Koushirou and Tentomon sat at one end of the arrangement of tables with his laptop open. Taichi, Takuya, Takato and Taiki were sitting closest to him with their partners, as spokespeople for their groups.
The youngest children were distracted, playing with their partners, but the three oldest —Yagami Daiki, Ichijouji Ren, and Motomiya Taira— stayed with the adults, curious about the relationship between their world and the Digital World. They had only been there once, and because there had been no situation that required them to act, they hadn’t explored it yet.
After a brief rundown of the separation of worlds taking place, and the problems to communicate and travel to the Digital World, they started to discuss the new information.
“So, when were you able to communicate with the Digital World again? We were only able to do so until five years ago.” Koushirou was already typing away on his laptop, with countless diagrams showing on the screen behind him.
“It was around eleven years ago for us, we discovered it by accident when we visited Kiriha and Nene after their twins were born.”
“It was fourteen years ago for us, we found out when Jen and Ruki started working for the cybernetics branch of the police.”
“It only took a few months for us. We were able to travel there by September of the same year.”
Koushirou nodded and brought their attention to a diagram shown on the screen.
“These are our verses. From left to right, we have the Warriors’ verse, then the Tamers’, the Generals’, the Agents’ and then ours.”
Under each verse, Koushirou had added a number corresponding to how many years ago each of them were able to reconnect to the Digital World.
“I’m guessing that the Agents’ verse was able to reconnect to the Digital World around eight years ago, based on the pattern I’ve seen. I was able to track the interference that appeared at that time, and its origin seems to be either the Dark World, or the Warriors’ verse.”
All eyes turned to the six Warriors.
“Yeah, well… Something did come up soon after the separation.” Takuya said, shrugging and scratching the back of his head.
“What happened is that there was a Digimon called GrandDracmon that was imprisoned in the Dark Area and got released.” Tomoki explained. “The rest of us got to Double Spirit Evolve, but Kouichi-san had to use a powerful attack to defeat it.”
“Bokomon told us after GrandDracmon was defeated.” Junpei added, looking over at the place where the Digimon was enjoying playing with their partner, Takuya’s son Tadashi. “They said that Reichmon’s Schwarz Lehrsatz attack is able to mess with the laws of physics, so that might be what caused the interference.”
Koushirou was quickly typing down the new information on his computer, excited to have finally found the answers he had been looking for.
“Did this battle happen in the Dark Area?”
“Yes. Though more accurately, it happened in the liminal space between the Dark Area and our Digital World.”
Daiki smiled. His dad’s team seemed friendly, and it was clear that they had spent a lot of time together, just like his mom’s.
“Your dad is the one with the short hair, right? You look a lot like him, Daiki-san.”
“Yeah, that’s him. Looking back, it was kind of obvious.”
“Hmm… Maybe if Hikari-san had told you a bit about him, you would have realized it.”
“Maybe… but at least I know now, Ren. It’s not like it took a long time to figure out either way.”
“Hey, do you think that maybe we’ll get to help out? Everything they’re discussing sounds really exciting…”
Daiki and Ren looked at Taira, who seemed to be jealous of their parents’ adventures and laughed.
“Who knows? We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Koushirou cleared his throat.
“We have a probable source of the interference now, but I still need more data to find out if Reichmon’s Schwarz Lehrsatz was the catalyst for the verses to merge again. Ideally, I’d like to run some scans while Kouichi-san uses it, but…”
Kouichi shook his head.
“I’d rather not use it again unless it’s absolutely necessary. If it really caused the verses to reunite, it has the power to separate them again.”
The following silence went on too long for comfort, but everyone hesitated to break it under the weight of Kouichi’s statement.
“What about just scanning Reichmon?”
“Yes… That should be enough, Tomoki-san. It would just be a matter of when we could do it; the sooner, the better.”
Kouichi bit his lip as he looked to the side; Kouji placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Don’t worry about Mitsumi, we can watch her while you do that. She can spend the day with Gian.”
