A Trip to Tokyo, Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Friends ███████ Together

"Enough, you triggerhappy louts! Enough shooting already!" A shortened elderly man in a lab coat runs in through the makeshift replacement door, spraying the corpse with fire extinguisher in hand.

A command operative chases after him. "Professor Junichiro! You should not be in here, the Z.O.O. is not cleared for noncombatant entry."

"Nonsense! Strike while the iron is hot, I say!" The elderly man crouches to inspect the mess.

"If only Minoru were here instead of the lot of you. He could handle all of this alone! Knew how to shoot, cut and kill just enough, leave me the absolute most to continue dabbling with!"1 He prods the charred remains, jumping up in agitation.

"Oh, you fools! If only you could stay the pyromania but for a moment… This one's biological modifications are too ruined for study! A full-body morphological disassembly, it was the most exciting of them all! From what I could tell from that remote feed, anyway." The old man snorted.

He thrusts his hands on his hips and beams brightly. "Now! What else do we have here?"

"Excuse me…?"

Junichiro freezes as the lizard girl's voice cuts into his thoughts.

"Are you… the one in charge here?"

Professor Mamoru Junichiro quivers at the intrusion of this unanticipated thought-disruption threatening to seize his thought process.

"Can you-do you know how to fix us? Are you-" Junichiro pirouettes and prances towards the startled girl with a ballet dancer's agility, bringing his head dangerously close to smashing into hers. She sees half of his face is filled in with a robotic carapace, his left eye a shuttering aperture that whirred as it took in this fresh stream of data, sweeping its gaze across the lizard girl and others.

"O hoo hoo hoo!" Junichiro giggled, oblivious of her query. "Such a treasure trove of data! Kabushiki Kawaii never fails to disappoint. Always, something new to examine!" The girl's hopes sink as she slowly backs from the most unhinged, crazed individual ever seen in her whole life.

"Samples here, samples there, samples everywhere, all alive and at optimal studying capacity, joy, joy, JOY!" Junichiro throws his arms in the air as he leaps and taps the back of his shoes together. Upon finishing his jump, he suddenly stiffens and trembles wildly. He calms down, slowly getting to his knees to prostrate fully towards the captives. He mumbles slowly and calmly.

"On behalf of all mankind, I sincerely t-thank each and every one of you for the contributions that all of you will make in the pursuits of knowledge and enlightenment of the extranormal fields of biological science…"

Horror crosses Lizard-girl's eyes in her interpretation of his statement. "No… No! We're not guinea pigs! We're humans! We're still humans, damn it!" A gloved hand falls on her shoulder, an operative clearing his throat.

"What he means is, you will be staying with us for the foreseeable future. Come along now and be read your rights…"

"Let go! Let go of me…" Her eyes sink in despair, her resistance feeblehearted. Like the rest of the anxious crowd, she is ushered off.

"Still… human, of course, so you will be… examineddd… with utmos-st respect and courtesyyyyyy-" Junichiro vibrates, his manic self bubbling back out. "Ooh, oh, so much, so much data… Need to focus, need to-" He clutches his head and pants wildly as his aperture eye swings left and right, latching upon something new.

"But wait, what's this… What is this?2 Something piques my interest!" Junichiro leaps back up to his feet and ambles over towards Mari's body3, set upon a stretcher and bandaged over.

"Ohhhh, oh yes! One of the Darwinists! Wait…" Junichiro's features soured. "Why does she look like a half-dead fish under the sun?"

"We've only stabilized her to the barest minimum, sir. We will not risk her waking and attacking us-"

"Goodness, she's almost dead! What have I told you absolute medians? A vivisection is a thousand times better than a dissection!"

"But Professor, we've already procured you one… relatively unharmed Darwinist specimen. As requested." Sarada is forcibly marched before the old man; Bent over, bruised, battered and bloodied, an eye swollen shut from his beating. Junichiro squints and glares up and down across Sarada's features. He grits his teeth and sneers.

"What is this piecemeal and barely relevant scrap of information?! His aberrant alterations are at an absolute minimal! Just by a look, I can already tell he's had less than 8% of his total body mass converted!"

"Dus… dush dis meen aihm not gouen tu be eckspermentid on?"4

"I'll get back to you in a moment." Junichiro turns back to the command operative who had been tailing him all along.

"Z.O.O. cleared for noncombatant entry yet, commander?" The command operative stared back at Junichiro silently, his exasperation concealed behind his mask.

