Halo Five: Awakening:
-January, Last Year-
“Can you see my light?” Kitano asked as he flashed a small flashlight into Mikado’s left eye. The patient lay bound to his bed, unresponsive. Day three and his green eye wasn’t responding to the little flashlight the therapist held up. Kitano slowly moved his light to the left before moving to the right. He turned off his flashlight when he got no responses. Still, the doctor wouldn’t give up on his patient.
“You can do this,” Kitano told him. Chirin couldn’t understand the point of this exercise or what Kitano’s intentions for him were. Why was he so interested in “fixing” him? Why did he have him here at Chou Mori?
Kitano sat down on the patient’s bed.
“Do you know why you are here, Chirin-kun?” he asked. Mikado tried to focus his blinded eye on the doctor holding him captive. He braced himself for more useless philosophy that made no sense to him. Instead, Kitano patted him on the head and leaned in close to his ear.
“You and the other twenty-three Tadpoles are going to be part of something glorious,” he whispered. “We need you alive to see everything in the end. You will be my witness.” The therapist pulled away with a smirk on his face.
“So develop and grow, little Chirin-kun,” he said. “I look forward to seeing how you will evolve.” Mikado lay wide-eyed as he heard his captor walking out of the room.
“I will be back to test your eye again this evening,” his therapist said before sliding the door closed. Kitano’s tone alone was enough to make the patient freeze with panic. What did that even mean that he would be part of something glorious? What was a “tadpole” anyway? What were they doing to him with all of those injections and tests? The patient closed his eyes.
I want to go home. Please… Somebody save me. I want to go home. There must be someone looking for me.
In Kitano’s office, Etsuko offered her partner a radical suggestion to kick start the evolution of the Tadpole patients.
-January, Present Day-
January eleventh was when Mikado’s awakening began.
Mikado had his hand on the front door when a sharp pain erupted in his left eye. Cold and jarring like an icepick. Straight through to the pupil. Mikado sank to his knees, gasping. His vision blurred to grey. The room span.
What’s… happening… to me?
The pain spread to his head as the boy staggered over to his bathroom.
Step. Step. Step. Step.
His fingers touched cold porcelain. One look into the mirror…
His eye became green again. An inky black substance dripped out. Almost like his eye was bleeding. Mikado’s body froze.
It’s back. No. No!
He came to earth when his cell phone rang in his room. Mikado ran over and grabbed it off the bed.
“Hello?” he asked.
“Mikado? Where are you? We have been waiting outside for a while now,” Masaomi said on the other line. “Are you okay?” Mikado’s breathing become slower as he sat down on his futon.
“Masaomi?” he asked. “Oh, I’m okay. Just give me a second. Where are you guys?”
“We’re outside your apartment,” his friend answered.
“Huh?” The other boy hurried over to the window and looked out. Masaomi stood with the girls, flagging him down.
“Ah. Uh… I’ll be down in a second.”
“Are you sure you’re okay, man?” Masaomi asked.
“Uh… yeah, yeah,” Mikado lied. “I’m fine. You’re slowing me down, in fact.”
“Alright. Hurry up.”
“Yeah, yeah.” The founder of the Dollars hung up. Before heading out the door, Mikado walked back into the bathroom and looked into the mirror. Both of his eyes were bright blue and there was no inky black substance dripping out of either side. What was that a few seconds of ago? He wanted to believe that it was all in his head. But why wouldn’t this foreboding feeling leave?
Mikado shook his head and left the bathroom.
Kitano looked at the clock on his cell phone. He smirked as he looked at his calendar next. The psychiatrist went back to the home screen on his phone when he heard his office door open.
“Everything set today?” Kitano asked without turning around.
“Yes,” Etsuko replied. “Has the awakening begun?”
“Oh yes.” Kitano opened up a file on his tablet. One message later and the doctors sat back and watched scene one of their show unfold.
At Raira Academy, a new rumor had started to spread among the students. Like Aoba, they came across that YouTube like site named Deathvine. This site could only be access around midnight. When the homepage popped up, the visitor was greeted by a giant 3D laughing skull. That alone was just the appetizer. Dozens of gory and death videos were uploaded every night on this site. Though the web site couldn’t be accessed during the day, the videos could be shared one time via e-mail. The latest video series spreading like wildfire?
There was a little rumor going around about a suicide pact among this gang called the Blue Squares. So far, everyone saw the videos of Gin and Yoshikri that they came across in their e-mails or chatrooms. It would be an understatement to say that they found the videos creepy. At first, they thought Gin’s video was a sick hoax because most of the videos on Deathvine looked fake. That all went out the window when they saw it on the news.
Mikado would’ve looked into why his second gang was starting to die, but his own problems only started to begin today.
It started with the whispering.
And the shadows.
