Halo Five: Midori:
I started having strange memories around last year. They came in bits and pieces. It all began when I was eight years old. My mother and father never married, but they remained good friends. I won’t bore you with my whole life story. But, I will tell about how I ended up as a tadpole.
I may not remember the whole nightmare, but I remember how it began. It started out as a normal day. At the time, it was Papa’s weekend. He took me out shopping for grandma’s birthday. Mama dropped me off at Denny’s so that Papa and I could have breakfast together. As far as I could remember, everything looked like it was to be another fun visit with Papa’s side of the family. I ordered my usual of pancakes while Papa had ramen.
“Why do you order ramen or curry when we come here?” I asked him that morning.
“They have good ramen here,” he said.
“Can I try some?” I asked. Papa laughed.
“Only if you let me have some of your pancakes,” he said. I frowned and rubbed my forehead.
“Okay,” I said. My pancakes were soft and fluffy like usual. Papa stole a chunk from them and let me have little bit of his ramen. I remember it was too spicy for me. My little eyes and nose started running. Papa took his napkin and wiped my face.
“Drink some of your milk,” he said. I chugged it down as fast I could. I had some of my pancakes to combat the heat.
“Too hot,” I complained. Papa laughed as he patted me on the head.
“Maybe you’ll appreciate when you’re a bit older,” he said. I frowned as I stuffed more pancakes in my mouth. Papa paid for breakfast and we headed to the mall. I kind of don’t remember which store we were in. I think it was one of those little shops that sold gift trinkets. Either was, I was very bored. I wandered around until I came to the greeting card section. I saw this birthday card with a pig in a party hat. For some reason, I grabbed the card and stuffed it in my coat. I was about to head back to my Papa at the counter when I heard someone say, “Psst!” When I turned around, someone pat a cloth over my mouth. The last thing I could remember was struggling to get away and everything going black.
From there, my memory breaks into pieces. I remember being in a grey room with no windows. Someone showing me flash cards. A light being flashed in my eyes. The overwhelming smell of bleach. Being strapped down to a metal table. Needles going into my body.
I’ve had these memories over the years, but they never came together in a single narration. Probably would explain why Papa acted so overprotective of me when I spent the weekends with him after that day. If I went out alone to the places like a convenient, he would call me about every ten minutes. He’d ask where I was, who I was with, and when I would be coming home. I think it was because he blamed himself for my kidnapping years ago. I almost found it annoying at times. I wished that I could tell him that it wasn’t his fault and I was just being a careless kid, but I don’t think he would he do that. Throughout my childhood, my parents would ask about my well-being every single day. Despite everything trying to be normal, I couldn’t help that something wasn’t right with me. When I did bring up some of these memories I had, Mama and Papa would try to pass it off as a nightmare that I had. As much I tried to believe him, but they all felt too real. So real that it made my skin crawl. Despite my memories and the uneasy feeling, I lived a normal life.
Until last year.
It all started back in December around final exams. I was in the middle of my entrance exams for med school when I had a sharp headache. I couldn’t breathe and my vision became blurred while things started to spin.
“Are you okay, Amano-san?” the professor asked. Her voice sounded so distant and pushed underwater. A veil of black covered me as I hit the floor.
While I was sleeping in the nurse’s office, the old memories of that place came back, but this time they felt much stronger. Newer memories blended in with the old ones I had before. Voices asking about if this was only to do something to me because I was so small.
“It’s fine,” a man’s voice said. “We’ve done this project on those twins back in ’89. And they were only five.” Pairs of hands grabbed me by the arms and dragged me down a darkened hall smelling like bleach.
I woke up in the nurse’s office panting.
“Oh good, you’re awake,” the nurse said. I stared at her with big eyes.
“What happened to me?” I asked.
“Your classmates said you got sick and passed out in the middle of your exam,” she said. “They all thought it was nerves.” I slowly shook my head. I didn’t believe it was nerves, but something much sinister. Instead of saying as such, I lay back on my bed and stared at the ceiling. I did get to finish my exam the next day.
It got worse on January eleventh.
The night before I had grown ill and I couldn’t explain why. It started with the dizzy spells in the late evening. My parents and I were out celebrating me getting into medical school. No sooner had we walked into the restaurant had the symptoms and the memories started to hit. The whole entry way started spinning as I tried to keep my balance.
“Midori-chan?” Mama asked. “Sweetheart?” Everything around me kept fading in and out as I swung my hand around for something, anything. Small gaps of time disappeared as I remembered standing outside, vomiting. Papa stood over me with his hand on my shoulder as I panted.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“No!” I wailed. I saw myself sitting in a chair back in that horrible place with wires attached to my forehead.
