It's done. By gosh I finished this chapter. Thank goodness~ Sorry for the wait~ There are a whole lot of mythology gags going on in this chapter, as well as various references. Thanks for your patience and I hope this was worth the wait. Enjoy!
Chapter 8: Blood
"All creatures, monster or man, can die."
He was always the observer.
People had always called him the Angel of Death, one of the most terrifying creatures to have been born. People believed he could take a soul from any part of the world and throw it into the endless abyss. People believed he could rip creatures from their dimensions.
Of course, all of this was correct.
Why did he not use these powers? Because that was foolish. It was ridiculous to reveal your entire hand before the game was finished. Even when he died, this observer did not regret this choice. Regrets were simply too complex to waste time on, could come from too many angles with not enough answers to questions. So he didn't regret; merely pondered alternate possibilities. It made life all the more interesting to wonder, so he did, and while doing to, he watched time tick by. Soon he would have to act. This time however, he was well aware of the best place to begin.
"It certainly has been a while hasn't it?"
Familiar sapphire eyes opened to glare dispassionately at him, Kiriha's indifference faded into recognition with a raised eyebrow as Nene reached for her Xros Loader. "Paranoid aren't you?" The old man asked with a wizened grin.
"Call it a force of habit," she replied with the faintest of sneers, a look that twisted her pretty face narrow. Kiriha smirked at this, leaning over to appraise his genial demeanor. Not that he believed it for a second though. "So… what are you here for sir? You aren't exactly known for making social calls." Clockmon's chime-like laugh from next to him caused the Watchmaker to snort, hunching over his cane in a dramatic sort of slump.
He laughed for a moment, watching the two teenagers shifting ominously through his opaque lenses. As always, the Generals were simply… so wonderfully interesting. It was a shame only one knew the truth… though he was impressed by the tight-lipped silence he made. He was also impressed by Kiriha. His paranoia remained well-founded even now. "I'm here to borrow your skills, I'm afraid. The Digital World and Human World aren't exactly on good foundations at this moment."
The way the two moved, Nene to stand behind Kiriha's chair and both of their hands resting around their Xros Loaders like a fighter would a knife, it was so ferociously human. This was the thing that Digimon lacked. Reflexively, they fought to survive. However, there was nothing like this human gleam, this awareness of just how much they would have to destroy to live in normal eyes. It was imperfect true, like a kitten growling at its mother. But they compensated for their weakness. They would evolve.
And it seemed already… that that had begun.
Kiriha didn't lean back in his chair, but he did smile, as though pulling the power in the room closer to the pair of children. "So… what do you want from us?"
"Plenty," replied the old man, sitting down at the café table and setting to work.
Gumdramon had fought a lot of giant 'mons in his short lifespan. Quartzmon was certainly the creepiest. Garudamon was not the biggest. Sadly the blue dragon had to admit… it was certainly up there. Literally. Geez. He tensed his small body, ready to spring when the bastard so much as breathed wrong. This was the worst place to fight, all cramped and with a lot of- damn it what were those called, oh right liabilities- all over the city. Perfect. Well, in that case-
"Gumdramon, evolve!" Tagiru commanded reflexively and the blue dragon stared at him. He thought Tagiru had gotten smarter but he guessed too many run forward and smash fights had stuck into his mind. As the gogglehead raised his Xros Loader, Yuu yanked on his wrist and silently pointed around him. Tagiru cursed and watched Gumdramon crouch, clearly intending to throw the little dragon if it would do something productive or overall positiveThe Wild Child then leaped, resisting the urge to use the rooftops like any sensible fighter, and shouted. "OI! Garudamon what the hell are you doing here? You're supposed to be keeping an eye on that cat or something!" Slowly, amber eyes swiveled around to look at the small creature on the human road. To their shock, it gave a respectful nod in his direction.
"Hello, Gumdramon," greeted the creature, offering a large, taloned hand. Reluctantly Gumdramon climbed on, allowing the creature to perch him on his shoulder. "Is that your human down there then?" The pleasant tone was more than disconcerting, it was downright weird. Mostly because no human thought Gumdramon would get anything resembling respect from anyone Digimon-related. Gumdramon nodded slowly and the creature sighed, deep voice ringing with dismay. "Well this is a mite difficult then."
"Did the King or your Captain send you?" asked the blue dragon with a small scowl. After all, Garudamon didn't just up and leave his post for nothing, nor was he entirely fond of humanity either. It had something to do with a Piyomon he knew. In any case, the fact that the neutral justice wielding bird was here… and Valkyrimon was not was a bad sign. It was a very bad sign. Gumdramon would never admit this to Tagiru, but… even if Arresterdramon's potential was fully unlocked and all that happy stuff, Garudamon would stomp him down like a rolling pin. He had experience in real battles and the blue dragon knew for a fact that no one here but the King (wherever the hell he was) and Damemon had much of that outside of skirmishes. Am I going to have to fight this guy? He hoped not. He liked his limbs in place thank you very much.
