aloud.

“Allow the device in your hand to reopen its ring, then reach past it and take out what you find.”

Its ring? After a moment, Alex recalled the ring the device produced to allow Kudamon to enter it, but what was he supposed to find ‘past it’? By the time he’d made the ring reappear, another volley of missiles had been fired, destroying two more computers and blowing a hole in the wall.

Now with as much panic driving him as fear for Kudamon’s safety, Alex hesitated only briefly before reaching for the ring. The voice hadn’t been lying; his hand went well past the ring, as though a rift had been opened by it.

A moment later, he began to lose the feeling in his fingers. Fearful of what it meant, he licked his teeth. Blood, and his fangs were appearing.

At that, Alex frantically scrambled with his hand inside the device, but felt nothing. It was when he pulled his hand out, his focus now on his emerging werewolf claws, that he could see something was different. His hand was covered with what he could only describe as a thin, wispy white flame.

“Zekkoushou,” Kudamon said again, to which Alex closed his eyes to counter the bright flash. “Alex, hold still.”

Alex did so, and when he felt Kudamon’s body touch his hand with the wispy flame, he reopened his eyes. The flame spread over the whole of Kudamon’s body in an instant, itself taking on a radiant glow, and then the device in Alex’s clawed hand produced a different, computerized voice.


EXECUTE

EVOLUTION: KUDAMON​


The flame around Kudamon’s body was then absorbed into him, and his glowing form began to change. He grew in size, his head and body taking on more of a fox’s shape. Something thick, what looked like a rope, wrapped itself around his new neck as the back of his head produced a spiked mane and two wispy strands grew where whiskers would be. His tail emerged last, a large, kinked blade akin to a scythe, and then the glow around his body vanished, revealing the whole of his new form, that of a white-masked fox.

“Now I will end you,” Kudamon’s new form said as it lowered its front as though to pounce.

The Guardromon said nothing, instead readying another volley missile and firing it. Kudamon’s new form never left its stance, yet in the blink of an eye, the heads of the missiles were sliced off. The decapitated missiles hit random targets around the room but didn’t explode as before, instead laying as lumps on the ground, their exhausts spitting out smoke.

“Not good enough.” Kudamon’s new form said as its tail twitched, the eye on it narrowing. The sounds of metal being scrapped, cut, and dented came fast and heavy afterwards; Alex could only look on in astonishment until the pain from the crunching up in his stomach stole back his attention.

“No…no. My body,” the Guardromon exclaimed as its eyes widened and its hands reached for the gashes and damage across its metal form.

Kudamon’s new form refrained from any direct response beyond a growl. “Kurukuru Rekkûzan,” it said before launching its form forward. Within a second, its body, spinning end over end with its tail out, had sliced through the chest of the Guardromon. Its tail stuck in the wall afterwards, but within a second, it had reversed its attack direction, and this time sliced through the Guardromon’s head.

The Guardromon said nothing and made no noises beyond a crying shout as Kudamon’s new form landed and turned around to face its opponent. Still no words were shared, but then the body of the Guardromon began to glow.

Is it…

Alex had no time to finish his thought. The creature’s body broke apart in an explosion of solid white squares, none of which left the room but instead hovered around before being pulled towards his device. When he looked, the ring was still there, and through it, the device was absorbing all of what was once Guardromon.

When all of it was absorbed, the ring stayed active, long enough for Kudamon’s new form to begin glowing. It then exploded in a shower of similar squares, leaving behind Kudamon’s original form. Only when the device absorbed the last square did the ring at last vanish, the black screen letting Alex see that his face was already taking on part of its canine shape.

“Alex?” Kudamon asked upon seeing the claws and fangs, his voice hinting at nervousness and concern.

Alex glanced at him. “Out of here. C’mon.”

“But where?”

“No time. Anywhere but here.” Alex grabbed the device as he got up, then made for Kudamon and scooped him up. Even if he could make it outside in time, he would have to get the attention of his friends and hitch a ride back home.

His breathing already deepened, Alex rushed out the room’s nearest door and made for the stairwell. A second later, he ran into someone, the shock causing him to drop the device; Kudamon had already slipped between his tee and the back of his jacket.

When Alex knelt down to recover the device, both the clothing of the person he’d ran into, and their voice, made him stall. “Whoa, man, slow down. Why were you in there?”
 

Renegade_Productions

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- Part 8 -


Monday, December 12th, 2011

Moon Phase = Waning Gibbous

8:19 p.m.


Alex couldn’t bring himself to look his friend in the face. Already his clothing had tightened to an uncomfortable degree and he had barely a minute to get outside.

“Hey, what happened?” Marcus demanded as Alex slipped away.

“Not now,” Alex replied. At a glance, he saw no hint of the police on the first floor. With little doubt they were on their way, he closed the distance to the east stairs and threw the first door open.

By then, the tightening of his jacket against his chest had become too great, forcing Kudamon to slip out and climb onto his shoulder. “How long do you have?” he asked as the door closed.

“Not long,” Alex said, his voice already deepened. His animalistic panting echoed through the closed-off wing, and how tight his jacket was getting diverted his attention to it until it was off. Halfway down the stairs, the Charley-horse sensation hit the muscles of his legs, forcing him to catch himself.

“Are you okay?” Kudamon asked from his perch. Alex could only gasp and wipe his forehead.

At the bottom of the stairs, the sight of a camera facing the east exit got him to throw his jacket over his head, and Kudamon as well. Once outside, out of its field of vision, he wasted not a second stripping off his clothing, hoping as he did that Marcus wasn’t following him or about to find him in such a state.

“Is this location safe?” Kudamon asked.

“Hope so,” Alex replied as he removed the last of his clothing. How hot his skin felt barely held back the evening chill; his fur would emerge soon and counter it well enough. He and Kudamon were still alone when it did, easing the tension in his chest a degree.

The changes to his legs and feet came soon after, his tail, ears and chest taking their new forms as he laid himself down in the grass. Then came his muzzle, its completion and coating marking the end of his sudden shift. For many seconds after, his heavy, fatigued breaths were the only thing making noise, each one blowing feet of white mist into the night.

“You handled that rather well,” Kudamon eventually said.

“I guess. Got other problems now.”

“You mean your friends?”

“And how I can get home.”

“Of course. I assume you have plans for something like this?”

Before Alex had a chance to answer, both his attention and Kudamon’s were stolen by the sound of the door nearby opening. “Alex, you out here?” It was Marcus.

Instead of responding, Alex laid still and pulled his head up. With no chance to hide, Kudamon was spotted a moment later, his presence drawing most of Marcus’ attention.

The silence that followed lasted for what felt like a minute. Despite his sore joints, Alex soon moved to sit up. “Was hoping to keep him secret a while longer.”

When Marcus gave no response, Kudamon followed up. “I am not responsible for the situation that just occurred. Something else was, and it also put your friend in this state.”

Alex nodded when Marcus looked at him. His friend then sighed with a hand against his forehead, before looking back at the door. “Then we better hope no one thinks you did any of that.”

“Yeah.”

“So, what now?” Kudamon asked after another stretch of silence.

“I hate to ask, but…you mind giving me a lift home, Marcus?” Alex asked.

Marcus nodded. “Sure. You wanna tell your folks, or should I?”

“Let me do it. I’ll have to anyway.”

Marcus nodded again. “Alright, then. You know where my truck is. Get over there within thirty minutes and we’ll get your bike loaded into the bed.”

“Thanks, man. Let me know what the police are saying too, if you can.”

“Will do. You keep safe.” Marcus then went back inside the building, leaving Alex to gather up his clothing.

“Do you want me to go back into the device?” Kudamon asked.

“For now, yeah,” Alex replied before he produced the ring and let Kudamon enter the device. After tucking it into a pocket of his jacket, he made a makeshift belt out of the sleeves, attaching to it anything loose to keep his hands free.

His trek to the spot where he and his friends had parked led him past a few trails left by coyotes and other small game, around the building that served as the library. Some of the scents he passed poked at his now present hunger, the feelings of thirst not helping.

What the police and campus security were thinking sat heavy on the rest of his thoughts. He was the only person who had been in the room when the explosions and resulting damage happened, and nothing was left of Guardromon to hold up as evidence of his innocence.

“Alex, does this incident mean you need meat again?” Kudamon asked as Alex approached a creek.

“Not yet, thankfully.”

“How long do you have?”

“I’m not sure,” Alex paused to gauge a jump across a thin stretch of the creek, checking his clothing afterwards. “But this has happened before and it took eighteen hours that time.”

“Then, should you need, I will help you figure out a plan when we return home.”

“We might not need it, but thanks.”

“Why would you say that?”

Alex held off his response to look around the area. “If I can change back before then, I’ll avoid it.”

“You say ‘if’. Is such a thing difficult?”

“It felt like it before, but maybe not so now.”

“Maybe?”

“Yeah. Shane’s dad might know what works best, though.”

“Then I will hold onto the hope that he does.”

Alex silently agreed as he neared where Marcus’ truck was parked. Forced to stay a ways away from the lot thanks to the lot’s streetlights, he pulled out his phone and stylus. No messages so far, so he sent one to his friends.



Alex S.: I’m ready when you guys are.​



“And now we wait,” Alex said as he switched his contacts to Shane’s father.



Alex S.: Mr. Bryant, you have a minute?​



The answer Alex wanted came swiftly.



Michael B.: Always. What’s on your mind?



Alex gave a heavy sigh before he typed up his response.



Alex S.: Shifted in self-defense a while ago.

Any advice on turning back?​



Michael B.: What!? What happened?



Alex S.: A repeat of Sunday, but violent.​



Michael B.: Are you alone right now?



Alex S.: It’s pretty quiet around here, so

probably.​



Alex's phone rang a moment later. When he answered, Michael wasted no time. “Did anyone see you change?”

“Don’t think so. Had to run past some cameras to get out here, though.”

“Cameras? Where are you right now?”

“Near the U of H campus, waiting for my friend to give me a ride home.”

“And this thing you encountered?”

“Gone. Kudamon, the one I brought with me before, dealt with him.”

“I see.”

“So, what can I do about this?”

“You’ll have to wait a while. I’m assuming you haven’t eaten?”

Alex laid a hand on his stomach, which had begun rumbling. “No. Really want something, though.”

“Then here’s what I recommend: Let it linger a while when you get home. It may sound scary, but if you do that, once you’re full after such a long wait, you should find changing back easier.”

“Any safe length of time?”

“I wish I could say for certain, but no more than three hours is what I’ve found works best.”

“Alright.”

“One big thing, though: don’t comfort yourself too much. If you’re feeling content about being in that form, changing back will be much harder.”

At that, Alex was reminded of the night he changed in front of his friends. How he’d felt when he feared hungering for living flesh with them or his parents around. “And how would I do that?”

“Essentially, avoid anything that puts you at ease. Not to the point of stress, but enough that it’s clear you cannot stay that way for too long.”

Alex thought back to the hunger surfacing when his parents were around; his skin’s temperature dipped immediately. “Sure thing.”

“Alright, then. Text me again closer to ten, or when you change back.”

“Will do. Thanks, Mr. Bryant.”

“Anytime, Alex.” Both of them hung up soon after, leaving Alex to silently gaze up at the moon.

By the time his friends were ready to leave, though the parking lot was almost barren, the police had yet to leave; Alex counted four cruisers before Marcus was nearby, his fears of being seen driving his every action until his bike was stowed.

“Sorry to put this on you again, man,” Alex said as he climbed into the truck’s cabin and laid across the back seats. The familiar scents helped calm him some as his friend started the engine. “Learn anything from the police?”

“Not really. They weren’t too keen to share.”

Kudamon stayed silent as Marcus pulled out of the lot. Alex meanwhile dreaded the ongoing silence, and hoped his friend was simply being quiet to process everything.

“So…” Marcus said as his truck drove over what felt like train tracks. “That white thing? Where’s it from?”

“Alex, should I?” Kudamon asked.

“Yeah.”

“In that case, you could say the Internet.”

“The internet can make things like you?”

“You would be surprised.”

“Already am, and kind of nervous.”

Alex was about to remark that Kudamon wasn’t dangerous before stopping himself. Guardromon had caused a lot of damage, and so did Kudamon’s second form.

“You need not be. My goal in being here is not to cause harm.”

“Yeah, yours isn’t.”

“Marcus was it? I can assure you, if what happened tonight was preventable, it would have been. If anything, Alex prevented something much worse by taking the actions he did. Helping me contain the one responsible when he could have simply stepped aside.”

Alex silently thanked Kudamon for the praise. At the same time, he couldn’t help wondering how long it would be before Nathan and Catherine learned of his presence, if they didn’t already know, and how they would react.
 

Renegade_Productions

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- Part 9 -


Monday, December 12th, 2011

Moon Phase = Waning Gibbous

8:52 p.m.


Marcus pulled into the driveway of Alex’s house some time later. “Both cars are here, and the living room light’s on,” he said before putting the truck in park.

Alex let his head impact the seat with a sigh tinged with a growl. Figures.

“They already know?”

“Not yet,” Alex replied, Michael's suggestion staying front and center in his thoughts.

Marcus replied after a few seconds. “Hoping to wait until they go to bed?”

“I wish.”

“Alex,” Kudamon began, “if you must, reveal me to them and let me explain what happened.”

“I’d rather not, yet.”

“Then, got any ideas about how to explain this?” Marcus asked.

“Nothing that would come across as reasonable, no.”

“Then we may have no choice in this matter.” Kudamon said.

Alex hummed in response, then sighed after a moment to think. Soon after, thanks to the windows being down, he could hear the front door opening. “Yeah, we won’t.” Marcus said.

“Marcus, how are you?” Alex tensed up at the voice of his mother.

“Doing alright, Mrs. Stryker.”

“Is there something you needed?”

“Not really.”

“Is something wrong?”

“Um, we had…something happen at campus tonight.”

“What kind of something? Wait, to Alex?”

