Caged Wonderland


Halo Three: Junko:

[I have always stood out. In Edinburgh, mum and I were the only Japanese people in our neighborhood. In Ikebukuro, my accent makes me stand out.]

Around August 10th, 1978, Nakahara Kyoko arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland. She left Japan after finding out her husband cheated on her with his nurse. Initially, she just wanted to get away and clear her head. The young doctor had planned to stay there for a few days and return to Japan. She had no idea of the trouble brewing back in Ikebukuro.

On August 15th, a double shock hit Kyoko in the face.

It started on that dreary morning. Kyoko had stopped by a local market to buy food for the day. Lately, she had been cramming so much food into her mouth every chance she got. Kyoko chalked it up to being emotionally distraught over her cheating husband. But then, she noticed herself getting sick for no apparent reason. It wasn’t the food or the environment. The young doctor noticed that her breasts had been swollen since last night. The horror sank in as Kyoko munched on a sausage.

“No…” she said to herself. “No, no, no, no, no!” Kyoko dropped her bags and took off running. By ten in the morning, she her fears came true. Nakahara Kyoko was pregnant. Pregnant by the man who betrayed her. It got worse by the evening.

When she came home, the phone rang.

“Hello?” Kyoko asked when she answered in the kitchen.

“Uh yes, is this Chiba-sensei?” a man asked on the other line in Japanese. The doctor narrowed her eyes.

“Yes… Who is this?” she asked.

“I’m with the Ikebukuro police department,” the man said. “Did you know that your husband and his nurse were murdered four days ago?”

“What?” Kyoko asked. The cop broke down how the office was covered in blood and the two people had gone missing. Kyoko rubbed her forehead.

“Wow… Uh… Okay… I don’t know what to say,” she said.

“You don’t sound to broken up about it,” the officer said. The doctor sighed.

“My husband cheated on me and I kept him in his office about to have sex with that woman,” she said.

“And when was this?”

“Um… The eighth or ninth. It was his birthday and I wanted to surprise him. I went by our favorite bakery and bought him a chocolate cake.”

“What happened? Did you get mad?”

“Of course I did! You would get mad too if you found out your spouse was cheating on you!”

“What did you do when you caught them?”

Kyoko paused. “Wait… Are you suggesting that I killed them?”

“I just want to know what happened,” the cop said. “So after you caught them about to do, what did you do?”

“I yelled at them and threw the cake,” she said. “I threw other things at them. I don’t remember what they were.”

“And then what happened?”

“I tore up his office and left. I packed up my things and took the next plane out to Edinburgh.”

“Why did you leave?”

“To clear my head. Originally, Jiro and I were going to go to Scotland for our wedding anniversary.” Then, the sickness hit. “I have to go, I think I’m going to be sick!” Kyoko hung up before the officer could speak and ran to the bathroom.

The next day, Kyoko thought about getting an abortion. She made an appointment in the morning and came in early. After sitting around waiting in the empty waiting room, the doctor had a change of heart at the last minute and quietly walked away. She decided that if this child was going to be born, she would put it to good use.

On April 20th, 1971, Nakahara Junko was born.

-Present Day-

Junko sat at her computer, typing. Already, her experiment on Chiharu began. The first dose was safely delivered. She already had several more bottles ready to be delivered. That part was finished and now she could expand her project even further.

Junko turned her chair around to the many filled cages. The ‘animals’ were clawing at the steel bars hungry for food. How did a nurse skilled in poisons come to take care of these “angels”? Junko sometimes asked the same question. He phone buzzed beside her.

“It’s done,” the text read.

“Heh,” Junko said. She just typed in a thumbs-up sticker and hit send. This drug mule will be so easy to control for the Angel Project.

“And you’re sure that she’s really pregnant?” Junko asked Etsuko earlier in the day.

“Yes,” the doctor said. “I have her results from her examination three days ago.” Etsuko pulled up the patient files on the computer and showed them off to Junko.

“Perfect,” the nurse said. With leverage in hand, she was ready to get started.

Junko pulled up a hidden file on her desktop. She looked at the three names that she needed to add to the project. The top one had to be done, but the other two were her choice. First, was the one that had to be done.

Hashimoto Chiharu. Age seventeen and birthday July thirtieth. She’s never trusted Junko since day one. Chiharu always stayed by Noriko whenever she could and looked at the nurse with a mean face. This didn’t bother Junko, but she couldn’t act on dealing with her protectiveness over her friend. Opening the fifth gate gave her the permission that she needed to deal with Chiharu and to complete the Angel project with her as the centerpiece.

She wasn’t the only one either.

Kuronuma Aoba. Age fifteen and birthday August fourteenth. Oh yes, him. For one too many times this child had been a thorn in Junko’s side. She dreamt of all of the pain and misery she would bring him in the Angel Project. Before, she couldn’t do it because of the Blue Squares, Mikado, and drawing too much attention to Tandeki’s activities. With the fifth gate, anything could go.

There was one more on her list.

Nasujima Takashi. This fucking asshole. Junko took an immediate dislike to him. Staring inappropriately at the female students. Standing too close to Anri. Junko caught him trying to peep on Noriko while she was in the school shower.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Junko asked when she caught him in the hallway. Nasujima-sensei whipped around. The nurse stood with a stern look on her face. He looked around and nervously chuckled.

“Nothing!” he lied. “Uh… I was just checking on her to see if she was okay.” Junko glared at him.

