Halo Seven: Eraser:
-Chou Mori, One Year Earlier-
The Tadpole branch argued about a rather curious subject with the test subjects.
Could tadpoles reproduce?
Half of them wanted to know, but the other half thought that it would be better if they were all castrated to maintain the DNA pool. Plus, they feared that it could draw too much attention to their project if a child was born with the genetics of a tadpole parents. This argument went on for three days before Kitano came up with a compromise to help get them back on track.
“Okay, we will sterilize half of them,” he said. “The other half will be allowed to reproduce. Any objections?” No one said a word because who could argue with that logic. Etsuko would make the lists of which tadpoles would be castrated and Kitano would go over them before signing off on the lists.
Hours before the operation was to begin, the therapist read through the two lists side by side on his tablet and noticed Chirin’s name was on the castration list. It was unclear of why the following happened or if would ever tell anyone why he did it, but Kitano to took his finger and switched Mikado/Chirin’s name with Satoshi’s on the “don’t castrate” list before signing off on the lists. Etsuko approved the change on the lists and sterilization of fourteen tadpoles began.
-Ikebukuro, Present Day-
Further into the crowd, Mikado froze when a tingling sensation ran down his spine.
“Masaomi, somebody’s following us,” he whispered. The blonder-haired boy turned to him, puzzled.
“What are you talking about?” he asked.
“Shhh!” Mikado said, looking around. “There is somebody following us.”
“Come on, man, quit playing around.”
“I’m not! There really is someone following us.” The panicked look on Mikado’s face told his friend that he wasn’t joking.
“Okay, who is it?” Masaomi asked.
“Someone like me…” Mikado mumbled.
“We can’t stay here.” Mikado grabbed his friend by the hand and took off running before he had the chance to ask. He tried to look for an escape route through the busy crowd. This presence following them picked up its speed. Mikado finally spotted an alley and turned the corner. The boys started running once they got halfway in. Mikado took a moment to catch his breath.
“What is going on here?” Masaomi asked. “Who’s following us?” The other boy froze before he had a chance to speak. He slowly looked down further to the right.
Wait! Don’t tell me…?
A boy in a messy uniform walked down the alley, looking at the seniors with a cold glare. Each step he took sounded like an executioner coming towards them. The boy’s heavy breathing sounded more like an injured animal than an angry bull. Mikado stood up with big eyes. Masaomi gave the boy walking towards them rather confused.
“Do you know him, Mikado?” he asked. The tadpole shook his head. The third boy stopped in his tracks and laughed. His voice sounded choked with wheezing.
“Oh come on, Chirin,” the boy said. “You know who I am.”
“No, I don’t,” Mikado said, backing up and shaking his head.
“Don’t lie to me. It insults my intelligence. Try to remember.” The third boy frowned as he looked at the older tadpole’s panicked expression. He couldn’t hear any of Mikado’s thoughts. Masaomi’s thoughts came through just as clearly.
Who is this kid? Does Mikado really know him? What does he want with him?
The third boy gritted his teeth. “You really don’t remember me, do you?”
“No,” Mikado said. The third boy shook his head.
“You really don’t remember me,” he said. His hand reached for his jacket. “Looks like I’m going to have to make you remember.” Mikado and Masaomi’s faces filled with shock when they saw the boy’s battered breasts.
“What the…?” the blonde-haired boy asked. “Are those… tits?” The younger boy’s nostrils flared. Mikado’s heart raced as more memories from Chou Mori came back.
-Chou Mori, One Year Earlier-
Mikado sat dazed in the activity room.
The effects of the last drug injected into him were starting to wear off. Everything sounded like it was underwater to his ears. Chirin breathed heavily. His eyes scanned the room.
Most of the other inmates were lost in their own world. One old man was watching re-runs form the series Gatchman on the room’s TV. These were the “normals” to the tadpoles and Kitano’s people. They didn’t have to suffer through numbers of cruel experiments. Nobody really laid a hand on them. Otherwise, this hell hole would be shut down in heartbeat. These people were the “lucky” ones.
Mikado slowly turned his head.
However, something pierced through his drugged-up haze.
Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud.
Roc stood over a boy a little bit younger than Mikado. That orderly had his fist raised in the air about to deliver another blow. His victim lay on the ground, taking it with big eyes. Mikado tilted his head. It felt like the scene was unfolding in slow motion. None of the other patients were either too afraid to help the boy getting beat up or were lost in their own world.
