Chapter 5: The Time Limit
Their partnership would end. Those words robbed Taichi and the others of the ability to say their own.
In fact, it was the Digimon partners who first responded to Menoa’s statement.
“So that means we have to separate?” “Huh? I don’t wanna!” the Digimon all chimed in unison, but, glancing aside at them, Menoa responded quietly.
“It’s just as I said.”
Menoa’s usual smile was completely gone, and her eyes were sunken with sadness.
“This is the first time I’m hearing about this.”
Koushirou said, unable to hide his agitation at hearing this information that he’d never known of before.
“There are things that even you guys don’t know, after all.”
“Then how do you know about this?” Yamato said in opposition.
Menoa remained completely still.
“It’s the main subject of my research. The first symptom is the inability to evolve.”
In comparison to Yamato and the others, who were confused and angry, Menoa was completely calm.
Taichi had said nothing during this entire time, and his shoulders started trembling. He suddenly whipped around.
Taichi quickly blurted out to Koromon, who had returned to being Agumon after his recovery.
“Let’s go! We’re gonna track down Eosmon and bring it down!”
The one trying to stop Taichi was none other than Menoa.
“If you force him to evolve and fight, your parting will only come sooner!”
“As if I’m gonna believe that!”
Taichi bit his lip and yelled at Menoa, trying to shake off her concerns.
“Let’s go, Agumon…Huh?”
Taichi had yanked his smartphone-type Digivice out of his pocket in order to evolve Agumon.
But on the back was a ring of light floating above it, something he had never seen before.
“And there’s the proof.”
Menoa said from behind the wide-eyed Taichi, in a detached manner.
“That ring of light is the final link between you and your Digimon partner. Once that ring disappears, you’ll have to part from each other…”
Hearing Menoa’s words, Taichi and his friends shuddered.
In a panic, Koushirou and Takeru took out their own Digivices and looked at them. Neither of them had a ring of light on them yet, and they both sighed in relief for now.
“…I won’t accept this.”
The one who had whispered those words was none other than Yamato.
Koushirou looked at Yamato from the side.
There was a ring of light on Yamato’s Digivice, just like Taichi’s.
Koushirou looked at Yamato, whose shoulders were shaking, but could say nothing to him.
“I am not accepting this!”
Yamato, incensed, ran out of the office.
His Digimon partner, Gabumon, ran after him in a flurry.
Taichi’s eyes dropped again to the Digivice in his hands.
“What? You’re saying that once we become adults…we’re all gonna have to separate from our Digimon?”
As if responding to Taichi’s whispers, a single piece of the ring of light dissolved.
If Menoa’s words were true, Taichi was one step closer to having to part with Agumon.
“I also refuse to accept this. Even if what you say is true, we will most certainly find a solution for it,” Koushirou said, firmly.
“I understand how you feel, but…” Menoa closed her eyes slowly. “But this is reality.”
There was loneliness somewhere in Menoa’s voice as she addressed everyone left in the room.
The clouds visible through the window started to rumble…and the sound of thunder and lightning rang out.
Having run out of the office, Yamato scowled at the ring floating over his Digivice. Yet the light did not disappear.
Yamato was frustrated to the point of gritting his teeth.
Gabumon, who had followed him outside, wasn’t sure what to say, and simply looked up at Yamato.
Suddenly, Gabumon looked away from Yamato, having spotted a certain someone.
“Yamato! Over there!”
Yamato abruptly looked up upon hearing Gabumon’s voice.
Imura was hiding in the shadows of the building column.
He was on the phone, whispering in a low voice so that no one else around could hear.
“Things are going well, no doubt about it. All right, I’ll head your way.”
Imura ended the call, and left the area.
Something was suspicious. Yamato’s body automatically moved according to his intuition.
“…Let’s go, Gabumon.”
Yamato put his Digivice back in his pocket, and started following Imura.
Gabumon nodded and followed after Yamato.
But before Yamato continued tailing Imura, he went to a public phone and called someone.
The phone rang several times, and the carefree voice of a boy came through the phone.
“It’s been a while, Daisuke. It’s me, Yamato.”
As soon as Yamato identified himself, he could hear a cheerful voice on the other side of the phone.
“Oh, whoa, it’s Yamato-senpai! Yeah, it’s been a while!”
“Daisuke, what are you doing right now?”
The boy named Daisuke responded to Yamato in an energetic voice. “Huh? Right now? We’re eating ramen in New York!”
The boy Yamato had called was named Daisuke Motomiya, another “Chosen Child” just like Yamato.