Garudamon's large head shook slowly, eyes mournful. "The Captain was murdered yesterday… here in the human world. I was sent to continue his mission."
Tagiru's partner stared. "Wait… wait a minute what?" Tagiru looked between them and his fellow humans, utterly confused. The problem with Garudamon was that he was unintentionally loud.
"What the hell are they talking about?" Ren shrugged even as Yuu's expression churned with thought.
"Beats me," Ren replied, gesturing for Airu to get out the line of fire. The girl's pink Xros Loader was already out and shining. Like Ren, she had to be taking no chances. "I know plenty about Digimon, not a bit about politics."
"Valkyrimon are legendary," Yuu elaborated after a moment. "They aren't equal to Bagramon's level… or even say those old gods Digimon used to worship… but considering their arrows always hit their mark…"
"Nothing ordinary could have killed the bastard," Ren cut in. "Am I right?" At Yuu's nod, he scowled. "Wonderful. So… that mission must be one hell of a doozy if you send the best from the get-go."
Airu looked meaningfully around the neighborhood, watching fellows glaring out the windows and look about ready to leave their houses. "Or we're going to be subdued or something." Yuu glanced at her with the slightest amount of admiration, periwinkle gaze glimmering with surprise. She winked at him before looking around again, scowling at people opening their doors. "Idiots," she murmured.
"Why are they even coming out here," Opossumon wondered, climbing her partner's shoulder. "They'll be killed." Tagiru winced.
"Cause humans are dumb," giggled Dracumon as he walked menacingly towards one of the doors. "Gettin' all huffy and runnin' out to their own deaths when they know they can't do anything." The small demon yawned and stretched. "May have saved our butts back then though."
Meanwhile Gumdramon recovered himself. The longer he made the bird talk the better. If the King had heard the large bird from wherever he was, he could at least tone him down. Normally he would move him out of the way and at least hold him off, but in this place there simply was nowhere 'out of the way' now was there? "Wha-What Digimon could kill Valkyrimon though," he stammered. "The King was one of the only guys who put a dent on him!"
Garudamon hesitated, watching the small dragon's expression turn from forced surprise to actual horror. "I believe the Captain brought it upon himself," he began slowly as Gumdramon began to scramble backwards on his shoulders. "He got to his position due to the side he had taken… not because of the King's foolishness. He had faith in him…"
"And killed him!" the blue dragon shrilled. "That isn't what the King would do! Don't lie!"
Amber eyes narrowed. "You are aware I am a horrible liar."
"B-But that couldn't have happened! Killing other Digimon is…" He bit his tongue at the word forbidden because it wasn't. He knew immoral was only half true too… "Killing your own teammates is just-"
"Unlike me," a gruff voice interrupted. "Right?" Shoutmon's blue eyes appraised them from a balcony, making Ren facepalm. "You guys sure are noisy, disturbing these humans more than we already do."
"Sir," Garudamon greeted, bowing his head tersely. Shoutmon waved him off.
"Devolve at least," the King ordered with an eerie dismissiveness. "I'm fine being your punching bag… doesn't mean the whole neighborhood's gotta go too." The birdman glowered and Shoutmon returned the favor. "Look you're pissed. Cute. Don't bring other people into your shit! He taught you that didn't he?" Garudamon's agitated expression flushed with rage and the King merely leaped down below, standing protectively in front of the humans with a look on his face that could only be described as battle-hungry. Any idiot could see he wanted a fight right now, relished his fist hitting a good few people in the face even. Slowly Garudamon shrank, changing before their eyes into a blue and white dragon and was only half a foot taller than Shoutmon, leaving Gumdramon to fly down in front of Tagiru, expression unreadable.
"It looks like a dog," Airu stage-whispered to Ren, who rolled his eyes.
"Trait of my species," it snapped at her coolly. Shoutmon snorted before his expression slipped, eyes glancing toward the house he had left. Then he looked back to normal. "What's the matter?"
"People dying when I turn around used to be a trend," was Shoutmon's remark. "Like your captain."
"You said-" Gumdramon started before his King glared at him. Tagiru watched his partner be stunned silent and mentally wolf-whistled. Damn.
The dragon looked down on his king, crossing muscular arms in disbelief. "Did you kill him my lord?"
