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The rulers of darkness
wish to seal the four pillars of the world by all means
to gain power.
— “Digimon Book of Revelations,” Chapter 8, Verse 5
In a sky so blue that it looked as if it was freshly painted, something white hurtled through, marring its even surface. Twin engine roars could be heard not far behind, and their source was revealed as red beings charged in, following the white object in hot pursuit.
The white object being chased had smooth skin that appeared to be made of metal. Glittering brightly from the sunlight shining down on it, its extraordinarily long arms — longer than its own body — were carefully clutching several smaller objects that looked similar to eggs.
Its pursuers, on the other hand, were shaped like red cylindrical objects. A countless number of them had merged together into a battle formation, and grenades could be seen being fired from their arms.
The white object swiftly moved left and right to dodge their attacks, but because there were too many enemies attacking it all at once, it could not avoid them perfectly. Many times it got shot in the back, in its shoulders, and one even blasted into the back of its hand.
When that happened, one of the eggs fell from its grasp.
The white object noticed this right away, and tried to fly down to retrieve it, but its pursuers’ persistent attacks prevented it from doing so. Gazing back at the falling egg with something akin to regret, the white object ascended once more into the skies to continue its escape.
As the barrage faded into the distance, the falling egg dropped down towards a dense, dark forest that extended for miles…
“Are you okay?” Taichi Yagami asked his younger sister Hikari as he stuck a cooling gel sheet on her forehead. The poor girl was shivering under the bedcovers with fever.
With the brightest smile she could manage, Hikari said, “Yeah.”
“I see,” Taichi complied, but inside he was berating himself. He now knew in hindsight that she had been showing cold symptoms since yesterday, but because he hadn’t recognized them for what they were, he had dragged Hikari out to go shopping with him for things they would bring to camp today (although the shopping list had only consisted of loads of candy).
He had thought she was acting strange, but he didn’t think that it was because of a cold…
It must have started yesterday morning, when they were watching television together. At that time, a news broadcast was reporting abnormal weather all around the world. Even though it was midsummer, America was covered in heavy snow, while heavy rain flooded the Middle East. In contradiction to that, the swamps in Southeast Asia dried up completely from drought. The weather forecaster said this was all due to destruction of the environment, but Hikari said,
“Eh?” Taichi, who had been stuffing his cheeks with toast topped with egg and round slices of tomato and ham, gave Hikari a strange look.
Hikari’s eyes stayed wholeheartedly fixed on the TV screen, which wasn’t showing anything in particular as far as Taichi could see. As if in a daze, she softly whispered an unfamiliar word.
“Digimon? What’s that?” Taichi asked with raised eyebrows.
This time, Hikari pulled herself away from the screen to give him a wide-eyed look.
“You can’t see it, Brother?” she asked in turn.
“See what…?” Taichi looked at the TV screen. “I don’t see anything.”
“Oh… Never mind then. Don’t worry about it,” Hikari smiled, before she turned her gaze back to the TV again. Her long eyelashes, as Taichi looked at his younger sister’s profile, made her appear somewhat forlorn to him.
She probably got the fever then, Taichi realized now. If he had checked her forehead that time and had allowed her to rest, her cold might have been easily prevented right from the start. Hikari had been looking forward to this camping trip just as much as he was…
In noisy crowds that stood before the buses lined up for departure, the children assembled into their assigned groups as they chattered endlessly about the anime that they had seen yesterday, the new video game that was released, the plot developments in the latest weekly manga issue, or about the romantic relationship between two popular idols who had had a lot of publicity lately in a weekly picture magazine.
But Yamato Ishida did not involve himself in any of these groups.
It wasn’t because he was lonely. In fact, many of his classmates would greet him with a friendly “Yo!” or “Hi~!” when they came across him and, naturally, Yamato would respond back with a smile.
A small boy wearing a green hat and long-sleeved shirt that was the same color as the sleeveless T-shirt Yamato was wearing, was standing next to Yamato. Although there were many people who spoke to Yamato, none of them spoke to the little boy, and the boy himself never waved his hand in greeting at anyone else. He simply stuck to Yamato’s side as he quietly looked around, grinning broadly at his surroundings.
The situation was as it should be, for this little boy was not a part of this school, and thus was not acquainted with any of the students there. He was Yamato’s younger brother, Takeru Takaishi. The reason they had different last names was because the two were now living separately because of their parents’ divorce. Takeru was allowed to participate in Yamato’s school camping trip after receiving special permission from Fujiyama-sensei, the man in charge of organizing it.
Takeru himself didn’t appear worried, but Yamato was secretly anxious that Takeru would not be able to get along with the other children. He thought things might be better off if Takeru had never come to begin with.
It all began on the first week of July, right before summer vacation started.
Because their parents had agreed to visitation rights after their divorce was settled, Takeru came to stay the night at Yamato’s (and his dad’s all-male two-person) apartment in Odaiba. At that time, Takeru’s sharp eyes had spotted the date of August 1st on the calendar circled in red. When their father told him that was the day of the school camping trip, Takeru exclaimed that he wanted to go too.
Their father surely must have shared Yamato’s feelings of dread. His troubles had increased because that meant calling up his ex-wife and persuading her to agree. Of course, although he complained out loud that it was a bother, his expression didn’t make it appear that it really was.
The day before camp, which was yesterday, Yamato went to his mother’s residence in Sangenjaya to pick up Takeru.
“You should come over here yourself to play once in awhile, Yamato,” his mother said a little awkwardly to her first son as she stuffed Takeru’s backpack with snacks until its seams were almost bursting open.
Even Yamato thought that his own, short reply sounded cold.
“You should,” his mother repeated brightly, although her smile was somewhat forced. She already knew, even before their conversation had started, that Yamato would never voluntarily drop by for a visit. Being aware of Yamato’s serious personality, she did not doubt that he considered that innocuous action the equivalent to betraying his father.
“Okay, Mama, I’m going now!”
With Takeru’s packing completed, his mother accompanied him all the way to the apartment’s entrance hall.
“Takeru, don’t cause too much trouble for your brother, okay?”
Her words sounded as if she was leaving her only child in custody of a stranger. Of course, she meant no ill-will behind them.
But Yamato couldn’t help muttering, “It doesn’t matter if he does. We’re brothers.”
Throughout the entire bus ride, Mimi Tachikawa was so absorbed in gossiping with her friends Taako and Mi-chan that she never bothered to look at the gradually changing scenery outside her window. Nor was she interested in doing so anyway. If you were to ask her later what landmarks the bus went through to get to their campgrounds in Mikami Canyon , she would have told you that she had no idea.
“Okay, we’re here!” Fujiyama-sensei’s loud voice was useful to him during the school’s morning assemblies, for it could reach all the way to the back of the auditorium without the assistance of a microphone. Within the narrow bus, however, it caused everyone’s ears to ring.
“The group you belong in is listed on the printout I gave you before we left. Your leaders will be wearing arm bands with their names on it, so find them using that and stick with your group. After that, listen to what your leader tells you. That is all.”
Mimi looked down at the official-looking printout in her hands. In felt-tip pen was handwritten, “Kido Group (Leader: 6th Grade, Jou Kido)”
“Hey, do you know who Kido is?” Mimi asked Taako, who was sitting next to her. Taako’s handout had “Arihara Group” written on it.
“Kido-san would be…” Searching outside the window, it wasn’t long before Taako pointed, “Over there!”
The boy she was indicating was dressed neatly in an open-collared shirt and an Ivy League-styled vest. Besides wearing glasses and the arm band that signified he was a leader, his shoulder was burdened by a square-shaped bag labeled “Emergency Food Supply.” Perhaps he was also feeling the heavy responsibility that came with being a leader because his face looked a little stiff.
