Beep. Beep. Beep. An incessant din of doom. A boy's half conscious mind shuddered at the thought of an alarm clock. The present came into focus before his eyes were open.
I'm on vacation. That's too high pitched to be my alarm clock. What am I sleeping on? Wait, where am I? A forest? Why would I be here? Is this a dream?
In a panic, he pushed himself upright and looked around. What he beheld instilled confusion. There were trees in all directions. Great winding trees on a landscape of craggy hills. It was without a doubt a forest, but none that the boy had ever seen or been to. Immediately, he noticed that this place was very odd. Some of the tree branches had fiber optic cables embedded in them. Rocks and boulders were as often earthen tones as painted with religious symbols or dazing fractal patterns. Nature seemed impossibly ordered and clean. No stray dead leaves or fallen trees. As if someone treated the whole forest as if it were a living room they kept prepared for impressing guests.
This has to be a dream. If that were true, this is precisely when I'd be waking up. But I'm not! Is this real? I feel too lucid for this to be a dream.
So overwhelmed by his surroundings, he hadn't the chance to be aware of his own body yet. He noticed he was wearing clothes he wasn't familiar with. A slate colored t-shirt made of some heavy fabric. Blue-gray cargo shorts. Both of these quite comfortable and fitted to his somewhat lanky frame. In addition to the notably light weighted white athletic shoes, this outfit was very practical. But certainly not anything he owned.
Lloyd ran his fingers through his shaggy dark brown hair and adjusted his glasses, which also turned out to be different now. The frames were a dark, almost black blue and more square in shape than the light, more oval shape he was accustomed to wearing. He stretched out his legs and arms. His figure was by no means impressive. It was light and lacking any substantial muscle tone. Finally, he rubbed his big viridian eyes and felt his thin facial features and somewhat pointy nose.
I feel normal enough. If this isn't a dream, where the hell am I? The last I thing I recall was falling asleep on my couch...
The beeping continued. Lloyd's eyes darted around in search of it. Behind him, a metal device hovered in the air. It was a pocket sized oval with a few buttons on the face, although the vast majority of the space was dedicated to the screen. It had a neat white trim enclosing this modern looking tool.
Is this some kind of phone? Why is it hovering!?
At first Lloyd wasn't sure whether or not to grab the object. He took a few steps back without taking his eyes off of it. The screen of the device was flashing. It looked more like an oddly shaped touch screen phone if nothing else, but it could have been anything. A bomb, a camera, an evil micro robot.
Okay. It doesn't seem that threatening, let's see if I can stop this infernal cacophany.
Lloyd approached carefully and slowly outstretched his hand. Whatever strange force kept the device aloft provided no resistance to him taking it. The screen displayed a message:
Alert - Tether Lock-On Complete
The buttons weren't labeled, so Lloyd tried them in succession. The third and last progressed to another screen with more data. A bright green holographic compass took up most of the screen. A large arrow pointed not to what the compass labeled as north, but seemed to be tracking a target.
Rena C D NSp 11 G 240 H 400 E
The interface was a confusing array of letters and numbers that made no sense to the boy yet. The 241m became 223m, then 206m, then 190m. It stopped fluctuating after a few seconds. Lloyd was willing to bet that the "m" stood for meters.
It's moving, whatever it is. It was getting closer up until a few seconds ago. Is it coming after the device? Or me? This could be really dangerous. Should I ditch this thing? No. If all they want is this thing, I'll give it to them without a fight. If I hide I'll only look more suspicious. Since I have no idea where I am, I have nothing better to do than follow this.
Lloyd kept looking down at the screen as he traversed the bizarre and dazzling forest. It was eerily serene and beautiful. His path wound around trees and rocks and rolling hills. When the distance became a mere 80m, he heard rustling in the trees behind him. Even though he was fairly close, he could not see the target through the now increasingly dense flora.
Without warning, Lloyd was pinned to the ground by a large furred creature. Claws punctured the flesh of his torso. It happened to fast too notice what was happening, perhaps it was some type of big cat? His body only screamed to writhe free and run as fast as possible away without looking back, but the beast was too big and powerful. He screamed and struggled against the firm grip, but it was a futile effort. Death seemed inevitable, and yet the creature was not tearing through his intestines yet.
The beast spoke with the voice of a fierce, resolute, and disciplined man. "Are you a Nightmare Soldier? What is your species? You don't smell like a virus to me."
Lloyd looked up to see a kind of kabuki mask covering the head of a cream furred animal. It was definitely much bigger than he was. He felt like his insides were going to burst. "P-please," he gasped and coughed. "It hurts."
