Chapter 3: No Time for Jet lag
From one chaotic environment into another. This one, though, was less so, thankfully. Baby digimon were crying all around Cal and the others. And the strange disembodied voice didn’t make it any easier to get some sort of equilibrium.
They were in a large hallway with metallic walls that were a dull blue colour. There were doors on either side, and it seemed to Cal like it was the cargo bay of some large aircraft. As Cal looked around, the AkelaGarurumon shadow copies lasted for just a few moments more, and then flickered out of existence one by one, like light bulbs separated from their power source.
“I asked a question,” the voice said again. “What happened in the Nursery?!”
“It was attacked,” answered Cal. “We don’t know by who. Or what.”
“I know that much,” the female voice snapped. “But it’s impossible for any Nursery to be breached. No one, not even the most powerful digimon can break in! So, what happened? Was the program corrupted somehow?”
“We don’t know, okay?” Kyndal said, clearly not appreciating how she was being spoken to.
“We-we-we’re not exactly familiar with how this world works,” Ashwin added.
By that time, all the children had got to their feet. All except little Ari, who kneeled and whimpered next to the door; though it was barely audible above the cries of the babies all around them. Cal turned and walked towards her, putting a hand on her shoulder. Babbu was calming down in Cal’s arm, and Alefmon seemed far more concerned with its human’s worries to cry. It looked up at Ari with its hazel eyes.
“This world? You… You… are not from this world?” the voice said after a few moments.
“That’s right, we aren’t,” Ashwin told her.
“Visitors from another world. So they were right…”
Cal lifted his head in surprise at this, and locked eyes with Ashwin and Kyndal, who seemed just as shocked as he was. “What do you mean?” he called out.
“I will explain. But first, I must deal with these babies. They’re scared, and they have a right to be. This bay houses a rudimentary Nursery. Not as thorough in its programming as the one you just left, but it’ll do. For now.”
“Wait,” Cal said. “Who are you? Where are you?”
“I suppose I should at least tell you that,” the female voice said. “I am JetSartomon. You say you are not from this world, so I suppose you will not understand if I tell you that I am a Carrier. I transport digimon and objects through the skies of the Digital World, just as Trailmon do over land.
“So, I am all around you. I am the vessel you are inside right now. But, I suppose I should be courteous and remember that smaller digimon, and whatever you all are, might prefer to be able to look at something…”
As she finished, something caught Cal’s eye to his left. A shimmer of blue light appeared, quickly growing and changing shape. It grew legs, wings, a head, and a tail, until the glowing, translucent form of a large blue dragon with horns and a club tail looked down at the four humans. Ari grabbed hold of Cal, shivering with fear. He didn’t blame her. It was truly a fearful sight.
“Sorry, small one,” JetSartomon said to Ari, her voice softening for the first time since they’d come aboard this living aircraft. “This is the only holographic form I am able to take. We Jetmon Successors are capable of using the shape of their pre-evolved form as holograms inside their bodies. I can make it disappear, if you prefer.”
Ari sniffled a little, and pulled away from Cal. “No… I’m fine,” she said. She wiped away her tears and looked up, looking directly into the JetSartomon hologram’s eyes.
“That’s it. You’re a brave girl, aren’t you?” Cal said to Ari with a smile.
Ari looked at him and managed a smile and a little giggle, but she was clearly still shaken by all that had happened.
“Brave, indeed,” JetSartomon agreed with a nod. “Now… to deal with these other little ones.”
Cal heard popping sounds as the hundreds of baby digimon all around them were lifted into the air and wineglass-shaped cribs similar the ones in AkelaGarurumon’s Nursery appeared dozens at a time. They were not silver, though, but blue. Many of them stopped crying as they were lifted off the floor, as if they knew they were being cared for. But some continued to bawl even as they rested on the soft cushions of their cribs, still traumatized after the chaos that had torn them from the only home they’d ever known.
“That’s all I can do for now,” JetSartomon said when she was finished. “I can’t feed or care for them here, so I will have to take them to another Nursery.”
Babbu made a gurgling sound in Cal’s arms. And Alefmon looked up at Ari with cheer in its eyes. As Cal looked to Kyndal and Ashwin, he saw that their digimon had calmed as well. Kyndal’s face was a mask of what seemed like anger, and Ashwin seemed worried, or sad, as if he wished all this would be over soon.
“Now, if you will follow me,” JetSartomon said, “we have much to discuss, I’m sure.”
JetSartomon’s hologram led them through the forest of cribs, up a very wide flight of metal stairs that ran against the high wall of the cargo bay, and through one of the many large doors that lined the walls. The door opened (of its own accord, of course) and the children carried their digimon into a room that, though not as large as the cargo bay below them, seemed designed so that many AkelaGarurumon-sized digimon could fit inside it. Cal could hardly believe that this entire gigantic structure was one single digimon.
But after all he’d seen in less than an hour of being in the Digital World, he wondered why he was surprised.
When he entered the empty room, Ari close behind him, and Kyndal and Ashwin taking up the rear, Cal saw that there was a line of circular windows lining the room, and he could see the blue sky beyond.
“Is it a good idea to leave the babies alone?” Cal asked the glowing blue dragon as the door closed behind them, shutting out the sound of the crying babies.
