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Encryption

Discussion in 'Creative Archive' started by Nirvash, Nov 7, 2011.

  1. Encryption a fanfic by Greyson

    Disclaimer: I do not own Digimon in any way shape or form. I only own my original characters and plot. That, and the bag of Swedish Fish next to me. Sadly, it is fading fast

    Summary: When the boundary between them grew weak, the worlds made their first contact. Humans and Digimon have finally met one another and as they face the dawn of a new era, both choose to be allies. Both worlds grow and prosper and in this peace, the Union is formed. But good things always come with a price.

    Humans and Digimon with ill intent continually cross the barrier in hopes of causing havoc while bigger things are plotted just under the surface. To combat this, the Union creates ALIAS, an organization charged with keeping the new peace. Caught in the middle of the growing conflict are seven Tamers and their Digimon partners. All the while, their lives, secrets and fates weave together. For better or for worse.

    This story is a rebuild of the original story, Rhythm Alias, which will be deleted in a few hours. After much planning and consideration, I decided to write this story at the same time as two others I’m working on because of a personal challenge imposed on myself as well as I think the original draft wasn’t very good. I think this one is much better but I’ll leave that up to you guys. Let me know what you think.

    : D : I : G : I : T : A : L :: M : O : N : S : T : E : R :

    Hmmm...

    Well, then. Where do I start?

    Might as well take the obvious route and start at the beginning. I’ll make this quick.

    We are not alone.

    Scary to think about, right? Now, when I say that, you’re probably thinking about homicidal ETs muscling their way into Earth and raining death from above. The kind that want to destroy all humans or are kind enough use us as a food or slave labor source. Lucky for us meatbags, that is a far cry from what I’m talking about. …Though now that I think about it, the creatures I’m talking about could probably do all that and more in a heartbeat. Would they…?

    Nah.

    Anyway. Yeah, we humans aren’t alone in the world; there is another race of sentient life forms that lived in much closer proximity to us than we had originally thought. No, they don’t live in space. The guys I’m talking about aren’t extraterrestrial. They’re extradimensional. Let me give you a brief history lesson:

    It’s probably no stretch to say that the Internet and Earth’s telecommunications systems are by far the greatest achievements mankind has ever wrought. They bring people from all over this big blue marble together to talk and share ideas and emotions, and they just keep advancing every day. By leaps and bounds. It’s something else, I’ll tell you that. But around the time these inventions were in their beginning stages, something weird started to happen.

    You see, ambient data floating around the infant network started to…coalesce, you could say. After a certain period of time and as the network continued to advance, the data mass started to take on a coherent shape; a shape mirroring that of our own planet. Naturally, when you’ve got yourself a digital copy of the Earth, some form of life is going to inhabit it. And that’s just what happened: data from all over the world poured into this new world and developed its own, rather unique version of life.

    This world would come to exist parallel to our own and the creatures living in it would grow to become our equals in every way. The Digital World had come into being, and with it, the Digimon.

    ‘Digimon’ is short for ‘Digital Monster’ and they possess all of the qualities that humans have: emotion, civilization, the ability to evolve and an innate will to survive whether through conflict or otherwise. But for a long time -- decades, in fact -- the Digimon and their world remained invisible to us. It was only when the Digital World was discovered by a group of programmers did we really know they were there, and it wasn’t until an event known as First Contact did either world know what it was dealing with. How’d First Contact happen? Well, a few Digimon crossed over into our world, a few shots were fired (to no avail, obviously), and then the Royal Knights came to play. Then the Digimon Council was formed and diplomatic relations opened up.

    Surprisingly, it went smoothly and without violence but to sum it all up, the reason any of that happened in the first place was the result of one simple fact: the Digital World is expanding beyond its original limits. Because of that, the boundary between the dimensions is thinning, letting more and more Digimon into our world and allowing humans access to the Digital World. In order to keep things from going to Hell in a handbasket, the UN and the Digimon Council deemed it necessary to create a sort of alliance in order to keep the peace. The new alliance now goes by Union. The real legwork is done by the Tamers.

    The Tamers are a sort of police force made up of teams: one Digimon and one human Tamer. Their job is simple: lost humans and Digimon are returned to their homes, and rogues are either subdued or eliminated. It’s a rough job but someone’s got to do it, and someone else has to run the organization. That’s where I come in

    The organization is known by pretty much everyone on both worlds and I am its current leader. My name is William Warrington and if you’re knew around here, I have only three words for you:

    Welcome to ALIAS.