“Thanks, but I really wanted to spend the whole week with her… Can’t we do it after Golden Week?”
“We could, but after the week is over I will go back to Kyoto to work on a report with Professor Takenouchi, especially with the new information we have now.”
“Then, what if we bring the children over to the Digital World?”
Everyone looked at Taichi, who was smiling brightly.
“I don’t know about the others, but since it was only recently that we were able to go to the Digital World, we have only visited with our kids once.”
Most of the present immediately let the rest know they wouldn’t be able to go, as they already had plans for the rest of the week. At the end, it was most of the Warriors and some of the Twelve who would be there.
“Then it’s decided, we’ll meet the day after tomorrow! And of course, we’ll keep the rest informed of anything we discover.”
The evening soon arrived, and everyone started to leave. Numbers and addresses were exchanged to avoid losing contact again. At last the Warriors were left with a few of the Twelve that would go to the appointment in the Digital World.
Kouichi carried Mitsumi, who had fallen asleep a few minutes before while holding her partner in her arms. She became good friends with the kids she had met, and Kouichi was happy that she wasn’t as lonely as she had been before. As he walked to the entrance of the building, someone stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.
“You… talked to Hikari already, didn’t you?”
“Yes, and with Daiki too.”
“I see. Well, I’ll leave now. Isamu fell asleep too.”
Kouichi bowed as far as he could, slowly, without dropping Mitsumi.
“I know it would be silly to think you’d do otherwise, but thank you for being with Hikari and Daiki all these years.”
Taichi looked at him for a moment and sighed.
“There’s no need for that, Kouichi. I would be with them without a doubt; they’re my sister and nephew, and I know you would have stayed if the worlds hadn’t separated, despite the challenges you’d face.”
Kouichi stood upright and nodded.
“To be honest, I had already planned to ask her to marry me once we had finished high school.”
“Well, I don’t think you’ll find anyone who will object to that.”
“Today we’ll visit your grandparents. Let’s get ready, Mitsumi.”
Even if Kouichi had lived with his father after his mother died, there was no pressure on him to call Riko his ‘mother’. After all, she said, she hadn’t raised him the way she raised Kouji. However, after Mitsumi was born, Riko was glad to take on the role of grandmother for her.
Kouichi was grateful for that. Maybe, when Mitsumi was older and the pain from his divorce had passed, he would tell her about his own mother.
As they were on the way to Yokohama, Kouichi wondered why life was so painful.
“Papa, I wanted to ask something.”
“What is it, Mitsumi?”
She hummed and petted YukimiBotamon as she decided how to word her question.
“Hmm… Papa is Kimura, and ojisan is Mina, Minamoto, right? But, but in my class, we have Sacchan and Yocchan, and the two are sisters, and the two are Abe.”
It looked like he would have to explain earlier than he thought.
“Then, why are Papa and ojisan different, if you two are brothers?”
“Well, that is…”
“It’s a long story, so I’ll tell you when we get to your grandparents’ house, okay?”
Kimura Mitsumi, at her current age of five, had experienced some things that most of her classmates hadn’t.
At school, they were told that parents were supposed to look after their children; to take care of them when they’re sick, to help them prepare for school, to cook them healthy food when they’re hungry.
However, even though Mitsumi had both a mom and a dad, she could only remember her dad taking care of her when she was sick, helping her prepare for school, and cooking her healthy food when she was hungry.
Akkun said that sometimes his dad did it, and sometimes his brother. Sacchan and Yocchan said that only their Ki-mom did that, but that was because their Chi-mom had to work.
But Mitsumi’s mom… She wasn’t always working. Sometimes she was at home, but she was drinking that stinky soda and yelling and fighting with her dad. Still, when Mitsumi remembered the last time she saw her mom, walking out of the house with a big suitcase, she couldn’t help but become sad.
She was sad when her mom was home, and she was sad when she wasn’t there.
