Chapter 4: The Southern Waters

Koushiro "Izzy" Izumi's apartment, on a first glance, would not seem unlike Keith's. However, on closer examination, it was clear that Izzy had devoted a lot of space in the living room to his computing. Though he kept his computer to just his desk, and said desk was clean and tidy, multiple cupboards around the room were put aside for storing computer parts and various types of electronic devices, both new and old, and in places, he hadn't bothered to clean things up yet. It just seemed that Izzy could not stand to throw such things away, no matter how old they became. Not many other people saw the point of it, but Izzy figured any of these things could be potentially useful again someday.

Izzy himself was, as expected, at his computer desk, typing on the computer. However, he also had guests. Taichi "Tai" Kamiya yawned, sitting down lazily in a on a spare chair with the chair itself reversed so he could rest his arms over the back. Tai's sister, Kari Kamiya, and another friend, Sora Takenouchi, sat down at a nearby table, enjoying some tea that Izzy had just prepared. Izzy stopped typing, swinging his chair around to face his guests, smiling. “You might find this latest piece of news I've found rather interesting.”

Tai sighed, still slumped in his chair. “I can't imagine it could be that interesting enough to call us over, Izzy-san.”

Sora giggled, before taking another sip of her tea. “Hear him out, Tai-kun, come on.”

Izzy chuckled, bemused by Tai's attitude, before beginning to explain. “You know about the rumor I told you about? Some guy in Australia apparently went to the Digital World, came back, told one of his friends, and the rumor spread from there. That was just three days ago.”

Tai blinked. “Yeah, we know, but it's just a rumor, right? I mean, some nutty people trying to find the 'Digital World' isn't unheard of, remember that one English website with those nutjobs that thought they could get to the Digital World with their Digivice toys? What was it called...? Project Digiclipse?”

“Oh, I know, I know, but I did a bit of research into the rumor, with some help from Thomas, and I discovered something interesting. The two main names involved are 'Keith Windslow' and 'Jase Merson'.” Izzy replied, rubbing his hands together. He seemed rather sure of himself. “Believe it or not, but I know them online. They don't have a clue who I really am, yet, but we're part of an online programming community, which Ken is also part of, and among our age group, these guys know their stuff, and I know they're reliable. I tried talking them both online. Keith's been playing coy with me whenever I bring up the subject, but Jase is far, far more eager to share the details, though it seems Keith has been reining him in.”

Kari nodded. “Oh, that's cool! But... I guess there's more to that, huh?”

“Exactly, Kari-chan.” Now Izzy was really getting excited. “The day after, there was a report of a trio of British students whom had gone missing, no trace of how they managed to disappear. Then, later that day, they reappeared, and made their excuses. The exact same thing happened to a trio of students from New Zealand. All six students claim the whole thing is overblown, and both Keith and Jase say it's all a coincidence, but I don't buy it, and neither does Thomas. Thomas is going to go to London to investigate and see if he can get some information out of the British students. I'm gonna continue trying to get something out of Jase, Keith isn't gonna spill anything anytime soon.”

It was time for Sora to play sceptic. “But, what if Keith and Jase are right? What if the whole thing is a coincidence and you're both on a wild goose chase?”

“I won't discard the possibility. But with all the things that the Digimon Anime have predicted accurately, I have to wonder, if for us, anything is a coincidence anymore...” Izzy turned around, continuing to type on the computer. He seemed to be working on a program of some sort. “But, wouldn't you want it to be true?”

The guests looked among themselves, contemplating his question, which was clearly rhetorical. All three of them had dreamed of fulfilling the fantasy that their anime counterparts had shown them on the TV. If Digimon were real, if the Digital World did exist, they'd grab that opportunity in a heartbeat. They'd love to have their chance at saving the world for real, but to just have Digimon partners would satisfy them enough.

Tai got off his chair, walking over to the desk to look at what Izzy was working on. “What kind of program is that?”

“Ah, something I decided to do for kicks. Jase mentioned something about a packet experiment that he and Keith were working on when Keith was apparently sent to the Digital World. I'm just fooling around with a packet experiment of my own.” Izzy said, as he finished compiling the program, and started testing. Suddenly, the screen began to flicker.

Tai blinked. “I take it it's not supposed to do that?”

“Of course not!” Izzy said, then the screen began to freak out, with static, electricity, and warping visuals. Izzy and Tai began to move away from the screen, but both Kari and Sora noticed, and came over to investigate. However, the screen began to stabilise, showing the face of a teenager with brown hair, before the quad were sucked into the screen...

It was a warm, sunny morning in DigiCity's Primary Village. After what had occurred the day before, the opportunity for all eleven Tamers and their partners to sit down with the Digimon they were raising, under the shade of a tree while surrounded by the inhabitants of the village, and talk about what happened the day before, and what they were going to do next. Geoffery, Gerado and Rafaela had gotten the Digimon they were going to raise the afternoon before – a MetalKoromon that Geoffery named Lonnie, a Punimon that Gerado named Julio, and a Puwamon that Rafaela named Nelson.

As Liz sat on his head in an utterly adorable fashion, James adjusted his glasses, and cleared his throat. “Now, before the rest of you guys arrived, Roy, Lisa and I have been working on figuring out the locations of the other terminals, with the invaluable assistance from Caesar. We discovered something that will make our job a lot easier. A list of the locations of each of the 'Gate Terminals', as the Digimon of old times had called them. They're all over the Digital World, but, thankfully, this will allow the local authorities to find and activate each of these. But we still have work to do. One of the Gate Terminals is located south of DigiCity, and the local authorities are having trouble finding it. They're asking for our assistance.”

