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Server Iliad
Shohei Nishizawa - Newt

Shohei stood and rolled his shoulders, glancing about the darkened beach. Sweat glistened on his cheekbones but the air was surprisingly crisp. It crackled about Shohei and Newt. Clumps of stray data floated about in assorted blends of ones and zeroes. Golden browns and ripe greens of data swirling like dust in the open air. Shohei rubbed his thumb over an open palm. The friction was smooth but distinctly distant as if he were wearing gloves. His body felt lighter, but that may have been a side-effect from the toll that becoming data had on him. He didn’t know what he expected in coming to Iliad, what that would entail, but he was in one piece and for that he was grateful.

Shohei was quickly fascinated by the landscape, scanning the strange horizon intently. The black-blue gradient sky was particularly otherworldly. The yellow sun hung, static, just above the violent, whirling ocean that curved on the horizon. It was chaotic. A terrifying beauty, unlike anything Shohei had seen before. He caught himself gawking at the alien landscape and glanced over at Newt who was doing the same.

“This is gorgeous…” Shohei said. He would have regretted how lame that sounded if he even registered saying it.

Newt nodded. “Yeah...” His red eyes sparkled at the sight of the yellowing purple sky. Both Shohei and Newt were entranced by the view for different reasons. For Shohei, it was the chaos of the water that hooked his attention. He thought of the roiling Japanese coasts and of his uncle, a fisherman who always warned him about the power of the ocean, the visceral nature of its ebbs and flows. He loved his grandparent's idyllic country home, but he admired the fear that the water, and nature as a whole, instilled in him. Newt, however, felt the beach was familiar. He felt that this world was surely where he came from.

Shohei didn’t break his admiration for the view. “You don’t happen to have some inherent knowledge about this place, do you?”


“Ah… figures,” Shohei sat on the charcoal-blue sand and tossed his bag to his side. He crossed his arms, resting elbows on knees. “Let’s sit for a sec.” The journey was much shorter than Shohei thought. Maybe he romanticized the notion of traveling to Server Iliad based on the servers’ name alone. It was foolish, but he wanted to go on a sprawling Homer-esque epic to make it to Iliad. Foolish because he knew he didn’t have the patience to be an epic hero. However, his journey was only beginning and he had yet to properly recognize that. “We have a ton of time to find M, so we should just chill.”

“You chill a lot, Sho,” Newt said, taking a seat next to Shohei.

Shohei laid back looking up at the sky. “I think chilling is important. We all need a break now and then - it’s important. I mean, maybe I rest too often, but there’s no use in giving one-hundred and ten percent all the time, right? Why... do you think I’m lazy?”

Newt held his breath. “I- Nah. I like chilling.”

Shohei chuckled. “I’m only jokin’. I am kind of tired now, though.”


Shohei turned to Newt. “Yeah, did it not hurt for you? It feels like I’ve been put through a meat grinder.”

“I actually feel amazing!” Newt also leaned back and stretched his stubby, icy limbs. “Never felt better.”

“Weird.” Shohei peered over at Newt. “I can barely remember what happened to us. I think we were pulled into the D-Loader or something and all of a sudden we’re here and now my body is sore as hell.”

“If you’re sore, I might be able to help,” Newt said. His hands steamed up from the warm ocean air meeting his chilled palms.

Shohei flinched but quickly lowered his guard. “Well... I guess you could work some of your, uh, coldness into my shoulders. Not too cold though!”

“Sure.” Shohei rolled over onto his stomach. Newt put his three-fingered hands on Shohei’s shoulder blades. A chilling sensation flooded every fiber in Shohei’s body, relaxing his tensed muscles. It wasn’t overwhelmingly cold. “How’s that?”

“Unreal.” Shohei breathed heavily as Newt chilled his shoulders. He pondered the bizarreness of his current situation: a small bipedal lizard was acting as a cooling pad for his back. I shouldn’t really complain-, I mean... I’m alive, so things could be worse, but why is this happening to me? I’m not bored with my life - in fact, I might just be the most motivated I’ve ever been. Maybe this is a test for some crazy VR tech. Or maybe my life really is boring... Shohei let his thoughts ramble on, but he wasn’t as worried anymore, now that he and Newt arrived safely. If he had any anxiety it was from the excitement of being thrust into an entirely new world. Despite how much he valued relaxing, Shohei also enjoyed new experiences. He patted his pant pockets and pulled out the rectangular Digi.vice. He grunted as he tried to pull the device towards his face. He powered it on. There was a new message from M:

Welcome to Server Iliad, the digital world. You’re in the Tropics Province, currently on the shoreline of the Net Ocean. I do not recommend entering the water. Four others are coming to Iliad soon. Try to find them and head north.

Best of luck,

Shohei curled his bottom lip and let out a thoughtful ‘hm,’ quickly wondering which direction was north. As if on queue, a crackle of thunder rumbled from one of the colossal nimbus clouds above the water and couple fractals shot toward the treeline behind Shohei and Newt.

Shohei fired a glance at the meteors. He tucked his chin in and tightened his eyebrows. “Are those… the other people?”

Newt squinted, watching the meteors flare toward land. They hit the trees. “I think so…”

Shohei watched the treeline in the distance. “Think we should check it out?”

Before Newt could reply, another rumble sounded off, this time behind him and Shohei. From the trees, a green and orange feathered bird the size of a small jet plane careened towards the waters. At was clad in silvery armor on the tops of its wings, neck, and head. The beating of its wings fired swirls of dark sand into the air like a trail of black smoke. The creature swooped to the left and circled back to Shohei and Newt. A wall of sand hit the duo. They hesitated but scrabbled to their feet as the beast soared toward them. As they ran, Shohei noticed the D-Loader was beeping and there was text on-screen that said:

New Entity Detected
Diatry.mon - Ancient Bird Digi.mon

Shohei and Newt started to run toward where, presumably, the other people landed, but he quickly noticed a couple more meteors shooting from the clouds. In between quick breaths, Shohei shouted, “Newt, do you have any way to deal with this thing!” Diatry.mon roared as it trailed behind the duo. The duo was hit by the sharp sonic waves of the bird’s roar. It hit them like a dense wind and filled their ears with white noise. It sent the two of them into the air.

Newt let out a squeal and as he was in the air he roared back: “Baby Hail!” Dozens and dozens of tiny, rigid icicles formed in Newts's mouth. He shot them out in a torrent toward Diatry.mon, soaring like bullets to their target. The bird monster tried to shield itself from the crystal shards with one wing but started to flutter to the sand, its left wing starting to frost over. Newt landed on his side but quickly leaped to his feet while Shohei hit the ground in a tumble. Shohei winced and rolled over on his stomach. His ears were ringing. Newt seemed to fair the hit better, his body built for better endurance. Diatry.mon landed on its feet. It squawked again, slightly quieter this time, and started charging at Newt who lay just in front of Shohei.

Newt realized the gravity of the situation, acting solely on instinct before, and quickly became terrified at the sight of the prehistoric monstrosity charging at him. With a wail, Newt shot out more ice crystals at Diatry.mon, unintentionally aiming at its eyes. The bird skidded to a halt and tumbled down in front of Newt, the sand an ominous cloud. He watched the sheet of dust intently, holding his breath. His heart beating fast and hard. Countless thoughts ran through Newt's head as he waited, building pressure with the ringing in his ears. His tail whipped about, anxiously waiting for a caw in response to being blinded. In this moment of respite, Newt grew worried that he wouldn't be able to protect himself or Shohei. He never considered the power or size that other Digi.mon would have. He felt weak and powerless, tearing up once again.

