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After a few minutes of searching, I was finally able to find Hannah in one of the less broken-down houses, sitting by herself in the middle of what seemed to be the house’s living room. Though, based on how badly the house was actually damaged, it could very well have been any room. Amazingly, there was a lit bulb that illuminated the room, apparently having avoided destruction.
“Zelda...It’s been so long. I...I’m glad you're safe and alive,” Hannah said, smiling gently at me as I sat down on the floor in front of her and a fire that she had started to keep warm. “You’ve grown into such a strong and beautiful young woman...so different from the adorable little girl I vowed to always protect after our father abandoned us.”
“Strong and…beautiful...me? Do you…really think so?” I asked nervously, blushing slightly as Hannah nodded. I continued to smile as she began stroking my hair. “Well, I’m not so sure that I’m strong, and I know I’m not very pretty, but if you say I am…then I’m glad I grew up to be someone like you, then; it's what I’ve dreamed about since I was a little girl. I always felt like a bother to you, having you protect me from the people in our village...and our mother...”
“You could never be a bother to me, sweetie,” Hannah said, a slightly shocked expression on her face. “I loved watching out for you like that; it made feel that, even though I’m one of the Marked, I had a purpose in life. Do you remember when those kids were throwing rocks and stuff at you, and that one hit your face and made you bleed?”
“Yes...you...stabbed and murdered some of them...” A look of repulsion suddenly spread across my face, though Hannah didn't seem to notice.
“That’s why I was gone for so long, dear…I was tracking down the ones that had escaped. You’ll be glad to know that I have successfully killed each one of them,” Hannah said, smiling proudly as I felt a dizzying sickness come over me. “And do you remember that one time when our mother was being especially cruel to you?”
“You'll have to be more specific,” I said, growing more and more nauseated by the second. “I was...speaking of the first time she actually, intentionally harmed you,” Hannah said. “Even though she was kind of drunk at the time…”
How could I forget? That’s how I got the scar under my eye…
“She always just yelled at us — mainly at you, for some reason — but she never once harmed either of us until that night...when she tried to forcibly remove our Marks…you remember what happened next, don't you?”
“Yes...you stabbed and murdered her…after she passed out…” I said. “After you found her lying unconscious on the ground, after she had cut the skin off my hand…you killed her…”
“Yes; I have never been more proud of myself than at that moment. I really felt that I had finally done something right, and that I had done a good job protecting you,” Hannah sighed, a relaxed look on her face. She continued to stroke my hair, eventually brushing away the hair that covered my face. “It’s such a shame, really...”
“…Anna? Do you…ever regret murdering those innocent kids? Or our mother, perhaps?” I asked.
“Hmm? Oh, not at all, and besides; those kids were far from innocent if they were making my baby sister cry...I was just thinking about how much of a shame it is that such an ugly scar like this one would cause you to hide your pretty face,” Hannah gently ran her thumb over the scar under my right eye. “When we were young, I always loved looking into your eyes. They’re so beautiful, even prettier than sapphires, and I loved how much they lit up the few times you smiled back then...”
“Oh, Anna…I…I missed you so much,” I said.
“I’ve missed you too, sweetie,” Hannah said. “I thought about you each and every day we were apart.”
“What do you think it was that Lector wanted to tell us, anyway?” Statuedramon asked. “He told us why he wanted us to go with him, didn’t he?”
“I don’t think he ever did; I guess we’ll find out why when we get there,” I said.
“Thomas…I have another question,” Statuedramon said nervously.
“Yes, what is it?”
“Well, you know how Zelda said that she has Human and Digimon blood?” I nodded. “How…is that even possible? How can Humans and Digimon…”
“I suppose only certain kinds of Digimon can do that. Either way, I’d rather not think about how it’s done,” I interjected. Statuedramon sighed. “…What’s wrong?”
“Well…let’s just say it’s possible I might have a child…of the Human variety…You see, I don’t quite remember using—”
“Good night, Statuedramon.”
All through the night, I lay on my back, unable to sleep with the loud, echoing cacophony of noises made by Statuedramon — most of which was snoring — that disrupted the peaceful silence. Now, as the sun was low in the sky, I deeply regretted not having moved farther away from my friend during the night. It was a wonder that I ever got any sleep at all, having him around.
“I sure slept well,” Statch yawned. “How ‘bout you?”
“No comment.” I looked away from the shorter Digimon, noticing that Zelda was approaching us. To my relief, she wore her usual, lovely smile across her face.
“Good morning,” she said. “How did you two sleep last night?”
“I slept great,” Statch said.
“I was with Statuedramon all night long,” I said.
“So, you didn’t sleep at all?” Zelda asked.
“Not a wink.”
“You’re mean, Thomas!” Statch whined.
“And you deprive me of sleep,” I retorted. “So, where’s Hannah?”