Keith pumped his fist forward. “Hell yeah! So we'll be able to travel all over the Digital World quickly in a jiffy!”

Christa did have concerns, though, as she held Jamie in her arms. “But what about those two guys, Raymondo and Keppler?”

“Already taken care of.” James grinned. “Riza's gonna be hunting for them. As for where we're going, we're going to get some help. DigiPol have sent someone to help us. In case those two cause trouble again, he'll help take care of it.”

The tamers were left completely clueless. Linker said, “DigiPol is kinda like the Digital World's global police force!”

“Okay, that kind makes sense, we've got Interpol back on our world...” Gerado scratched his head.

Geoffery smiled, as he cuddled Lonnie. “I wonder who else is going to come through the terminal. I'm surprised no Americans or Japanese have come through, yet!”

“I imagine by the time all the terminals are active, we'll have people of all nationalities coming and going.” Roy remarked.

“Well... When that happens, we'll have a whole lot of people helping us make sure that, one day, both of our worlds will be able to co-exist in peace.” Keith smiled, cuddling Alwyn. The baby Digimon yipped happily.

The sight that greeted the tamers and their Digimon partners upon getting off the Trailmon, was the beautiful shoreline that stretched across the edge of the continent. The grass field that stretched out from the edge of the town they had stopped in reached out and stopped at the edge of the beach. To the east, on the shore, the land elevated, with cliffs and rock formations that went as far as the eye could see. To the west, the shore was far less rocky, instead being a peaceful beach where young Digimon were playing in the sand.

The town itself was nothing to scoff at, either. Though it paled in comparison to DigiCity in terms of technological advancement, it had the feel of an old-fashioned fishing town, with brick and mortar buildings, becoming more based on wood as the town came further towards the shore, where the docks were, where boats and ships of various sizes were docked, others were out in the waters. It was clear that the town had been here for a long time.

As the group stepped off the platform, they spotted an Andromon in a black suit, holding up a piece of cardboard saying 'HUMANS'. Upon seeing them, the Andromon approached, with a smile. “Greetings, humans and partners. Welcome to the town of Posiden. I'm Issac. As you've probably already been told, I'm a member of DigiPol. It's an honour to meet you.”

Keith shook hands with the android Digimon, smiling. “Likewise. A Mega's help is always good.”

“Not so much against Super level Digimon, of course, but if this 'lord' had such power at his disposal, he would not be screwing around with just using Adult-levels.” Issac laughed, as he turned, motioning for the group to follow him. “After this assignment, I'm gonna crack down on who is pulling the strings. But, for now, I think I have an idea of where to find this 'Gate Terminal' that's hidden around here. I'll show you.”

He took the group eastward, towards the rocks. Some of the partners (and Ada) lamented not being able to go towards the less-rocky part of the shoreline. However, as they came closer, it was increasingly evident that these rocks had a natural beauty of their own, and not just the formations. The way the waves crashed onto the rocks, the accidental patterns that formed... But the most interesting thing was the cave that loomed ahead, eroded from the side of the cliff. Issac stopped in front of its entrance. “This cave is practically a maze. I don't think it's an accident that it's like this.”

Kyo nodded. “Ah, you're saying, that somewhere inside this cave is the Gate Terminal?”

“Then, what's the big problem?” Lisa crossed her arms. It was a valid question. Surely a simple maze-like cave wouldn't stop a group of Digimon from searching every metre.

“The problem is, the cave is unstable. The locals have been avoiding searching this cave because it's dangerous. We can't just search willy-nilly, we'll have to be careful.” Issac replied, taking a step forward. “Even worse if a fight breaks out. We have to find the terminal quickly, before an enemy appears.”

James nodded. “Right. We'll split up, there's eleven pairs and you. We'll split up into four separate groups, three pairs each, the last group will be two pairs alongside Issac here.”

“Sounds like a plan. Speaking of which, you're good at making plans quickly, James.” Keith said.

They split up into groups accordingly. Keith, Geoffery, James and their partners in the first group, Christa, Ada, Lisa and their partners in the second group, Heath, Roy, Gerado and their partners in the third, and finally, Jase, Rafaela, their partners, and Issac. Each of the tamers and Digimon partners were given a radio communicator from Issac. As expected, as soon as the four groups went into the cave, a four-way split in the path appeared. Each group took one path each. From here on in, each group were isolated from the others.

Group 1's path was fairly straightforward. Quite literally, in fact. It was a straight path that went seemingly forever forward. Keith compensated for the lack of a torch by carrying a flaming sword. Geoffery groaned, Simon riding on his back, as they continued to walk. He despised this cave with every fibre of his being. It was dark, cold, damp, smelly... “Who the hell puts a Gate Terminal in a place like this? I can understand the ruins, but...”

“Yggdrasil knows. Whoever created the damn things must've had a strange sense of humor. Or he was a prick. Or maybe both.” Vix said, as she continued to walk along. She didn't like this place either, the whole 'damp cave' thing was not good for her fur.

“Moumantai~” Linker grinned, riding on James' back.