This is bad. That kid’s really getting beat up. Somebody should so something.
Why don’t you do it?
Yes. You said so yourself. Why not run over there and push that big ape off of that girly boy? Come on, what are you waiting for? Are you going to let him get beaten to death?
Mikado stood up as if under a trance.
With a scream of a wild animal, the tadpole patient raced over Roc and pushed him off of the injured boy. Both went crashing to the floor. All eyes rested on Mikado as he lay on his side, panting. It would’ve been useful if he had kept up that rush to fight back. Roc snorted and gritted his teeth.
“You!” he shouted at the boy lying on the ground. “I’m already having shitty morning and now I’m really mad!” The orderly leapt to his feet and started beating on Chirin worse than he was with the other boy. Everyone stared at the abuse, too scared to move again. They couldn’t understand how or why this happened. Nobody had ever stood up to Roc before in their lives. Some hoped that this boy would be saved somehow.
“What’s going on here?” they heard someone asked. The previous victim turned to see Etsuko standing in the doorway with her hands on her hips. Roc let go of Mikado and snorted.
“I was trying to teach him a lesson,” he lied. Etsuko turned to the first victim with a cold look in her eye.
“Is this true?” she asked. The young boy almost jumped when she spoke to him. He trembled as he shook his head. Etsuko turned her attention back to Roc looked like he wanted to kill the first boy now.
“Segawa, in my office! Now!” she commanded. The younger boy pretended not to see Roc when he mouthed, “I’m going to kill” at him. When the doctor and the orderly were gone, the boy crawled over to Mikado lying beaten and bruised.
“Are you okay?” he asked. The older boy shook his head.
“Why would you do that?”
“I… don’t… know…”
The younger boy looked down into his lap. “Thanks, I guess…” He sort of looked away. “What’s your name?”
“My name is Satoshi.”
-Ikebukuro, Present Day-
Mikado stepped back, gasping. “Sato… shi…kun?” Masaomi looked at his friend.
“You know him?” the blonde-haired boy asked.
“Yes,” the founder of the Dollars said, nodding. “He was in Chou Mori with me.” The younger boy threw up his hands in the air.
“Now you remember me!” he shouted.
“But, what do you want with me?” Mikado asked. Satoshi took a step forward.
“What do you think I want?” he asked. “An explanation.” The second tadpole glared at the older boys. “Why did you save me all those months ago?”
“I… I don’t know!”
“You don’t know? You don’t know?!”
“I don’t remember.”
“You don’t remember?! Which one is it?!”
Mikado put his hands on his head. “I don’t know!”
“Hey, back off!” Masaomi shouted. Satoshi cut him a cold glare.
“This does not concern you!” he snapped. “You’re just an ordinary human.”
“What are you talking about?” the Yellow Scarves shogun asked. Satoshi smirked as it began to crumble inside his head.
“He didn’t tell you?” he asked.
“Tell me what?” Masaomi asked. Satoshi turned his focus towards Mikado.
“Tell him, Chirin!” he shouted. “Tell him everything that they did to us in Chou Mori! Tell him all of the torture they put us through their sick experiments! All of those injections! We were nothing but guinea pigs to them in that place!” Satoshi pointed to his breasts.
“Look at what they did to me! The drugs fucked up my hormones and now I have tits like a girl! I was labeled as defective! Me, defective.” Satoshi tried to hold back his laughter.
“I am defective! They labeled me defective!” He shook his head, smiling.
“Look, why don’t you just go home or something?” Masaomi asked. “You are creeping us out.” The younger tadpole covered his mouth, laughing.
“Home?” he asked. “Where the hell is that? My parents split up and sold the apartment while I was in Chou Mori. My mom didn’t even leave a return address. She abandoned me, man!”
“How is all of this my fault?” Mikado asked.
“You should’ve just let me die!” Satoshi barked. “I would’ve been happy to let Roc finish me off. Because then I wouldn’t have to hear everyone’s thoughts all of the time!”
“Wait, you can hear thoughts?”
“Yes! I hate it! All of those thoughts! I didn’t want to know what everyone thought about me after they saw my body! You don’t even understand the hell that I have been through!”
“I want to understand.”
