The street lights passing by outside cast long shadows through the sedan windows on Dr. Osaka Lo, a short, roundish man who is desperate to appear important and calm. He is anything but, especially in a plain, dark blue business suit that is uncomfortable and doesn’t feel quite right.
Lo has never been one for venturing out into the world. For most of his professional life, he preferred to work behind the scenes, safe within his lab coat and related environs. For the longest time, he enjoyed working on projects, seeing them come to fruition. But gradually, as many of his peers took credit for the work, moved on, and became successful, he began to regret his choices. He began to hate the man he had become. Those who knew him considered him an affable man, with a brilliant mind and a diligent work ethic. But what did he get from being some generous with his mind and time?
Soon, the mere mention of such descriptions about him felt like slaps across his face. He began to see their compliments as belittling insults, keeping him in his place, ensuring that he never succeeded, so they could. His anger and rage roiled within him, and might have exploded, if not for his discovery.
Like most great discoveries worth mentioning, his was by accident. A fluke of discovery and fate perhaps? Either way, he alone saw the potential of what he would later dub ‘Altergen 13′. It started as a virus. Nothing terribly dangerous. But when he accidentally combined it with a failed, genetically altered super virus, the results were surprising. Together, the viruses altered any organic material they came into contact with. What made Lo take notice was their reaction to electro-chemical stimuli.
In essence, the combined viruses could be controlled. Not through genetic engineering, but with electrical pulses. With the right combination, they could be made to alter the genetic material from one form to another!
Lo hid his discovery away, his mind swimming with all the possibilities. Once he focused on what he needed, he knew he couldn’t do it alone.
The flash of a headlight pulls Lo out of his thoughts. He turns to the man who may be his salvation. Shingen Kawaga.
Kawaga is the exact opposite of Lo. He’s a tall, lean, authoritative man, with a serious, rugged face honed from years of hardship and battles. He is wealthy, influential, and powerful. His cool, intelligent eyes scan through the file Dr. Lo provided. Unlike some, who would need everything involved with the process explained to them, Kawaga, needs none. He takes his time, reads everything with intensity. Even the large, glossy photos are reviewed in detail.
All Lo can do is gaze upon the Tokyo skyline from inside Kawaga’s luxury sedan as it cruises along an elevated highway out of the city. His nervousness occasionally gets the better of him and he glances over at Kawaga, hoping to see a reaction on his face. But he reveals nothing.
He can understand Kawaga wanting to read through every step of the process. The fact that he’s already handed over millions of dollars after seeing the results of the proto-type, so that they could do larger-scale processes, doesn’t mean that everything Lo has worked towards won’t be dismissed, or even taken away, by Kawaga. He knows of his reputation, his connections to the Yakuza.
A chill courses through Lo. He wonders what Kawaga would do to him if he learned the truth about his so-called ‘proto-type’. He knows what the results would be. He’d be dead.
“Hmm.” Kawaga utters with quiet interest.
Lo’s face brightens as he turns towards Kawaga.
“These are impressive, Dr. Lo.” Kawaga says, closing the file. “You’ve accomplished this with my meager donation?”
“Yes Kawaga-San.” Lo replies, his confidence building. “With your very generous contribution, we have far exceeded our expectations with our first generation of biological reconfigured beings, or Bio-Recons for short.”
“First, the refinement of our genetic smart-virus, Altergen 13, which infects the animals D.N.A. and alters it to our specifications. Second, a complete upgrade of the Vat mainframe technology, with an emphasis on increased interface between the mainframe and the Altergen 13. Together, they have improved our productivity immensely.”
“What of the three new subjects?”
“The first of our ‘Trinity’, as I called them, was ‘Felidae’. As stated in the file, at your request, the subject responded quite well to our improved Vat process, retaining the qualities you specified.”
“All physical traits enhanced, bipedal structure, natural appearance and abilities intact?” Kawaga asks, his interest rising.
“Of course!” Lo responds, his excitement growing. “That is our goal with all Bio-Recons. But, as I theorized in my summary, felines may be the best candidates for biological reconfiguration.”
“Excellent.” Kawaga replies, a hint of a smile touches his lips as his mind already begins to plot a future for this creation.
