As with any major city of the world, Seoul did not sleep at night. There were patrons hustling around to get their shopping done, families out for a festive summer night, or lovers taking a romantic stroll in the neon lights. A digital wave erupted along a portion of the street, absorbing an alleyway and several patrons. Among them, a certain national champion of the card game: Hyun, Mina. She turned in time to see the alley behind her pixelate and swallow her, and both sides of the street, into the Digital World. During the transformation, the pair of headphones she was wearing gave her a sharp electrical jolt. She cried out and flung the pair off her head, falling to the ground on her butt. The landing was softer than she had expected. When she opened her eyes, she audibly gasped. The scenery had gone from a crowded neon city to a bright meadow covered in beautiful wild flowers. What was going on?! Mina quickly stood up to observe her environment. The headphones had landed some feet from her, fried and smoking. What a waste... Those were her favorite pair. Mina frowned and turned her head this way and that, golden loop earrings bouncing as she did so. Her brown hair was tied up in a ponytail, adorned with a pink scarf. She tugged at the white ascot around her neck. Mina wiped her dirty hands on her denim capris and felt her wrist knock against something dangling from her belt. It was a small, green and pink handheld device on a keychain. She unhooked it from her white belt to examine it closely. "Ige mwoya?"1 She looked around again, taking another look at the new world around her. To both the north and south were forests of deep green and to the west, a lake. She got an ominous twist in her stomach at the sight of the lake. It was probably a good idea to avoid that place for now. Beyond the forest to the south was the ocean; to the north, a magnificent mountain rising beyond the higher clouds. Finally, a sigh escaped her. With the click of a button on the electronic in her hand, it displayed a map and a blinking dot to the north. Intrigued, she followed it. Several miles later, she pushed through the last of the wild brush and discovered a curious sight. In the center of a glade was a village. At least, it looked like a village. There were huge, colorful patterned eggs and several squishy newborn monsters scrambling everywhere. She was only a few feet into the village when something red and purple came running up to her. He growled. "Stop right there, humon!" "Eh? Me?" She knew only a little English and was not extremely fluent. However, this creature seemed to understand her. His tail feathers flared with purple arc of electricity and he crouched lower to the ground. "Yes, you. Stay where you are. Who are you and why have you come here?" "Jwesong hamnida,"2 she bowed deeply. "The map... It said, um, come to this here?" The Elecmon arched one eyebrow, his ears matching his quizzical expression. Mina squatted down and held out the device to him at arm's length. He crept closer in a painfully slow movement, sniffed her hand, then peered down at the blinking dot. His wide face creased into a disapproving look before he peered back up at her. "Come with me." He guided her through the village on all fours, his tail feathers no longer bristled stiffly. The babies hid as they threaded through the village. Mina followed close behind, her gaze serious and focused on her surroundings and her fake smile plastered all over her face. "Not many humans come here. I'm grateful for that. There's no telling what kind of mischief you're all up to. I've heard from passersby that you're all appearing in great numbers, sometimes at once, sometimes days between each other. All of you have those.. What were they called? Digivices?" He gave a derisive snort. "Every one of you that has one of those is given a partner, according to the lore. I suppose since you're here, you ought to meet yours. See any that speak to you?" "They are all, how d'you speak? Hiding? No ones are speaking, but they are pleasuring." "Pleasuring?" One of his ears twitched when he looked back at her. "Coot? Gwiyeobda!"3 He chuckled. "I think you mean 'cute'." "Yes! Cute!" The Elecmon only shook his head in response, a smile still stretched across his face. He stood on his two hind feet and clapped his paws together. Several of the babies came forward to greet her. Mina could tell a difference between Baby I and Baby II forms and acquired quite a bit of analyzed data on each species. She sat for a while petting the babies, but grew particularly fond of a Tokomon that kept coming back to cuddle her. "This is my partner?" "Unlikely. You're not glowing." "What is glowing?" "The lore says that when a humon finds their destined partner, they will both glow with a holy light and the Digital God Yggdrasil will bless them with the power to achieve greatness." A loud, obnoxious melody came from somewhere in the woods. It was a deep gruff voice that had no harmony to it. Mina and Elecmon had to cover their ears trying to drown out the painful offkey noise. Never had anyone been so tone deaf before. The babies hunched over or hid, also offended by the croning despite not having any visible ears. As whomever was serenading drew closer, the voice grew louder and more boisterous. "Afternoon, Ellie!" The greeting was preferrable to the crooning. Elecmon removed his paws from his aching ears and forced a smile up at the visitor. "Good afternoon, Mork. Come to check on the children again?" "Not a chance. I came to collect the debt you owe me. I can't run a business without collecting, now can I?" The Elecmon sniffed haughtily. "No, I guess not. One moment and I'll fetch your payment. And while I'm gone, leave the babies alone, Mork. I don't like to hear them cry." "How rude! You know they're always glad to see their Uncle Mork." He smashed the head of his spiked mace against the ground and leaned against the bandaged handle, giving a nearby Koromon a wink. It started tearing up and scuttled away, crying quietly to itself. Mina stared up at the green brute in shock. He was an ugly monster with a long, wide face, pointed ears, a