But first, a Random Act of Kindness I Received:
A total stranger brightened my day today. I was waiting at the busy corner for the signal to cross after just having returned 21 books to the public library. A rather good looking man comes across from the other corner and reads the words on my shirt aloud: "Master of Information." (It's my Library & Info Science department's annual t-shirt design, and of all the team-shirts I've had, I have to say I look most fetching in this one.) He smiles and presses his palms together above his head and lowers them down to his chest in a bow. I'm standing there blushing, while he's accomplished all this (gracefully, I might add) without breaking his stride. He calls back over his shoulder: "Have a beautiful day!" It takes a second for the words to register in my brain. I manage to stutter out a thank you, and then he was gone. It totally made me smile.
Who doesn't like a brief moment of worship every now and then?
So, if you like reading the section offered below, be nice to a total stranger within the next week or so, okay?
Miss the other parts?
Read DM - Chapter 6 - Scene A: Hikari
Read DM - Chapter 6 - Scene B: Yamato
Read DM - Chapter 6 - Scene C: Koushiro
Read DM - Chapter 6 - Scene D: Taichi
Read DM - Chapter 6 - Scene E: Hunter
Read DM - Chapter 6 - Scene F: Sora
Read DM - Chapter 6 - Scene G: Daisuke
Dark Masquerade - Chapter 6: Revealing - Scene H: Wormmon - 2,743 words
Wormmon glanced over again at one of the many monitors on the wall. Some showed interiors of the labs and cell blocks, others showed the exterior of the base and the surrounding area, but those the caterpillar-type digimon was focused on most showed the interior of his Master's quarters. Master was talking on the telecom in his suite, a smirk resting undisguised on his face. Wormmon guessed that Master was talking to the soccer captain, Lord Daisuke. Although he had noticed lust in Master's thoughts, he knew that Master was more interested in the man because he was the only son of High Lord Motomiya and ensnaring him would give the Kaizer easier access to that fortress' security.
Normally, Wormmon wouldn't concern himself with Master's plans for the High Lords --in his experience, they deserved all the trouble Master caused them. But Lord Daisuke was different. There had been a feeling, a sense Wormmon had gotten from the young man at the soccer match. At the time, the tugging sensation had seemed familiar, but it was only later that night when Wormmon had been able to finally place it. The Lord was Chosen, like Ken, but lacked a partner and thus was in danger of being attacked by a power-craving digimon. If Lord Daisuke were able to befriend Master... That single possibility changed all the rules Wormmon had made for himself. He would get closer to Daisuke, somehow. The Lord might be a strong enough ally to pull Ken back from the dangerous edge he walked.
The disconnecting tone of the telecom sounded from Master's suite and Wormmon stiffened in anticipation of his Master's presence. Master walked into the control room, one gloved hand rubbing leisurely over his groin.
"You," Master said, addressing him. "I do not want to be disturbed for the next hour." The hand pressed harder and Master's teeth bared in pleasure. "Perhaps longer. You will see to it."
~Yes, Master.~ Wormmon ducked his head in obedience and Ken swiftly left. The door to the suite shut and locked. The caterpillar would have spared a pitying thought to Lord Daisuke's future, but there was no time. He wriggled across the command console in a practiced dance, tapping the keys that would silence the alarms in Master's room. If they rang, Ken would never know until Wormmon told him. It was time to execute the plan.
Normally, his telepathic communications to other digimon were limited to physical line-of-sight, but the link he shared with V'mon was deeper. He reached out, stretching to feel his bonded's presence.
~. . .~
~. . . I am here.~
~Master will be occupied for the next hour. This is our chance. Do it now.~
~Understood. Warn me if the situation changes.~
Wormmon sent an embrace of love and support through the link, then closed it. He needed to be alert, watching for Master. He refocused his attention on the monitors and looked on as Master disrobed and entered the shower. So Master would be a while. The genius had made adjustments to the shower and when he used it for non-cleaning purposes he was almost always occupied for longer than an hour. V'mon had time, then. Wormmon would be blamed, but the task would be done.
Small Nezumimon skittered out of a small hole in the wall and tugged Master's discarded clothing away to be cleaned.
Wormmon avoided looking at what was going on in the lab. If he became too nervous for V'mon, his Chosen would feel it and emerge. He needed to distract himself. Ken. Wormmon would think about Ken. His Chosen was used to the dull ache that accompanied Wormmon's thoughts of Master as a young boy and young man. With luck, the lust Master was experiencing would prevent him from recognizing Wormmon's discomfort entirely.
Dutifully, Wormmon watched the suite's monitors, the perpetual worry in his heart throbbing in time with his pulse. Ken had changed over the years. Though Wormmon had learned a few ways of dealing with his partner's anger, it hadn't been soon enough to prevent a suffering boy from transforming into a cruel, obsessed dictator -- the Kaizer, his Master. Wormmon loved him still, but sometimes the reasons were harder to remember. Especially when the schemes being plotted were too horrific to go unchallenged.