Newt flinched when he felt and heard feet pounding sand. When the dust settled, Diatry.mon was flailing about, its eyes covered in water, ice, and sand. It took flight shakily and flew over the jungle, squawking as it flew. It went as quickly as it came, passing like a quick tempest.

Shohei, now on his knees, let out an exasperated breath. "That was crazy," he roared, pointing at Newt. He hugged Newt tight in his arms, Newt's cold skin his own through his clothes. Newt started to sniffle and cry. "Hey, hey! You did great. Next time I'll have to save your skin." He looked at Newt's watery eyes. He only hoped he'd be able to save Newt sometime down the road, but after seeing the size pf that bird, Shohei was feeling doubtful. However, he also saw Newt's victory as a good sign for the future. Seeing such a fierce creature and the display of strength that Newt showed reinvigorated Shohei's Oddyseus-like fantasy. He embraced Newt long and hard. "You did great," he said softly through Newt's sniffling. "We better go, though. Before that thing comes back for revenge."
Taito - Tokyo Prefecture – Japan
Emilia Westridge - Kokomon - Wisp
7:45 AM - October 29th - 2019

Emilia sat up and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. This time, she and Kokomon managed to fall asleep in her bed. Emilia slid out from under the covers, trying not to wake Kokomon who had fallen back asleep moments after Emilia’s alarm sounded off earlier. Emilia stood and slept. She slept, at least, but the pressure behind her eyes said otherwise. She hooked a glance back at Kokomon who was wriggling about to get comfortable again. Something about seeing such a pure and vulnerable creature deep in its dreams was soothing. The sight also fostered the desire to protect in Emilia. She felt a connection to Kokomon unlike any she had before. Kokomon felt familiar to her, but Emilia was unsure why or how. She tucked Kokomon deeper under the blankets.

Wisp was still curled up on the couch when Emilia walked out of her room. He was absolutely fascinated by television, so Emilia let him watch Netflix until he fell asleep. As she walked over, Emilia's thoughts tripped on what Wisp expounded in her last night:

”Illiad has been crazy lately. There are twelve official provinces and powerful God Digimon are fighting for the territory … My village was seized by Marsmon, so I ran … Eventually, I was saved by a group of outlaw Digimon that is trying to unify Illiad. The God Digimon have too much power, so we’ve been trying to sway them - that’s why I’m a messenger. I’ve been trying to relay a message to Merukimon, the Wolf Tyrant but he’s not co-operating and now I’m here …”

“Oh no - is your village okay?” Emilia asked. A bit of an ignorant question, she realized, but Wisp seemed fairly open.

Wisp looked to the floor. “I’m not sure, I haven’t seen it since.”

Guilt pulled the corners of Emilia’s mouth down. “I’m sorry… I shouldn’t have asked.”

Wisp remained silent. There was a fire deep in his gaze. It was faint, but something was smoldering, burning in the back of his eyes. Emilia was quick to notice, making brief eye contact with Wisp. Something about Wisps despondency was jarring, it was hard, and Emilia almost wished she hadn’t noticed that hard passion. She shifted her hands. Kokomon had since dozed off. All of this information was surely exhausting.

Wisp swallowed and mumbled, “I shouldn’t have run away.”

Emilia nudged the curled up weasel-creature. “Hey. Wisp, do you want some toast?” she whispered.

Wisp blinked awake and nodded. He stretched, yawned, and glanced about. “When do we set off?” There was surprising energy in his nasally voice.

“I’m not sure, actually.” Emilia fiddled with the toaster in the kitchen. “I think the person whose taking us will give us a signal.” She waved her D-Loader in Wisp’s direction. “And I think we have to use this to get there.”

Wisp squinted but shrugged. “I’ve heard crazier things,” he yawned. “Are we leaving today - for sure, I mean?”

Emilia sighed. “Honestly, I don’t know - I'm figuring things out as we go.” She leaned on the counter, facing Wisp but not looking at him. “Kokomon and I only met the night before you arrived on my balcony. I’ve been getting messages from someone, it might even be a Digimon, saying that I was chosen to help Illiad - both me and Kokomon.” Wisp nodded along. “The D-Loader looks like it's loading something right now, but I'm not sure what.

Emilia prepared the toast for her and Wisp. Peanut butter and jam, of course - a childhood favorite. When she walked back into the living room, she showed Wisp the D-Loader, but when he reached out to hold it his skin shivered, his hand appeared transparent and markedly un-solid, and the air around the device crackled. Wisp and Emilia both pulled away. “What the hell? What’s it doing?” Emilia mumbled to herself. Her hope that there wouldn’t be any more complications was quickly fading.

Wisp pursed his thin lips. He reached out again. The result was the same. “Hm.” Wisp mumbled something but it was inaudible. He was curious though, his ears perked and nose twitching. A message popped up on-screen:

Digital Entity Detected!
Do you wish to download?

Emilia and Wisp caught eyes. Wisp nodded, though slightly reluctant, and Emilia pressed ‘Yes.’ A light flashed behind Emilia’s eyes. “Digital monster...” she mumbled, “Oh! The D-Loader must be downloading us - so it asked permission to download your data, or something.” She wasn’t entirely sure of her deductions, but her guess was as good as anybody's.

Wisp raised his brow. “Maybe it is - that might’ve been why there was static when I went to touch it,” Wisp said as he folded and stretched his numbed paw.

Emilia placed one hand under her chin and nodded. “Makes sense to me. I guess we just wait until it’s ready.” There wasn’t really a hint of when the three of them would be sent to Illiad other than the erratic speed at which the download bar filled, so Emilia went back to her bedroom to wake Kokomon up. She cradled Kokomon in her arms and the small jelly creature stretched her jaw wide as she blinked awake. Warmth filled Emilia’s cheeks, but Emilia started to worry about Kokomon’s blinding innocence. She was only just born and she was about to be thrown into even stranger territory and danger. “Time to get up, Koko. We have a big day ahead of us.”

Kokomon yawned again. “O-okay.” Her eyes struggled to keep open.

Emilia wandered back out to the living room. Wisp was a good few bites into his toast, jam and peanut butter smeared around the corners of his mouth. Kokomon asked Wisp questions about fighting as they finished their breakfast.


Emilia took their downtime as an opportunity to clean herself up. She stuffed a backpack full of some essentials yesterday: a toothbrush, hand sanitizer, a journal, stress candy, that sort of stuff. She pulled her lucky hat down over her head, her wavy chestnut hair curled up around her neck. She stared into the bathroom mirror, into her honey eyes. She took her index fingers and traced the light bags under her eyes and sighed. And I was just starting to get things under control, too... Emilia closed her eyes and let out a sharp breath. She wasn’t the type to hate change, but she certainly preferred when things were done at her own pace. “What is even happening? I didn't think I was cut out to be the hero in some fantasy flick,” she grumbled.

Emilia started pacing around the apartment, checking the D-Loader’s status bar occasionally, a sure-fire sign that she was sick of waiting and just wanted to go. She refused to think that about the possibility of this being a convoluted prank. But, before she could even develop that doubt, she noticed a white-ish, green light streaming from the D-Loader in her pants pocket.