“Are you sure this is okay to do this on her?” a man’s voice asked. “She’s only a little girl.”
“She can take it,” a woman said. “This is a very strong little girl. She’s survived all of our experiments so far.” I could feel the electrocutions all over again. My body broke down trembling before it went limp.
“Call 119!” was the last thing I heard out of Papa’s mouth.
When I came to in the hospital, I had a feeling something was quite off.
“Hello?” I asked. I was indeed in the hospital, but I couldn’t hear a thing. My eyes trailed over to the clock on the window.
I looked around for a second before I turned my head to the doorway. A nurse looked like was about to walk into my room and check on me. I tilted my head as a confused look covered my face. Why was she still standing there?
“Ma’am?” I asked. She didn’t respond or move from where she stood. I climbed out of bed and walked over to her. (To my surprise, my body felt so light.)
“Hello?” I asked. The nurse didn’t budge as she stood where she was. Wait… Is she…? I looked around in the hallway. It looked like I had walked into a TV show on pause. Everyone else except for me was frozen. After spending the time walking around and seeing if people were really frozen, more questions rose in my mind. How did this happen? Why was this happening? I pinched myself in the cheek, but nothing changed.
“Hello?” I asked again. “Is anyone still moving?” How long was it going to be like this? How was I even going to fix it? I sighed and rubbed my forehead. Sadly, I drew a blank and dropped my right hand by my side. And just like that, everyone started moving around like someone hit play. I about jumped at this sudden change. What just happened?
“Amano-san?” I heard behind me. I turned to see that nurse who was calling into my room eyeing me and she caught her breath.
“Uh… hi…” I said, waving. I chuckled as my eyes shifted left and right. Like hell I was going to tell her that everything around me froze in time.
“What are you doing out in the lobby?” the nurse asked. “When do you wake up?”
“I just got up and felt like walking around for a bit,” I said. “I’m okay now. I don’t know what happened to me last night.”
“Let’s get you back to your room,” she said.
“Really, I’m fine now,” I said. “Could I check myself out?”
“Are you sure that’s a good idea? Shouldn’t you have a doctor exam you first?” the nurse asked. I rubbed my forehead.
“I’m fine, really,” I said. “I just want to go home.”
“At least let me contact your family,” she said. “Please, I will feel better if I did.” She’s not going to give up, is she? I threw back my head and groaned.
“Alright,” I said. “But I’m only going back to my room to get dressed.” I followed that nurse back to my room. No, I didn’t figure about everything freeze around me. I wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating or I slept walked out of my room. If I voiced this to the nurse, she would try to keep me in that hospital longer than I wanted. No, I just wanted to go home.
But then, my cell phone rang as I changed into the fresh set of clothes Mama had left for me overnight.
“Hello?” I asked, thinking it was her or Papa calling to check on me.
“Good morning, Little Bird,” a man’s voice said on the other line. The color drained from my face as I froze.
“Who is this?” I asked as my eyes shifted back and forth.
“I see that you don’t have all of your memory back yet, Little Bird,” he said. “So allow me to re-introduce myself. I am Kitano-sensei and you are one of my tadpoles in out Tadpole Project.”
“Tadpole project?” More flashes of memories skipped around in my head. I started to feel the body running through my body again.
“It’s okay,” Kitano-sensei said. “You’re just experiencing your awakening.”
“My awakening?” I tried to battle through a pounding heartache as it felt like there was a war in my body.
“Have you experienced any strange happenings before I called you? It is not in your interest to lie, Little Bird. We have been watching all of you for quite some time now.”
My eyes widened as I sank to my knees. “Everything froze around me. I couldn’t figure out what happened, but when I dropped my head, everything started moving again.” I didn’t know why I would confess any of this to this faceless monster. Something in his voice commanded to surrender all obedience to him. It still scares me now.
“Ho! This makes things very interest,” Kitano-sensei said.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.
“You will see your powers for what they are,” he said. “We will talk later. I have to go and talk to your brothers and sisters as well.”
“Brothers and sisters? But I’m an only child. You’re not making any sense.”
“We will talk later.” He hung up before I could ask any more questions. I stared at my phone, shaking. I couldn’t tell if I was angry or scared.
Up until this point, I have been learning how to control time. Kitano’s cruel experiments have pushed me to begrudgingly do so. Because of him, I lost my hearing for three straight days. When I woke up that morning and found everything around me completely quiet. At first, I thought my roommate had went on ahead of me. Imagine my shock when I saw her standing in the doorway. She was asking me something, but I couldn’t hear what she was saying.
