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Aika Moriyama looked morosely out of the window of her mother's van. Other cars, some with children and some without, whizzed by.
"I don't want to go to summer camp," she whispered.
"What was that?" said her mother, not taking her eyes off the road.
"I..." Aika stopped herself just in time.
Her parents were divorced, and her mother was slowly losing more and more of her paycheque. It had been an ordeal and a great deal of haggling before her mother had finally found a camp she could afford. Aika had protested, saying she didn't mind not attending a camp, but her mother insisted.
So she kept her mouth shut.
"Oh, Aika!" said her mother, as if she suddenly remembered something. "Do you know who will be at this camp?"
"Who?" said Aika, turning her head away from the window and actually looking at her mother.
Aika rolled her eyes. Aika's mother was an old friend of Naomi's mother, and she would always try to get the two to befriend each other.
"And you know who else?"
Aika's mother frowned. "You may not remember him."
"Just tell me anyways."
They had come off the highway and made a stop. Aika's mother looked at her daughter with some uncertainty. "You remember Taisuke Motomiya, don't you?"
Aika blushed slightly as her mother looked away. Taisuke...he was one of her friends. They had known each other through her father for a few years now.
After a long silence, Aika's mother announced, "We're here."
It had been three days since camp had started and Jou Motomiya was already bored. He and his two brothers had all been split up. There was nothing to do, really, though there was a schedule. However, Jou didn't really find canoe races and messy clay sculpture classes endurable for the next month or so.
His brother Taisuke pulled on his sleeve as he was finishing his lunch. "Jou, come outside right now! I think we're going to the digital world!"
Their father Daisuke had told many stories about the digital world, and V-mon had lived with them. They had always wanted to go, but Daisuke said it wouldn't be necessary.
"What makes you say that, huh?"
"Well, for one thing, what else makes the sky open up?"
Jou dashed outside, his younger brother on his heels. Sure enough, there was a hole in the sky and a reflection of another world inside.
"How are we gonna get up there, onii?"
Jou's youngest brother Yukito joined his brothers. "Jump," he said naively.
Taisuke laughed. "Yeah, we'll jump."
Jou raised his eyebrows. But he jumped...
...and was sucked up by the gate!
The other children observing the portal gaped. Then Yukito and Taisuke jumped as well. They were sucked up.
Four other children did as well, then the gate closed.
She sat back in her quarters. She gestured to the tall Digimon in the corner, telling him to move closer.
"Well, Spademon," she said in a low voice, "what shall we do today?"
"I am fresh out of ideas," replied the digimon. "Why don't you choose, Misao?"
Misao was on her feet in a flash. She pulled a sword out of a sheath attached to her belt. "Don't you ever call me that again," she hissed menacingly, the tip touching Spademon's throat. "I am not Misao Ichijouji anymore. I am the master of all of this land, just as my late uncle would have become and my father would have remained, had he not been so nice!" On the last word Misao violently stabbed her sword into the ground. "I posess all the digimentals. I have the fragments of the crests
Apoclymon destroyed. I have power. Am I to suffer the same fate as my father?"
"No, milady," said Spademon. "I have opened up a portal to the real world, the same camp that the first Chosen Children attended. I will find you new prey."
One of the several computer screens flashed. "Seven people have just entered," said Spademon smugly.
"Seven?" shrieked Misao. "There were more than eleven chosen children. Is that all you can do?"
"N-no!" said Spademon, running to the computer controls. "I will find more. I promise!"
"Good." Misao sat onto her chair again. "Spademon, where are the other digimon?"
"They are downstairs discussing what to do with the children once they are all rounded up, milady."
"Bring them up here." Misao smirked as Spademon left. It was so easy sometimes...
Sally looked at the sheer number of clothes strewn about the room in awe. And not one was just right for her mother.
"Mom," she said, "it's just a picnic. Can't you just throw something on and leave it at that?"
"I haven't seen Koushiro Izumi for...I don't know how long," said Mimi. "I don't want him to start thinking I'm a frump!"
"Heaven forbid," said Sally, rolling her eyes to the ceiling. Mimi threw a pillow at her daughter.
"Sally, this is really important to me, so stay out of it," she said. "Is all the food packed?"
"Yes, yes, and yes. Mom, we've checked it already three times. That's how long you've been taking."
"Okay, okay, I get the point!" Mimi sighed emphatically. "So what do you think I should wear, Sally?"
"That, on the floor right there, near the right edge of the coffee table." Sally pointed to the garment.
Mimi put it on, twirled around a few times in front of the mirror, and sighed again. "I guess this will do."
Suddenly Sally disappeared.
"Misao, how are you doing?" a voice purred from behind Misao's chair.
"Three, I'm busy right now," said Misao.
"You don't look busy. And you haven't seen me in so long...."
"Stop it, Three," said Misao with a dangerous glint in her eyes. "I've got this sword for a reason."
"Yes, it's for threatening that weak partner digimon of yours," purred Three. "I, however, react to idle threats with something more substantial."
"Spademon is not weak," said Misao, insulted. "I raised him myself from a Kadomon. You call him weak?"
"Yes, since I have my newest experiment with me."
"And that is?"
Three came into view, a tall, leggy woman with long hair in a trenchcoat. In her hand she had a Yukimibotamon, fast asleep.
"Oh, how cute," said Misao with sarcasm. "I bet it could knock Spademon for a loop."
"That's why I came here," said Three sweetly. "Misao, could you be a dear and let me borrow the digimental of Light?"
"Why would I do that?"
"Two words...dark star..."