Keith stared at the Brit, annoyed. He had a feeling how Linker was going to turn out at this rate. “This is your fault, you know, for telling him about that word. Next thing you know, he's gonna have a complete lack of tact.”

James retorted in a bemused tone, “Ah, but you wouldn't be saying that if it was Christa, now would you?”

Keith blinked, then blushed, snapping back, “But she's not like that! What are you implying?”

“Oh, I dunno, you like her a lot?”

“Oh, you can't prove I like her in that way.”

Geoffery grinned, looking at Keith. “We don't need to prove anything. The way you look at her, you looked disappointed that she wasn't in the same group as you, oh, and that blush right there. Among other things.”

Keith looked away, somewhat embarrassed. “I still say you're jumping to conclusions.”

Simon grinned. “Human romance is so weird, isn't it?”

“Sure is.” Vix giggled. Linker nodded as well.

Group 2's route was somewhat different. In this case, it was an uphill walk, which seemed to constantly twisting left, as it moving upwards in a spiral. The provider of light in this case was Lisa, holding a halberd combined with the Light element effect, which washed away the darkness ahead of them. It didn't do much else, however, as the path was constantly turning, so they had no idea what was around the corner. Ada was shivering, her arms crossed, and looked absolutely miserable. “Th-This sucks... I don't wanna go searching this cave... It's cold, wet, dark... If I knew we were gonna be here, I'd have brought some warmer clothes!”

Nia sighed. “Sorry, Ada, but complaining about it won't make it any better.”

“Exactly. We keep going, and if we don't find anything, we go back to the entrance and meet up with everyone else. Simple.” Christa smiled, nudging Ada with her shoulder. The last thing she wanted was to see her friend so down.

“Besides... We might find the Terminal first. I can't wait to see the looks on James and Roy's faces if we do.” Lisa grinned, as she quickly took the lead, but Christa and Ada caught up quickly.

“Oh, I take it you don't get many chances to one-up those two?” Rina asked.

“Not really.” Lisa shrugged. “I love programming, but they're generally better at it than I am. On the other hand, I'm better at more 'physical' tasks than both of them. I could floor that fatso Roy any day of the week.”

Emily giggled. “Now, that, is something I'd like to see!”

Lisa decided to change the subject, putting her arm on Christa's shoulder, grinning. “So, Christa, what's up with you and Keith?”

The sudden change of subject to something that Christa really did not want to talk about caused her to blush, snapping back in a flustered tone, “N-Nothing! We're just really good friends!”

“Pfft, yeah, right.” Ada smirked. “Everyone has been seeing it since primary school. You both look at each other in that way when the other doesn't notice. And you two have actually went out on a couple of dates, but you never go anywhere with it.”

Lisa looked at Ada, surprised. “Seriously?! Childhood sweethearts?!”

“We're not 'sweethearts'! We're just childhood friends, okay?!” Christa snapped. Then she thought about what she was saying, before she groaned. “I've been roped into a 'he's not my boyfriend' thing, haven't I?”

Nia shrugged. “Human romance. So weird, isn't it?”

Rina and Emily both nodded.

Group 3 was going in a straight direction... Diagonally downwards, in a constant slope. Gerado was the person providing the light source this time, carrying a flaming naginata (a Japanese pole-like weapon, a wooden shaft with a curved blade on the end). Roy promptly sneezed. Gerado remarked, “You think anyone is talking about you right about now?”

“Probably James. Or Lisa. I tend to be the butt of jokes.” Roy said, with a heavy sigh. “Why can't they give the fat guy a break?”

“Dude, you're not that fat. A few weeks of exercise, and I think you'll lose plenty of weight.” Heath said, poking Roy in the stomach.

“Yeah! You don't give yourself enough credit, partner!” Vex chuckled, walking alongside Roy.

Shawn and Tevor nodded, as Roy looked at the other group members, and smiled. “Thanks, guys.”

Group 4 seemed to be going in a zig-zag pattern, as the corners they constantly encountered were perfectly ninety degree angles, in the opposite direction of the corner before each one. This time, Jase had the foresight to actually have an actual torch. He had a strange feeling about all this. “Why do I suspect that there's more to this thing than meets the eye?”

Rafaela smirked, noting slyly, “What gave that away, the blatantly artificial nature of this cavern, or something else?”

Issac blinked, scanning the cavern with his sensors. “I am inclined to agree. This cave could not have been formed through natural means. In other words, this place was made to hide the Gate Terminal.”

Trevor said, “But why would this cave be unstable? Wouldn't whoever did this want to keep it stable?”

Shawn shrugged. “Heck if we know. It could be for any number of reasons, but it doesn't matter now. All we're concerned with is finding that thing without making the ceiling crash down on top of us.”

However, as all four groups were quick to find, something was indeed more than meets the eye.

“What-” “the-” “freaking-” “hell?!”

All four groups ended up encountering a dead end. No alternate routes available to anyone. All four groups reported their discovery via communicator, which caused a lot of confusion between the groups.. Keith placed his hand against the perfectly flat wall. Something wasn't right. It was obvious this whole cave was artificial, but if everyone had searched this entire cave already, but found nothing, then that means this place was a red herring. Or there was something more...

Then he heard a scream from his communicator. He blinked, recognising it as Ada's voice. “What the hell?!”

