Halo Eleven: Nanami:
Nanami lay in her bathtub dazed.
“Sometimes, I wonder if I am worth saving,” she muttered.
“What are you talking about?” her fiancé asked. The math teacher glanced over at her lover/colleague.
“Jiro-kun,” she said. “Would you still love me if I was damaged goods?” Nanami heard footsteps at the bathroom door.
“What do you mean?” Jiro asked. His fiancée’s eyes rolled up to the dimly-colored ceiling. How could she bring herself to tell him? It wasn’t her fault that she ended up as a sex slave to some seedy gentleman’s club, but would this good man ever believe her? Nanami didn’t even want to know how he would react to the truth. What if he left her out of disgust? She couldn’t see how she would live with herself if that happened. The teacher closed her eyes as more tears started to well up in them.
“Are you feeling okay?” Jiro asked. Nanami shook her head.
“No!” she wailed.
“What’s matter?” he asked. “I want to help you, but I can’t do that if you want tell me what’s wrong.” I don’t think you can help me at all, his fiancée thought. She gulped as opened her eyes.
“Jiro-kun,” Nanami spoke up.
“Hm?” her fiancé asked. She turned her head to the door opened ajar.
“Can you promise me something?” the math teacher asked.
“What is it?” Jiro asked. Nanami pressed her lips together as she closed her eyes.
“Will you stay by me no matter how ugly things get?” she asked. The teacher could feel herself starting to cry.
“You know I will,” her fiancé said at last.
“Do you mean it?”
“I always will.”
It didn’t sound to reassuring, but it would have to do for now. Nanami looked up at the ceiling again.
“Thank you,” she said in a small voice.
The tadpoles gathered around Mikado at the public library.
“Go on, tell them,” Emily said.
“Okay, okay,” Mikado said.
“Tell us what?” Midori asked. The founder of the Dollars sighed and dropped his shoulders.
“You guys remember that girl who jumped in front of the train at Ikebukuro station, right?” he asked.
“What about her?” Nami asked. Mikado clenched his fists at his sides.
“I saw her die,” he said in a low voice. “She was one of us.” A wave of shock washed over their faces.
“What?!” the tadpoles yelled.
“When were you going to tell us this?” Midori asked. Mikado shrugged and shook his head.
“I was in shock,” he said. “I tried to get Azusa to come with us, but she chose to die instead.”
“Why didn’t you try harder?!” Tetsu shouted as he shot up from his chair at the table. “We could’ve helped her get through this! Why didn’t you stop her from jumping?!”
“Lay off of him, man!” Masaomi said back. “He tried to save her. Clearly she wanted to die anyway. Don’t lay this on him!” Tetsu snorted.
“Easy for you to say,” he grumbled. “You’re just a normal human!”
“Tetsu-kun!” a stern voice snapped. “Enough!” Tetsu turned around to see Taichi looking at him like a disappointed dad. The fire tadpole sat back down in his seat.
“Fine,” he said. “I’ll hold off.”
“Uh… Tetsu, who’s that?” Emily asked. Tetsu perked up with a glowing smile on his face.
“Oh,” he said. “This is my love, Adachi Taichi.” His boyfriend sat next to him, pushing up his black-framed glasses.
“Nice to meet you,” he said, bowing.
“So you told him,” Midori said. “Good.” She turned to Mikado.
“I think Azusa chose to die because she didn’t have anyone to prevent her from breaking down,” she said.
“How do you mean?” Kohaku asked.
“Well, Mikado-kun has Masaomi,” Midori said. “Tetsu has his partner.” Tetsu nodded as he listened.
“So we need someone we are close to who’s a normal to keep us grounded in a way?” he suggested.
“Exactly,” the time tadpole said. “Or just someone you can be really close to that will be understanding.”
“Anyone know what power that Azusa had?” Akiko asked. Mikado held onto his wrist.
“I think she could increase someone’s desires,” he said. “I don’t think she could control it.” The founder of the Dollars glanced up to see all eyes on him.
“She said that she had killed her mother, boyfriend, best friends, and a few other people because of it.” The other tadpoles looked rather grim.
“I think…” Kohaku spoke up. All eyes fell on her and she drew her mouth closed.
“I’m sorry,” she mumbled. Nami rubbed her on the back.