    : D : I : G : I : T : A : L :: M : O : N : S : T : E : R :

    Evening was rapidly approaching South Haven. Its denizens took that as their cue to start slowing down, closing up shops and returning to their homes while the number of cars on the street thinned considerably. While the city district refused to completely turn in, the residential district was all but asleep. The crickets chirping in the cool mid-autumn air coupled with the sound of the local river made for a soothing lullaby that gently edged the town to sleep. Indigo crept towards the town from over the horizon like a blanket and the stars appeared all at once, finally setting South Haven (almost) to sleep.

    But even so, there were still those in town who were not yet at rest and couldn’t afford to be. Those who had jobs to do this night of the utmost importance. Vincent Sanchez was one such person.

    Vincent ran at full speed along the hill overlooking his town’s river in pursuit of a thunderous galloping noise. The teenager skidded to a halt as his target reached the pillars holding the nearby bridge up and angrily realized it was cornered. Vincent grinned in triumph.

    "Target Acquired." Looking skyward for his partner, he was two seconds away from giving an order had his pocket not beeped shrilly at that moment. Digging into his jeans jacket, he took out a red and gold smart phone and checked the caller ID before answering.

    “I trust you’ve found the Wild One,” the voice on the other end said in a distinct British accent.

    “What do you take me for?” Vincent demanded with confident arrogance. “A rookie?” The Brit chuckled.

    “Yes, because you are one, no matter how much of a prodigy you might be,” he retorted. Vincent’s face fell but he didn’t let the light teasing get to him.

    “Alright, alright, you got me there,” he admitted. “We’re on it, Matty; quit worrying. We got Flamedramon here with us, after all.”

    “You shouldn’t be relying on him,” Matty admonished. “This is your mission, not his. Do me proud, Skylark.” Vince hung up with a confident grin stretching across his handsome face.

    “You got it,” he said under his breath. Looking skyward, however, his grin quickly morphed into a regretful frown.

    “Great. I really hate to cause a scene on a nice night like this. It’s just not cool.” Vince sighed in disappointment while the dark figure that was his target at the bottom of the hill snorted in anger.

    “Guess I can’t stall any longer,” he muttered. “Thunderbirmon, let’s -!”

    “Fire Rocket!”

    A missile of golden flame shot out of the sky and landed with a bright explosion, narrowly missing the angrily mooing armored bull that was Vincent’s target. The bull snorted, its breath misting in the cool night air, and cautiously backed away from the blazing patch of grass where the missile landed. The flames roared as they expanded and out of them walked a figure clad in flame-patterned armor; a man-sized blue lizard on two legs with a long crooked tail and a metal blade growing out of its face mask. The creature’s eyes flashed crimson and it lowered into a battle stance, egging the bull on.

    “You want me to shout ‘toro’ or something?” Its voice was deep and even and without a trace of fear. “Come on, beefsteak. Let’s see watcha got.”

    “Flamedramon, you show-stealer!” Vince shouted, his voice echoing in the night. “We were just about to attack!”

    “That’s what happens when you take too long, Vince. I get impatient,” was Flamedramon’s nonchalant answer. “Now, bring it, farm animal!”

    The bull reared up with a gruff shout of “Meteor Dash!” and charged heedless, becoming a bullet of golden light. Flamedramon hunkered down and took the full impact of the blow, grappling with the bull’s horns in a deadlock. The bull furiously worked its legs, pushing forward with all its might but the dragon man held it back with little effort.

    Catching the offending monster by surprise, Flamedramon slipped an arm under the bull’s chest and with a great deal of force and with a loud grunt of effort, he flipped his opponent over his head and right into the flames behind him. The bull hollered in distress as its rapidly heating armor began searing its flesh that sent it into a panicky rage-fueled attempt at trampling the flames. Finally quashing the blaze, it whirled around, dizzy and confused, and a look of instant shock surfaced when it found Flamedramon not a foot away from its face with his right hand raised and glowing dangerously.

    “Knuckle Fire!” the fire user declared and set his fist ablaze before ramming it into the bull’s armored head with an audible metallic collision. The bull gave a deafening bellow of rage and began thrashing yet again, knocking away Flamedramon only for the dragon man to get back up and dust himself off with a bored sigh.

    “Hey, Skylark,” he barked. “This is your mission. How’s about you two take this sucker out?”

    “Huh?” Vincent, who’d been watching the battle as if it were a gladiator match, had forgotten that he was letting Flamedramon do his job.

    “Oh! Right; sorry!” The boy slid down the hill to the battlefield, calling his partner over with a wave of his hand.

    “Thunderbirmon, let’s move!” he shouted to the sky. At elephant-sized shadow swooped down from the sky and caught him in a rush of wings. Thunderbirmon let out an earsplitting shriek, the lightning bolt horn on its blue face mask glinting dangerously in the light from the street lamps. Wide-eyed and frightened for its life, the bull monster turned tail and ran leaving a noticeable trail in its wake.

    “We’re gonna have to clean that up later, aren’t we?” Vincent muttered from his partner’s back.