"I helped if it makes you feel any better," he answered. "The guy almost started an interworld war. Killing kids, even unintentionally, sets off stuff in any creature's head. Nor," Shoutmon added, spinning his staff to quiet any outbursts. "Did he actually explain the situation. The kid came to us for help. You see the predicament I was in right V-dramon?"
V-dramon stared at him. "You mean to say he was addled sir?" He whispered these words, grey claws flexing into fists.
Shoutmon glared. "No he was perfectly of his wits and capable of listening. I put my faith in that guy, you know I did!" He scowled down them all, daring them to disagree. "But he didn't stop to consider the situation of there being a Digimon blowing up an alley, particularly in this place! As the King, my responsibility isn't just to our world!"
"Why not?" V-dramon countered, ruby eyes burning. "Why not simply abandon this world?"
The King only snorted. "Because I have a General and I have friends here. I would be the shittiest being alive if I let them die."
"Your kingdom could be in danger!" V-dramon roared, losing composure.
"And you assume he can't protect both."
Ryouma stood haphazardly against the wall of his fence. The clothes he wore were shredded, barely more than rags, and he panted for breath where he slumped, but his expression was no less than composed as he stood there, glaring at the trembling opponent with contempt. "You can stop glaring at him now," the silver teen almost purred, words barely leaving his lips. "I am the one who killed your Captain."
V-dramon snarled softly, ruby eyes turning a deeper, icier shade of red. Shoutmon winced. It had been a mistake to make him devolve. V-dramon had some seriously bad tempers. Then it snorted. "A human is incapable of that."
Ren watched his best friend shrug. "I didn't say I was human anymore now did I?" Now amethyst eyes pierced the air. "The situation is rather complicated… and I will be the first to admit I will likely be unable to replicate the feat, however." The familiar gun formed in his hand. "I can at least smack you for misbehavior." He frowned at the object mockingly. "Except this might grow annoying… perhaps…" The weapon glowed purple and shifted in his hand, turning to something resembling a rapier. It was certainly similar to one but… in any case, he would figure this out some other time. Its glow vanished, leaving only dull metal in its place. "This is much better."
"A toothpick," the Digimon stated in disbelief. "You believe you can trounce me with a toothpick?"
Ren raised an eyebrow at the word choice as Ryouma chuckled. "Why don't we find out?" He stepped away from the house, moving towards where the others were standing.
"Hey what are you doing?" Gumdramon yelled, sparing Shoutmon the opportunity. His whole body shook from warring emotions: rage and fear. "That guy's gonna pull out your stomach or something!"
Ryouma grinned. "Let me be reckless once in a while." Of course this was the moment V-dramon moved, smashing a fist towards the teen and knocking him into a small crater. The humans leaped back, Airu unconsciously covering the sleeping girl's eyes. V-dramon did not remove his fist from the crater, pulling it back slowly as Ryouma pulled himself to his feet. He shook his head, blood dripping from the back of his head. "Nice…" he whispered despite himself.
"You aren't bad yourself," the dragon mused, unclenching his hands and reaching back. "Perhaps inhuan describes you well after all."
The silver teen only smiled back. "Perhaps." As V-dramon slashed the air, he leaped, slashing the sword forward with a clang. He placed his other hand over the blade's hilt, and pressed forward as gently as he could. If this broke he was screwed. It wasn't like he could fire energy beams or had the strength to knock down the giant monster with a punch or something. Maybe that was gogglehead exclusive. He would have to ask. He pulled away from the claw only to lunge forward, stabbing the point of the blade into the palm. Red splashed onto his face and Ryouma shook it out of his eyes. Great… this was not going to be pretty. Pulling back, Ryouma retreated from the ensuing strike. Reflexively he moved the blade to his left hand, testing its weight just long enough to dodge into a wall.
"Did you beat my leader through running boy?" barked V-dramon in what was simply known as blood rage, fist thrusting into a wall. Ryouma blinked slowly, picking himself up.
"Ask me next time if I remember," he answered airily, moving toward the temporarily stuck creature and making a downward slash. He was yanked by the blade into the air and tossed casually into the air. Despite himself the boy smiled and threw the sword, it slashing down the dragon's arm in a downward scratch and clashing to the concrete. As red splashed down the forearm, V-dramon grunted.
"No more taking it easy then." He opened his mouth wide as his opponent smacked the ground. "V-Breath Arrow!"
"And Taiki hasn't told us this because…"
The Clock Maker had to stop meddling with other worlds. Kiriha was having a lot of trouble believing his friend had been dragged into multiple world problems for a third time and hadn't said anything.