Mikado noticed a wispy grey cloud floating around Noriko’s shoulders. He narrowed his eyes as it chanted one thing over and over.
What is that? Mikado walked forward as if he heard a siren song with his hand reaching out for the cloud around Noriko’s shoulders. She turned around when his fingertips touched her shoulder.
“Mikado?” Noriko whispered. The boy stood froze as he struggled to think of something to say.
“Uh… you have something on your back,” he said. She reached up and brushed it off.
“Did I get it?” Noriko asked.
“I think so…” He noticed that the wispy little shadow on his friend’s shoulders had vanished as she turned back to her notes.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.
While taking notes, the founder of the Dollars saw himself in a darkened room back in Chou Mori. Chirin was strapped down to a cold metal chair. His eyes were held open by wires. The patient’s eyes darted around the room as that damned clock ticked in the background. He looked at the door as it opened.
Kitano walked up to Chirin with a large syringe in his hand. The patient trembled as his captor moved closer.
Step. Step. Step. Step.
No! Stay away! Please don’t hurt me! Let me go! Let me go!
Kitano rested his free hand on Mikado’s shoulder. “Come on, Chirin-kun. Make this easier for yourself.” The doctor lifted the boy’s chin and focused on the guinea pig’s left eye. Kitano drove the giant needle into a blood vessel.
Pupil dilates. Breathing increases. Tears filled up.
The last drop of the light pink fluid went in and Kitano withdrew the needle.
Chirin’s vision in his left eye blurred.
Back in present day, another wave of pain struck Mikado in his left eye. His pencil hit his desk.
All eyes locked on him.
“Mikado-kun?” Anri asked. Her voice sounded so distant. Tiny dots filled the room. Chirin sank into a world of black.
“Ryugamine-kun!” the teacher shouted before it all went silent.
Hazy blue eyes opened to a white ceiling and blinking lights.
Junko sat at her desk filling out paperwork when she heard the sheets rustling. She poked her head through the curtains.
“Oh, good,” the nurse with the Scottish accent said. “You’re okay, Ryugamine-kun. Heard you had a nasty little fainting spell in class. You might want to rest here for a couple more hours.” Mikado looked at her with big eyes.
“W-W-Where am I?” he asked.
“The infirmary, lad,” Junko said. “A couple of your classmates brought you here after you passed out in class.” Mikado tried to get up, but Junko pushed him back into the bed.
“Don’t get up,” she said. “I still need to run some tests.”
“No, really, I’m fine,” the former patient said. “I have to get back to class now.” The nurse already whipped her little flashlight and shined it in his left eye. Mikado tried to shield himself from the small, brightness. Junko’s own eyes lit up as she broke into a little smile.
“Oh!” she said. “Never expected a tadpole’s development to look like this. This is exciting.”
“Tadpole?” Chirin asked. Junko playfully covered her mouth.
“Oh dear, I spoke too soon,” she said. Mikado tried to get up again, but the nurse pushed him back down.
“You’re resting, remember, Chirin-kun?” she asked.
Mikado shook his head. “I’m not Chirin.”
“But you are Chirin-kun.”
Junko began to giggle. “We have so much that we want to do with you.”
“Yes, all of you.” The nurse leaned in close to her victim’s ear. “Where you’re going you’re now coming back from.” Mikado sat frozen as Junko wandered back to her desk.
She sent a quick text and resumed her paperwork.
By now, the students were cleaning their classrooms. Mikado managed to slip away while Junko was on the phone. He couldn’t ignore her words. Everything she let “slip” out removed all doubt that they were the ones who did something to his eye. Speaking of which, the dull pain would flare up in said eye at the slightest movement of his.
“Mikado-kun?” Anri asked. “What are you doing back? I thought you were resting in the infirmary.”
“Huh?” the boy asked. “Oh, I feel better now.” The male class rep picked up a cloth and started cleaning one of the desks. His crush knew that he was lying, but didn’t know exactly how to address the problem. Instead, Saika’s mother decided to stay by him and keep her eyes on the founder of the Dollars.
A little bit later, Junko walked down to Mikado, Noriko, and Anri’s classroom. She looked around at all of the students either cleaning or goofing off. The nurse spotted Mikado struggling not to think about his time in Chou Mori or what was happening to him. She just couldn’t urge playing around again. When she looked down and spotted a bucket of bleach near the door, it was all that she wrote.
Oppsie! Her foot “accidentally” kicked over the red bucket of bleach and water.
“Oh no!” one student complained. By the time Anri looked up, it was too late. The overpowering scent made her fellow class rep freeze.
“Mikado-Kun?” she asked, shaking his arm. “Mikado-kun?” Her voice sounded so distant in his ears.
Mikado saw himself in another room, strapped down to a chair. This time, there was a female doctor with a chart in her hand. She read over his stats and began asking him questions. Her voice sounded underwater to him. Presumably, this doctor was about perform another test on him.
