Halo Eight: Anna:
My name is Konoe Anna. I am an heir to the Konoe Pharmaceutical Company based out of Kobe, Japan. Today’s a really special day for me.
I walked into Rampo Biotech all-smiles. Ever since Kitano-sensei gave us interns permission to architect pills for the Tadpole Project, I got right to planning.
“How many of you have a background in chemistry?” he asked. I was quick to raise my hand. Asato-sensei had using doing practice runs with creating drugs for this project. So far, I was learning, but I was itching to put my skills into good use. Sometimes, after the work day was over, I would consult her about certain formulas to work on my little pet project for the tadpoles.
I walked in with it today.
“Good morning!” I said as I went on my tip-toes in the Heartseed room. My colleagues all glared at me. Okay, I might be a little too perky in the mornings, especially today. But, I can’t help it. I can’t wait to show off my baby. We all drew straws on the order we were going last night. I drew to go first and I get to show off my baby for this project. What is my baby, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.
I call her Cutie Aphrodite. She took so much planning. Ever since junior high, I wanted to break down the “love potion”. To me, mermaids, kappa, and unicorns were more believable than some drink or drug that could make someone fall in love with you. But, people throw away so much money just to be loved. I couldn’t figure it out and thus beginning Cutie Aphrodite’s birth. I committed myself to have this drug to be perfect.
Yuka-san stood by the Heartseed plant while Kitano-sensei and Asato-sensei sat in a room behind a two-way mirror.
“You may begin the experiment,” Kitano-sensei said over his microphone.
“Uh… Good morning, everyone,” Yuka-san said. “My name is Ogawa Yuka and I will be conducting the addition of the augmentation to the test subjects.” A brief applause filled the room.
“Thank you,” she said. “Now, who is going first?” I raised hand seconds after that question left her mouth.
“Oooo! Me! Me!” I said.
“Easy there, Konoe,” Asato-sensei said over her mic. “Remember what I told you before.” I cleared my throat and lowered my head.
“I apologize,” I said, bowing.
“What do you have for us today?” Yuka-san asked. I broke into a smug smile as I pulled out my container of pills.
“Ta-da!” I said. I walked up and handed the container to Yuka-san.
“What is this?” she asked as she looked at the dark crystal blue heart-shaped pills inside.
“Cutie Aphrodite!” I announced.
“Why are these tablets heart-shaped?” she asked. I covered my mouth as I giggled.
“Give it to the tadpoles and you’ll see,” I said. Yuka-san narrowed her eyes.
“Okay,” she said. “Our first drug that will be administered into the augmentation experiment has been given to us by Konoe Anna whom has named her drug Aphrodite.”
"Cutie Aphrodite!” I corrected. Yuka-san frowned and rolled her eyes. She twisted the plastic container open.
“You remember how to insert the pills into the flowers, yes?” Kitano-sensei asked.
“Yes, sensei,” Yuka-san said. I never get tired of seeing those little flowers in bloom, waiting to be fed the next drug we concoct. Yuka-san took one heart-shaped tablet and held it inches away from one of those flowers.
“How many pills does each one gets?” she asked.
“One for this first round,” I said.
“Got it,” Yuka-san said. I squealed to myself as each little flower was fed a heart-shaped tablet. They look strangely cute as they close back up into little buds after their meal. After the last flower was fed, they whole plant began to glow a dark crystal blue. My heart did little flips as I could picture the results to follow.
Around ten a.m., Mikado’s troubles were pushed into the awkward zone.
“And you’re sure it’s over?” Masaomi asked.
“Yes,” Mikado said. It felt so nice to just have heightened senses again without random episodes again. Still, he knew that he couldn’t rest. Kitano and his team could be plotting to do another experiment on them as they spoke. Mikado’s eyes shifted back and forth uneasy. Masaomi grabbed his hand. The tadpole looked up to see caring eyes staring back at him.
“You still have me,” Masaomi said. “I won’t leave you no matter what they decide to do to you.” Mikado stared at him, wide-eyed.
“Thank you, Masaomi,” he said in a low voice. In that moment, the boys noticed a freshman girl standing in front of them. She was a cute, little thing with her head up to Mikado’s chest. She had little stars in her eyes as she stared at the tadpole boy. The senior gave her a strange look.
“Uh… hello…” he said.
“Hi!” the girl said with her focus on Mikado. He blinked as she didn’t move from where she was standing.
“I’m sorry, but can I help you with something?” the tadpole boy asked. The girl’s cheeks turned bright pink.
“I’m sorry!” she shouted. “I just think you’re really hot!” The girl turned and ran away as fast as she could. Mikado and Masaomi stood there, blinking.
“Okay… What was all of that about?” Masaomi asked. Mikado shook his head.
She wouldn’t be the only girl either.
