Date Started: June 20, 2008
Date Finished: July 14, 2008

Summary: Nanami was the youngest and smartest girl on campus. Her knowledge and works made her stand out above all others – perhaps a bit too much.


Nanami was just a simple schoolgirl with a crush. She sat patiently during her seminar, wistfully watching over the anthropology professor as he bestowed upon his many students the lesson of the day. College, Nanami reflected, most certainly had its ups and downs. She was the youngest student attending Todai; feeling out of place amongst her more elder peers, she opted instead to make friends with the teacher. It was a reflexive aspect of her younger years spent in public schools before her talents were discovered.

"That's all for today," the professor was saying. "I will see you all again next week when we get a little bit more on the biological side of things."

Nanami stood up to leave, her petite pale hands rapidly grabbing for and shoving her papers and utensils into her bag. Amongst the ruckus of the student body leaving the lecture hall, her professor called out to her. "Nanami-chan, a word with you before you go please."

She nodded absently in reply, ignoring the fact he probably wouldn't notice due to the distance between them. She then hefted her schoolbag over her shoulder and began walking down the steps towards the front desk. She unconsciously swirled her hips.

Her professor made a smile. "Your paper was outstanding."

"Thank you," Nanami flushed at the praise.

"I just loved it," he continued, and she found his cheeky grin to be quite contagious. "Just the topic itself amazes me: the study of intelligent life on other worlds. It gives me the chills."

She was grinning now, too, having been pleased by his words. He spoke again. "I especially loved how you discussed what classifies intelligence – well, like you wrote: sentience and speech are required for intelligence, but don't necessarily determine it."

"Well of course that's just my opinion on the matter," she added slyly.

"And you're right! Absolutely right!"

"Sensei?" she blinked at him in surprise. She was startled by his outburst.

"Nanami-san," his voice was stern. "I wish for you to spend some time with me today."

She blinked in confusion yet again. "You mean right now, sensei?"

He grinned widely. "Yes, now. I wish to present you with further study in regards to your thesis. And please, call me Kurata."

His words had her frozen stiff; She was silent and dumbfounded for the first time in his classroom. "Further study," she repeated to herself. "About the study of life on another world – what could he possibly have?"

And then at last her mind drifted to the most recent words he had spoken: Call me Kurata.

Nanami wondered about that as he led her out of the lecture hall, and towards his car just outside the main building. As they drove off, she came back to her senses at the mention of a "new world."

"You really know of another world?" she voiced.

"Yes," Kurata replied sharply.

Nanami shook the cobwebs off, finally managing to reorient her thoughts. "Even if you do know of an Earth-like world, how can we be even sure there is in fact life there?"

"I assure you, it is full of life," he said simply.

He stopped the car in front of a rather large building, and let her out. She followed him as he led the way inside. He was stopped at the entrance in order to show his identification card to the officers at the main doors.

"She's with me," Kurata said. The two guards simply nodded, allowing passage.

Once they had entered through the main doors, Kurata led her off to the side towards a small computer room. Again there were some security measures as he had to use a key card to get inside. Nanami's curiosity intensified; she now greatly wanted to know the secrecy she would soon be shown.

Finally inside the room, she looked around in puzzlement. "Are the images on these computers?"

"What images?" he asked as he turned on one of the computers.

"The telescopic images," Nanami said. "Of the new world."

"Oh, that," Kurata chuckled. "What's here is even better. It is the new world."

It had loaded on the computer screen. What she saw was a lush world of green, full of many familiar yet largely different characteristics. There were beings which looked like trees that moved about with root-like legs and branch-like arms. There were rocks that piled together to form a body – and the body moved! Plant-like creatures rising from the ground, birds unlike those she had ever seen before with colors and feathers unheard of outside myth and legend, and… was that man on fire?!

She at last frowned at the sight, downcast and disappointed. "It's just a simulation."

Kurata scoffed. "Nonsense. This is no simulation. The creatures are alive. They think; they speak; they plan."

