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The spyware caverns, a place so dangerous even locals and the most foolhardy of tourists refused to visit. They snaked on for miles, and seemed to constantly shift in a variety of dangerous and seemingly impossible ways, bizarre to even the digital world's most devoted cartographers. Rumors existed of those who never returned having to make their own village of the survivors and supplies lost in the caverns, lost to the data and even the sights of Yggdrasil himself.
Today, rather than a plucky young hopeful or a jaded old explorer, was a different type of adventurer who came to the opening of the caverns: A tall, human male in an oversized parka, carrying a briefcase and cell phone. After years of wandering the digital world as a member of the human race, the Digital World finally acknowledged his abnormality and sent him on a journey not of survival, but discovery. His legs quaked in both fear and chills as snow buffeted the entrance of the caverns. He continually took off his constantly fogging glasses to clean them as the temperature lingered far below the usual Japan standard, but it was better than venturing into the caverns alone, even with a "guide" in the form of his phone.
He'd called up a variety of AEGIS members to help, but only one seemed all that interested in his plight, and soon he would be there and the two (maybe 3? He didn't know if this guy had a partner or not) would venture in to see the terrifying rumors for themselves.
The day started out like any other day for Johan and his partner Dokamon. The two had woken up, gotten breakfast and did AEGIS work for a good part of the morning. While Johan was researching a particular subject on his personal laptop, a fellow AEGIS member had walked up to him, Yaku. He did not know him very well, but the teen recognized his face from around HQ.
"Hullo, Yaku," Johan greeted the man with his usual English accent, looking away from his computer for a brief moment before returning to his work. "What's up?"
According to Yaku, he wanted to explore the Spyware Caverns up in the Northern Providence of the Digital World, and he was inviting Johan to go along. This made Johan's eyes widen as he shut his laptop completely. "The Spyware Caverns? I've researched that place, are you sure you really want to go there? It won't be very safe."
Yaku seemed pretty set on going there, so Johan reluctantly agreed to go with him. It took a bit of convincing for Dokamon to come along as well, since he was even more against the idea than Johan was.
Stocked with warm clothes, a survival bag with all the tools and provisions needed for such a journey, Johan and Dokamon stood alongside Yaku. At least this trip will let Johan discover the sights of the caverns for himself.
"Thanks for agreeing to meet with me." Yaku said, bowing to the two as they approached. "Johan, correct? And your Dokamon. I uh... essentially, after years of going through the digital world as a human, I have finally been given a step towards understanding the digital world, not as a survivor, but as a member. E-essentially they've given me a spirit. Kind of... they want me to find my spirit, deep in the caverns of ice. B-before I ran out though, I figured, y-you know, some back-up would be nice." He explained, stepping into the cave entrance to get out of the snow.
"I won't bore you with the details, b-but if I can find it I may be able to look for my wife on my own, and not need to bother AEGIS for resources as much as I do now." He explained. "Somewhere in this labyrinth is a digital monster willing to let us be bound by soul and body and... I'm a bit anxious, given I've had to deal with them with nothing but my wits and this-" He held out his prosthetic limb for the two to examine should they feel like it.
"I do, really appreciate this." He reiterated once more.
"Oh, it is no problem at all Yaku," Johan said with a half-truth. While it was very dangerous to come to this part of the Digital World, it was still a part that he hadn't really explored before, and he was excited to be able to study potential ice Digimon. "And yes, my name is Johan. Fairly unique name, don'tcha think?"
"Hello, Agent Yaku," Dokamon said, while in a very professional tone of voice, still showed that he at least tried to be welcoming to the fellow AEGIS agent.
It was after this that Yaku began to explain why they were in the Spyware Caverns in the first place. Yaku said that he was finally going to be given a spirit, and he just had to find it himself. He thought that bringing some backup would be a good idea, since he was alone and didn't have a partner of his own.
"So if you get this spirit, you'll be able to Spirit Evolve?" Johan asked. "That's great! That way you'll be able to explore more of the Digital World without a partner!"
Yaku would then explain about how he could look for his wife on his own with a spirit, and showed the two of them his prosthetic arm. That made Johan chuckle a little bit as he pulled off his glove, showing off a robotic hand of his own.
"I believe we must get going. I am getting tired of the cold."