Knowing what was coming, Alex forced himself to speak. “It happened again.” When his mother gasped, his heart sank.

“I didn’t see what happened, but he got outside in time and no one but me saw him.” Marcus said. “We’ve got all his stuff, and his bike too.”

“But why?”

“I’ll be okay, Mom. Just need some time.”

When no reply came, Marcus broke the silence. “I’ll help get his bike out, then head out. No one should see us.”

Alex’s mother sighed after a moment. “...Alright. I’ll leave the front door open.”

As he heard her walk away, Alex sighed and pressed a paw against his eyes. “That went rather well,” Kudamon said.

“For now.” Alex replied.

“Anyway, let’s get your bike out.” Marcus said as he left the truck’s cabin.

“Sure thing.” Alex followed suit, staying on the driver’s side until he could slip into the bed and begin heaving the bike out. “Thanks again, man. Sorry about all this.” Alex said as at last it was lowered onto the tires.

Once his bike was stashed in the backyard, he met his friend by his truck. “Anytime. Text me if you can’t turn back, though.”

“You thinking food poisoning as an excuse?”

“Only thing that works.”

“Yeah, true.”

“Anyway, get inside. I’ll grab your stuff.”

Alex nodded in response then slipped inside, making as little noise as possible. Bailey was awaiting his return in the entrance, and stepped back when the wolf-man form was what came inside. Marcus’ brief appearance made his tail wag despite keeping his distance.

As his friend left, Alex dropped his things on the dining table in the study, noting as he walked by the open door to the kitchen that his father wasn’t there. The lingering scents of his mother’s cooking meanwhile tested his stomach. Closer to ten. No sooner than that.

After a few minutes of silence, suspecting his mother was keeping quiet about what happened, Alex got the device out and let Kudamon see his face. “Nothing happened?”

Alex shook his head. “Probably won’t unless I don’t change back.”

“Hmm. Did the one you spoke to have the advice you wanted?”

“We’ll have to wait to find out, but he hasn’t lied to me about this before.”

“Good to know. In the meantime, should I stay in here?”

“Probably for the best, for now.”

Kudamon nodded before Alex put the device away. Afterwards, his thoughts drifted back to the voice he had heard from the device when Guardromon was attacking Kudamon. Had it been the Seraphimon Kudamon had mentioned? The voice and tone fit the description.

His stomach growled a moment later, redirecting his thoughts. His parched throat was also in play, something he was hesitant to fix just yet. Only nine-oh-one? Alex sighed to himself after checking his phone and attempted to refocus on what he needed to.

The following minutes dragged slower than anything he could remember. Allthewhile, Alex kept in mind what was coming if he didn’t change back. Eventually, he began pacing around the study, peeking outside every so often at the beaming moonlight.

His stomach continued to growl as nine-thirty neared; none of the scents belonging to his parents smelled appealing yet, easing his nerves some. Bailey meanwhile had taken to laying down in the entrance, his head pointed towards the front door, as if waiting for the real form of his owner to come home. It’s alright boy. Just a bit longer.

More minutes passed with Alex’s thoughts progressing to what would happen if he failed to change back and couldn’t lean on the food poisoning excuse Marcus had suggested. Kudamon’s words about it simply being bad luck that Bearmon had come when he had returned, and stuck. That’s been two within two days. Hope tomorrow is free of them.

When nine-forty-five arrived, Alex was feeling drawn to text Michael and ask if it was too early to eat. Figuring it might be, he waited until five minutes before ten, all the while keeping in mind what his goal was. His first choices for food were a mix of lukewarm and cold, all going down easy but feeling like their impact was negligible. He cooked half a package of hot dogs next, the warm meat giving the feeling he was looking for. To all of that, he added the water he was thirsting to have, along with a soda.

His thoughts all the while never left his parents and Bailey. Only when he felt full did he let them change, to returning to his human form, to staving off the coming hunger and avoiding the risk of capture or being fired at. The latter two made his skin go cold and one of his paws moved to his heart almost on its own.

A few seconds later, he felt its pace quicken, and his breathing followed suit.

Alex ducked into the pantry as soon as it happened, closing the doors behind him. Nothing else noticeable happened until several seconds later, when his chest began to contract. How full he was made it sting harder, though the urge to vomit never registered. Afterwards, he lowered himself to the floor, readied to react to what was coming.

Minutes later, with the recession of his skull and jaw, he was left sore and tired, his breathing heavy. Going to sleep within the next few minutes was all he could think about at first, the humiliation from being seen like this the only thing keeping him from acting on it.

Eventually he began to strip the remnants of his pelt off, the cold exposure helping shake his exhaustion. Afterwards, he slipped out of the pantry and towards his room; fresh clothing in hand, he wasted little time showering the last of his fur off.

It was as he was cleaning up the pile of shed fur that he noticed Kudamon coming up behind him. “It worked. How do you feel?”

“Exhausted.”

“Without question, it sounds like.”

Alex gave a weak ‘Yeah’ in response.

“In that case, I will be quick. Do you remember the voice you heard earlier?”

“Yeah. Calm and collected, and commanding.”

“Indeed. That was the voice of Seraphimon. What he taught you to do is what will allow me to evolve, temporarily however, to my stronger form.”

“The fox with the white mask?”

Kudamon nodded.

“It looked amazing, to be honest.”

“Thank you, though I should warn you; we cannot use it frequently.”

“How often, then?”

“Once per human world day, as I was told. As for the length of time I can stay like that, under duress or otherwise, I do not know. For now, ending any conflicts quickly should be our goals.”

“Yeah, and I’ll keep that in mind.”

Kudamon nodded again and let Alex resume cleaning up. Once he was done, Kudamon returned to the device and remained there as Alex returned to his room and proceeded to fall asleep within minutes. Before he also turned in for the night, Kudamon accessed the data storage of the device to check something.


EMERGENCY CHARGE: 2​


Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Moon Phase = Waning Gibbous


The next morning, Alex slept past the first of his alarms, the second managing to rouse him. Upon seeing six-fifteen on the screen of his phone, he sighed deeply and worked himself awake.

After a quick wash and dry of his hair, he ran into his father in the hallway outside the bathroom. Nothing about his expression was outwardly telling, and his greeting was what Alex expected, but seeing him in the same position after getting dressed and leaving his room was all he needed to know.

“In the kitchen, Alex,” he said before leading the way. Once they were far enough from the master bedroom door, his father continued. “What happened last night?”

Alex swore to himself. He still had no lies to fall back on, and this many full moons out, his father wouldn’t believe any he made up on the spot. “Nothing serious.”

“Then why did you change?”

“...Something happened at campus.”

“Is it something the department would have looked into?”

“...Yeah. Police were there.”

“Alright. In that case, we’ll save this conversation until after your exams.”

After agreeing, Alex stepped away and made some breakfast. How to downplay and hide the involvement of Kudamon and Guardromon was on his mind for the majority of the time during and after; the precinct would have noted the damage to the room and checked the surveillance records. The thought of having all the damage pinned on him left his chest and heart heavy, a feeling that worsened when he arrived at campus.

It was as he was looking for a parking spot that something caught his attention. Several students were outside the building, looking at something on the glass doors. Some of the tension in his chest eased, only to return a moment later. What were they looking at?

“Hey, Kudamon?”

“Yes?” Kudamon asked when he could see Alex’s helmeted face.

“Something’s going on.”

“What is it?”

“Not sure. Gonna check real quick.” Alex left his helmet on with the front visor up as he made his way to the doors. A few students walked away from the doors as he came closer, allowing him to see some paper attached to the glass.

Closer up, one of the students walked away in time to let him see the words on one.


CAMPUS CLOSED​


Torn between elation and curiosity, Alex moved closer, into the crowd looking over and talking about the sheets.


DUE TO RECENT EVENTS, EXAMS FOR THE

13TH OF DECEMBER WILL BE DELAYED

UNTIL THURSDAY THE 15TH.​


“Yay. Two more days to study,” said a nearby female student.

“Anyone know what happened?” Alex asked after a period of silence.

“Police came last night,” a nearby male replied. “Someone heard explosions in the computer lab, apparently.”

“Wait, really?” asked another male student.

“Yeah. Someone else reported it, but I heard them all the way down in the common room.”

“Shit. Scary.” Alex said. “Know anything else about this?”

“Just that whoever did it made a huge mess, and the police can’t tell who did it.”

Despite some skepticism, Alex felt a wave of warmth wash over him at that. Oh, thank God.

“Cherry bombs, maybe?” asked another male student.

“No idea.”

“Well, if campus is closed, I’m checking out the mall and bookstore for a while,” Alex said.

“Not a bad idea,” said the first male student as Alex walked away.

When he felt far enough away, Alex sighed loudly, the rest of his stress and tension leaving as he did so. “Hey, Kudamon?” he said when the device was back in his hands, “Good news. The police don’t know we, or Guardromon, were in there.”

“Good to know.” Kudamon then looked aside. “Thank you, Seraphimon.”

Huh?

“You are welcome.” said the voice from the night before.
 

Renegade_Productions

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- Part 10 -


Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Moon Phase = Waning Gibbous

8:21 a.m.


Alex was unable to respond before Seraphimon continued. “If you are confused, Alex, I was aware of your situation before I reached out to you. When you mentioned the cameras, I put several of our best in charge of disabling them and erasing the portions with you in their sights.”

“Oh…thank you. I appreciate it.”

“Of course.”

“Will you be needing us soon, Seraphimon?” Kudamon asked.

“Yes, and not just you but the others who have accepted their partners.”

“How many are there?”

“With you and Kudamon, only eight pairs in all.”

“Of twenty-five?” Kudamon asked.

“Yes, so far. I will wait one more day of our time before reaching out to you again, in case the last few are simply hesitant.”

“You said ‘our time’ just now. How long is that?” Alex asked.

“A day here is one week for us,” Kudamon said, which Seraphimon confirmed.

Alex gave a ‘Huh’ in response and ran the math in his head. That’s just over three hours.

“When that time comes, Alex, it will require you to cross over to our world, briefly. Once you do, I will inform you of what we need next from you.”

Anticipating Alex’s concerns, Kudamon spoke next. “Traveling there is very simple, and you already know how to make it happen.”

“Okay, but is that it?”

“What do you mean?”

“Will anything…strange happen to me?”

“No, you will be fine.” Seraphimon replied. “You have my personal assurance of it, and the ones before you would say the same.”

The look Kudamon gave Alex through the screen of the device was proof he knew what he was referring to. “The ones who came before were nervous at first too.”

“Yes, like any rational human would be. Even so, they traveled here and back many times with no issues. The same will be true for you.”

“Alright.”

“I would recommend we be at your house before crossing. Anywhere else would look suspicious.” Kudamon said.

“Yeah, good idea.”

“My apologies,” Seraphimon said after a brief silence, “but I must return to my duties. Until we speak again, Alex.”

“Yeah, until then.” Alex waited a few seconds before speaking again. “So, three hours…”

“Plenty of time to do what you said you wanted to do.” Kudamon said.

Alex nodded before pocketing the device. The following hour he spent at the bookstore, wondering on and off what crossing over would do to him; his skin tightened at the idea and mental image of partially shifting and being left in such a state.

Soon after, the fears he had felt before his first full moon began to resurface. If the other seven were anything like Kudamon, he would be fine around them, but that still left their partners and Seraphimon.

Back at home, once he was out of the device, Kudamon was quick to notice the dip in Alex’s mood. “I wish I could assure you on something related to your situation,” he said after a moment.

“Then, for now, can I count on you to have my back if something goes weird?”

“Of course. Always.”

Alex nodded. “Thanks, Kudamon.”

Hoping to relax himself, Alex turned to his desktop and got one of his games going. A stealth game he hadn’t played in a while. The protagonist’s voiceovers and the in-game music did the trick, helping pass another hour. For the last one, Alex fixed himself and Kudamon some lunch and let Bailey get a little closer to Kudamon. This time close enough that he made an attempt to lick his head.

The look of surprise on Kudamon’s face, and his leaning back from the attempt, drew some laughter from Alex. “Dogs will do that sometimes.” He then directed his words to Bailey, after a rubbing of his head. “Good boy, but no licking just yet.”

Bailey whined in response.

“I know, boy.”

“Next time, maybe.” Kudamon added as Alex distracted Bailey with another treat.

“So,” Alex said after a time, “what do you think Seraphimon wants from me?”

“I believe a chance to meet you in person, and you to meet the others and their partners.”

“So, he can’t see me though this thing?”

“He would have commented on your physical state and changes last night if that was possible.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“In any event, I do not see your condition having a serious effect on your ability to act or make decisions. If anything, where I am from has no relation to your moon and its phases, so being there could seal away your second form.”

“Guess we’ll find out eventually.” Alex replied after a sigh. He and Kudamon then sat quietly, their thoughts on different subjects.

Several minutes later, Alex’s device began to beep. When it was in his hand, the noise stopped. “It is time, Alex.” Seraphimon said.

“So, what do I do? Just open a gate?”

“Yes, and come through. You will come to the right place afterward. Are you still nervous?”

“Yes, he is.” Kudamon answered.

“For that, I will not blame you. But, like all things, once you cross the hardest threshold, what follows is often much easier.”

“Yeah, true.”

“Come when you are ready, but do not delay too long. The others have begun arriving, and the matters I wish to discuss will not wait.”

“Will do.”

No reply came from Seraphimon. When Alex exhaled a moment later, Kudamon spoke up. “You will be fine, and I will be right beside you.”

God, I hope so. Alex gave his nerves a minute to relax before allowing Kudamon to climb onto his shoulders. Once he’d stood up and faced his desktop, he followed the procedure Kudamon had told him, and soon his monitor was glowing a blindingly bright white.

“Be brave, Alex. This will not be your only time doing this.”

“Yeah, I figured.” Alex then clenched his hands twice before, at last, reaching for the screen.