“Hmm… He doesn’t seem that reliable…” Mimi mused, but she was interrupted by Mi-chan, who motioned to them hurriedly, saying, “Look, look!”
Mi-chan was pointing at the front of the bus, where a boy wearing a long-sleeved orange shirt was about to get off. Even Mimi knew who he was. They hardly ever talked together, but he was her classmate, Koushiro Izumi. Mi-chan wanted them to look at what Koushiro was carrying on his back - a wireless laptop.
“Isn’t he so weird for bringing that all the way to camp?” Mi-chan sneered with mocking laughter, but Mimi didn’t laugh. She simply didn’t find any reason to.
Lowering the empty buckets she held with both arms, Sora stopped walking down the stone steps leading to the water supply to see the person who had called out to her coming up. It was Kenji, the self-proclaimed “Akita of Odaiba,”  who played defense on Sora’s soccer team.
“What is it?” Sora asked him.
“Do you know where Taichi is? I can’t find him anywhere.”
“No idea,” Sora said bluntly. “We’re in different groups, so of course I won’t know.”
“Oh,” Kenji nodded in understanding, but he grumbled under his breath as he continued his ascent up the stairs. Because of the smooth two-top coordination that Taichi and Sora showed within their soccer plays, he must have gotten the mistaken impression that they shared a telepathic link. Perhaps he thought Sora would use it to get Taichi to come flying out to see him.
When she reached the water supply, Sora turned on the faucets to fill the two buckets. A small brook gurgled nearby, but due to sanitary conditions, their printouts had specifically pointed out (underlined with a thick wavy line and everything) that they were to use the water from the water supply for cooking.
After the buckets were filled to the top, Sora grabbed one in each hand and climbed back up the stone steps. The weight of the buckets made her arms feel like they were being pulled from their sockets.
Normally this task would have been left to the boys, while the girls were assigned easier work (such as cutting vegetables, or gossiping as they gathered firewood). However, Sora disliked doing such things. As a person who ordinarily never wore a skirt if she could help it, she consciously denied her position as a girl. Such masculine traits of hers were only further reinforced after she’d joined the all-male soccer club.
Sweat began to appear on Sora’s brow, and she lowered the buckets onto the ground to wipe it with her arm. Bothered by the hair that clung around her eyes, she took off her hat to fix the messy strands. Freed from its confines, her short hair stuck up in odd directions.
After resettling her hat in its rightful place, she squared herself and said, “Now then.”
The buckets held once again in her grasp, she was just about to continue climbing the stairs when she noticed Taichi above her, napping on the branch of a thick tree with his arms propped behind his head. “Taichi, what are you doing over there?”
Not bothering to move his posture, Taichi simply lifted his head to look down in Sora’s direction.
“Nothing,” he answered lazily.
Even when she said, “Kenji was looking for you,”
“Oh, okay,” was his sluggish reply.
Deducing that Taichi was slacking off from his duties, Sora knew that anything she said to him when he was like this was futile. So instead, she asked him something that had been bothering her since they had gotten here.
“By the way, I haven’t seen Hikari-chan around.” Sora had heard from Hikari herself that she was very excited about today’s camping trip.
“Yeah… she had a fever.”
“A summer cold?” Sora asked sympathetically.
“I see. That’s too bad.”
“Yeah…” Taichi trailed off when he noticed that something white was drifting down in front of his eyes.
What’s that? he wondered, and reached out a hand to the sky. Feeling a small tingling of cold on the back of his hand, he brought it back to see a drop of water on his skin. It may seem hard to believe, but it was snow.
“Hey, it’s snowing,” Taichi called out to Sora below, but she had already noticed. A gust of wind, causing large snowflakes to whirl wildly behind Taichi, had caught her eye.
“It looks like there’s going to be a blizzard,” Sora shouted up at him. “Let’s hurry back to the others!”
“I don’t believe this.”
Staring out the window of the small shrine  he had secluded himself in, the smell of its rotten wood tickling his nostrils, Koushiro Izumi whispered to himself in blank amazement. The sudden snowstorm had blotted out the summer greenery with white in the twinkling of an eye.
“It must be due to the abnormal weather we’ve been having.”
Resigning himself to the fact that he wouldn’t be able to leave this place for awhile, Koushiro brought his Pineapple laptop onto his lap and waited for it to boot up as he connected it to his cellular phone.
His laptop’s OS flicked on. With an ease that showed he was accustomed to doing this, he double-clicked the icon to his Internet browser and attempted to connect to a major search engine he had bookmarked. He wanted to check the homepage of the latest weather forecast.
The sound of the modem, and then the fast forward dialing from his cellular phone could be heard within the silence. However, the sounds that signaled he was connected to the Internet did not follow.
“This snowstorm must be interfering with reception.”
Yet he was unable to give up. Just as he was about to attempt re-connecting once more, the sliding door of the shrine burst open and two boys stomped in, their heads topped with snow.
Without consciously realizing what he was doing, Koushiro must have glared at the intruders for entering without knocking and stepping all over the floor with their shoes on, because the taller, and obviously older, of the two boys apologized.
“Sorry.” It was Yamato. “Can we stay here until the snow stops?”
“I don’t mind,” Koushiro politely replied, a little flustered.
“Thanks,” Yamato said, before he turned to dust off the snow that covered Takeru’s hat and clothes.
As the snow continued to fall with no sign of stopping, other children arrived at the shrine to take shelter.
The oldest, wearing the arm band of a leader, Jou Kido.
Koushiro’s classmate, Mimi Tachikawa.
And, an acquaintance Koushiro only knew through the required school club they shared, Taichi Yagami.
At that time, none of the children would have ever imagined that the seven people gathered here would soon find themselves involved in a long, long adventure.
The snowstorm gradually stopped.
As they stepped out of the shrine, the children were unable to hide their bewilderment as they surveyed the snowscape that looked incompatible against the blue summer sky.
“Yay!” With a whoop of enjoyment, Takeru jumped down onto the snow and scooped up a handful to form a ball. “Hey, Brother. We can have a snowball fight!”
“I… guess so,” Yamato said kindly as he attentively watched over his cute younger brother. Next to him, a voice interrupted.
“Just what the hell is going on here?” Taichi asked. The question wasn’t directed at anyone in particular. Taichi often had a bad habit of saying what he was thinking.
Unaware of that, Jou raised his head to look up at the sky. Pushing his glasses up, he explained, “There was probably a cold air mass in the skies that caused it to snow. Maybe it traveled here all the way from America.”
“Hmm,” Mimi said, sounding impressed. “You must be pretty smart, Jou-senpai.”
“Oh, it’s nothing like that,” Jou said modestly, although his face showed more than a hint of pride. Watching him, Taichi decided that they would not get along. Jou’s skin was sickly pale, even though it was the middle of summer. He must’ve been so absorbed with cram school that he’d never even gone swimming in a pool once this entire summer.
“Anyway, Jou,” Yamato said. The reason he didn’t add honorifics to Jou’s name was because he thought they were in the same grade. “Has the snowstorm passed?”
“Yeah, it has. You see how there are no clouds in the sky? No matter how cold the temperature is, the snow won’t be able to form without clouds. That’s common sense,” Jou lectured boastfully, before he caught himself. “Ah… um, I didn’t mean that you guys don’t have any common sense by that. Don’t get the wrong impression.”
His cover-up sounded weak, and he knew it. Seeing Yamato’s eyebrows furl for a split second into an annoyed expression, Jou realized that he had screwed up.
“Hey, by the way,” said Takeru, who had been in the middle of making a snowman. He stopped patting snow to point at the sky. “What is that? It’s not a cloud, is it?”
Everyone looked up.
An enormous, transparent curtain that shone iridescently like a soap bubble was fluttering gently above them.