    “All part of the job, Vince,” Thunderbirmon replied.

    “Right, yeah, I know. Let’s just take down this Bullmon here and call it a night. I have stuff to do in the morning.” Thunderbirmon obediently sped forward to fall in line above the stampeding Bullmon, moving well away from the river and into the housing area. Aware of the giant bird’s presence above it, the Bullmon let out yet another terrified bellow, lowered its head and charged recklessly into a car, spearing it with its horns and crushing its flank while slamming it into a wooden fence. With the car’s alarm blaring in the background, Bullmon wrenched his head away from the totaled vehicle and ripped off one of its doors. It glared up at Thunderbirmon and flung the car door as hard as he could. Thunderbirmon caught it expertly in his talons to throw it back and bowl Bullmon over.

    “Shall I end this?” the bird Digimon boomed.

    “Your call,” Vince answered airily. Thunderbirmon flapped away from Bullmon and took careful aim. His horn sparked with electricity and he flared his wings, letting the power flow to the lightning-shaped end feathers and coat his limbs. The thunderbird bringing his wings forward generated a thunderclap as he cried,

    “Spark Wing!” A lethal hail of lightning-charged armored feathers rained down death on Bullmon. They pierced his armor like hot knives and electrocuted him from within. Bullmon’s form blurred and destabilized as he fell, finally bursting into infinitesimal glittering particles that began floating up towards Thunderbirmon. The bird Digimon took Bullmon’s scattered data for his own before landing under a street lamp and dwarfing the waiting Flamedramon.

    “You show off too much. Thunderbirmon is powerful enough to have ended that fight a lot quicker,” the Armor Digimon said curtly. “And you let it escape the Digital Zone,” he added.

    “Flamedramon, come on!” Vince said cheerily. “We got the job done. No harm!” Flamedramon silently pointed to the demolished mini-cooper, its alarm still blaring. “Well, okay, maybe to that car over there but nobody got hurt.”

    “Not good enough. You’re a member of ALIAS so start acting like one,” said Flamedramon. He then walked over to the car and kicked it to turn off the grating alarm before picking up the large egg left in Bullmon’s place.

    “You know he’s right, Vince,” Thunderbirmon rumbled sagely. “We should be taking this more seriously.” Vincent frowned at the dragon man and then at his partner but decided not to pursue the subject, literally shrugging it off.

    “So, we got any other targets tonight?” the boy inquired coolly, hands behind his head.

    “Check your D-Cipher and tell me.” Vincent took his phone back out of his pocket by its scarlet strap and flicked the screen from the bottom corner. The screen spun open to reveal a full keyboard and Vince pressed the Enter key to pull up a map of the area.

    “D-Cipher’s picking up two signals in the city district,” Vincent recounted. “If we fly, Thunderbirmon and I can be there in a few minutes.” He looked up at his armored partner with slight concern in his eyes.

    “You think you can make the trip, big guy?” Thunderbirmon ruffled his feathers, generating a few sparks as he did, and preened his wing before answering.

    “No, actually. My energy reserves are a low and I’m about to degenerate. I can make the trip home but not all the way into the city,” he said, voice laced with regret. Vince gave him a reassuring pat on the wing and smiled.

    “Don’t worry about it; we’ll just have one of the others take ‘em out for us. I’ll call now.”

    “I’ll go on ahead,” Flamedramon announced before leaping onto the street lamp and bounding off towards the city on the horizon. Stretching his arms and back with a content yawn, Vincent turned to his partner to see him enveloped by an orb of yellow light. The orb shrank and shattered to reveal a pink, downy round creature the size of a soccer ball, tiny wings flapping weakly. It yawned and fluttered up to roost in Vince’s messy black hair.

    “Ready to head home, Poromon?” His only reply was a light snoring. “Heh, right. Real cool falling asleep on me, bud.” He started on his way home, typing away on his D-Cipher before closing it and putting his hands in his pockets.

    “Tally should be on her way now,” he muttered. “She’ll take care of it.”

    : D : I : G : I : T : A : L :: M : O : N : S : T : E : R :

    The South Haven city district was, as always, a brightly lit hive of activity. Everywhere one looked, there was always something going on. Street vendors, late-night convenience stores, and theatres were commonly open at this time of night. The electronic billboards dispensed information to the public about everything from train departure times to notices for civilians, human and Digimon alike. A large and diverse area, the city district was a cozy and friendly place where one could always find a helping hand.

    Things inside the local diner, Schneider’s, were settling down rapidly. There were not but three customers left within while the owner, a portly man with muscled arms and a wide jaw, wiped down the counter. Behind him, a stout creature with an onion shaped head dressed in a cooking jacket cleared its work station. The TV set above the counter was tuned to the local news station but the volume only went high enough to catch snippets of the news report.