“She promised she’d come with me to meet you, but I don’t see her,” Zelda said. After a moment, she breathed in and sighed. “You know…The Marked can be either Human or Digimon, and we have attributes of both.”
“So, what attribute of Digimon did you inherit?” Statuedramon asked. “You look like a Human to me.”
“As I said the other night, I’m able to eat quite a lot. It’s because I’ve inherited a Digimon’s voracious appetite,” Zelda said. “I imagine all the other Marked are like that as well.”
That explains a lot… I thought back to each and every time I’ve witnessed her out-eat Statuedramon while her belly showed only a small bulge. She must have a bottomless pit in her stomach…I’d better be prepared to cook an entire mountain of food for her when we get back home.
“It also seems as though we stop showing signs of aging after a certain point, and we may even have a lengthened lifespan due to our Digimon heritage. And yet…Hannah and I appear as Humans on the outside. Because we have attributes of both Humans and Digimon, we are treated as being neither by both races, and instead, we are given our own, separate race, and treated like dirt.”
“…I’ll make sure you are never treated that way again,” I whispered. She smiled bashfully at me.
“Oh, Hannah, there you are,” Zelda said. Her older sister began slowly walking up to her, cautiously glancing toward Statuedramon and me.
“Because we are neither Human nor Digimon, the two races created by Goddess Arcadia untold thousands of years ago, we are treated like some form of an accident, like an insult to the very goddess that created them,” Hannah said. “Because of this, we are forced to live far away from both. We Marked must do the same. Zelda, I am going to have to forbid you from seeing these two ever again.”
“What?! You forbid me?! What right do you have to say something like that?!” Zelda asked. I stared at her. It was the first time I had ever seen her angry. Her eyes shined intensely, and her voice was filled with a very passionate rage.
“I have every right to do so!” Hannah said. Without any warning, she immediately and hurriedly took off her shirt and turned around. In the middle of her upper back was the symbol that revealed she was one of the Marked. “This is why we can’t be with them. This is the reason you cannot be friends with them. We are different from them. We cannot coexist. You and I should not even exist in the first place!” I sighed, and looked sadly down at the ground. To my left, Statuedramon was staring up in wonder at Hannah’s bare chest. I smacked him upside the head, and he instantly looked away.
“Hannah…I…I told them what I am, you know,” Zelda said. “They still want to be with me…They still want to be friends with me…” A single tear fell down her cheek.
“…We’re leaving this city shortly,” Hannah said, turning around as she began putting her shirt back on.
“…I’m not going with you,” Zelda said.
“I’m…sorry. I love you, Hannah, and I’m happy to know you’re still alive, but I…I just can’t be with someone who thinks the way you do. Thomas and Statuedramon…they’re my best friends. I told them what I am, and it doesn’t make any difference to them what I am.”
“Zelda, you can’t be serious!” Hannah exclaimed.
“Hey, I hate to interrupt, but I think we’ve got a really big problem,” I said.
“What is it now?!” Hannah asked. I pointed to the ground; Hannah looked down and gasped. Forming around all our legs was a thin layer of ice, swiftly increasing in size.
“Oh, no,” Statch groaned. “Clive’s back!”
“Glad to see you haven’t forgotten about me!” Clive said, stepping out from inside a demolished house. “Be honest; did you miss me?”
“Unfreeze me and fight me head-on, Human coward!” Hannah shouted.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that; I’m not much of a fighter by myself, unfortunately,” Clive said. “Besides, you ladies look so…exquisite, trapped in my ice. Sometimes, my ice merely traps others without any harmful side-effects, sometimes it can kill in an instant, while other times, it can slowly drain one’s life away. That’s my favorite way of doing things. I do wonder, though; will your final breath be a scream of terror? Or, will it be little more than a sigh as it escapes past your sapphire lips? Or perhaps you’d prefer to save your scream for when I press my own lips against yours…or will you do it when I…touch…you? Ah, so many possibilities, so little time from now until the time you all die…”
“Flame Fist!” A thick swirl of flames wrapped itself around all four of us, melting the ice that had trapped us. “Fire Rocket!” Out of nowhere, Flamedramon, covered in flames, leapt through the air and crashed into Clive and pinned him to the ground.
“Who are you?!” Hannah asked.
“This is Flamedramon,” Zelda said. “He’s one of the Marked, like us.”
“You…are one of the Marked?” Hannah asked.
“I would not lie about something that I was at one time murdered for,” Flamedramon said.
“…Flamedramon, is it? I have a request for you,” Hannah said. “Take my baby sister and leave this city. Take her far away from this man; take her wherever you think is safe for her to be, but please; just get her away from him.” I was honestly uncertain if she was referring to me or Clive.
“Well, how could I possibly say ‘no’ to my fellow Marked sister? C’mon, Zelda; let’s go,” Flamedramon said.
“Wait, Hannah, what about you?!” Zelda asked.
“I’ll be fine; trust me! I returned to you after six years, didn’t I? Well, I’ll return again, but this time, it’ll be sooner!” Hannah said.
