Tea Leaves and Diamond Bracelets


Match Nineteen: Siren:

Ivan tried to keep his mind preoccupied with work. Since Kitano-sensei wouldn’t give up his precious tadpoles, Vozrozhdeniye would have to counter his work with their own. Granted, they would still be paying for the Tadpole Project. After all, Kitano-sensei has made good on his word. And the project was quite successful in his hands. But, the good old therapist was so stingy with the fruits of their, yes their, labor. He’s left them no choice than to counter back. It was all Ivan’s idea, really. He just suggested it to shut them up about not getting their hands on the tadpoles. Of course they would take him seriously. Ivan really doesn’t care about this game. But, his boss pushes him through it anyway.

Now, he has to help out.

First came the formulas. Karp, Kenya, and Nikita took the start. Amaterasu’s make up was rather complex. Even Kitano-sensei didn’t get it right on his own. No, it took Asato-sensei to step in and correct it. She was the master at chemistry. Thanks to her, the Tadpole Project took off. Yes, they read all about her drug Mnemosyne. It’s been her child since college. They didn’t need to be Etsuko, but they had to be damn close.

Ivan monitored their process daily. It was like watching a puzzle come to life. Add chemicals here, take some out, switch pieces around, all just to clean it up. The big Russian watched the whole time. Something about this process triggered something in his brain.

-Moscow, 1950′s-

How many days has it been? He just sat in a daze in his room. He doesn’t even remember why he came here. The gray coloring was the only proof of life around him. The voices refused to go quiet.

They’re going to kill you. They’re going to kill us. Run. Run. Run!

Then, the door opened. She’s back again. What’s she planning to do this time?

-Present Day-

“Ivan! Ivan! Ivan!” someone yelled. The big Russian man looked up. Karp had his eyes on him.

“What do you think?” he asked. The man with the short dark hair held up the piece of paper. Ivan looked at the scribble patterns on the paper.

“I can’t read that,” Ivan said. “What is it?” The shorter man frowned.

“It’s the formula,” Karp said. Ivan didn’t react at first.

“Oh,” he said. “Can you pull it back? I can’t see it.”

“Ah, sorry about that,” the shorter man said. He pulled the paper back. Ivan stared at the paper.

“That’s it?” he asked.

“No, it’s only the beginning,” Karp said. The tall Russian man raised his eyebrow.

First came the planning. This worked out Ivan’s favor. It gave him time to think. England looked so broken. Mam must have gotten to him. Japan was also succumbing to the Woman in Red. Only Ivan had himself still in tact.

Meanwhile, the members of Vozrozhdeniye happily plotted how they were going to make their godlike being to counter the tadpoles. They had to be equal if not stronger. Alisa pulled out her list of all the tadpole traits.

“This is everything the tadpoles as of 2015,” she said. The rest of the group crowded around for a look.

“Everything looks so detailed,” Nikita said.

“I couldn’t get all of their drugs used,” Alisa said. “But I got a rough idea of what the tadpoles are like.”

“Excellent,” Karp said. His wife watched from the corner with a curious look in her eyes.

“So, where shall we begin?” Kenya asked.

“The base drug,” Ivan said.

“Of course,” Karp said. “I can work on that if anyone else is willing to work with me.”

“I’ll do it,” Kenya said.

“Me too,” Nikita said. “I don’t have anything better to do anyway.” As they talked, Ivan’s mind got lost in those weird flashbacks again. He asked his boss what was going on. Putin was rather vague about it.

“Past life,” was all he said.

“What?” Ivan asked.

“Don’t worry about it,” Putin said. The taller Russian man didn’t know what to make of this. He always knew that his boss was hiding things from him. That was no surprise. However, this left Ivan unsettled.

“Ivan!” someone yelled back in present day. The Russian man looked up. The members of Vozrozhdeniye had his eyes on him. Ivan cleared his throat.

“Yes?” he asked.

“Are you feeling okay?” Karp asked.

“Yes,” Ivan lied. “I’m just a little tired.”

“Anyway,” Boris said. “We need a test subject.”

“How many?” Ivan asked. The other members look at each other for a moment. They whispered for a few minutes.

“I think we should get five or six,” Alisa asked. Ivan didn’t blink.

“And you want me to go get them?” he asked.

“Could you?” Nikita asked. Ivan sat back with his arms across his chest.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he said.

Now, Ivan had to look for the test subjects. Tandeki used mental patients. How convenient for them. No one would believe a bunch of mental patients if they claimed abuse from their caretakers. Though, there were some shady ways that Tandeki obtained the mental patients. Ivan didn’t think about that. Moscow had plenty of test subjects to claim from the streets of Moscow.

He started his drive around late at night. The Russian man went to the worst parts of the city. Plenty of homeless people were out tonight. Ivan struggled to keep his mind focused. Something about this darkness took him back to that past.

-Moscow 1950′s-

He had been out here too. Even then, the voices were with him. There was no family in the picture. He didn’t have a place to live. The night they committed him, he was dirty and didn’t have anything to eat. His hands were covered in blood. There was someone yelling at him. He couldn’t tell how many there were.

“Get your hands up!” one person yelled. He slowly turned around. All he could see was the bright lights down the road.

“Don’t move!” the person, presumably a man, shouted. “Get your hands where I can see them!” The rest of this event came in a blur.

-Present Day-

Ivan slammed on the breaks when he saw a figure in the road. He rolled down his window and looked out. She had to be about nineteen or twenty years old. The Russian man couldn’t get a good look at her in his headlights.

“What the hell?!” she screamed.

“My apologies,” Ivan said. The woman shivered as she grabbed her right arm.

“Are you trying to kill me?!” she shouted. She started taking slow steps backwards. This woman looked so thin. Her dirty clothes hung off of her body. Ivan figured out the right way to lure her into the car.

“Are you hungry?” he asked. The woman raised her eyebrows.

“Why?” she asked.

“You look like you could use some food and a warm bed tonight,” Ivan said. “Better than spending another night out here, da?” The woman took another step back as she looked down at her arm. Her grumbling stomach did all of the talking.

“Come on,” the Russian man said. “Just get in the car already.” The woman didn’t move until started biting on her hand. Ivan stared at her as he waited. She finally dropped her shoulders and walked towards the car. The Russian man unlocked the car and opened the passenger door. The woman climbed into the car. Ivan managed to get a better look at his potential guinea pig. He had bruises all over her thighs. She wasn’t wearing any shoes. Ivan tried to ignore the track marks on her arms.

“You made the right decision,” was all that he would say. Ivan backed up and put the car in drive. The woman didn’t say anything as they drove away.

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