    “Hey, Al,” the owner said to the teenager in the corner booth, “you headin’ home sometime soon? You’re my best customer an’ all, but ain’t your mom gonna worry?” The child in question pushed his chocolate brown bangs out of his equally brown eyes and huffed, annoyed.

    “Mr. Schneider, I told you,” he said in a raspy feminine voice as he buttoned up his checkered green shirt, “it’s ‘Alex’. Not ‘Al’.” Mr. Schneider laughed in response.

    “And I told you to just call me ‘Schneider’ but you’re still as formal as ever,” the large man countered. “C’mon, kid, it’s closin’ time. You need to head home.” Alex picked at the last pieces of his cake before popping them into his mouth and bringing the plate to the counter. The onion-headed creature picked it up and gave him a friendly smile which was returned in kind.

    “Thanks, Burgamon,” Alex mumbled.

    “Leave that in the sink, wouldja?” Schneider rumbled at the Digimon.

    “Got it boss,” Burgamon said obediently. “Night, Alex,” he added over his shoulder.

    “Sure is good that you’ve got Burgamon here helping out,” Alex noted.

    “You kiddin’?” snorted Schneider. “He’s the whole reason I could start this diner in da first place, him bein’ my business partner and all. You ain’t never seen a human that can cook as fast as him.”

    “You don’t think he’s a menace?” inquired Alex, eyes shining curiously. His slender pale arms reached over to the tip jar to drop in a few bills from his wallet. “A lot of people say that about Digimon.” Schneider’s response was a booming laugh.

    “Menace?!” he cried jovially. “Hah! In seven years, I ain’t ever seen Burgamon so much as harm a fly! Nah, he’s a good guy.” Schneider put away the spray bottle he’d used to wipe the counter and started drying off his hands with the rag.

    “Way I see it, Digimon’re just like us humans. You got good ones and bad ones and there’s no avoidin’ that.” Alex shrugged in response. He already knew that much. “There are some stupid people out there that don’t think that way but, think about it. If we ever had bad guys doin’ bad stuff, the police’d take care of it. If we got bad Digimon doin’ bad stuff, that’s where ALIAS comes in.”

    “ALIAS? …Oh, yeah, them.”

    Alex vaguely recalled ALIAS as the peacekeeping group stationed in both worlds. The way he remembered it, they sprang up at pretty much the instant Digimon appeared in the human world. For the last seven years, they’d been doing a phenomenal job of stopping Digimon-related crimes and incidents and the world as a whole came together in order to form diplomatic relations with the already unified Digital World. It looked as if both worlds would prosper from this new brotherhood and the Digimon Tamers of ALIAS served as a symbol of this harmony.

    “But even with ALIAS and this ‘new era’ everyone’s talking about, there are still crimes going on. Good things come with a price,” Alex noted cynically.

    “Ey, none of that negativity in here, kiddo,” said Schneider. “Now get on home; it’s almost nine.” Alex’s already large eyes widened further in surprise and his skin got even paler.

    “Nine?!” he shouted incredulously. “But I thought I was watching the time! Aww, man!” He took off running out of the diner, ringing the bell over the door violently as he did, and waved goodbye to Schneider over his shoulder.

    “Thanks for the dinner! See you next time!” he cried before getting lost in the crowd of Haven Square.

    Alex clutched his jacket closed and close to his chest and moved at a brisk pace down the crowded city streets. He had to get home quickly or his mom would worry a lot more than she had to. He felt like an idiot for not listening to Schneider the first time. He’d have been home by now, he thought, berating himself. Oh, how he hated making his mother worry.

    He entered the sea of people, apologizing under his breath as he hurriedly shouldered his way across the bustling Haven Square and to a street corner crosswalk. He jogged in place as he waited for the light to turn so he could cross and a news report came on the massive display board on the building ahead of him.

    “Breaking news from the Union,” the anchorwoman read from her notes. Alex and the scores of people around him looked as one at the reporter taking up the screen.

    “All over the world, spikes in illegal activity on both sides of dimensional rift leave ALIAS with their hands full. The peacekeeping organization has reported a rise in bio-emergences from Digimon both benign and renegade as well as an increase of crossovers into the Digital World by humans with and without ill intent. The reasons for both are unknown, but it seems as if a handful of these are complete accidents involving Digimon and humans finding portals to and from Earth completely by chance.”

    “That’s never happened before,” a businessman muttered to Alex’s right.

    “I wonder if they’re working on trying to fix it,” came a distraught female voice. “I’d hate it if my little girl ended up finding one of those portals to get lost in the Digital World.”

    “If she did, ALIAS would find her in a heartbeat, honey,” the woman’s husband said consolingly. “We can put our trust in them.”

