“Thomas, can we stop and rest for a moment?!” Statuedramon wheezed. “We’ve been running ever since we left that lab…” I stopped, looking up at the starry, moonlit sky. It was completely silent, other than the sounds of our footsteps on the sidewalk and our heavy breathing. The ground was wet, and the scent of rain lingered in the air.
“Sorry…I’ve just been thinking about what happened back there,” I said. “Neither of you are hurt, are you?”
“No, we’re fine,” Statch said. “I’m still a bit confused about Flamedramon, though…”
“I think that should be the least of our concerns…” I said. “Adrian…has he really betrayed us?”
“Yes, he did!” Statuedramon shouted. “The little prick betrayed us, all right?!”
I sighed. “Whatever; let’s just get back to Saias’s Villa before Apollomon sends someone else to find us.”
“Too late; I see someone coming right now,” Statch pointed at an approaching Digimon.
“Don’t worry; I think it’s SlashAngemon,” I said.
“I guess we aren’t in that much trouble, then,” Statuedramon sighed with relief. “If Apollomon was really pissed, he’d have sent Dianamon to get us…” I shuddered. Unlike Apollomon, an angered Dianamon was, unfortunately, a rather common sight. Seeing her get angry was the last thing I wanted to see after what just happened.
“True; you are in no danger of being severely reprimanded,” SlashAngemon said as he walked up to us. Behind him was Irene, who looked even more scared and nervous than she usually did. “But do not think you’ll get off without being reprimanded at all; after all, Apollomon did tell you not to go, didn’t he? And you, Zelda; you were supposed to bring them back, not go with them!”
“Don’t yell at her!” I snapped. “…I talked her into going with us. It’s my fault, not hers.”
“…I understand,” SlashAngemon smiled.
“Um…what were you doing there?” Irene asked quietly.
“I wanted to see if I could find the one who killed Saias,” I said. “We didn’t find whoever did it, but we did find…some other things that were of interest.”
“Really, now? And what have you discovered?” SlashAngemon asked.
“We found some more people who could turn into Digimon like Garret,” Zelda said. “And among them was Adrian.” Irene and SlashAngemon both looked at her with stunned expressions.
“Adrian?! You must be joking! Adrian would never betray us!” SlashAngemon shouted.
“He did! That son of a bitch betrayed us, and he’s a Bio Hybrid, too!” Statuedramon said. “He’s betrayed us, so just deal with it!”
“…That lab is where Humans are turned into those Bio Hybrids,” I said. “And if that’s not enough to cause confusion, we escaped because Flamedramon helped us out.”
“You mean the Flamedramon? The one who’s trying to kill everybody? That Flamedramon?” Irene asked.
“That’s the one,” I replied to Irene, making sure to speak quietly, as I did not wish to upset her. “Though, he did say he was only helping us because it benefitted him.”
“What the hell is going on here?” SlashAngemon whispered. “Flamedramon helping you out, Adrian betraying us, Humans turning into Digimon…” SlashAngemon turned his head to look at us. “I’m going to that lab. Thomas, Zelda, Statuedramon, you go back to the Villa. Irene, come with me, sweetie.”
“What?! You’re going to Braig’s lab now?” I asked.
“And after you reprimanded us for going, too,” Statuedramon said.
“I apologize for that; I was unaware of the situation,” SlashAngemon said. “I’ll be careful not to be detected, especially with the possibility that Flamedramon is still there.”
“We left close to an hour ago; it’s possible they’ve all left,” I said.
“Right; we’ll both be back tomorrow.” SlashAngemon and Irene took the directions we received from Lector and went to the laboratory.
“There doesn’t seem to be anybody here…” Irene and I had been walking through the lab for nearly fifteen minutes. “If Flamedramon and the others were still here, we’d probably be hearing the sounds of fighting.”
“That’s a good point…” Irene whispered.
“Irene, are you okay? You seem quieter than usual,” I looked at the small girl, who was looking steadily down at the ground.
“I’m…fine…this place…frightens me,” Irene said.
“I’m sorry; we’ll leave as soon as possible, okay?” Irene nodded slowly. “I won’t let anything bad happen to you; I promise.”
“That room over there seems to be empty,” I said. “Why don’t you go through the things in that room, and see if you can find anything important…” Irene nodded again as she walked into the room I pointed to. “I’ll be in the room next door; come get me if you need anything.” No reply. I sighed. “I probably shouldn’t have brought her here; too dangerous…what was I thinking?” I walked into the room next to Irene’s and looked around at the various book lying around on the floor. One book in particular caught my attention. “Mythos of the…Dark Area?! What is something like this doing here?! The Dark Area is where all evil Digimon and the souls of Humans go when they die…” I picked up the book — a difficult task for someone with blades for arms — and placed it on a nearby desk, opening it. As I read through the book, I grew more and more confused by its contents, and when I read a particular sentence, my heart nearly stopped. “‘It is said that with enough Quintessence, one can open the door to the Dark Area, thereby releasing the darkness within…’ Who would want to…do something like that…?” As I prepared to read on, I heard Irene walk into the room, crying. Forgetting about the book, I turned around. “Irene, are you okay?! What’s wrong?!” Irene shook her head. “Did…someone find you?” Once again, she shook her head.
“I’m…sorry…” was all Irene managed to say through her tears. My heart sank.
“…No…I should be the one apologizing,” I walked over to Irene. “I shouldn’t have left you alone when you were so frightened; I shouldn’t have even brought you here in the first place…”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry…” Irene repeated over and over.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?” I asked.
“I don’t…have any choice…” Irene held out a small, trembling hand, and inside it, a strange, blue device.
“Irene…is that a Digivice? It looks like the one Garret had, according to Thomas’s description,” I said. “Where did you find it?” Irene began crying even harder as she placed her hand over the device, becoming enveloped in a blinding light; when it disappeared, Irene had grown several inches taller, and was wearing a blue evening gown. She no longer looked like the timid, adorable young girl I had grown accustomed to seeing every day; she was now a beautiful, adult woman. She was absolutely gorgeous…Sitting on the ground behind her was an urn overflowing with water and in her quivering hands was, pointed directly at my chest, a bow and arrow.
“…You’re with them, aren’t you…” Irene nodded, tears quickly streaming down her lovely face. For some reason, I didn’t feel angry. It was more like I couldn’t get angry. Even though I knew Irene had betrayed us, I couldn’t bring myself to hate her. I don’t know how to hate somebody I loved so much…
“This is why I didn’t want to come here…” Irene sobbed. “I knew you would…discover something…I knew I would be…forced to…to…”
“I understand,” I smiled at Irene. “Do what you must to me, Irene. Just get it over—” As I spoke, Irene released her arrow, which found its way into my chest. The impact and the pain knocked me back, and it hit me with a tremendous amount of force; it had nearly torn all the way through my back and hit the wall behind me. As blood came spilling out my wound, I fell to the ground, landing on my back.
“No…oh, Goddess, what have I done?!” Irene dropped her bow and ran over to me. “SlashAngemon! Please, please don’t die!”