Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.


Chapter: 6

The sun dipped towards the western horizon, giving the sky a golden tinge to it that signaled to the inhabitants of Shinjuku that the day was almost done. Atop one of its buildings overlooking the center of the city, air shimmered and shifted, taking on a humanoid shape. A long, brown duster coat materialized around the figure along with a long brimmed hat casting a shadow over a grizzled, stubble-ridden, masculine chin. A button-up, red-colored shirt appeared beneath the duster along with a pair of faded blue-jeans. Thin lips curved upward on a bronze face as he cast shadowed eyes over the city before him.

"It's good to be back," he said after taking a moment to enjoy the sight. Stepping forward, the ends of his duster swaying behind him, the air rippled and once again he vanished from sight.

Takato slapped the back of his head as he felt a sharp tingle crawl across skin.

"What the…?" he began, the tingle disappearing almost as soon as it began. Removing his hand, he stared at it dumbly, as though it could tell him something about what he just felt.

"Is everything all right?" asked Jeri, electric blue eye quickly running a scan over the boy.

"Um…" Takato shook his hand. "Yeah. Just felt a weird…something, I guess. Like when I shock myself after rubbing my feet on a carpet." He looked at Jeri, a bit worried. "What about you? Aren't machines vulnerable to…?"

"I was designed to be resistant to electrical discharges. Hmmm…"

Takato raised an eyebrow. "That doesn't sound good."

"I'm detecting a minor fluctuation in your Bioelectric field."

"Okay, that sounds bad."

"You don't need to be worried about it," eased Jeri. "Your body may be reacting to an electromagnetic disturbance—possibly from a storm or from communication technology. Due to your recent transformation your cells are establishing an F.S. Field and will be sensitive to outside disturbances."

Takato raised a confused eyebrow. "Um…I thought I was being…you know…suppressed."

"Cells start to establish the F.S. Field as soon as they are triggered to do so. The Paxia that you took at the hospital is only capable of slowing its formation until you are given a proper prescription. Even then, the F.S. Generators remain and can either produce minute traces of the field, or become resistant enough to create it even when Paxia is present within your system." Jeri's eye flashed blue for a moment. "I'm going to have to report this to PlanPol just to be on the safe side."

Takato nodded reluctantly, feeling a bit strange for doing so, but with how Jeri—the Companion—sounding apologetic for doing her—its—job… Takato sighed.

So this is what it's like to be a heros, he thought miserably. It sure isn't like they tell it in the old stories…

Riley tapped one finger on her desk as she listened to the agent in front of her finish giving his report.

"…and with the trip he made to the Museum of National History and the Meta Foundation, that's all that we know for the moment about Gorou's movements."

"Thank you, Agent Iwamoto," Riley said, bringing her finger to a stop. Turning in her chair so that she was facing him more fully, she leaned forward. "Anything more on the Matsuki case?"

"Nothing substantial," the agent replied with a shake of his head. "His Companion recently registered a fluctuation in his bioelectric field, but nothing beyond what is to be expected for someone in the Alpha class, level one growth stage. Minor variations and tweaks are to be expected."

"Look into it anyway, just to be sure. Have our computers do an analysis of the area around him. See if there are any abnormalities that may be triggering his F.S. Field's development." She ran a hand over her mouth. "Is Gorou volunteering any more information about why he's here?"

"No ma'am," Iwamoto replied. "He's become rather quiet now. Refuses to say anything."

Riley resisted the urge to grimace, and instead simply nodded. "All right. We'll let him stay silent for a while then. We have enough time to play with. We'll just have to see if he does."

"Yes, ma'am."

With nothing more to be said, Riley bid Iwamoto to leave and she turned in her chair to look out the window. She threaded her fingers together thoughtfully.

I'm starting to think that the kid is a dead end, she mused. In which case in a few days it will be fine to deactivate the tracking chip we had the hospital inject him with. With no one to see her now, she allowed a grimace to cross her face. I almost wish that Matsuki did have something to do with Gorou. At least that would justify the expense that we took to tag him with more than just a Companion.

Still, in spite of her selfish wish, she much rather preferred that the Matsuki youth wasn't involved. She didn't know how to face herself in the mirror whenever a child became a potential danger to society as so many heroi tended to.

The phone on her desk rang and she picked it up.

"Ootori," she greeted tersely.

"Your appointment from Meta Foundation has arrived," replied the voice of Tally from the other end.

It's about time.

"All right, send him up," she replied. "Ensure that there are two agents to escort him to my office."

"Yes ma'am."

Riley hung up and threaded her fingers through each other again. Leaning her face into them, she furrowed her brow in deep thought.

Gorou may not be talking, but that doesn't mean that he isn't giving us information.

