Irregulars: Origin of the Species
Chapter 2: “Trinity”
Osaka looks at himself in the mirror of the hotel he has called home for the past few months. Although the suit he wears makes him looks important, he still feels chubby.
“I feel like an over-stuffed cabbage roll.” he comments. He turns to see his back. The suit jacket seems to billow out. “Isabelle, this jacket doesn’t fit like the other one did!”
Isabelle Belladonna speeds out of the bedroom on quick legs barely restrained by her medium-length skirt. A small purse swings from her shoulder. Her glasses slide down her nose. Her long, black, wavy hair is kept in a loose ponytail. The dark circles under her dark brown eyes, normally unnoticeable due to her olive-hued skin, stand out. In her right hand, her cell phone vibrates. In her left hand, some safety pins.
“You look dashing, sir.” she comments, a hint of an Italian in her voice. She glances at her cell, “Take a hint, stupido!” she grumbles as she ignores the call and slips it into her skirt pocket.
“What?” Osaka asks, puzzled, as he turns him around to face her. When he sees the safety pins, he looked even more puzzled. “What are those for?”
“To make you look even better!” she lifts his arms and slides her arms around him, under the suit jacket.
Osaka stiffens at Isabella’s closeness. Although she has been his personal assistant since working for Shingen Kawaga at Shogun Incorporated, he has never been comfortable with her forwardness and the ease at which she invades his private space.
She senses his stiffness and chuckles. “Most men might like an attractive woman this close to them.”
“You are a peer, and my assistant.” Osaka responds like pre-recorded message. “Any extra-curricular activity would demean you as a scientist, and a colleague, in my eyes.”
She turns her face to look at Osaka. Their noses are quite close. He tries to lean his back further away from hers. “As much as I appreciate you respecting me, you really have to remove the stick from your–“ she pauses stretching. Her eyebrows arch in triumph. “Ah! Got it!”
“The stick?” Osaka deadpans, unknowingly.
Isabelle laughs as she pulls her arms out from under his jacket and steps back. “Good one sir! Now turn around, let’s see you.”
Osaka, not sure what exactly was funny about his comment, turns back to the mirror.
“Oh yes, molto meglio.” Isabelle comments.
Osaka turns to look at his back in the mirror. The suit doesn’t billow anymore. It’s lines are long and smooth, as they should be. “That’s much better.”
“That’s what I said!” Isabelle goes to say more when her cell phone vibrates, startling and infuriating her. “Porca puttana, è irritante piccola cagna!” she snaps.
“Who is calling you?” Osaka asks absently. His mind distracted by his appearance and the meeting ahead.
“That intern working at the Tokyo facility lobby. She is irritatingly chipper and a brown-noser.”
“She’s an intern that still wishes to associate with us and our work.” Osaka replies, his mind elsewhere, full of concern and whirling thoughts.
Isabelle notices Osaka’s distraction. She gently guides him to a comfortable chair and sits him down. “Wait here. I know what you need.” She speeds over to the bar, takes out a glass and a bottle of warm sake. She speeds back and offers Osaka a drink. “To relax you a bit. You look nervous, or ready to fly apart.”
“At this time of day?”
“Si! Bere fino!
Osaka takes the drink, but doesn’t drink it.
Isabelle stands over him, her hands on her hips.
Osaka sighs and drinks a bit.
She smiles and nods. “Bene. Now drink up, I’ll get the folder ready.”
“Si. You,” he pauses before blurting out, “donna invadente!”
Isabelle straightens up, a look of surprise on her face.
Osaka looks back at Isabelle, fearing his translation was incorrect.
A smile slowly brightens her face. “Pushy woman am I?” She laughs, before nodding in agreement. She leans forward, placing her hand on his knee. “You need a pushy woman like me, signore.” She brings up her index finger, kisses it, then places it finger on Osaka’s nose.
Osaka can’t help ut smile.
Isabelle straightens up, patting his knee. “Now drink up!” she repeats, smiling. She turns and leaves the room, just as a buzzing sound comes from her skirt pocket. She curses in Italian before disappearing into a the bedroom.
Osaka finally downs the sake in one gulp. He coughs. He doesn’t drink much. But it does settle him.
The past few years have felt like a blur. The funding from Kawaga sent his research into overdrive. Like-minded people came out of the woodwork, willing to work with him on his new Vat technology, to make the existence of Bio-Recons, as he called them, a reality. What excited him most was Dr. Fain, the man whose book about rabbits inspired him, came onboard. It seemed too easy how everything fell into place.
But it wasn’t easy. Many animal test subjects were sacrificed to refine the process. Many people, including Dr. Fain, didn’t have the stomach for it. Those that left notified others of what they were doing. Fortunately, Kawaga’s influence and wealth kept critics quiet and other interested parties away. But the visits from Tak Cheung, Kawaga’s liaison, increased.