Wisp was teaching Kokomon how to release her Frothy Spit out in the living room. Kokomon had asked Wisp if he’d show her how to fight. Kokomon was a little overwhelmed by the amount of tips Wisp had flooded her with, but she was determined to prove herself capable. To her surprise, using Frothy Spit came rather naturally. She fired out the oily bubbles into the air and they popped with a sizzle. A grin seared across Kokomon’s face and Emilia slid to a stop at the coffee table as Kokomon celebrated her first attack.

“Wisp, Koko - the D-Loader’s lightin' up,” Emilia said as Kokomon roared: “I did it Emmy! I can fight!”

Before any of them could register what either said, the D-Loader sound off:

Transfer to Digital World...99%

The device started to convert Emilia, Kokomon, and Wisp into data. After it digitalized their physical bodies, the D-Loader fired the trio's data into Server Illiad's cyberspace. It was a surreal feeling, to have your insides jumbled, rearranged, and reformed. The pain didn't strike Emilia quite as much as it did Shohei, though that was a testament to Emilia's vigor. As their physical shapes emerged in Illiad, the three of them were shot towards the same darkened beach with it's twisted, gnarly waves. However, Emilia and Kokomon were dropped in the thick verdant tree line that met the charcoal sand. When Emilia finally managed to open her eyes through the stinging pressure in her head, she realized Wisp was nowhere to be seen. She glanced about anxiously with Kokomon who was sitting snug in the zipper opening in Emilia's jacket. Emilia started walking down the shore when she noticed a couple of figures standing far off in the distance. She headed towards them cautiously, hoping they'd happen to have seen where Wisp was sent off to.
Saitama Prefecture – Japan
Shohei Nishizawa and Newt
11:03 PM - October 28th - 2019

Shohei laid on his bed, legs spread under heavy covers with his head resting under his linked hands. He hoped the moonlight would gleam through his curtainless window. He was fond of the moonlight shining on cloudless nights. He found it relaxing. Tonight, the clouds absorbed any stray moonlight. Sometimes, though, the waning crescent would peek out behind the fortress of thick, sullen clouds and beam alabaster through the window. Shohei thought it curious that a new moon was cycling just as he felt he was being thrust headlong into a load of new nonsense. He snorted. It was likely just some sick joke from the universe, he thought.

He was trying to ignore it, but there was a thin yet searing pressure in Shohei’s chest that wouldn't seem to go away. He couldn’t point his finger on it, but it was a familiar feeling. He loosed his stomach and shot a breath between closed lips. His blinks were sparse. He swallowed, shifting and rolling to his right with his right hand between his head and pillow and blinked. He scratched his chest. By the nature of a sleepless autumn night, Shohei’s mind was an unbound vagrant, traveling haphazardly through long untrodden memories. He was used to this happening under stress, but he usually didn’t let it go this far. Thoughts of his mother flooded his memory. Smiling loosely, he remembered when she first took him to the Kenroku-en Garden. Just the two of them gasping at the animals on the trails. Gawking at the beauty that he could hardly fathom let alone appreciate as a child. He thought of his grandparents and how they must be worried about Yuu, Shohei’s father. And Shohei worried too. When his father left there was a spark in his eye like he was actually trying to clean himself up, like he’d finally come to terms with his love passing.

The pressure in Shohei’s chest flushed through him in a wave of disappointed anger. He knew what it was: the feeling that he didn’t have proper control over his life. “Thisㅡ it's just rotten,” he whispered to himself, crooning into the night. He sighed and rolled his eyes back. He reached out for the cell phone that sat on his bedside table and powered it on. The bright blue-white light stunned him for a second, wincing. He opened his text messages and clicked on the name ‘Shiori, the he started writing:

yo, i’m going away for a little while. chilling with a friend. take care of nanny and gramp when you get back, and if you hear from dad let him know i’ve been doing great. love ya.

Shiori was off on a trip with friends. She was getting back tomorrow but Shohei planned on leaving in the morning. He had class, so it wouldn’t be suspicious if he couldn’t figure out an excuse to tell his grandparents. He figured he should spend the morning with his grandparents, help make breakfast and gossip about local news. He smiled, half-content with that being the last of any family members he would see for a long while.

Shohei shifted and his eyes wandered to the window and the peeking moon. He could see a corner from the shed’s roof. He smiled. “I hope Newt’s sleeping well."

. . .

A breeze blew against the shed, rustling and shifting the darkened flowers hanging off the window frame. The clouds shadowed overhead. Inside, Newt rumbled and rolled and snored. He was curled up in a quilt knit by Nanny Nishizawa. He was grinning in his sleep and a tear rolled down his cheek.

The sun was beginning to hang itself in the sky, streaming in through the kitchen windows, as Shohei clanged about the cupboards, grabbing plates and utensils while his grandmother was cooking rice, miso soup, and chum salmon. It was a calming scent to Shohei, it made him feel warm, comfortable. His hands were undeniably shaky but he refused to let his worries get the best of him. He set the patio table to keep busy.

“Just in time!” Shohei’s grandfather bellowed as he opened the front door. He had a terribly deep and loud voice. It carried and it always surprised Sohei that that sound came out of his tiny, thin grandfather.

“Aki, quit yellin’!” Shohei’s grandmother shouted back. She was never serious, she simply liked teasing Aki.

“Oh, shush, Kana” Aki waggled his hand as he entered the kitchen. He was a good couple inches shorter than Shohei. He was thin but fit, especially for his age of seventy-two. This banter was generally the morning routine; Aki would be loud, Kana would quip, and Shohei would have a warm grin smeared across his face.


“Ya’kno, I never did ask where Shiori up and traveled off to this time.” Aki sat relaxed out on the porch. Another part of morning tradition was eating out on the patio furniture, though the mornings were getting cool as November neared. Aki's legs were crossed and he held the local newspaper in front of his deeply lined face, his eyes scanning the news.

“She’s always running off somewhere,” Kana mumbled through sips of tea.

“I think they were going to Kyoto, apparently it’s for school,” Shohei said, leaning against the porch railing, “should be back today though.” His eyes were fixed on his clasped hands. He was juggling different excuses on why he’d be gone for a little while, but couldn’t decide on one.

“Oh, I think you’re right, Shohei,” his grandfather said before licking his finger to change the papers’ page. He peered over at Kana. “I hope she thought to visit Oki.”

“Oh, you know those girls were surely busy.” Kana set her tea on the round table between her and Aki. She smirked and the lines under her eyes tightened. “They don’t have time for old folks like us no more.”

Aki laughed, “they sure don’t. But I barely have time for old folks like us!”

A smile bunched up on Shohei’s face. He spun his eyes from the mist rising off the neighboring pasture fields to Aki and Kana, sitting snug in their wicker chairs. “I’m also actually leaving for a bit too. I think I should be back by next Sunday,” he trailed off and swallowed, his spit like mortar on his tongue. “I’m going to my friend Hani’s new apartment. I haven’t seen him in a bit.” His words came out thin and uncomfortable. “If that’s okay," he added. Shohei hated lying to his grandparents, it felt like a wash of disappointment flooded his cheeks and eyes, but this situation called for it because the truth, Shohei figured, was worrisome for infinite reasons. He scratched the back of his head, looking towards Aki but not at him. An itchy heat pricked at his neck and back.