    “Such incidents,” continued the anchorwoman, “have been taken care of by ALIAS Tamer teams and Independents and all of the accidental travelers have been safely returned to their homes.”

    The image on the screen changed to a strapping man dressed in civilian attire and a large purple grizzly bear with a moon-shaped patch of white on its forehead grinning at the camera. The man was holding up a purple device that greatly resembled a smart phone. At their feet was a little boy holding a soccer ball, looking relieved that he was finally getting to go home. That image was quickly followed up by two Digimon in a city park. A large scarlet dinosaur that Alex recognized as a Tyranomon sat on a destroyed swingset while the local children watched on in awe and excitement. The Tyranomon was visibly confused while another Digimon, a Dinohumon attempted to escort his brethren to the Digimon Embassy building. The camera panned over to film the large silver building in the background, zooming in on the emblem standing on top of it: a large yellow “D” with a pixilated blue dinosaur coming out of the center.

    “However, while there have been benign incidents of crossovers, more and more hostile Digimon still continue to cross over into our world and wreak havoc,” the screen displayed a battle between a Tamer’s Lekismon and a rampaging Kuwagamon, “while a rising number of unscrupulous humans do the same in the Digital World.” There was a shot of a malicious bald man using an EMP to ravage a peaceful-looking Digimon village before being tackled to the ground by a large flaming bird.

    “Holy Angemon of our local ALIAS branch ensures us that both Union is doing everything in its power to contain these incidents to make sure that nobody gets hurt, as well as search for a way to keep these incidents from rising and, hopefully, reduce them.”

    Holy Angemon’s face appeared in a tiny box in the top right corner of the screen, the top half of his face hidden by his deep purple face mask.

    “As a precaution, Holy Angemon has said that his branch is in the process of recruiting new members. Those chosen should be receiving the acceptance email tonight. The public consensus is that no one need worry; ALIAS is on the job and their high success rate leaves little doubt in their skills. This is Wendy Lee of Channel 9 news.”

    The pedestrian sign lit up as the news report ended and Alex found himself getting pushed forward by the river of people. Breaking free of the current and rounding a corner into the alley he used as a shortcut, Alex checked his watch. Eight-fifty-five. He had five minutes to get home without worrying his mom and that was something he did not want to do. That and, after that news report, he did not want to get accosted by a renegade Digimon. Or human, he added as an afterthought.

    "Guess it’s a good thing we have ALIAS after all," he muttered to himself. There were no sounds in the alley other than Alex's light footsteps on the ground or and the muffled sounds of the city.

    “I’d really hate it if something happened to mom,” he mused somberly. Pushing the thought out of his head, he checked his watch again and his heart almost stopped.

    “It’s nine already?!” he whispered furiously. “Oh, man. Mom is going to blow a gasket!” Alex took off in a sprint down the alley, limbs pumping furiously in his mad dash. Reaching the end of the first alley, Alex made a sharp right turn into the connecting one, only to crash headlong into a wall. Alex fell back holding his throbbing forehead and blinking tears of pain out of his eyes. Moaning, he got back on his feet to glare at the offending wall only to fall back down out of pure fear.

    Alex didn't hit a wall just now. Looming above the slender and frail boy was a hulking humanoid creature with ivory horns. In the dim light of the alley, he vaguely registered its skin was green and that it wore a leather loincloth. Alex’s eyes shrank in fear.

    "A renegade..." he breathed. The first thought that came to his stunned mind was to run but as he got back up to do so, a gruff voice rang out in the alley.

    "Baby Flame!"

    A fireball rocketed at the green-skinned Digimon only to be batted away and into the dumpster in the adjacent ally by the bone cudgel it carried. The impact generated an explosion that scared Alex into falling for a third time and ignited the contents of the dumpster. The flickering blaze cast an ominous shadow on the green Digimon's face when it looked over its shoulder at Alex. Ogremon laughed darkly and dismissed the boy as no threat before he turned his focus back to the source of the fireball.

    "You must be from ALIAS," he grumbled. "Guess that makes this runt your partner."

    "Who you callin' runt?! Agumon ain't no runt!" came an undoubtedly younger voice. A miniature orange dinosaur burst on the scene in the most startling way possible: by tackling Ogremon to the ground at Alex's feet and violently wrestling with him. The teenager jumped to his feet and scurried into the next alley where he found himself frozen, watching the scuffle in a mix of fear and interest.

    "Great!" he moaned. "This is exactly what I wanted to avoid!"

    Agumon and Ogremon tumbled around on the filthy ground until Ogremon took the Reptile Digimon by the tail and threw him into the wall. Agumon expertly leapt back to his feet and unleashed a rapid barrage of fireballs, overcoming the Adult and throwing him back with a particularly strong one. Ogremon just rebounded and lunged at Agumon with a battle shout, bone cudgel raised.