“Is that… an aurora?” Sora asked, her eyes wide with disbelief. “But, being able to see an aurora in Japan is just…”
Suddenly, something unbelievable happened, a mysterious spectacle that drew everyone’s attention. Right at that moment, within the aurora, something glimmered. It wasn’t coming from just one source, but many.
Thinking that his eyes were playing tricks, Taichi shut and opened them again. The lights were still there. They weren’t flickering any longer, but glowing stronger and stronger. It wasn’t long before Taichi realized that that was because these lights were heading towards them.
Sora and Yamato had also noticed. “They’re balls of light! Are they meteorites?”
Even Mimi and Jou, with his weak eyesight, were soon able to see them as the lights approached closer and closer. There were seven spheres of light in all.
All of them dove for cover. Yamato threw himself over Takeru to protect him.
The force of the impact caused a pillar of snow more than two meters high to rise up. One could only imagine the staggering amount of power behind it to have caused such a thing. Fortunately, none of the children were hurt.
“That was scary,” Mimi said as she stood up. Her face, however, was not as pale as Jou’s, who had been standing next to her. In fact, she appeared to be slightly amused, as if the entire thing had been an accident.
“What in the world are they?” Driven by curiosity, Koushiro ran to the spot where the pillar of snow had risen. The mysterious falling objects had plunged deep into the dirt, forming large holes in the layer of snow that rested above it.
Koushiro was about to dig his hand through one of the holes when, with a “Hyah!”, he quickly drew it back.
A beam of soft light shot out from inside the holes, and something came floating out. There were seven of them in all.
“Wh—What is that?!” Taichi asked, his voice raised at a hysteric pitch.
The seven unknown objects that emitted light as gentle as a bride’s silk headdress flew individually into each child’s hand.
It was a piece of equipment with a screen similar to a pager. On its surface, one could see particles of light creating a haze of colors.
All seven of the things began to beep furiously.
The instant that happened, the aurora above them started to shake violently, as though it were a curtain being blown savagely by a squall.
“Is it because of the electromagnetic waves?” Koushiro murmured to himself, but even he knew it was a baseless hypothesis.
The aurora’s trembling grew more aggressive, appearing as if it would pull itself from the heavens and fly away at any moment. The surface of the sky itself began to shine brightly.
At the same time, something impossible happened.
Even though the children were on a tall mountain, sufficiently high above sea level, water exploded upwards, rising vertically to show its large smooth surface. Its center parted open to reveal water going in, as though it were a huge waterfall on its side. With a thunderous roar, it sucked in the air surrounding it. The cold atmosphere was not being drawn to the bottom, but to someplace parallel to the ground.
Seized by a power they could not dispute, the seven children were sucked inside.
They had waited a long, long time just to meet their partners.
Their memories went very far. They could remember the glacier that had first covered the ground surface, although it had long since melted away by now. They could remember when vegetation had first sprouted out of the bare earth and grown thickly into the lush environment they now resided in.
Although no one had taught them, they knew how to speak words. They even knew what their names were, and who they were waiting for. However, what they did not know was, for what purpose.
And yet, they waited.
Confident that their partners would arrive from the skies, they faced the heavens day after day, calling out the names of their respective partners.
One of them said “Taichi!”
Another said, “Yamato!”
And others pitched in with, “Sora!”, “Jou!”, “Koushiro-han!”, “Mimi!”, “Takeru!”……
One day, the one who was waiting for “Takeru” saw the aurora in the sky.
All of them looked up.
Instinctively knowing that the fated time had arrived, each of them stood still with bated breath. Some of them were so overcome with emotion that they even had tears glistening in their eyes.
The sky glimmered brightly for an instant, and then they heard screaming from far away.
Immediately accompanying the terrified cries were seven children, who they could see were lumped together in a mass of arms and legs as they plummeted to the ground.
“TAICHI! TAICHI! TAICHI!”
“YAMATO! YAMATO! YAMATO!”
So happy were they that they jumped great leaps of joy as each of them repeatedly called the name of the partner they had been longing for. When a force separated the children still in the air into seven different directions, each of them eyed the spot where they anticipated their partner would land, and hurriedly dispersed.
With a dull thump, Yamato hit land.
“Ow!” he cried out in reflex, but the truth was, it hadn’t hurt that much at all. Surprised by the lack of pain he was expecting, Yamato looked up at the sky.
He was so certain that he had just been falling from high up there, very close to the stratosphere. Could he have been hallucinating? As his body had spun through the air during the drop, he’d thought he’d seen glimpses of something that looked like an island underneath him …
“That’s weird.” Yamato murmured, his head still tilted upwards as he stood up.
A quick look around his surroundings confirmed that he was in the woods. For a moment he thought he was somewhere on the campgrounds, but the humidity that clung to his arms made him quickly change his mind. If this was really camp, it should have been much cooler weather…
Anyway, more important matters were at hand.
“Hey, Takeru!” He called out his younger brother’s name. When he didn’t receive a response, he tried again.
Turning in every direction, he repeated the same name over and over. But Takeru’s voice could not be heard anywhere.
Yamato could feel the blood draining away from him. If something happened to Takeru, what should I…?
Half-crazed, Yamato continued to call out Takeru’s name over and over. The face of his mother when she had left him floated through his mind.
“Takeru! Where are you, Takeru?!”
The corners of the boy’s eyes ached with a burning sensation. His chest felt like it would flatten under the heavy load of his worry. If he ended up being unable to find Takeru…
That was when he heard a shy voice say, “Yama…to?”
“Who’s there?” Yamato shot back, stopping abruptly.
Although he couldn’t see anyone around, a chestnut-colored stuffed doll with a horn on its head dropped to the ground beside him. Yamato wasn’t sure how it was made to do it, but it blinked its eyes, and —
“You’re Yamato… right?”
— its mouth moved to the sound of words, as if it were really a living being.
Yamato had no idea what was going on, but he still had enough of his wits about him to know not to fall for a talking plushie.
Searching his surroundings wildly, he said, “Who are you? Come on out!”
And that was when, as if to emphasize its existence, the stuffed toy jumped up and down.
“It’s me, Yamato! Tsunomon! I’ve been waiting for you for such a long time!”
Yamato’s mouth dropped open. And stayed open.
Tsunomon spoke. “You’re looking for Takeru, right? I’ll take you to him! I’m sure Tokomon has already found Takeru by now.”
Sora became very still. If seeing the strange pink animal with a blue flower decorated on its head wasn’t enough, it had even spoken words to her.
She considered screaming for help, but it would be terrible if that caused this creature to get excited.
The animal spoke up once more. “I’ve always, always, always been waiting for you, Sora!” it said excitedly. Its words were clear and understandable. “That’s why I’m so glad to finally meet you!”
The thing wriggled the many protuberances underneath its head (she couldn’t tell if they were feet or tentacles) to approach Sora, and she immediately took a step back.
“D—Don’t come near me!” Sora shrieked hysterically, in a voice that was unlike her usual self.
Its flower drooping upon hearing those words, the animal said sadly, “Sora… Do you hate me?”
“I—It’s not that I hate you, it’s just,” Sora stammered frantically as she kept her distance, “What the heck are you?!”
“I’m Pyocomon. I just said that earlier.”
“No, what I’m asking is, what is a Pyocomon?!”
“Pyocomon is Pyocomon,” the thing said simply, “Just like Sora is Sora.”
Gazing at Sora with its upturned eyes, it looked at her like a baby starving for the love of its parent. While Sora’s heart couldn’t help but go out to that expression, it made her feel uncomfortable at the same time. Although she wanted to vehemently deny it, its large eyes playfully enticed the maternal instincts which had lain dormant within Sora to awaken.
Biting her lip, Sora then heaved a great sigh.
“All right, fine,” she said resignedly. The affection she could feel from those bright blue eyes had stolen her of her wariness. “In any case… at least one thing I know for sure around here is that you’re called Pyocomon.”