The pull on his body when his hand came close was much more intense than he expected; within a second, he was through, as though yanked by an invisible force. On the other side of his desktop’s screen was what he could only describe as a tunnel within a vast expanse of pitch blackness.

Directly ahead and in many directions otherwise, there was nothing beyond solid black. Yet, in a cylindrical pattern around him, were bands in many lengths and colors, none of which illuminated him nor Kudamon despite how much they shined against the pitch black.

When he attempted to look around, his vision went further than he wanted and he felt his body tumble, his vision changing with it. His attempts to cry out, and his words -- ‘Whoa. What’s happened?’ -- never moved past his own ears.

Or so he thought. ‘There is no gravity here,’ he heard Kudamon say. ‘Relax and try to correct your facing.’

Alex tried just that, but had no success with his methods until he thought to thrust some of his limbs in the opposite direction he was spinning. His rotation slowed instead of stopping.

‘Steady. Try making swimming motions.’

Alex did so, eventually getting his position corrected and facing the direction he thought he was moving.

‘Good. Now keep as still as possible.’

‘Alright,’ Alex replied. As the tunnel continued to pull him and Kudamon somewhere, he found the device and moved it into his line of sight. Strangely, it was visible against his seemingly invisible hand. Maybe something on this might…

His train of thought was cut off. Something piercing and sharp had registered on the hand holding the device. ‘Ow.’

‘What happened?’

‘This thing shocked me.’

‘Shocked you?’

‘Yeah. Like all up my arm and into my chest shock me.’

‘That…is unusual.’

Kudamon’s tone was not what Alex wanted to hear. ‘Oh, shit.’

‘Calm down, Alex. Maybe it…’

The device then began to glow, not just from the screen but its whole body, and soon shocked Alex again. Now able to see each other, Kudamon saw the device get separated from Alex’s hand after his exclamation of pain. Without a word, he thrust himself forward to grab it, flipping around to put his tail in position to snag it.

‘What’s going on with that thing?’

‘I have no idea, but remain calm. I will hold onto it for now.’

Alex gave no reply. Why the device was doing such a thing now had already begun to bother him, and the feeling was cemented when Kudamon was spared a similar fate.

‘Maybe we should ask Seraphimon about this.’ Kudamon suggested after reorienting himself.

‘Maybe.’ Alex said as he refocused on the tunnel. After what felt like several minutes, there was still no end in sight. ‘How long was your trip?’

‘At least this long, so we should be near the end.’

‘What’s on the other side?’

‘My world, a segment of it anyway. You will see the whole of it eventually.’

Alex held off on a reply when, at last, he could see what looked like white light ahead.

‘There it is. Remain still and calm, Alex,’ Kudamon said.

Sure thing. As they drew closer, Alex felt the weight of his body returning. Closer still, he was forced to cover his eyes. And then, he felt it. The moment when he passed through some kind of barrier, and the moment his shoes were touching something, meaning he was standing again.

He let one eye crack open in response. What he saw was his room, but not quite his room, urging his eyes to fully open. Only a portion of it was there, the rest non-existent walls, flooring and ceiling. Alex turned his head to look around, noticing as he did that the existing portion lined up with an approximation of his desktop’s monitor’s screen.

“What…” Surprised his words had sound again, Alex continued a moment later. “What is this?”

“What we could see before I came to your world.”

Torn between fascination and unease, Alex gave no reply.

“Welcome, Alex.” said Seraphimon from somewhere Alex couldn’t see. “Please, use the door you see. I and the others await your presence.”

With the only door he could see being the one for one of his closets, Kudamon began moving towards it before he did. Alex followed with measured, and slower, steps. The ‘carpet’ felt the same as it did in his room, but then another thing about the place caught his attention: he was unable to smell anything, not even warm circuitry.

“Alex, a moment.” Kudamon said when he was close enough to touch the knob. “Try to hold the device again.”

“If it shines or shocks me again?”

“Then I will let Seraphimon know as soon as possible. If not, then it should not be much of a concern.” Kudamon then turned around and held the device out for Alex to take.

Anticipating another nasty shock, Alex protected his hand with part of his denim jacket. The device never shined, and no shocks were discharged. His unprotected hand received the same reaction.

“How strange.”

“Just hope that never happens again,” Alex said as he pocketed the device and stood back up.

“Agreed. Shall we go, then?”

Alex nodded, then took the knob in his hand and turned it. Within an inch of opening, bright light flooded the space and forced his eyes to close again. When he cracked one to look, what he saw was a grand room fashioned in the style of the Parthenon. Pristine in every way, from the floor tiles to the columns and painted ceiling, with a deep fire pit in the center, within which was a roaring fire several feet in height. Nothing beyond the columns was visible, thanks to a barrier of white light between each one.

Right away, he noticed several other humans and creatures, one of which towered above all the others. It was adorned in gray and light blue armor, portions trimmed with gold. Ten golden wings were behind its breastplate, and a full cover helmet with a golden cross covered its head. The creature’s imposing presence, and the angelic aspects of its form, were all the evidence Alex needed to know it was Seraphimon.

“Welcome back, Kudamon,” he said as the door behind Alex closed.

“Glad to be back.”

Seraphimon nodded. “And you, Alex. Tis a pleasure to meet you in person.” Seraphimon then waved a gauntleted hand towards the fire pit. “Come closer and enjoy the fire and company. Two others have yet to arrive.”
 

Renegade_Productions

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- Part 11 -


Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Moon Phase = Waning Gibbous

?:??


“Sure. Thanks.” Alex said before Kudamon took the lead. As they drew closer, Alex let his attention wander to the other five humans, noting as he did no one much older or younger than himself.

The closest of the five was accompanied by a tall, white-and-yellow-furred fox creature with purple cloth wrist covers. Despite its narrowed eyes giving the impression of s stare, nothing about it felt overtly threatening; Alex couldn’t help but wonder what its stronger form was like. The next was a much smaller, red-furred bear-looking creature with a flickering flame on its forehead. Unlike the fox creature, it came across as more welcoming, waving to both him and Kudamon.

As he waved back, a familiar face came into Alex’s view from behind the fire. “Bearmon?”

The Bearmon looked behind itself after a moment, then back at Alex before pointing at itself. “Me?”

“In a way. We encountered one like yourself days ago,” Kudamon said.

“Really? What are the odds?”

“So, there can be more than one of you?” Alex asked.

“Yes, though the stronger we get, the less likely that becomes.”

“You should see me when I get stronger,” the Bearmon said before flexing an arm.

As Alex came to a stop near the one with the fox partner, he held out his hand. “Sup, man. Name’s Dustin.”

Alex completed the handshake, giving his name as he did so; Dustin’s grip was stronger than he thought.

“Pleasure. And if you’re wondering, her name’s Renamon,” Dustin said as he pointed his thumb at his partner.

Renamon nodded in response. “I understand one of our kind attacked you directly the other day.”

“Yeah,” Alex said as he moved a hand to his abdomen. “Never been punched in the gut before.”

“You have my sympathies for that.”

After Alex gave his thanks, the one sitting near the creature with the flame on its head spoke up. “Least it didn’t go for your head.”

“No kidding.” Dustin replied. “That’s Jason, by the way.”

Jason confirmed the statement, adding as he laid a hand on the red-furred bears’ head, “And this here’s Coronamon.”

“Hey-ya.” Coronamon said as it waved again.

Alex returned the wave, glancing towards the one nearest Bearmon afterwards. A female with straight red hair. This time, Jason introduced her, with his arm around her shoulders. “This is Shelly. Funny story, we knew each other long before we got Coronamon and Bearmon.”

“Yep, so we’re like their kids,” Bearmon said.

“Really?” Alex said, a smirk appearing on his face. “Do they behave themselves?”

“For the most part,” Shelly replied. “Bearmon gets too into the peanut butter.”

“But it’s so good.”

“Makes sense. Bears do like peanut butter,” Alex said.

“Especially with chocolate,” Coronamon said, to which Bearmon made a sound, and a face, like he was getting a sudden craving. Alex chuckled in response, as did Dustin.

Shortly after, Alex remembered the two others. When he looked, their creatures were already looking at him. One short with three horns, long, floppy ears and a chocolate-and-pink-colored pelt of fur, the other a slightly taller bipedal dragon with green scales and red horns, eyes and wings.

“And you guys are?”

“Fran,” said the girl with the floppy-eared creature. “She’s Lopmon.”

“Graham, clan MacLeod,” said the other, his Scottish accent drawing most of Alex’s attention. “And yea, I’ve heard every Highlander joke there is.”

“He likes them,” said his partner creature. “Name’s Dracomon, by the way.”

“A pleasure,” Alex said as he went around and shook Fran and Graham’s hands, then Shelly and Jason. Afterward, he noticed Renamon holding her paw out.

When he came close and closed his hand around her paw, Renamon’s eyes widened and her attention went to his hand. Alex’s blood ran cold at the sight, as well as Renamon looking like she was sizing him up. “What?”

After taking her paw away, Renamon asked, “Did something happen to you on your way here?”

Alex looked towards Kudamon, who matched his gaze. “Yes. For some reason, his device shined and shocked him during the trip to here.”

“It did what?” Seraphimon said, his booming voice drawing a shudder from Alex, as well as his attention. His head lowered almost on instinct.

“Whoa, hold on. Am I missing something?” Dustin asked.

“Your device should not do that to you. Ever.”

“Then, Seraphimon, could you explain why it did?” Kudamon asked.

“When humans come here, they become data. The devices all of you received recognize you as such, but will react the way you, Kudamon, described if that data is corrupted.”

Corrupted?! Alex felt his throat tense up at that, and swore to himself.

“That can happen?” Fran asked.

“Yes, if one who is born from a virus, or has the properties of one, infects you with related code. However, none of you have encountered anything of the sort, and the journey here insulates you against such things.”

“Glitch in the travel system?”

“Impossible. I was one among the many who ensured that would never happen.”

“Maybe another breached the system? Virus-types are rather crafty.” Renamon said.

“A more likely possibility. I will put our best men on the task, see if there was a breach.”

“Where does that leave Alex, then? And the other two?” Kudamon asked.

“Before I say for certain, would you come closer and hold your device up to me, Alex?”

Alex breathed out and closed his eyes to try and calm himself. Once he felt calm enough, he reopened them and honored Seraphimon’s request, holding the device up and out, the screen facing the armored giant.

Seraphimon meanwhile simply held a hand towards the device. From his position, Alex couldn’t tell what he was doing, and the action, along with Seraphimon’s silence, went on for longer than he was comfortable with.

Eventually, a rumbling humming came from Seraphimon. It was lacking anything Alex could ping as ‘this is very bad news’. “I believe you are right, Renamon,” he said.

“He was infected while coming here?”

“So it seems. This code however, I have never seen it before.”

“But, there’s nothing wrong with him, is there?” Bearmon asked.

“Overtly, no, but the devices depend on a connection between yourselves and your partners to assist with evolution. If enough of their code was turned to virus, altered enough to make them appear like another or a danger to yourselves, they would be unable to wield their device.”

“That would explain the shock and the device glowing,” Kudamon said.

“Indeed. So, for the time being, we will monitor and research this virus code. Should it flare up at an inopportune time, I will know and send help.”

“Why not check for problems right now?” Jason asked. “This place seemed pretty safe.”

“Hmm. That would be your choice, Alex. Are you willing?”

Alex looked towards Kudamon, who nodded in response. Despite his growing concern that he would be exposed, and the crawling sensation of every eye in the room being on him, he soon replied, “Yeah. Better to find out now than later.”

“In that case,” Seraphimon began as he pulled his hand away and held it in front of his breastplate. A collection of white cubes appeared from seemingly nowhere as he did so, before drifting towards the screen of Alex’s device. “Take this spare data and make Kudamon evolve.”

“Will do.” As Alex moved a distance away, the other five creatures moved into position to watch, many of their expressions full of anticipation. The thought of something happening and scaring them or their partners tested Alex’s nerves as he produced the ring; he hesitated before reaching in. After some seconds, he pulled his hand back out to find it coated with the same wispy, white flame from the previous night.

So far, so good. Alex thought before catching Kudamon mid-leap and allowing the flame to coat his body. The white glow soon returned as Kudamon’s body reshaped to that of the masked fox, and then vanished to reveal his evolved form in full.

The other creatures, sans Renamon, replied with amazement, and Seraphimon spoke soon after. “Do either of you feel anything strange?”

Alex looked over himself before answering. “Nope. I’m fine.”

“Likewise,” Kudamon said.

“I am relieved to hear that.”

Me too. Alex thought as he and Kudamon then made their way back to the fire and the others. Renamon nodded when he met her gaze, and smiled as well. Alex returned both gestures before sitting himself down on one of the stone benches around the fire.

Kudamon’s evolution held out long enough for the other four creatures to admire it, some saying they couldn’t wait to show off their evolved forms. What followed were several minutes of downtime and quiet waiting for the final two. Remembering what Kudamon had told him about the differing progressions of time, Alex said nothing as the wait continued.

Instead, he took some time to think, and imagine the ‘virus’ Seraphimon had seen as something lying dormant inside him, harmless until the right, or wrong, circumstances were met. No different to how his lycanthropy already was. What followed that train of thought was questioning when Seraphimon and those he was guiding would realize what kind of ‘virus’ he was carrying, and what they would do about it.

Alex continued to think on such things on and off until he heard Seraphimon say, “The seventh is coming.” Eventually, a door not unlike the one he had come through appeared between two of the stone pillars, and everyone’s attention focused on it. When it opened, it revealed another girl about his age, and her partner, a short creature made up of what looked like dark gray stones.

“Welcome back, Gotsumon.”

“Thanks.”

“And you, Margarete. Tis a pleasure to meet you in person.”

“You as well.”

Seraphimon nodded before holding out a hand towards the fire. “Please, come and make yourselves comfortable. When the last of your number arrives, we will get down to current matters.”