“Well, goodness! Everyone is up and leaving us,” Aki spurted. Shohei jumped and his cheeks flushed white. Aki folded the newspaper in front of him, revealing a soft grin and warm eyes. “Go, then. But make sure you enjoy yourself.”

“And keep up your schoolwork,” Kana chuckled and winked at Shohei. A kindness swelled from the way Kana titled her head as she smiled. With two hands, she gripped her cup and took another sip.

"I will, I will." Shohei couldn’t help but build a smile himself. He almost felt a fool for thinking his grandparents would oppse. He looked at his watch: 8:45 AM. He pushed out a thin breath and stood. "I guess I should get going now."

Kana shook her head softly. "Already?"

"Yeah, I have to take the bus into the city and I want to have time to spare." Even though they were understanding, lying to his grandparents still didn’t sit well with Shohei.

Kana rocked her head. "Alright, but give me a hug before you go,” she paused and pointed out a finger, “and call us if you need anything.” She was sincere but her voice held worry. Kana would never say so but of all her grandchildren, Shohei was always her favorite. That meant that, along with extra gifts here and there, Kana always worried a little bit more about Shohei. Shohei wrapped his arms around Kana, holding her tight. Kana ran her fingers through Shohei’s dark hair as he held her. “You’re so tall—, you're all getting so tall,” Kana mumbled and shook her head, “I can hardly believe it.”

Shohei laughed, trying to ignore the mist fogging his eyes. Kana traced her fingers along Shohei’s cheekbone, warm and delicate. “Alright,” Shohei announced, puffing his chest and pushing a breath out as he spoke, “I’ll see you soon, and I’ll try to call if I have the time.” That lie was probably the worst of all, as it was more of a prayer; a hope that Shohei would even be able to call his grandparents after he left. A hope that was steeped entirely in the growing fear that he’d never see Aki and Kana, or Shiori and Yuu, or his inner-city friends ever again.

Kana let go of her soft grip. “You better.” She wagged her finger and Aki laughed.

“Stay safe, Sho,” Aki said and nodded to Shohei as Shohei slung his backpack over his shoulders. Aki wasn’t one for physical affection, but his words of encouragement stuck like a blessing in Shohei’s mind; a ward for Shohei to fend off trouble when going off into the unknown. He could have been wrong, but now it seemed to Shohei that his grandparents knew he wasn’t being truthful, but their trust in him exceeded their worry.

“Love you!” Shohei shouted and waved to his grandparents as he approached the end of the driveway. He felt the mist re-emerging in his eyes. “Shit,” he muttered, wiping his eyes.

As Shohei rounded the corner out of the view of his grandparents’ house, he saw a strange pink and green quilted lump sitting along the treeline. “That’s not what I meant by 'hide and wait',” Shohei muttered, rubbing along his eyebrows. “Newt, it's me,” he called out as he walked over.

Newt flipped the blanket over the top of his head, his snout now peeking out. His eyes were misty too. “Oh, Sho! I didn’t think you were ever going to come,” he shouted, his voice shaky and overwrought. He stood with the blanket draped over his head and shoulders. “I thought you just left me here!”

“Oh quit blubberin’ you goof,” Shohei said, looking at his watch again, “it’s only been ten minutes since I told you that I'd be here, and I’m here now. You gotta learn some trust, my man.”

Newt smiled, his eyes glistening from the rising sun. “I know, Sho. But it’s scary out here. A bird attacked me when I came through the woods.” He pointed over to a tree that had one-third of its trunk covered in ice. In the middle of the crystal blue frost, a crow was stuck, unmoving with wings spread wide. Newt seemed proud of what he accomplished, bearing a smug grin.

Shohei patted Newt on the head. “Oh, man, there’s no need for that. The birds won’t hurt you.”

Newt pattered his feet about in the leaves and broken branches. “But this one was trying to steal my muffin.”

“What muffin? Where did you get a muffin?”

“From the pantry.”

Shohei squinted his eyes. “What pantry?”

“The pantry in the house.” Newt blinked absently.

Shohei rolled his eyes back, a quick heat taking over his skin. “Newt,” Shohei hissed. He slapped his forehead and slid his hand down along his jawline. “I told you not to go in the house for a reason.”

“I’m sorry Sho,” Newt grumbled, “I was hungry.”

“Well, you can’t—” Shohei took a breath, “okay, whatever, it’s cool. We got bigger things to deal with.” Shohei pulled the D-Loader out of his jeans pocket. A new icon was flashing: an arrow facing down at a mostly filled-in rectangle. Shohei crouched so Newt could see the D-Loader’s screen. The pink in Shohei's cheeks from the cool autumn morning was draining. “This has been blinking on the screen for an hour. I think the symbol means download, ‘cause that rectangle’s been filling in as the hour’s gone by. It’s almost done so I’m guessin’ something weird is going to happen soon.” Shohei tossed a glance down at Newt. Newt looked wholly excited: his jaw dropped and his pupils were large and his eyes fixed. Newt nodded, though he was still transfixed. Shohei shifted his feet, brushing around the leaves. His anticipation was drenched in fear and excitement and formed like a pellet in his throat. Stay chill, it’s cool, we’re lax, he repeated like a mantra in his head, watching the pixels slowly fill. Newt’s eyes glistened with each square. He had a strange sense that he was going home even though he didn’t know anything about Illiad.

The final white square filled in the rectangle and Shohei gulped. The screen of the D-Loader emitted a fluorescent green, scanning Shohei and Newt. The bright light reflected on Shohei’s gray-blue irises. He blinked, overcome with sudden excitement. Oh its real - this is real, he thought, though his sparse breaths suggested he shouted it. First, the tips of his fingers felt warm and numb, then his hands, then arms, until his entire torso felt weak and light; hollow. Shohei felt weightless. He glanced at Newt, panicked. But Newt was completely astounded. His grin was wide and beaming, and his gaping mouth exuded awe. He swallowed and shook his head.

"Sho, I feel weird." Newt's enthusiasm persisted through his anxious murmur.

Shohei tightened his eyes. First, he noticed Newt was a lighter color and Newt's body started to crackle with static. Then, Newt's body seemed to warp and glitch like a digital image. Shohei noticed that he was starting to warp as well. Soon, his hands and feet dispersed into pixelated dust and so did the rest of him. Before either of them realized, Shohei and Newt were being sucked into the D-Loader. Once the D-Loader acquired their data, it started uploading Newt and Shohei onto the Server Illiad. For Newt, this process was fairly clean and easy. Being data already, he was shuffled and reshuffled into the right shape and uploaded onto the server, waiting for Shohei. It was almost pleasurable. For Shohei, the process was agonizing. Once his body left the physical world, it was a terrible test of will that he didn't have a choice but to endure. While being downloaded, his DNA was modified into data. Despite not having a physical body, the process still inflicted a shocking electrical pain on Shohei. It felt like thousands of hot needles on his skin, or like someone poured hot water into his ears. It was excruciating and took a toll on Shohei's willpower. By the time Shohei was re-formed and on his way to Illiad proper, he was mentally and physically exhausted, sore, and, for a moment, he regretted not just ignoring Newt, the D-Loader, and M's cryptic messages.

