Yes, an honest-to-goodness Author's Note. First time for everything. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of my loyal readers. Just know that I've never abandoned this project. Periods of writer's block were followed quickly by writer's apathy as well as the pull of other projects. (Crossovers, Parodies, and Original Fiction, oh my. All in various states of undone-ness.)
Well, I'm back in the game as of now, so look forward to it! Think I should start writing more notes like this? Questions, comments, suggestions? Words of praise, threats to kick my if I don't start updating more than once in a blue moon? Monetary donations for the "Buy Buretsu a New Internet Computer" Fund? I'm just an e-mail away at buretsufastmail.us.
And I'm just kidding about the money. Mostly.
"Let's go!" Renamon said, reaching once again to the D-Band on her wrist and pressing a button. A shiver ran through her body as the effects of the Hyper Speed card took effect. In a blur of movement, she seemed to vanish, appearing directly in front of a surprised Ogremon and launching a blistering flurry of punches.
Growling, Ogremon raised his arms to block, absorbing most of the damage, but he was unable to block a punch directly to his gut. With a loud "Oof," he doubled over in pain and Renamon flipped over him to take his back. Renamon spun into a kick, the back of her foot connecting with the side of Ogremon's head, sending him flying to the ground. As a finisher, Renamon leapt backwards into the air, charging up her special attack. "Diamond…"
"Evil Hurricane!" Before Renamon could finish her attack, she was caught in a tornado of dust whipped up by Fuugamon. She curled up, protecting herself from the worst of the buffeting, but Fuugamon jumped into the air above his attack. "Take this! Heavy Swing!" Fuugamon's club glowed with energy and he brought it down, connecting solidly with Renamon.
With a loud cry of pain, Renamon crashed into the ground, the wind completely knocked out of her. "Ice Club!" Renamon cursed as Hyogamon launched his attack, a series of ice spikes thrusting up from the ground. She was barely able to get to her feet and avoid the attack, but the next attack caught her by surprise. "Supreme King Fist!" Caught in a vulnerable position, Renamon was unable to avoid the attack, taking the dark energy directly on her chest, and fell backwards, landing in a heap on the ground.
Shibumi sighed, leaning back in his chair. The Tracker Worm had done its job, cutting off Yamaki's intrusion at the source, but he had still managed to download some information. Typing quickly, he brought up a list of files, including the last access date for each one. The time stamp on three files corresponded with the intrusion, which most likely meant that they had been the ones downloaded.
The first two were unimportant; they were personnel files, sensitive to be sure, but nowhere near vital. It was the third file that gave Shibumi pause. He brought it up on his system, reviewing the contents. It contained several reports on the progress of D-Band construction, including a location in the Digital World. Fortunately, it was heavily encrypted, and Shibumi had personally ensured that the security keys had been changed shortly after Yamaki left. Still, as he had just witnessed, the man was far more resourceful than he had thought…
Briefly, Shibumi cursed himself for underestimating Yamaki. He had prepared for the former Hypnos agent's interference, and assigned agents to locations he figured Yamaki would go to. If he had known Yamaki had a way to access the Hypnos computers, Shibumi would have set agents to watch the house he knew Yamaki was staying in addition to the ones in places he expected the man to go. But, what was done is done, and Shibumi knew he would have to figure out his next step quickly.
If… when the information got to the Tamers, Shibumi knew that they couldn't be stopped from following through. He would have to have his own backup plans at the ready, even if it meant moving faster than he liked.
Rika walked through the halls of the mansion, still getting used to the fact that her leg was as good as new, and, in fact, had to mentally restrain herself from limping a couple of times. She walked with a purpose, trying to locate Kazu so, she assumed, he could go and get treated by Henry for his back wounds. As nobody had seen him since the last night, she figured the best place was his room.
The door was closed, so Rika walked up and knocked. "Yo, Kazu," she called, "you in there?"
"Rika?" came the answer after a few moments of silence. "Yeah. Come on in."
Rika opened the door and caught sight of Kazu's heavily bandaged back just as he was putting on a shirt. "What's up? Nobody's seen you since last night."
Looking up at Rika, Kazu replied, "I could ask you the same thing. What's up with your leg?"
"Actually, that's what I came here for. It's all thanks to Henry. I'm not one-hundred percent how it works, but he used a Dust Packet and now my leg's better than ever. Should work on your back, too."
"My back… right," Kazu nodded. "I still can't get that battle out of my mind. It could have ended differently, it should have."
"You're absolutely right," Rika answered. "It could have. You could have been the one killed. From what you've told us, it sounds like Black Were Garurumon wouldn't let it end any other way."