"I'm not sure I follow…"

"They exist," Kurata explained of the beings on the screen. He motioned to them with his hands, and mused. "Not in the way you and I do, but they exist. Particles of data, abandoned code, scripts and images lost through hardware failures… it couldn't be foreseen that… we would get this."

Nanami cocked a brow in her disbelief, yet she stood transfixed in her gaze at the alluring greenery of this magnificent new world.

Professor Kurata had abruptly ended their time together after having shown her the foreign lands. Of course Nanami simply couldn't believe it with the only evidence being his word and a few fancy computer graphics. Kurata had then insisted they part ways until the end of next week's lecture, stating she would need the time to accept this new information. Still, Nanami couldn't help but notice that Kurata, too, seemed to be fairly lost in regards to this new knowledge, but he continued to maintain the fact that there was indeed intelligent life out there living alongside humanity.

She finally relented, and they parted ways. Yet the more she thought back to that simulation on the computer, the more real – lifelike – it seemed. Professor Kurata was certainly convinced that it was all real. Perhaps, deep down, she desperately wanted it to be real, too.

Nanami shrugged, her mind drifting from the new organisms. She was by far more fascinated by the idea of a completely new and unexplored world. It wasn't the creatures; it was the landscape. Yes, the creatures she saw were livid and breathtaking. But what finally ensnared her were the thoughts of walking amongst the lands untouched by human hands.

If it was indeed as real as Kurata claimed, then there should be a way to get inside that computerized world. She would ask him about it next class.

"And even before the end it becomes clear to the reader that it was in fact Victor that was the monster, and not the ghoul he had once created. Now that concludes our lecture for today on artificial life. Next week we'll be returning to dating techniques again, so make sure to catch up on the readings. Nanami-san, I'm delaying our meeting until tomorrow. Be at my office promptly at noon. Class dismissed."

Nanami looked down towards the front desk, disappointed that she would have to wait yet another day to discuss that other world with Professor Kurata. She was prepared to walk right on up to him and question why it couldn't be today. Why tomorrow?

When she came down she found him talking to another student. No, she corrected herself immediately. It wasn't a student, for the boy he was talking with was just that: a boy, and no where near the proper age to be taking university-level classes. Nanami supposed he could've been a genius much like herself and had come looking to see about the process of enrollment, but his rugged facial features and near-tattered loose clothing told her otherwise.

"Just who is this disrespectful child?" Nanami wanted to ask. She had to bite her lip, for she could not bring herself to speak to Kurata in such a manner. Neither could she bring to mention the secret world with this stranger around; it was a place meant to be shared only between Kurata and herself.

"Ah – sensei," she stuttered.

"Nanami-chan," Kurata greeted. "I'm glad you came down."

She nodded meekly, her gaze shifting constantly towards the intruding boy.

Kurata seemed unfazed by her discomfort, and opted to introduce the boy beside him. "This is Kouki-kun. He is one of my assistants. Like you, he will be helping me with a few of my projects."

Nanami stared. She had never before heard anything about Professor Kurata having assistants. He taught and tutored everyone in the seminar himself. She scowled at the boy. He smiled eerily in return, his facial expression letting her know that he knew something she didn't.

Right there, Nanami decided, she hated him.

Anthropology was the study of human culture. It was the study of their habits, their lives and traditions, and most importantly their universal and primitive interactions. It was this knowledge that helped Kurata in dealing with Nanami. She hadn't expressed her anger, but her unpleasantness was beyond the capability of being unnoticed or ignored.

In turn, Professor Kurata promptly bid Kouki farewell, and immediately presented Nanami with his full attention. Needless to say, he quickly apologized for Kouki's awkward and poorly timed introduction.

Yes, Nanami was satisfied now that they were alone. And she seemed even more so when Kurata suggested they dine to some cheap ramen after leaving the campus. It was dinner together; dinner together was a date.

"Did anything happen during the last week?" Kurata asked abruptly, taking a break from his meal.

She looked up at him quizzically. "What do you mean?"

As though her reply gave him the answer he was looking for, he smiled gleefully and chuckled. "Oh, nothing specific. I was just wondering how you were taking it all in, that's all."