Newt and Shohei were both dropped on a beach in Illiad. The sand was a charcoal color, but the glisten of the massive white sun made the sand appear navy. The water was a sharp turquoise and, in some parts, the waves were erratic and violent while in others, the water was like green ice. There was a bright white grid stretching out from where the sea crested the black horizon, lining the dark purple gradient sky like a mesh. The thick nimbus clouds hovered above, unmoving. The air was damp. Shohei's breaths were long and deep, and he tried to steady them as he looked out at the water. He looked to his left and Newt was glancing about wildly. They were both taking in their surroundings.

"We're here," Shohei whispered. "Newt, we're—"

A thick thud sounded behind Shohei and some muttering followed. Newt and Shohei quickly spun themselves around. Shohei's eyes widened. Oh boy, there are others.
Taito - Tokyo Prefecture – Japan
Emilia Westridge and Kokomon
9:22 AM - October 28th - 2019

Soft morning sunlight sifted its way through the curtain in front of Emilia's balcony. The soft banter of a Japanese talk show filled the empty silence that permeated the morning, the volume high enough for noise to be heard but quiet enough to not distract. Emilia had been awake and sitting in the living room for at least an hour. After she calmed Kokomon down again yesterday, they just talked. She wasn't sure for how long, though. Kokomon kept asking questions about anything and everything until they both fell asleep on the couch. Emilia had woken up to Simon & Garfunkel playing from her phone, figured she was showing Kokomon the music she liked. Despite having spent a few hours with Kokomon the night prior, Emilia's refreshed headspace had sort of brought her back to the bizarre reality of her situation. It's no surprise that she woke up hoping all of yesterday had been a silly dream. Kokomon breathed heavily, still sleeping child-like at the other end of the couch.

Emilia scraped a spoon around the inside of an empty yogurt cup. She was now entirely in her head, a mess of thought, and likely wouldn't have been able to recall the flavor of the yogurt she ate without looking at the label. She was curled up on her couch, wrapped in a cocoon of blankets that covered all but her head and arms. Emilia's 'comfort hat' shielded the world from her worst part of her bedhead, with the rest of her light caramel hair cascading over the mound of chin-high blankets. The lightly frayed, pastel orange beanie was a gift that her father had given her before Emilia left for Japan. Emilia's father often called her 'pumpkin' or 'pumpkin-head' as a kid, which her mother picked up on as well. A nickname that, to Emilia's initially distaste, stuck. She grew to like it as 'pumpkin-head' quickly became a term of endearment. She realized immediately that the orange color was chosen on purpose and has cherished the hat since. She'd felt calmer since she put the hat on.

Emilia's cell phone and D-Loader were sat amongst the paper, books, and dirty cups on the coffee table beside her. A white light was blinking from the D-Loader but Emilia now appeared wholly distracted, eyes barren and unchanging. She pondered the warning that she received earlier about how she was to get sucked into a foreign virtual world. She was now stuck on how to tell the school board that she wouldn't be able to make it to work, as though she'd completely accepted her fate. Though, she was more likely stunned beyond panic. Kokomon breathed heavily, sleeping child-like at the other end of the couch

Emilia tossed the yogurt cup toward the coffee table with such little strength that it couldn't make the two-foot distance and hit the floor with a clang. She groaned. When she looked down she noticed the blinking D-Loader. An ever-so-slight scowl tensed her brown, creasing the gap between the orange beanie and her sharp, blonde eyebrows. She reached for the D-Loader and, as if ready to hatch, Emilia shifted within the wall of blankets to prepare. She clicked the power button and clicked the blinking '!' on screen. A warning flashed, claiming there was another digital entity around. Immediately, Emilia was tugged out of her thoughts. She split her blanket cocoon as she reached across the couch to nudge Kokomon awake.

"Hey, Kokomon," Emilia whispered, poking the still slightly familiar brown creature on her couch.

Kokomon peeled its eyes open one by one "Hm..." She softly yawned.

"Kokomon, the D-Loader says there's another 'digital entity' here," Emilia said as Kokomon properly woke up; her voice was steady. "Do you think that means there's another Digimon here, in my apartment?"

Kokomon squinted. "I don't know... maybe."

Emilia closed her eyes and exhaled. "Okay." Without wasting a moment, she stood, tossing the blankets on the back of the couch. She looked at Kokomon and reached out, but she hesitated, arms suspended in the air. Kokomon grinned, which Emilia took as a positive signal to snatch up the smiling brown throw pillow.

Cradled in one of Emilia's arms, Kokomon felt a type of warmth and protection unlike any she had before. She snuggled in closer to Emilia's chest while Emilia tip-toed about her apartment. She glanced occasionally at her D-Loader which now had a sort of radar on-screen: a red dot with circular ripples expanding outward from the dot. Emilia her and/or Kokomon were the dot and it was scanning for this supposed digital entity. Suddenly, a blip appeared on the D-Loader. Just as sudden, a THUD sounded from the balcony. She looked at Kokomon, confusion pursing her lips, and spun to face the balcony. A muffled mutter came from outside.

"Hello?" Emilia held her voice steady and strong, an attempt to prevent any anxiety from seeping through. "Is there someone there?" As she walked toward the sliding door, Emilia noticed her cellphone display was a pixelated jumble of colors. She picked it up and slid the phone into her pocket. The air felt heavy like when she had encountered Kokomon last night.

"I think it's another Digimon," Kokomon mumbled. The color in her cheeks faded slightly and Kokomon squeezed its eyes tight. "I don't feel good.."

Emilia shifted her focus from the door to Kokomon, back to the door. She drew the curtains and opened the door. Kokomon quivered its lip. A white, ferret-like being was curled up at the other end of the balcony facing away from Emilia and Kokomon. It had two arms and a golden scroll wrapped up in its translucent tail; it rubbed its white head, still muttering.

Emilia adjusted her orange beanie and looked at the D-Loader again. There was no information available about the creature on her balcony. "Hey."

The white creature jumped with a surprised wail. Kokomon followed suit, burrowing her face between Emilia's arm and chest.

"W-who are you?" it questioned in a panicked shout. Its voice was nasally and loud; abrasive and piercing. "Oh no- where am I?"

"I'm Emilia, and this is Kokomon," Emilia replied. A commanding tone accentuated her voice. "You're in Taito, Japan. Who are you?"

The white creature glanced over the balcony and back to Emilia. "Of course!" it exclaimed before muttering, "Ugh, lost again..."

"Who are you?" Emilia repeated, much more aggressive this time.

"Ah- my name is Wisp. I'm a Kudamon!" it squealed. "I'm looking for someone and I have to deliver a message. I don't want to fight!"

The D-Loader beeped in Emilia's hand and repeated the name Kudamon. "We don't want to fight you, Wisp, was it?" Emilia paused, half-confused, and looked at Kokomon who was clearly incapable of combat, "why would we fight you?"

Wisp sighed. "'Cause everybody always wants to fight where I'm from."

"Well don't worry, we're not going to hurt you. You can come inside, we might be able to help each other out," Emilia gestured to the door. Kokomon peered down at Wisp and sniffled. She stepped through the door again and Wisp followed, floating in the air. "Do you happen to know where or what Server Illiad is?"

