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“This is the Digital World?” Mei asked sarcastically.
They drove on the side of a mountain. High rocks and steep slopes paved the way to their newest adventure. Happy digimon flew above as the forest below overtook the high mountains in the distance. Everyone stared in wonder except for Mei. As the others loved the nature and marvels of this new world, she just wanted to sleep.
“It sure is,” Zoe said happily.
Mei shrugged rudely and said,” I should’ve asked for the brochure.
“This looks familiar,” Zoe said.
“It is,” Michael said,” We’ll be arriving at Flame Terminal shortly.”
“Flame Terminal? Really?” Zoe asked anxiously.
“Sure,” Michael said,” We need supplies. And who knows. You might just bump into Bokomon and Neemon while your there.”
Koji watched suspiciously. To him there were more questions than answers. He needed to get to the bottom of this, so he demanded,” Michael, why are we really here?”
“Koji,” Tommy said, like he didn’t want anyone fighting this early into the adventure.
“Don’t talk to him that way,” Dorumon said defensively,” He did everything to bring you here and this is how you thank him. I ought to-”
“No,” Michael said,” you deserve answers. After all, you saved both worlds and all our lives. But that excuse won’t work much longer once we repay the debt and save your lives.”
“You haven’t answered my question.”
“Alright,” Michael said,” You’re here for protection. We six have to find four special something’s I won’t tell you about now. The point is, you need to help us seal away a very bad virus called Epsilon.”
“What is Epsilon?”
“I‘ll tell you soon. But the point is, unless he‘s stopped both worlds will suffer.”
“Alright,” Koji said,” I can wait for my answers, except for one. What is this place really?”
“It’s a volcano.”
“Yeah right,” J.P. said.
“Don’t you remember the day you came here? The fractal code had been scanned by Cerberumon and there was nothing near the terminal. Once you freed the code, the volcanoes returned. I mean, what else would be right next to a place called Flame Terminal in the Flame continent?”
“Okay,” Koji said,” I just wanted to make sure we weren’t on a goose chase.”
“It depends on the goose,” Michael said wisely, like a sage or sensei,“ I’ll be in the control room. I’ll come when we’re there.”
As he walked away, everyone took in a deep breath. So this was their new journey? A virus strong enough to break the spirits? Not to mention all these new girls. They were characters, each with faults that only the Digital World could fix. It was going to be a long journey, so they knew it’d be best to get to know each other. Tommy turned to Emma as she stared out the window. He was going to ask about her home, but suddenly noticed a tiny twinkle by her neck.
“Hey Emma,” Tommy asked,” I like your necklace.”
“Really?” she said happily in her angelic voice,” My mother gave it to me. It’s my most prized possession.”
She took it off to show him a tiny blue triangle on a silver chain. Inside it looked almost like a liquid was floating inside, but he believed it was his imagination. Everyone crowded around to watch the most expensive rock they’d probably ever see.
“It’s beautiful,” Sarah said.
“Is it sapphire?” Zoe asked in wonder.
“I don’t know really,” she said,” The closest thing they could compare it to was diamond, but the composition’s way off. But whatever it is, it’s supposed to be flawless.”
“What about you?” Koichi asked Beth,” You bring anything important?”
“Yeah,” she said, pulling out an mp3 and joking,” It’s got three thousand of my closest songs.”
She put it on and put the volume to high as she rocked into her own little world. You could easily tell she loved music. It was so loud you could hear it from across the train. But they ignored her as they began talking about the most random subjects and unimportant topics. All, that is, except Christine.
“Hey,” J.P. said as he sat next to her. She was absorbed in her book, the one Zoe wrote after they left the Digital World two years ago, as the conversation carried on without her. Without a word, she shyly pretended to read, trying to make it seem like she wasn’t intimidated. She tried ignoring him as he asked,” What about you. You got anything you wanna talk about?”
“No thank you,” she said, sliding over two seats,” I’m fine with my book.”
“C’mon,” he said,” don’t you wanna meet everyone?”
“Oh no,” she said with a lighter, but still nervous tone,” my mother says I’m no good with people.”
