Partners For Life
Chapter 4: Cerberumon's Attack
Haku frowned, as he checked Zabuza for a pulse. He should be waking up by now... Much longer and there'll be permanent brain damage from lack of blood flow. His eyes widened, as he inspected one of the holes his needles had left behind. That... Shouldn't be there. The young ice-user sat back, his mind reeling. I've just killed my master.
Haku looked down at Kyuubimon, hands shaking. [Such power... Can we even hope to stand against it?] He attempted to calm himself. [Damn, the Copy-nin's about to kill him... Now, or never!] He threw the senbon, aiming for pressure points that would induce a coma similar to death. He prayed that the needles hit their targets-a millimeter either way could mean a very real death for Zabuza.
Haku gave his master's unmoving body one final glance, before drawing a kunai from his robes. I have failed you, master... and for that, I deserve nothing less than death. The kunai ripped through his chest, impaling his heart, and killing him almost immediately.
Kakashi opened one eye wearily. "Where am I?"
Sakura leaned over him, her face worried. "You're at Tazuna's house. What happened to you?"
Kakashi groaned. "As I wasn't born with the Sharingan, it takes a lot out of me to use it, especially for such a long time. Right now, I'm almost completely out of chakra."
Sakura nodded. "Do you want me to gather the team, now that you're awake?"
A few minutes later, everyone was gathered in Kakashi's room. Kakashi looked over at Naruto. "Alright, then. You owe me an explanation."
Naruto grimaced. "Rena-chan can probably explain it better than I can..."
Kakashi nodded. "So, explain."
Renamon took a deep breath. "We're not summons, as I'm sure you've already figured out. As a matter of fact, we're not even from this world. We are what our creators called Digimon, short for Digital Monsters. What I said about starting out as experiments was true."
The silver-haired jounin frowned. "What kind of experiments, exactly? Mutation?"
She shook her head. "The aim of our creators was to create A.I., or artificial intelligence. They designed computer programs that were self-evolving, and those programs eventually became Digimon."
He frowned. "So, what, you're some sort of machine?"
"No, not quite. I don't know exactly when it was discovered, but at some point we found out how to create living, breathing bodies with electromagnetic fields, pulling matter together to mimic the bodies we had in our world."
Kakashi took a moment to digest this. "So, you're saying that someone out there has the ability to create artificial life, just like that? I can't even imagine the kind of computer technology that would require."
She smiled ruefully. "Yes, but 'out there' isn't your world, either. The human world that we know is radically different from this one. More advanced, for one, but also much larger."
The cycloptic jounin asked the next obvious question. "How exactly did you end up here, then?"
Renamon sighed. "Short answer? I don't know exactly how. The long answer is... Well, long."
"We have time." Kakashi leaned back, listening.
The golden vixen took a deep breath. "To begin with... Most digimon don't have partners. Most have never even seen the human world, much less walked in it. Those who do have partners are the strongest, as they're able to draw from a human's spiritual energy. There was a group of such digimon, whose partners called themselves the 'Digidestined'." She smiled. "I never met them, but stories of their heroics were told all over the digital world. In any case, the digidestined had been gone for a while when a group of four dark digimon showed up, calling themselves the Dark Masters."
Agumon growled, deep in her throat. "The bastards. They set up shop in the Dark Plains, and treated the rest of the digiworld like their own personal fucktoy."
Renamon nodded. "But eventually the digidestined returned, and one by one the Masters were defeated."
Gabumon closed his eyes. "But what came after was even worse. They called him... Apocalymon. After the Masters died, he was released... And he started tearing up the digital world like it was made of paper. Entire continents vanished, spiraling off into the void."
Kakashi nodded. "And I suppose this is the void?"
Renamon sighed. "Yes, apparently. The Three Angels kept us together for as long as they could, but eventually our people split apart, and, well... Here we are. I could feel it, right before they slipped away - Seraphimon spoke to me. He told me that he had made certain changes to us, to ensure the survival of the digimon. Part of those changes helped each of us to find a partner, and the other part..." Her face flushed red.
Their sensei raised an eyebrow. "And the other part?"
Gabumon rubbed the back of his head. "Well, you see, Digimon are naturally genderless."
Agumon snorted. "You mean we were naturally genderless."
Kakashi blinked. "...Oh." For a moment, he was quiet, as he tried to digest this new information. "What kind of connection do you share with your... Partners?"
Naruto pulled out his D-Power. "I don't know how it does it, but this thing lets us share our chakra with our partners, to let them digivolve. That's when Rena-chan did earlier, when she changed into Kyuubimon."
Renamon nodded. "In return, we are sworn to protect and care for our partners. Our first loyalty is to them, and them alone."
"...Hmm. Alright, then. You realize, you're going to have to explain this to the Hokage when we get back to the village." He looked to each of his students in turn.
Sakura looked to the floor, downcast. "We just wanted to protect them..."