His cheerful expressions were once again contagious, and Nanami began smiling and laughing as well as she explained her fascinations with the new sentient life forms.

"But what I really want," Nanami was saying, "is to explore that new world. It seems so much like ours, but I feel for certain that it's very different. I want to explore and learn. Live amongst the cultures that thrive there and listen to the histories they've lived through."

"Really," Kurata replied simply. He seemed largely satisfied with her reactions; speechless that they were meeting his expectations so perfectly.

And she, in turn, was delighted in how their conversation was progressing. She found herself ready to outright ask if there was a way to get to that other world.

"I would imagine you feel the same way, sensei," she said instead.

"Oh not at all," he rebuffed her claims with a wave of his hand. "I've gone there before and I assure you I have no wish to return anytime soon."

At this point it took Nanami every ounce of will to contain her excitement. She had to maintain her maturity and self-image – especially in front of this respectful man. She managed to ask, "How did you get there?"

"With several other scientists and researchers," he answered her, sliding the question.

Even so, she now felt even more overwhelmed than before, and could not hold back her surprise. "You mean there are others that know about this world?"

Kurata seemed to laugh it off again, finally returning to his meal. "All in good time, Nanami-chan. It's great to see how passionate you are about this. And I assure you I admire that greatly."

She flustered again, looking away with her cheeks beet red. "Th-thank you, sensei."

He retained his smile, cupped her chin with an extended hand and turned her to meet his gaze. "You are a beautiful young woman. There is no need to be timid."

Her blush didn't disappear. He leaned in, still cupping her chin, and kissed her. She melted under his grasp.

"I think – I think we're about done with dinner," she managed to squeak out when their lips parted.

Kurata noticed her eyes shifting to the motel across the street, and nodded. His smile still remained. "Yes, I think we're just about done, too, Nanami-chan."

The lady at the front desk had asked no questions as Kurata paid for a room. He was a customer here to spend the night, and it was of no business of hers if he had walked through the front doors linked arm-in-arm with a clearly underaged girl. And again it was of no business of hers if that same underaged girl would be sharing the room with him that night.

And that was just how Kurata wanted it.

The evening was calm. Dusk hadn't yet begun to settle, and the sounds of the outdoor traffic echoed through the windows. The bed sheets were scrambled in the midst of passion as Nanami made love for the first time, and the flares from the setting sun seeped in through the open windows, beaming irritatingly into Kurata's eyes as he merely fucked what he considered the lower part of Nanami's body.

"You should head on home," he told her shortly after it was over. "I'll have big plans for us tomorrow."

"Mm," she purred. "And what might these plans be?"

He smiled; it was that same contagious smile again. "I'll e-mail you tonight about it; I'm not sure when, so just be sure to keep an eye on your computer from time to time."

Nanami smiled, too, and nodded her understanding and acceptance of his proposal.

Nanami couldn't sleep that night. She was sure she wouldn't have been able to even if she tried. The aroma of sex still filled the atmosphere around her, and she gracefully embraced it; her mind only on Kurata. Keeping an eye on the computer had been an understatement. She had been practically glued to her monitor from the moment she arrived back home, waiting for that precious e-mail.

Unfortunately at first it wasn't arriving, but it didn't take long for something to happen. She couldn't quite tell what it was. Almost as though her building had gone through a power surge, yet only her computer had been unaffected. The monitor flashed brightly, and for a split second, she believed she saw that very same world Kurata had introduced her to.

"We caught it, Kurata-san. It finally came to her. I must say you were right in picking this one."

Kurata smirked, and began typing into his laptop.

The light had faded almost instantly. It was as though nothing had happened at all – and that it had all been merely her imagination. Nanami shook the thoughts away, she knew what she had seen, and she was determined to one day see it again.

Her inbox lit up. Kurata had sent her the e-mail for tomorrow. In her eagerness to read it, she failed to notice the rectangular device resting amidst the many papers and textbooks piled on her computer desk.