Rubbing a leaf between his fingers, Koushiro murmured another “How mysterious.”
“This isn’t a real leaf… It’s similar to the green plastic grass you see in bentō boxes , the kind they sell in convenience stores,” he observed. “Nevertheless, I’m quite impressed to see something as sophisticated as this.”
He was in a considerably vast forest. The branches of all the trees in this forest had leaf upon leaf attached to them, and although it wasn’t an impossible task to do, it must have taken a lot of labor to replicate everything and make the forest appear so realistic. Even people with untrained eyes would have agreed with Koushiro that it would have been cheaper economically to just plant real trees in their place.
It wasn’t just the leaves. The pebbles at his feet looked like gray cubes of sugar that crushed just as easily, and the solid earth looked like dark caramel that was just as tough.
“So, let me ask you again…” Koushiro said to the elaborately-made creature next to him. It had never left his side ever since it had found him. “You say this place is called File Island?”
“That’s right.” This creature that called itself Motimon (its insides were probably made up of very high-powered transceivers) stuck out its chest as it answered proudly.
“I must say, this theme park is made extraordinarily well.”
“Um… Koushiro-han? What’s a theme park?”
“You don’t know?”
Perhaps the opening date for this park was a long way off, Koushiro thought, and the person speaking through this machine (whose accent was clearly from the Kansai region  of Japan) was playing dumb.
That was why Koushiro was able to say, “Well, never mind,” with an indulgent smile.
“Anyway, Koushiro-han. Everyone else is waiting, so let’s hurry back to them.”
When he had touched Motimon’s round body, it had felt like rubber. Maybe it was created from that foam rubber Hollywood was known for using in its creations. Although a pretty expensive process, it was probably nothing but snack money to these people, if the lengths they had gone to create this artificial forest were anything to go by.
“Okay, I got it. Can you take me there?”
The creature looked almost beside itself with happiness as it moved along the ground in a shuffling walk. Koushiro reasoned to himself that it must have wheels hidden underneath.
In all eleven years of his life, Jou could honestly swear that he had never dealt with anything as utterly and unexplainably bizarre as this.
A strange animal that looked like an experiment between a seal and a sea horse gone wrong was chasing after him. In a mischievous voice, it cried out, “Jooou!” as it floated in the air.
“Wait for me, Jooou!”
He would have been able to convince himself that “Jooou” was an animal roar similar to “Gyaooo” or “Uwooo,” except that the “Wait for me” bit was clearly Japanese. Maybe the structure of its vocal cords was similar to the mynah or the parrot. But even so, wasn’t the thing a little too fluent?!
Which led him to a single conclusion —— A monster?
The minute he thought that, Jou screamed, “That’s impossible! It’s too unrealistic!!!”
So could this mean this was a dream?
But upon meeting him, the animal had immediately rubbed Jou’s cheek with something that looked very much like a flipper. In fact, it was exactly like a flipper. That slippery feeling, and the stinky smell of raw fish from its breath, told Jou that this was absolutely, positively not a dream. Although it was extremely hard to believe, this was hard, stone cold reality.
“Why are you running away?” shouted the incarnation chasing behind him, its very existence bulldozing over the common sense Jou had so carefully cultivated throughout his eleven years. Jou could only run for his life.
In any case, this must be the first time that Jou had ever used all of his energy to run like this. His pounding heart felt like it was trying to explode through his chest. That figure of speech “heartbreak” must not have been an exaggeration after all.
Wait, this isn’t the time to be thinking about that.
Jou screamed. “Please, I’m begging you!!! Go away!!! Just leave me alone!!!”
His voice was so strained from his exertions that it was almost shameful to hear.
With Tsunomon leading him through the forest, Yamato came upon Takeru along the way rather abruptly.
Takeru raced towards him happily. Yamato searched Takeru’s face for traces of tears, but couldn’t find any. He had been so sure that Takeru would be crying helplessly without him around.
Within his arms, Takeru was holding a… a piggy bank? No, a katoributa ? — some object with a pudgy comical shape. Realizing where Yamato’s gaze was directed at, Takeru replied, “Ah, let me introduce you. This is Tokomon,” and shoved the ornament-thing up at Yamato’s face.
“Hello, Yamato!” it squeaked.
It wasn’t an ornament at all. Just like the Tsunomon that had brought him here, it was a living animal that could speak words.
“Tokomon said that he’s been waiting for us for a really, really long time,” Takeru explained to Yamato. Then he turned to Tokomon and said, “Right?”
Smiling with its entire face, Tokomon agreed brightly. “Right!”
His younger brother readily accepted the existence of these strange beings. Yamato could only be tongue-tied with awe at Takeru’s ability to quickly conform to his environment. Perhaps because Takeru was still a child, his belief in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy hadn’t even disappeared yet. Apparently the harsh reality of their parents’ divorce had not poisoned Takeru’s pure soul, and Yamato found himself to be glad that his little brother still kept such innocence.
“Tokomon said that there are more of his friends around,” Takeru said excitedly, “There’s Koromon, and Tanemon, and Pukamon, and Pyocomon, and who else………. Tsunomon!”
“Tsunomon… would be me,” Tsunomon said, its cheeks glowing bashfully.
“Oh, I see. It’s nice to meet you!” Takeru greeted it with a small bow. “I’m Takeru Takaishi.”
After exchanging greetings, Tsunomon exclaimed, “Come on, let’s go to the others!” and bounded off with hurried jumps. Takeru ran after it, still carrying Tokomon in his arms.
And Yamato was left standing stock-still, unable to comprehend this situation.
The only answer he could come up with, that satisfied him, was that this was a dream. He must be dreaming that he was with Takeru in this fantasy land so he could temporarily forget about reality. If that was the case, then it probably wasn’t a bad idea to play along for a little while.
A sheepish smile forming on his lips, Yamato raced after Takeru.
When Taichi landed, he had lost consciousness with his hand tightly clutched around the small device that had appeared from within the aurora. Now that object was blinking furiously as it flashed bright light.
Taichi finally opened his eyes, but it wasn’t because of the light flashing in them that had woken him up. Settled right in front of his face was a pink thing that looked like a rugby ball. Someone had drawn large red eyes on its surface, which inexplicably blinked as they stared down at him. The bottom half of the rugby ball split open to display a large mouth glistening with small, sharp fangs, and it spoke,
Taichi’s body immediately went rigid.
“H—Hya!? Wh—What the heck?!”
Its round cat-like eyes crinkling, the thing gave a toothy grin as its entire face glowed with happiness. “Taichi, you’re awake! That’s great!”
And then it tried to leap at Taichi’s face. Reacting more out of sheer surprise than anything, Taichi pushed a hand in front to stop it and rose hurriedly to his feet.
“Y—You can talk?! How do you know my name?! What the hell are you?!” Confusion raging in his mind, Taichi could only shoot off questions in rapid succession.
The pink rugby ball introduced itself. “I’m Koromon!”
“Koromon… Wait, so you’re Koromon because you’re small and round ?” Taichi asked.
Koromon itself didn’t seem to know where its name originated from, so it cheerfully answered, “I’m not sure about that… but anyway, I’ve been waiting forever for you Taichi!”
And then it tried leaping at Taichi again.
But Taichi swerved his body to avoid it. “What do you mean you’ve waited for me?!”
Just then, the tall grass nearby rustled and the junior  that Taichi knew from their club, Koushiro, poked his head out of the wilderness.
“Koushiro!” Taichi cried out in relief.
But upon seeing the pink mollusk-like animal moving beneath the other boy’s feet, Taichi went on to exclaim, “Th—There’s another one! What the heck are these weird things?!”
“It claims that it’s a Digimon,” Koushiro replied, shrugging his shoulders to indicate that he was also confused. “Apparently this place is called File Island. Have you ever heard of it?”