On the other side of the phone, he was being accompanied by Ken Ichijouji and Iori Hida, who were eating ramen with him. Along with Miyako Inoue, the girl who had dumped the request on them, and Takeru and Hikari, who were of similar age, they had gone on their own adventure on par with that of Taichi and the others, and were reliable juniors they could count on.
“…Has anything out of the ordinary happened to you recently?” Yamato asked, worriedly.
But Daisuke responded in a bright voice. “Huh? Nothing in particular…”
“Really? That’s good, then.”
Knowing that this meant Daisuke and his friends’ Digivices, the D-3s, still didn’t have rings of light on them, Yamato sighed in relief.
“Is something going on?” asked Daisuke, still unaware of what was going on.
Yamato started to speak softly into the phone.
“…Actually, I have a favor to ask of you.”
He took a deep breath, and told Daisuke what he needed.
“My request is for you to do a background check on two people: Liberica Unviersity associate professor Menoa Bellucci, and her assistant, Kyoutarou Imura.”
The shoreline was clear and refreshing, but Taichi was walking on it with heavy steps.
Agumon was following right behind Taichi, talking to his back.
“Hey, Taichi. What are we gonna do about the three hundred people who got captured?”
Taichi took a while to answer.
“We’re gonna find and rescue them.”
Despite everything, Agumon nodded cheerfully.
“Yeah. I’ll do my best!”
As Taichi trudged along, Agumon continued to talk to his back.
“Hey, Taichi. Are we not gonna be able to be together when you get older?”
Taichi stopped in his tracks.
He hadn’t even thought about the idea that this time would come.
He’d gone on so many adventures with Agumon, and they’d laughed together, cried together, gotten angry together…And Taichi had grown as a person.
And at the end of that growth…was a parting with his beloved partner.
Was this what it meant to become an adult?
Agumon’s stomach growled, breaking the silence between him and Taichi.
Agumon looked a little embarrassed as he put his hand on his stomach.
Agumon hadn’t changed since the day they’d met. He’d always had a love for food, and his personality was so carefree that it sometimes even caused trouble for Taichi.
And yet, he had always been by Taichi’s side. Even during their adventure in the Digital World, Agumon always being by him brought him the comfort he’d needed to keep moving forward.
But soon, Agumon would…
Taichi, trying to handle the emotions locked up in his chest, looked up at the sky.
He turned around and looked down at Agumon, grinning widely at him.
“Hey, Agumon…let’s go get something to eat!”
Agumon enjoyed his time with Taichi as much as he could. He stuffed hamburger after hamburger into his mouth, walked alongside him through the town, and played with him in the park.
Watching Agumon play around innocently, Taichi looked up somewhere into the sky above him.
How much time did he have left of this? Thinking about it stung his heart.
Once Agumon got tired of playing, Taichi took him to the apartment where he lived by himself.
“We’re coming in!”
Agumon looked around the room, and said to Taichi without any reserve, “It’s small.”
“Oh, gimme a break…Hey, Agumon, this is your first time here, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. It’s my first time.”
Agumon started to sniff around the room. He seemed happy to see a new side of Taichi.
“The walls are thin, so don’t make any loud noises, okay?”
As Taichi peeked into the refrigerator, Agumon called out to him.
“I want some juice.”
“Sorry, I only have alcohol right now,” said Taichi, jokingly.
“Huh? Taichi, you drink alcohol now?”
“Well, I’m an adult, after all…”
Realizing what he’d just accidentally said, Taichi went to the drawer underneath the TV and opened it.
The goggles and the Digivice he’d always used were still in there, as always. But the Digivice here had a ring of light floating over it, too.
Taichi had suddenly fallen silent, and Agumon, worried, stared at Taichi’s face.
Taichi stared straight at Agumon, and held out a hand to him.
Agumon looked up at Taichi, and held his gaze on him.
Taichi slowly said the words engraved onto his heart.
“We’ll always be together.”
They had always been together, since the day they’d met.
And even though Taichi had become an adult, his bond with Agumon would never change.
His words of determination reached Agumon.
Agumon nodded reassuringly at Taichi, and firmly took his hand.
The screen of the computer, which had been left behind on the table, suddenly began to glow.
Taichi’s eyes were wide as a light came out of the screen, with a humming noise.
The light formed into the shape of a person. Once the light died down, a tall man in a grey robe was standing in front of the computer.
Upon seeing Taichi and Agumon, he grinned at them.
“Hey, it’s been a while.”
Having not expected him to appear there at all, Taichi and Agumon stared in shock, their eyes wide.