"Do not play your mind games with me, devil! My blade and I will delete your filth from this world!"
"I'm a human. I'm no devil. I'm not here to hurt you, I don't even know where I am!" the boy cried out hysterically.
The beast snarled and loosened his grip a little, but only to get a better look at his captive. Lloyd was held down by one claw and saw the rest of his assailant. Its neck was adorned by some red and white striped necklace to match the colors of its fox-like mask. There was a yin-yang on its flank. Most peculiar and frightening was the beast's rear. A massive blade with a creepy twitching eye swung around where the tail should be. This was the stuff of nightmares.
"Huemon? I've never heard of it. You must be a weak Nightmare Soldier. However, I will not let you threaten my forest. Prepare to die."
Lloyd screamed and closed his eyes as the point of the tail came towards him. A moment later, he opened his eyes again to find that he was still alive, and another beast was holding back the blade.
"Enough, Len. I have questions to ask him first," said the newcomer, a humanoid with yellow fur, a slender and angular canine face, and purple gloves adorned with yin-yang symbols. Lloyd was too concerned over his life to think much on the relation. His pulse raced and he trembled in fear. There was something different about this one. His voice was much more composed and inquisitive rather than hostile.
Len released his grasp finally, but Lloyd could not bring himself to move a muscle. That blade was still close enough to slice him in half. The quadruped replied, "Watch it, Trance, you know that a Leppamon can't control his tail! Fine, ask your questions. Not that I'd believe a word he has to say. No one has heard of a "Huemon" before because it crawled straight out the Dark Area!"
Trance pushed back his much larger friend and turned his attention toward the invader on the ground. He stared at Lloyd with ice blue eyes that pierced the soul. They were intimidating, but it also made it clear he was not a mere beast. He crossed his arms and stood with an elegant, confident posture. "I was drawn here for some reason, I must find out why. Besides, Len, you're a disgrace being threatened by such a pathetic Digimon. I don't sense it as a virus, either. If it wasn't as big as me I'd say it was a baby."
What are they talking about? Virus? Nightmare Soldier? Leppamon? Digimon? Is this a game? He's talking about me as if I weren't even here. They see me as trash, or food. I'm going to die.
The smaller Digimon looked about for a moment and caught a glimpse of the device that Lloyd dropped when he was pounced on. "What is that? I think that is what is...pulling on me," he said as he pointed at the metallic object.
Lloyd wasn't sure if he should speak. It seemed like doing so without permission was not safe. It was hard to find words regardless. "I don't know. I found it."
"Lies!" Len snarled while taking a step closer. "What did you do to Trance?"
A white, gloved paw was held up as Trance blinked and picked up the device. He fumbled with it for a moment before proceeding with his queries. "Where do you come from? Why are you here?"
After a deep breath, the boy spoke. "I come from a place called Boston, but I don't think that's anywhere near here. I don't know have any idea where I am or how I got here. The last thing I remember was being asleep at my home. I woke up next to that device so I followed it to you. I swear that's all I know and I'll be happy to leave your forest forever if that's what you want."
Silence. The two yin yang beasts looked at each other. They considered their options. It appeared as though they found the speech convincing, or at least were too curious to want to kill without finding out more. "Well?" Len finally asked.
"It's the truth. I can tell that much. That doesn't offer any explanation as to what is happening, though." Trance paused. "I think we should have the elder look at this. Both of these," he said as he gestured to Lloyd.
"I'm not convinced that it's not a spy. You'd better be right, Trance. If anyone knows what that thing is, and what type of Digimon a Huemon is, it's the elder."
"Follow him, you understand? I'm going to follow behind you. Just a precaution." The humanoid fox seemed almost pleasant to Lloyd when he wasn't having his life in danger. Although stern, there was a hint of compassion coming from the Digimon. He even lent a paw to help up the human.
After brushing himself off, although there was no residue from the ground, Lloyd nodded. "Digimon...is that what you are? I've never heard of it."
The yellow furred creature's icy eyes widened in bewilderment for a split second before they returned to that consistent composure. "Yes. Len and I are Digimon. He is a Leppamon and I am a Renamon. You're in Kitsune Forest. You really are from...another world, aren't you? A world without Digimon?"
"Come on, then, this way," Len swung his great tail blade in the direction he began walking in. The three started marching deeper into the forest.
"I'm really not sure what to think," Lloyd replied. That was the truth. He had dozens of thoughts running through his head. So many questions. However, now his fear had been replaced by a curiosity and a sense of adventure. He followed Len through Kitsune Forest towards their home and elder, eager for what awaited around the corner.