Alex waved to both Gotsumon and Margarete as they met his gaze; Dustin began the group introductions when they came close to him, with Jason and the others chiming in as they came up.

“And last but not least, that’s Alex and Kudamon.”

Alex waved again and gave a ‘Hello’ while Kudamon added, “A pleasure to meet you, Margarete.”

“Thanks.”

“How’s your human, Kudamon?” Gotsumon asked.

Kudamon looked back at Alex. “Capable. He and I get along quite well. What about yourselves?”

“She’s the best. Brother’s a bit nosy, though.”

Margarete giggled at that.

“Sounds like my dog when he was a puppy,” Alex said.

“Well, my brother does just crawl, so you’re not far off.” she said.

Alex then held out his hand to Margarete; she shook it a moment later, lightly so, before moving to find a place to sit. Before long, she was engaging in further conversations with Jason and Shelly, Gotsumon chatting it up with their partner creatures.

The wait for the final member lasted nearly as long as the one for Margarete. What Alex saw when the door opened was a guy about Marcus’ age, accompanied by a living candle with wax arms and a living flame on its wick.

“Welcome back, Candlemon.” Seraphimon said.

“Thanks. That was a fun few days, er, weeks.”

“And you, Jude. Tis a pleasure to meet you in person.”

“Same. Nice armor, by the way.”

“Thank you. Please, come closer and make yourselves comfortable. I will discuss matters with all of you once introductions are finished.”

“Sure thing,” Jude replied before making his way towards Fran and Graham. They introduced themselves first, then passed over to Jason and Shelly. Margarete, Dustin and Alex went next. “Quite a crowd here,” he said once everyone was done.

“And out of twenty-five to boot,” Candlemon added.

“What happened to the other seventeen?” Shelly asked.

“That is part of the matter I wish to discuss with all of you,” Seraphimon said.

“Is it a serious situation?” Dustin said as Jude found a spot to sit down.

“To my immediate knowledge, no, though I do not know for certain. That being said, allow me to start from the beginning.”
 
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Renegade_Productions

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- Part 12 -


Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Moon Phase = Waning Gibbous

?:??


“As Candlemon implied, there were twenty-five of you that were hand-selected by myself and others. While we held no assurance that all twenty-five would accept, we were confident some more than certainly would. You eight are them.”

“So, what about the others?” Jason asked.

“That is where the issues lie. As of now, nine of the twenty-five we sent to your world have come back, because their chosen partners rejected either them or the duty they would have had to shoulder. That leaves eight who have not returned, and for what reasons, I do not know.”

“So, we’re looking at a rescue mission?” Graham said.

“Correct. The remaining eight must be brought back here, along with the device they had with them.”

“Sounds easy enough.”

“I dunno.” Shelly countered. “What if they’re in some really bad situation, or captured or something?”

“My concerns exactly, and as such, I worry for their safety and well-being.” Seraphimon said.

“Hmm. Do these device have, like, GPS on them?” Jude asked.

“Yes, so the devices themselves will be easy to find. The ones who were carrying them will likely be nearby, but if not, then appropriate action must be taken.”

“Within reason, right?” Alex asked.

“Yes. Do not put your lives in jeopardy, but do everything you can to bring the missing ones back here.”

“We will, Seraphimon.” Kudamon said.

“Yeah, we will. In no time.” Bearmon said before the other six chimed in with similar enthusiasm.

Seraphimon gave a deep, hearty chuckle afterward. “I have no doubt.”

“Side question.” Dustin said a moment later. “What about the ones we’ve seen come through already? If we’re all occupied…”

“What if just half of us go looking first? Leaves the rest of us to counter them.” Fran replied.

“I see your logic, but you would be chasing the ones that slip past into your world. We, fortunately or unfortunately, have not perfected the process of moving between points within your world, only ours.”

“So, that means…”

“You would have to follow them to where they emerge, if you received word in this world, or we would have to reroute their destination to your locations. And, on that, those of you who have seen our kind cross over after receiving your devices? That is why you have seen them.”

“Even the Bearmon we encountered?” Kudamon asked.

“To a degree. He was not lying about wanting to see something within your world. We simply rerouted his tunnel to emerge where you both were closest.”

“So, these things make us magnets for any that slip by?” Jason asked.

“The few that do, yes. Within the last three days of your time, only ten have, the rest stopped by myself and those that I know are capable enough. If I believed any of you were incapable of handling the ones coming, I would simply have severed their connections mid-travel.”

Ten got through? Alex was quick to wonder how many the others had seen.

“Must be a reason why so many are comin’ to our neck a the woods.” Graham said.

“There are many, but irrespective of circumstances, when they do come, that is where all of you come in.”

“Then, the big question is: Can this be stopped completely?” Margarete asked.

“No. It can be tempered and slowed by those like myself, but not stopped completely. Hence why we turned to humans like yourselves for help many years ago; things have gone very well since.”

“So, while we’re occupied with this…” Dustin repeated.

“We will do everything we can to prevent others from taking advantage of the situation. I cannot offer guarantees, however.”

Before Alex could respond, Graham beat him to it. “The sooner, the better, right?”

“Yeah. With you there.” Alex said. Then, one by one, Jude, Dustin, Fran, Jason, Shelly, and Margarete replied in agreement.

“Thank you.” Seraphimon said. “Before I send any of you away however, there are some things you must know. We will not send you directly to the location of the devices, for one. You will be sent to locations nearby, in case the devices are inside something.”

“How nearby are we talking?” Dustin asked.

“Within one mile, in your measurements. These devices can detect each other within the same range.”

“All the time, or…?”

“Yes, and to see such information, all you need do is press and hold the top right corner of the device screen. You will hear a sound before it appears.”

With Kudamon watching, Alex followed the instructions. He and the others, though only seven in all, heard a ‘ping’ before a new screen appeared. In the center was a golden sphere with a large seven digit in the center, with several tips around its perimeter. After a moment, Alex noticed a few of them moving.

“The screen you are seeing tells you how many devices are in range and what direction they are in. Active and inactive does not matter.” Seraphimon continued after a moment. “Dustin, may I borrow your device to demonstrate something?”

“Yeah, sure,” Dustin said as he held it out to Seraphimon. Instead of taking it by hand, Seraphimon levitated it to chest level, one story above everyone else.

“Now, while on the initial screen, press the digit in the center of the screen.” Alex did so. “What you should now see is a list of names, sans your own. Each of them can be selected to give you more information, and each will update in real-time.”

Alex tested the function with Dustin’s device.


DEVICE OWNER: DUSTIN ALLERS

PARTNER: RENAMON

- - -

DEVICE STATUS: ACTIVE \ EMPTY

DISTANCE: WITHIN 25 FEET

ABOVE CURRENT LOCATION​


“We have a Frenchman in our midst, ay?” Graham said with a smirk.

“What?” Dustin replied with a similar smirk growing.

“Nothing. Just know someone else with that last name.”

Small world. Alex thought as he went through the full names of the others, and studied how the readout changed as he and everyone else moved their devices around.

“Should I explain more, or is the function of the software clear?” Seraphimon asked.

“I…believe I got the gist of it,” Fran said. Shelly and Jason agreed with her.

“Yeah, this is pretty simple to work with. I think I got it.” Alex said.

Once all the others had replied similarly, and Dustin had his device back, Seraphimon continued. “Now, concerning the travel to where the devices are located, the ones you are seeking all know the twenty-four others whom were sent out.”

“And know how to use the software Seraphimon just described, just in case.” Dracomon added.

“Thus, it is possible the ones you seek will find you first, or be ready for your arrival. If this is not the case, finding them, then the devices, should take priority.”

Alex nodded to that.

“Now, as a further point to what you, Shelly, mentioned, be wary always of exposing us to other humans. Your partners no doubt implied this before now, or you yourselves had the impression when you first met them, but I must make it clear.”

“No problem,” Shelly replied.

“Unless something goes wrong,” Dustin said.

“Chill, man.” Jude said. “If you’re careful, nothing will go wrong.”

“On that, question.” Alex said. “Does this GPS software work if our partners are within the device?”

“Yes, and no differently than it is now.”

“See?” Jude said. “We just hide them as we need to.”

“That works most of the time, but what if we need to speak to you while inside the device?” Renamon countered. “They are not built for headphones.”

“Got me there.” Jude replied after a moment.

“It’s obvious: we come back out. The both of us could pass for stuffed animals, couldn’t we?” Coronamon said after some silence, to which Bearmon agreed, along with Lopmon.

“No such luck with me. Might pass for a statue, probably.” Gotsumon said.

“And I’m already a candle. Nothing strange about that.” Candlemon said.

“Aside from your human-like features, and clearly living flame attached to your wick.” Kudamon replied.

“Well, yeah, but besides that…”

“It’s cool. We’ll figure something out.” Jude said.

“Could I be a stuffed animal?” Dracomon asked.

“I think so. You look the part, sort ah.” Graham replied before he picked Dracomon up. “Yeah. Could work, in a pinch.”

“That clearly would not work for me,” Renamon said.

“You can just find a place that’s private to talk, or fake taking a speaker phone call,” Alex said. “Kudamon and I already do that, and no one notices.”

“I suppose it depends on where we are meant to go.” Renamon then looked towards Seraphimon and called his name. “The eight who are missing? Could you provide us their locations?”

“Of course. One moment.” With a wave of his hand, Seraphimon created a virtual map of the United States with eight points marked. “The red dots you see are where the remaining eight were sent. I have already decided where to send all of you, but because you were called here before you knew any of this, I will extend an offer to return to your world to get anything you may need. Clothing, food, et cetera. After you return here, you will be sent where you are needed.”

“How much time would we have?” Shelly asked.

“One hour, your time.”

The eight considered the answer until Dustin replied, “Might be enough time. Where are we specifically going?”

“You and Renamon will be sent here, to a place named ‘Elko’.” Seraphimon said as he pointed to the location.

“Nevada, huh? Never been there before.”

“And this is the one you are seeking there.” The image that replaced the map was a creature that looked made up of metal and several tasers. “Kokuwamon is his name.”

Once Dustin had replied that he had enough information to make his plans, Seraphimon nodded and then moved to Fran. Her location was in Colorado, and the creature she was meant to find was white furred and dog-looking with a gold neck band similar to Kudamon’s. Jason and Shelly were next; Alex noticed them embracing at least once as their locations, one in Florida and the other in Tennessee, were pointed out, along with the creatures they were seeking.

Jude was next; when his location was revealed to be in Texas, after Seraphimon had revealed the creature he was after, a flora-looking one with a red flower head, Alex chimed in, “Looks like you’re coming to my state for a while.”

“Anything noteworthy out there?”

“Haven’t been to the northeast myself, but aside from Dallas and Fort Worth, it’s mostly forests and hill country out that way.”

“Perfect. I’ll fit right in.”

“As will she,” Candlemon added, referring to the one they were seeking.

Seraphimon then turned to Alex. “Now, Alex. You and Kudamon will be sent here, to a city named ‘Kingston’.” He then pointed to the dot in Oklahoma. “And this is the one you are seeking.” The image Alex was shown was that of a seal-like creature with large front flippers with long, black claws. “He goes by Gomamon.”

“A well rounded swimmer, that one.” Kudamon said.

“Even in December cold?”

“He has his ways.”

“Alright. I’ll check the weather and see what we’re up against before we go.”

“Very well.” Seraphimon then turned to Margarete, and once she was given her details, as well as Graham, he made the map hold its position separate from his hand. “This is all I can tell you about where you are meant to go. The rest will be up to you.”

It was then that Alex began wondering how long this search and rescue would take. His exams were two days out, and his dad was going to want to talk to him once he was home. Marcus was on his mind next. He knew about Kudamon already. Maybe he can cover me for a day.

“Hey, guys. We should exchange phone numbers before we split. In case we need each other.” Jason said.

“Good idea,” Jude replied.

“Slight problem.” Dustin said. “My phone doesn’t work here. Doubt you guys’ phones will either.”

When Alex checked, his phone’s screen wouldn’t stop glitching.

“Well, that’s a headache.” Graham said.

“The devices do the same thing.” Dracomon said.

“Oh? How so?”

“You know how you make the ring appear? You just press that button twice instead of hold it.”

Alex followed Dracomon’s instructions, and on the screen appeared a group chat between himself and the seven others.

“Well, this’ll be useful.” Jason said. “Still, we have our phones, and more options can’t hurt.”

“Do as you feel you need.” Seraphimon said. “If otherwise you are ready, talk to me and I will reopen the gates that brought you here. Best of luck to all of you, and your partners both.”
 

Renegade_Productions

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- Part 13 -


Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Moon Phase = Waning Gibbous

?:??


Alex waited until four of the others left to get up; everyone had already exchanged phone numbers within the messaging system of the devices. With the shock to his hand and arm still fresh in his mind, the pockets of his jacket felt like the safest option.

“When we return to your house, what needs doing first?” Kudamon asked.

“Getting my backpack emptied. Got no idea how long we’ll be in Oklahoma or…”

“Remember, the device will point you in the correct direction when we arrive. After that, finding Gomamon should be simple.”

“Yeah. Still, I’ll need a few extra things, whether we need more time or not.”

“Of course.”

By then, only Jude and Margarete were left, the former taking his time with his device and the latter working out with Gotsumon how to pose as a statue.

“Alright.” Alex said as he stretched a bit. “Me and Kudamon are heading out. See you guys again soon.”

“Same, bro. Have fun.” Jude said.

“Stay safe as well,” Margarete added.

“Will do. You guys too.”

As Alex neared Seraphimon, his helmeted head turned to look at him. “Follow the door you see to my right,” he said, his gauntleted hand moving to show where. The door materialized a moment later. “Inside is what you saw upon your arrival.”

“Alright. I’ll be back soon.”

Seraphimon nodded instead of answering, and Alex moved towards the door. Inside, he made the gate appear before stuffing the device in his jacket’s pocket. Kudamon waited for him to make the first move, and then they were in the tunnel again.