Wisp's yellow eyes widened. "That's where I'm from," he shouted, "that's the digital continent I'm from."

"I might be able to take you there with me," Emilia paused, calculating her words. As a child, she learned to withhold the truth when the truth wasn't necessary, or even to lie a little when appropriate. "Kokomon and I are going to Illiad for the first time tomorrow." It sounded beyond surreal, but it was as though Emilia accepted it. She had been craving for a change, for something to sweep her away from the monotony of her current life; she wanted to explore. She was hoping to start writing a memoir in Japan, but nothing ever came of it, and this might have been the event to change that. Emilia was looking forward to the unknown reality ahead.

"Wonderful!" Wisp clapped his hands.

Emilia set Kokomon, who was listening intently, on the couch. Kokomon seemed more comfortable but her fur was standing on end, likely from the electric waves in the air from whatever anomaly sent Wisp to the real world. The D-Loader was letting out a faint beeping. "Would we be able to travel with you when we get to Illiad?"

"I suppose I can try. I'm supposed to be sending this scroll to the Wolf Tyrant from the Wilds province," Wisp revealed, unprompted. He shook his head knowing he wouldn't be able to deliver the scroll in time. "I'm a messenger, you see."

He was young, Emilia now figured, and she hoped to be able to influence the small creature. "Perfect. We can help you. You protect us, and we'll protect you," she said with sincere confidence, "we'll need help and so will you."

Wisp nodded. He wasn't hard to convince. "Yes, absolutely."

Emilia smiled and Kokomon perked up. "Great. You'll have to wait here with us, though."

"I guess I have no choice," Wisp stretched out his stubby arms, "I'm sort of tired anywho."

Emilia wandered to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. Her confidence had boosted since she had awoken; she was wholly excited at the prospect of change. "What's happening where you're from? In Illiad?" she asked. Kokomon sat on the couch, listening intently.

Wisp peeked from the couch into the kitchen. "Colonies are fighting for territory; Digimon are always fighting these days. What kind of Digimon are you?" Wisp asked Emilia.

Emilia chuckled. "Oh- no, I'm a person- a human. Not a Digimon. You two are the first Digimon I've ever met."

Wisp curled his lip. "Not a Digimon? I really am far from home..."

"I hope we won't have to fight..." Emilia mumbled. She looked over at Kokomon, confident that Kokomon wouldn't be able to hold her own if they were forced to fight.

Kokomon pouted, feeling intensely inadequate, and spit some bubbles in front of herself. She was terrified of leaving Emilia's apartment. She had no idea what was beyond her current reality and she pushed the growing fear of getting separated from Emilia away. The worst part was that she knew she would have trouble defending herself, which meant she wouldn't be able to protect Emilia, and that thought upset her the most.

"You're bound to fight at some point," Wisp warned, "but I'm sure you'll both get stronger."

"I hope so." Emilia poured herself a coffee. "What else should we know about Illiad?"

Wisp rolled his eyes to the side and scratched his chin. There were numerous dangers he could've mentioned and he seemed deep in thought, almost as if he were worried about what to say, but he was actually blanking entirely. A light shone in his eyes and, in a gasp, he said: "I'm hungry!"

Taito - Tokyo Prefecture – Japan
Emilia Westridge
5:01 PM - October 27th - 2019

The lingering noises of Tokyo’s evening streets were irrelevant as Emilia slid her fingers along the sharp angles of the bizarre electronic device stuffed in the pocket of her zipped-up, pastel orange jacket. Her focus bounced about as she turned a corner. The rhythmic jingle of her keys loosely hanging out of her coat pocket kept her thoughts from unfastening. Should I call mom? There's no way she'll believe me... Emilia stopped at the front steps of her apartment complex as a growing breeze swelled through her hair. Well … I've rounded the block seven times. I've got to go home sometime. Despite heavy arms, she pulled the door open with a calm furiosity.

Emilia started steadily up the stairs. "It's just an egg. No biggie, right? Just an egg..." She muttered to herself, her soft British accent deepened by a thickness building in her chest. Emilia stopped her climb with one foot hastily on a step higher than the other. "Oh God, what if it's hatched," Emilia pondered, rubbing her forehead with her index finger and thumb. She began to lift her foot to climb the stairs again but immediately felt a vibration in her coat pocket.

An effeminate voice announced, “digital companion ready to emerge."

Emilia, stunned, locked eyes with an older fellow walking through the stairwell. "I hope to God it isn’t,” she replied with a shriek. The old man raised his eyes brows, a confused frown forming at the crease of his lips. With hot cheeks, Emilia bounded up the stairwell. Whether she noticed or not, the beeping of the brown device was sounding off half-muted, smothered by Emilia's sweating palm.

Did that thing seriously come out of my laptop? God, I wonder if that'll turn back on now. I should call mom... Emilia stumbled over that recurring thought, mumbling profanities,.She’d just think I’m nuts! There's no way I tell anyone about this, right? She raked her hand through her hair and stopped, feet planted before her door. "I'd think I was crazy too, honestly– if I actually told someone my computer vomited out an egg and a weird watch, the latter of which is now speaking," she muttered, half-conscious of the words dribbling from her mouth. She stretched her arms and cracked her neck, preparing, mentally, for what obscenity might lay beyond her front door. She bounced anxiously on her toes and took in a few shallow breaths. Emilia reached out. "Okay," she paused, "Here we go!" She tightened her hand, twisted, and threw her shoulder into the door for no other reason but to be dramatic. With a grunt, she barreled through and accompanied her entrance with a high-pitched yelp. She closed the door behind her, but not all the way, and dropped her bag at her feet. Little natural light came into the apartment. The pressing beeps of the device hung in the silent art. Emilia jammed her hands into her pocket, pulling the light brown and black device out. A light on its screen flickered and the following words appeared:

DIGI.mon downloading from egg... 5% remaining, please wait...

Emilia looked up and felt a weakness in her hands. How did it get out here? Didn’t I lock my bathroom door? A large, brown egg stood, unmoving in the middle of the kitchen. A crack, splitting it down the middle, was steadily making way to the tip of the egg. She stared at the egg for as long as it took for the crack finally reached the top. A thin light streamed from the split in the egg and widened as the egg split in two. Steam and a hiss filtered from the middle as the crack grew.

Emilia hadn't noticed, but the digital displays on her kitchen appliances were flickering numbers and letters. Slow and deliberate, she wrapped her fingers around the backs of one of her kitchen chairs while she bounced her leg in a jagged rhythm. The sheen faded, and the two sides of the egg dropped to the floor. The hollow eggshells began to evaporate, each piece dissolving into a mist. Emilia clenched her teeth and slowly raised the chair off the floor. The mist dissipated; the outline of a small, round creature became realized.

Sporadic breaths and a soft whining sound from the now split egg engage Emilia's growing worry. Her knuckles white and her grip numb, she waited with a stiff intensity. Without realizing, she spoke out loud: "I mean, it can't be harmful, right? Whatever it is, it’s just a baby, right?" She hovered on that thought for what seemed a brief eternity. "Just a baby, just a baby, just a..." She trailed off and leaned closer to whatever just came out of the egg, trying to sneak a peek. She jumped back as the creature simply started to cry. Emilia hesitantly flicked the light switch to the kitchen on. After a few seconds of delay, a white light sparked overhead revealing a brown, tadpole-like creature with three rounded horns, a long tail, and tears streaming down its cheeks. It squeezed its eyes tightly closed.

