Halo Eighteen: Girls:
Tadpole girls are wired differently than their male counterparts. On the surface, they look the same. But after going through the notes and running more tests, Shingen and Emilia began to see exactly how different.
“What do you notice about each of these samples, Emilia?” Shingen asked. His wife took a look at each of the charts.
“Oh my!” she said. “How is this even possible?”
“I don’t really know yet,” the older doctor replied. “They’ve probably noticed it themselves.” Already, the couple had more tests lined up. Whether this was intentional or a happy accident, that’s not clear enough to be certain. Shingen, Emilia, and the rest of Nebula had to find out. Meanwhile, the Tadpole Branch worked on new drugs for the new augmentations for both the males and females.
Name: Akimoto Emily
Power: Commands Taiyou
She was the first one to experience her awakening. Emily sat in the mirror, brushing her hair. The tadpole glanced behind her to see Taiyou sitting in the corner. On day one once she got over the initial shock, Emily laid down three rules for her new familiar.
“You are not allowed in my room when I am changing clothes,” she told him. “You are now allowed to be in the bathroom with me. And please do not go into my school.” She stared him down as she sat on her bed. This tall samurai-looking man in all-white fixed his gaze on her. The poor girl made up the excuse that she was too sick to go to school. Emily stayed locked up in her room as she tried to figure out what to do with her newly “awakened” powers. Now, the tadpole girl puffed up her cheeks.
“Yes, Emily-sama,” Taiyou said, bowing. His master rubbed her forehead.
“You don’t have to call me, ‘-sama,’” she said. “Just my name would be fine.”
“Yes, Emily-sama,” her spirit familiar repeated. The tadpole girl sighed as she guested that was the only thing he wasn’t going to stop doing. Emily waved him off as she shook her head.
“Forget I said that,” she said.
“Yes, Emily-sama,” Taiyou said, bowing. Something told her that she would have to “train” a little bit to get him to not be so proper all of the time.
“Emily, who are you talking to?” her mom asked. The girl froze and turned around to her closed bedroom door.
“Uh… No one!” she was quick to say. “I was just… reading something aloud for homework!” Emily prayed that her mother wouldn’t ask any more questions or come up to her room to check on her. She wasn’t ready to explain to her mom who the strange samurai-looking man was and what he was doing in her room.
“Could you please do it quietly?” her mom asked. “I can barely hear the TV.” Emily breathed out.
“Okay,” she said. “I’m sorry.”
“That’s okay, honey,” her mom said. “Dinner will be ready in ten minutes.”
“Alright,” Emily said. She turned back to Taiyou.
“Please stay in here when I go down to eat dinner,” the tadpole girl whispered. “I promise I will bring you back something to eat.”
“Yes, Emily-sama,” Taiyou replied. His master threw back her head and groaned.
Even today, Emily doesn’t get him. He still follows her around everywhere she goes. He sits out in the hall when she’s in the bathroom or changing clothes. When she was in school, Taiyou waited for her at the school gates. He followed any command he gave her. But, Emily still couldn’t figure him out. She never saw him eat or sleep.
“Do you have to follow every command I give you?” Emily asked on her bed this morning.
“Yes, my lady,” Taiyou said.
“Why?” I asked.
“I was born from your soul,” he said, bowing. “I follow your every command.”
“But I don’t know much about you,” Emily said. “You barely eat or sleep at all. What do you like to do for fun?”
“Fun?” he asked.
“Yeah, what do you like to do for fun?” she asked. “Do you like to read?”
“Do you like to play games?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you like classical music?”
“I don’t know.”
“What kind of music do you like?”
“I don’t know.”
“What’s your favorite food?”
“I don’t know.”
“What’s your favorite drink?”
“I don’t know.”
“What don’t you like?”
“I don’t know.”
Emily rubbed her forehead. How many months had they been together? Looks like she would have some work to do. Emily reached over to her nightstand and pulled out her iPod.
“I made a playlist of music for you,” she said. “It’s mostly classical music. Please listen to it and tell me what you think.”
“Yes, my lady,” Taiyou said, bowing. Emily shrugged it off again. She couldn’t break him of his speaking habits, but she could at least give him somewhat of a personally if he was going to serve her for the rest of her life. That alone wasn’t going to be easy.
Name: Shono Nami
She’s had Kohaku at her side even before they were forced into hell. Her friend has followed her lead. Nami had to be the one in control to her meek friend. But, who was going to be the one to take care of her?