"…Granted." Junichiro whoops and whistles, and like dogs did he so beckon a gaggle of scientific personnel to stream into the place, hazmat personnel marching into the building's depths with packaged single-use protective garments for the children hiding below.

Junichiro pulls off his gloves, revealing a right prosthetic hand of technological make. He falls into a silent trace as his hands sweep across Mari's body, massaging points across her belly, chest, arms and legs, rubbing her fingers, checking her pulse as his right hand glowed and beeped. A change comes over the professor, his eyes widening in the clarity of focus.

"Blood type AB+ (Universal acceptor). Perfusion index of 0.2%: Very weak pulse. Estimated blood loss of 46.7%. Body surface temperature of thirty-four degrees celsius. Diagnosis: Onset of stage 4 hypovolemic/haemorrhagic shock secondary to traumatic blood loss. Estimated time to brain death: between six to ten minutes. Prognosis: not good.

"No time to fix the subject back at base. Subject will not last the trip." He rises, jabbing a finger at the operatives.

"At the rate you fools mixed so much negligence into her stabilization, it's a miracle none of you didn't simply put her out of her misery. Make room! Shoo!" The berated soldiers comply grudgingly, clearing space about the wrecked table she was laid upon.

"Mari-Ane-Shan…" Sarada limps towards the table, leashed onto following operatives. "Ish she going to maek it-"

"JOHNNY!" Juichiro's scream cuts into Sarada's inquiry. A lab-coated young man with a mop of ginger hair runs in, straight on cue.

"Here, sir!"

"Preparations for field surgery complete?"

"As requested before you left, sir!" Two medics enter closely after Johnny after tending to wounded operatives, setting down surgical screens, an air purifier close by and a UV lamp shining upon the patient.

"Good, good…" Junichiro eyes the assortment of bags and boxes in his assistant's arms. "PRBCs, albumin, plasma, the whole works?"

"All here, sir!" Junichiro smiled serenely.

"No wonder I made you my personal assistant. Set the racks. Nurses! Lift her up and set the heat blanket on the stretcher." Junichiro squirts sanitizer on his hands from a bottle in his pocket. Johnny swabs Mari's arms and inserts a sampling needle into her right wrist. Junichiro closes his eyes and raises his prosthetic right hand… Then flicks, causing said hand to burst open into a web-like lattice of precise grabbing claws and instruments.

"What's the TTBD, doc?"

"Three minutes, now. Body core is at 34-C, set blanket to 39! Elevate legs!" Junichiro grunts and wipes his brow with his sleeve. "Don't you dare die…" He sweeps his right arm across the IVs, numerous spindly claws identifying lines by the physical indents and markings. They seize, uncap and plunge an array of needles into Mari's arteries. Johnny works in tandem, swiftly plastering each needle as it is inserted.

Spools of surgical thread emerges from a UV-lit cavern within Junichiro's wrist, their ends unraveling to reveal their tips being attached within surgical needles. With a slow sweep of his arm across the most grievous of Mari's wounds, the little pincers work in mechanical harmony with the cyclic movement of the needles to steadily sew Mari's numerous gashes shut. Johnny dutifully cleans each stitch array as it is completed and the stitching moves to the next.

"And, and…" Junichiro watches the monitors intensely as the lifelines slowly, gradually warble back to some semblance of coherence. "OKAY! She's stabilized! Heh, heh, hehehe…" He giggles in relief and presses his hands into his face, his serious demeanor slowly reverting back to his unhinged persona. In the commotion and bustling, the warmth of the blanket and glare of the lamps, Mari slowly stirs.

"M-Mishio…! You, you were, all along…"

"Oh!" Junichiro stops his jig. "Good news! Patient will make a full recovery!"

"-were saying, all along, you were actually a-"

"Bad news! Patient is conscious, delirious and features an array of dangerous biological weaponry. SEDATE!" Junichiro jabs his right index finger straight towards Mari's neck, a needle thrusting out the tip to deliver knockout sedatives straight into her ascending jugular.

"…M, Mishio… k-kuh, kitsh… n…"

"W-whath are yew going to do to her? What are you going-kaff-to do to me?" Junichiro turns back to look at Sarada and his recovering voice; the boy was obviously ecstatic at Mari's resuscitation, but uncertain over their fates.

"Relax! You've surrendered, remember?" Sarada exhaled in unsteady relief.