“File… Island?” Taichi had never heard of it before. “Wait, so this is an island?”
“I believe so.”
Curling a hand around his chin in thought, Taichi walked over to a sturdy tree nearby and climbed its trunk as easily as a monkey. Settling on a branch, he brought out a mini-telescope from within his shorts’ pocket to view his surroundings.
In front of him, he could see the forest stretched out for miles. What lay beyond it was hazy to him. To his left towered a steep white mountain, so high that its summit was covered by thick clouds. To his right sparkled a bright blue ocean, looking as picture-perfect as the ones you’d expect to see celebrities posing in on the front of magazines.
“I guess with that ocean there, it really does mean this place is an island…”
Thinking he should ask Koushiro for his opinion, Taichi shoved his telescope back into his pocket and leapt out of the tree.
He got straight to the point. “I saw an ocean, but it may have been a lake.”
“It doesn’t matter whether it was an ocean or a lake,” Koushiro said. “It still means we’re not in Mikami Canyon.”
“But there’s still Mount Fuji, isn’t there? Look, see that mountain over there?” Taichi said, pointing to the jagged-looking mountain on his left.
“That doesn’t look like Mount Fuji to me,” Koushiro retorted with a sigh.
Next to him, Motimon piped up in its confident voice, “That’s called Infinity Mountain.” 
Taichi and Koushiro shot dubious looks at each other. Neither of them had heard of that name before.
While they were figuring things out, the other children soon gathered around them. Each of them was lead by a Digimon partner made of various shapes.
Sora and Pyocomon.
Yamato and Tsunomon.
Takeru and Tokomon.
And, with a piercing scream that announced his arrival,
When he recognized the familiar faces he had met in the shrine, Jou sighed with relief. Sadly it was blown away when his gaze shifted to the monsters lying at their feet.
Stiffening, Jou’s face paled even further as he let out a wail. “…Th—There’s more of them.”
Losing his strength, he plopped onto the dirt. This was how the seal-and-sea-horse mutant monster finally caught up to him.
Zooming happily into Jou’s back, it said cheerfully with its rank, fishy breath, “I’m Pukamon! Pleased to meet’cha!”
Jou stared back at it dumbfounded, as if he was seeing the world crumbling before his very eyes.
Looking around, Yamato asked, “Is this all of us? I think I remember one more person who was with us at the shrine.”
“Oh!” Jou’s head snapped up as he cried out in realization. “Mimi-kun! Mimi Tachikawa-kun isn’t here!”
Tanemon was having a hard time answering Mimi’s question.
“Where did I come from?” it echoed, tilting its head. “But I’ve always been here…”
Mimi did not believe it for a minute.
“That can’t be right! I know what you really are!” she insisted. “So… what planet did you come from? Go on, tell me!”
Mimi had never believed in UFOs. The subject was hardly even brought up as a topic of discussion among her friends and family. But when this strange creature suddenly appeared in front of her and she realized she wasn’t dreaming, how else could she explain it? Surely this leafy being must be an alien that had come from outer space.
I mean, think about it, Mimi reasoned to herself inside her mind. The universe is a very big place. It probably didn’t come from a planet in our solar system, but it would make perfect sense to find tons of E.T. living around the nebula in the Magellanic Clouds.
“I was always here, waiting for you, Mimi…” Tanemon spoke to Mimi, as if it were appealing to her. It fidgeted with its small limbs (or at least Mimi thought they were) as it looked at her apologetically.
What does that mean?
Mimi’s thin eyebrows furrowed as she frowned in thought. Maybe this wasn’t Earth at all? Maybe the water that had shown up in front of the shrine was actually a UFO? Maybe the aliens had beamed her up and flown billions of light-years away and brought her to this planet that looked so much like Earth where she will spend her days for the rest of her life?!
“I don’t like that!” Mimi cried out shrilly. “If that’s true, then take me back home! Take me back home to my Papa and Mama right now!”
Mimi was actually a very nice, well-behaved girl by nature. It was just that, in some cases, she would respond to the inner logic she had formed within her head with disregard for what was actually said to her during the conversation. It often caused many people - even friends - who were talking with her to become very, very confused and unable to know how to carry on their conversation.
In other words, Mimi would get angry, cry, or laugh at the drop of a hat, regardless of what topic they were previously talking about, and the person she had been talking to would be left with absolutely no idea on how to deal with her.
That was exactly what was happening right now.
In Tanemon’s eyes, Mimi had gotten upset when it mentioned that it had waited for Mimi, and now it thought those words were the cause of Mimi’s anger. The thought saddened it, because Tanemon wanted Mimi’s acknowledgment and appreciation more than anyone else.
Tanemon was also not the type to delve too long into logical thinking. When Mimi yelled, it didn’t really understand why but it became increasingly sad and wretched. To express those feelings, it burst into tears.
“Even if you ask me to do that, I…” Tanemon trailed off into sobs.
Mystified at the alien’s sudden wailing outburst, Mimi instantly became silent. Perhaps the aliens from the Tanemon Planet were actually very nice and they simply wanted to be friends with earthlings. Although she was picked by them at random to represent the Earth, treating their offer like this would be very bad form on her part. It would be ridiculous to believe that this little mess-up would cause Earth and the Tanemon Planet to wage war, but Mimi still agreed that it was necessary to form friendly relations first.
“Oh, don’t cry. Please don’t cry.” Mimi soothingly apologized to Tanemon as though she were comforting a small child. “I’m sorry. It was my mistake. You’re right, I’m sure the two of us can become friends. So, come on, dry those eyes.”
Flashing her beautiful trademark smile, which had captured the hearts of many male students, she held out her hand to Tanemon to offer a handshake. In this pose, it wouldn’t have seemed out of place if Mimi’s shoulder bore the insignia with the words “Ambassador of International Peace.”
Tanemon stopped crying, but it was puzzled over how to respond to Mimi’s outstretched hand. Unsurely, it stretched out a leaf from the top of its head and touched Mimi’s hand shyly.
And the commemorative first contact between Earth and the Tanemon Planet has been successful! Mimi thought with a relieved sigh, when all of a sudden — a loud “vrrrmmmm” sound droned above their heads.
It must be a UFO, Mimi thought.
A young girl’s scream, shrill enough to rip a hole through silk, reached their ears.
“It’s Mimi-kun!” Jou cried out in alarm. But because he did not have the courage to take the initiative, he turned to Taichi and Yamato instead and asked hesitantly, “Wh—What do you think happened to her…?”
Instead of answering him, Taichi broke into a run. He had heard Mimi’s scream reverberating from their right — in the direction of the ocean.
Sora and Koushiro chased after him. Yamato had a late start because he urged Takeru to climb onto his back first.
“W—Wait! I’m coming too!” In the end, Jou tagged along, bringing up the rear.
Mimi, with a small Digimon that looked like a plant bulb at her heels, was heading from the children’s left towards their right.
“What’s wrong?!” Taichi asked, when behind Mimi came a thunderous “vrrrmmmm,” bringing along a sudden gust of wind that scattered leaves all over the ground.
“Wh—What’s that sound?” Sora asked, to which Koushiro immediately answered, “Look up there! There’s something in the skies!”
The leaves of the overgrown trees made it hard to see what it was, but Mimi’s screams continued.
“I don’t know what’s up there, but we have to save her!” Using the swift legs that he prized, Taichi chased after Mimi. Sora lined up perfectly next to him, keeping pace. Clearly, being the two-top team that the Odaiba’s soccer club boasted of was not just for show. Koushiro did his best to keep up behind them, while the additional weight of his brother on one set of legs dragged Yamato quite a distance behind Koushiro. Jou was even further behind.