What had scared Ada were a pair of eyes in the darkness behind Group 2, which she had noticed. Christa stopped her as she backpedaled, terrified by the realisation that they had been cornered by something, and whatever it was, it didn't look friendly. The creature stepped into the light. It was an Ogremon, with a black bandanna around his head. “Well, well, what do we have here? Some pretty girls, cornered like rats. The name's Kimblee. Nothing personal, ladies, but I'm on orders to make you... Disappear.”

“Yeah... Not on my watch, buster.” Nia was already ready to fight, having gotten under Kimblee, and punched him in the stomach. The Oni choked, stepping back, but felt the brunt of a few more punches, before he gripped his club, and smacked Nia with it, sending the cat Digimon flying into the wall. Literally. She seemed to literally pass through it.

“NIA!” Lisa cried out, and looked at Kimblee, who was stepping towards them. She mustered her DigiSoul, charging towards the Oni, and clashing her halberd with his club, keeping him at bay while Christa, Ada, Rina and Emily tried to come up with a plan.

Christa looked towards the wall. “There's something wrong about this. There's more to that wall than meets the eye!” She walked up to it, and tried to touch it. Her hand passed through. “I knew it. It's an illusion. Through here!”

She ran through, as did the other three. Lisa broke away from Kimblee quickly after that, going through the wall as well. The Oni's eyes narrowed, as he stepped through the wall himself. “Oh, no you don't! You're not getting away from me!”

However, he didn't expect to see sunlight. Instead of another chamber, as he expected, Kimblee found himself emerging from an underground tunnel, and up onto a large cliff overlooking the ocean, the cliff covered in grass, which extended out to the plain nearby. On this same cliff, were the tamers and their partners. Lisa was making sure Nia was alright, while the others were wondering how they got there. And finally, the Gate Terminal was there. Rina blinked. “Hang on, this part of the cliff was just rock before! What's going on?!”

“None of it was real. It was an illusion to cover up the Gate Terminal!” Christa concluded.

“Hey, hey, I'm still here!” Kimblee announced, before getting a thrown rock to the face for his trouble, courtesy of Ada, whom snapped back, “Oh, screw you! Go away, and don't you dare try to kill us again!”

“Yeah? You and what army? So you have a Champion-level, whoop-de-freakn'-doo. I'm a fighter, I can take on Champions.” Kimblee boasted.

Christa grinned, as her DigiSoul, a pink colour, flared up. “What about three? Rina, let's do this.”

“Say wha-Uh... Crap. I'm in for a lot of pain, aren't I.”

Ada nodded, a purple DigiSoul flaring up around her fist. “Yep. Let's kick his butt, Emily!”

Emily and Rina nodded, as they glowed, and transformed. “DIGIVOLVE!” Rina digivolved into Birdramon, while Emily digivolved to Togemon. This caused Kimblee to sweatdrop, as Rina took to the air, and launched a cluster of small, flaming metors at him. “Meteor Wing!”

“Ow, ow, ow! Hey, you can fly, not fair!” Kimblee complained, as he tried to dance around the projectiles, but several of them smashed into him.

Then Nia came knocking, slamming her fist into his face. “Hey, don't forget about me!”

“Nor me!” “Or me!” “Me too!” Kimblee suddenly got a triple threat combo from Christa, Ada, and Lisa, all of them punching him, and hard. He was sent sprawling, but the finisher was Emily walking up to him, and sending him flying with an uppercut. “Knockout Fist!”

“OOOOOOOWWWW! I'll get you next time, you little brats!” Kimblee swore, as he was sent flying into the horizon.

The girls looked at each other, before bursting into relieved laughter. Rina and Emily devolved, joining in, the group coming together and celebrating their victory. Before long, the others emerged from the tunnel, wondering what the heck was going on. Lisa noticed, and said, “Hey, guys! We found the Terminal! Oh, and we beat the snot out of an Ogremon, too!”

Issac smiled, as he walked over to them. “Congrats! Good thing none of you are injured. Now...” He looked at the terminal. “Who will do the honours?”

Christa said, “Let Keith do it.”

Keith blushed when Christa suggested it, stepping up to the Gate Terminal. “A-Alright, then.” He turned it on, and ran a diagnostic check. “Alright, everything seems to be in order... Let's test this baby out, shall we?”

However, when he ran the Gate program, an unusual image formed. Four figures he swore he had seen before. He realised what this meant, and promptly stepped out of the way, before said four figures came crashing out of the Gate Terminal, in a pile. Four teenagers, all looking to be in their mid-teens, with the exception of the girl with brown hair, whom was slightly younger. Jase blinked, walking over. “Well, we've got more accidental visitors.”

“Ow... Geez... What just happened...?” The brown-haired teenager in the pile got to his feet, groaning, while rubbing his head. “Uh, Izzy? I don't think we're in your apartment anymore.”

Keith's eyes widened, as he recognised the figure in front of him. He swore this should be impossible. Surely, it was some sort of coincidence? He took a step forward, his jaw dropped, and just stared. “Taichi Kamiya?!”

Jase blinked, and his eyes widened, too, as he recognised Tai as well.. “Wait, WHAT?! NO WAY!”

Tai tilted his head in confusion. “Kamiya...? Uh, my last name is Yagami...” And then he realised why they called him that. “Oh. Oh, boy.”

The other tamers and the Digimon gathered around, with varying amounts of awe and confusion. The other three human visitors also got to their feet, and the tamers recognised them as well. Christa's jaw dropped in awe. “No. Way. Sora and Kari?!”