The door to Riley's office opened and in walked a tall man with a long, thin, stone-like face and long, dark hair flanked by two PlanPol agents. The man wasn't bland looking by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, it was the disturbing emptiness in his eyes that left Riley with the feeling that she was looking at him as though she were at an open-casket funeral.

It was then that, upon spying her, a smile—strangely warm and not in the least bit condescending—broke across his face and the illusion was dispelled.

"Hello Ms. Ootori," the man said in a strong, friendly tone as he stretched out a hand in greeting. Getting up, Riley stretched out her hand and accepted the gesture before indicating the chairs in front of her desk.

"Thank you for arriving on such short notice Mr. Owikawa. Please, take a seat."

"If you insist," Owikawa chuckled, glancing at the pair of agents behind him. "I must admit that I don't normally meet with government officials of your standing…or any government officials for that matter." He leaned back in his chair casually and folded his hands together in his lap. "But when PlanPol calls, there is no choice but to answer."

"We don't like to project the idea that you have no choice, Mr. Owikawa, so please do not misunderstand our mission or your reason for being here. For myself, I simply prefer to talk to people in person. I feel that something is lost in the conversation when people talk via tele-com."

"I'll indulge your preference," Owikawa nodded in understanding.

"Good." Riley got up from her chair and made her way around the desk, where she leaned back against it, arms folded beneath her breasts. In spite of her lax posture, she might as well have been a tower to Owikawa. "Because I want to know what it is the Meta Foundation is researching."

Owikawa blinked, his smile faltering. "I beg your pardon?"

Reaching behind her, Riley turned her desktop around to face the man.

"This morning at around 1:30 your offices were broken into and an unidentified heros made off with one of your hard drives. One of our Guardian Spheres was destroyed by this individual."

"I'm well aware of the break in, Ms. Ootori," Owikawa replied, trying to compose himself. "But I don't understand how it involves PlanPol beyond the loss of one of your spheres. Our research has always involved the heroi, and there are other countries and rogue groups that oppose…"

"I'm well aware of the political scene, Mr. Owikawa. The point of the matter is…you tried to cover it up. Oh, not you specifically so you have plausible deniability there. One of your subordinates made the report. The problem I have is that it was reported as a simple 'burglary' in the first place." Riley glanced at her computer and sniffed disapprovingly. "Technically accurate, but the thief was very specific in their choice of target, means of entry, and how to avoid security. They knew what to look for and their only snag was the extra layer of security laid down." She returned her attention to Owikawa. "How about that?"

"Ms. Ootori…" Owikawa began as he started to stand up, but Riley beat him to the punch.

"Sit…down, Mr. Owikawa," she said, nodding to the two agents behind the man. Both clamped hands on his shoulders and with gentle pressure eased him back into his seat. Owikawa glared at the both of them before turning an icy stare at Riley. Owikawa cleared his throat.

"Ms. Ootori… Clearly there's been some sort of mistake here."

"I'm sure there was." Riley turned away and moved back behind her desk, running one hand along its edge as she went. "I know you and your employees are used to dealing with terrorists and corporate espionage and the like. Maybe one of yours thought that it wasn't a big deal. It's easy for someone down the ladder to see intrigue as its own little game—its own world—and not think that there's anyone else watching." Riley sat back down and gave Owikawa an award winning—if false—smile and she folded her hands neatly on her desk. "Fortunately you don't have that lack of foresight. You didn't make it to where you are now without it after all, and that's what separates the winners from your…other players. Kindly remind your fellows that there are other eyes out there and that PlanPol is one of them. After all…it's for your protection."

Owikawa shifted uncomfortably in his seat before the ghost of his earlier smile returned. Just a ghost to be sure, but to Riley it let her know that she had his attention.

"Of course…" Owikawa replied in a bit of a shaky voice. "I promise you, you will have our full cooperation in the matter."

"I would expect no less from a public servant." Riley paused and tilted her head to one side. "Even though it's been a while since you held that title."

Owikawa stood up and adjusted his suit. Riley let him. "Ms. Ootori," he began gravely. "Believe me, in service or not, I take my duty to the public very seriously."

Riley nodded and leaned back, smiling again. "In which case I look forward to your continued cooperation."

Owikawa stepped outside the PlanPol government building and glanced up at its upper floors, in the direction of Riley's office. He furrowed his brow slightly, adjusting his tie before heading off. Pulling out his cell phone he hit the call button.

"Hello," came the greeting from the other end.

"Lock down the files Kurata," Owikawa said in a calm voice, trying to sound casual. "Lock them down and implement the thirteenth protocol."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Just what I said. Lock down the files and implement the thirteenth protocol. You know…the one where you get them ready for inspection?" Owikawa chuckled. "I hate to think that my best researcher and developer would forget something so simple as that."