Now the children could see Mimi. Perhaps she had heard the others’ voices and turned from under her pursuer’s nose, or maybe she was running randomly through the forest and just happened to come upon them, but whatever the case, she was rushing towards Taichi and the others at full speed and…
“AH!” Taichi and the others cried out. It was finally clear to them what was chasing after Mimi: An unbelievably gigantic stag beetle with a bright red body that was almost harsh on the eyes. The ear-splitting roar of sound and gusts of wind were caused from its enormous wings.
“It’s a stag beetle monster!” Koushiro yelped.
Next to him, Motimon corrected, “No! It’s Kuwagamon!”  but its words were drowned out by the clamorous buzzing of the monster’s wings.
“Noooo!” As Mimi ran, she could hear the thick snapping of wood as the enormous stag beetle chopped apart the branches with its pincers as it closed in behind her.
The monster chomped noisily as if it was testing its bite — open and close, open and close — approaching until Mimi could almost feel the sharp edges of it grazing at her back. And then this time the pincers opened widely for its final bite and the monster screamed in triumphant anticipation before Sora ran across from Mimi and tackled her to the ground. They avoided death only by a hair’s breadth: So close were they that the sound of its pincers closing on air rang painfully through Sora’s ear canal, a heavy metallic sound like two large hammers hitting each other.
After looking up to make sure the monster had flown off, Sora turned her head down to Mimi and asked her, “Are you all right?”
Both of them had mud and dead leaves stuck on their clothes and hair. Mimi herself couldn’t seem to believe that she was still alive and she dove into Sora’s arms, bursting into frightened tears.
“There, there,” Sora said soothingly as she gently patted Mimi’s long hair. “You’re safe now.”
But… “It’s coming here again!” Yamato hollered. Far away and high in the sky, the children could see the stag beetle monster make a wide U-turn and head in their direction again.
“What do we do?!” Jou asked Taichi with wild panic in his eyes. Unconsciously, Jou felt that Taichi was someone he could depend on.
“What…” Taichi himself did not have a plan. His desire to beat it before it killed them was strong, but just how to go about doing that, he had absolutely no idea.
“We don’t have any weapons to defend ourselves with…” Koushiro reasoned, evaluating the situation.
“Then what?” Jou shook with fear as his eyes fixed on the stag beetle monster closing on them.
“Let’s run!” Yamato suggested. The weight of Takeru on his back made him choose to be passive, as long as it kept his younger brother safe.
“All right, let’s run!” Frustrated that he could not think of another option, Taichi agreed.
The stag beetle monster continued to attack the children, but whenever it did, they would flatten against the dirt and leap into the thick grass, just barely escaping with their lives.
Even so, they didn’t know if they could keep running away forever. The moment they ran out of stamina would be the exact moment they became stag beetle food. As much as they wanted to believe that their smaller selves held more stamina than this monster, they couldn’t.
BOOM! Its pincers hit thick rock and, Vrrrmmmm…, the sound of its wings dwindled away.
“All right, it’s gone!”
The children cautiously stepped out from the shade of the rock ledge they were hiding in (the front half of it had been blasted to pieces by the monster’s previous attack).
“If only there was a cave around here somewhere…” Yamato whispered. Turning to look down at Tsunomon, he asked, “Do you know of any?”
Tsunomon shook its head, looking sincerely apologetic. “No. I’m sorry.”
“Er, it’s not your fault…” It was Yamato who ended up feeling shamed for the trouble.
“Anyway, we shouldn’t just stand here. Let’s hurry and get a move on,” Jou said as he stood up. He had finally recovered from his panic at seeing the monster for the first time, and once again felt responsibility as both the oldest and group leader.
The children set off once again. Tokomon rode backwards on top of Takeru’s hat so it could keep an eye out behind them. Now it cried, “It’s coming again!” and all of a sudden Taichi, who was in the lead, stopped.
The children saw right away what was blocking him. What lay in their path was not more road, but a precipitous cliff.
“Can we climb down this?” Sora asked as she looked over the edge. Below them was a thick, dark jungle that made her think of the Amazon, with a stream that wound through it like a snake. Not even adults, let alone the children, could get down from this calamitous height.
“It’s coming!” Tokomon yelled, baring fierce fangs that no one would have expected of from its cute appearance.
“No more!” Mimi cried with tears running down her cheeks.
As if acting on an invisible signal, the Digimon who had clung to the children all this time started to walk away. They began to retrace their steps back to where they’d come from, dragging themselves, or hopping, or moving on tiny feet.
“Wh—What’s wrong, Koromon?” Taichi asked it, looking puzzled. “If you’re leaving us, at least tell us where you’re going!”
“We’ll never leave you,” Koromon said, looking back at him. Its face was set with a look of tragic determination.
Koromon and the other Digimon went past the rear of the children (this was where Yamato and Takeru were), and lined up sideways as if they were soccer players forming a body wall to block a free kick into the goal post.
“We’ll protect all of you, Taichi!”
Saying these words resolutely, Koromon turned a fierce glare at the stag beetle monster. His eyes gleamed with the spirit of the challenged who at last took up the gauntlet.
Taichi and the others would have turned their faces away if they could. But their worry overcame their fear and they looked on.
It was obvious that these small Digimon were no match against this enormous stag beetle monster, yet they challenged it to battle. First, Koromon and the others spouted what looked like bubbles from their mouths. Perhaps these bubbles were extremely acidic, because the monster unexpectedly fell from balance and its pincers dug into the earth. Without a pause, Koromon and the others pressed on with their attack.
But once the stag beetle monster repositioned itself, the severe counters it gave the smaller Digimon with its six limbs, stiff wings, and sharp pincers hurt them two or three times more than they did to it.
The children couldn’t stand watching anymore.
“Why?! Why are you going so far to protect us?!”
Without even a moan passing its lips when the stag beetle monster slapped it violently into a large tree trunk, Koromon immediately leapt at the enemy again. What gave strength to Koromon was its determined purpose and desire to protect Taichi. Of course, the other Digimon — Tsunomon, Pyocomon, Motimon, Tanemon, Pukamon, and Tokomon — were the same.
Taichi and the others may not understand, but we have always, always waited for them. We dreamt that when they came, we would do so many things together. We must fight so that those dreams become a reality. And we must win. There’s not a chance that we’ll let our dreams be crushed in a place like this!
But we know with our own bodies how powerless we are. There is a wall of overwhelming odds before us. We can’t climb over it with our physical strength, our offensive ability, or even with our willpower.
We want power. We want to be stronger, stronger, much stronger.
Taichi screamed. “KOROMON!”
And even Jou cried out, “Pu—PUKAMON!”
It was then that seven streaks of light came down from the heavens and engulfed their Digimon.
For a second, the children lost sight of their Digimon within the bright light.
“I—It can’t be…”
But in the next instant, Child Level Digimon who had accomplished “evolution” appeared before them.
“Koromon, evolve! Agumon! Baby Flame!” — A cream-colored Digimon shaped like a small dinosaur spat out a breath of fire.
“Tsunomon, evolve! Gabumon! Petit Fire!” — A wolf-like Digimon standing on two legs spouted a ball of fire.
“Pyocomon, evolve! Piyomon! Magical Fire!” — A pink bird Digimon shot out a spiral of mysterious fire.
“Motimon, evolve! Tentomon! Petit Thunder!” — The red ladybug Digimon’s electric attack looked similar to lightning.
“Tanemon, evolve! Palmon! Poison Ivy!” — A green Digimon with a bright red plume on her head stretched out her hands, which became ivy that snared the enemy.
“Tokomon, evolve! Patamon! Air Shot!” — A Digimon who looked like a hamster with large ears swelled his cheeks as much as he could and spat out a ball of air.
“Pukamon, evolve! Gomamon! Marching Fishes!” — Last of all, a Digimon who looked exactly like a seal cried out, calling a large number of different-colored fish that flew through the air from out of nowhere.