“Well she’s wrong. Everybody’s good with people. We’re meant to be with people.’
“Not me,“ she said with a false smile. He leaned next to her, causing her to shudder as he said,” Just try it.”
“What do you suggest I do?”
“Wait for the right moment. When someone mentions something you can relate to, don’t hesitate and join in.”
“It’s that simple?” she said with newfound hope,” Thank you.”
She walked up while they talked about what they’d miss about their homes. Just like J.P. said, she waited for the opportune moment. Christine gathered what little courage she had as Zoe said,” I’ll probably miss weekends in the park.”
“I know how that feels,” she almost blurted out, but got her point across. All eyes were on her as she almost cowered in her tiny seat. Everyone scared her. J.P., Takuya, even Tommy and her own partner Renamon. But when Zoe replied, she realized there was no going back from there.
“Yes. I remember the green hills in France, so I’ll probably miss those a lot.”
“I remember green hills,” Emma said,” I used to ride our horses along them. I hope my aunt can take care of them without me.”
“Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll be fine.”
As Christine was about to speak again, the train started screeching and the terminal came into view. Metal huts on a steel platform were the sure signs of Flame Terminal. Pillars of fire came from chimneys atop the homes. Beth turned off her music as Michael walked in and said,” Alright, you’ve got an hour each. We’re leaving in two, so hurry back.”
“Whatever,” Mei said as she brushed by him, taking her bag and a fold up chair with her.
“Man, what’s her problem?” Takuya said.
“Hey Tommy, would you come with me to the forest?” Emma asked,” I wanted to pick some flowers to take home.”
“Sure,” he said as they ran past Michael, though unlike Mei they actually said,” Excuse me.”
Michael walked out as he watched the digimon walking around the town. It was a quaint little village. Digimon flew in the sky and ran around in the forest. A cool wind brushed by as the leaves rustled in the distance. But it was a mask. Everyone here was in danger and Michael knew the sooner they left, the sooner this world wouldn’t need that mask.
“Alright, this is weird,” Beth said as she examined the trees. What was weird was they weren’t trees. They were houses shaped to look like trees. She quickly realized the village stretched into the “forest” and started exploring more, just to see what else wasn’t as it appeared.
“Oh, hello there,” Emma said as she noticed a school of Poyomon following her,” Would you like to pick flowers with us?”
“Yes please,” they all said in unison. Several of them crowded around Tommy and Emma as others rode on Liollmon’s back. The rest bounced around, following them wherever they went.
Mei was sunbathing just beside the tree line. She held up a reflecting plate as the light bounced off her sunglasses. Koji laid underneath one of the trees. He was clearly bored, watching the clouds as he asked,” Why don’t you go help Michael, or do something useful.”
“I am helping,” she said sarcastically,” I’m staying out of everyone’s way.”
Koji sat up, brushing the fallen leaves off his jacket and said,” Since when is that helping. I meant we should go hunt for supplies, or food or-.”
“Yeah, give me a signal for when to care.”
“I’m just saying you could do something. I mean, we’re going to be here awhile, the least you could do is carry a few boxes of food.”
She took off her sunglasses, stuck her hand against her cheek and said sarcastically,” Wow, you’re so right Koji. I’ll go do that, right after I jump off a cliff!”
“You know I don’t have to be here.”
“Then why are you stupid? I didn’t ask for you to watch me. I know how to sit down, so there’s no reason for you to be here.”
“Sheesh,” he said as he lay back under the tree,” You’re a disaster waiting to happen.”
“What the heck’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means you don’t have the stuff to last a week in this world.”
“You don’t know me. I can go help whenever I want.”
“Then go help.”
“Yeah, on any other day I’d let that bother me, but it’s eighty degrees, the sun’s shining, and I’m parked in this chair for the next hour and a half. So if you know what’s good for you, you’ll shut up and leave me alone.”
In town, Koichi decided to help Michael and Christine while Beth listened to her music. They formed a conveyor belt, carrying food, water and other supplies into a pile on the station floor. As they carried the load, Koichi couldn’t help but feel Beth should help a little bit.