His eye softened. "I'm not saying that you should shout it out to the world. But this is the kind of thing that the people above you need to know. Understand?"
There were three 'Yes, Sensei's, and he nodded. "Good. For now, I want you to divide the night into three watches - I'm in no shape to fight, at the moment."
Sasuke frowned. "Didn't we already take care of the enemy forces? Hiring an A-rank bodyguard can't have been cheap."
Kakashi chuckled bitterly. "The Gato Corporation is one of the biggest companies in the world. Even if Zabuza is dead, which I'm not entirely sure of, Gato could easily afford to hire more missing-ninja. Don't count the job done until we're back home."
Gabumon raised an eyebrow. "Umm, Kakashi-sensei, what do you mean you're not entirely sure?"
"Well, for one thing, the hunter used senbon. Unless you hit a vital point, those usually aren't fatal. Also, did you notice what the hunter did with the body?"
Sakura's eyes widened. "She took the body with her, instead of burning it!"
Her sensei eye-smiled. "Very good, Sakura. A real hunter-nin would've decapitated Zabuza and kept his head as proof of death, and burned the body to ash."
Sasuke 'hn'ed. "I'll take first watch."
Gato paced agitatedly, fuming. "Dammit! Where is he! If that scumbag ran out on me..."
Just then, a servant walked in. "Pardon me, Gato-sama, but I've just received a report from our spies."
The short, hairy man raised an eyebrow. "Well? What is it?"
His servant bowed deeply, a sheen of nervous sweat on his temple. "They reported that they saw the bridge builder return to his house, along with a team of ninja, and what he took to be summons."
Gato 'hmm'ed. "Summons, you say? Did they give any description of what these summons looked like?"
The man bowed. "Yes, they did, Gato-sama." He handed the small man a thin stack of papers. "They drew an impression of them."
Gato looked at the three sheets, depicting Renamon, Agumon, and Gabumon. He grinned nastily. "Oh, these aren't summons at all." He chuckled. "Inform the staff that I do not wish to be disturbed for the next hour."
The man nodded quickly, glad to be getting away without being punished. He hastily left the room.
Pulling a key from his desk, Gato padded over to a life-sized portrait of himself, and slid it aside to reveal a locked door. Inputting the combinations, and turning his key in the lock, he opened the door to reveal a set of stairs. It's fortunate indeed that I've saved something for a situation just like this one. It's too bad he will only fight if there are other digimon to kill, but hey, he's cheap. Gato turned a corner, and came face-to-snout with a black armored dog. Apparently, the dog had just finished eating, for there were still shreds of meat hanging from his teeth.
It regarded him with a single yellow eye. "What is it that you want, human?"
Gato smirked. "There is a bridge builder, being guarded by a group of ninja." He raised his hand before Cerberumon could object. "Three of those ninja have partners. If you kill the bridge-builder, their data is yours."
The Hellish Watchdog nodded. "Very well, then."
Gato smirked. "Excellent." Reaching into his pocket, he pressed a button, and one wall of the room rose up to reveal a tunnel that led up into the sunlight. Before Gato could even say anything, Cerberumon was gone.
Well, that was easy... I thought I'd have to do a lot more convincing than that. Oh, well. The bridge-builder is as good as dead, now.
Kakashi looked at his students, leaning on crutches he'd borrowed from Tsunami. "Okay, today's lesson: How to climb trees."
Naruto frowned. "But Kakashi sensei, we already know how to climb trees!"
Kakashi eye-smiled. "Oh, really? Can you do it like this?" He slowly walked over to a tree, and then began to walk straight up the trunk, seemingly unaffected by gravity. All six of his students gaped. He smiled down at them. Ahh, newbies... it's so fun to surprise 'em. Just wait until it's time to learn water-walking... "You can do this by focusing your chakra into your feet. After you've gathered enough, put your foot on the trunk; if it slides off, you're not using enough, and if it crushes the bark, you're using too much."
Naruto screwed up his face, put his foot on a tree trunk... and blew a hole in it. Thankfully, it was a small hole, so the tree didn't fall over.
Kakashi sweat-dropped. "Not... Quite so much." He sighed. I knew he had bad chakra control, but I never thought it was that bad. "Your objective is to get to the top of a tree without using your hands. Use kunai to mark your progress."
Naruto punched the air. "Alrighty, then! Let's do some training!"
About an hour later...
Naruto and Renamon sat on a branch together; with each constantly feeding the other information, it didn't take long for them to master the exercise, especially since Renamon was used to manipulating energy outside of her body. Sakura was the next to complete the exercise, though she couldn't master it; Every time she tried, her reserves would give out on the third or fourth lap. Sasuke was trying harder and harder, frustrated at being left behind.
Naruto called down to him, "Just relax! If you try too hard, you'll make it too hard to do. Just focus on your chakra, and nothing else."