Master was special. Wormmon had sensed that from the beginning, and as the boy grew into a man, Ken's intellect grew from above average to chillingly genius. With the crumbling of Ken's family, his brother, Osamu's, betrayal, and Ken's exile, the ties keeping the boy to the path of kindness were destroyed. As a young man, Ken's university work focused on genetic manipulation. In the school labs, Wormmon's Chosen demonstrated his enhanced understanding upon plants, but in the man's private labs, both here and in the digital world, Master experimented with sentient test subjects.
Master excelled at forcing manipulations of the Digital World using a mix of his own world's technologies and his own superior instinct. His earlier projects had been focused upon various forms of mind control that would allow Master to command an army of digimon to ultimately destroy all other digimon. Now though... Wormmon shuddered.
Master wanted to create the perfect soldier. He'd started by enhancing the abilities of single digimon. The genemod treatments were excruciatingly painful. The Control Rings weren't perfected at that initial time, so the task of caring for the experiments while Master was away had fallen to Wormmon. In the beginning, Wormmon had been too terrified to communicate with the test subjects. With gentle probing, he finally discovered that what his Master didn't know wouldn't anger him. It upset Wormmon, spending time with the digimon who were quickly destroyed for failing the experiment, but he forced himself to do it, soothing the frightened digimon with mental communication since they were not allowed painkilling drugs.
And then came Experiment #22. Genemod attempts 'A' through 'U' had failed. V'mon was Master's First. Wormmon hadn't liked V'mon before his modifications. The blue, dragon-type digimon had been born a Baaruniimon -- a species of dinosaur-type digimon ridiculed by all others for being purple, pudgy, weak, tone-deaf, and very dull-witted. Master's first modification had been to the Baaruniimon's voice and mind, deepening the former and removing the penchant for singing from the latter. Then came other changes... blue scales with a white underbelly, more power, more speed, more intellect, a penchant for violence and cruelty. But it had been Wormmon who taught V'mon about love. And there was one further modification Master did not know about, a side effect of the others -- more cunning. V'mon's ability to manipulate, deceive, and plot was far superior to Wormmon's and perhaps even exceeded Master's own abilities. As Master's First, V'mon was put in charge of Master's other digimon troops and thus had more freedom than Wormmon himself.
V'mon... Be safe.
Wormmon couldn't hold himself back from checking any longer. With moderate effort, he used his small body to push the keypads that would call up the cameras in the experimentation lab. Most of the screens showed shots of equipment or suffering digimon, but two screens the small digimon watched closely.
The first was one of several cameras aimed at Kimeramon.
Wormmon had to focus very carefully to keep his mental shudder from echoing down to his Master. Ken was a bright boy, with a strong grasp of genetics. Somehow, he had figured out a method for fusing genetic material from a test subject to an already living creature, thereby triggering a mutation.
His Master, in his hatred, was using controlled digimon to battle against other wild digimon. Though the fighting sickened Wormmon, some of what Ken was doing was good. There were some digimon who didn't try to live peacefully. They enjoyed causing harm and drinking the blood of humans, and even killing for sport rather than for food. But the Kaizer didn't distinguish between good and bad, only those under his control and those who weren't. And eventually, he wanted them all destroyed.
Thus, Master's goal of creating the perfect digimon soldier. The project's subject, Kimeramon, was so mutated from her original form that it was impossible to tell what her initial type had been. Only Ken knew and he wasn't mentioning it. The digimon raged in her holding cell, scratching gashes in the walls that were deeper than the length of the caterpillar's body. She was beyond help now. Wormmon looked away.
The second video screen showed a small dinosaur-type digimon. Agumon's eyes were closed, but the way his tail trembled proved he was still conscious. Burns and whip-marks marred his golden-hued hide and a thick black metal collar squeezed around his neck. Scummy water and what passed for food lay untouched in one corner of the cell. The once-proud rebel leader was waiting to die.
Wormmon, evolved to Stingmon and with the help of V'mon's evolved form of Fladramon, had captured Greymon. The success of the mission had earned him rare praise from Master, but soon after, Ken was wholly focused on Kimeramon's delicate construction. Agumon was used for genetic code, then tortured first for information and then for fun. If the rebel warrior died here, nothing good would be accomplished. But if he were freed, he could return to his group and warn them. Kimeramon was coming.
Wormmon saw the door in the golden dinosaur's cell hinge open. V'mon stooped to enter, then closed and locked the door by reaching his long arm through the bars and around to the front.
V'mon's lips moved once. Twice.
A single green eye cracked open, the digimon's mouth barely moved, and then the eye fell shut.
V'mon spoke again. Longer, this time. Sharper. Wormmon could feel his bonded's intensity through their link.
And then Agumon was standing alert, despite his battered body.
More of V'mon's words. He moved forward and fed the captive five of the army's specially formulated ration bars. More words. More words. More words. A nod.
Wormmon tensed. Greymon had fought honorably. Would Agumon act the same now?
V'mon passed the unlocking wand over the Ring. The blue dragon caught it before it could fall and stuffed it into the pack he carried. Agumon remained unhostile. V'mon tossed down a cracked Ring they had saved from a different experiment.