However, Mitsumi loved her dad very much. Yes, very much; because he was always smiling at her, and when she did something wrong, her dad helped her make it right. She could do fun things with dad, and Mitsumi felt warm when she was with him.
And when her dad said he would tell her when they got to her grandparents’ house, Mitsumi knew he was telling the truth.
“Mitsumi, go play with Gian for a bit. I’ll call you when it’s time to talk, alright?”
Mitsumi nodded, and after greeting her grandparents, uncle and aunt in the dining room, she went upstairs to play with her cousin.
“You look worried, niisan.”
Kouichi sat down on one of the chairs and sighed. He realized he had been doing that a lot during the past month.
“I’m going to have to explain to Mitsumi what happened to my mother. She realized that you and I have different surnames, and she’s wondering why. I wasn’t planning on doing it so soon after the divorce.”
“But the divorce part isn’t what bothers you, is it?”
“That’s right, Izumi. What I don’t know how to explain is why my mother isn’t here anymore.”
They stayed in silence for a moment, but Izumi broke it before it went on for too long.
“Kouichi, you should consider that she might not be as clueless about death as you think.”
He raised an eyebrow at Izumi.
“Please, Kouichi, don’t look at me like that. Children are smarter and more resourceful than you think. Just look at yourself, able to track down your estranged father at the age of 10.”
Kouichi and his father looked at each other, amused.
“You know, maybe you should become a private detective. It’s never too late to start over.”
Kouichi laughed, but he felt like it was something to consider.
“I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Thank you, Izumi.”
Kouichi climbed up the stairs and went to the room that had been Kouji’s in the past. Once they became grandparents, Katsuyuki and Riko had turned it into a play room for their grandchildren.
He found Neemon playing with YukimiBotamon while Gian taught Mitsumi how to write different words in kana.
Taiyaki, YukimiBotamon, Neemon…
“Mitsumi, let’s go talk in the living room, alright?”
Mitsumi looked at her cousin, who nodded at her, and walked out of the room and downstairs.
“Did she tell you anything?”
Gian nodded again. “She told me she wanted to know why you and Dad have different surnames, but she didn’t want me to tell her.”
“Alright, thanks. Will you stay here?”
“Someone has to watch those two.” He said, looking at the Digimon.
Once they settled in the living room, Mitsumi looked up at her father.
“Are you gonna tell me now?”
Kouichi nodded and sat her on his lap.
“The reason your uncle and I have different names is because, when we were babies, our mom and dad decided to stop being together.”
“…Like Papa and Mama?”
“Yes, like me and mama. They fought a lot, and sometimes it’s better that each one goes their own way.”
“But they’re together now. Did they make up?”
Kouichi shook his head.
“Your grandma, Riko-san, is not my mom. When my mom and dad got divorced, my dad took Kouji and later married Riko-san, and my mom took me. So, your uncle is Minamoto like your grandpa, and I’m Kimura, like my mom.”
“Hm… What is Papa’s mom’s name?”
“Then, what happened to Megumi-obaachan?”
“She died in an accident, when I was eighteen years old.”
“Oh… like Akkun’s grandma. Akkun said she died when his dad was very young. So now Riko-obaachan is like your mom too?”
“Yes, yes… Something like that. And when you were born, she said she wanted to be your grandma too, and I was very happy about that.”
“Then, can you show me Megumi-obaachan? I want to meet her!”
“Sure. I’ll show you some pictures.”
Kouichi climbed up the stairs and went to the room that had been his while he lived there. Once he had moved into his own home, Katsuyuki and Riko had turned it into an office.
Mitsumi went to get YukimiBotamon from the play room while Kouichi looked through the books. He pulled out a big one and sat on the chair with Megumi and her partner on his lap. He opened it to reveal a photo album.
“Look, this is my mom.”
“Ooh! Megumi-obaachan looks like you! She’s so pretty!”
“She was really pretty. This album has photos from when I was a kid.”
“Wow! A long time ago!”
“Hey, I’m not that old!”