Faced with attack power that was incomparable to before, the stag beetle appeared to be taken aback. Whether it was having a hard time of it, or had simply given up, it spread its wings and fled.
“Wh—What just happened?”
Although relieved beyond measure, the children did not have a clue to what was going on. Koromon and the others had disappeared and in their place, seven unknown Digimon with bruises all over their bodies were gazing back at them.
“Koromon’s dead!” Taichi wailed. The other children joined his cries.
But one of the newly arrived Digimon — the small cream-colored dinosaur who looked both friendly and fierce at the same time — giggled and smiled good-naturedly at Taichi and said this.
“I’m Koromon. Now that I’ve evolved though, I’m called Agumon.”
That was the beginning of their adventures. In this manner — sharing laughter and tears, mutual encouragement, and momentary disputes along the way — the children and their Digimon set off on a long, long journey.
It was the ocean. Taichi peered through the round lens of his mini-telescope as he gazed at the horizon where the marine blue of the sea and the azure blue of the sky melted together. The feel of the waves as they crested felt as lukewarm as a heated swimming pool, and the air smelled salty. Taichi put his mini-telescope not in his shorts like he always did, but in the pocket of his briefs. His shorts, blue T-shirt, and socks were drying on top of a rock along with the green, orange, and white shirts of the other boys.
Just then, Taichi’s stomach complained.
“Hey, Jou,” he asked. “Don’t you feel hungry?”
“No can do,” Jou scowled, purposefully putting a hand over the flap of the rectangular bag at his side. It was filled with the emergency food supply. “You’ve already eaten your share for the afternoon. Wait for when I distribute it again at night.”
But it was not only Taichi who was hungry. Feeling his own empty stomach squirm, Yamato grumbled, “When is it going to get darker anyway?” and glared at Jou as if it was his fault.
No one could really blame him: The flow of time here felt as if it was inching along. The position of the sun and the shadows that the sun made didn’t look as if they had even budged.
“I wonder what time it is now,” Koushiro said forlornly. He had attempted to use his cell phone and laptop to investigate, but neither of them worked. And he’d thought he’d still had a lot of battery life left over…
“She mentioned it was… 35:00 AM, was it?” Taichi said with a wry smile. He’d suddenly remembered the minute they had arrived on the beach, when he had tried using one of the nearby telephone booths to call home. The person who picked up on the other end indicated the time as if it was an incredible joke. Too bad he didn’t find it very funny.
“‘Digimon.’ I remember hearing that word before,” Taichi revealed to Koushiro as he slid his newly dried T-shirt over his head. It felt crinkly and smelled faintly of salt.
“I forget, it was like something that caught my attention briefly as I was passing by. Someone did say it.”
Taichi was often forgetful, but he remembered that it was Hikari who had said it. He was pretty sure that while they were watching a news report about abormal weather, Hikari had said “Digimon.” He just didn’t want to reveal her just yet.
“Let me tell you about my personal hypothesis,” Koushiro said, his back turned towards the others as he modestly put his dried shirt back on. “I think this place is perhaps a theme park that is being developed in absolute secrecy.”
“I see,” Taichi said.
“Its concept may be for us children to enjoy an adventure with these strange Digimon beings who live on this island.”
Taichi confused the word “concept” with “consent” and made a strange face for an instant, but he decided not to interrupt.
“Perhaps you’d heard the word ‘Digimon’ because information about them had been leaked somewhere… the internet, for example.”
“That makes sense.” Taichi thought this was all very logical.
“This place is probably located in or near Okinawa. I mean, look at this climate and the blue sea,” Koushiro said, motioning to their surroundings. “Either that, or we’re on Hachijo Island.”
“Doesn’t matter which,” Taichi shrugged. “They both still mean we’re pretty far from the campgrounds.”
“I wonder how we ended up getting here.”
“The only explanation I can come up with is that we’ve been abducted.”
“It means we’ve been kidnapped.”
“Hey now…” Taichi said uneasily. He’d always watched television reports on kidnappings with a distant air, as his father was a normal salaryman with only a modest income. He’d never thought he would become a part of one!
“I did say that it was a kidnapping, but either our parents or the camp committee must have approved of this. If not, this is highly felonious.”
“Felonious, huh?” Taichi couldn’t help but secretly admire the range of Koushiro’s vocabulary. This was the first time in his life Taichi himself had ever used the word “felonious.”
Taichi quieted into thought. If what Koushiro said was true, then it wouldn’t hurt to enjoy this adventure to the fullest. It was true that while they were attacked by the stag beetle monster he had almost peed himself to death from sheer terror, but when he thought about it now, it made his heart race with excitement. If there are more thrills out there that are as electrifying as that, I’m going all out!
Night still would not arrive.
The children took turns building up an unending chorus of “I’m hungry” and “Can we eat yet?” to which Jou answered firmly, “No,” every time. But even Jou keenly felt the pangs of hunger in his own stomach.
The emergency food supply that Jou was guarding was enough for three days. Jou’s group had six people, so 6 people x 3 days x 3 meals would equal 54 meals. They also added the snacks that were in Takeru’s backpack and divided it for seven people. (The Digimon said that they didn’t need the food, which was a big help.) According to their calculations, everything altogether would provide enough for four days worth.
Even so, it was not guaranteed that they would be able to get home within those days or even at all, so Jou was determined to make the food last as long as possible.
“I won’t hand it over.” As the leader, Jou accepted that he must act harsh and even at times, unbearable, for everyone’s sakes.
Sora quietly went over to Jou just then. “Hey, Jou-san.”
At this point, Jou’s high-wired nerves had began to suspect that everyone was planning to steal the food supply from him, so Sora’s casual and meaningless words made him feel like he was stepping on the edge of an open Venus flytrap. Naturally, he snapped at her. “What?!”
“About our food supply… could you at least give Yamato-kun’s brother something? The rest of us will be okay.”
Jou searched for the innocent-looking boy who stuck close to Yamato all the time.
In the shade of a cherry blossom tree that was in full bloom (What was a cherry blossom tree doing here, and growing in the middle of summer?), Takeru was leaning his head against the trunk, looking a little ill. Next to him sat, not his older brother Yamato but Mimi, who hated to get sunburned and came to cool herself. Of course, their newly evolved partners were with them. Everyone appeared to be worried about Takeru: Yamato was fanning him with a long wooden plank that he must have picked up from the beach.
Jou thought about it. He, too, felt sorry for the younger boy… but it would be over for his leadership if he went back on what he’d already decided. Give them an opening and they’ll soon be walking all over him. He just couldn’t have that. Jou was all too aware of his own often indecisive personality.
“No,” Jou said with a curt turn of his head.
Sora sighed. She thought perhaps of asking him to at least give Takeru his snacks back, but instead shut her mouth into a tight line and walked quietly back to where everyone was under the cherry blossoms.
When they heard what had transpired between her and Jou, Yamato and the others glared coldly in Jou’s direction. What was this, a dictatorship?
Growing very uncomfortable under their accusing eyes, Jou drew the bag of emergency food close to him and went to the seashore, in the area where the girls had previously been drying their clothes.
At the seashore, Jou’s partner Digimon who had changed both name and shape (he was now called Gomamon and he looked like a seal cub) was splashing the water happily, sendings sprays of it everywhere.
“Hey, come join me, Jou!”
But Jou did not feel like answering Gomamon’s invitation. He sat on top of a rock, keeping to his pensive thoughts.
If he had known things would turn out this way, he would have never come to camp. He should have done what his dad had told him to do and taken summer prep courses for his middle school exams. That would have been much more preferable anyway.