"Still… It was the first time… The first time I've killed anything bigger than an insect."
"I see…" Rika frowned, leaning against the door jam. "Well, it never gets easy. A long time ago, I didn't feel anything when I ordered Renamon to finish off the Digimon that we fought. Then, all I cared about was getting stronger, but since then I realized something. If I hadn't done something, there was a good chance that innocent people would have gotten hurt. I don't think any of us really enjoy killing, but I think we realize that sometimes it's a necessary evil."
Before Kazu could respond, Rika let out a loud grunt of pain and doubled over, clutching her stomach, before falling to the ground. "Oh my god!" Kazu yelled, rushing over to check on the girl. "Somebody!" he called out the door. "Find Henry!" To Rika, "What happened? What's wrong?"
"It… it's Renamon," Rika managed to grunt through the pain. "She… she's in trouble." Grasping the doorjamb firmly with one hand, Rika attempted to stand up, wincing as fresh pain shot through her body. "I've got to… help her…"
"You're not going anywhere!" Kazu said, restraining the struggling Rika. "Henry, where are you?"
Renamon struggled to her feet, pain wracking her body from taking Ogremon's attack head on. Individually, she would probably be able to be a match for any of her three opponents but, together, their strength surpassed hers. Strategies for fighting multiple opponents ran through her mind, but she just as quickly dismissed most of them. Her attempt to focus on one had failed, and she doubted she could turn them against each other, so it came down to power.
"Still standing, eh?" Fuugamon laughed. "At least you're not going to be a disappointment."
"Try not to have too much fun," Ogremon reminded his partner. "We need to finish this soon. You never know when her friends might show up to help."
"Right, right," Hyogamon nodded, hefting his ice club to his shoulder. "Well then, let's get this over with!"
"My thoughts exactly," Renamon smirked, reaching to her D-Band. "Activate! Digivolution!" She pressed a button and the D-Band emitted a bright light, forming into an egg around Renamon's body. "Renamon digivolve to… Kyubimon!"
As the egg dissolved in a flash of fire, Kyubimon took action, spreading her tails in a fan behind her. "Fox Tail Inferno!" Nine fireballs sprang from the tips of her tails, forming an arch above Hyogamon, enveloping him in blue flame. Following up, Kyubimon leapt into the air, curling into a ball of fire. "Dragon Wheel!" A dragon of blue flame spun out from the ball, joining her previous attack in assaulting Hyogamon.
"Damn it! Evil Hurricane!" Fuugamon shouted, swinging his club and whipping up a tornado. Instead of sending it at Kyubimon, he sent it towards his partner, Hyogamon, the winds drawing away the fire and dissipating it. Still, the combination of attacks had done its damage and Hyogamon collapsed to his knees, smoke rising off his body.
Growling, Ogremon and Fuugamon looked around, trying to catch sight of Kyubimon. Catching a brief glimpse of a yellow blur, Ogremon called out to his partner. "Look out!"
The warning came just in time for Fuugamon. He dodged to his left just as Kyubimon leapt at his back, claws fully extended. Still, she caught him a glancing blow on the side, leaving three streaks which quickly burst into ghostly flame. As Fuugamon clutched a hand to his side, Kyubimon landed with a quick turn, trying to continue her string of attacks.
"Supreme King Fist!" Dodging a blast of dark energy from Ogremon put that thought out of her head, and brought her back to the defensive.
"Take this!" Too late, Kyubimon remembered that Hyogamon had not been defeated yet, a fact which hit her painfully. "Ice Club!"
"Th- there's no time to explain," Rika said through gritted teeth as her partner's pain shot through her own body. "Renamon's in trouble and I need to help her."
"But you don't even know where she is!" Kazu retorted, still trying to contain Rika. "Not exactly, anyway. Even if you did, it would take too long for you to get there. Henry and Mega Gargomon will be able to get there faster than you can."
"Renamon's my partner," Rika shot back. "If anyone's going to help her, it's me."
"All right then, have Henry take you."
"There's no time," Rika replied. "I have a plan. I just… need a D-Band. Let me borrow yours."
"What are you going to do?"
"Just give me your D-Band!" Rika regretted raising her voice as soon as she had done it, thanks to the accompanying increase in pain.
Kazu paused for a second, weighing his options. His mind finally made up, Kazu nodded. "All right…" He crossed over to the small dresser with his stuff and pulled out the D-Band he had been given. "Take it and go. But, as soon as Henry gets here, I'm sending out there too."