wild mohawk, and wearing only a pair of pants and a leather vest. His gnarled and scarred chest and arms were exposed to the world, as though he had no shame. What creature had such audacity? He was in the middle of picking a booger when he finally paid attention to the girl curled up near one of the huts, several babies hiding behind her. "What?!" He flicked the booger away. "Simhan."4 The creature only grunted. Mina finally paid attention to the beeping device in her hand. The analyzer labled his species as Goblimon. She wanted to get up and say something to him when he displayed his gnarled teeth in a smile, causing another baby to flee in tears, but her feet ached. She let out a groan instead and removed her flat, red shoes. Crossing such rough terrain in those had not turned out well for her. "What's wrong with you?" Mina only tossed the shoes aside. He released his mace and allowed it to fall with a quiet "thunk" to the ground as he stomped over to her and jerked her to her feet. "YAH!"5 "Don't 'yah' me, lady! You need to--" His face paled to an odd tint of green as he looked into her eyes. The Goblimon was a full head taller than her and rough looking. She glared back at him with brown eyes, defensive and full of fight. His tight grip on her arms relented, his expression easing to something much softer. She wasn't sure what he was seeing or thinking. Mina retracted from him slightly, her own glare weakening as well. "M-Mweohaeyo?"6 "Mian haeyo. Kwaen chan a yo?"7 Her brown eyes widened. He could speak her language? How was that possible?! Still taken aback by his question, she gave a somber nod and dropped her gaze. There were scars all over his chest. They were gross, causing her to divert her gaze away. The Elecmon ambled back to them carrying a pouch in his mouth. He dropped it at Mork's feet, then eyed the pair of them. "Did something happen?" Both of them hastily shook their heads. The Goblimon reached down to pick up the pouch and pulled out a few cards. His thick fingers rifled through them to check the condition, then he smirked at Elecmon. "Where did you get these, Ellie?" "Some human dropped them in the forest. Is that payment enough?" "For now." He seemed more distracted by Mina walking away from them. She picked up the Tokomon from earlier and cuddled it. An unfamiliar emotion darkened the brute's eyes. "I'd better be getting back." "She's looking for her partner, Mork. Why don't you take her into the city to help her out?" Mork released a dramatic laugh. "There's no need for all that, Ellie. I already know her partner." "You do?" "Me." He stuffed the cards into the pouch and trailed after her. Mina, having overheard the conversation, turned to face him with a dangerous glower. "You is not my partner. Simhan! My partner are Tokomon." "Believe me, kitten, I wish it were true. You're looking for something cutesy and fluffy, but having big eyes and the emotional capacity of an infant ain't going to protect you. Like it or not, I'm the one who's been waiting for you to show up. I ain't no Prince Charming, but I'm not leaving your side from this point on." "Neorang marago shipji ana."8 He rolled his eyes at her as she marched off, clutching the Tokomon to her. Mork turned to the Elecmon who was stunned speechless by the argument. After a moment, the Elecmon gathered himself, let out a cough, and started heading back towards the village with babies scurrying after him. "It's dinner time for the babes. Please don't do anything...drastic, Mork." The Goblimon only gave a grin, picked up his club, and followed the girl with a whistle. She was sitting on a log with an audience of babies milling around her. The casual approach of the brute drew their attention. They all fled to their crannies, nooks, and tufts of grass. Even the Tokomon leaped from her arms to scurry away out of sight. She seemed disappointed by the sudden abandonment. Mork cleared his throat, set his mace down, and settled on the log beside her. "Ireumi mwo-yeyo?"9 She sighed. "Hyun, Mina." "Je ireumeun Mork imneda."10 He considered his words for a moment, then pressed on. "I'll make a deal with you, Mina. I will sit here with you until your partner comes. If, by sunset, your partner is not here, will you accept that I am your partner?" Mina only stared straight ahead, ignoring him. Any kind of acknowledgment might be interpreted as her agreeing to his proposal. She wasn't ready. How could something as savage and hideous as a goblin belong with her? Gongju was all about appearances. She was very shallow and didn't like gross or ugly things around her. He would give the wrong impression to others. No, he couldn't be her partner. He would never understand anything about her or her situation. Hours passed, then daylight came to an end. The sun edged beyond the horizon. Stars twinkled in the twilight, deeper blues and purples blanketing the sky. Elecmon was tucking in each of the babies, not paying attention to his pair of guests. Neither Mork nor Mina had moved. Her gaze was locked on the horizon, hoping that there was another candidate that would show up late. But no one came. Mork remained silent even when the girl stood up. She kept her back to him. "We now go." He stood up to pick up his mace and lead the way back south towards the meadow she had arrived in. She was planning on going north, but instead followed him. She had to walk quickly to keep up with him, shoes in her hands. He sure did walk fast for an uncivilized creature. "What we going?" "You mean 'where'. We're going to the southern half of Native Forest. I have a job to finish and we need to get you some equipment." She pulled up the map on her Digivice and showed it to him. "File City?" He glanced at it, but kept walking. "We'll get there eventually, Mina. You don't speak English well. We'll fix that." Mina furrowed her brows. "How?" "You'll see." They made their way into the dark forest at night. Translations 1: "What is this?" 2: "I'm sorry." (Formal) 3: "Cute!" 4: "Gross." 5: "HEY!" 6: "What are you doing?" 7: "I'm sorry. Are you okay?" 8: "I don't want to talk to you." 9: "What is your name?" 10: "My name is Mork."