“What?” I asked repeatedly, shouting. My roommate finally threw my buzzing phone at me. When I looked at the text, my stomach dropped. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the last time Kitano-sensei would torture.
To my amazement, I found others like me in the same boat.
Mikado tilted his head.
“How are you freezing time like this?” he asked. Midori raised her eyebrow.
“With my fingers…” she said.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “But why are you helping us? How did you even find us?”
“I was sent here by Kishitani-sensei after his dad traced your phone.”
“What? What for?”
“They seemed to have discovered something else about us. You have to come with me right now.”
“But…” Mikado turned back to Masaomi, he blackmailer, and Genjo frozen in time. Midori looked at scene.
“Ah,” she said.
“How are you going to unfreeze this?” he asked.
She broke into a little smile. “I will show you. But first, you might want to grab that bullet first.”
“Oh,” Mikado said. He reached over and took down the bullet. Midori dropped her right arm by her side. Masaomi stumbled forward when the scene came unpaused. Mikado grabbed him as fast as he could. Genjo fired five more shots before he ran out of bullets. The blackmailer fell to the ground, two bullets hitting him in shoulder and one in the abdomen. He screamed as the last bullet flew past him.
“You shot me!” the blackmailer screamed. “You fucking shot me!” Genjo stood panting before running away. Mikado and Masaomi looked at the screaming blackmailer on the ground. The latter turned to the new tadpole girl.
“Who is she?” he asked.
“Amano Midori,” the female tadpole said. “I’m another tadpole just like your friend there.”
“Another one?” Masaomi asked.
“Yeah,” she said. “And we have to get to the doctor’s apartment. There is something that he wants to tell us.”
“But what do we do with him?” Mikado asked, looking at the blackmailer shot on ground, trying to stop the blood from his wounds.
“I’ve got it,” the female tadpole said. Midori took out her phone and dialed 119.
“Hello, I would like to report a man being shot,” she said. “It looks pretty bad. Send an ambulance right away.” She hung up and turned to the guy on the ground.
“I have no idea what happened,” Midori said, looking at his bullet wounds. “But judging by your wounds and disposition, I think you’re going to be fine.” She looked around at the neighborhood.
“The ambulance will be here in a few minutes,” Midori said. Mikado listened deep into the distance. The wail of the sirens could be heard miles away.
“Shall we get going?” Midori asked.
“You sure it’s okay to leave him here?” Mikado asked.
“Yeah,” Midori said. “It doesn’t sound like he’s losing too much blood in his body.” The blackmailer stared at three remaining people.
“What the fuck?!” he shouted. “Who are you people?!”
“Just people passing by,” Masaomi lied. “And don’t try to blackmail paranoid old men with guns again. You are just that stupid.” The blackmailer gritted his teeth.
“You!” he snapped. The young man tried to get up, but howled in pain and sat back on the ground. Masaomi shook his head and left with Mikado and Midori.
-Shinra and Celty’s Apartment-
Shinra, Celty, Shingen, Emilia, and the other tadpoles waited for the trio in the living room. Nami, Kohaku, and Emily all sat around Celty. They looked like little girls clinging to their mother. Emilia held a tablet in her hand.
“We’re here now,” Midori said.
“[Welcome back,]” Celty typed. Emilia ran her finger across the screen of her tablet before she turned it off.
“What’s going on here?” Mikado asked as he looked at the group across the room. To him, he couldn’t help but get the feeling was a little bit off.
“We discovered something quite interesting this morning,” Emilia said. “Can you see it, Ryugamine-kun?”
“What the do you mean?” he asked.
“You can see people’s inner demons, right?” Shinra asked.
“Yes,” Mikado said. “Why?” It donned on him that someone in the crowd was missing. Mikado quickly counted everyone on both sides of the room.
“Hey, Emily, what’s Taiyou?” he asked.
“Taiyou?” Masaomi asked.
“He’s Emily’s spirit guardian creature,” Mikado said as he turned to his best friend/bodyguard. But then, he froze. In five seconds, his jaw dropped.
“Kida-kun, your demon’s gone!” he said.
“Huh?” Masaomi asked.
“And there it is,” Shingen said.
“What is he talking about?” Mikado asked Shinra. The younger doctor looked over at his girlfriend.
“Do you want to tell them?” he asked.
“Celty?” Mikado asked.
“[Shingen and Emilia were running tests on Midori and the others when we came home,]” Celty typed on her PDA. “[Apparently, I seemed to have stopped all of their powers.]” Mikado stared at the screen for a few seconds before a confused look came over his face.
“Huh?” he asked. He looked up Shingen and Emilia.