The e-mail left her instructions to meet with Kurata at the very same building where he had first shown her the computerized world. It had only been a sentence long, providing no specific details as to what Kurata had planned. Nanami had hoped they would be meeting somewhere more private. Perhaps afterwards they could spend another evening at a love hotel. She tried to shrug off the lingering thoughts, and left early in the morning as instructed towards the laboratory.

The same two officers she had seen the previous week were at the front entrance of the building. One of them smiled knowingly at her. "Kurata-san is expecting you. Please proceed to the presentation suite."

The two stepped to the side to allow her entrance. She bowed gracefully and walked past the men into the building. She hadn't the faintest idea where the presentation suite was, but luckily for her Kurata stood waiting right past the first doorway.

"Nanami-chan," he greeted. "I'm simply thrilled to see you. We're about ready to start now that you're here."

She smiled. "I'll always be willing to help you, sensei."

His lip curled. "Oh, I know you will be. Right this way, Nanami-chan."

He led her down the stairway to the lower level of the building. A sign on the wall reading "Presentation Room" with a pointing arrow led her to believe they were heading in the right direction. He held the door open for her; the room inside was pitch black. He told her, "Inside is a specimen… of extraordinary value."

She entered the darkness. Kurata followed her steps. She asked, "Where is it?"

A glass cylinder lit up. It was in the center of the room, surrounded by towers of machinery. It illuminated the room with a ghastly green. It was gigantic. Nanami hadn't quite realized how large the room they stood in was until then. The glass stretched out several stories high, nearly reaching the far off ceiling. Inside was the specimen.

"What is it?" she changed her question in shock.

"There are several things I learned on my trip to that computerized world, Nanami-chan," Kurata said instead. "When the creatures there die, and they can indeed die, they instantly turn back into exactly what they were created from."

Nanami stood silent, mesmerized by the behemoth inside the tube.

"Data," Kurata prompted. "They turn back into data. It's a rather fascinating process."

"This is… one of them?" she was still at a loss for words.

Kurata once again ignored her question. "Nanami-chan, you told me you wished to learn of their cultures – the histories they've lived through – well this creature here is the epitome of their culture and history."

She nodded absently. "Is it alive?"

"Very much so," Kurata finally responded to her. "It's asleep. I found it during my previous visit, resting in a primitive cave. The writings there say that this demon stores the energy of deceased digital creatures for several millennia while asleep, and only awakens when enough energy has been gathered to fuel its powers."

"And we are… studying it?" Nanami asked, tapping a finger over the glass container in awe.

"No," Kurata said. "We're feeding it."

She blinked, turning to face her professor. "What?"

"The machines in this room – they are feeding the creature. We have operatives in that digitized world collecting energy from the dead, and it all comes back here to finally awaken my beautiful pet."

Nanami seemed to feel a darkened shift in the nature of Kurata's voice. The sanity in his tone was rapidly deteriorating. "When you say collecting energy... is it from natural deaths?"

Kurata smirked. "Well, Nanami-chan, therein lies the problem. You see these creatures in that world; well, they don't age, and they don't get ill. You can see the problem in collecting energy from a natural death – there simply isn't any."

"You're killing them," she said, horrified. She seemed to be backing away, inching towards the room's exit. She stopped when she felt resistance, and as she turned around she saw Kouki and another much larger built man behind her.

The larger brute grasped her arms, holding her in place. Kurata let out a soft chuckle. "Not quite, Nanami-chan. It's not me - you'll be the one killing them. You see, the process is going painfully slow, and I'm in need of new recruits. You said so yourself you wished to walk amongst that new world. I shall give you that chance."

"I could never–"

"You will," Kouki whispered to her. "Trust me, you will."

"Drag her to the lab," Kurata told the brute.

Nanami of course resisted, attempting to break away from his grasp. In turn the muscled man only tightened his hold on her wrists and pulled both her arms with his single massive fist as he hauled her along the floor.

"Sensei, please stop this!" she choked out, barely managing to fight back the tears of betrayal.

Kurata ignored her. Instead he pointed to a human-sized tube in the new laboratory they had entered. "In there," he told the brute.