    Alex’s arm flew up to cover his eyes when the impact sent debris flying. He peeked over his arm and whimpered when Ogremon slammed his smaller target away like a baseball. Agumon quickly ducked under another strike and threw an uppercut that managed to stun the Adult long enough for him bite down on his arm and torch it. Alex winced.Were all Digimon fights were this brutal.

    “Thunder Cloud!”

    A random bolt of lightning struck the ground between the fighting Digimon and threw them apart. The spirited Agumon immediately sprang back up and leapt at Ogremon’s throat but, curiously, he stopped and froze in midair. After seeing Ogremon seemingly struggle with the same restricting force, Alex deemed it safe to get back up. Giving the two Digimon one last look, he bolted before anything else could happen.

    “You two,” came a strong female voice. A short humanoid Digimon dressed like a wizard in a blue cape calmly strode up to her captives with a human girl behind her. The raven-headed girl kept her hair long and had a plaid scarf covering the lower half of her face. Her big green eyes looked dutiful, if not slightly nervous.

    “Do you have passports?” the Wizarmon asked in an even tone. She pointed her staff at the Agumon and lowered it to bring the Child back to Earth. “Well?”

    “Passport?” scoffed Ogremon. “You think a Nightmare Soldier needs a passport? Ridiculous.”

    “Hey, I was chased here by this guy!” Agumon protested. “This was in total self-defense! I mean its happened before, this kinda thing, but it's never been me what started the fight! I just -- ” Wizarmon silenced his rapid speech with a single glare. She looked between her two captives with critical eyes before finally settling her stern gaze on Ogremon.

    “Is he telling the truth?” Ogremon spat at her feet. Wizarmon smirked. That was the answer she expected and all the reason she needed for an arrest. Releasing Agumon from her binding spell, she pulled her staff towards her chest and thrust it back out. Ogremon was slammed into the building wall by an invisible force strong enough to knock him out so Wizarmon could levitate him over to her partner.

    “Tally. You do the honors.” The girl cleared her throat and took out a yellow and white D-Cipher displaying the Union emblem.

    “By order of ALIAS, Ogremon, you are under arrest for the crime of illegal bio-emergence and attacking an innocent,” she recited softly. A toothy grin found its way onto Agumon's muzzle. Getting chased across the barrier had its benefits, he said inwardly. He was guaranteed a good fight, for one, but the real treat was getting to see ALIAS in action. The little dinosaur danced on the spot.

    “ALIAS is so cool!”

    : D : I : G : I : T : A : L :: M : O : N : S : T : E : R :

    “ALIAS,” grumbled an annoyed Alex. “Where the heck were they during a Digimon alley fight? Is that seriously beneath their notice?”

    Heart was still pounding out a thousand beats per second, he just wanted to go to bed and forget it ever happened. He trudged up the stairs to the third floor of his apartment building and wiped the sweat from his brow. Stopping at room 303, he took out a small key chained to his belt and with a huff, unlocked the door and steeled himself for what was to come. He had been late coming home, which meant is mother would undoubtedly lecture him again.

    Quietly, he pushed the door open and peered into the apartment. The kitchen and living area were empty but the TV and lights were still on, something Alex marked as strange since his mom was strict about his sister not watching TV past nine. Stealthily slipping through the doorway and closing the door behind him, he checked down the right-hand hallway towards his mother’s room. The light was off.

    “Yes!” he hissed in victory. “She’s asleep. Better than having her worry about me.” Looking down the left-hand hall and noting that his sister’s room’s light was turned off, he allowed himself a small smile. He liked returning to a quiet home. It let him know his family was safe and sound asleep rather than... He couldn't even bring himself to think about anything bad happening to them.

    Alex stifled a yawn and shuffled to the fridge. Finding one last water bottle inside, he searched for a cup so he could take half instead of the whole thing. That would be rude. Only when he was halfway to the cupboards did he notice a small package on the table. Curiosity getting the better of him, he moved it into the light and found himself pleasantly surprised. The package was addressed to him.

    “To Mr. Alexei Evans, Apt. 303 Macedonia Ave, South Haven City,” he read. He searched for a sender address but there was none. Picking it up and shaking it, he found it made no noise. “Weird… Wonder what it is.”

    Shrugging, he poured his glass of water and closed the lights and TV before retiring to his room. The package was dropped unceremoniously on top of the scattered Digimon TCG cards that littered his desk. Alex himself plopped in a computer chair and turned on his computer and desk lamp. He shook the box, smiling impishly to himself as he wondered what was sent to him.

    “A present from Dad, maybe,” he giggled. “Or maybe something from school?” Instead of a gift, he found a letter sitting on top of Styrofoam padding stamped with the Union emblem.