"Y-yes, the cold. I've almost gotten used to it." He lied, smirking and continuing further into the caverns. "I've heard tales of this place, like the catacombs of France or the maze in the dark area, some never escape." Yaku explained as he took out his phone to play the game of Cosmic Hot and Cold. "I hope you have a plan to keep track of where we are, in case mine doesn't work." He takes out a piece of chalk and marks the wall of the first junction, leading to the right as he turns. He had to set the briefcase down to do this, but immediately picked it back up without missing a beat.
"The rule of thumb is, in a maze, to keep going right, but as I found in the Dark Area right isn't always right in the shifting, tumbling dimensions of this world. Sometimes right turns into left or down or back or into a large sleeping greymon or a crazy LadyDevimon who wants you to adopt her many, many botamon. I digress though, tell me more about you guys, on the chance we get stuck here and have to keep prying deeper and deeper into in-fighting and just having to pray that someone finds us before your friend returns to Primary Village." Yaku was half-joking, trying to talk fast to keep himself from slowing down. If he stopped talking for too long he'd fall silent and complacent, and start thinking too much again. He hated thinking to himself, even in lulls from survival and action because his mind would inevitably return to the past tragedies he'd experienced.
"Are you sure you have gotten used to it?" Dokamon asks, seeing right through Yaku's lie. "You are clearly shivering, and humans only shiver when they are cold, yes?"
Yaku explained that he had heard tales of this place, saying that they were like the catacombs of France. "So this place is just a giant maze, hm? Interesting... I've read up on these caverns but with schoolwork and AEGIS work we never get the chance to explore."
Yaku then asked if Johan had any plans to keep track of their location, before drawing white chalk on the first wall junction. Johan shook his head. "I don't think white chalk will be very visible..." Johan said before grabbing some black scotch tape and putting a piece above the chalk mark. "It isn't much but it will be very visible amongst the icy walls."
As the group walked along, Yaku explained about the general rule of thumb for mazes and how it doesn't always work in the Digital World, briefly describing how he was lead to a big sleeping Greymon, or a crazy LadyDevimon with way too many kids. Johan and Dokamon looked at Yaku with dumbfounded faces.
"Sleeping Greymon?" "Crazy LadyDevimon?"
That tidbit was followed up by a question about Johan and what his story was like. "What much is there to tell? My parents are from England, before they moved to Minnesota after they got married, so that's why me and my sister have British accents. There was an... incident, and after a few years I felt like I had to get away. So I got accepted into Shibuya Academy, and I met Dokamon about a day before I left."
It definitely sounded like Johan was hiding something there...
"Probably should have grabbed another color." He admitted. "Not the best moment I've had..." He ignored Dokamon's observation, the little mon clearly not familiar with Yaku's brand of polite conversation.
"Yes, the digital world has many mazes and dangerous locations, I've had the misfortune of going through most of them on my own. This place is still fairly new to me but if it's anything like the others there will be lots of traps set up by god knows who for god knows what." He sighed, at the mention of the lady devimon. "I don't want to talk about her. She's not... it was not a pleasant memory at all. The greymon was a little before I finally got home and started working for DATS. Not the DATS that you know now, the old DATS, who were very hush hush and more uh... spy-like for lack of a better term. I was appointed to return to the digital world to deal with a growing threat in the Dark Area, an Astamon had begun building a drug empire and... well, I'd accidentally helped it along while attempting to return to the human world. I'd done favors in exchange for a trip back to the mainland."
"Anyways, Astamon had begun work on selling digital drugs in the human world, which, of course, did not make DATS happy. In exchange for DATS' help looking for my wife, I'd return to the digital world and kinda... find my way up his ranks."
He paused at Johan's explanations, especially the pause at the incident and the sudden dropping of his sister and parents from the story. "Wait, you got a digimon before you came to Japan?" He asked, curious as they came across another junction, he taking out his phone to look.
"We all make mistakes," is all Johan said in response to Yaku. Foreshadowing, maybe...? "Ah well, it's all solved now. I'll mark our path so we don't get lost, sound good?"
As Yaku explained his experiences about exploring mazes in the Digital World, Dokamon had to speak up. "I do not know much about Spirit Users, but isn't exploring the Digital World on your own without defense a bad idea? Are you able to use such a spirit right now? Or are you just incredibly lucky to not get seriously hurt?"