The Watchmaker met the skepticism with little more than a smile. "He isn't aware of it." His cane thunked on the ground as he walked, Clockmon pacing behind him with delightful little chimes. "You keep giving him too much credit the lot of you. He knows something is happening and who could be causing it but to this extent? Of course not. He's only human or rather…" His scarlet eyes flickered. "He was."
Nene, unlike most girls, did not gasp. She merely raised an eyebrow. "How so?"
The old man glanced her over. "Can any of you who were in the Digital World say you came out of it unscathed? Did your bodies not become stronger, your reflexes more honed, even your instincts have been altered? Is that not true?" Kiriha and Nene glanced at each other. "Think of it now. You were forced into battles for your lives, into subterfuge humans do not even experience in the military. You all were part of a great war, pulled through the veins of the Digital World itself to fix it. To assume it would not touch you as you changed it is foolhardy."
"So we could be the same then," Kiriha mused. "Only why did his awaken first?"
"It is likely due to Quartzmon… and the Code Crown." Bagramon replied slowly, thoughtfully. "I cannot be certain without examination… but they are certainly two existences who have transcended the plane we mortals walk upon. Who can say how it was done? At the moment however, I certainly can say…" He looked at the street corner, where debris had flown its way to. "You certainly know how to make a point don't you Taiki-kun?"
Sure enough, their friend was sitting on a fence to the irritation of one of the citizens. He looked at them and smiled weakly at Kiriha and Nene without words. His eyes, an odd pale red, flickered between the trio and whatever was happening around the bend. He seemed only mildly concerned but with Taiki, that could possibly mean the apocalypse. The teen nodded at the Watchmaker, expression slightly distasteful as he opened his mouth to speak… and nothing left his lips.
"It looks like it was true after all," the man commented. Taiki actually scowled, eyes narrowing coldly. "Are you frightened of something?" Taiki hopped down from his perch and made no gesture of reply, leaving Kiriha to walk over and plant a hand gently yet firmly on his shoulder.
"Why didn't you say anything yesterday?" He accused, causing the other to wince and then blink. He only had the vaguest idea what was going on himself but… even a little information would have been told… wouldn't it? Then Kiriha thought about it… and remembered Cyber Land. He remembered how quite calmly Taiki had played them like a fiddle to keep them safe. It seemed not even trust would stop him from doing it again. He released the other boy's arm. "Are we really friends Taiki?"
Taiki looked at him slowly and made the strangest of expressions. Yet Kiriha thought he heard the answer even though the mouth didn't move. "You know the answer to that."
Kiriha sighed, shaking his head. "Just next time, spill." Taiki nodded slowly, a little helplessly even. Then a roar drew their attention, causing Taiki to bolt straight around. They followed, wondering what events could be happening in the noonday sun
V-dramon released the energy and shot it straight down, just as a certain puffball went flying forward. "NO!" Culumon screamed, crashing into the dragon's head. "No, no, no!" His movement knocked the energy off course to scorch another section of concrete. Culumon swung to clench V-dramon's mouth shut. "He is important culu!" the creature yelped angrily, glaring with flickering eyes on an adorable face. "We need him culu! You will not kill him or this will not work! Bad! You are bad!"
They all gaped for a moment as Ryouma pulled himself to his feet and staggered aside. V-dramon's eyes narrowed as he moved to pull off the annoying creature, only for Shoutmon's microphone to be pressed against his throat. "All right," sighed the King. "Enough. Wisemon wanted to see what would happen but… this is getting too far ain't it?
"What a wonderful decision you made king. Picking your battles is a valuable skill you've learned." The Watchmaker finally joined them, limping in his decently paced manner.
The red dragon scowled. "Shut up old man."
"I believe you wanted to chat?" The aforementioned man smiled with a crooked edge, waving his cane. "I must say you have an issue keeping yourself out of trouble Your Majesty."
Shoutmon glared without malice, smiling faintly. "You're late old man."
"Surely the lesson 'look before you leap' has drilled itself into your head by now," was the calm reply. Shoutmon snorted but kept his tongue, expression bordering on distasteful. The clockmaker smiled quietly, red eyes resting on the semi-conscious teen against the wall. Ryouma looked up and managed a small glare. His help would have been kindly appreciated moments earlier. Taiki did not glare as he went to examine the former fighter, merely narrowed his eyes and tilted his head quizzically to the right.
Whatever question had glimmered in grey eyes, the man only laughed. "Not yet, I'm afraid. Not yet." Taiki nodded and held out a hand to the fallen silver boy. The Clockmaker stepped over and Taiki retreated, suspicion rising in his stance like a cautious rabbit. "One of you," the old man stated as he assessed this, noticing the other's unconscious follow up. "Or both of you, will need to explain everything."