"I didn't pay close attention to the employee rulebook Mr. Owikawa," came Kurata's rather amused response. "But I'll have everything ready…as soon as I find someone who knows the protocol better than I do at the moment and can explain it to me."

"Very good," Owikawa grinned. "I look forward to a stunning report when this is over. I know PlanPol is as well."

There was a pause on the other line and Owikawa knew Kurata was digesting this news. No doubt once he realizes the gravity of the situation it will spur him into action.

"All right," Kurata said finally, keeping up a brave front. "I guess that rules out my intern for information. I'll have to go bother anyone and everyone I can in that case. I'll have things ready for you by the time you get back."

"I know you will." With that, Owikawa hung up. He chuckled quietly to himself as he pocketed his phone. How nice of PlanPol to give us a heads up on their investigation…

"I could hate being right so often," Riley said as she stood next to Tally. The other woman was presently cracking her knuckles with a prideful smirk on her face.

"What's there to hate?" Tally asked, looking up at her superior with a quizzical expression. "You set things up and got the ball rolling. We know Meta Foundation is up to something."

"We have no proof except for the man that stood still long enough in front of the company for us to get a hold of his location. If it weren't for that…" Riley let the sentence drift off and she pressed a hand against her forehead. "With his power, Mr. Mizuno never does anything without a reason. At least, that's what his psyche profile and history indicates."

And it's the only reason why we're still keeping an eye on that kid, Riley thought with a twinge.

"What reason do you think he had for stopping in front of the Meta Foundation building?" asked Tally.

"I'm sure we'll find that out in due time." She sighed and shook her head. "Anyway, we still need that court order to do any further investigations on them. This was supposed to have been just a local law enforcement issue, but since Mr. Mizuno's path crossed with theirs we have to look into it."

Tally made a face. "We can slap on a tracker to some kid because he's developing powers without one, but we have to jump through hoops to look into possible illegal activity. There's no justice in the world is there?"

"Justice died out at the end of Bronze," Riley replied grimly. "Maybe even before that."

"You're such a pessimist." Tally looked at her superior with a sympathetic smile. "My grandfather tells me stories about the Bronze. He says that there were still heroes then."

"I suppose so if one expands their definition of 'hero'." Riley held up a silencing hand to the employee. "Don't start. I'm going back to my office and get a hold of the court offices at the Tower of Justice." She grimaced. How ironic considering the topic of conversation. "Keep me posted."

"Will do boss."

At the corner of the Museum of National History, not far from where the Meta Foundation office building is located, air warped and from it emerged the duster-wearing figure, thin lips curving upward as he smiled. Pushing back his brimmed hat just enough to get a better look, but not enough to cause the shadows shrouding his face to retreat, he took in the people that went back and forth along the steps of the building. After a moment of consideration he pushed the hat downward, completely concealing his face before bringing it back up. Gone was the stubble and the shadows that covered it, replaced by a youthful looking, wide-eyed face with smooth, if slightly messy dark-brown hair. Grabbing the ends of his duster, he pulled it off and dropped it to the ground, where it promptly vanished. Reaching up, he adjusted his collar. Stains and the signs of age that dotted his clothes smoothed out and steadily disappeared. Looking down at himself, the now young man nodded and walked out from around the corner and began to take the stairs.

The museum was cool when he entered. The air came as immediate relief when compared to the oppressive heat from outside.

The heat of summer… I forgot what that was like, he thought to himself, making his way down the main entrance and taking a look around for anything of interest. Nothing immediately stood out to him, but he sauntered forward, feeling that if he looked around something would grab his attention. He knew that something would.

I've missed out on a lot after all. A lot of history to catch up on. How long has it been? Feels like it's been Ages.

He took his time looking through the museum. Some of it fascinated him and others…less so. The room was divided into various periods of history; not exactly novel in his opinion.

This is kid's stuff, he thought, making a turn into a section devoted to a different historical period. It's all about things that I already know. I could have gone to a public library and learned more than I am here.

Still, he had to admit that it was all quite nostalgic. He passed by a photo and paused just long enough to smile at the person pictured on it—a young man with long, bushy hair sticking out in all directions.

You never did cut that hair of yours, Tai. Right up until the end.

He was about to move on when something beneath the photo finally did catch his attention. His eyes widening for a moment, he moved in for a closer look.

"Look at you…" he whispered, pressing a hand against the glass. Beneath it, barred from his touch, was a small, fist-sized, pale egg.

I didn't think one of you could still be around. Not after all the trouble that you kept giving the world the last time I walked the world. His expression became firm and he curled his fingers into a tight fist. Can't have you sitting there…

His fist thrust forward and glass exploded inward. He grabbed the egg just as the alarm began to ring.