Sasuke growled, but accepted the advice. There was no point in arguing - Naruto had already completed the exercise, so chances were that the way he did it, was the right way to do it. Calming himself, he focused only on his feet, excluding everything else around him. He could feel, from a nearby branch, Kakashi's eyes on him, but he ignored, focusing only on his chakra. He frowned as he heard a rumbling noise. Wait a minute... it sounds like it's getting closer! Opening his eyes, he settled into a defensive position, kunai at the ready.
The others leapt down from the tree, save for Kakashi, and each prepared themselves as well. After a second or two, an armored head broke through the foliage.
The head was followed by an equally-armored black body, and two more heads. Cerberumon sniffed. "So. These are the ones that Gato wants dead? Pathetic - your data is hardly worth the effort. Still, a deal is a deal."
Kakashi swore. Of all the times - it just had to be when I'm still out. I couldn't even throw a decent punch in this state.
Naruto and Sakura leapt down from the trees, automatically sliding into formation alongside Sasuke as all three genin drew their kunai.
Sasuke glanced at his blonde teammate. "Cannonball?"
Naruto nodded and made a trio of shadowclones.
Sasuke grabbed one and sent it flying, and the other two followed suit. As the clones flew, they grinned and held a ram seal. "Transform"
Cerberumon staggered as he was hit by three large metal cannonballs, one actually managing to crack its armor. He growled, a low, guttural sound. "And to think, I was actually going to do you a favor and kill you quickly." Almost thoughtlessly, he batted aside a Pepper Breath, and closed his eyes as a hailstorm of diamonds clattered uselessly against his outer shell. His eyes snapped open, and he grinned. "My turn. Hellfire!"
Sasuke's eyes widened as he saw the demon-dog launch a black-laced fireball at Agumon. Without even thinking, he leapt in front of her.
When the smoke cleared, the raven-haired genin was on the ground. The skin had been burned from his arms and a good portion of his chest, and he smoked slightly as he flopped onto his back.
Agumon caught Sasuke as he fell. "Why...? Why did you save me?"
Sasuke managed a faint 'hn'. "I-I just did. Now, go out there, and kick some ass."
She wiped a tear from her eye. "Can do." She turned back to Cerberumon, rage lighting her features. "You hurt my partner, and for that, you'll pay!"
The hell-hound snorted. "And what's a weakling like you gonna do about it?"
Agumon narrowed her eyes, resolute. "I may be smaller than you... I may even be weaker than you. But one thing I know, above all else." She grinned, as she felt a surge of power, and began to glow. "When the lives of those I hold dear are on the line, there's no way in hell I'm giving up! Agumon, digivolve to... Greymon!"
Cerberumon stared up at the now, much larger digimon.
She glared down at it. "Nova Blast!" The fireball drove it back a few feet, but didn't seem to do much damage.
Cerberumon walked out of the smoke. "...Was that supposed to impress me? Whether you give up or not, today your life will end."
It started forwards, but was forced to roll to the side in order to avoid a kunai to one of the eyes on its left head. Looking around, Cerberumon saw that it was surrounded by several Naruto-clones, each with a full set of kunai. Most of it just glanced off of the hellhound's armor, but it couldn't risk getting one in the eye. Closing its eyes, the black hound shouted, "Inferno Gate!" Immediately, pools of darkness appeared on the ground, sucking up all of the clones. Cerberumon grinned. "Much better. Now, where was-" It yelped, as a diamond struck it in one of the eyes on his right head. He turned to attack the one responsible, only to get an exploding tag in the face. It growled. "I've had enough of this!"
Cerberumon began to lash out indiscriminately. "Hellfire!" The flames struck Greymon, knocking her over; subsequent blasts hit Renamon, Gabumon, and Sakura. Naruto had just barely dodged a fireball, when he saw Renamon get hit, and slam against a tree.
As Cerberumon began to chuckle darkly, and Greymon de-digivolved, Naruto's vision turned red. Through larger-than-normal canines, he shouted, "You bastard! Stop laughing!"
He crouched down on all fours, a flickering red aura covering his frame. His eyes were now a bloody crimson, with slit pupils, and his voice was guttural as he ground out, "For what you've done to my friends... I'M GONNA DESTROY YOU!" Quicker than even Kakashi's eye could follow, Naruto punched one of Cerberumon's 'head's, his fist going straight through the hellhound's armor, completely destroying the head, and causing the rest of it to pixellate. With a final swipe, Cerberumon's data flew apart, and reformed itself into an egg. Naruto closed his eyes, and when he opened them again, they were blue once more, all traces of the Kyuubi's demonic aura now gone.
Up in a nearby tree, Kakashi held a silver device that had come seemingly out of nowhere, along with a tag, bearing a sun symbol. Slipping on the necklace, he mused, I guess this makes me a Tamer, huh?
Yes, I know, it's been too long. Yes, I know that a great many of you are frustrated by my slow update speed - And I'm grateful that so many of you are still reading the story. I make no promises as to when the next update will be, but I do have some free time coming up, so we'll see.