“You are staring at a married woman,” she hissed.

“What are you talking about?” Nasujima-sensei asked. She couldn’t do anything to him at the time. It would draw too much attention. Now that the fifth gate was open…

Junko looked at the top two names on her list. Nasujima-sensei was a grudge, but Chiharu and Aoba were just cocky in her eyes. She smirked at her screen before closing the file. The nurse had a thing for breaking the cocky ones.

[My mum was strange to me in the least bit. Sure, she took care of me, but I didn’t really know what she was thinking. Part of me that she resented me. Resented that I was even born because my father cheated on her. Resented that a part of him would be stuck with her forever.]

Kyoko did love her daughter like a parent was supposed to. It wasn’t the child’s fault of who her father was. Still, the doctor figured that she could put that child to good use in some way. She used her medical knowledge and love of plant as the way how.

When Junko was four, Kyoko called her to the kitchen table.

“Good morning, sweetie,” she said. Junko gave her an odd look. Her mother was almost never smiling around her. What was she planning now?

“I have a special treat for you today,” Kyoko said. She sent down a giant white plate on the table.

“Come and taste it,” she said. Junko stood blinking for a minute. Her mother’s smile didn’t change.

“Come on,” her mother insisted. “Eat up.” The child wrinkled her nose as she walked over to the chair. She looked down and saw a single green leaf on a plate.

“What is this, mummy?” Junko asked.

“A little treat,” Kyoko said. “Go on, eat it.” The child didn’t look too certain at first. She slowly picked up the leaf and put it in her mouth. Her mother watched her chewing on it. The child swallowed.

“Very good,” Kyoko said. She leaned down to her daughter’s ear. “I fed you poison. You might die soon.” Junko looked up at her with big, frightened eyes. The doctor smiled and laughed.

“Don’t worry,” she said. “It was only a small amount. You will not die.” The little girl gave her a blank stare. That was how the ritual began. Kyoko would feed little Junko small amounts of different poisons, not to kill her, but to make her more immune to them. Her reasoning was rather peculiar too.

“It is to make you a better woman,” Kyoko said. Junko didn’t understand how, but she went along with it. Every day, they would read about poisonous plants. Kyoko crammed as much information into her daughter’s head about any type of poison known to man. At first, Junko didn’t get it.

“Why do I have to go through this?” she asked when she was twelve years old. Kyoko looked her in the eye.

“To add meaning and skill to your life,” she said. “I will never let you be like him.”

“Who are you talking about?” Junko asked.

“Your father,” her mother said. The way she said that made the young girl shiver.

“Oh…” Junko said in a quiet voice. Poisons weren’t the only thing Kyoko taught her daughter. Ever since she was four, Junko had been exposed to her mother’s medical career. Kyoko showed her different books on the subject. Junko found herself fascinated at the pictures of bodies and their parts. Sometimes, she would help around at Kyoko’s clinic in the neighborhood. Her mother would even quiz her on different medical procedures.

Junko worked hard and made straight A’s. She made Kyoko so proud when she announced that she was going into med school.

-Present Day-

Junko turned her head when she heard a knock on her door.

“Enter!” she called. The nurse turned to see her intern, Yui, standing in the doorway. Takase Yui. She had been working with her since 2006. Junko perked up.

“Anything new so far?” she asked.

“No, ma’am,” Yui said. The intern walked over to her boss.

“Doing more paperwork?” she asked.

“Yes,” Junko said. “How are the angels doing?”

“The same as usual,” Yui said.

“None of them evolved yet?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Ah.” Junko typed up more notes on her screen. “Where is Naoki-kun?”

“He’s at his usual post.”

“Good, good.” The nurse stopped typing. “Listen, things are going to pretty busy for this summer. We’re going to take our project further than it has gone.”

Yui’s deep brown eyes grew wide. “You mean we’re going to…?”

“Aye,” Junko said. “I already started giving her the medicine.”

“You found a way?”

“Through her doctor. Let’s just say I found some juicy dirt on him to get him to be a good little puppet for us.”

Her intern giggled. “You’re kind of scary.” Junko smiled to herself as she focused on her screen.

“Heh,” was all she said.

[Kitano was a strange man even back then. He first came to Scotland to look for fresh new talent. He wanted to go after my mother, but she didn’t want to go back to Japan. Other rather, she couldn’t go back.]

Around 2004, Kitano touched down in Edinburgh. He had heard about how good Kyoko was as a doctor. Despite the rumors of her murdering her husband and his mistress, he just had to add her to the Tandeki Group. After much digging and asking around in Edinburgh, he tracked her down to her clinic. Kitano knocked on the glass door.

“I’m sorry, I’m not open yet,” Kyoko said as she walked into the waiting room.

“I’m not a patient,” he said. “I just want to talk to you about another matter.” The doctor looked confused as she unlocked the doors.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

“My name is Kitano Katsuhiro-sensei,” he said. “I have heard so much about you.” Kyoko frowned as she shook her head.

“You and the rest of Ikebukuro,” she muttered. The doctor was about to close the door, but Kitano grabbed the edge.

“I’m not taking about your husband and his mistress,” he said. “I’m talking about your skills. I want to recruit you for my group. May I come and chat?” Kyoko gave him a confused look.

Before she knew it, she said, “Sure, come in.”

“Thank you,” he said. They bowed and he followed her into the clinic.

-Present Day-

Junko smiled as she looked at her phone. The full effect should be coming in right about… now…

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