"Fine," Rika grunted, strapping on the D-Band. 'Let's just hope this works,' she said to herself. Reaching to the card pack on her hip, she pulled out a card and positioned it at the slot of the D-Band. "Self modify! Hyper Speed activate!" A shiver ran through Rika's body as the card activated, and, all of a sudden, everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. Kazu was in mid blink, and even that took several seconds to complete. Nodding to herself, Rika dashed out the door. To her, it felt as if she was moving normally, but she felt the pain more acutely.
There was no use dwelling on that fact; it just emphasized her need to hurry. "I'm coming, Renamon. Hang in there."
Yamaki sat forward in his chair, thumbing his way through the data they had managed to get, much of which was heavily encoded. "There's… a lot of crap here. Break schedules, lunch menus, personal memos… Huh. I never knew she was pregnant…"
"Is there anything we can use?" Babel asked with some impatience.
"Do you have a program handy than can decode 28-bit encryption? My key is almost guaranteed not to work, but maybe we'll get lucky…"
"You ask me, we were lucky to get what we did," Janyuu said, shaking his head. "It's going to take me a week to restore the system to normal and remove all traces of the tracker worm."
"If we can find something, it'll be worth it," Yamaki frowned. "Cross your fingers, I'm entering my key…"
Several moments of tense silence followed, as the computer ran the necessary calculations and operations. All anybody could do was twiddle their thumbs as the data compiled. After thirty seconds, which felt like an eternity to everybody in the room, the computer announced that it was finished.
"Jackpot?" Yamaki hoped, bringing the newly decoded information onto the screen. "Or maybe not…"
Jumbled characters filled the screen, barely recognizable as words. "D-Band… schedule… inspection…" Janyuu read, picking out what little was legible. "Wait… Don't these look like… coordinates?" He pointed to a set of numbers standing out near the middle of the file.
"I think you're right," Daisy nodded. "Do you think it's latitude and longitude?"
Calling up a map program on another computer, Curly entered in the coordinates found. "Not unless Hypnos built a secret base in the middle of Siberia…"
"They must be Digital World coordinates, then," Yamaki surmised. "If so, this could be just the break that we were looking for. We need to get this info to the Tamers as soon as we can."
Before she could react, Kyubimon felt Hyogamon's icicle club impact on her right front shoulder. The leg buckled and Kyubimon collapsed, her entire leg frozen solid. Not giving up, Kyubimon rolled to her feet, favoring the impaired leg.
"You can still move, I see," Hyogamon groaned with pain and exertion. "But, a couple more hits like that should stop you."
"We'll see," Kyubimon growled, spreading her tails in a fan. "Fox Tail Inferno!"
"That won't work!" Hyogamon gloated. "Frozen Wind!" A blast of ice erupted from Hyogamon's palm, washing over the fireballs and freezing them in mid-air. "You'll have to… huh?"
Only six of the fireballs had been launched at Hyogamon. The other three enveloped Kyubimon's frozen leg, rapidly melting the ice. "I see," Ogremon nodded. "Pretty smart, melting the ice like that. But, don't underestimate the power of my brother's ice. You may have freed your leg, but it's still going to be numb for quite some time."
"I'm never going to give up."
"Do you honestly think you can win?" Ogremon replied. "You've slowed down considerably, and it's still three…" He looked at his brother, Hyogamon, who was still breathing hard. "Two-and-a-half on one."
"Honestly, I know that I can't win…"
"Good, then let's-" Ogremon began to say.
"Yet," Kyubimon finished. "I can't win, yet. It's only a matter of time, though."
"In that case," Fuugamon shouted, "let's get this over with!"
Kazu blinked in surprise as Rika was literally there one second and gone the next. He wasn't exactly sure what would happen when he saw Rika swiping the card, but he guessed that it had worked. Shaking off his surprise, Kazu dashed out the door in a rapid search for Henry.
"Kazu!" Henry called from down the hall. He was being led by Gotsumon, who had apparently heard Kazu's earlier call. "What's wrong?"
Kazu slid to a halt and proceeded to tell Henry everything that had happened, about her sudden pain and subsequent borrowing and using of the D-Band.
"She used the D-Band?" Henry said, incredulously. "That crazy… Even I have no idea of what would happen if a human used a D-Band."
"What's the worst that could happen?" Kazu asked, genuinely curious.
"Well, without exact knowledge of how it works, I can only assume that using the card increases the metabolic rate, increasing the amount of power sent to the muscles. That would put tremendous strain on the muscles, including the heart. Using it this once could even have shaved years off of her life!"
"Worst case scenario, but yes! Damn, I need to go after her!" With that, Henry took off at a sprint down the hall.