Nami leaned against a brick wall in an alley. She let her mind wander off to her future. I’m going to have this weird powers for the rest of my life, Nami thought. She looked down at her hands. The bubbles forming under her skin didn’t shock her as much anymore. At least, the tadpole didn’t have to worry about flooding any room that she was in. That didn’t change all of the lying that she would have to do for her mother. Nami shrugged her shoulders and shook her head. Not like that woman really cared. Her mother was probably off enjoying her new boyfriend like she always was. The water tadpole sighed and shook her head.
“What does it matter anymore?” she asked herself. Nami paused when she heard something sniffing around. The girl turned her head.
A small Kishu puppy walked the alley sniffing the ground. Right away, Nami fell in love. She walked over to the little dog.
“Hey there,” she said. “Aren’t you a little cutie?” The puppy looked at her with his big brown eyes.
Excuse me, I’m so thirty.
Nami gasped. Did I just hear a puppy’s thoughts? The water tadpole looked around before she looked at the little puppy. His little eyes begged her to help him out. Nami smiled and dropped her shoulders.
“Why not?” she asked. The tadpole girl held up her hand over the little puppy. Her new friend’s little tongue flicked back and forth to catch all of the little drops falling down. Nami began to smile.
“You like that, huh?” she asked. The puppy drank up the little drops falling from her hand. Nami herself felt so warm for a change. When was the last time other than Kohaku when she found a real friend? She drew back her hand when the dog finished drinking her water.
Thank you so much.
“You’re welcome,” Nami said. Then an idea came into her head.
“Say, would you like to come home with me?” she asked. The puppy’s ears perked up as he stared barking. Nami could’ve sworn she could hear angels singing at that response.
“Well, okay,” she said. Nami picked up the little puppy and carried him off with her. Her new friend rested his head against her side.
You’re a nice lady.
Nami pet the little puppy on the head.
Name: Kimio Kohaku
Power: “Eats” sins of people
She peeked into the nurse’s office at her school. Kohaku held her breath and knocked on the door. The school nurse looked up.
“Oh, Kimio-chan, you’re still here?” she asked. Kohaku lowered her head.
“Yeah,” she mumbled. Her eyes stayed focused on the nurse’s right shoulder. On the day of her awaking, Kohaku saw a small white shadowy figure on her beloved nurse’s shoulder. Only the eyes and mouth were as black as coal. It opened its mouth like a hungry fish. The way it stared at her crept her out.
“Is something the matter?” the nurse asked. How many times had Kohaku tried to do this? Three of her classmates were much happier because of her. So why couldn’t she bring herself to do the same for the school nurse that would help her not to go home? Kohaku pressed her lips together.
“Uh… well…” she mumbled. The tadpole girl looked and saw that little creature on the nurse’s shoulder again. She knew that it could see her. This creature was why the nurse looked like she wanted to cry when Kohaku came to visit her. The girl did ask her one day before her awakening.
“It’s nothing,” the nurse would say. “It just an old pain that will stay with me forever.” Today, Kohaku decided to do something about it. She walked up to her beloved school nurse.
“Kimio-chan?” the nurse asked. Kohaku reached out her hand towards the nurse’s shoulder. Her fingers closed around the creature.
“What are you…?” the nurse began to ask. Her whole body went limp in her chair. Only Kohaku could hear the creature screaming under her hand. She closed her eyes and began to see its true nature. A baby’s cry filled her ears. What am I going to do? My parents would disown me if they found out. Kohaku didn’t let up and the last of the creature disappeared into her hand. The skin on her palm rippled for three minutes before going still. Kohaku drew back her hand and looked at the school nurse. The woman slumped back in her chair, panting.
“I am sorry that I had that abortion,” she said in a small voice. A tear ran down her cheek. Kohaku reached over and wiped it away.
“It’s okay now,” she whispered. But when Kohaku turned and looked in the mirror, a terrifying site caught her eye.
Name: Koike Akiko
Power: Mind control
She waits for the footsteps to come again. Every month, she has to do this. Why doesn’t she go ahead and make things easier by using her power more often? Akiko asks herself the same question.
There comes a knock on her door.
“Koike-san!” the landlord’s voice shouted. “Open up, I am here to collect your bill!” The tadpole girl stood up and walked over to the front door. A man in his early forties stood in the outside with an envelope in his hand. Akiko frowned when she saw him.
“Oh,” she said. “It’s you.” He gave her a calm smile.
“You know I have to do this,” the landlord said. “If you are struggling with your bills, you can always ask a family member for help.” Akiko all but snorted at the suggestion.
“I told you that I can’t do that,” she said. The landlord sighed.
“You know the rules, Koike-chan,” he said.
“Yes, I do,” she said. “Now, could you please go away and don’t bother me about the rent for the next six months.” The landlord’s eyes went blank.