Satoshi snorted. “Why? You have friends and people who care about you. I had push away my only friend because I wasn’t sure if she was friends with me because of me or if she felt sorry for me.”
“You don’t have to time this, let’s go,” Masaomi cut in. Satoshi’s nostrils flared.
“Yeah, run to your girlfriend!” he shouted at the blonde-haired boy. “She’s going to die soon anyway.”
Masaomi froze with a blank stare. “How do you know about Saki-chan?”
“I can hear thoughts, remember?” Satoshi said. He looked back over at Mikado. “I’m surprised that you haven’t heard for yourself.”
“What?” the other tadpole asked.
“Come on, must have had your powers come in already at this point too.”
Masaomi looked at his best friend. “What’s he talking about?”
Mikado moved his hand to his left eye. “I- I don’t know what he’s talking about.” He could feel his eye throbbing as the faint smell of bleach returned. Satoshi clenched his teeth.
“You’re lying,” he growled. “Why won’t you acknowledge what they did to us?!”
“Maybe he doesn’t want to remember everything that happened to him in Chou Mori,” Masaomi said.
“Oh, bull shit!” Satoshi yelled. “They won’t let us tadpoles be dumb and innocent anymore. They want to drag us back into our experiments.”
“But what do you want from me?” Mikado asked. The delicate threads in Satoshi’s mind began to snap one by one.
“What else?” he asked. “I want my life back!” The younger tadpole sighed and shook his head. “You leave me no choice but to do this.” Satoshi reached into his torn up jacket and whipped out his knife.
From high up in an abandoned apartment, Izaya watched the scene unfold through his binoculars. His eyes stared at the shiny knife blade.
“Okay, Chirin-kun,” the information broker muttered. “Let’s see what you are going to do next.” Izaya swallowed back his drool as he watched the next scene unfold.
“What are you doing?!” Mikado asked as he stared down the blade. Satoshi only saw red as he stepped closer.
“If I kill you, the whole project will fall apart,” he said, panting. “Tandeki won’t have their precious little golden boy anymore. I just have to kill Kitano-sensei’s favorite little pet and my life will go back to normal!” Masaomi jumped in the way with his arms outstretched. Satoshi snorted.
“Get out of the way,” he said in a low voice. “I have to do this.”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t let you do that,” the blonde-haired boy said. “I actually like my bestie here and certain boobylicious girl would be sad if something were to happen to him. I don’t understand what’s going on here, but I won’t let you murder my friend.”
“Yeah, you say that now, but how long before that changes? How long before you see Chirin as a monster just like everyone else will? How long before you abandon him? How long before you decide to kill him?”
Mikado froze at those questions. He began to get a clearer picture of Aida Satoshi. This was just a scared boy who had been dragged through the same hell that he was. Satoshi didn’t have friends to pull him back from the edge. His parents abandoned and he had to push away the one person he cared about to spare her from his misery. Mikado covered up his right eye, but couldn’t see anything surrounding Satoshi. The older boy dropped his hand as he fully became to understand his fellow tadpole’s pain.
But still the instinct to live screamed at him louder than anything else.
Satoshi raced forward with a loud scream. Masaomi kicked him in the knee, knocking the boy to the ground. The younger boy clutched the knife, panting.
“Chirin must die!” he shouted. “I have to kill him! I have to kill him!” Satoshi lunged towards Mikado again, but Masaomi tackled him back. It didn’t feel right to feel a guy’s breasts rubbing against his, but that didn’t stop the Yellow Scarves shogun from wrestling the knife out of the Satoshi’s hand.
“Give it back!” the younger boy yelled. He tried to bit Masaomi on the arm. The blonde boy gritted his teeth and refused to let go of the knife. Satoshi’s mind filled back with all of the misery that he had been dragged through as he bit and tried to pry the knife out of Masaomi’s hand. Mikado stood back unsure what to do. He wasn’t physically strong, but he had to try and do something.
Meanwhile, Masaomi bit on Satoshi’s hand to get him to let go. The other boy gave off a muzzled scream before letting go. Masaomi leapt back, panting. He turned with the knife in his hand to his friend. Still, the boy didn’t seem to want to give up. His hand reached around for something sharp and got his hand on broken glass. Satoshi’s mind dulled out the pain.