Seeing Kawaga’s reaction energizes Lo even more as he continues. “The ‘Canidae’ subject had some surprising results! His genetic make-up had a full conversion, while retaining some incredible physical attributes. We hope to attempt more full conversions, but I believe it is an astronomically rare occurrence. I know you were more interested in combining animal and human traits–”
“Yes,” Kawaga interrupts, “but I’d like to see the Canidae subject. What of the last?”
“The ‘Ursidae’ subject?” Lo asks, pride beaming from him as he sits back in his seat, looking forward, spotting flashing lights up ahead. “That is what I wanted you to see in person.”
The city looms behind them as they find themselves among factories and industrial complexes.
The sedan stops at a checkpoint with heavily armed soldiers asking for identification. A soldier approaches the rear driver’s side door. Lo rolls down his window and shows his identification. When the soldier sees who he is, he waves the sedan through.
They drive through the isolated, night-time landscape of buildings that generally hum with activity, they see evidence that something happened here, something big, powerful.
“I heard of an industrial accident in this area.” Kawaga comments, seeing a growing pattern of wreckage. A piece of ground impacted by a chunk of concrete. The street torn up. A building with flame or structural damage. As they drive, the devastation grows.
When they come to a stop, Kawaga looks around at the unparalleled carnage and destruction. He remembers the ruined cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from his youth, and has seen first-hand the aftermath of major earthquakes. What he sees rivals them all.
When Kawaga’s gaze falls upon Lo, he has a knowing smile on his face as he gets out of the sedan.
Kawaga quickly follows suit, getting out on the other side of the sedan. He looks towards the place where a large structure should be, but nothing is there. The buildings nearby are horribly burnt and torn as if something big lashed out at anything man-made. What grass and trees remain are blackened and dead. He steps around the sedan to join Lo, who looks upon a fence with soldiers guarding the perimeter. Behind the fence, the ground falls away in the shape of a massive crater. Scientists in radiation suits step down into where a building once was.
“What happened?” Kawaga finally asks as he stands beside Lo.
“The ‘Ursidae’ subject.” Lo replies with quiet, boastful confidence. “This was an off-site, highly secured lab for observation of the subjects. It seems that after the standard conversion, Ursidae began to exhibit extra abilities. As time passed, he exhibited more. At last count, he had twenty-seven distinct abilities, ranging from energy emission to the ability to grow in size and mass.”
“Where is he now?”
“We aren’t sure.” Lo answers as he steps closer to the safety perimeter of the crater. “One of his last recorded powers was teleportation. After he attacked the facility, he seemingly exploded, but we have found no trace of him anywhere.”
“Two out of one hundred and sixty-seven. The remaining two will likely die from severe radiation poisoning.”
Kawaga looks around at everything, the shock wearing off, his cold demeanor returning as his mind begins to see the infinite possibilities. “Good.” he finally replies, putting his hand on Lo’s shoulder. “The less that is known about what truly happened, the better. Don’t you agree?”
“Yes.” Lo answers, feeling the strength and power of Kawaga’s hand. “Yes, I agree.” he adds, a seemingly genuine, but forced smile curls his lips.
“You have all the readings from Ursidae and the others, so improvements can be made with my renewed funding and partnership?” Kawaga asks as he opens the door for Lo.
Lo nods as he gets in. His eagerness at advancing his process, at receiving near limitless funding and security with Kawaga’s partnership overshadows the gnawing of his conscience.
When Lo looks out the window of the sedan, images of those he worked with, who believed in the Vat process, believed in what they were trying to accomplish, stand on the mouth of the crater. They stand, glaring at him, bathed in radioactive fire, mangled and mauled, silently begging for their lives.
Lo remembers them all. For a moment, his conscience speaks to him.
He also remembers all those he helped. Those who succeeded ahead of him. Those that left him behind, thinking so little of all he helped them accomplish.
The voice of his conscience soon fades to a whisper, then is gone.
What he has done will surpass them all.
The world will be forever changed.
In time, the images of those lost here will fade, overwhelmed by his success and a future unlike any has seen before.
Irregulars: Origin of the Species Copyrighted © 2010-2012 Mark James MacKinnon. Any use of these characters, without permission, is strictly prohibited. Any similarities to individuals, living or dead, is purely coincidental.