“Yes, Koike-chan,” he said. The middle-aged man turned and walked away. Akiko shook her head and closed the door. She leaned against the wood and sighed. The tadpole barely had enough money to cover rent given her situation. Like hell she would ever good home and ask for help. The last thing she wanted was to go back under the thumb of that woman again.
Her thoughts were interrupted by five knocks on the wooden floor. Akiko forced herself to smile.
“Yeah, I got rid of him,” she said. “For six months this time.” The tadpole wondered why she didn’t try and change how she did things in her home. Maybe there was something tell her that she would be pushing it with her powers. Still, Akiko used them daily and they seemed be getting stronger. She heard six knocks on the floor.
“Okay, okay,” the tadpole girl said. “I’ll go and get breakfast ready.” Akiko turned and headed for the kitchen. Still, this would do for now. After all, she had managed to survive on her own without that woman butting into her life. It wouldn’t hurt to do it a little bit longer until she had a permanent plan to work with.
Name: Amano Midori
Power: Controls time
She flipped her pencil on her desk. Midori’s eyes trailed up to the ceiling. Her parents still asked her about her well-being. It sucked that she would have to lie to them. Her classmates and professors were one thing. They weren’t related by blood. As if on cue, her phone rang.
“Hi, mom,” Midori said.
“How did you do that?” her mother asked. “How did you know it was me?”
“You having always been calling me on Sundays,” her daughter said.
“How have you been?”
“I’m doing good as always.” Usually they would descend into boring chit-chat about daily life. Her mother talked about her neighbors while Midori talked about school. But, this evening, both had heavy questions to ask.
“Midori-chan,” her mother said.
“Yeah?” the time tadpole asked.
“What would you say if I started dating again?” her mother asked. Her daughter about fell out of her chair.
“What?!” Midori shouted. “When did this happen?”
“It hasn’t happened yet. I met someone at work about two weeks ago and we have been getting close. He’s geeky, but pretty cute in a strange way.”
“Is he nice?”
Midori pushed her black bangs away from her forehead. “What do you want, mom?”
“I don’t really know… I haven’t been on a date in years,” her mother confessed. The time tadpole smiled.
“Mom, you don’t need my approve for things,” she said. “If you want to ask him out, go for it.”
“Thanks, honey,” her mother said. Midori lowered her eyes and pressed her lips together. Her question just came out without any thought behind it.
“Mom, if I changed in any way that was terrifying, would you still love me?” she asked.
“Of course I would, honey,” her mother said. “Why would you ask?” Midori felt like crying now.
“Goodbye, mom,” she said. The time tadpole hung up before her mom could ask any more questions.
Name: Oshima Anzu
She sat in Shinra and Celty’s apartment all wired up. It was Anzu’s turn to be subjected to the new tests conducted by Nebula. Emilia put on the final touches.
“Everything’s ready, dear,” she said. Shingen stuck up his thumb. Anzu’s eyes shifted back and forth.
“What are you going to do to me?” she asked.
“We just want to see what your powers are,” Shingen said with a chart in his hand. Anzu tilted her head.
“Is that all?” she asked.
“Why yes,” Emilia said. The tadpole had a calm expression on her face.
“May I have a knife?” she asked.
“A knife, what for?” the researcher woman asked.
“You want to see my powers, right?” Anzu asked. “Then please get me a knife.” Emilia turned to her husband. Shingen nodded once.
“Alright, hang on,” his wife said. Emilia walked into the kitchen. She returned with a kitchen knife in her hand.
“Thank you,” Anzu said. She took the knife and slit her left arm from wrist to elbow. Emilia covered her mouth, gasping.
“It’s okay,” the tadpole said. She stood up and reached into the fresh cut. Anzu clenched her teeth as she drew out a bloody sword the size of Saika. The tadpole stumbled around as she panted. The numbers on Emilia’s tablet spiked.
“This is what I can do,” Anzu said once she got her breath back. Emilia reached out to touch the blade of the blood sword.
“Don’t!” Anzu shouted. “It’s just as sharp as any real sword.”
“How long does it stay like that?” Shingen asked.
“I don’t know,” the test subject said. “I try not to use it so much. It puts strain on my body and I end up feeling anemic.” The couple looked intrigued at these new revelations.
“Looks like we’ll have to get started on all of the tests!” Shingen said. Anzu slumped back into her seat. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Name: Kurosawa Madoka
Power: Powerful eyesight
She looked down at her red-framed glasses. By now, Madoka had no choice but to try and get used to her powerful eyes. She didn’t want to have to see everything all the time. But, it beat being dizzy with headaches all the time.