"Buuuut, seeing as you and your unconscious friend here have abnormal biological modifications… We're going to need to normalize the two of you, pronto. You first, since you're not badly injured. Quickly now, field surgical team!"

Sarada's eyes open wide as a herd of lab-coated individuals swiftly descend upon him, his own handlers putting their hands on his shoulders. Johnny interrupts:

"But Professor, you've used up most of the essentials on the girl-" Junichiro pouts childishly.

"Then the whole lot of them will have to make do without the anesthetics and whatnot. Field surgical team, begin!"

"Without WHAT?!" Sarada's protests are ignored as he is clamped down upon, dragged kicking and screaming into a waiting van. With remaining field researchers helping to lift Mari's stretcher, Junichiro gleefully strides alongside as his robotic hand converts into an array of scissors and blades.

"Now Johnny-and-everybody-else, pay attention as I remove all this cloth that's in the way, expose the modifications across her body-STOP AVERTING YOUR GAZE!" A very hard slap sound echoed across the alleyway, followed by Johnny's moan. "You and your hormones, boy! It'll be the bane of you, mark my words! Now pay attention!"

"Faded cosmetic surgery scars, absolutely worthless… Oh, look at these! Entry points for the insertion of advanced Aberrant-class biological alterations! Clearly, someone very talented from the Darwinists did this…"

The sounds of Junichiro's field lesson fades in the distance, ending with the slam of van doors.

"All cells have been searched. That's the last of the captives. All Trafficker servers, hard drives and documents have been seized." Command Operative nods at the news.

"Schedule Z.O.O. for gutting tomorrow. Standard 'criminal dispute' cover story."

The last few altered children in miniature hazmat suits (several sporting bumps where their tails, snouts or horns poke against) waddle out, shepherded along by researchers in larger hazmat suits. Command Operative looks towards, then salutes towards the body bags of the three KIA operatives as they are carried out. All that's left of the abomination is a scorch mark on the floor, its remains having being scraped off and taken away by Junichiro's team long ago.

Command Operative takes a glance at the Advanced Operatives: Purge-1 and Purge-3 stand where the initial batch of captives once huddled, hazmat suits continuing to hose them over. Purge-2, first to be completely decontaminated, looks over disassembled scraps of his damaged suit alongside a technician. Now unhelmeted, he can be made out as a fair blonde man pouting from the technician's insistence to regulatory adherence that even the purely cosmetic scars have to be buffed out.

"The mission's a wrap. Come on home to base for some R&R, boys. Legal will pick up from here."

"Appreciated, HQ. Let's get a move on, everyone. Just about had enough of this rat-infested shithole and all the skittering noises in the room." C.O. waves to all the others to pack up and leave. One of the guards salutes.

"Acknowledg-movement!" The guard swiftly trains his rifle on a corner of the room and opens fire, spraying wood splinters and wall plaster across the wall. Purge-1 bounds over and throws aside the remains of a broken table. Concrete glass, wood, dried blood…

"Visuals are negative."

C.O. runs up to the guard, agitation breaking through his scrambler. "The zone was already established to be Unusual-free for the past hour! What were you thinking? Do this again and those bullets - and any collateral damage - are coming out of your paycheck."

"Sir, yes, sir." The berated guard lowers his head and marches out glumly.

C.O. waits to be the last to leave. He turns one last time around to peek at the devastation and wreckage. Faint puffs of concrete dust continue to drift through the moonlight of the broken windows… All is silent. He leaves. Within minutes, the rumbles of truck engines can be heard fading in the distance.

All is still once more. Then, a soft tinkle and clatter breaks the silence.

She saw.

A plastic vial slowly rolls down a jumble of splintered wood, clattering all the way.

She saw through the disguise. The illusion that was fired upon.

It hits the floor, slowly coming to a stop against a chunk of fallen plaster.

Hated what she was made to look like: Us. And yet…

Behind the plastic, a glass syringe's murky contents continue to shift, its disturbed occupant's feelers sliding across the inner surface.

And yet she jumped to save me. From the blast.

The next sound to break the silence was whimpering. Soft sobs as a fox gradually squeezes itself out from behind a ruined table leaning against the wall, madly trembling and shivering. All four of her brown tails, completely prickled out in agitation and terror while sooted over in burnt gunpowder, tears streaking down her face. The fox slowly limps, hobbles and stumbles across the ruins, finally reaching the vial. She paws it close to her chest, collapses, and weeps in a puddle of tears.

Chapter 4: Friends Survive Together


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