“No, go ahead,” she said. “I’m sure you having something interesting to say. You barely speak up when we’re together anyway.” Kohaku looked her straight in the eye.
“Are you sure it’s okay?” she asked.
“Yes,” Nami insisted. The other tadpole looked at her hands.
“I think we need to find the other tadpoles as soon as possible,” she said. “So they don’t end up like Satoshi and Azusa.”
“And how do we do that?” Akiko asked. Kohaku shook her head.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I guess we could keep calling, texting, and e-mailing them. Plus, we can all talk to each other telepathically.”
“I guess it could work out,” Mikado said. Kohaku gave herself a little smile.
“See?” Nami whispered in her ear. “People will listen to you if you speak up.” She nodded.
“What do we do with the new power we got from Azusa?” Akiko asked. “We now can hear more thoughts now too.”
“I guess we don’t talk anybody until we know how to control them better,” Midori said.
“Agreed,” Tetsu said.
“But what do we do with Shingen and his wife?” Nami asked. Everyone turned their attention to her. The water tadpole put up her hands in a shrug.
“They are going to find out the new changes soon anyway,” she said. “What do we do with those guys?” Tetsu narrowed his eyes.
“We tell them nothing,” he hissed. “We still don’t know what their true motives are.” The other tadpoles said nothing.
Instinct told them that they had other things to worry about.
-Kitano and Etsuko-
Kitano took the two hairs from Celty’s head and held it near the tadpole blood sample on the table.
“Do you see anything on the tablet?” he asked. Etsuko looked down at on her screen.
“No,” she said. Kitano slowly inched the hairs from the blood sample.
“How about now?” he asked.
“Still nothing,” the doctor said. Her boss moved the hairs further away. He looked up, but Etsuko shook her head. Kitano moved the hairs further away.
“Hang on,” she said. “I’m starting to get readings again. Keep moving the hairs away.” Kitano stuffed his hand with the hairs in the pocket and backed up to the doorway. The therapist even went as far as to step out into the hallway for extra measure.
“The readings are coming back!” Etsuko shouted to the doorway. Kitano walked back into the room.
“Well, what do you know?” he asked. “The bored little child can be useful at times.” Etsuko swiped her finger across the screen.
“I’ve analyzed the hairs this morning,” she said. “On the surface, they look like ordinary hair you would find on a human. But look at this.” Etsuko moved her finger across the screen. She blew up the image of the magnified image of one of the hairs. Kitano watched as the doctor pointed at the screen.
“A number of cross sections are different from a human’s hair,” she summed up. As Etsuko spoke, the wheels in Kitano’s head started to turn.
“How long would it take to extract from the hairs to create a way to subdue our pets?” he asked aloud. The doctor turned her head.
“That would depend on how much we’re going to make and how many we want to subdue,” she said. Kitano did some thinking.
“Let’s try one for now,” he said.
“Will we need more hairs?”
Etsuko rose to her feet. “I’ll go prepare the lab and get to work.” Suddenly, her cell phone buzzed in her coat pocket.
“Excuse me,” she said. The doctor pulled out her phone. She smiled when she went to her text messages.
“Looks like the girls found the next gate,” Etsuko said.
“Excellent,” Kitano said. “Where?” She handed him her phone. The therapist whistled when he saw the picture attachment.
“Oh!” he said.
“This is going to be entertaining now,” the doctor said.
-Nanami and Keiichi-
Nanami had just gotten out of the bath when her phone rang.
“Hello?” she asked.
“Nanami-san?” a young man’s voice asked on the other line.
“Hello, Keiichi,” the teacher said.
“Hi. I’m just calling to check on you.”
Nanami raised her eyebrow. “Did Celty-san tell you to do this?”
He nervously laughed over the phone. “Sort of.”
The teacher sighed as she rubbed her forehead. “You’re still not good at comforting a woman, are you?”
“I’m trying. Celty is helping me out.”
“I’m still struggling. Thanks for calling.”
“I think I might found an interesting tip this morning.”
Nanami perked up. “What did you find?”
“I had just gotten up for the morning when someone knocked on my door. When I answered the door, no one was there, but I found a package addressed to me from Arisu,” Keiichi said. Her stomach dropped at his upbeat tone.
“Are you sure it’s from her?” she asked.
“I’m sure of it!” he said.
“It could be a trap.”