    Alex’s breath caught in his throat.

    The Union? What would they want with him? His Dad worked overseas for them, sure, but he himself was never directly affiliated with them and they only sent letters out to their operatives or to the families of active agents when... When... Alex shook the thought out of his mind. Dad was a scientist, he vehemently reminded himself. There was no way anything could have happened to him.

    Alex gingerly picked up the letter between his thumb and forefinger as if it were made of glass and stared at it for a minute. He dimly recalled the news report he’d seen on his way home and at that instant, his heart both unclenched in relief and sunk in fear.

    “Did they…?” Frantically, he set the letter aside and took out the Styrofoam protecting the package. Wrapped in a clear plastic bag was what looked like a smart phone with a gray strap at the top.

    “No way,” he breathed. “No. No… Nononono…“ His disbelieving whispers continued all through his opening of the plastic bag and inspection of the phone. Its main body was a light gray color while the top and bottom were a bold black. A white selection wheel was present on the phone, centered between the call and end buttons and the circle in the middle was marked with a white ‘OK’.

    He held the phone lengthwise and flicked the bottom left edge of the wide screen with his thumb. It swiveled open to reveal a full keyboard. Closing it, Alex found a camera lens at the top of the screen and that the top of the phone had a thin slit in it but he did not know its purpose. Alex set the phone down and let out the breath he knew he’d been holding in.

    “This… This is…” he struggled to find words but none came to him. “This can't be happening... The letter.” He snatched it up at once and tore it open, hands shaky. Like the envelope it came in, the top of the letter was also stamped with the Union emblem but that barely registered to him. Alex’s eyes flew to the first line of text and he read in at a rapid pace under his breath.

    “Dear Mr. Evans,

    It is our great pleasure to inform you that out of hundreds of applicants, ALIAS has chosen you to be their next Digimon Tamer.”
    He stopped and reread the line ten times to be sure of what he was seeing. Digimon Tamer? Him?! Impossible! But there it was on the page in literal black and white.

    “The device you’ve received is known as a D-Cipher and will be essential in your future missions,” Alex flinched at the word, “as well as in your interactions with other ALIAS agents and your partner. It will serve as your badge, identification, and link to your partner and is virtually indestructible. It is imperative that you DO NOT lose your D-Cipher.”

    Alex stopped reading for a moment, something suddenly occurring to him. The letter mentioned a Digimon partner but there was no such thing in his house. If they intended him to be a Tamer, he thought, then shouldn't his partner have been the one to deliver the package? But there was no Digimon living in his apartment. He didn't deny the possibility of there being Digimon in the building but...

    “Or maybe,” he muttered. “That Agumon in the alley was my partner…? Or that Ogremon…” Alex shuddered at the possibility. He kept reading.

    “Your D-Cipher can also be used in conjunction with cards from the Digimon TCG. The method shall be explained when you arrive at the Union building tomorrow. If you do not have cards, a deck will be supplied to you. For now, please boot up any computer and connect your D-Cipher via USB cable. The program should initiate from there. Best of luck to you and we hope to see you tomorrow at the Union building for orientation.

    Sincerely,

    William J. Warrington
    Head of ALIAS”


    “T-Tamer?!” Alex whispered, astonished. Burying his face in his hands, he let out a moan of disappointment. “This is insane! I didn’t even apply for this!” He threw his hands up and groaned at his computer. Looking at his blank desktop and then at the D-Cipher, he referred back to the letter for instructions.

    “Connect it to my computer. What’ll happen if I do?” he wondered aloud. He picked up the D-Cipher and with a sigh, turned it on. The screen flared white and darkened again while startup scripts began to run. Alex considered his options.

    “This thing’s an ID,” he recalled, “so maybe if I log onto the Union website with this thing connected, I can contact someone and tell them this is a mistake; that I didn’t sign up for this.” For a moment, he highly doubted his plan would work but it was all he had. The D-Cipher finished initializing and displayed the current time. Deciding to take the gamble, Alex found his USB cable still connected to his PC plugged the other end into the D-Cipher.

    At first, nothing happened. Alex drummed his fingers on the desk, impatiently expecting the Union website to pop up once the connection was made but it was not so. The computer recognized the link as noted by the rapidly filling progress bar that popped up on the screen but did not act on it. At the one-hundred percent mark, the progress bar disappeared, leaving Alex even more confused and annoyed. The next instant, a black screen took the bar’s place, its courser stagnant.

    “Okay…”

    D-Cipher detected… D-Cipher ID No.: 0138. Name: Alexei Evans…

    Transfer Program start up.

    Initializing…


    “Transfer program?” Alex asked the air. “What the heck is this thing doing?” A few minutes passed with the program doing nothing and Alex watching expectantly and apprehensively. Then a cascade of scripts and codes scrolled down the window, abruptly stopping after three seconds.