Those, like Dr. Belladonna, remained because they believed in the necessity of the work. They often talked about how many people died trying to discover new worlds. How many sacrifices were made to further humanity’s knowledge of space. How many species of proto-humans died so homo sapiens could evolve. The deaths of all those animals served a purpose, for the greater good of humanity, or scientific advancement.
He often imagined how many lives might eventually be saved because an animal, subjected to the Vat technology, created a naturally-produced vaccine for some incurable disease, after artificial means had failed. He imagined a young girl who had lost her legs in some terrible accident, being given a treatment that would allow her to regrow her limbs, like a lizard who loses its tail. How could doctors look into the eyes of the parents, whose child lay at death’s door, and tell them the means to save their child might cost the lives of a few animals? Who’s more valuable? Who do we save? A human, or an animal?
He even envisioned other aspects of their results. Why send men and women, loved ones, into war, when Bio-Recons could do the fighting for them? Why couldn’t Bio-Recons be genetically altered to do work humans couldn’t? They wouldn’t have any rights like people do. They would be property. Trademarked, branded, copyrighted, wholly-owed by Kawaga-Lo Shogun Incorporated.
But, as time passed, Osaka began to sense a shift in Kawaga’s interest. Results weren’t enticing enough. The differences in their goals became more obvious. While Osaka wanted to push the envelope of knowledge and technology, Kawaga wanted profits related to combat and warfare. Tak Cheung became a regular fixture around the facilities. The excitement of scientific exploration faded. The pressure to maintain their research grew.
Osaka is so lost in his thoughts that he doesn’t notice Isabelle standing in front of him, her cell phone clasped in both her hands. Her face is pale, her eyes wide in disbelief. He sits forward. “What is it?” he asks, worried.
“The police. They want to talk to you. Something has happened at the Tokyo facility.” Isabelle replies, the fire and humor from before is gone.
Osaka nods as he takes her cell phone from her. “This is Dr. Osaka Lo. What has happened?”
The police officer in charge tells Osaka what has happened. The color from his face drains. He feels a chill run through him, as well as haunting words that resurface in his mind. Somehow, he remains calm and professional, answering basic questions, as well as agreeing to a request to come down to police headquarters. When he’s done, he hangs up the cell phone and hands it back to Isabelle.
“I can’t believe…” she begins to say. She holds herself, a look of shame washes over her face. “That was why the intern was calling, trying to tell us what happened.”
Osaka gets to his feet and walks quietly to the bathroom and closes the door behind him. He leans on the sink and looks at himself in the mirror. Those haunting words return to the surface of his mind. They flash like neon signs in front of his eyes.
Dangerous. Unstable. Powerful. Unstoppable.
Everything he had worked for was at an end. Once the city discovered what they were doing, that they were the cause of this, that they knew the potential destructive force they had created, it would all end. He would be discredited, charged, imprisoned. His work locked away in some government warehouse to be forgotten. Or worse, sold-off to others. Maybe even stolen by rivals.
Tears started to well up in Osaka’s eyes. He tried to holds back the emotions within him, but he couldn’t. His whole life had led up to this point. Now, it would be taken away from him. He muffles his sobs with the back of his hand. He turns on the taps and splashes water in his face to wash away the tears from his cheeks.
There a quiet knock at the door. “Osaka?” Isabelle speaks from the other side of the door.
“I’m ok.” Osaka lies.
“Maybe we should cancel your meeting with Kawaga.”
Desperation awakens Osaka. Thought fills his mind. Unpleasant thoughts. Necessary thoughts. For years, he has ignored the rumors swirling around Kawaga, and his connections to criminal enterprises. He has tried to see the best of the man. But deep down, he always sensed his darkness. Now, with so much at stake, perhaps it was time to appeal to that side of him, that darkness.
“No.” Osaka finally replies. “The meeting will go ahead as scheduled. But the location will have to change.”
The street lights passing by outside cast long shadows through the sedan windows on Osaka. Although he seems calm and confident on the outside, he is anything but on the inside. The decision he has made whirls within him like a tornado. Despite his impressive coolness, small signs of worry have begun to show. He feels the sweat running down his back, the dampness under his arms. The uncomfortableness of this ridiculous suit. He glances over at the man who holds the fate of his life’s work in his hands.
Shingen Kawaga is the exact opposite of Osaka. 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 files within the folder Osaka brought. 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 Osaka can do is gaze upon the Tokyo skyline from inside Kawaga’s luxury sedan as it cruises along a 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, having already invested nearly a million dollars in his Vat Technology. But things have changed. Before, he was a scientist. Now, he felt he was more akin to an arms dealer. Instead of appealing to the head of a multi-billion dollar, global conglomerate, he needs to woo the rumored head of a powerful Yakuza organization.
A chill courses through Osaka. If he fails in either avenue of persuasion, he might be killed. The chill fades as he remembers the reason he chose this path. It is too late to back out now. Even if Kawaga spurned him, he may as well be dead.