They spent some minutes there, looking through Megumi’s pictures. With Kouji, with the Warriors, and with his late grandparents, Nadeshiko and Hirokei. Half an hour later, Kouji came in to tell them it was time to eat.
It was evening when they decided to go back home.
Kouichi stood on the entrance while Mitsumi said goodbye to her grandparents, and Izumi approached him.
“I know you get anxious about something going wrong, and you have valid reasons to think that… But remember we’re all here for you. If something does go wrong, we’ll help you out.”
“Also, look, there’s something you did well.”
Kouichi followed Izumi’s eyes towards his daughter.
As they were on the way back to Shibuya, Kouichi wondered why life was so wonderful.
“So, I could finally talk to the celebrity.”
“Shut up. You know what tours are like, Rock Star-san.”
“You shut up. I have important news for you. You might want to start taking notes.”
“What are you talking about?”
“By that, you mean…”
“I mean the other Chosen Children came back. Day before yesterday we held a reunion organized by Izumi-chan, though we haven’t had contact with any of the DATS Agents. We’re trying to find out how the worlds merged again.”
“Oh! So that’s why that basketball player who is playing in Europe sounded familiar; it’s Tagiru-san!”
“…How did you not recognize Tagiru? He’s one of the most easily recognizable people you’ve ever met!”
“To begin with, I didn’t see him. I just heard something like ‘That Akashi guy was crazy!’ after a basketball game finished at the hotel’s restaurant.”
“I see. Well, it’s not much different from the others. Izumi-chan and Akari-chan work with the same publisher, and Takato has designed characters for the videogames Tomoki works on…”
“Oh! Like the six degrees of separation theory!”
“And also, Hikari-chan’s… Wait, you haven’t heard yet.”
“What about Hikari-chan?”
“She’s divorcing that guy.”
Yamato heard Takeru sigh deeply.
“It seems he pushed Daiki and caused him to hit his head. But that’s not the only thing that happened.”
“…Has she met Kouichi-kun already?”
“Yes. In fact, they were the first to find each other. It turns out he is Daiki’s teacher.”
“Are. You. Serious.”
“The book is practically writing itself, isn’t it?”
“Be quiet. It’s not like I’m going to include everything; have you heard of a thing called privacy?”
“Of course I have; you, the writer, were the one who wrote about my relationship with Sora.”
“Both of you said it was okay; on the other hand, I didn’t include anything about Ken-kun and Miyako-san or about Jyou-san and Mimi-san because they didn’t want me to.”
“Yeah, whatever. Do you know when you’re coming back? Everyone wants to congratulate Best Seller-san.”
“You’re funny, oniichan. I’ll be back next week, but I’ll stop by Kyoto first to talk to Koushirou-san about this.”
“Great. He has gotten some information from the others already, and we’re going to the Digital World later today in order to scan Reichmon.”
“Oh, sorry. That’s Kouichi’s Double Spirit Evolution. Apparently, he might have something to do with the worlds merging again.”
There was a strangely long silence on Takeru’s side.
“…I see. Well, I have to go now; I’ll catch up when I come back to Japan. See you next week, oniichan.”
Takeru hanged up the hotel room’s phone and his assistant handed him a cell phone.
“Who did you say the call is from?”
“It’s from Dr. Touma Norstein.”
Takeru hurriedly put the phone to his ear.
“Touma-san— I mean, Doc—”
“Japanese is fine, Takeru-kun.”
“Sorry. How did you…?”
“You are on a book tour through Europe, are you not? If you are going to Japan soon, I would like to meet you all over there. We have a lot to discuss.”
“Hans, call Alice please. Tell her I will need her to fly Sonia and me to Kyoto next week.”
“Right away, sir.”
Gaomon approached Touma’s desk; the subtle movement of his tail gave away his emotions.
“Master, should I tell Agumon and the rest?”
“Please do that, Gaomon. Tell Masaru that I expect him to be in Yokohama by next week. And if he can check the bridge points, even better.”
As Gaomon left the room, Touma started calling another number.