James adjusted his glasses. “And Izzy, too. What the hell is going on, here?!”

Tai blinked, and looked at Izzy. “I think they recognise us from the anime.”

“Well, that's obvious.” Izzy replied, looking at the tamers around him... And then realised who else was with them. He stepped back. “D-Digimon?!”

Sora gasped. “Oh, my. Agumon, Biyomon, Renamon... So many! Am I dreaming?!”

Kari's answer to that was to knock on her forehead lightly to test. “I don't know about you, Sora, but I'm not.”

Vix noted, “This is getting confusing.”

Kyo nodded. “Yeah. We might as well explain to them what's going on.”

Quickly enough, the four Japanese teenagers were sitting on the grass, opposite the tamers and the partners. Issac sat off to the side, between the two groups. Izzy smiled, as he started things off. “Alright, I guess we owe you an explanation first. My name is Koshiro Izumi, my friends call me 'Izzy'. The four of us come from Japan. I presume this is the Digital World, but let's set that aside for now.”

Tai got up, and bowed in that Japanese style, before he sat back, leaning on his left arm while resting his right on his knee. “I'm Taichi Yagami, I took 'Tai' as a nickname. Nice to meet you guys!”

Sora bowed as well, and sat down with her legs crossed. “I'm Sora Takenouchi. They didn't really change my name in the English version of the anime, so...”

Kari also bowed, sitting on her legs. “I'm Hikari Yagami. Taichi is my older brother. My nickname is 'Kari'.”

Roy pointed out, “I'm starting to see a pattern, here. The whole thing about the Digimon anime cast resembling you guys isn't a coincidence, is it?”

“Right you are.” Izzy nodded. He rarely got the chance to tell anyone else this story. “Back in 1999, when the Digimon anime was going to be produced, a contest was held in Odaiba, Tokyo, and the winners would become main characters in the anime. You obviously know who won. Some of us were already friends back then. We were all fans of the Digimon V-Pets. But the experience was enough for us to all bond, and next thing you know, we were all good friends.”

Keith laughed, delighted by what he was hearing. To him, this was amazing. “Yeah... This is the sort of thing that makes me wish I lived in Japan and not Australia-WAIT. FRIDGE LOGIC.” Keith froze, and tapped his chin. “We speak English. You're Japanese. How the heck can we understand each other?”

“A wizard did it?” Heath suggested.

“Maybe DigiGnomes did it?” Shawn suggested. Everyone looked at Shawn, before the tamers and Digimon who actually knew what DigiGnomes were agreed, “Yeah, that would be about right.”

Izzy smirked, before realising what Keith had also said. “Australia...? Hmm... Is that right, MajorWind?”

Keith looked at Izzy, and blinked, asking in a confused tone, “Wait, how do you know my online name?”

“Well... Does the name 'TentoKnowledge' ring any bells?”

Jase's jaw dropped. He and Keith recognised that online name. “Wha... You're TentoKnowledge?! No wonder you were bugging us about the Digital World!”

“So... You were right, Izzy.” Kari smiled. “Funny how we got beaten to the punch in becoming the first humans in the Digital World, and by Australians, no less.”

Lisa corrected her, “And British and New Zealanders, don't forget that. You're the fourth group to come to the Digital World.”

“Actually... We were all beaten to the punch years ago. By my own great-grandfather and his colleagues, no less, whom all worked on the ENIAC project.” Keith pointed out.

“Fascinating. But let's talk about that later, shall we?” Izzy crossed his arms, as he looked around. “So... Let me get this straight. This is the Digital World?”

Linker grinned. “That's right! And you're not seeing things, either! Digimon exist!”

Tai leaned forward, interested. “So, those guys are you partners?” He then looked at Issac. “I guess he isn't.”

“Well, of course not. I'm Issac. It is a pleasure to meet you.” Issac introduced himself, and then raised a hand towards the tamers. “Why don't we start the rest of the introductions?”

Once again, the tamers and their partners introduced themselves. Tai smiled, crossing his legs and asking, “So, let's start with the questions from our side, I guess. How did all of us get here?”

This was a question Keith could easily answer. “Ah, that's an easy one. You see that terminal over there? That's a Gate Terminal, a device that facilitates travel between the real world and the Digital World. They haven't been active in ages, it seems, because every time someone activates one, a human gets chucked through into the Digital World by accident. That happened to me first, then I came back with my friends. Then, another gate activated thanks to Linker here, causing the Brits to come through. We then went searching for the gates, found the gate that the New Zealanders came through, and, as it happens, when we found and activated the gate over there, you guys came through.”

“That... Makes sense. Like the Digital Gate (also called Digi-Ports) in the anime, but with proper devices for access rather than regular television screens.” Izzy rubbed his chin. “If all this was deliberate, then the disappearances I saw in the news would be more discreet.”

Kari asked, “Are there... Any Digivices or anything?”

“'Fraid not.” Christa replied, looking a bit disappointed. “So far, we have been able to Digivolve our partners without the need for a Digivice, using our DigiSoul.”

“DigiSoul?! Marcus, Thomas, Yoshi and Keenan are gonna love this!” Sora smiled. “Oh, yeah, we didn't tell you, did we? The main characters of each Digimon anime series, or 'season' as you guys like to call them, were all picked via contests like we were in. We all get together every year as an anniversary celebration.”