Apparently Yaku didn't want to talk about the LadyDevimon, which was a shame because that's the story that sounded the most interesting and weird. Instead he talked about a story that happened when he worked at the old DATS. He apparently got himself into helping an Astamon's drug empire, and how thanks to an arrangement with DATS, they'd help find his wife while he worked his way up Astamon's ranks.
"Digital drugs making their way to the human world... that does not sound good. Human world drugs do not do a human's body or mind any favors, so I can't even imagine what Digital World drugs would do."
Johan nodded. "Yes, Kapurimon at the time arrived the morning before my flight to Japan. I was so freaked out I ran into the living kitchen to show my parents. My sister freaked out and threw a fork right into his eye. That's why Dokamon is afraid of forks now."
"I am not," Dokamon argued, a clear blush forming on his face.
"Oh? Please tell me more about the dangers of the digital world. After all, I've only been here 2 years. I'm sure someone who was born in America knows everything about a second country hidden inside Japan." He took a left, annoyed by the phone's vague directions.
"I'm sorry, I'm not usually like this. I'm kind of... shaken right now, I've gotten a call from my wife's phone number a month ago and... it was just an empty silence from the Digital World. The noises of Cipher Jungle once again keeping me up, just that one last night, through the phone's speaker." Yaku drifted into mumbles after that, about his wife, about his time alone, about DATS and AEGIS, almost all indecipherable past the key words. He took another right and stopped, looking down into a large pit.
He knelt down to open his briefcase, taking out a book of matches. He took one, lit it, and dropped it down, watching as the flames fell into the inky depths until it was completely gone. "Bottomless. Or close enough to it to be lethal." He adjusted his glasses and shut the case. "I've discovered all too often that a pit usually means you're going the right way. You wouldn't happen to have a rope or ladder handy?"
"You said you wanted us to help, but if we're really bothering you that much we can just head out right now," Johan responded, not tolerating being insulted like this. Yaku followed it up with an explanation that he got a call from his wife's phone a month ago, and heard nothing but noises from the Digital World. "I truly am sorry Yaku, but that still does not give you an excuse to talk to people like what, even when you are tense."
"I agree," Dokamon said, his tone sounding slightly more angry than before.
The conversation was completely silent until the group encountered a large pit. Yaku lit up a match and dropped it into the pit, where the flame just kept falling into the darkness until it disappeared. Definitely a very deep pit, if not bottomless. One fall down there could be lethal unless you were able to fly. Yaku looked over to Johan and asked for ideas.
"Yeah, I might have something," Johan said. He took off his glove and aimed his bionic arm at the top of the ice cavern. Pressing a button on it, a hook on a rope would shoot out and stick right into the ice above. Johan gave it a good pull before determining that it was stable.
"Do you have one of your own?" Johan asked as Dokamon was sucked into the V-Pet. If Yaku did have a grappling hook, then Johan would simply swing over to the other side all on his own without any problems.
The man took out his grapple gun, looking over the cavern ceiling for a point to latch onto. Humming as the hook returned to him again and again, he smiled when it finally took to something.
"Keep in mind I don't trust these things." He gently tugged the line to make sure the stayed in. "I don't trust a lot of these gadgets, I'm uh... more a pessimist if anything I suppose. Not too active either." He tossed his case to the other side of the pit, sighing in relief that it didn't fall into the endless chasm below. Backing up, the man then made a running jump, using the hook only as a safety precaution rather than relying on it.
This gambit paid off, as he found himself unable to clear the jump, but able to swing onto the wall of the pit. "Excellent!" He reassured himself, his voice wavering with the feeling that, no, no this was not excellent. He'd never been rock climbing, but he still had the hook on, worst that would happen is that he'd need to start over. Johan would see, despite the older man shaking, he was doing fairly well. Yaku adjusted his glasses, toupee, and jacket before starting to scale the wall.
The young agent huffed in frustration when his criticism to Yaku was left practically ignored. He'd let it slide for now, but he won't hesitate to leave if Yaku insists on being rude.
Johan raised an eyebrow when Yaku mentioned not trusting any of the gadgets of the Digital World. "Why not, may I ask? They aren't cheaply made, I can tell you that much, so I doubt they'd immediately snap upon your weight... unless you weighed two tons or something along those lines, heheh."