Despite his precautions, Alex kept his hand near his jacket pocket.

Ten seconds passed. Nothing.

Thirty seconds passed. Nothing.

‘I think it is safe to hold.’ Kudamon said.

‘Probably, but…’

Alex stalled too long. ‘I understand. We will be through soon.’

When the glowing light came into view, Alex breathed a sigh. Almost home again. As he drew close, he closed his eyes. He felt his body touch and pass the barrier again, and his feet touch carpet again.

And then his head was overwhelmed by the onset of dozens of scents, forcing him to catch himself.

“Alex? Are you okay?” Kudamon asked.

Alex waited a few seconds before wrapping his face with his jacket and answering. “My head’s spinning.”

“Why? What happened?”

“...All the scents in here...” Alex replied. Kudamon didn’t press for more, leaving him to readjust to everything his room contained. The varied, and aged, canine scents in his carpet, the urethane and grease from his skateboard and its parts, silicone heat from his desktop and monitor, aged paper from his books and manga, and many others.

Once Alex had adjusted enough to pull his jacket away from his face and take normal breaths, his thoughts returned to the day when his olfactory system had been suddenly strengthened.

“I suppose my world affects you much more than most.” Kudamon said as Alex at last righted himself.

“Yeah. Anyway…” Alex said as he took in a huge breath and let it out.

“I am curious.” Kudamon said after a minute. “When you were in my world, what could you smell?”

“Next to nothing.”

“Compared to here?”

“No. I could barely smell anything, even the fire and wood.”

“Hmm. I suppose the only explanation is scents in my world are binary as opposed to variable like here.” When Alex gave no response, Kudamon continued. “In any event, after your backpack, what should we focus on?”

“Food and similar supplies, then fresh clothing. If we need to stay overnight, we should be close enough to a motel or the like.”

“On that, how much do you know about where we are going?”

“...Not a thing. Hang on.”

After pressing the power button on his desktop’s case, Alex found and emptied his backpack. The school papers and books that were pulled out he arranged on his desktop as though he was still studying them. When his desktop reached the lock screen, according to the clock, he had spent less than fifteen minutes in Kudamon’s world.

“Let’s look this city up.” Kingston, as it happened, was a small town on the border of a lake. “No wonder this Gomamon was sent here.” Alex said after a moment.

Kudamon hummed at that, before adding, “Why is that?”

“There’s a huge lake nearby, the Texoma. Looks like seven, maybe eight miles long.”

“Ah. He would enjoy that, no doubt.”

“Guess we can hope he’s staying near it,” Alex said as he put his desktop to sleep. Immediately after, he found a change of clothing and added it as well as a few manga volumes to the front pockets. “Alright. Next is food.”

“Only dry things?”

“Yeah, or canned or bottled. I didn’t see any grocery stores near the lake though, so if we get hungry, all we’ve got is barbecue.”

“That sounds tasty.”

“It is. If we find Gomamon quick enough, I’ll treat you both to some.”

Kudamon smiled at the offer. Alex meanwhile left the room, headed for the kitchen. With three bottles of water from the pantry, and a handful of breakfast and granola bars, he returned to his room to pack them. With considerable space left, he brainstormed what else to bring. Walking would no doubt take up much of their time, and the current and future temperature records for Kingston were between the forties and seventies.

“Might need some gloves and thicker socks.”

“What about illumination, like a flashlight?”

“Yeah, good idea.” After getting the extra clothing, Alex recovered his personal flashlight from his bedside drawers. The beam it produced considerably brightened his already lit room. “Okay, what else should we take?”

“Nothing comes to mind.”

“In that case…” Alex pulled his phone out, finding it powered off. Once it was rebooted, he was notified of several messages from the others. Leaving them for the moment, he texted Marcus.


Alex S.: Hey, man. Could you call me when

you have a minute?​


Marcus called less than a minute later, as Alex was adding the new numbers to his contacts list. “Hello?”

“Hey, it’s me.”

When he heard his friend’s voice, as though a switch had been flipped, Alex felt his confidence weaken. Did he really need to put his friend in a position to potentially take heat for him? “Hey Marcus. Question: you remember that creature you saw me with the other day?”

“Yeah. Why? What’s going on with it?”

“Nothing. Was just curious if either Nathan or Catherine knew about him.”

“No. That I’ll leave to you.”

“Alright, thanks.”

“They are glad to have a few extra days to study, though.”

“So was I when I saw that notice.” When his friend didn’t reply, Alex gave a quick goodbye and then hung up.

“Your friends should have no reason to fear me.”

“Or my parents, but…”

“But what?”

“The werewolf stuff is enough for them, I think.”

“Hmm. So you are hesitant to reveal us to them?”

“I’d rather not if I can help it. Marcus was an accident, anyway.”

“That might not be wise. Once we find and bring back Gomamon, Seraphimon will no doubt have more duties for us. Add to that, you have already been injured and changed form as a result of one of us, and I have doubts it will be the only time.” Alex delayed too long. “Think about it while we are in Oklahoma. If you still feel this way in the end, I will support your decision.”

“Alright. Thanks.”

Kudamon nodded. “Do you feel you have everything?”

“Feel like I’m missing something, now that you ask.”

Kudamon then read off everything he had seen Alex pack. Something struck him near the end of the listing off.

“Oh, extra batteries for my phone, in case we’re outside for a long while.” Alex found the two he kept as spares, and the wall charger his phone worked with. He gave his backpack and its contents one more look after. “Yeah, I think we’re ready.”

“We still have some time. We should take advantage.”

“Anything come to mind?”

“A snack, for the trip.”

“Sure, why not?” After allowing Kudamon onto his shoulders, Alex headed for the kitchen again. The cherries were gone, replaced with chilled white grapes, which Kudamon wasted no time snacking on.

Bailey came into the dining room a few minutes later, his expression a clear tell of wanting something. “You be good and watch the house, boy.” Alex said as he tossed a piece of ham for Bailey to catch. When Bailey’s tail began wagging afterwards, Alex coaxed him closer and rubbed his head and chin. “I’ll be back soon.”

“And I will keep him safe,” Kudamon added, to which Bailey looked in his direction.

As the end of the preparation hour came close, Alex made a sweep of the house to make sure everything was locked. Afterwards, he gathered his backpack, checked it one final time, and slung it over his shoulders. “Here we go again,” he said as he opened the gate.

Alex then pocketed the device, and reached for his desktop’s screen. As he was pulled in, he drew a longer than normal breath through his nose. As soon as he was past the screen, his olfactory system stopped registering anything new. Gonna have to cover my nose when we arrive.

He and Kudamon emerged in the same location as before, and walked through the door to find not only Seraphimon, but Dustin and Jude, along with their partners, standing and sitting around the same fire from before. “Welcome back, Alex. Are you prepared?” Seraphimon asked.

“As well as I can be,” Alex replied.

“As am I.” Kudamon added.

“Then approach me and I will upload a new gate code to your device.” Device in hand, Alex went closer and held it up. Seraphimon held his hand out again, speaking after some seconds had passed. “It is done. When you go back through the door, you will see a new location and access point. That is where you will emerge in your world.”

“Anything on the other side I should know about?”

“Not that we can hear or see, but I can tell you the access point is a considerable distance from where Gomamon entered your world. ”

“Which could mean anything,” Kudamon said.

“Yeah, but you two were able to talk to each other before. Can’t he?” Alex asked.

“I have tried to reach him, but received no reply.”

Well, that’s not good. “Alright. We’ll see how things look on the other side.”

Seraphimon nodded. “Best of luck to you.” Jude and Dustin chimed in with similar responses before Alex turned around and headed back for the door.

On the other side was a much longer lead-up to the access point. The floor was a mix of flat carpet and polished tiles, the latter closer to the access point and the coloring and patterns of the former giving Alex the impression the access point was inside a hotel or motel lobby. When Kudamon questioned aloud where the access point could be, Alex’s impression was the answer he gave.

“Are those places full of people?”

“Depends on the time of day. It was one-thirty-eight when we came here, so…”

“We should wait?”

“Maybe. Is this a real-time feed the access point is showing us?”

“I would assume so.”

“Then…” Alex held back on a definitive answer, instead heading back to the door. If anyone would know, Seraphimon would.

His head was focused on the door as soon as Alex opened it. “Something on your mind?”

“Yeah, the display we’re seeing in here? Is it in real time?”

“To our measure of time, yes.” When Alex hummed, Seraphimon continued. “If you are concerned about being seen emerging, I should tell you: the access point has not registered any movement for over twenty-eight hours.”

Twenty-eight… That’s four for us. “Alright. Thank you.” Alex said as he leaned back into the room. He then turned his words to Kudamon. “We should go for it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Not…totally, but Seraphimon said there’s been no movement for four hours, and we can’t wait forever.”

“Agreed.”
 

Renegade_Productions

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- Part 14 -


Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Moon Phase = Waning Gibbous

?:??


As Alex approached the access point, he knelt down to allow Kudamon to jump into the device. “Alright. Let’s do this,” Alex said as he produced the gate code. Once the device was in his jacket pocket, he reached for the gate and felt himself get pulled through.

He allowed what felt like a minute to pass before reaching for the device, touching it with only the tips of his fingers. Nothing, and when he pulled out the device, it didn’t glow.

As the end of the tunnel drew closer, Alex prepared to pull his jacket over his nose and mouth. The white glow slowly grew brighter, reminding him of what he’d seen the night Kudamon and Bearmon arrived. Hang on, it’s midday. It shouldn’t be that bright. Despite telling himself that, the thought of getting spotted by an employee or guest made his heartrate quicken.

The end of the tunnel soon became bright enough to make him close his eyes, and he braced for what was coming. First the sensation of passing through, of phasing back into the real world. Then the feel of his shoes touching something hard. As he forced his eyes open, Alex wasted no time looking around. To his left, nothing, nor his right. To his relief, as what had happened before happened again.

The first wave of scents he picked up were the typical hotel ones. Cleaners, many kinds of wood and cloth, and body scents from several strangers. Seven in all. What followed were a mishmash of weaker scents, none he cared to think about for too long. He faked several yawns as his brain worked the scents, hoping all the while that no one had seen him.

When Alex at last righted himself, he took another look around. On the other side of the windows they’d seen was a basic paved, and curved, road bordering a line of trees, with another dirt road leading into the forested area. The signs indicating what roads they were were too far away to be read. On his left were the building’s restrooms, the path towards which was lacking any strong human scents. Alex slipped into the men’s room a moment later and claimed a stall after checking to see if anyone else was there.

After a clean breath, he pulled the device out, allowing Kudamon to see his face. Despite no one in the other stalls, Alex gestured for him to keep his voice down.

“We made it. Were you seen?”

“No. Might be as we leave, but that’s fine.”

“Indeed. Once we do, we need to go west. The device signal is in that direction.”

“How far?”

“By your distances, almost three-quarters of a mile.”

At that, Alex got the device to show him the details.


DEVICE OWNER: JESSICA FORLORN

PARTNER: GOMAMON

- - -

DEVICE STATUS: INACTIVE

DISTANCE: 0.72 MILES

BELOW CURRENT LOCATION​


“Oh, no.” Alex said when he read the last line.

“What?”

“Below current location, when we’re near a lake.”

“...Oh. But why?”

“I have no idea.” Alex said before sighing.

“Well, do not get discouraged. As I said, Gomamon is a fine swimmer. If the device is in the water, he will find it.”

“Will it matter if it works?”

“No. We sent Bearmon back before; a single gate will take all three of us.”

“Alright, then. I’ll start heading that way shortly.” Kudamon nodded in response.

Minutes later, Alex left the stall. As casual as he could, he left the restroom, back into the lobby of the hotel. Though no one was in his immediate view, he could hear footsteps to his right. Sunglasses over his eyes, he moved closer to them, finding a receptionist behind the check-in counter.

“Oh,” she said when she saw him. “I’m sorry, have you been here long?”

“Nah, just had to use the restroom,” Alex said.

“Oh, okay.”

Alex nodded to her with a smile before heading for the front doors. Outside, his nose was rushed by the scents of fish and other wildlife he recognized from home. Coyotes and rabbits, chiefly. The feeling of being on vacation in another state was quick to follow, and he relaxed a fair degree.

He sighed the feeling away after a minute, then made his way to the road signs after a vehicle drove past. Arrowhead Point at Shay Road. Noting the crossroad on his phone, he also wrote down the name of the hotel, the Riverside Inn. Kudamon said to head west before… After figuring out which direction that was, Alex began the long walk down Arrowhead Point.

As the distance between himself and the device belonging to Gomamon shortened, Alex’s attention drifted around. He passed by a pair of boat storage warehouses, several houses with no fencing in the yards, and multiple streets. How quiet things were, and how new most things smelled, drew out the vacation feelings again. This time, he allowed them to stay.

“You look quite happy,” Kudamon said as Alex approached another intersection.

“Just taking in the sights.”

“Are there many people around?”

“One or two. This is a really secluded looking place.”

“Then would you feel comfortable letting me out?”

Alex was about to counter that it wasn’t a good idea, but Seraphimon’s words weren’t that he should shut Kudamon away at all times. Just keep other humans from becoming aware of him.

“Yeah.” Alex said after another look around, and another car drove past. “You’ll pass for a small animal at these distances.” Alex then waited until the car was far enough away to let Kudamon out; he slipped his tail between Alex’s jacket and tee shirt after settling on his left arm.

“Ah, this is very peaceful. Much like my world.” Kudamon said after looking around.

“A lot of rural areas are like this.”

“Given your situation, I suspect this kind of place is a little more favorable.”

“Kind of. Having to hunt something every month is the worrisome part, and I can’t smell anything really big.”

Kudamon simply hummed at that, and Alex kept walking. The distance tracker dropped below half a mile as he passed another four way intersection, the number of houses beyond it, despite few visible humans, making him nervous about keeping Kudamon out.