Agumon was handed a datapad containing information on the base, on the Kimeramon Project, and on Ken himself. The golden dinosaur was the leader of the Chosen Force, a band of rebel digimon still loyal to the Chosen. Wormmon hoped what he had written would be enough to sway the rebel leader into sparing Ken.
If anyone attacked Ken, he'd keep the young man safe, no matter the cost.
V'mon stepped to the side as Agumon faced the cell door and blew fireball after fireball until it exploded outward. Alarms screamed and the caterpillar saw heads jerk up on all the monitors -- except in some of the prison cells. What was one more scream when you could hear your own?
Agumon sagged, but V'mon caught him and helped him cross the still-flaming wreckage.
Wormmon frantically searched the wall of monitors for a view of the hall his bonded and the rebel were in. By the time he found it, V'mon was stowing more wrappers from ration bars and almost immediately after, they moved.
He knew it was hopeless to follow their entire path, but he and V'mon had mapped it out months ago. Five screens -- four tricky spots in the escape route and then the final exit. Wormmon had their locations memorized by heart.
They made it past the first. While he waited for the specks of blue and gold to appear on the second screen, his attention flickered to Master's suite. The main room was empty. Master was still in the shower. Then they were on the second monitor.
And the third.
Wormmon knew this was the most dangerous point, but before he had even recognized that the two were in trouble, V'mon had torn out the other digimon's throat. The dragon moved swiftly off camera, but Agumon remained, staring down at the bloody carcass. A clawed blue hand encircled the golden forearm and dragged the digimon onward. Wormmon watched and watched, but no more surprises came.
~He is away.~
Wormmon acknowledged his bonded's thought and watched the rebel leader move across the rocky terrain. It wasn't done yet.
This code he was clumsier at and he had to reset the command prompt and start over twice for pressing the wrong key in the sequence.
Finally, V'mon's program ran. And then it was done. The security recording data for thirty minutes on either side of the execution command would be garbled beyond all hope of being sorted out.
Now, all that was left was to wait and accept his punishment.
On the screen, Wormmon saw his Master enter the main room and begin dressing. The caterpillar crawled down and spread himself prostrate on the floor, ready for Master's return. The door opened. He didn't dare look up.
"Anything of interest happen while I was away?"
~Forgive me, Master, but the prisoner escaped.~
"What?! Which one was it?"
~The rebel leader.~
"Why didn't my First stop him?"
Wormmon cringed at the anger flooding their mental link. ~V'mon was at the other end of the base when it happened. Something went wrong with the comms and all of our archived A/V records are scrambled from before and after it happened. By the time the troops were notified, the prisoner was out of range and the Airdramon Fleet could not spot him. V'mon has investigated the escape and surmises that a rebel strike force entered the base. He found many dead bodies along their path and a broken Ring in cell.~
"Why was I not informed of this when it happened?"
Wormmon forced himself to look up briefly. ~ You said you did not wish to be disturbed, Master.~
"Now, pet," Master said the word like a curse, though the tone was deceptively gentle. "Wouldn't things like a forced entry on this base or a prisoner escaping be something I should know about immediately? And what orders have I given about situations like this?"
Wormmon flattened himself to the ground and said nothing.
"WHY WAS I NOT INFORMED!?"
~Please forgive me, Master.~
The Kaizer lifted him up and hurled his body against the far wall. Wormmon struck the dark metal with crushing force, feeling as if his skin would crack open and his guts splatter. There was a blissful moment of freefall and then more blossoming pain as his body met with the unyielding floor.
It hurt, but he raised his head from where he lay on his side. ~Master. . . ~
The tall man walked over and positioned his booted foot over Wormmon, pressing down hard enough to make breathing through his spiracles difficult.
"You disappoint me, monster."
~I'm sorry, Master. Forgive me.~ Ken, please! Don't do this. I don't want to hurt you.
Wormmon had the power to throw off Ken's foot, but at such close range, he wasn't sure what sort of permanent damage he'd leave behind.
~Wormmon! What's wrong?~ V'mon's agitated voice broke in. Their bond had alerted him to the trouble. ~I'm coming for you.~
~No, stay where you are. He's not mad at you. I'll deal with this. I'll be okay.~ Wormmon winced. The Kaizer was crushing him. He directed his thoughts back at his Master. ~Master, forgive me, please!~ Ken, I'm your friend! I'm only trying to help you. Please!
The pressure increased for an unbearable instant, then disappeared completely. "You will be punished for your incompetence."
Wormmon took in a careful breath. His entire body felt like a single bruise. ~Yes, Master. I understand. Now?~ He hoped not. He wasn't sure if he could move. Gingerly, he tried rolling over into a standing position. Nope. He just barely managed to hold back a cry of pain. Master hated it when he whimpered.
Master stared down at him. "No, I won't deliver your punishment now. Later. I had plans to conquer sector 27P today."
~Master, I love you.~
The young man stiffened instantly. "You would," Ken sneered, glaring before he stalked to his throne and sat there, eyes focused on the wall of monitors. "If you can drag your carcass that far, you may sit at my feet."
~Yes, Master.~ Ken. . .
It hurt, but Wormmon did it. That was the way it was with his Chosen.
Next scene will be up July 1st.