After Johan made his jump and let Dokamon out of the V-Pet, now it was Yaku's turn to jump. He wasn't able to clear the jump entirely but he was able to make it to the wall, and was now beginning to scale it. Johan would then reach his hand down to help Yaku up... however, things would not go quite as planned. The ice that Johan was kneeling on would suddenly collapse as he grabbed Yaku's hand, causing the both of them to fall.
"JOHAN!" Dokamon would yell as the two humans fell down the pit. Johan would instinctively launch his grappling hook again, but by that time he would be closer to the bottom of the pit than the top. Looks like the group is going through a detour now, this time with minus one along with them.Johan and Yaku fall down to the bottom of the cavern, but with their wits they could easily survive. Dokamon will not accompany Johan for the rest of the thread.
"Well, it's not that they're unreliable it's just that I-" Before he could finish his sentence, he grabbed the boys hand and the two fell down, down, down... splash!
Yaku immediately identified the feeling of cold water surrounding them, the stinging freeze hurting as he headed to the surface, grabbing to his briefcase as a flotation device. "Johan! Johan are you there?" He shouted as he took out another match from his case, lighting it. "Follow the light!" He shouted as he began paddling to a nearby ice shelf. It briefly reminded him of his time with the mons at the diner, when they taught him how to swim. Those kindly digimon had indirectly saved his life again.
"Surface tension, it probably hit him like a truck." Yaku mumbled, looking at the water then up into the dark abyss above. "Hopefully he hit with the fake limb first, would take the brunt of the damage..." He blinked as he saw a few water digimon skimming the surface, likely awoken by the sudden impact. "Johan!" He shouted again. If the boy didn't respond the man would begin stripping off his winter clothes as he watched the water.
"OK... OK... One... two... three... f-four." He took a deep breath and shut his eyes as he dove in.
When Johan landed, even though it was dark he could definitely tell he had landed in a body of water. But since they were in an ice cavern, that water was freezing cold and the two of them would be lucky if they didn't get hypothermia. Sounds were muffled for Johan but he could definitely hear screaming.
One of those voices was very quiet, as they were the echoes of Dokamon's calling from up above. The other set of screaming was much louder, but not that much clearer. It was so dark that Johan couldn't see anything, and he was slightly panicking since he couldn't even tell which way was up.
Suddenly he saw a light somewhere above him. It was very dim, but it was a light nonetheless. Johan furiously swam upwards towards this light, just hoping that it was a way out. Eventually he rose up from the water, taking a deep breath of that sweet, glorious air. He turned his head until he saw the source of the light, a match that Yaku had lit.
"Yaku! Are you okay?!" Johan asked as he swam as fast as he could toward the ice shelf that he was standing on. He pulled himself out of the water and onto the ice, shivering as he hugged himself to preserve his heat. "That ice wasn't as strong as I imagined... this is all my fault."
"Johan! Please answer me!" A familiar voice would sound from Johan's pocket. He pulled out his Digivice to speak to his partner via comms.
"Thank Yggdrasil you're safe! Where are you and Yaku?"
"We landed in a body of water... we're safe, but freezing. I need you to go back and get help!"
"That could potentially take a while... are you sure you will be alright?"
He took a great sigh of relief as the boy came up, swimming over to the light. "Thank god..." He helped the boy out of the water and began doing some stretches, odd as it may seem.
"We need to keep the heart and blood pumping, the water will try and cool our bodies." He explained. "Clothes need to dry off, which usually means just letting the ice freeze so we can shake it off... and this is why I don't trust adventuring. I have incredibly poor luck. Awful things happen to me-" He began jogging in place. "I'm sorry. I'm very sorry. All these bad things are my fault. I just attract misfortune... there should be some heating pads in the briefcase, I usually use them when I sleep."
The man took off his glasses to check for damage, finding one of the lenses had fallen out in the water, still stretching and moving. "I'm sorry about your partner, and about this. And probably for what those water digimon would do had you not gotten out in time. I'm sorry about acting cold and insensitive. I'm not terribly good with people, you see. Digimon are understandable and just as awkward as me at times. Anyways, I'm talking too much..."