Despite the feelings, Alex continued onward, the device at the ready in case he needed to hide him. Soon he was past another intersection, then another. No one he could see was paying much attention to anything beyond what they were near, and an oncoming vehicle was easy enough to keep his back to.

More intersections were passed over the following minutes, until the distance readout showed he was a third of a mile from the other device. Another curve in the road was coming; beyond it, he could see a clearing.

“Getting there.” Alex said.

Kudamon looked around in turn. “Very few people around here too it seems.”

“All the better for us.”

Alex kept moving west as the curve in road came, his olfactory system getting distracted by the scents of barbecue before others typical of a retention pond and standing water took over. By the time he reached the trees and grasses bordering the lake, the distance reader had not gone below a tenth of a mile.

“That far into the river…” Kudamon began. “Maybe this ‘Jessica’ dropped it in there?”

“Maybe.” Alex looked around for anything white among the dark grass before his attention was taken by a north-bound motorboat. How far away he was made any details near impossible to see, and made him wish he’d packed a monocular or something similar.

“We should walk the shoreline, north and south.” Kudamon said.

“South first?”

“Your decision, but if I were Gomamon and this happened, I would want to stay close to where I last saw the device.”

“Makes sense, but let’s go south first, just in case.”

Kudamon nodded in response.

Alex then began moving south, keeping several yards from the lake in case the sediment suddenly became soggy. His olfactory system was flooded with the scents of fish all the while, the accompanying river scents ensuring none made him hungry.

Another hotel, one just as small as the Riverside Inn, came into view within minutes. Alex slowed his pace and searched the grass more thoroughly, even holding the device down low so the swinging of his arm would reveal it.

“No sign of Gomamon,” Alex said, hoping, if he was nearby, he would hear his name and investigate. After several seconds of no response, he reversed direction. Continuing to search the grass as he made his way into the trees along the shore, Alex asked aloud, “I wonder if Gomamon is with Jessica right now.”

“That could be possible. We should find a quiet spot and reach out to Seraphimon, ask him where the original access point was.”

“Hopefully not far.”

Now with his focus on finding a quiet, preferably hidden, spot, Alex kept moving through the trees, emerging briefly near a parking lot for the marina, which turned out to be a resort as well. Another one? He thought, smirking at the discovery. When he was certain the cars in the lot were all empty and no one could see him, he made for the other side and another cluster of trees.

At what he felt was the center of the area, Alex stopped walking and looked around. “This should work.”

“Good. Now, we send a signal back to Seraphimon.”

“How?”

“That will be my job, and I must be inside the device to do it.”

“Alright.” Alex then made the ring appear, Kudamon slipping back inside after. With his view restricted to just the tiny screen, he couldn’t see what Kudamon was doing.

Seraphimon’s voice however sounded a minute later. “Ah, Alex, Kudamon. How goes your search?”

“Questionable, so far.” Kudamon replied.

“How so?”

“So far, we have found no sign of Gomamon; the device is inactive and submerged in a lake.”

“Ah. That would explain his silence.”

“And Alex had a thought about something. He wants to ask you about it.”

“Yeah. I’m wondering if Gomamon could be with Jessica right now. Where was the original access point?”

“In relation to where I sent you, one and seven-tenths of a mile north. Do you suspect the device being where it is is because of an accident?”

“It’s possible. There is a marina nearby. Maybe she dropped it from a boat while showing Gomamon the lake?”

“Tis a possibility, though a very unlikely one.”

“Hmm. Also, about the device? Given where it is, once we find Gomamon, should we try to get it?”

“If you feel you can, do so. Otherwise, there is no harm in leaving it; should your theory prove true, we will simply make a new one.”

Alex was about to agree before he heard the grass behind him rustle. Holding back a gasp, he spun around to see what it was.

Kudamon noticed by way of the screen. “What is it?”

Alex stayed quiet as he looked around, standing up after a moment. And then, his view fell on the white fur of the one they were searching for.

Gomamon’s expression was a mix between worry and relief, the latter taking over when he recognized the device in Alex’s hand. The rest of his body looked dirty, as though he had spent several days outside.

“That voice… Seraphimon sent you, didn’t he?” Gomamon asked.

Alex nodded. “Yeah, that’s why I’m here.”

Gomamon sighed deeply and then sniffled at that. “Thank the Sovereigns.”

As he closed in, Alex knelt down. “You okay?”

“Just really happy. You made my day.”
 

Renegade_Productions

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- Part 15 -


Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Moon Phase = Waning Gibbous

3:31 p.m.


“Gomamon. Tis good to hear your voice again.” Seraphimon said.

Kudamon didn’t wait for Alex’s go-ahead to leave the device, landing by Alex’s knees and speaking immediately after sizing up Gomamon. “Why are you out here, and looking like that?”

“It’s…a long story. Not a fun one either.”

“I’d imagine.” Alex said.

Gomamon’s stomach then growled, and he moved a flipper over it. “I’m sorry but, do you have any food?”

“Yep, and water too.” Alex said as he took off his backpack.

“Thanks. I’m starving.”

“Wait.” Kudamon said, stopping Alex and drawing his attention. “We should move somewhere where else first, where the trees are more dense.”

Gomamon looked around for a moment. “Yeah, good idea.”

“Like where?” Alex asked.

“There’s a thick cluster of trees back that way,” Gomamon said, pointing northeast with one long claw.

“Works for me,” Alex said as he unzipped his backpack’s largest pocket. “Climb in. I’ll sneak you over there.”

Gomamon did so, settling with his head facing the zipper rails. Once Kudamon was back in the device, Alex got moving. Gomamon’s weight against his shoulders stole some of his attention along the way; he wasn’t as heavy as Bearmon, but the near mile-long walk back to the hotel would make it feel so, especially without his skateboard.

“Will this work?” Alex asked, to which he felt Gomamon climb up to his shoulders.

“Yeah, I think so.” Gomamon replied. Kudamon agreed after Alex showed him the area; he left the device again a moment later.

Alex pulled the granola bars first, handing Gomamon one after the wrapping was off. Within seconds, it was eaten, and soon after, a second, third, and fourth.

“Need some water?”

“Yeah. Thank you.”

“Not a problem,” Alex said as he opened one of the bottles.

As he held the bottle in position for Gomamon to drink from, Seraphimon said, “I will take my leave here. Alex, Kudamon, treat Gomamon well and bring him home soon.”

“Will do,” Alex said, unsure if Seraphimon heard him.

When Gomamon stopped drinking to catch his breath, Kudamon spoke up, “So, Gomamon, what happened to get you in this position?”

“Well, the one who was supposed to be my partner…she didn’t take to me too well.”

“How so?”

“When she first saw me, she was curious. But then...I moved and greeted her, and she screamed like I’d terrified her.”

“Oh, boy.” Alex said.

“I tried to calm her down. Really hard I tried. Nothing worked. She just freaked out, and then started throwing things at me.”

“Were you hurt?” Kudamon asked.

“Something metal hit me in the head, but nothing serious otherwise.”

“Have you been hurt since?” Alex asked, Gomamon’s previous response drawing out his vet tech mindset.

“A little bit. The twigs and rocks and grass around here are sharp, and rushing through them doesn’t help.”

“What about recently? Your chest? Flippers?”

“Uh…” Gomamon looked at and turned over his right flipper. What qualified as skin appeared scratched and red.

As soon as he saw that, Alex lost his worries about touching Gomamon and searched his backpack for the tube of first aid cream he’d packed. “This, I hope, should help with that,” he said as he readied some to rub on the wound. “Hold still real quick.”

When he took Gomamon’s flipper in his hand, he watched his expression. It changed not from down to concerned, but surprised, and then came a hint of relief as the cream was spread over his flipper. “Oh wow, that does help. You’ve got quite a partner, Kudamon.”

“Indeed. I am truly sorry yours treated you that way.”

“Believe me, it hurt to see... More than whatever hit me did.”

“Did you flee straight to here when it happened?”

“No, I stayed close once I was outside.” Gomamon then sniffled again. “Guess I was just hoping she would calm down and I could try again.”

“Not a thing wrong with that.” Kudamon said.

“Let me guess,” Alex said after asking Gomamon to turn over his other flipper. “She threw the device into the lake before you could?”

“No. Someone else did. I could hear it saying ‘Unregistered User’ before they demanded ‘What is this’. And they were angry.”

“Not an unfamiliar reaction for us.” Kudamon said as Alex rubbed more cream onto Gomamon’s other flipper.

“Huh? You too?”

“Sort of. Another one of you guys appeared when I was somewhere else. One of the ones I was with reacted angrily, not me.” Alex said.

“Oh.”

Alex finished applying the cream a few seconds later, then checked both of Gomamon’s flippers. “There we go.”

“Thanks a lot.” Gomamon said after looking over his flippers.

“You’re welcome.”

“So, given what Seraphimon said about the device, Alex?” Kudamon turned his head. “You said before if we found Gomamon quickly enough, you would treat us to some barbecue.”

Gomamon’s expression brightened at that.

“I did, yeah. But is it really a good idea to leave the device in the lake?”

“If Seraphimon sees no issue with it, neither do I.”

“And, I’m still kinda hungry.” Gomamon said.

“How long have you been hungry for?” Kudamon asked.

“A day I think. I had to steal a few fish when I got really hungry.”

“From the marina?” Alex asked.

“Yeah. Made me feel bad for doing it, but I had to. I couldn’t starve.”

“You had to. That’s all that matters.”

“That aside, did you smell what I did on the way here?” Kudamon asked.

“Yeah, there’s a diner nearby. ” Alex then turned to Gomamon. “Would you be willing to wait just a little longer? I can’t promise a grand meal, just a good one.”

“Whatever you want to give me I’m happy with.”

Alex nodded in response before allowing Kudamon back into the device. Leaving Gomamon’s side so soon after finding him felt like a bad idea, but if he’d gone several days without being seen… He’ll be fine.

Once Alex was inside the diner, his olfactory sense was dominated by the scents of food. The diner’s rustic atmosphere brought with it other scents, many related to taxidermy and aged wood. Despite some bad feelings at leaving Gomamon behind, the pair of patrons at one of the tables made their choice to do so the right one.

The lady manning the counter further back greeted him once he came close. “Coming from out of town?”

“Yeah,” Alex said. “From Fort Worth.”

“Not an uncommon story these days. So, already got ideas or do you need more time?”

Alex went with the latter, eventually ordering a pulled pork sandwich for himself and a bowl of similar pork for Kudamon and Gomamon with sides to match. During the wait, the couple he’d passed by got his attention.

“Staying here long?” asked the man.

“Until the end of the day, maybe.”

“Oh, too bad. I would have suggested you rent a boat. See if you can spot the Texoma’s white seal.”

White seal? “A seal, around here?”

“Hard to believe, but my neighbor says he saw one. Cut through his net when he tried to catch it, he says.”

“Hmm.” That’s gotta be Gomamon. Tucking the information away for later, Alex continued. “Naval stuff isn’t really my thing. Maybe when I’m older.”

“Suit yourself.”

“You said you’re from Forth Worth?” the woman asked.

“Greater Houston, technically. College student.”

“Bet you can’t wait to go home.”

“And see my doggy again? Yeah.”

The woman laughed. “I know the feeling.”

Alex continued with the two until the food was ready, leaving as quickly as he came. On the way back, he debated moving Gomamon somewhere else again. “Hey Kudamon, since we’re about to take Gomamon back, should this white seal thing be of concern?”

“Not as far as I can tell. He may have been seen, but he has not been captured. Leaving his presence as a myth is for the best.”

“Alright. Just figured I’d ask.” Alex said as he drew closer to the trees hiding Gomamon. Until he was near the center of the area and Gomamon began moving, he was unable to see him.

“What’d you get?” Gomamon asked as Alex sat down and Kudamon emerged from the device.

“Something called ‘pulled pork’. Cooked meat that’s torn to strips and marinated.”

“Oh, I like the sound of…” Gomamon sniffed the air a few times. “And it smells amazing.”

“I’m sure you’ll like it.” Alex said as he got the food out. Gomamon scooped a few pieces up with his claws as soon as he could, chowing them down within a second, then slowed down with the second handful.

“Gomamon, did you attempt to reconnect with your partner these last few days?” Kudamon asked as he and Alex began their meals.

“I thought about it…but how angry the one she was speaking to sounded…I didn’t want to risk it.”

“I understand.”

“So then, once you go back, what’s next?” Alex asked.

“I go back to what I was doing before. If the the Sovereigns need me again, I’m there.”

“The Sovereigns…”

Kudamon answered before Alex asked. “They are the four highest guardians of our world. Seraphimon is one of their agents.”

“So, your gods, more or less?”

“Correct.”

“How many agents do they have?”

“Cherubimon is another one. Not sure how many others there are.” Gomamon replied.

“Hmm. Wonder if I’ll get to meet him.”

“You might. He met and spoke to all of us at least once.”

“To offer us the chance to meet and potentially partner with humans like yourself.” Kudamon added.

“Because there was a need to, right?”

“Yes, but at the time, and to an extent now, that was hardly on our minds.”

“Hmm. Makes me wonder, though. Did you two have some kind of lives before all this?”

“Yes. I was in charge of, what you would call, bookkeeping for a library. One of the largest in our world.” Kudamon said.

“And I was a fishing master. Self-professed.” Gomamon said.

“Huh. I had no idea.”

“When you see our world in full, you will see it is not much different from this one.” Kudamon said.

“Yeah. We’ve got cities, oceans, roads, forests, mountains, and lots more.” Gomamon said.

“Well hopefully that’s not happening too soon. I still have exams to finish.”

“Exams? What are those?”

“Very important tests.” Kudamon said. “That said, if the Sovereigns or Seraphimon need you and I, even if the time seems, or is, inopportune, we are duty bound to take action.”

“I know. Just saying.”

“I think Seraphimon can help you with that.” Gomamon said. “No idea how, but I’m pretty sure he can.”