All day, Mikado had girls eyeing him and blushing. They would have dreamy looks in their eyes when he walked by. Mikado could hear them whispering about how hot he was. They all wondered if he was single. Some of the senior girls would smile and wink at him. The freshmen and second-year girls giggled around him. One would walk by and run her things along his hair. They kept telling him how attractive they found him.
“You are so cute!” the freshman girls said to him around lunch. Mikado tried to laugh off.
“Thanks, I guess…” he said. The poor tadpole looked around for a way to escape. More and more girls seemed to want to shower him in affection. They wanted to spend more time with him. The girls would blush and shutter when they would try to talk to the tadpole boy. The bolder ones were open with their flirtation. Eight girls offered to eat lunch with him. Mikado had to politely turned them down.
“No thank you,” he kept telling them. “But thanks for the invitation.” Mikado had wished that it had stopped with lunch requests and flirting.
“Do you have a girlfriend?” a senior girl asked just as lunch was over.
“No…” Mikado said. She looked like she would fly away. It didn’t take long for the word that Ryugamine Mikado was single throughout Raira Academy. It didn’t take long for the love letters to fill his desk. By now, even Masaomi started to get a little bit uncomfortable.
“Why do all of these girls hitting on you?” he asked in the hallway during clean-up. His friend shook his head with unease.
“Oh, boys,” someone said. “I am so glad I found you.” Mikado and Masaomi frowned when they heard that Scottish accent behind. Against their better judgement, they turned to see Junko smiling at them. The nurse whistled at Mikado.
“My, my, my, Chirin-kun,” she said. “You’ve gotten quite popular with the ladies today.” The tadpole boy backed up behind his friend.
“What do you want, sensei?” Masaomi asked, growling. Junko’s smirked reminded him of Izaya’s.
“Nothing, just an observation,” she said. The Yellow Scarves’ shogun narrowed his eyes as Junko turned and walked away. He was about to open his mouth when Mikado’s phone rang.
“Excuse me,” he said. The tadpole pulled out his phone.
“Hello?” he asked.
“Hello, Chirin,” Kitano’s voice floated into his ear. Mikado’s body broke down trembling.
“This is your doing, isn’t it?” he asked. “What did you do to me now?”
“Oh, I just made every girl in Ikebukuro fall madly in love with you,” the therapist said so nonchalantly.
“It’s all part of your augmentations.”
“Yes. I decided to let our interns in on the fun with our experiments. It’s all part of your evolution, Chirin-kun.”
“Can’t you make these girls not fall in love with me?”
“Why would I do that?”
Mikado’s eyes widened. “What?!”
“Enjoy your new gift. It’ll get better and you’ll get many more gifts.” Kitano hung up before his pet could say another word. Mikado sank to the floor with the color drained from his face.
“Mikado? Mikado?” Masaomi asked.
Meanwhile, Nami found herself in the same boat at her school.
At ten o’clock, a senior boy that rarely even noticed her in school tracked her down when she was putting away her shoes. She turned to see a pair of beautiful brown eyes staring at her. Nami jumped backwards.
“Whoa!” she shouted. “How long have you been standing there?” The boy quickly bowed.
“I’m so sorry!” he said. “You were just so beautiful I got lost just staring at you.”
“Huh?” Nami asked. She expected him to laugh and say that he was joking. Her face dropped when he didn’t.
“Oh… Thanks, I guess,” she said after a few seconds.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” the senior boy asked out of the blue. Nami gave him a blank stare.
“No…” she said. The boy quickly grabbed her by the hands.
“Will you be my girlfriend?” he asked. “I know it’s sudden, but please?” Nami stared at him, struggling to come up with a way to politely turn him down.
“Uh…” she said. The bell rang just in time.
“Uh… It’s time for class!” Nami quick to say. She slipped from his grasp and ran away as fast as she could.
“At least think about it?” the senior boy asked. That question only made her run faster.
It didn’t end there.
Nami had many guys surrounding her desk, asking for her phone number. They talked about how pretty, cute, or hot she was. Nami tried to laugh off the compliments as she tried desperately to not look she wanted to flee the building. Many of the boys in her class asked to be her boyfriend. It didn’t take long for the school to learn that she was single. The whole time, Nami hoped that this was a strange dream she was having. By the time she received the hundredth love letter in her desk, she was dismayed to find that she wasn’t dreaming.
To her surprise, she wasn’t alone.
Nami-chan. Nami-chan. Nami-chan!
Nami stopped in her tracks in the hallway and looked around. She raised her eyebrow as she noticed that she was the only person in the hall at that time.
“That sounded like Kohaku-chan just now,” she said to herself.
Nami took a step back and started looking around. “But where are you? I don’t see you anywhere.”
I’m hiding in the girl’s bathroom.
“Why are you hiding in there? How are you talking in my head right now?”
I don’t know myself.
I told her how to do this.
Nami about stumbled backwards. “Tetsu? You too?”