“Must... Resist... The... Urge... To... Go into fanboy mode...” Keith grinned. “The Savers cast?! SWEET!”

“Right. So... Digimon have individual names, huh? That alone speaks volumes of how likely the Digital World is gonna be unexpected in a whole bunch of ways. What's the rest of the Digital World like?” Kari asked.

Gerado got up, pointing to the local town of Posiden nearby. “Well, from what us humans know, Digimon actually have proper settlements, each area with different cultures, like us! That fishing town down there is fairly old-fashioned, for starters.”

“And then you have the continents, the oceans, our religion... You know, despite our differences, I can't help but feel that humans and Digimon aren't so different in some ways.” Emily provided her input.

“And as for me... I'm part of DigiPol, a world-wide 'police force' of sorts. On the chance that there are crimes occurring that local authorities cannot handle, we'll be there.” Issac smiled, as he rose to his feet. “Anyway, I have a report to file to HQ. This 'Kimblee' character appearing is something I gotta investigate myself.”

As Issac left, Heath made a suggestion - “Why don't we explore the town first, and then head back to DigiCity?”

Tai blinked. “DigiCity?”

“Ah, you'll see.”

The group sent a good while exploring the town, talking to the inhabitants (whom were more than hospitable), and though their visit was short, they made the most of it, looking into shops, the docks, and finally, the beautiful beach. When they finally regrouped at the Gate Terminal, James, Roy and Lisa realised that their time they had for the day in the Digital World was almost up, so they had to go home. Before they left, though, Izzy remembered something. “By the way, you three, Thomas said he's going to England to investigate the Digital World rumors, and he's gonna visit you guys. I'll let him know you're expecting him before he arrives.”

Lisa looked excited by the idea of meeting the real-life Thomas, which bemused James and Roy. James nodded to Izzy. “Alright, if he's the real deal, we'll let him know the full details.”

And quickly, with a flash, the three British tamers were gone. Keith volunteered to take everyone else through the gate in order to get to DigiCity...

“Yeah, maybe we shouldn't use my apartment as a mid-point anymore.”

Unfortunately, the relatively small amount of space in Keith's apartment resulted in a messy pile of humans and Digimon in front of the computer desk. To say the least, getting everyone apart was somewhat awkward. “Argh, someone's sitting on me!” “Move to the left a bit!” “Okay, who's groping my breast?!”

It took a good few minutes until everyone had gotten to their feet. Tai whistled, as he looked around. “Hey, Keith, your apartment is sweet!”

“Ah... Thanks, Tai-senpai.” Keith smiled, walking over to his computer. To be complimented by Tai of all people was certainly something he was going to have to get used to. Though, before they would get going to DigiCity, Keith decided it would be a neat idea to check on other things, such as the number of gates opened and computers connected to the Gate system. He pulled up a map of the Digital World to check. What he saw shocked him. “Uh... Guys? You're not gonna believe this. At least a dozen more gates around the Digital World have opened, and there's even more computers in the human world connected to the gate system!”

Everyone scrambled up to look. He was right. Roughly a dozen extra red dots were on the map, and the connection counter at the bottom of the screen was even more than that. Vix nodded. “So we've got more humans all over the Digital World.”

Shawn said, “Well, what're we gonna do about it? The Digital World can be a dangerous place.”

Izzy scratched his chin. “True. I suggest delaying our DigiCity tour for now. We have to make sure all the humans coming into the Digital World are safe!”

Sora nodded. “Yeah! I suggest we split up into groups of two partner pairs, cover a lot more ground that way, and we bring everyone to DigiCity. Tai, Izzy, Kari and I will each attach ourselves to one of the groups, since we don't have partners yet.”

Nia spoke up. “Vex, Linker and I will head back to DigiCity. We'll let Riza know that there'll be a whole lot of new humans coming there, and they'll need a welcoming committee.”

Keith grinned, turning around. “Alright, let's get cracking! We want to make sure everyone who has come into the Digital World is accounted for!”

Across the Digital World, whether it was freezing cold or scorching heat, each group used the Gate Terminals to go to where the various humans were, ensuring that they were safe and sound. Thankfully, since the gates were found and being watched over by both local authorities and DigiPol, nobody was in serious danger. Quite a few of the humans had even already found potential partners. Of course, some of them were also Digimon fans, and the lucky ones who got to meet the four Japanese teens were both shocked and awed. Soon enough, a couple of hours later, all the humans and their partners were gathered in DigiCity Park.

Speaking of which, DigiCity Park was very much like Central Park in New York City. It was situated close to the DigiCity CBD. Trees covered the majority of the park, surrounded by flowers and other types of intriguing flora imported from all over the Digital World. The gathering took place around the largest tree in the park, which stood out among the rest for being a few metres taller and wider than the other trees. This tree was supposedly blessed by Yggdrasil itself.

Keith looked on the crowd talking amongst themselves, with his friends near him, and whistled. “Talk about a translation convention.”

Riza stood right next to Keith, and nodded. “Well, this is going to make your speech rather interesting.”

“Wait, a speech?”

“Yes. Isn't that how things are supposed to work? The hero gives a rousing speech to prepare his allies for what's to come?” Riza looked at him with a reassuring smile which failed to reassure Keith in the slightest.

Keith promptly sweatdropped, having realised that he should've seen this coming, but somehow didn't. “W-Wait! Why do I have to give the speech?!”