Alex looked at Kudamon at that. “He did help you before.”

“Then I’ll ask him about it when we go back.”
 

Renegade_Productions

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- Part 16 -


Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Moon Phase = Waning Gibbous

4:37 p.m.


As the three continued to talk and eat, Gomamon moved the discussion towards personal stories. Chief among his own being the time he attempted to teach a ‘Leomon’ how to fish, and the first and only time he encountered a ‘Neptunemon’ during an ocean dive. Kudamon followed suit, describing how he used to teach ‘our equivalent of toddlers’ about survival, what humans were like, and how to ‘read the language all of us will understand first’.

“What kind of language?” Alex asked.

“A mix of symbols and letters, both meaning the same thing. When you come to our world in earnest, you will see it in many places.”

Alex hummed in response before Gomamon’s stare prompted him to share some of his meal with him. Kudamon followed suit with what remained of his own.

“Is everyone full?” Alex asked a while later.

“Yeah, stuffed.” Gomamon said, rubbing his swollen belly. “Thanks, for everything.”

“My pleasure.”

“That leaves bringing you home, then.” Kudamon said.

“Yeah. A nice swim in some clean water would do me good.”

“I still feel a bit concerned about leaving the device in the lake, though.” Alex said.

“Look at it this way,” Kudamon began. “By the time it is found, by anyone other than us, what condition do you think it will be in?”

Realizing what Kudamon was implying, Alex asked, “They’re not waterproof?”

“With regards to the water of your world, no. If this were our world, that would not be so.”

“Oh. That’s interesting.”

“Truth be told,” Gomamon began. “I kinda agree with him. It was my responsibility to guard it, and now it’s out there.”

“I understand, Gomamon, but the circumstances by which you lost it were not within your control. Moreover, some humans have seen you since you arrived here. As such, we should forget about the device and focus on bringing you home.” Kudamon then changed the focus of his words. “Alex, if the device is a serious enough concern for you, we can always come back at a later date and try to fish it out ourselves.”

“...That works for me.”

“Good luck finding it if you do come back. I couldn’t see well in that water.”

“Duly noted. Now, Gomamon, are you okay with Alex carrying you in his backpack?”

“Yeah, it’s fine. Just smells funny.”

Alex smirked at that.

“Then we should make our way back to the inn. Seraphimon will no doubt want to speak to all of us when we return.”

At that, Alex readied his backpack to allow Gomamon to crawl inside again. “Comfy?” he asked once he looked situated.

Gomamon nodded. “And ready when you are.”

“Alright. I’ll get there as quick as I can,” Alex said. He left a gap between the zippers and produced the ring on his device again. Once Kudamon was stored, he hoisted Gomamon onto his back and began the trek back to the inn; what remained of their meals left his hands at the nearest trash bin. Along the way, Gomamon’s increased weight brought back to Alex’s mind his skateboard, and the question of why he had left it behind.

“You know,” Gomamon said as they neared the end of the neighborhood, “Despite everything, I think I’ll miss this place a bit.”

“That’s fair. This is a nice place.”

“Is your home in a place like this, Alex?”

“Nah, my place is in the suburbs. This is…a bit too rural for me.”

“Like, for good?”

“Yeah. I wouldn’t mind a week here, though.”

“Hmm. Well, when you truly come to our world, you should visit the Wanderer’s Plains. At least once.”

“Nice breezes and rolling hills?”

“And then some. Some spots on the plains are never the same day to day. It’s like the world itself is spinning a roulette and we’re seeing what it landed on.”

“Huh. That does sound interesting.”

“Yeah. Just be wary of getting caught in the glitches. No idea what those would do to you.”

“Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind.”


* * *​


As the sun sunk lower in the sky, Alex neared and eventually passed the boat storage buildings. Ahead of him, he could see two more cars in the parking lot for the inn. Hope they’re already in their rooms. A check through the windows of the main doors showed they weren’t, instead standing at the reception desk.

Three people... Alex weighed his options before deciding to go inside, to get out of the cold more than anything.

“I’ll be with you in a minute,” the receptionist said after looking up and at him.

“Alright. Mind if I use the restroom?”

“Go right ahead.”

Alex nodded his thanks, then got the device out. Kudamon nodded when saw him and kept quiet. All that was left was timing the opening of the gate and getting inside.

Before he moved closer to the computer he’d used before, Alex positioned himself behind the guests checking in, eyes on the device to pretend to be focused on it. At the angle he chose, neither the receptionist nor the guests, so long as their attention didn’t wander, would see him slip past the gate.

Some seconds later, he made his move, heading to the restroom but only opening the door to fake going inside. With the device’s gate code at the ready, he snuck back to the computer and held it to the screen, making it produce the bright white he’d seen on his computer. The receptionist made a curious noise a moment later in response to the bright light, to which Alex reached for the screen and was pulled in. In his attempts to look behind himself, seeing nothing but darkness, he hoped neither the receptionist nor the guests had suspected anything.

It was moments after that thought that he remembered the device was still in his hands and stuffed it into his pocket before it could potentially shock him. The rest of the trip was uneventful with neither Kudamon nor Gomamon talking, leaving Alex to try and see what he could along the wall of the tunnel.

Once they emerged in the projection of the inn they had left, Alex knelt down and let Gomamon out, as well as Kudamon.

“Home. Home at last.” Gomamon exclaimed, sounding like he was holding back a swell of emotion.

“Shall we go speak to Seraphimon, then?” Kudamon asked.

“Yeah, let’s.” Alex then took the lead and opened the door separating them from the room he had been in mere hours before. Beyond it was the fire, still burning tall and bright, but no sign of Seraphimon. “Huh. Where is he?”

“Maybe he did not expect such a swift return?”

“Suppose it’s possible.”

“Well then, let’s relax for a bit.” Gomamon said, settling into a resting position near one of the benches.

“Sounds good.” Alex said, taking a seat himself and pulling out some of his reading material. Within minutes, he could hear light snoring coming from Gomamon and checked to find his chest growing and shrinking with each breath and snore.

More minutes passed with no sign of Seraphimon, first twenty, then thirty, then forty. “You want to try and contact him?” Alex eventually whispered to Kudamon.

“I could try.” Alex produced the ring again, and Kudamon got to work once inside the device.

When he shook his head, Alex raised an eyebrow. “Is that not good?”

“He could be busy. He is an agent of the Sovereigns after all. Otherwise, remember, we are only passing one of your minutes for every seven here.”

“Good point.” Alex said, to which Kudamon came back out of the device.

Alex soon lost track of time as the wait for Seraphimon continued. Gomamon continued to snore nearby while Kudamon joined him in reading what he’d brought along.

He was struck with a thought some time later. The gate key he had been given. Could he go back without waiting for Seraphimon?

When he set down the book he was reading, Kudamon noticed and spoke. “Where are you going?”

“Just curious about something.” Device at the ready, Alex pulled up the previous gate code and ran a finger across the screen. Nothing. No directions changed the image. Undeterred, Alex made his way towards one of the barriers of light, but no doors appeared. He tried another to no avail, eventually exhausting all of them.

“We’re stuck in here.” Alex said upon returning.

“No, we are not. Seraphimon would not do such a thing. We simply do not have the ability to access a gate right now.”

Alex sat down and sighed in turn.

“Is there something you feel you are being kept away from?”

“Not really. Just don’t like this feeling, that’s all.”

“Understandable, but take some breaths and relax. Seraphimon would not trap us here; all the others will have to come here eventually.”

Alex did as Kudamon suggested, to little effect. Eventually, he got his mind focused on reading again, though the question of how much longer this would go on remained.

The answer was well over another hour. His attention wandering frequently by that point, Alex saw the moment when Seraphimon entered the room, via a gate that appeared in the ceiling.

His boots had yet to touch the ground before his helmeted head turned to face Alex. “Alex? Kudamon? You return so soon?”

“Yes, and with mostly good news.” Kudamon said.

“Gomamon is with you?”

“Yeah but…” Alex looked in Gomamon’s direction and then pointed in the same direction. “He’s exhausted. Fell asleep within minutes.”

“These last few days were not kind to him, then.”

“Not really, no.”

“Yet he is back. Tis all that matters.”

“As for the device,” Kudamon said, “we left it in the human world. Someone else got ahold of it before his partner and threw it into a lake near where it was sent.”

“A shame to hear. I will question him about that myself when he wakes.”

“Then, are we okay to go?” Alex asked.

“Yes, but first, I have matters to discuss. Only with the two of you.”

Alex and Kudamon looked at each other at that.

Seraphimon meanwhile moved a gauntleted hand and made something appear around Gomamon’s body. “A sound proof barrier, so we may speak without waking him.”

“Thanks. So, what’s going on?” Alex asked.

“While you were away, we concluded our investigation into the gates and tunnels that lead between our worlds. No breaches were found, which was a relief to me, but it raises new questions. The main being why your device reacted the way it did.”

“Do you have any theories?” Kudamon asked.

“Yes, though this theory, as the humans say, may sound far-fetched.”

Alex felt his pulse increase as Kudamon asked Seraphimon to explain.

“I believe something was wrong with you, Alex, before you passed through the gate and became data for the first time. When you held your device out to me, I discovered a reading in its memory that it saw some kind of corruption within your newly forming code, and when you were holding it after, it was still detecting it, but not to a serious magnitude. Thus, because of this, you were briefly seen as an enemy and your device reacted accordingly, and hence why you can hold it now with no harm to yourself.”

“You say there was something wrong with him. What would that be?”

“To that, I have no answer. When coming into this world for the first time, you come as a blank slate. Data in its purest form. Corruption of any kind should not be possible at that stage.”

Alex couldn’t help looking at Kudamon again.

When their gazes met, Seraphimon spoke. “Do you know what may have caused this to happen?”

That was when Alex felt it, and Kudamon’s stare sealed it. The cold dagger-in-the-heart assurance that he couldn’t lie his way out of this.

“Yes, I believe so.” Kudamon said. “Though I am certain this will be very worrying to Alex to reveal this.”

“Why would that be?”

“Before I say, Seraphimon, would you be willing to assure both myself and Alex that what I am about to say never leaves this room?”

“Of course. You have my word, Alex, as well as anything we discuss related to this.”

Alex nodded.

“Thank you.” Kudamon said. “The reason I said that before is because Alex is something that all of us have believed to be a supernatural myth of the human world. What the humans call a ‘lycanthrope’, one whose form can change between man and animal, or beast.”

The room was silent for over a minute after.
 

Renegade_Productions

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- Part 17 -


Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Moon Phase = Waning Gibbous

?:??


As the silence held, and Seraphimon’s helmeted head alternatively focused on him and Kudamon, Alex’s thoughts filled more with nervous outlooks than outright fears.

“Is this true?” Seraphimon eventually asked.

With how reserved his tone sounded, Alex could only nod.

“Hmm. I am…torn, to be honest. On the one hand, this news is akin to a grand discovery, but on the other, this condition of yours poses a very real danger to yourself and Kudamon while here.”

“How so?” Kudamon asked.

“The problem I see is should another with malicious intentions discover this, get access to the code he carries, it could allow them to control him or corrupt the data of others, possibly the other partners.”

Alex swallowed to try and loosen his tightening throat. That couldn’t turn them into werewolves in the real world too, but what assurance did he have otherwise?

“And this is beyond what I mentioned before about your ability to help Kudamon by way of evolution being severed if your device suddenly sees you as an enemy.”

Alex’s focus changed to the device in response.

“Can this code be suppressed at all?” Kudamon asked.

“I am afraid not, to the best of my knowledge. Is it stable however? Yes.”

Kudamon looked back at Alex before speaking. “So then, as long as he is careful…”

“Then he has little to worry about. All of what I have said up to now is to ‘lay the cards on the table’, so to speak. And, I would prefer to not break any partnerships this early, given this has affected you but the one time.”

Kudamon nodded in response. “Thank you, Seraphimon.”

“Think nothing of it. Tis what I am here for.”

Alex however exhaled, his nerves barely relaxing. His condition had followed him here, and was still just as dangerous to others. Great. Just fucking great.

“Are you alright, Alex?”

“...Bummed.”

“I understand. However, what I said before still stands. Should your condition flare up in a dangerous situation, I will do everything I can to get help to you.”

“Thanks.”

“You had one more thing to ask Seraphimon about, did you not?” Kudamon said.

“Oh…yeah.”

“I am listening.”

“It’s a real world thing. That, who was it…”

“Guardromon.” Kudamon said.

“Yeah. Because of the mess he made when he crossed over, my college pushed back two of my final exams by two days. To our next Thursday.”

“Do you know when they will occur?”

“Yeah. Between eight-forty-five and twelve-fifteen that day. I just need to get them done without my device making noise.”

“Then I will do my best to allow the others to handle any problems until you are free.”

“Thank you.”

“Though, since we are discussing such things, do you have other obligations back in your world?”

“A job, yes. Three or four shifts a week, and four to six hours each, but I won’t be able to simply leave if something happens.”

“In those cases, coordination with the others will do the most good.” Neither Alex nor Kudamon replied. “Is anything else on your mind?”

“Right now, no.”

“Then, if you are ready, I will reopen the gate for you.”

Alex nodded.

Seraphimon lifted his right arm in response, pointing it towards a newly appeared door. “Take the door on your left, and you will return home. Thank you again for bringing Gomamon back to us safe and sound.”

“My pleasure.”

Before Alex stepped away, Kudamon asked, “Seraphimon, is this the only room where we can come for now?”

“Currently, yes. When something within this world calls for your presence, I will open the doors to all of you.”

The ‘when’ in Seraphimon’s reply left Alex wondering how long it would be before that happened. “Then, we should be off. Until next time.”

Seraphimon nodded before Alex turned and headed for the door, Kudamon trailing by a few feet. Once they were past the door, and in the familiar projection from Alex’s desktop monitor, he wasted no time pulling up the gate code and opening the gate.