The more he stewed over it, the more bitterness he felt towards the bright sun with its uneven outline, towards the clear blue sky, towards the cheerfully spraying ocean, towards the fresh salty air, towards Gomamon, Sora, Yamato, Takeru, and the emergency food supply…
Standing up abruptly, he tore off his arm band and ripped it to pieces in frustration. Such a small act, but it did make him feel a little better.
Just then, on a darker part of the shore nearby, a hole the size of a miniature garden opened in the sand, gushing out a violent spray of water.
Jou came rushing as fast as he could towards the group underneath the cherry blossom tree, a greatly agitated look on his pale features. The others simply stared at him.
“What could be wrong?” Mimi asked with worry, pulling on the strings of her ten-gallon hat.
“Who knows,” Sora said coolly, remembering Jou’s attitude earlier.
But then, they all spotted the enormous pink monster charging open-mouthed behind Jou, the tentacles on its head twitching like an erratic sea anemone as it dragged the spiral shell it carried on its back. Any ill feelings they had felt for Jou immediately vanished.
“Jou!” Yamato cried out as he rushed forward to help the older boy.
Meanwhile, Sora called for her team partner. “Taichi! Taichi!!”
Mimi could only stand there quaking, both hands covering her mouth.
While they waited for Taichi, their Digimon attacked.
The Digimon began to attack resolutely, trying to stop the giant hermit crab’s movements when Taichi and Koushiro arrived.
“What’s going on?!” Taichi yelled.
“It’s Shellmon!” Tentomon said, rushing forward to join the battle. Agumon did the same.
But even with all seven attacking, it wasn’t very effective against Shellmon’s colossal size.
“Shuuuuuuuuu!” With a roar — a strange, almost fricative sound — Shellmon blasted out from its mouth a vicious spray of saltwater. The force of the water was not something to shrug at: Agumon and the others were swept away by the great hydraulic pressure.
“Agumon!” Before he even knew what he was doing, Taichi had rushed forward to Agumon’s aid.
Koushiro cried out, “Taichi-san, don’t!” but his voice didn’t reach him.
“Shuuuuuuuuu!” Sitting on top of the fallen Digimon, Shellmon persistently continued spouting water at its surroundings. The telephone booths on the shore that were caught in its sweeping attack fell one after the other and were destroyed.
Seeing Taichi running without even seeing the danger, Yamato yelled, “You idiot!” and chased after him.
Just then, whether purposely or on a whim, Shellmon rolled up the sand on the shore, tossing grains up in the air.
“Uwah!” Yamato yelped in surprise and stopped running. The sudden sandstorm blinded his vision. And then,
“Waaaaaaah!” They heard Taichi scream. The sand settled to reveal him captured within Shellmon’s grisly, glistening hand.
One after another, the children cried out Taichi’s name.
“Taichi!” Agumon also shouted from beneath Shellmon’s stomach. But no matter how hard he tried to twist himself free, he couldn’t crawl out from there.
Shellmon brought the hand holding Taichi up to its head. Its eerie, yellow tentacles wriggled below Taichi’s feet. Is there a mouth inside those tentacles that’ll suck up all my fluids and digest me? Taichi thought, breaking into a cold sweat.
“Taichi! Taichi!” Agumon continued to cry as he struggled. Tears of frustration were streaming down his face. I have to protect Taichi but I can’t! If only Taichi wished it, if only he wished for me to become stronger…!
Several of the tentacles reached up, entwining themselves until they touched Taichi’s knees.
Taichi lost all hope.
“Am I… going to die?” he whispered to himself. His instincts vehemently refused to accept that.
“No… I don’t want to die… Help me… Help me, Agumon!!!”
Taichi’s blue device immediately glowed. Its gauge ascended until it broke past the critical point. Rising to a level high up that could not be physically seen in the Digital World, it became a dazzling light when it reached its summit, exploding into what appeared at a glance to look like a bulky, disordered mass of information. This flow of information was at a scale that could rival the galaxy, and pieces of it that reacted to the light were selected.
[[ G R E Y M O N ]]
Each of the small fragments of information glowed as they gathered together and flowed towards a specific point. The tumbling sequence of light became a helix, which rained down invisibly on the data that would equip Agumon. The information describing his form was rewritten in a flash, and it even called in for greater mass until, with a blaze of light that looked like flames, he transformed.
“Agumon, evolve! Greymon!”
He succeeded in another evolution. The last time, he had evolved to save his fellow Digimon friends from danger, but now it was solely to protect the children’s lives.
The Greymon that appeared along with white light had a giant body that was not to be outdone by Shellmon. He looked fierce, like a true dinosaur: A massive, orange-skinned dinosaur.
Greymon used his three-fingered claws to grab at Shellmon’s wrist, the one whose hand held Taichi captive, and thrust the horn that protruded from the headpiece he wore across half of his face into Shellmon’s neck.
“Shuuuuuuuuu!” Its cries this time were not those of wicked triumph but shrieks of pain. While Shellmon writhed about, Greymon saved Taichi from Shellmon’s grip.
“Th—Thanks,” Taichi said to Greymon.
Greymon growled low in his throat and faced Shellmon, scorching the clump of tentacles on its head that had frightened Taichi with a blistering ball of fire at point-blank range.
A nauseating stench arose from the smoldering tentacles and Taichi reflexively covered both his mouth and nose. Before Greymon could attempt to expel more fire, Shellmon fled speedily, for all its bulk, into the sea. It disappeared into the safety of the waters’ depths as it raged at them wordlessly with the useless threats of a loser.
Yamato and the others, who had been watching from a distance, put their hands up to their hearts and sighed in relief, when Mimi saw something above her and whispered, “What could that be?”
Sora followed her gaze. A black object that looked like a rotating flying saucer was whizzing from their right to their left as it retreated from the coastline.
“Oh, it’s a UFO,” Mimi said, nodding to herself.
But Sora didn’t think so. The object had been round, but also spiky. It looked more to her like a gear.
Mikami Keikoku (translated as Mikami Canyon) is where the Chosen Children’s campgrounds are located.
“Akita of Odaiba” is a reference to Akita Yutaka, a soccer player who was declared one of the best defenders of his generation. According to this novel’s timeline, this phrase should pertain to Akita’s participation in the 1998 World Cup. [Wikipedia]
Hokora are small wooden shrines, and their presence in this novel is fitting because the kanji that make up “Mikami” in Mikami Canyon means “God”. They are apparently located several feet away from the campgrounds the children are meant to stay in. Don’t mistake them for cabins; school camping trips will normally use tents for students to sleep in. 
Bentō boxes are Japanese lunch boxes (either made of lacquer or plastic) that are filled with a single meal. These boxes, usually in ones filled with sushi, will sometimes have decorative plastic grass in them to give an aesthetic charm. [Wikipedia]
Although it will not be translated in a special way here, all of Tentomon’s forms speak in Kansai-ben. This is a type of Japanese dialect predominant in the Kansai area (mostly Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto), and is very different from the “standard” Japanese. To see a list of how people in Kansai would speak differently from people in Tokyo, you can view by Nihongo Resources. The only thing that will be kept faithful is Tentomon’s usage of “-han” which is the equivalent to “-san” (a polite add-on to someone’s name; usually this person will be a stranger or of higher rank than the speaker).
Katoributa is a pig-like object with a spiral-shaped incense hooked inside it. As the incense burns, smoke puffs out from the large opening where its nose is. This is a very functional and appealing method (it’s cute!) of repelling mosquitoes during the summer. 
“Korokoro” is the origin of Koromon’s name. It is a Japanese sfx for something small and round, that rolls.
For work colleagues or members in the same school club, those who are older with more experience are called “senpai” (seniors) while those who are younger are called “kouhai” (juniors).
Mugen Mountain (translated as Infinity Mountain)
Kuwagamon is a fusion of the words ‘Kuwagata’ and ‘Monster.’ Kuwagata means ‘stag beetle’ in Japanese.
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