“What is she talking about?” Mikado asked. “Where’s Taiyou and we can’t I see anyone else’s demons right now?”
“Well, it’s a little harder to say,” Shingen said. “We can’t figure out ourselves.”
“Everything in their stats went blank,” Emilia added. “At first, we thought it was the equipment.”
“I about freaked out when Taiyou vanished,” Emily said.
“We couldn’t hear outside of the city or in bodies,” Akiko added.
“I had a guess of what was going on,” Shinra said. “So, I asked Celty to step outside of the apartment for a minute.”
“And everything returned to normal?” Mikado asked as he took off his eyepatch.
“[Yes,]” Celty typed. Mikado tried to piece together what he had just learned. A puzzled look came onto his face.
“How is that even possible?” Mikado asked at last.
“[We haven’t figured that out yet,]” Celty typed. Meanwhile, Shinra looked over at his father. Knowing that old man, he was probably enjoying this right now.
Dad, don’t try anything on Celty or the tadpoles, he thought. The young doctor’s promise to his girlfriend suddenly became more complicated.
“What happens now?” Mikado asked.
“I don’t really know,” Shinra admitted.
“We’re probably going to run more tests on both you and Celty,” Shingen said without missing a point.
“[Heh?!]” Celty typed. “[How did I get pulled into this?!]” Tetsu rolled his eyes meanwhile.
“Well, we have to know how far away you have to be from them before they can use their powers without any trouble,” Shingen pointed out. His son glared at him. He was used to him and his step-mother experimenting on Celty, but this reasoning all reeked of something sinister.
“Do you have to?” Nami asked. “I actually like feeling normal for a change.” She scooted closed to Celty as if to defend her from Shingen and his wife. Kohaku did the same.
“[But you can’t stay by me all of the time,]” Celty typed. Nami puffed up her cheeks as she frowned.
“Don’t remind me,” she muttered. Mikado turned back to Midori as another thought came back into his head.
“How did you find all of us?” he asked. The newest addition to the group raised her eyebrow.
“Me?” Midori asked. “Ah, hang on.” She pulled out her cell phone and scrolled through her texts.
“I got it this morning from Shinra,” the new tadpole said. She found the message and showed it to Mikado. The tadpole boy read it to himself.
“Ah, yes,” Shinra spoke up. “I finally managed to get in contact with Amano-san this morning and convinced her to meet with the rest of you guys.”
She really shouldn’t trust these guys if she was smart, Tetsu thought. He still wondered how long before Shingen, Emilia, and Shinra would show their true intent for the tadpoles. For now, it helped to have a new ally in their group. Tetsu just needed to get her alone and start asking questions long enough to know her motives.
Etsuko hit stop on her recorder.
“Well?” she asked. Kitano thought about this latest development.
“That could explain why all of the signals from their tracking bugs died for the ten minutes they did,” he said. The therapist looked down at his tablet.
“I didn’t expect the dullahan to turn into such an obstacle,” he said. “And our pets aren’t even at the level they need to be at.” Kitano-sensei lifted his head.
“How many more days until this experiment clears?” he asked. Etsuko did a quick count on her fingers.
“Two days, I believer,” she said. Kitano sighed and rubbed his forehead.
“It can’t be helped,” he muttered. “Looks like we’ll have to carry on with the experiments in the tadpole project and figure out how the dullahan can neutralize their powers.”
“But how are we going to obtain a sample from Athena?” Etsuko asked. “No blood runs through her body, we can’t get a saliva or hair sample, and we can’t even get close enough to them.” Kitano glanced up at her.
“Athena?” he asked.
“I figured that it would fit her,” the doctor said. “Both of them are warriors and can handle their own in battles.”
“Meh,” her partner said.
“I could get you a sample from Celty,” a familiar voice said. Izaya sat across the room in the shadows. Kitano frowned and glanced over at him.
“May I ask how?” he asked. The information broker smirked as he shrugged.
“Let’s just say I have a very good source of the sample,” Izaya said. “And I’m in a generous mood today. So, I will let you have it for free.” Kitano turned his attention over to Etsuko.
“I do not trust this bastard, but it can’t be helped right now,” her eyes told him. The therapist turned to Izaya.
“Show us this sample,” he said.
“I’ll have to go back to my apartment,” the information broker said. “Excuse me.” Kitano and Etsuko watched as he walked out the office. The doctor turned to her partner.
“Who should I send with him?” she asked once Izaya was out of earshot.
“Roc seems like a good option,” Kitano said. He picked up his phone and made the call.
“Roc, could you make a little errand run with Orihara-san?” he asked. “Thank you.” Kitano hung up his phone.