“Bye-bye,” Madoka said before putting her glasses away in her desk drawer. With a heavy heart, she slid it closed. Now what? All of her admirers would comment on what beautiful grey-brown eyes she had. Naturally, they would ask where her glasses were. A little lie about them being broken would hold them over for the time being. But, that still didn’t fix the other problems she still had.
Madoka still couldn’t remember all of her time at Chou Mori. The year she turned eight was only in fragments. Her grandmother didn’t want to talk about it to her. Her grandfather, on the other hand, itched to say something to her about that year. He never got the chance due to becoming so ill that he had to go away in a nursing home for extra care.
The tadpole pushed her dark brown bangs from her forehead. Midori had been the only one her age willing to talk to her when she needed an ear to talk into. The women had become closer, but she didn’t see them as friends just yet. They were just pushed together due to the situation that they were forced in. If things were normal, Madoka and Midori would probably never cross paths. Still, all of the tadpoles needed someone to latch onto to keep them grounded. Mikado had Masaomi. Tetsu had Taichi. Nami and Kohaku appeared to be close. Maybe Madoka and Midori could form a friendship like that until they all could figure out how to get out of this hell.
That was another thing.
None of them could get rid of these “gifts” that Tandeki oh so gleefully “gifted” them with. Madoka shuddered at the thought of being with this powerful eyesight for the rest of her life. It didn’t help to have heightened senses either. Another trait that freaked her out was that she found herself so hungry all of the time. No matter how much she ate, the tadpole found that herself wanting to eat more food. All of her admirers started to make lunches just for her. It crept Madoka out, but she would eat them all with a smile.
“You really do know how to put that bento away,” one of her classmates commented. Madoka didn’t want to be seen as a pig to her friends. Sadly, her body demanded to be fed no matter what. Stranger still was that she didn’t seem to gain a single pound. The tadpole looked up at the ceiling. She wondered if any of her “brothers and sisters” were experiencing the same thing. With that thought, Madoka looked up when she heard her cell phone buzz. She grabbed it and looked at the screen. One new text from Midori.
“Meet up at Russia Sushi,” it said. With that, Madoka jumped up and shoved her phone into her bag. She walked out the door without a single thought.
Name: Fukao Megumi
Power: Enslaving/Killing lovers through sex
All of the tadpole girls sat around a table at Russia Sushi with their eyes on her. They all had been trading stories about what they could remember from their time at Chou Mori. Anzu had just wrapped up her story. Kohaku had her eyes on Megumi.
“Why did you get committed?” she asked in a tiny voice. The newest girl in their group sighed and rubbed her forehead.
“I’ve got no choice, do I?” she asked.
“It’s only fair,” Midori said. “We all shared our stories.” Megumi put down her hand. She swirled around her half-empty cup.
“Fine,” she said. “I lived a great life with just Daddy, our next-door neighbor, and myself. Mom died after I was born. Daddy gave me everything that I wanted. He was great at doing my hair too.” Megumi frowned before finishing off her tea.
“Everything was going great until Daddy married that bitch,” she said.
“A step-mother from Hell?” Akiko asked as her interest peeked.
“More or less,” Megumi said. “She was a total bitch. She tried to control me. We fought all of the time. That bitch went through my clothes and things. She would spy on all of my boyfriends. She even tried to take away my cell phone.”
“Sounds to me she was just being a parent,” Midori said. Megumi cut her a cold glare.
“Daddy and our neighbor were already doing a good job with that,” she said. “She just had to come along and screw everything up. Anyway, things got worse when we moved to Ikebukuro.”
“Where did you come from originally?” Nami asked.
“Osaka,” Megumi said. “I was so mad that she took me away from our dear neighbor. By the time I was eighteen, I had enough. So, I plotted regret.” The newest tadpole leaned in with a smirk on her face.
“Bitch-face had a son from a previous marriage,” she said. “Oh, he was so gorgeous! Because he was so hot and he was her precious son, I just had to have him.”
“You didn’t!” Madoka said.
“I did,” Megumi said, flipping back her shoulder-length dark brown hair. “I seduced and we started sleeping together regularly. Hey, he was just that hot. But then, Bitch-face caught us in her bed one night. I turned to her with a smirk on my face. I hurt her, I hurt her good.” The woman frowned.
“Who knew she would ship me off to ‘reform school’ the next day?” she asked. Megumi reached over and poured herself more tea as the other girls sat quiet.
Name: Ishii Riku
On Monday, Shinra and Shingen tracked down the next tadpole. According to the records, she lived in the richer part of Shinjuku. Father and son came up to the apartment. Shinra turned to Shingen.
“Here?” he asked.
“That’s correct,” Shingen said. The younger doctor turned back to the door.
“Okay,” he said. Shinra knocked on the door. A deep brown eye peeked out from the crack of the open door.