    Transfer started.

    Connecting…

    Hotline.

    Access.

    Connection: OK


    A mechanical woman’s voice spoke out of the speakers to a startled Alex. He was sure he’d turned them off before leaving the house that day but nevertheless, her voice filled the small bedroom, reading off the phrase that followed.

    Welcome to ALIAS.

    Alex’s hand flew to his face for the second time that night as his computer screen emitted a truly blinding white light. Internet static came from his D-Cipher and threatened to wake the boy's mother. The light died down enough for Alex to squint over his arm and see that something large and round was slowly coming out of his computer. The object fully emerged and settled on his desk still glowing white hot. The D-Cipher ceased its screaming. Alex’s computer still showed him the same message. All was silent.

    Hazarding a look at the thing on his desk, Alex saw that it was roughly the size of his head and oblong shaped. The light fully dissipated, leaving Alex looking at an egg with jagged black stripes decorating its surface. Tentatively and shakily, he extended a hand to it and touched it. It was warm and smooth and strangely...familiar. For a fleeting moment, Alex could have sworn he felt a heartbeat inside of it.

    “A DigiEgg…?” he breathed. He was at a complete and total loss for words once he took the egg on his arms to be cradled like a child. “Why did it…? But… How?”

    “Alex? Are you home?” The boy’s heart skipped a beat. His mother. She sounded scared and worried and her footsteps were fast approaching his bedroom door. Panicking, Alex shoved the DigiEgg under his bed and scurried to his door before his mom opened it. It flew open and he was greeted by his mother’s pale frowning face. Brushing a shiny black lock of hair out of her thin face, she adjusted her robe and fixed her son with stern blue eyes.

    “What was that noise?” she whispered quickly.

    “My computer,” Alex answered breathlessly. “I was trying to get online and --”

    “You didn’t tell me you were back. I fell asleep on the couch waiting for you,” she cut across him. “You know how I worry, Alexei. You‘re supposed to be home by nine to wish your sister good night and get something to eat and brush your teeth and you know the city gets less safe at night even with the police out. You could’ve been mugged or attacked or -- ”

    “I know, Mom,” the boy insisted, knowing that fact all too well. “I know. I’m sorry; I was at Schneider’s and lost track of the time and --” His mother interrupted his fast-paced speech with a breath of relief and a tight hug.

    “Schneider’s,” she chuckled. “Of course. I should have known.”

    “You worry too much, Mom,” the boy mumbled meekly. “Sorry for making you…”

    “It’s fine,” his mother assured him warmly. “Just borrow a phone and call ahead next time, okay? Don’t keep me in the dark. You’re the only one that makes me laugh around here.” She smiled wryly and kissed her son’s forehead.

    “What about Mari?” Alex suggested cheekily.

    “You’re a better comedian than Mari,” answered his mother. She straightened up, stifling a yawn, and turned in the direction of her bedroom. “Go to sleep soon, okay? No late night netsurfing. And try not to have it make that noise again.”

    “I will." The moment his mother was out of sight, he dove under his bed for the egg. To his shock, the egg literally hopped out of his hands and landed on his bed, a crack appearing on its smooth surface. The crack branched and widened until more breaks appeared and formed an uneven ring across the tip. It shook itself feverishly until it somehow stood itself back up before going stock still.

    Alex watched on as the egg crackled and occasionally shuddered as whatever was inside fought its way out. The top of the egg was pushed off of the rest of its body by something black with big yellow eyes peering straight ahead at Alex from between the space. Alex edged toward it and lowered himself onto the bed to get a better look. The infant Digimon took that as a sign of aggression and the next thing Alex knew, a cloud of bubbles flew into his face and the creature began to squeak. It leapt out of the eggshell and tried desperately to bury itself in Alex’s pillow, only stopping when it saw that wasn’t possible. Still, it pressed itself deep into the pillow and glared at Alex while the boy wiped his face clean.

    “Uhm…” he mumbled unsurely. “Hi?” The infant’s response was to growl at him. “Okay, uhm…”

    “Bo bo?” it squeaked. The creature was small enough to fit in the palm of Alex’s hand and was completely covered in black fuzz. There were two bumps on the top of its head -- ears, presumably -- and its yellow eyes grew increasingly less defensive the longer Alex looked at it.

    Alex leaned in and the infant tried moving further away until it could do so no more. Alex gingerly petted the Digimon’s fuzzy ear bumps, nervously smiling when it began to purr and move into his palm.

    “Nice to meet you, too." He smiled. Then he sighed and ran a hand through his hair as a flood of questions stormed his mind. How did this happen? Why was he chosen? And foremost:

    “What do I do now?”
     

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