“You were here before any of us were! Now, get in there and make us proud!” Christa pushed Keith firmly in front of the crowd, whom took notice and stopped talking amongst themselves.

This left Keith feeling awkward. But he knew he had to make do with what he was given. Might as well give it a shot. He cleared his throat, as he announced, “Alright. I'm Keith Windslow, as some of you already know, the first of us to enter the Digital World. Vix and I are more or less responsible for everyone being here. I know everyone's excited. I know I am.” This resulted in a resounding cheer from the crowd. Keith motioned for them to settle down. “But this is the first time the Digital World at large has known the existence of humans, and the Digimon have been gracious hosts (for the most part, anyway). But who knows what would happen if the human world knew that Digimon existed? Remember how, in Digimon Savers, Kurata was able to so easily manipulate the Japanese government into thinking that the Digimon were a threat?”

The crowd nodded and muttered among themselves in agreement. They didn't want to see a repeat of that catastrophe. Keith waited for everyone to stop talking, before he continued. “Now, I don't believe in destiny in the 'traditional' manner. The only destiny that matters to me, is one that I forge with my own two hands. You can all do the same. We don't have Digivices, that's evidence enough that we're really all here by accident, but still! Our work here has only just begun. First things first, stemming the flow of humans coming to the Digital World. The last thing we want is for it to get out of hand. Once we make sure nobody else can just end up here by accident... Well, basically, we'll make sure that both worlds are capable of living in harmony, even if we have to beat the snot out of the local Dark Lord to do it!”

A resounding cheer roared out from the crowd, which managed to reinforce Keith's confidence. Riza began to organise everyone for a 'guided tour' of DigiCity, she was acting as the tour guide mostly because she was also the head of the escort party. Vix walked up to Keith, nudging him with her elbow. “Hey, not bad for a speech you came up with on the fly.”

“Heh... Thanks. I think I could do better, though.” Keith chuckled, scratching his back.

And so the tour began, via a rather large bus, beginning with the CBD. Keith hadn't noticed it before, but the CBD was already beyond the current cities in the real world in terms of modern architecture. Actually, it seemed more like a futuristic city than anything else. The buildings towered over them, their shapes smooth and sleek, the outsides looked metallic, as opposed to blocky and rough concrete and bricks. All sorts of odd shapes formed the various buildings that made up the CBD. Multi-coloured lines ran across and up them, electricity visibly moving through. Gerado smirked, as he stared at the lines. “Somehow, they manage to make electrical cables look pretty. That's impressive.”

Soon enough, the bus stopped outside a mostly-abandoned building, the bottom half being dome-shaped, the other half in the shape of a cylinder, though the lights from the inside at the front were still on. Riza instructed everyone to get out, claiming that this would be a rather special stop. “While James, Roy and Lisa were left to their own devices, I told them about this building. It's old and nobody uses it anymore, so I suggested that they put it to good use somehow. They figured out a way. The renovations are not complete, so watch your step.”

The 'tourists' didn't expect anything fancy. Thus, they were completely unprepared for, and blown away by what they saw.

The Main Lobby was a large, circular chamber with two levels with stairways leading up to the second level. Though seemingly high-tech as the city outside, the room instead was mostly composed of blue carpet and what looked like polished wood, the latter composing the walls, railings and a good deal of the furniture including chairs, which were also covered in a high-quality purple fabric. There were also several impressive paintings on the walls. The room had multiple seating areas with televisions, mostly for quick meetings. There was also a receptionist counter. Add in old-fashioned lighting, and the lobby had a feeling of high class and sophistication. Several Digimon were still in the room, working on the final touches to the renovations.

Tai, whose jaw was metaphorically hanging, was quick to close it. “Okay, I don't mind high class, but this is kinda overkill.”

Izzy inquired, “How'd they manage to renovate this entire room so quickly?”

“A little trick they call 'data manipulation'.” Riza replied, with a smile. “They were going to show you. The wonderful thing about data, is that you can make something out of almost nothing. They decided that this building should be a place for humans to meet up, an 'embassy' of sorts for your world. All three of them mentioned to me that they're rather wealthy, so that explains the high class.”

“That sounds pretty awesome!” Christa smiled, looking around in wonder.

“Prodigious!” Izzy muttered in amazement. “All things considered, that should logically be possible to do in the Digital World, but they never built upon such a concept in the fiction.”

“Five bucks says they were using Google Sketchup.” Jase remarked.

Heath looked at Jase for a moment, and then crossed his arms. “You guys are such nerds, you know that?”

Vix looked at Riza, asking, “So, what's the full building gonna include when it's done?”

Riza replied, “Some of it will look like this. Others, not so much. The largest room in the building is reserved for a battle arena, for friendly matches and training, of course. There'll be an administration block, accommodations, a coding laboratory, and some rooms allocated for card games and other forms of recreation.”

Jase asked, “A coding laboratory?”

“James insisted on it,” Riza replied. “After figuring out that the Digital World's data could be manipulated, he requested a laboratory of sorts for 'coding experiments' to discover new ways to manipulate data in the Digital World, as well as researching pre-existing data such as Effect Cards, and so on.”

Tai nudged Keith with his elbow. “Look at this. Only a few days, and you've already managed to get an embassy in the works! Already well on the way to humans and Digimon living side-by-side in harmony. I have to hand it to you guys, you're doing good.”