“Hey Beth,” he said, but didn’t get a response,” BETH!”
“What? Where’s the fire?” she yelled as the headphones fell off her ears.
“Sorry,” he said,” I just wanted to know if you’d help us.”
“Oh. Okay,” she said kindly. He handed her a large bag as she outstretched her arms. As it dropped, she took slow steps onto the train, struggling just to move.
“Ma’am, are you alright?” Gaomon asked as she strained and whined.
“I’m fine,” she forced out.
“Here, let me help,” Koichi said as he helped her get it up,” I’m sorry. This one was a bit heavy.”
In the forest, Emma and her troop found an open area filled with colorful blooms sprouting from the lush earth. Liollmon lay down beside her as she picked the ones she liked most into a bouquet to bring home. Tommy waited for her to finish as the wind blew against his face. The Poyomon bounced around, chasing each other and climbing into the trees and one of them slept in her lap. A few of them even crowded around Liollmon as another landed on Tommy’s head.
“Hey Tommy,” she asked as she examined the flowers,” How did you feel when you first came here?”
He put his finger over his mouth, thinking about way back when, only to reply,” I was scared, I guess.”
“That’s a relief!” she let out happily,” I thought I was the only one.”
He laughed as she put the flowers in her bag. She sat beside him, watching Liollmon bring her even more of the colorful things. As she fiddled with them, Tommy told her,” It’s okay if you’re scared. Digimon can be scary a lot of times.”
“I know,” she said, tying the stems,” But I wasn’t scared of the digimon. I was just afraid of leaving all my friends.”
“Yeah,” he said sadly, but as she continued to work with the flora, Emma told him,” But, now I can make even more friends. So it’s not that bad.”
She revealed a crown of delicate flowers, tied into a ring. Emma placed it over Liollmon’s head as he ran off to play with the Poyomon. They both lay down now, filled with visions of both past and present. While she watched the digimon have their fun, Tommy took a sandwich out of his bag. He tore it in half, handing the bigger piece to Emma as he asked,” Hungry?”
“Thank you,” she said with a smile.
In the forest, J.P. was guiding Zoe everywhere but where they were trying to go. As they wandered, Zoe lost patience with every step. The aroma’s were calming and the scenery peaceful, but J.P. was starting to get just plain annoying.
“J.P.,” Zoe said, red faced and frustrated,” You’ve got no idea where we are, do you?”
“Uh, no,” he assured her, but it was a giant lie,” I promise, I’ll show you the most romantic spot in the whole continent.”
“Yeah right,” she said, dragging him with her as she said,” C’mon, we’re going back to the village.”
“But I know where we are!”
Michael put the last of their stuff in their pile, big enough to keep them comfortable until the next terminal. As he began loading them into their backpacks, he told them,” I’ve got it from here. Go enjoy yourselves.”
“Are you sure?” Christine asked.
“Positive,” he said with as smile,” Go have fun.”
Beth and Koichi took Christine with them into town, leaving Michael to do the hard work by himself. The rest of the day was peaceful. Michael finished quickly, evenly dividing the supplies for each person. They regrouped, suddenly realizing the train was gone. As they stood around, Michael told them,” Let’s get going.”
“Going?” Beth asked, or rather whined,” but the train’s not here yet.”
“I know,” he said as Dorumon followed him down the station platform,” We’re walking from here.”
“Walking?” Mei screamed,” Yeah right.”
“The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step,” he said, stopping for them all.
“How many miles?” Beth complained.
“Relax,” Koichi said,” It’s not as bad as you think.”
“Yeah. It’s all right!“ Emma said happily, deciding to follow him. Surprisingly, she didn’t think of it as work but rather an adventure. She tried to convince them,” C’mon guys, it’s a quest. We’re like those movie adventurers.”
Before Emma took the first step, she tripped over her own foot. As she fell on the floor, Tommy ran to help her up. He watched her with fear, only to see she was still smiling. She just brushed her hair back sand said,” Sorry, now I’m ready.”