“I don’t think so. There was a note attached to it. Hang on.” Nanami could hear the rustling of plastic and paper on the other line.
“Here it is,” Keiichi said. “To Keiichi-kun in the event that something were to happen to me. Please finished what I started. Arisu.”
“That does sound like her,” Nanami said. “Was there anything else?”
“No, just this key at the bottom of the package,” he said. “I know where this goes.”
“Where?” the teacher asked.
“There is a storage building on campus,” Keiichi said. “Some of the students keep valuable things there. It’s not cheap, though. The fees can really pile up on you if you aren’t careful.”
“What does it all mean?” Nanami asked. “Why would Arisu-chan send you a key?”
“I think, and now go with me on this,” he said. “She must have left some important things for me. Real important things.” The teacher picked up on how he said “important things”.
“Are you alone right now?” she asked.
“Of course,” Keiichi said. “Shirley’s asleep in my bed. I just checked five minutes ago.”
“Are you going to look in that storage place?”
“I have to. I promised Sora-kun that I would bring his mom home at all costs.”
“Please be careful.”
“I will. Just like I will call you tomorrow,” Keiichi said. Nanami stared at her phone after he hung up. Just like Jiro’s words, they weren’t really encouraging, but they would have to do for now.
-Sunday, 7:00 a.m.-
Yuka looked at her cell phone. Cutie Aphrodite went through successfully. She had to admit that Chirin had become so much handsomer over the past week and a half. Seeing his face tempted her to cross the ethical line. Yayoi couldn’t stop talking about all of the naughty things she wanted to do to his body. The whole time, Anna gloated as she worked on her latest formula.
“Pretty good work, huh?” she asked yesterday.
“Yes, yes,” Yuka said. “Will you shut up about it?” Her colleague leaned forward with a huge grin on her face.
“Nope!” she said. “This is my first baby. The first of many more to come.” The former orderly rolled her eyes.
“Whatever,” she mumbled. “Why exactly did you have to make them that hot? That’s something I would expect out of that slut, Yayoi. Then again, I didn’t expect her to know much about chemistry either.” Anna giggled as there was a gleam in her glasses.
“The world will be ending soon, yes?” she asked.
“As Kitano-sensei and the others say,” Yuka answered.
“Well, why not let the tadpoles get some bedroom action before the new world comes?” Anna asked with a shrug. Her colleague gave her a strange look.
“New world?” she asked.
“Why not?” the other intern asked. “It’s possible. But alas, we’ll never get to see it. I’m almost jealous of those tadpoles now that I think about it. Still, these experiments to make them perfect seem like a fair trade to me.” Yuka narrowed her eyes at her.
“You are weird, you know?” she asked.
“I get that a lot,” Anna said, leaning back in her chair.
Today, Yuka looked up when she heard knocking on the lab door.
“They’re here now, sensei,” Yuka said over the microphone.
“I’ll let them in,” Kitano said. His intern looked up as the doors slid open. The rest of the interns walked inside. Yuka clapped her hands together.
“Welcome!” she said. The intern did a quick head count of everyone in the lab. She instantly perked up.
“Great, now that we’re all here, who’s up next?” Yuka asked. Yuzuru stepped forward.
“I believe I am,” she said. Yuka pulled out the tape recorder and hit record. Behind the glass, her boss counted down before he could speak.
“You may begin the experiment,” Kitano said over his microphone.
“Good morning, everyone,” Yuka said. “My name is Ogawa Yuka and I will be conducting the second addition of the augmentations to the test subjects.” She waited for a brief moment before resuming.
“Last time Konoe-san gave us her drug,” she said. “Who’s next?” Yuzuru raised her hand.
“I am,” she said in her usual monotone voice.
“What do you have for us today?” Yuka asked. Her colleague pushed up her glasses and handed her the glass container. Her colleague looked inside.
“What is this?” she asked as she looked at the round deep indigo pills inside.
“I have named them Athena,” Yuzuru spoke up.
“Okay,” her fellow intern said. “Our second drug that will be administered into the augmentation experiment has been given to us by Marusa Yuzuru whom has named her drug Athena.” Yuka twisted the plastic container open. Everyone watched as each little flower was fed an indigo pill. Yuka stepped back when the last flower closes.
“And now, we wait,” she said. The Heartseed glowed a bright indigo. It was all Anna could do to keep from squealing aloud.