“Sonia, start packing for next week. We’re going to visit Japan for research purposes… and to visit some old friends.”
“Research! Alright! Will we visit Kichirou-kun?”
“Yes, we will.”
“Good! Will you come home for dinner, Dad?”
“I’ll be there.”
Leaving the phone aside, Touma looked at the picture of his daughter he kept on his desk.
After curing his sister’s illness, Touma found himself without a clear objective for his life. Eventually, he realized that not every orphaned kid had the same kind of luck as he had, being the genius son of an Austrian nobleman. There were many kids who would have to fend for themselves on the streets, or survive an abusive household, with no income, no education, no healthcare.
That’s how he decided to use his resources to start the Dr. Touma Heinrich Norstein Association, to open orphanages and give children opportunities to get a better life. He made sure that the caregivers were kind, that they got excellent education, and the best healthcare. He had a team to investigate the people who wanted to adopt a child, to ensure that his children would go to healthy and loving homes, regardless of who it was.
Sonia, however, was a different case. She was found abandoned as a six-year-old at the hospital he was visiting back then, supervising medical students. She was sick, and he decided to treat her. While doing that, he discovered she was a child with a curious mind, and formally adopted her when her parents got their custody of her removed after being found guilty of neglect and abuse.
That had been ten years ago. For Sonia, the change was easy; being called by the name she had chosen, wearing the clothes she wanted to wear, asking all the questions she wanted to ask, and calling Touma ‘dad’.
“Now, let’s see if I can find anything on my own… Though my scanners aren’t as good as DATS’s. I’ll have to see if I can buy them from the Ministry while I’m in Japan; Koushirou-kun might find them useful.”
“Really?! I haven’t noticed anything, though it’s not like I’ve checked the bridge points recently.”
“Then do it and report any unusual activity to us.”
“Yeah, yeah, I will. Tell Touma to ‘expect my report by tomorrow’.”
Gaomon growled at the tone Masaru used to mock his partner, but said nothing and ended the call. Sometimes it was like he hadn’t grown a day since he was fourteen.
“There’s something I’d like to do before we leave. Please lend me your D-Scanners; the children’s too.”
Koushirou plugged Takuya’s Digivice into his computer, and after a quick scan, a program was downloaded in it.
“Hey, what’s that?”
“An upgraded version of your D-Scanners radio function. It only works within a certain range, right? I want to create a version that will work with every Digivice, and within a larger range, but for now it’s only compatible with yours.”
“Cool! Too bad Kouji, Izumi and Gian aren’t here to get it, but we can rely on the twin telepathy, right Kouichi?”
“Oh, so Takuya hasn’t grown up after all…”
While the other seven D-Scanners were being upgraded, Daisuke walked in with his family.
“Digital Gate Keeper Daisuke has arrived to take you all to the Digital World!”
“Koushirou-san, while you’re at it, isn’t there any way that you can make our D-Scanners able to open the Digital Gate too? It’s kind of annoying to go to Shibuya Station every time we want to go.”
“Not yet, Junpei-san. But I’ll see if I can get Miyako-san to help me with that; my Digivice can’t do it either, after all.”
“Digital Gate, Open!”
The Warriors and their families opened their eyes to find themselves on a field at the edge of a forest. The rest of the attendants were already there, with the kids playing around with their partners and the adults talking between themselves.
The children ran to join their new friends in their game while the adults greeted each other.
“Well, we’re already here. Should we start?”
Kouichi nodded at Koushirou, and they walked a bit further away from the trees.
“Hey, kids, you haven’t seen any of us evolve, right?” Takuya’s voice caught the attention of the children and their partners. “You should pay attention.”
“Double Spirit… Evolution!”
“Okay. Bridge Point 1, here we are. Agumon, you ready?”
Masaru looked back at the group of Digimon following him. During the years he had spent in the Digital World, he had gotten quite a number of followers who looked up to him like Agumon did, and he considered them all to be his family.
“Guys, wait for us here, alright? It won’t take long.”