Seconds after they passed through, Kudamon spoke. ‘Have you considered what I said before? About telling your parents about me?’

‘Barely.’

‘You had to tell others, and they did not react to any extreme.’

‘Gomamon’s did.’

‘True, but from all the times I hear you speaking to them, they do not come across as in denial about what you are. If anything, what happened to you should make it easier for them to accept this reality.’

Alex exhaled. With his father bound to talk to him in the next few hours, and the fact that by now the police department would have gotten news of what happened, revealing Kudamon would siphon a lot of blame off himself.

‘If you feel I am needed, do as you did on Sunday. I will back you up.’

Alex didn’t respond. By the time he reached and began passing through the barrier, he could see little choice otherwise.

While getting himself used to the surge of scents again, Bailey entered the room and halted at the sight of him and Kudamon, his attention moving between them. “Hey, boy. I’m back.” Bailey’s tail began wagging in response, and Alex knelt down to coax him over. Kudamon in turn moved behind him.

Bailey was satisfied after several minutes of petting, leaving Alex to question what to do when his parents came home. He then remembered Dustin’s words and checked his phone, finding it powered off. Once it was rebooted, Alex was met with a surge of messages and notifications. Not only those from the other seven, all of which were confirmations of themselves, but his parents as well, the final ones reiterating they needed to talk come evening.

Hoping to relax his mind before it happened, Alex woke up his computer and resumed playing the puzzle game from before. Kudamon joined in as he did, spotting several fitting pieces between a few puzzles.

The game continued halfway to six, when his father returned home. He sighed when he heard the truck’s engine coming up the driveway, Kudamon’s smile and nod helping hold back the worst of his feelings.

Bailey ran to the door at first hint of the deadbolt unlocking; Alex took the time to get Kudamon back into the device and pocket it. As his father came close to his bedroom door, he pretended to be looking over the books and notes for his delayed exams.

“Getting in some extra study time?” his father asked.

Alex turned to face him. “Yeah, might as well.”

“So, you were here all day?”

“Hung out at the mall and a few other places, after seeing campus was closed.”

His father then stepped into the room and leaned against the head of his bed. “I saw the reports from the campus police when I went in this morning. They said someone set off explosives in the computer lab, but they couldn’t tell who or what kinds of explosives.”

Feeling his pulse increase, Alex replied, “That was what made me change, hearing those going off.”

“So you were close to the lab when they detonated?”

“Yeah.”

“Did you see who caused the blasts?”

Alex hesitated. That was the question he didn’t want to be asked. His right hand moved to the device in turn. “Yeah, I did.”

“Then maybe tomorrow you should come with me to the station and fill out a statement. Might help us catch this guy.”

“...It wouldn’t be believable if I did.”

“Why?”

Alex pulled the device completely out of his pocket. “Because it would be no different to me telling them a werewolf did it.”

“You didn’t set those explosives off though, so…I’m…was it another werewolf that did it?”

“No, something else.” Alex then raised the device to level with his chest, and Kudamon emerged.

As Alex’s father recoiled from what he had just seen, Kudamon spoke as directly as he could. “Sir, I mean you no harm. And I am not the one who did those things. Your son helped me stop them.”

“...Alex, what is that?” his father asked after several seconds of his eyes darting between Kudamon and Alex.

“An artificial intelligence, in the most basic sense.” Kudamon said. When the room stayed quiet, he continued. “Let me explain. What happened that night was another like myself crossed over to this world, and refused to listen to us when we told him he could not remain here. I was forced to fight him when he became hostile, and in the process, he blew up several things in the room.”

“That’s why I shifted that night,” Alex clarified. “I saw that and got scared.”

“With good reason. Now, to explain further, I believe your ‘department’ was unable to see who was in that room that night. Another whom I know erased all the video showing Alex leaving the room and making his way outside. He felt it was the least he could do given our efforts, and I agreed with the actions taken.”

After another minute of no response from his father, Alex spoke. “He’s been here since Saturday.”

“And learned much since then. Again though, you have my word that I mean you no harm, and by extension, that I will not let your son be in danger.”

Alex’s father then sighed and put a hand against his forehead. “My thanks for that, at least.” he eventually said.

“Certainly.”

“Should I tell Mom when you’re nearby?” Alex asked after a minute.

“Probably best. I know I’ve got dozens of questions about all this.”

“I will do my best to answer them, and if possible, put your minds at ease.”

At that, Alex silently hoped Kudamon would be successful. His father left his room several minutes later, emerging from his bedroom in his evening clothes.

The sounds from the engine of his mother’s car reached his ears some time later. After waiting for her to come inside and enter the kitchen, Alex slipped the device into his jacket pocket and made his way into the front room. He stayed out of sight as his father greeted her and exchanged a little small talk. It was when he heard his father starting to talk about the incident at campus that he made his move.

“So what happened? Is the college closed?”

“For two days, yes. Investigations are ongoing,” his father replied.

“Still, explosions? Who would do that?”

“I was wondering the same all day. Thought it was a prank gone bad or some such.”

Alex let himself be seen as his father answered. His mother’s focus then went to him. “Alex, what happened? Why would someone be setting off bombs on your campus?”

“Wasn’t a prank, I know that.”

“How?” She paused. “You weren’t close to them, were you?”

“Close enough to make me shift.” His mother drew closer and hugged him at that answer; no trace of her fear scent came off her as she did so. When she let go, Alex reached for the device in his pocket.

“So, what now? Things just go back to normal on Thursday?”

“They have to. Alex saw who did it, but he can’t make any statements on it.”

“Why not?”

“Because the one who did it is nothing like us, or me,” Alex said as he pulled the device out and angled it to let Kudamon emerge onto the table.

His mother gasped at the sight, but recoiled less than his father did. This time, Alex noticed her fear scent right away.

“Mom, it’s okay. This is Kudamon. He helped me deal with the one that caused all the damage yesterday.”

“Indeed.” Kudamon then bowed his head with his eyes closed. “A pleasure to make your acquaintances, Mr. And Mrs. Stryker.”

Again, the room was silent in response.
 

Renegade_Productions

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- Part 18 -


Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Moon Phase = Waning Gibbous

6:08 p.m.


As Alex’s father moved to comfort his mother, he asked, “You said you’re an AI, correct?”

“In a manner of speaking. I am composed of data instead of flesh and blood, or silicone and wiring.”

“And why are you here, with our son?”

“Because he was hand picked by the higher powers of where I come from, along with myself. That being said, we had no idea he was a werewolf, so seeing him in that form surprised me.”

“That’s the only reason you’re here?”

“No. Humans like yourselves have helped us for years, with situations in this world and ours.”

“Like the one who blew up his computer lab?”

“Yes, exactly. We make every effort we can to prevent more of our kind crossing over into this world, but some do get by and for us to effectively deal with them, human handlers are often necessary.”

“So then, where is ‘your’ world?”

“The internet, cyberspace, something else equivalent. I could not tell you exactly where.”

When his father sighed again, and his mother refused to say anything, Alex spoke up. “Kudamon’s been a good friend since he arrived.”

“Thank you. You as well.” After more silence, Kudamon continued. “If, Mr. and Mrs. Stryker, this is a lot to take in, I understand. All I hope is my presence, and the knowledge of our existence, is not too upsetting for either of you.”

Instead of a reply, both of Alex’s parents moved into the kitchen, his father insisting they both fix dinner. Though he considered helping, in the end, Alex headed back to his room with Kudamon in tow.

“Time is likely what they need right now,” Kudamon said.

“Probably. Kinda does feel better though, just getting it out.”

Kudamon hummed in agreement. “Now then, what shall we do?”

“I guess I’ll look over all the messages the others sent, get them added to my contacts.”

“In that case, I shall continue the book I was reading.” Alex then let Kudamon down on his desk and brought him the book in question.

The messages from the other seven that had been sent to him comprised mostly of quick hellos, reminders of who they were, and the phone number they could best be reached at. Unsure if he and Kudamon were the only ones back, Alex sent the other seven a message to reply to on his device.


Alex Stryker : Checking in. How’s everyone doing?


The first reply came before he opened one of his comics, and as a direct message instead of in the universal chat.


Shelly O’Reilly : Going home soon. We found the one we were looking for.


Alex Stryker: Nice.


Shelly O’Reilly : She had the device with her the whole time, so I was running circles trying to keep up after we arrived.


Alex Stryker : Sounds like fun times.


Shelly O’Reilly : Only because she was staying near a park with huge trees. What about you?


Alex Stryker : Me and Kudamon are already home. We found Gomamon, but someone else got ahold of his device and threw it into a lake.


Shelly O’Reilly : So my hunch was right. Did you get it back?


Alex Stryker : No, we focused on Gomamon, getting him fed and home. We might try and fish it out another time.


Shelly O’Reilly : Good thinking. Biyomon’s anxious to get home too.


Alex Stryker : Then don’t let me keep you. See you guys later.


Shelly O’Reilly : You guys too.


A smile was left across Alex’s face as he turned off the screen of his device. Expecting the others to respond soon, he pocketed the device and checked on his parents. The scents from what they were cooking -- fettuccine with shrimp -- had reached his olfactory system minutes before, and to his relief, they were both engaging in small and personal talk.

Probably won’t hurt to allow Kudamon to eat with us. Alex thought as he returned to his room. After his father came to tell him dinner was ready, he urged Kudamon to come along. Noting the uptick in Alex’s mood, Kudamon agreed.

His presence at the table drew the occasional look from his father and mother, but no words otherwise. Alex refrained from trying to break the ice, instead watching for any hint his parents weren’t taking things as well anymore. More questions from his father was the least he expected before the night was through otherwise.

“Kudamon, was it?” his father eventually asked.

“Yes?” Kudamon replied after he finished his mouthful of shrimp.

“Do you know how long Alex is expected to help you?”

Kudamon and Alex met gazes at that. “No, I do not, and I do not wish to plant false expectations otherwise.”

Alex’s father sighed; Alex silently accepted the answer. The longer the silence that followed went on, the more he felt the urge to say something. How calm Kudamon seemed kept him from doing so.

“Then, can you tell us what might be coming, for him?”

“Little different from what he has already seen and done. Though, I should make clear both he and I are not alone in this endeavor.”

Alex’s father hummed in response, and the silence returned. Long enough for Alex to finish eating.

Kudamon finished soon after. “Thank you for the meal.”

This time, Alex’s mother responded. “You’re welcome.”

After depositing their plates in the sink, Alex also thanked his parents for the meal, gathering Kudamon and returning to his room after. By then, two more -- Graham and Fran -- had responded to his message.


Graham MacLeod : Just dropped off the one we were after. Sweet one, but really skittish.


Fran Becker : Gonna spend a little time with this one. He could use some love.


At that, Alex tried to recall the one Fran was looking for. When he remembered it was dog-like, his mind conjured images of Fran playing with it as one would a normal dog.

Bailey nudged his leg a moment later, as though he could read his mind. “Walk?” Alex asked when he looked at him. Bailey’s tail wagged immediately. “Thought so.”

Outside, the streets and sidewalks were illuminated more by the waning gibbous moon than the streetlights. After several minutes of seeing no other people and few vehicles coming down the street, he pulled the device from his pocket and offered Kudamon the chance to come back out. He accepted and within seconds settled around the collar of Alex’s jacket.

Neither spoke at length for several blocks; Kudamon’s few remarks were of the human world and Alex’s neighborhood.

“When you are out here, what kinds of things can you smell?” Kudamon asked as they turned onto another block.

“Um…” Alex closed his eyes and focused. “A lot of animals, most living, some dead, things from people’s garages, machinery…they come and go so fast I can’t track them all.”

“Compared to when you were in my world?”

“Yeah.”

“I assume you use this ability often, for various reasons.”

“Have to. Permanent change after I got bitten.”

Kudamon hummed in response.

Another block soon passed, then another, the quiet of the evening interrupted only by the barking of another dog. Bailey took notice, but didn’t make noise in response. Alex meanwhile had begun thinking back to what Kudamon had said about what could be coming. Ten days were left until what Kudamon had implied the night of his arrival.

Seraphimon should know something. Alex stowed the thought away.

Back at home, his parents had settled on the couch to watch something; Bailey went straight for them once his leash was off, earning some head rubs.

Upon checking the device, Margarete had responded.


Margarete Durand : Back home as of now.


Alex Stryker : That makes half of us.


A few minutes later, Jude posted.


Jude Bianchi : Got a hold-up on my end.


Kudamon noticed the text and became curious.


Alex Stryker: What’s going on?


Jude Bianchi : Found the device, but no sign of Floramon. Been looking for quite a while.


For almost a minute, there was no response. Alex moved to his bedroom as he waited.


Shelly O’Reilly : You need extra eyes? I could help.


Jude Bianchi : It’s cool, brah. Appreciate the thought, though.


Alex Stryker : What about remote help?


Jude Bianchi : If I don’t see her in another hour, sure.


Alex Stryker : Alright. I’ll be ready.


Shelly resumed direct messages a moment later.


Shelly O’Reilly : What did you have in mind?


Alex Stryker : At the moment, nothing. Just hoping I can help somehow.


Shelly O’Reilly : I get you. Got some time to brainstorm ideas? Over the phone?


Alex looked over to Kudamon, who nodded. Before he responded, he went back outside.


Alex Stryker : Plenty.


A few seconds later, Alex’s phone began ringing. “Hey Shelly.”

“Hey Alex.” The feel of her voice was in line with using the speaker phone. Alex did the same in case Kudamon wanted to speak. “So, this situation with Floramon…”

“The only idea I’ve got is she’s hiding near plants, but that area’s pretty rural.”

“What about fruits?” Bearmon injected.

“Fruits?”

“Yeah. Floramon really like fruits. And they make amazing drinks with their heads.”

Alex gave a ‘Huh’ in response, and his thoughts turned immediately to grocers.

“You thinking what I’m thinking?” Shelly asked.

“I’d be surprised if I wasn’t.” Alex replied.
 
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