Misao remembered the evil device with some wrath. The dark star could tap into your thoughts and alter them or use them against you. She had been the first victim of the machine when Three had felt particularly vicious for not being allowed to borrow a shattered Courage crest.
"Fine," she said at last with some reluctancy, "take it. Provided you show me the results."
"Oh, I'll do more than that," said Three. "Why, I'll even return the digimental."
"How kind," said Misao dryly. She got up and pressed a few buttons on her control panel, then the table with the digimentals appeared.
Three removed the Light digimental gently and placed it next to the digimon in her hand.
"You will not regret this," said Three as she turned around to leave.
"I think I already am," muttered Misao when Three was out of earshot.
"So let me go over this again: Your name is Kitsumon, and you weren't destined to be my partner digimon?" said Yukito. "This contradicts all I've heard from my dad."
"Yeah, well, so be it like that," said the fox-eared digimon. "You found me, and now I'm yours!"
"So it works just like that?" Yukito snapped his fingers.
"Hey, don't snap your fingers!" yelled Kitsumon, alarmed.
Three shadowy figures appeared in the tall grass. They walked through and Yukito saw it was his two brothers and--
"Okay, what's the gag?" said Aika angrily. On her head was a small sparrow-like digimon who chirruped happily.
"What did you guys do to get all the way up here? This is some good trick. It must have cost you. So confess!"
"We didn't do anything, Aika!" said Jou.
"But didn't you pull me here by some force?"
"Well, I did just snap my fingers, but..."
"Really? Like this?" Aika snapped her fingers. Jou, Taisuke and Yukito found themselves pulled towards her, and even the digimon on her head flew into her hand.
"That's the signal for help," said the bird digimon.
"And who are you again?" said Aika.
"Sparramon, oh rude one."
Taisuke giggled. Aika shot him a withering look.
"So why are you here?" said Kitsumon, trying to settle Aika down.
"Dunno..." Jou kicked the ground and stubbed his toe. "There-was-a-portal-in-the-sky," he said, hopping about and holding his sore foot.
"Don't be such an idiot," said Aika, but she couldn't resist smiling.
Jou's digimon, a small fluffy sphere with a long, sleek tail like Kitsumon's, narrowed its eyes.
"It must have been the Digimon Empress," it hissed.
"And you are?" said Aika.
"Furmon, who has gone previously unnoticed."
"So...Furmon, Kitsumon, Sparramon and...?" Taisuke counted on his fingers as he named the digimon, then looked up at the tiny white puff on his head.
"Demihalomon," said the digimon. "Please t' meecha."
"So, Furmon, who's this Digimon Empress?"
"She claims to be the daughter of some Kaizer or other."
"The Digimon Kaizer!" said Yukito, eyes wide.
"Ken!" said Jou and Taisuke in unison.
"You know this Kaizer?" Tinimon's eyes narrowed again. "How do I know I can trust you?"
"We're not related to him, and he's good now, anyways," said Jou.
"She's really awful!" Demihalomon cut in. "She thinks she rules all of us. She has these things called digimentals and shattered crests."
"I'm older than all of you," said Sparramon, "and I remember when there was no Digimon whatsit. It was wonderful."
"Shh!" said Yukito. Sparramon shut his beak tight.
"What the...?" muttered Aika.
"I hear movement," Yukito whispered back. Everyone stood still.
They heard a girl mutter in English, "If Palmon was here, she'd tell me where to go. Instead I'm lost."
"Palmon?" said Kitsumon.
Sally pushed through the last bit of grass. Standing in front of her now were four children, three boys and a girl. They all had digimon with them.
"And who are you?" she said. When they didn't respond she repeated in Japanese.
"I'm Jou Motomiya," said the tallest boy, "and this is my brother Taisuke, my brother Yukito and Aika."
"Aika is your sister?" said Sally.
"No, just a friend," said Aika.
"My name is Sal--Sayaka." She realized it would be unwise to risk getting laughed at if she had said her English name.
"Pleased to meet you, Sayaka."
A tiny cat popped its head and tail out of Sayaka's breast pocket.
"Hello," it said sweetly. "I'm Amemon."
"So what are we all doing here?"
"Is that the million-dollar question?" said Aika with a sigh.
"I still think it's the Digimon Empress," squeaked Demihalomon.
"Let's go find that idiot!" said Yukito, nearly dropping his digimon.
"They should be headed this way right now," said a muscled wolf digimon, staring hungrily at the radar screen.
A tall masked digimon with wings smirked. "Now, now, Lupumon, we're not going to eat them right now."
"No, there will be none of that," said Misao. "You do not eat chosen children. You torture them."
"How?" said Lupumon.
"Hmmm, how shall I list the ways?" said a robotic dragon. "Starvation, forcing them to listen to Spademon..."
"I resent that!" said Spademon from the corner.
"So are we all here?" said the masked digimon.
"Check," said Misao automatically.
"Gigamon, Lupumon, Eaglemon, Butterflymon--that's me--Thornmon, Tortomon, Archangemon, Spademon and--hey, where's Scythemon?"
Spademon shuddered at the mention of the evil digimon's name. Scythemon was the most fearsome of the Digital Council, the nine main digimon that aided and advised Misao, though he was just a shadowy ball.
"He's on his way," said Thornmon, a cute-looking vine-haired girl. "Just seeing over Three's latest experiment."
Archangemon sniggered into his hand. "Three's latest experiment. What's it gonna be, Mutant Yukimibotamon?"
Misao shook her head, but she smiled as well. "Now, now, Archangemon, don't make fun of my older sister."
"Nice sister YOU ended up with!" muttered Eaglemon.