“I have to kill Chirin!” he shouted. “I want my life back!” The boy jumped to his feet and raced towards Masaomi and Mikado as they started walking away.
“I hate you, Chirin!” Satoshi shouted. “Die!” The boys turned and glanced at the younger boy racing towards them.
Izaya sat across from Kitano’s desk.
“So who was he?” he asked. The psychiatrist played with his empty glass on his desk.
“Aida Satoshi,” he said. “Two years ago, his mother had him committed for an old head injury he suffered in an accident when he was two years old. I enrolled him into the Tadpole Project.”
“He’s the defective one, right?” he asked.
Kitano glanced over at him. “I see you have been doing some homework.”
Izaya smirked and shrugged. “I am an information broker after all. I have my sources.”
“I see…” Kitano narrowed his eyes at Izaya. You are getting too close there, young man. He shoved aside any thoughts of killing the information broker for the time being.
“Satoshi had Gynecomastia, right?” Izaya asked. “How did that happen?” Kitano put up his hands to shrug.
“We have been studying it for months and we still didn’t have an answer for it,” he said. “Funny thing, he was the only one who had it. Everyone else in all three generation stayed the same hormone-wise.”
“Fascinating,” Izaya said. “It’s shame that he had to die like that.” The therapist had no emotion on his face.
“Why?” he asked. “There are plenty more tadpoles all around Japan.” The information broker looked at him slightly off-guard for only a second before regaining his cocky air. Kitano put up his hand when the younger man opened his mouth.
“No, I’m not going to tell you anything about them,” he said. “You are smart enough to figure it out for yourself. After all, you didn’t really need me to tell you anything about Satoshi, did you?” The older man glanced up to see Izaya smirking to himself.
“Masaomi-kun, what did you do?!” Mikado shouted. The blonde shogun shook his head, gasping.
Satoshi dropped to his knees, mouth wide open. Mikado and Masaomi stared in shock at the knife plunged deep into his chest. He didn’t make a sound as fell backwards.
“Satoshi!” Mikado yelled, running over to the dying boy. The younger tadpole’s short messy dark brown bangs covered his eyes.
“Hold on!” the founder of the Dollars said. “We’ll get you to a hospital!” He turned to his friend.
“Call an ambulance!” he yelled. Masaomi pulled out his cell phone. Satoshi’s hand inched towards the handle of the knife. His grip kept struggling, but he managed to pull the knife. His breathing became labored as Blood pumped out of his chest.
“What are you doing?!” Mikado shouted. “Why would you do that?!” Bloody knife fell on the snowy ground. Masaomi lowered his phone as his friend tried to stop the bleeding. Mikado could feel the younger boy’s life slipping away as he tried to press down on the wound bleeding profusely. Satoshi’s lips murmured something that only the other tadpole could here.
“Don’t talk,” Mikado said. “We’ll get you help soon.” What he heard next chilled him to his core.
“You have no idea how high up this goes…” Satoshi murmured.
“What?” Mikado asked.
“More of us… It’s getting worse… Tandeki… not done… with us… the end is coming…” Satoshi said in short, shallow breaths. His eyes rolled back into his head as his hand went limp.
“No, no, no, no!” Mikado shouted as he shook the boy’s body. “You can’t die yet! Come on! Come on!” Masaomi put his hand on his friend’s shoulder. Mikado looked up to see him shaking his head, frowning. The blonde shogun had to pull him away from the boy. Mikado looked at him with wide eyes.
“Why Masaomi-kun?! Why?! Why?!” he shouted.
“He was going to kill you,” Masaomi said in a low voice. “I didn’t mean to stab. You saw what happened. It was self-defense.” Mikado fell to his knees, shaking. The stabbing alone didn’t leave him broken that night. He couldn’t get Satoshi’s last words out of his head.
“You have no idea how high up this goes… More of us… It’s getting worse… Tandeki… not done… with us… the end is coming…”
Junko sat in her office at Rampo Biotech just as she finished up her latest report on Mikado and his friends. She smirked as she watched as one of the little lights on her tablet screen die out.
“And then there were forty-eight,” the nurse muttered to herself. Junko looked up and noticed that the clock had struck midnight.
“Oh,” she said. The nurse pulled out her cell phone and pulled up the Deathvine web site. She got the latest Blue Square suicide video being uploaded just in time.