The D-Shutter Chronicles

The Sins of Our Guardians


-Prologue-

Unforeseen Consequences


The sun peaked between the high rises and the twin towers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and dazzling god rays descended upon sleeping Shinjuku Park, nestled in its shadow. Frosted cherry blossoms blazed in the drifting sunlight, and Keisuke Tachikawa walked past glowing trees of fuchsia and warm pink. His gait slowed. The pond that dominated the park's center was hushed in morning shadow. The acidic waft of fertilizer lingered in his nose. Somewhere the groundskeepers were forking great piles of it around the many trees that kept the city out of the park.

All was quiet. The only noise accompanying Keisuke was the gallop in his dress shoes. Part of him so desperately wanted to squat on the many empty park benches and allow the scenery to soothe him, let his eyes roll backwards and absorb the stillness, but alas he could not. There were monsters in Japan. Beasts that haunted his dreams and woke him in a heavy sweat. After the catastrophe at the convention center, he imagined them waiting for him to drop his guard and come chasing his entire family.

And Keisuke Tachikawa would move heaven and earth before that would happen. He emerged from the park onto the plaza overlooking the lobby doors into the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, and the armed guards standing rigid and menacing like modern gargoyles. They were a forehead taller than him and presented colors Keisuke could not place; carapace armor the color of baked, red clay over tan fatigues. On their right pauldron was an image of a sword wrapped in garland emblazoned in crisp white. Their faces were hidden behind full helmets. Keisuke felt his resolve shunt into his silk socks as he approached.

"Halt." The closest guard barked. Keisuke obliged, struck by the ugliness of his Japanese. "State your business."

Keisuke reached into his shirt pocket and produced a letter. "I've an appointment with Luther Emerald?" He said. Molded eye lenses regarded him, expressionless.

The guard snatched the letter, letting his weapon slack on its strap. He read it. Motioning another guard to watch Keisuke, he turned his heel muttering to himself. Though the guards' eyes were hidden, Keisuke could feel stares rake over his interview dress—a copper colored vest over a white dress shirt, partnered with tan, pressed pants. He shifted his briefcase into his other hand.

Minutes passed. More people started appearing along the sidewalk. Most ignored Keisuke and the guards, but the joggers attention lingered on them. The guard turned around again, offering the letter into Keisuke's waiting hand. "Guild Master Emerald is expecting you, mister Tachikawa. The elevators are to your immediate left once you enter the building. Fortieth floor, suite seventeen." Again the ugly Japanese marred any sincerity. Keisuke curtly bowed. "Enjoy your visit at the Tokyo Metropolitan Building."

Once inside the elevator, Keisuke pecked the call button for the fortieth floor. The car began ascending. Keisuke lingered on his reflection in the elevator wall. He stared into it, remembering the fateful day he found himself in the convention center surrounded by monsters. His wife had been in tears. His daughter had been possessed. All he managed to so was put them in danger, driving a golf cart into a monster taller than the convention center itself. The subtle shriek of the elevator doors closing snapped him from his daydream. Wedging them open with his forearm, Keisuke stumbled into the fortieth floor.

There were guards up here also. These men wore evergreen armor. On their right pauldron was the side-profile stencil of a dragon's head in white. They pointed Keisuke toward suite seventeen in the same grating, forced Japanese as he passed; all the way at the other end of the floor, to a door with no window. Once there, he straightened his clothes and made sure the part in his hair looked properly creased. Engraved on the door written in gold filigree was Luther Emerald's name and beneath that a longer, more winded title, 'Guild Master of the Alchemists.' Puzzling it, Keisuke knocked three times. A muffled voice invited him inside.

It was dim. Closing the door behind him, Keisuke waited for his eyes to adjust. Soft runner lights in the tile floor illuminated enough to make out a narrow hallway. He followed it, noticing the acute taint of recycled air was getting stronger, and the temperature dropping as he came to an open door at the end of the hall. He stepped through the threshold.

Emerald's office was windowless. The runner lights continued from the hallway, tracing the floor's edge until completing the circuit. A naked fixture hung from the ceiling's center. Cold, filtered light revealed the sparse room and the ghoul behind the desk in, what Keisuke could only describe, illuminated shadow. The air grew colder still. He could feel his skin prickle against it. His glasses hazed with condensation. Something nagged at the back of his neck, but Keisuke dismissed it as reacting to the sudden cold.

"Wonderful, you are finally here." Emerald said from behind his desk. The man gestured towards the roller chair on the opposite side, urging Keisuke to sit. "I was beginning to think the monsters finally caught you, mister Tachikawa. But I see my patience has rewarded me." He said in a deadpan burr.

Keiskue took his seat and set the briefcase on the desk. "Yes, well, my wife was less enthusiastic than I had thought. I'm sorry to keep you waiting."

Emerald waved it away. His pale face wrinkled with amusement, making him more unsettling. As an international accountant, Kesiuke could place a nationality over the phone in a single conversation or a glance through a conference window, but Luther Emerald challenged that skill. His skin was gooey white, face blemished and shining like an Eastern European. He filled his wool business suit perfectly. There was an old grease spot on his lapel. His hair looked styled, no gel, cut short and swept to his dominant side. But the most terrifying thing about him was his eyes.