“Hmm.” Kawaga utters with quiet interest.
Osaka forces down his fearful thoughts. His face brightens as he turns towards Kawaga.
“These are impressive, Dr. Lo.” Kawaga says, closing the folder. “You’ve accomplished all this with my meager donation?”
“Yes Kawaga-San.” Osaka replies, re-enforcing his facade of confidence. “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 test subject Felidae?” Kawaga asks.
Although Osaka originally disapproved of Kawaga’s suggestions, it has now become an advantage. “The second subject responded quite well to our improved Vat process. The inclusion of a psycho-genetic template within the reconfigured cerebrum yielded the qualities you specified. Physical traits enhanced beyond basic human abilities. Modern bipedal structure. Original, external appearance and abilities intact. All with no discernable side-effects!”
“Excellent!” Kawaga replies, impressed.
“In fact,” Osaka continues, “I theorized in my summary, that felines may be the best candidates for biological reconfiguration.”
Kawaga flips open the folder to Felidae’s file, a hint of a smile touches his lips.
as his mind already begins to plot a future for this creation.
Osaka takes note of Kawaga’s inclination towards Felidae, suspecting he has already envisioned plans for the creature, and potentially, others like him. He hopes his success with Felidae will be just the introduction of the potential of his Vat technology.
“What of the others?” Kawaga asks, closing the folder. “If Felidae was the second test subject, who was the first?”
“Canidae was the first of our three test subjects, or as we called them, the ‘Trinity’. Test subject number one had numerous variables. Consistency of the Altergen 13, power output, data feed, translation between the mainframe and Vat. In essence, it was a dry run, a rehearsal, to ensure the new technology and the advanced process were ready.
“To our surprise and delight, it turned out better than we could have ever imagined! The Canidae subject had a full genetic reconfiguration! Although he retained some slightly increased physical attributes, his appearance was complete and indistinguishable! We hope to attempt more full genetic reconfigurations, once we’ve studied the readings. My original calculation indicated the possibilities of a full reconfiguration to be an astronomically rare occurrence!” Osaka pauses, having gotten caught up in his discoveries. “My apologies for getting carried away. 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?” Osaka asks. “That is what I wanted you to see in person.” He sits back, looking calm and confident. But he knows the importance of what is to come. It will determine his fate, not only of everything he has worked for, but perhaps the fate of something deeper, more personal.
Kawaga looks at Osaka, puzzled by his secrecy. He too sits back and looks out the window.
Soon, 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. The window lowers and Osaka 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 this morning.” 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 now rivals them all.
When Kawaga’s gaze falls upon Osaka, he has a knowing smile on his face.
Once he turns away, Osaka opens the sedan’s door, and steps out. His smile and coolness vanish. He is stunned by what he sees. He suspected the potential destruction, but to see it all around him humbles and frightens him. He purposefully bites his inner cheek, hard, to snap him out of his shock, to remind him what he must do.
Kawaga steps out of the sedan as well. He looks towards the place where a large structure should be, but only rubble remains. 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 Osaka, who looks upon a fence with soldiers guarding the perimeter. Behind the fence, scientists in radiation suits step down into what looks like a massive crater.
Although horrified by devastation, deep down, somewhere in the dark, unpleasant recesses of Osaka’s heart, he marvels at what he has created.
“Where are we?” Kawaga asks in a hushed tone.
“The Tokyo facility.” Osaka replies in a equally quiet tone. He hides a hint of smile at hearing Kawaga’s reverence. “It was an off-site, highly secured lab for observation of the subjects.”
“The subject ‘Ursidae’.” he replies with a quiet, boastful confidence. “It seems that after the standard biological reconfiguration, 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.” Osaka 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 Osaka’s shoulder. “The less that is known about what truly happened, the better. Don’t you agree?”
A wave of elation washes over Osaka. “Yes.” he answers quietly. “Yes, I agree.” he adds, the overwhelming sense of relief filling him. His future, and his work, are secure.
“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 sedan door for Osaka.
He nods as he gets in. His eagerness at resuming his work, advancing his process, receiving potentially unlimited funding, and security from Kawaga’s partnership is dulled by his gnawing conscience.
When Osaka 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.
Osaka remembers them all. For a moment, his conscience fills his heart with sorrow and guilt. He then remembers all those he helped, only to later mock and reject him. He remembers those that succeeded ahead of him, left him behind. Soon, the voice of his conscience fades to a whisper. Then it’s gone.
What he has done will surpass them all. The world will be forever changed.
As the sedan pulls away, the images of those he worked with begin to fade, overshadowed by the thoughts of a future unlike any before.
Irregulars: Origin of the Species Copyrighted © 2010, 2013 Mark James MacKinnon.
Any use of these characters, without permission, is strictly prohibited. Any similarities to individuals, living or dead, is purely coincidental.