Keith laughed bashfully, rubbing the back of his neck. This 'taking compliments from one of the stars of the anime' thing was something he really had to get used to.

“Alright, that's about done,” Riza announced, herding everyone outside, “There's another important destination we have to go to.”

As the bus got moving, Riza sighed, rubbing her temples as she sat at the front of the bus, next to Furey. “These kids are a handful. I'd never thought I'd be providing a tour to a group of young humans...”

Furey looked at her, concerned. “Are you okay, ma'am?”

“Ah, don't worry about me,” Riza smiled at her subordinate. “I'd be lying if I said it hasn't been a lot of fun so far, either.”

The last stop was at the Primary Village. Keith figured they would come here for obvious reasons. The crowd was surprised and awed by what they saw around them, the ones who knew a thing or two about Digimon knew why they were here, and they were even more excited for that reason. When Liz introduced herself and lead everyone to the centre of the village, he wasn't expecting to see such a large cluster of eggs. “That's... A lot of eggs.”

Liz nodded. “These are for all these tamers, culu! But that's not all, culu!”

She pointed towards another cluster of eggs a few metres away, just four of them, but each of them had a note attached. Gerado asked, “Who are those for?”

“Why don't we find out?” Izzy walked over to the eggs, reading one of the notes. His eyes widened. “Um... Taichi-san, this egg is yours.”

“Seriously?!” Tai ran over, and checked the note himself. Indeed, this egg was meant for him. All four eggs were meant for one of the Japanese tamers, and when it was all sorted out, Tai, Izzy, Sora and Kari were each holding an egg. Liz explained, “These eggs appeared at the same time, with their notes already attached. It's like someone wanted you to have them, culu!”

“Knowing our luck, it's either the DigiGnomes or Yggdrasil.” Rina speculated.

Kari smiled, rubbing her egg. “I can't wait to see what's inside!” She immediately got her answer in the form of a YukimiBotamon popping out of the egg, which prompted a squeal and a hug. “Oh my God, I'm gonna get a Gatomon!”

Tai blinked, rubbing his egg, not expecting to be so lucky. He was wrong. What popped out of his egg was a Botamon. “W-Whoa! I might be getting Agumon?!”

“I think we all might be getting the same partners our anime counterparts got!” Izzy said, showing the Pabumon that appeared out of his egg. Sora's egg had contained a Puwamon, which she hugged.

Rafaela blinked, vocally outputting everyone's thoughts on the matter. “Now that's freaky. And pretty cool.”

To the Digimon fans in the crowd, this was an understatement. Before they got too rowdy with excitement, Liz took action. “Now it's time for everyone else to get an egg, culu! Single file, please!”

Tai watched the rest of the crowd gather up in a single file to collect their eggs, before looking at the original eight tamers, holding Botamon in his arms. “Man, it's been a long day... And it's been amazing! Guys, I have an idea for what we're gonna do tomorrow. Our treat. Get up early tomorrow, and... Ah, where should we meet?” He looked at Izzy.

“One of the Gate Terminals would be a good place. Probably the southern shore terminal.” Izzy replied.

Hikari raised an eyebrow, as did Sora, before Tai whispered something in their ears. Then their eyes practically lit up. Geoffrey was now even more confused than he was previously, like the other tamers. “Uh... What are we gonna do tomorrow?”

Tai grinned. “It's a secret. Trust me, you're gonna love it.”

The day ended with everyone heading home to the real world after some fun in the Primary Village. At the Forest Terminal, Keith and Tai shook hands, the former trying a bit too hard to express how happy he was to have met the latter through his grin. “It's been an honour to meet you, Tai-senpai.”

“Likewise. You know, I have a feeling that me and my friends aren't gonna be the real heroes this time.” Tai laughed.

The Japanese tamers went back home through the gate, leaving only the original eight to talk about what had happened, and speculate on what was going to happen tomorrow...

“I apologize. I have never met these two individuals, nor do I know of this 'lord' that you speak of.”

Kazikli smirked, resting his elbows on the wooden table in front of him, his fingers interlocked, as he stared back at the robotic Digimon on the other side of the table. There was only one light source in this old prison interrogation room, and the table, chairs, and the security cameras in the corners were the only other inanimate things in the room that wasn't concrete.

Issac was quickly losing his patience.

In his investigation, the android had thought about questioning the same Devimon that attacked Keith on his first day in the Digital World, suspecting that he knew something about this 'lord' and his subordinates who have been harassing the human tamers in the last three days. While Kazikli seemed completely cooperative, and very polite, the results of the questioning could be summed up by the obvious fact that the Devimon didn't seem to know anything.

However, Issac knew his type. And he knew his type were A-class liars.

Problem is, he had no way to actually tell that he was lying, and any attempt to force him to tell the truth would be pointless. This questioning was going absolutely nowhere. He rose from his chair, nodding. “I suppose I don't need to ask any more questions. Thank you for your time, Kazikli.”

“It's no problem. I am sorry for being unable to assist in your investigation.” Kazikli nodded back, as he rose to his feet, extending his arm to shake the Digipol agent's hand. Issac reluctantly shook his hand, though he knew what a Devimon was capable of, nobody would be stupid enough to try something funny in this room, lest they suffer the wrath of the guards right outside. No tricks this time, it seemed. Issac left the room, as the guards outside came in to secure the prisoner...

Well, that was a complete waste of time.

To Be continued

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