"So I assume we're all in agreement?" Emerald asked. Keisuke nodded. "Splendid!" The exaltation sounded like air escaping from a tire. "Which means you brought it?"

Keisuke nodded, setting his hand on his briefcase. "Sure did. But I've got to ask; why on Earth would you be so interested some little toy?"

Emerald webbed his hands together. "The technology. Such a small device has limitless," He stopped. He struggled to find the right word, Kesiuke could see it in his expression. "Potential?" The words came out more like a question, and Keisuke puzzled at him. "Not to imply that we would be keeping it indefinitely. Surely a child would notice their favorite toy was missing."

"Not trying to look a gift horse in the mouth. I'm just curious is all."

Emerald shrugged. He reached into his desk and pulled out a vanilla folder, placing it and a pen in front of Keisuke. "I'm sure your daughter will be none the wiser."

"You haven't met Mimi. That girl can make anything a fashion statement, and let me tell you, that thing might be a lump gray plastic to you and me, but to her its like some piece of jewelry." The father joked. He opened the folder, pen in hand. "Mimi never leaves the house without it. Part of the reason why I'm so late was waiting for one of her beach days where she leaves the thing in her room."

Emerald scowled at that. Not an annoyed scowl, but something far more troubling. The man recovered and cracked a thin-lipped smile. "Of course. Children are so easily entertained, are they not?"

Another thing about Luther Emerald was he spoke perfect Japanese. It almost came across as purposeful, pronouncing every syllable. "Right." Keisuke said, eyeing him. He rifled through the papers. It was the contract that finalized his move to America, what his new position entailed, his dual citizenship, and the benefits his family would be receiving for the foreseeable future.

"You know, I never thought anyone would be willing to help me out after what happened. Everyone sort of laughed at me for the longest time, until you came along." Kesiuke said as he started scribbling his signature on dotted lines. He dug into the paper in some parts, recalling the reaction of his former employer and others when he told them about leaving Japan. The laughter seemed more miserable than the monsters. "All for a simple toy. It almost seems unreal."

"I am not one to squander such," Another pause. Another moment thinking of the right word. "Investments? It means a great deal to us."

"Sort of like the right man in the right place for once?"

Emerald smiled. "On the contrary, mister Tachikawa. The right man in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world." Keisuke felt the weight of his statement. In the back of his mind, something nagged at him again, but he pushed it aside. Setting the pen down, he closed the folder. Emerald swept the folder back into the drawer. "Now that your needs are taken care of, perhaps you should provide the payment." He said, gesturing at the briefcase.

Keisuke nodded enthusiastically. As he worked on the locks of the briefase, Emerald leaned in, elbows on the desk. Keisuke undid the clasps and flipped the case open. Inside was his usual work attire; notepad, blackberry, assortment of pens in holders, and a calculator. But inside the pouch where he kept the picture of his wife and daughter, he reached in, pulling out the toy that bought his passage to America.

It was a small, rectangular device, something similar to one of those virtual pets Keisuke had seen in claw machines. At first, he mistook it for one, until his daughter told him otherwise. Part of him wondered what his daughter, who breathed fashion, would become enamored with such a thing. The in-laid gold running around the screen glowed in the cold light. Emerald snapped it from his hand, taking Keisuke completely by suprise.

He clasped the device between thumb and forefinger, admiring it. "Such limitless potential." Emerald hissed. The door to the suite opened. A floor guard strode into the room. Fluidly, he caught the device Emerald pitched at him. "Take this immediately to doctor Kleiner. Tell him that is priority, nothing else." Without a signal, or even acknowledgment, the guard turned his heel to leave. "Stop for no one." And then the guard was gone. Confusion growing, Keisuke glanced back at him. Emerald's smile curled. "Sometimes the excitement gets the best of me."

"So we're set?"

"Everything is prepared. Welcome to the Alchemist Guild. I expect your," Emerald paused again, but instead of struggling, his expression looked rather amused. "Talent? Will benefit our organization. Your airline tickets will be mailed to you in two business weeks. Your daughter's toy will be waiting at your address once you arrive."

Elated, Keiskue closed the briefcase. "Fantastic!"

"Make sure Mimi doesn't catch it in the mail, to keep up the ruse."

He nodded. "Sure, sure. I can't say this enough, but thank you mister Emerald. I can sleep a little better now knowing we're leaving the monsters behind." He shook the man's hand. It felt weak, but cloying to the touch. "My wife and daughter thanks you." He gave a curt bow. "I'm sure this will work out for the both of us."

Emerald snorted. "Oh. You have no idea, mister Tachikawa." His eyes grew more intense, smiling wider. "You have not idea, at all."


Author's Note: If there are any criticisms you might have, please leave a review. I accept everything from praise, complaints, and even flames so don't be shy. Also obligatory notice that I do not own Digimon or their cannon characters.