Friday, January 17, 2014

Digital Merge: Chapter 3

Digital Merge

 Chapter 3 (or, "The Monitor")

"Uh, Tamasine...just where have we ended up?"
"I will agree with Rosa. I do believe we were just seated back in QWERTY headquarters, so to now be in a new city is quite strange indeed."
"No need to fear, girls. This is all completely normas...including the way you are feeling right now."
Tamasine finally opened his eyes. The sky overhead was a bright blue, then suddenly blocked out by the gaze of Isabel Gonzalez. "Awake, Tama?"
"That I am." Tamasine sat up and saw that Rosa was helping Jen do the same. "Just where have we landed?"
"In world 928-A, of course! Granted, we've landed in an alley, but Sarah usually does that on purpose."
"Sarah?" Rifka asked, and Tama noticed she wasn't too far from himw also seated on the ground in the alley.
Isabel laughed. "Gather around, guys. I'll give you the lowdown."
All five Dealey kids took seats on the ground around Isabel. She pulled out her communication device and pushed a few buttons. "Since I'm with you this time, I'm going to set up the session. But evenutally, if you five decide to stick together as a unit, one of you will do this for the whole team."
"I don't see why we wouldn't stick together," Rosa said. "We do make a great team."
"After all, we've stuck together thus far." Jason nudged Tama. "And I'm still a fan of calling this man our leader."
Tama blushed. "You guys..."
"I'll show you how to do it in a little while," Isabel said. "But for now, we need to focus on our mission. What is the first step when you arrive in a new world?"
Jen raised his hand. "You have to make sure you are unable to be seen by others, and decide who is going to lead the mission."
"Right. The leader of the mission is...?"
"The one who contacts the guardian, once he or she is decided on, and then helps them with their tasks," Jen continued.
"The rest of us can be seen by the guardian, but nobody else can see us. The example you gave was when Sarah contacted your friend Carissa to save your world," Rosa chimed in.
Isabel nodded. "Right. Check your devices and make sure that you are invisible." All five took a quick look and saw the bold "I" icon at the top right of their screen. "Good. Sarah did mention that this world is similar to the one we came from. That's why she picked it as your first world to save. But it's more than just that. If you walk with me, I think we'll be able to figure out who's going to lead this mission very easily. Follow, please."
When Isabel stepped out of the alley, the Dealey Five followed, walking down a hardly used street and then onto a main pathway. The sight before them surprised them: a huge city skyline met their gaze, with tall towers and people walking everywhere. The streets had lines on them, and while there were a few cars, it was mostly a city full of pedestrians. And everything was colorful, from the buildings to what the people wore.
It all blended together, all far-off in the distance. Jason had to smile. "Are we back in New York?"
"That would be too easy," Isabel said with a smirk.
Jason turned to Isabel. "You know where we are, don't you? Where did Sarah put us?"
"I know where we are."
Everybody turned to Tama, who had his eyes on the city. "Where are we, nii-chan?" Jen asked, stepping to Tama's side.
Tama gave Jen a small smile. There were tears in his eyes, if one looked closely. "It's a little different, but that's the Tokyo Tower. I think I'm home."
"That you are," Isabel said, and everybody gathered around Tama in a group hug. They all knew the story of how Tama had come from the war-ravaged Tokyo in their world, and how he had he had lost most of his family in an explosion. It was the reason Tama wore his goggles, as a reminder of where he had came from.
"So this is another version of Tokyo?" Rifka asked.
"I've done a couple of studies on this world," Isabel said. "Normally you guys will do these first, but all in time. This Tokyo is part of a Japan that has made an alliance with all of East Asia. Japan, Korea, and China ane united under a similar philosophy and ideal, and very similar governments that all work together. That was not the case in our worlds...either of them."
"We know," Jen chimed in. If Jen and Tama could still exist in their old world, they would have been bitter enemies, Tama from Japan and Jen from Soviet China.
"There was a Great War a few years back on this planet," Isabel continued. "I couldn't find anything out about the war itself, but the countries banded together to win it. That's why this Tokyo is so prosperous. Sarah suggested we start here, not only because Tama knows Tokyo and can help us, but because prosperous areas are good places to find guardians. Can anybody remind me what we look for in a guardian?"