Bridge Point 1 was a literal bridge. It appeared to be broken at the middle, making it impossible to cross. However, if one attempted to jump over the missing part, they would be transported to a different Digital World.
At least, that’s what used to happen many years before.
“Let’s do it, Agumon!”
Running over the bridge, and jumping at the edge, they landed on the other side with a roll.
“Well, would you look at that, we actually got to the other side.”
“Remember last time we landed in the riv—”
They felt a wave of dark energy pass throughout the field they were in, and though it didn’t feel threatening, it did put them on edge. Masaru’s DigiSoul manifested around his fist.
“Let’s be ready just in case.”
There was nowhere to hide, so they walked straight up the hill in front of them, following the direction they felt the energy come from.
They could see the edge of a forest… and the source of the energy.
“Wait, Agumon, isn’t that…?!”
“It’s one of the Warriors, aniki!”
“But what’s going on? Oh, he’s devolving already…”
Kouichi disappeared into black light and ribbons of data, which grew in size until it scattered and, in his place, Reichmon appeared.
“…Is that Papa?”
“Yep, that’s him.”
Mitsumi walked closer and Reichmon kneeled; if Löwemon was already taller than the other Human Spirits, Reichmon was even more.
“Papa! You’re so cool!”
Reichmon smiled at her, and stood up.
“Go back with the others, I’ll join you soon.”
Mitsumi nodded and went back.
“The software has picked up Reichmon’s basic data. Hybrid; attacks, Schwarz Lehrsatz and Rot Kreuz; called the Guardian Emperor of Darkness.”
Reichmon —Kouichi— vaguely remembered Bokomon mentioning the title when he evolved so many years back.
“Do you use the staff for Schwarz Lehrsatz?”
Reichmon nodded and held it upright for Koushirou to scan. After a couple of minutes, the results were illustrated in a diagram, which compared them to the data collected from the interference.
“Hmm… I see. Thank you, Kouichi-san. Let’s go back with the others so I can explain the results.”
The adults and their partners gathered around Koushirou, while most of the children were running around the field. Daiki and Taira stayed with the adults, curious about the situation.
“It does look like Kouichi-san was mostly responsible for the worlds merging again. The software description says Schwarz Lehrsatz ‘disables all the laws of physics in the surrounding region’, but the place where he used the attack was a major factor as well. Its power was incremented by the darkness coming from the Dark Area, and because the Dark World is the only one that can reach all of our worlds, it allowed the residual force of the attack to travel through each world, slowly merging each one and reestablishing the connection between it and its Digital World, eventually reaching ours five years ago… At least that’s my theory.”
The group stayed in silence for some moments, digesting the load of information that Koushirou had just dropped on them.
“Okay, so it’s Kouichi-san’s fault.” Daisuke finally said. “But that still doesn’t explain why we couldn’t… how do I say it… detect each other?”
“Daisuke-san is right. After all, Takato-san and I have worked on the same projects several times, and yet we never met, despite our worlds having merged before the others.” Tomoki added, still looking conflicted with the issue.
“We’ll just have to keep looking for answers.”
Taichi’s comment seemed to bring the current conversation to a closure, but Junpei looked to be deep in thought still.
“Koushirou-san, I’m better with hardware than software, but… since humans become data when we travel to the Digital World, wouldn’t it be possible for someone to rewrite it?”
Everyone looked at Junpei with wide eyes; Takuya was the first to recover.
“It could be possible… Back when we first went to the Digital World, Kouichi’s data wasn’t complete because there was no body and it was faulty as a result, so it means our data can be modified.”
“You’re saying someone could have rewritten our data to mess with our perception and avoid having us meet again?”
“I think it’s more like they didn’t want us to team up again, Yamato.”
Taichi had crossed his arms and looked serious.
“Who was the last enemy we fought against, all together?”
Sounds of surprised yelling from their kids reached the group, and they turned around to see what had caused it.
“It was Demon, wasn’t it?”