Talk to us in your head. Close your mouth and focus on us.
The tadpole girl closed her eyes tightly. Like this?
Yes, Tetsu and Kohaku said.
Wow. We can do this now? But how?
I don’t know yet, Tetsu said.
Kohaku remembered what she wanted to say. Hey, has anyone noticed everyone acting strange around their school?
Nami paused. Now that you mention it, every guy in my school has started hitting on me.
Kohaku asked, You too?
Tetsu added, Yeah, I’ve been having girls hit on me at college too. Ew. First of all, I’m gay and second I have a boyfriend! And I think I know who is to blame.
Kohaku asked, You don’t mean…?
Tetsu snorted. Who else do you think?
Nami asked, So what should we do?
The fire tadpole added, Not much we can do. Try and find the others and find out what Nebula really wants from us. And then we’ll have to find a way to deal with Tandeki. I don’t know how, but I am thinking. Nami lowered her gaze. Tetsu could talk them up, but it didn’t really feel helpful.
I committed myself to have this drug to be perfect.
Chemistry is an art form. I learned that from my family even before I began school. When Kitano told us to come up with drugs for the Tadpole Project. I started right away with the notes for Cutie Aphrodite. Everything had to be perfect about her from her heart shape to her the last chemical inside. I took great steps too. The math had to calculated to the right detail. The measures had to be just right. I wouldn’t be satisfied until Cutie Aphrodite was perfect. I have my motives for creating this drug.
If our tadpoles are going to witness the apocalypse, they might as well get some action in the bedroom before the new world is created. Hell, they should get some action in the new world too. Right now, the opposite sex will find our pets irresistible and fall in love with them. But why stop there? The same sex will be attracted them. The tadpoles will have excellent social skills. Know how to handle social situations. And as an extra, be a little bit smarter and stronger. I don’t expect all of this to happen right away. There has to be limits to this drug. Like I said before, the measures had to be just right. We can’t have their admirers being obsessive and fighting over them, now can we? The measures of the drug have to be just right.
I am doing this for me.
“Take a step back,” Shingen told Celty in her apartment. The dullahan took a step back in the living room.
“Anything yet?” the doctor asked.
“Nothing, dear,” Emilia said as she looked at her tablet. Nami sat on the couch with her palm up and open.
“Keep backing up,” the older doctor said. Celty backed up to the front door.
“Anything?” Shingen asked.
“No,” Nami and Emilia said.
“Okay, Celty, go outside and go downstairs,” the older doctor told the dullahan. Celty walked out the front door. Shingen waited for a couple of minutes. Suddenly, water gushed from Nami’s water like a fountain.
“It’s working!” Emilia said as she looked at her chart on the tablet. She saved the data and turned it off. Shingen made some quick notes on his tablet.
“That’s enough,” he said. “You can stop now.” Nami put down her hand and panted. Emilia looked like a little girl who received a new pink tricycle for her birthday.
“Can I go now?” she asked.
“Not yet,” Shingen said. “There is still something I need to ask you.” Nami froze.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“I ran some tests on your blood this morning and nothing something peculiar. Have there been any changes lately?” The tadpole bit her lower lip as she lowered her eyes.
“Well, all of the guys at me school have been hitting on me,” she said.
“Go on…” Shingen said.
“They give me love letters, asked me out on dates, and asked me to be their girlfriend,” Nami added. “And the thing is some of these boys never talked to me before. They didn’t even notice me until today.”
“I see,” he said. He took down the new information in his notes. Nami didn’t tell him about the other “gift” the tadpoles inherited from the last experiment. Tetsu and Kohaku told her not to.
“We can’t tell them we can now talk to each other telepathically,” Tetsu warned her in her mind when she left school. “We can’t trust Nebula until we learn what their real motives are.”
“I understand,” Nami said. But now, she wondered how long they all could keep it a secret until Nebula found out themselves.
Like I said before, I am an heir to the Konoe Pharmaceutical Company based out of Kobe, Japan. But, that isn’t exactly a happy thing. My parents’ marriage fell apart when I was eight, but the company remained. My grandma, the true owner of Konoe Pharmaceutical, said that they to work together.
“Your marriage maybe over,” she said. “But I refuse to have you destroy what I built from the ground up.” As a result, mom and dad still work together in the same house as me. It still works, right? I mean, Dolce and Gabbana are exes, but they still work together. Despite the bitterness between my parents and the house constantly on the verge of war, my parents and grandma all assure me that I will still inherit the company.
“Will I still get the company now that you and papa are breaking up?” I asked when I was ten years old.
“Of course you will, honey,” Mom said. But, that company seems to bright misfortune to relationships. I want to still be married and my husband to live as long as me.
Which is way I am doing this for me. I dove right into creating the second batch of Cutie Aphrodite.
Mikado was asleep in his futon when he found himself pulled further into his role for the End of Days.
Hello? Can you hear me?