Curious, Emilia dropped to her knees. "Hey," she said. The small creature peeled open its slate eyes briefly before crying again. "Hey. There's no need to cry," Emilia whispered. She sat, staring at the creature for a few minutes as it cried with an impressive steadiness

From a squat, Emilia launched to her feet and stepped softly across the kitchen floor to the sink. She grabbed a bowl and filled it with water, placing it about three feet from the crying brown ball. It opened its eyes again and squinted. The creature grunted softly and wriggled and hopped across the tiled floor. Emilia scratched her jawline with a nagging curiosity, "Okay, there’s absolutely no way mom would believe this."

With wetness still around its eyes, the creature started lapping up the water. Emilia leaned against her countertop. "Now what am I supposed to do about this thing?" The creature snapped its head toward Emilia and its lips started to quiver. "Hey– woah! No need to cry again. I didn't mean 'thing' as in – er, 'thing'." Emilia waved her hands in front of her face with nervous laughter. "I don't do crying very well, little guy." The brown creature glanced up at Emilia and curled its small bottom lip. Its belly rumbled.

Emilia spun on her toes to face the fridge. Immediately, she sunk her face into the palm of her hand. "What am I supposed to feed you? Should I even feed you? I can’t believe this." The creature cried out louder than before in response. Emilia jolted, body still tense. "Okay. I'll feed you.” She said, rummaging through the day-old refrigerated goods. "You like peaches?" She asked. Emilia rolled a soft peach across the floor, colliding with the creature with a soft donk. It opened its eyes again and started nibbling at the peach through periodic sniffles. Emilia grabbed another peach and seated herself on the floor as well, cross-legged. She felt a curious smile grow on her face, "Okay, you're a little bit cute." She rolled the second peach over to the creature as it finished the first.

"Oh." Emilia grabbed the brown device from her pocket again. This time, the text on the screen read:

DIGI.mon hatched!
CONO.mon – Fresh – Slime Type – Female

Digital Evolution Imminent

The last three words flashed on the bottom of the screen in a pulsating fashion. "Digital what–" Emilia jolted as she was interrupted by the glare of another blinding sheen and a low hiss. The tiny figure of Conomon erupted in a flash of iridescence. Warped in the colorful light, Conomon grew slightly larger while its bottom half became frilled and gelatinous. The light faded out, revealing a jellyfish-like creature blinking steadily on the floor. Emilia looked down at the device cradled in her hands:

Digital Evolution Succesful
Meet KOKO.mon!

"Meet Kokomon..."

Kokomon blinked one eye at a time, glancing about the kitchen. She wriggled about in circles until she locked eyes with Emilia, measuring how inviting the young girl appeared. "Em-eel-ee-ah..." Kokomon’s voice was soft and delicate as it struggled to produce the sounds. Emilia's face goes agape. "Are you," Kokomon paused, staring patiently, "Emilia?"

Emilia responded with a slow, unintentional nod. "And you're Kokomon?" She covered her mouth.

Kokomon nodded vigorously.

Emilia caught her face in her palm again. "Am I going crazy? I mean this just isn't real, right? Like, it can talk? There's no way this is real," she steadied her breath and cleared her throat. She continued on, despite the doubt in her head, "so, Kokomon, uh– what are you?"

“A Digital Monster,” Kokomon responded with sincere confidence.

Emilia sighed. “Okay, well, what’s a ‘Digital Monster’ then?’”

Kokomon took time to ponder such a hefty question carefully. Her breathing sputtered and her eyes started to mist over. “Not sure, sorry…”

Panic bubbled in Emilia’s throat, “hey! That’s okay,” she paused herself with awkward laughter. “It can be hard to understand what you are!” Kokomon blinked with misty eyes and fought back sniffling. "Okay, Kokomon. How about this, I need you to tell me how you know my name," Emilia’s words were slow but commanding.

Kokomon started to shake and toss about. "'Cause you're Kokomon's friend, silly!"

Emilia's smile started to drip; her eyes narrowed. Okay, weird– Kokomon, that's not what I mean. I want you to tell me how you know who I am–” Emilia took a sudden breath.

“I'm guess I’m kind of starting to wig out a bit here. I’m talking to a stuffed animal! I’m crazy,” she plunged ahead, almost shouting.

"I'm sorry," Kokomon cried, "I'm so sorry! Don't get man, please." Kokomon's breath started to unsettle, tears already rolling down her cheeks again. She squealed, "I–I’m here to be your friend. But I’m getting scared…"

Emilia’s eyes glued to the floor. Vaguely coherent thoughts of calling her mother bounced about in Emilia’s head, and she contemplated turning around and simply leaving the apartment. Both ideas were dismissed within seconds. It could have been the erratic crying of Kokomon or the bizarre gravity of the situation but something snapped Emilia out of an anxious spiral. ”It’s okay, Kokomon. I’m kind of– weirdly scared too.” She took a deep breath and scanned the screen of her strange device. There was a flashing envelope icon on the screen. She instinctively tapped it and a message appeared:

Hi there, Emilia.
This creature is a Digital Monster, or DIGI.mon for short. No matter what happens, you must watch over it and you must trust it, and it will do the same for you. I'm sure you and this DIGI.mon are a perfect fit. Prepare and be strong.
Have vigor,

Kokomon's crying bounced off the walls of Emilia's kitchen. Blank-faced, she stared at the device. "Prepare? For what– what the hell is that supposed to mean?"

* * *

Saitama Prefecture – Japan
Shohei Nishizawa and Newt
7:11 PM - October 27th - 2019

“Hey,” a young adult slapped the outside of his grandparent’s small shed twice. He had a serene nonchalance about him and his timbre was sincere, inviting. “I brought you some of Nanny Nishizawa’s premium homemade curry leftovers,” he sung, resting a hot bowl in his arms. A muffled tumble came from the inside the shed.

A blue bipedal lizard that stood about three feet tall peeked its head around the corner. An infectious grin creased its icy snout. Tears welled in its eyes as it grabbed the bowl. “Sho, you’re too kind,” the lizard roared, its voice coarse but endearing.

Shohei grimaced. “Newt, you gotta be a little quieter,” he warned, “my grandpa would have a fit if he found out about you– you’d be all over national television!” Shohei spoke about as much with his hands as he did his voice, waving them busily as he spoke.

“I'm sor–”

“It’s alright. Let’s get in the shed. We need to chat anyway.”

Newt grabbed his plate of food and slinked back into the shed. Shohei followed suit and closed the door behind them. Inside, farming and gardening tools leaned casually about the walls. Bags of gardening soil were strewn about. Orange light crawled out of the thick layer of dark clouds, streaming through moisture-stained windows.

Newt, with chopsticks in hand, dug in. Shohei stared at his feet. He narrowed his eyes, deliberating his words. “Is there something wrong, Sho,” Newt asked, his mouth full, “what did you want to talk about?”

“No, I’m okay,” Shohei briefly met Newt’s red eyes, “I just can’t stop thinking about this ‘M’ person. It’s been a week since I found you and the D-Loader, and M’s message didn’t explain much.” Shohei pulled a rectangular cerulean device out of this sweater pocket. Newt nodded along, occasionally giving himself pause to cool off his mouth. “It’s been bothering me,” he sighed.