Only this time, she had no needle in her hand like all of the pervious times before.
Instead, the doctor began hooking up wires to the temples of his head. She pushed a rubber mouthpiece into Chirin’s mouth. Her gracefully, cold hand flipped the switch of a black box machine.
In present day, Mikado raced out of the classroom. Junko smirked as Anri raced after him.
“Mikado-kun?” she asked. The busty girl trailed him all the way to the boys’ bathroom. Masaomi poked his head out of his classroom when he saw his friends run by.
“What’s going on?” he asked. The blonde-haired boy found Anri with her ear pressed up against the door.
“Mikado-kun?” she asked. Masaomi walked into the bathroom looking for his best friend. It didn’t take him long to find him through the sound of vomiting in one of the stalls.
“You okay?” the Yellow Scarves’ leader asked.
“No!” Mikado wailed before throwing up again.
Back in the hallway, Junko walked back to the infirmary, smirking.
Back at Rampo Biotech, Izaya finally managed to find a copy of the patients involved in the Tadpole Project. Again, everything felt too easy for him. Almost as if Kitano and Etsuko wanted him to find this list lying around on the former’s desk. The information broker didn’t have time to think about that as he began to read down the list. Twenty-eight patients total. Some of them lived in Ikebukuro while the others were scattered throughout Japan. Izaya had a guess that Shinra and Nebula had already found the same letter and were looking for the tadpoles as well. What Nebula were planning to do with the test subjects, that didn’t matter to him. Izaya was looking for one name in particular on this list.
He smirked when he spotted it at the very bottom.
“Just as I had guessed,” he said. The information broker pulled out his phone and typed up a quick message. Only one way to find out if his guess and Kitano’s hints were correct.
By this point, Mikado just wanted to be alone. He had enough of flashbacks, pain, and dizzy spells. The boy pressed his hand to his forehead. Junko’s words really drove the knife straight into him.
“Where you’re going, you’re not coming back from.” What did that crazy nurse mean by that? What did she mean when she called him a “tadpole”? What was that nurse and that intern planning to do to him?
Mikado’s thoughts were interrupted when his phone buzzed. The screen revealed a text from Izaya.
“Cover your right eye and look around,” it said. At first, Mikado didn’t know what this sentence meant. Against his better judgement, he put his hand over his right eye and looked out at the crowded street around him. All of the color drained from his face as he began shaking.
Every person had a ghoulish-looking creature perched on their back. Some of them looked small and black with open wings. Others were bright red with their mouths wide open. Their fangs seemed to cry for blood. Claws looked ready to stab the victims in the back. From these creatures’ mouths and eyes slipped out whispers.
Is he just trying to get in my pants?
I think I might be pregnant.
Will I be able to pass my entrance exam?
I hope I don’t get fired for sleeping with my boss.
Will I be good enough for him?
Am I getting fat?
Is she cheating on me?
One kiss doesn’t make me a lesbian, does it?
Mikado staggered backwards with his hand still over his eye. What is this?! His cell phone rang. The founder of the Dollars’ eyes shifted back and forth before he reached into his pocket.
“H-H-Hello?” Mikado asked.
“Can you see them?” a familiar voice asked on the other line. The boy’s eyes moved to his phone.
“Izaya… -san?” he asked. “What are you talking about?”
“Oh come on, Mikado-kun. Tell me, what do you see?”
The boy reluctantly covered his right eye and looked out at the crowded street. The sight of those monsters made him want to vomit. One of them on the shoulder of a girl his age seemed to turn its head and hiss at him.
“Don’t look away,” another voice said on the phone. A shiver traveled down the tadpole’s spine.
“Who is this?” he asked.
“Aw, Chirin-kun, you know who this is,” the voice said. “Try to remember who I am.” Mikado closed his mouth and gulped.
“Kitano… -sen… sei?” he asked.
“Thank you,” the doctor said. “What you are looking at the inner demons of your fellow man.”
“That’s right. Your powers have finally finished manifesting. Congratulations on your awakening, Chirin-kun.”
“My awakening? What are you talking about?”
“Isn’t it glorious?” Izaya asked. “You can see every dark secret of all of those beautiful humans. You could exploit them and bend them to your will. Or you can be a savior to them. You have such a magnificent gift!”
Mikado nervously laughed on the other line. “Uh… well, can I give back?”
“Why would you? Embrace it! You have even more power now!”
“Oh and you’ll want to develop your powers really soon,” Kitano added. Mikado dropped his hand to his side.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because you have very special cells in your body,” the therapist said. “If you don’t put your powers to use, your body will rot from the inside out and you will die.”
Mikado sank to his knees. “No way…”
“Good luck. I have faith in you, Chirin-kun. I look forward to seeing your full development.”
Mikado’s phone hit the pavement.