Kouki smiled eerily yet again at her as she was thrown into the glass container. Yes, he certainly had known something she didn't the previous day.

"Where is the other creature?" Kurata asked of the young boy.

"It'll be up in a second," Kouki replied. "The system is still recovering after having reformed Ivan the Terrible over there."

A second tube rose out of the ground, and Nanami looked up at the new addition. She felt a strong sense of familiarity with the creature she saw. A large, green, dog-sized worm lay unconscious inside the cylinder beside her. She spoke, shocked, "I – I think I know this thing."

Kurata suddenly laughed. "Oh, Nanami-chan, there is one other thing I forgot to mention about that other world. You see, well, there really is a rather unexplainable attribute to these monsters. They tend to bind to humans whom exhibit strong emotions and involvement with their home-world. Emotions such as… love, for instance."

Nanami's eyes widened and she turned to scowl at Kurata. There were no more tears of betrayal threatening to shed. Anger had overcome her. "You used me," she spat.

He clapped mockingly in gesture. "You always were a smart girl. I'm just surprised you didn't catch on to this sooner. You're pitiful. I never did love you. You weren't even a decent fuck."

Kouki snorted. "Lay it on her, boss."

She glared. "Just what are you going to do with me?"

"We're going to bring your union with that infantile creature one step closer," Kurata smirked, and turned to Kouki. "Start the binding process already. I want a new hybrid before lunch."

"On it," Kouki answered.

Nanami banged on the glass of her prison. "I won't let you get away with this, Kurata! You have no idea what I'm capable of when I'm royally pissed off!"

"And Kouki-kun," Kurata added charismatically, flashing her that contagious smile. "Scramble her mind. I don't want her remembering any of this."

Nanami snarled, uselessly banging her now swollen fist against the glass. The tube rapidly filled with a liquid substance, and her consciousness faded as it seeped into her lungs. Kurata's gleeful laugh echoed and faded from her senses.

Kurata had used her. She couldn't even see there had been a battle of wits until it was too late. He had used her emotions against her, that rotten disfigurement of a man. He was crazy; insane.

Nanami-chan, can you hear me?

Emotions were her downfall.

I tried to come to you, but they pulled me away.

She let herself be seduced at finding an intellectual equal. She let herself be seduced at the prospect of discovering a new world, a new civilization, a new species of animals and creation. She would be smarter next time.

I need you with me.

She was feeling invasive. Something was here… and it shouldn't have been. It was… foreign. The back of her mind tried to remind her of a procedure, but she couldn't remember. Just what was happening to her?

I think I'm dying, Nanami-chan.

Nanami-chan. Yes, that was her name. She was a young female prodigy under tutelage of Kurata-sensei. KURATA! The name boiled her blood. Why did her beloved professor make her so frustrated?

Don't forget me, Nanami-chan.

She felt sparks. Little tinkles; bits of little pieces tickling her all over her body. She giggled at the joy. It was a pleasant feeling. Full of life and energy; she felt renewed.

I…felt…your love…

Feelings, emotions, love – this held some meaning, Nanami was certain. Her downfall! Yes… what had caused her downfall again? Right, she remembered now. It was her emotions. She would show them no longer. Without emotions she could not have them be exploited against her.

Hum. The voice had gone. How odd. What was that voice? There was a voice? It must have been her imagination. It must have been merely a dream for she could hardly remember it.

Ah, she remembered now. It was that new world. Oh how she so desperately wanted to go there. Her beloved Kurata had arranged for it. She would get to experience a fantastic new atmospheric beauty.

It was all thanks to him. She was thankful to Kurata.

She would do anything for him.

End Notes:
- During his lecture, Kurata is speaking about Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, where the title character Victor Frankenstein creates a disfigured artificial life form that haunts him to his last days.
- The digimon used to fuse with Nanami is a Wormmon. Her bio-hybrid form is an armored evolution of Wormmon. It was my intention for the two to be traditionally partnered Chosen in order to make the hybridization all the more horrifying.
- Keeping the tone that this story holds a slightly more academic setting, the words "Digimon" and "Digiworld" are not used in either the dialogue or the narrative.