"I can," Rifka said. "It is usually helpful if a guardian is younger, and has not been through any great trauma in their lives. This way, they can understand our point of view and work with us, instead of being a rebel. Once a guardian is chosen, another one cannot be."
"It makes sense culturally as well," Tama noted. "Compare me and Jason. I'm quieter than Jason because Japanese people go with the flow more easily and don't cause a stir, whereas that's all Jason does sometimes."
Jason blushed. "Hey!"
"So a peaceful Tokyo would be a great place to find a guardian for this world," Tama concluded.
"And nobody better to escort us around this Tokyo than the person who has lived in one before, right?" Isabel asked with a smile. "What do you say we make Tama our leader this time around? Different missions will give strengths and weaknesses to different members of your team, and this time around, it falls heavily in Tama's favor."
"So where should we start, Tama dear?" Rosa asked with a smile on her face.
Tama smiled back at Rosa. "Right at the middle."
No sooner did he speak than their devices reacted, and they transported them to the center of Tokyo. They found themselves in an intersection with six lanes, and loads of traffic all around them. Rosa covered her ears. "何でもー" She covered her mouth. "これが何?!?"
Tama's eyes widened. "You're speaking Japanese, Rosa-chan!"
"もう。" Rosa shook her head.
"すべてわいいです、" Tamasine heard Rifka say. "私たちがはなせます、でしょう?"
"Yeah, I can understand you guys just fine," Tama said. He turned to Jen. "Right, Didi?"
"Of course!" Jen said back. Like Tama, Jen was fluent in Japanese, as well as Russian and his native Chinese.
Isabel laughed. "We're all speaking Japanese now because we're here in Japan," she said. "The phones calibrated this change so we can understand the locals. It will usually do this."
"だぐう" Jason said, a sour look on his face. "英語がきこえたい。" The group normally communicated in English, the official language of the Dealey faction. Everybody normally talked through an automatic translator save for the Los Angeles-born Jason.
"Oh, come on, Jason. Watching you struggle is fun," Tama said with a smirk.
Jen giggled. "It's even kind of cute."
Tama felt the color go to his face. "I wouldn't go that far. Let's get back to business. We need some ideas for a guardian of this world. Someone young who hasn't been through any trauma, but still someone who can shoulder the responsibility of the entire world on their shoulders --"
Tama jumped. "No, there aren't any blonde people in Japan," he told Rosa, but as he turned toward where Rosa was looking, he felt like eating his words. There was a huge television screen on the side on a building, and several people around him were looking at it. On the screen, a girl with a tan and long blonde hair -- but still extremely Japanese -- was talking about something. Tama struggled to make the words out. It was definitely Japanese, but the accent and slang were different that what he was used to.
"Coming up in five minutes! We'll have our Digital Merge news round, hosted by yours truly, Kiiroka Jaci! We have the list of the lucky three who won the lottery to be a part of Rhiannon's big announcement, plus a big shake up in the rankings! We'll have an exclusive interview with Tomoyaki Erika that you won't want to miss!"
"What are they talking about?" Jen asked Tama.
Tama shrugged. "We should watch and find out more. Nobody can see us, right? But we can watch this program. It's clearly news, so we can find out more about this Tokyo and know how to proceed, or even where we can find a guardian."
“We only have to wait five minutes, right?” Jen asked.
Tama nodded. “Of course.”
Before long, the screen lit up again after displaying advertisements for products Tama had mostly never heard of before. The same blonde haired girl was back, this time with another girl with red and blue hair. “Thanks for sticking around, sportsfans! Kiiroka Jaci here with Tomoyaki Erika, the newest star of Digital Merge to splash onto the scene! Erika-san, care to introduce yourself?”
“Sure. I’m just a fourteen year old girl from Odaiba who got into Digital Merge a long time ago. There’s something about saving the world everyday that appeals to me.”
Those words stuck in Tama’s head -- there’s something about saving the world everyday that appeals to me -- and he leaned in closer, as if getting any closer to the screen would mean he would learn more. “Did you guys hear that?”
“ない、” Jason said. Apparently Tama was the only person making heads or tails of what was going on.
He strived to pay more attention to what was going on. Kiiroka-san was still interviewing this girl who had apparently saved worlds before. “Of course, the most recent news has been about Rhiannon’s press announcement later on tonight, in the Green Room at Cerulean Tower. I heard you personally were invited.”
Tama let out a smile. “Guys, guess where we’re going tonight.”

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