“I’m just happy we’re together!”

“Well, yeah,” Shohei chuckled, “but I’m serious about this. Prepare and be strongHave resilience … They’re telling me to get ready for something.” He sat, languid, and rested his head in a cupped hand.

Newt set his plate down and wiped the curry off his mouth in a hasty swipe. “Maybe we just have to be patient,” he encouraged, “take your own advice, you’re always telling me to chill.”

“I guess that is a lot easier said than done,” Shohei snorted, “and I’ve been trying. This past week have just been…” He trailed off.

“Weird?” Newt cocked his head.

“Definitely. And I’ve been trying to figure out what this D-Loader thing actually does. It’s been letting me know when you’re hungry– which is way too often by the way– and that’s it.”

“Maybe you’ll have to wait for the right moment to use it.”

“I’d like a faint idea of when that’ll happen.” Shohei leaned back. “Maybe I’m supposed to help you get back to where you came from.”

“But all I know is being here– living here is all I remember.”

“You can’t be from here, Newt," Shohei snapped. He took a breath. "There’s nothing else like you on the planet. Meter tall lizards that shoot snow and talk don’t just hatch from eggs on a normal day, you know.”

“I don’t know,” Newt rolled his sights to the window, “there’s definitely other Digimon out there.” Orange roses in the window box outside ruffled against the window.

“Maybe.” Shohei tapped his thumbs against his thighs. “M said you’re a ‘Digital Monster,’ so you might be from my computer or something.”

“But I don’t feel digital.”

“How do you know?”

“I’m fleshy. And I … I don’t know. But I feel real.”

“You’re real, for sure. We figured that one out after you frosted half of my grandmother’s pepper patch, remember?”

Newt chuckled.“Yeah,” he said with a smug complacency.

“That almost got me in big trouble! You’re lucky it’s getting cold now,” Shohei snickered, “man, sorry to get so heavy on you. I just gotta figure this out.”

“I wish I could help more,” Newt pouted.

“It’s not your fault. Neither of us can really do anything.”

“Well, the curry was great! Tell your nanny it was fantastic,” Newt said, patting his stomach.

"I'll tell her I really enjoyed the curry."

"I hope I get you meet Nanny Nishizawa some time," Newt sniffled.

Shohei rubbed his chin. He turned on the D-Loader again. There was a succinct beep and a letter icon popped up. A pit sank in his gut. “Uh, Newt, over here for a sec'.” The blue Digimon scrabbled over to his companion, whose hands were now visibly trembling. Without taking a breath, Shohei mumbled the message onscreen: “Prepare for your transfer to server Iliad in two days ... At 5:00 AM you’ll be pulled into Iliad ... Virtual reality ... There is nothing you can do to stop it ... It’s a cruel, unforgiving world. Be resilient, tamer...” The taste of iron overtook Shohei’s mouth. He stared, heavy-eyed, at the screen.

For a moment, a dampening silence had made its way into the shed. Shohei and Newt took some time to completely gather the contents of the message. Shohei dented the silence with an exhale. He couldn't manage to pull his attention away from the D-Loader. On the outside, he seemed fine. A little overcome, but nothing more. However, his thoughts were a thick mess of worry and doubt. Every and any issue that Shohei was recently hung up on shot themselves back into the spotlight of his anxiety. Eventually, he got stuck on one sentence from the message: There is nothing you can do to stop it. He felt absolutely helpless in this brief cosm of thought.

Newt was entirely stricken, however, murmuring: "Iliad…" His red eyes misted over as though he were stricken with nostalgia.

Shohei took shallow, tepid breaths, regathering his thoughts. "Newt- I have to things, like school. I can't just up and go to some virtual world."

"Maybe we have to.” A grin widened Newt's cheeks."Isn’t it exciting, Sho?"

The artificial white light of the D-Loader illuminated a subtle smile curling up Shohei's cheeks, though the prior ponderous worry in his stomach was shuffled out with a new, stinging anxiety. "Yeah, maybe a bit. I’m definitely not sleeping tonight,” Shohei groaned, “and I was actually excited to get back into school, too.”

“You told me school is the worst!”

“Well, yeah, it is.”

Newt shook his head. “Sounds foolish.”

Shohei laughed as he put the D-Loader back in his pocket. "Alright, I should head in. Guess I gotta come up with an excuse as to why I’ll be gone for an indescribable amount of time,” he moaned, “I'll see you tomorrow, alright?"

“Cool, could you snag me a new blanket first? I spilled curry on this one."

Shohei chuckled. "For sure."

“Hey, Sho?”


“It’ll be alright.”

The Digital World, a nine-year-old cyberspace reality, has just been discovered by the Worldwide Communication Organization.
A council of twenty-four, the WCO is a non-profit organization that seeks for the safety and governance over cyberspace and internet-based communication. This team of hackers and scientists recently discovered a second reality, dubbed the Digital World. This unique cyberspace reality had been growing since 1992, where it presumably created as an artificial neural network and was practically non-existent until very recently. Now observing the Digital World, the WCO has noted the following about the cyberspace reality:

- Time is quite a bit faster, possibly moves at a rate four times as fast as reality’s time
- The weather was at first non-existent
- It appears to be ever-expanding and is a shapeless plane
- A multitude of rocky biomes formed; within weeks weather began to develop
- What looks like lush landscapes and vegetation spread throughout the Digital World
- This cyberspace reality was evolving rapidly

It seemed a dream, as the Digital World would bust open the possibilities of cyberspace. However, word leaked, and hackers spent weeks attempting to crack the WCO security. Soon, a woman under the username Monster cracked the organization’s firewalls and infected the Digital World with a virus. Monster seemingly disappeared into the Digital World, and after two days the WCO patched their security. Unfortunately, within the same week of having the firewall breached, multiple blips of data spread throughout the Digital World. Sorted under the .mon file extension, the WCO discovered these blips of data were a bizarre form of A.I. The WCO labeled these creatures as Digital Monsters; the first of these monsters discovered was a file that resembled an orange dinosaur named AGU.mon. The WCO has been quietly watching these creatures as they multiply and populate the digital world, and have been documenting each newly discovered creature in a database. Each DIGI.mon is unique . These DIGI.mon are now building colonies and civilization. Factions of DIGI.mon, split by their attributes (Vaccine, Data, or Virus) have gathered into rather large groups, with each fighting for territory over the Digital World.
Monster, the mysterious individual who created DIGI.mon, sent a message throughout the Digital World that eventually made its way to the WCO stating: “I have sent (insert number here) eggs around (insert place/city/country here) that are set to hatch soon. Whoever comes across these newly hatched DIGI.mon will be tasked with raising them and conquering the Digital World. I hope they fall into the right hands.”

Hi all!

I'm currently searching for a 1x1 partner for a roleplay based on Digimon. Of course, I'd like for this 1x1 to be fun above all else, however, I am also craving a writer who can produce and roleplay dynamic characters, juggle multiple characters and plot-threads, and engage with mature themes and subject matter thoughtfully (e.g. mortality, depression, coming of age/aging, nature, totalitarianism, etc.). More or less, I'm looking for a partner that has experience in writing and is confident in their ability to write fun and intriguing characters!

If you're interested and think we'd get along just PM me!
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