“We’re staying,” I said. “We’ll go back to Saias’s villa after we’ve dealt with this guy.”
“C’mon, let’s go,” Flamedramon said. “I’ll take you to that…villa, if you want. I won’t even burn it down.”
“…Okay. Please, be careful; all three of you,” Zelda said.
“Don’t worry; nothing’s going to happen to us,” Statuedramon smiled at Zelda as Flamedramon took her away.
“So, it’s just you three I get to freeze, then? No problem; I’ll make sure to make this as enjoyable as possible,” Clive said. “For me.”
“So, where is this villa you speak of?” Flamedramon asked. The two of us had begun to run from Clive.
“It’s north of Yew,” I said. “There’s a forest behind it; that might be part of Lotisea Jungle.”
“North of Yew…Well, that shouldn’t take us so long. Only a few hours if I carry you and run…You don’t mind, do you?”
“Zelda!” The sound of someone calling my name brought our run to a halt.
“Who said that? Who’s there?!” Flamedramon asked. I looked to my left just as a small girl walked out of an alleyway.
“Irene?! Irene, is that you?!” I asked.
“Yes…it’s me,” Irene said. “…I…I’m sorry if I made you worry…”
“Oh, I’m so relieved to know you’re all right! Everyone got a note that we all thought was from the knights…saying they were going to…”
“No…it wasn’t because of the knights that I was gone for so long.”
“Well, that’s good to hear! Everyone’s been real worried about you! Hey, where’s SlashAngemon?”
“SlashAngemon is…oh my god…”
“He’s dead…because of me,” Irene said. Tears began to fall from her eyes to the sandy ground.
“No, Irene; you can’t blame yourself for—”
“I murdered him!” Irene said. This was the loudest I’ve ever heard her speak. “I…I killed him!”
“He’s dead because of me. Just like…the two of you will be.” Irene pulled, of all things, a Digivice from the pocket of her dress. “Bio Hybrid DNA…Charge…” The small girl placed her palm over her Digivice, enveloping her in a blinding light. “Bio Hybrid Digivolve to…BioAquarimon…”
“Irene…you…you’ve been a Bio Hybrid this entire time?” I asked.
“I’m sorry…Zelda,” BioAquarimon said, tearing up. Picking up her bow, she aimed an arrow at me. “I’m not going to be able to go back with you.”
“You two…stay out of my way!” Hannah yelled, taking another swing at Clive with her lance.
“No can do; the two of us have a grudge against this guy, too,” I said.
“I’d be happy to fight all three of you at once,” Clive suggested.
“Fuck off!” Statch swung his sword at the rapist, who ducked out of the way at the last second.
“This man needs to pay for what he did to my little sister!” Hannah said.
“What?! What did he do to Zelda?!” I asked. “What did you do?!”
“I keep telling you; I never actually did anything to her!” Clive said. “I swear…Nobody listens anymore these days…”
“Don’t act like you care about her! You know she’s different from you!” Hannah yelled at me.
“That doesn’t matter to me! That doesn’t change the fact that she’s my friend! I care about her the same as I care about any of my other friends!” Hannah glared at me for what seemed to be the longest time after that.
“This man raped and impregnated our surrogate mother,” Statuedramon said. “If anyone should be allowed to murder him, it’s the two of us!” Hannah glanced at the Rookie Digimon.
“If you’d like, I could freeze over all three of you at once,” Clive said. “It would save me the trouble of having to fight you. Actually, I think that’s what I’m going to do!” Clive held up his hands, which then became surrounded by ice. “This ice…it will freeze you all in a matter of seconds, sapping away your life before you know it! Fate sure is a bitch, ain’t it? See you all in hell!”
“Irene, why don’t we talk about this?” I suggested.
“No…I can’t go back,” BioAquarimon sobbed. “I can’t…I killed one of our own…why would they welcome someone like me back?!”
“Irene…I’m sure that…well, maybe…Apollomon might be willing to forgive you…”
“Zelda, let me handle this,” Flamedramon said, stepping between me and the Bio Hybrid.
“I’m not going to kill her,” Flamedramon whispered. “I’ll just knock some sense into her. Flame Fist!”
“Goddess Urn!” From the urn resting on the ground behind her, BioAquarimon unleashed a thick blast of water that doused out Flamedramon’s attack before striking him, knocking him backward onto the ground. “Do me a favor and don’t underestimate me, Flamedramon; as I am now, I’m a Mega level Digimon.”
Her voice…her voice is filled with despair, but…she sounds so much different…Her voice is filled with confidence, too…
“Damn it…she’s so…powerful,” Flamedramon said weakly.
“I don’t deserve forgiveness for what I have done…for what I am about to do; I know that,” BioAquarimon said. “I have been ordered…to eliminate both you and Thomas. This is a direct order…from the only person who can help me find the person I’m looking for. This fate…is unstoppable…”