“It might be hard to believe,” JetSartomon answered, “but on this vessel, no one can truly be alone. I am everywhere, after all.”
The unwelcome question of whether JetSartomon came equipped with bathrooms popping into Cal’s head, and he tried to stop himself from wondering if she had eyes in there somehow.
The children soon settled themselves into a semi-circle before the floating blue hologram, their baby digimon in their arms.
“First, introductions, if you please,” JetSartomon said.
All four humans quickly stated their names, and the names of their digimon. “We were taken from our world into this one,” Kyndal added, petting a content-looking Wagmon on its head. “We don’t know how or why.”
JetSartomon’s wing nodded her horned head. “That’s a question I would like answered as well. For some time, the Wizarmon have been speaking of a growing tear in the fabric of our world. They knew something would happen, but were unclear on the details. I think you four are what they sensed, your crossing over from your world into ours.”
“Those Wizarmon things again?” Ashwin muttered. His silver Arjemon rested in his lap, eyes darting around the room.
“AkelaGarurumon mentioned them, too,” Cal said to JetSartomon. “Who are they?”
“Well, the Wizarmon Order is a greatly respected sect on our continent, and in our world. They’re quite in tune with the happenings and structure of the Digital World.” JetSartomon let out a small chuckle and shook her head. “It’s so strange to have to explain these things. Everyone knows about the Wizarmon, after all.
“I’ll take you to them on the way to a new Nursery that’s not yet very populated. I’ve already contacted them and let them know we’re on our way. I’ll drop as many of these ones there as possible. The poor dears must be so afraid.
“In any case, what has happened since you came to this world?”
In turns, the three older children told JetSartomon about being attacked by Mikemon, rescued by AkelaGarurumon, and then the attack on the Nursery. Cal also mentioned when they arrived, they the eggs came to them, and they hatched into the digimon JetSartomon saw before her.
“AkelaGarurumon…” Ari suddenly said suddenly when they were finished, drawing everyone’s attention when. “He stayed behind. What’s going to happen to him?”
“I wish I knew,” JetSartomon said sadly. “My priority – and his – was to secure the babies. He—”
“Well, if you ask me, he didn’t so such a good job of that,” Kyndal said. “At the first sign of danger, he froze like a frightened pussy cat.”
At this, JetSartomon snapped her gaze at the blonde girl and growled with such fury Cal could have sword he felt the floor shake.
“AkelaGarurumon is the bravest digimon I know!” she yelled with the strength of a jet engine. “He stayed while the caregivers of that Nursery were killed one by one, without any explanation we could find! He felt the danger looming every single day for decades, but stayed while some of the others left their post out of fear! I suggest you keep yourself quiet and stop speaking about things you know absolutely nothing!”
Her voice seemed echo around the room for an uncomfortable eternity, and Kyndal sat had fallen back in shock. Wagmon shivered in Kyndal’s arms, and Cal and the others remained silent, just as surprised at the sudden uproar.
JetSartomon pulled her holographic head back and held it towards the ground sorrowfully. “You have to understand,” she said softly, “Nurseries are only programs in the entire Digital World that cannot be breached. They were the only safe places in the entire world. At least we thought so. For one to be broken into… it undoes everyone we’ve known our entire lives. Many of us have dreamed of going back there, but only the caregivers chosen by the programs themselves are allowed inside. And babies, of course.”
She lifted her head and added with a bit more force, “We have to get you to the Wizarmon. They are the only ones who might know who broke the program. And why they were after you.”
“After us?” the three older humans said, expressed their shock in unison.
“Well, yes,” said JetSartomon, narrowing her eyes. “Had it not occurred to you? Think about it. The Nursery caregivers have been targeted over the decades, yes. But never has the Nursery been attacked. Whoever it is always waited till they left to find a baby or digiegg. And then, when you arrive and, by virtue of your special make-up, make it into the Nursery, it is attacked.”
She paused and her gaze fell again to the floor. “I suppose,” she continued, “that it’s only now that whatever force it is has become strong enough to… destroy the Nursery. But it is too much of a coincidence in my mind. I think whoever it is knew that you would come to the Gigabyte Savannah, and knew that your coming would coincide with the hatching of these little ones.” With her dragonic head, she indicated the baby digimon each of the humans held. “That’s the only thing that makes sense to me.”
The idea that he and the others were being chased by a power strong enough to do what JetSartomon and AkelaGarurumon both found impossible literally sent a shiver down Cal’s spine. Ari let out a sob beside him. He looked down at Babbu, envying its infantile ignorance. A glance a Kyndal and Ashwin, whose mouths hung open, confirmed that they were at least as unnerved as he and Ari were.
“JetSartomon, greetings,” a male voice sounded, as if over an intercom, cutting into Cal’s thoughts. “You’re in quite a hurry. What is going on?”
“Gatekeeper,” JetSartomon said solemnly. “I’m afraid something terrible has happened. I will arrive shortly. I have some visitors that the Order should meet.”
“Understood. We await your arrival.”
JetSartomon turned her attention back to the group of humans and digimon. “You should go back downstairs now,” she told them. “We’re almost there. You’ll have to retell your story to the Order, but then I think you’ll get answers.”
The Wizarmon Order, Cal thought, gripping the babbling Babbu a bit more tightly. He just hoped that they really did know what was going on. Because it seemed no one else did.