By Tadhg Looney
An underground laboratory, littered with books. Two cylindrical tanks full of a green liquid in the corner, a desk dominated the center of the room, too large for a single person to sit at and reach all four corners. An argument was reaching its climax.
"Its immoral!" shouted a man in a navy suit, "She has rights!"
"Ive told you," the labs scientist yelled back, "she is a scientist and has agreed to this experiment."
"Damn you, Hojo, she didnt agree to this! Shes dying! Shes comatose in the villages inn right now."
"I cant stop it now," the man named Hojo said, "theres only two weeks to go."
"Maybe not. But Im going to make sure this never happens again. President Shinra is going to hear my opinion on this."
"Keep Shinra out of this!"
"What? Why?" The suited man suddenly looked shocked. "You do have Shinras permission for this experiment, dont you?"
"What I do here is scientists work, and not Shinras business."
"So nobody is ensuring this is happening within the law? Damn you, Hojo! Believe me, youll hear about this soon enough."
The man half-turned to leave, when Hojo spoke again.
" Im sorry, Vincent " was all he said and pulled a pistol.
Vincent reached for his own piece, hidden under his jacket, but was hit in the chest as Hojo leveled his gun and fired. Vincent fell over backwards, the world suddenly fading away. Hojo carefully put the gun down on the table and looped his arms around Vincent, lifting him off the ground and over to the tanks.
"Phase one complete." the robotic voice announced.
Hojo removed Vincent from the tank and placed him on the table. For the sake of dignity, he found some clothes left by a SOLDIER, who probably died in uniform in the war. Vincent's old, bloodstained clothes lay in a pile near the wastebasket in a corner. While dressing Vincent, Hojos glance happened on the scarlet curtain on the wall. He laughed. A good joke, he thought, give the immortal vampire his own cape. He tore it off the wall. There was no window behind it, of course, not down here in the basement. It was just for decoration. Taking a needle from his surgical tools, he quickly threaded together parts of the curtain to make a neckline and threw the completed cloak over Vincents head. He laughed again. The overall effect was certainly what he had hoped for. When Vincent saw himself again, he would instantly realize what Hojo had done to him.
"Commencing with Phase two," he said aloud.
"Confirmed" the robotic voice replied.
Hojo took a syringe in his hand and a small bottle from the pocket of his lab coat. Using the syringe, he part filled it with another green-tinted liquid and injected Vincent with it.
"Monitoring Phase two".
Hojo watched a small screen set into the desk. On it was a diagram of Vincents nervous system, colored grey, but slowly turning green from the point on the right arm where Hojo had inserted the needle. The serum spread along the arm to the heart, where it rapidly shot through the body. Eventually the entire system was a garish green color on the monitor. Hojo sighed.
"Phase two complete."
Hojo walked over to the desk where Vincent lay and leaned over, pulling up the subjects shirt. The gunshot wound was gone. Smiling a little, he stood up straight again, a little too fast. A small bottle fell out of his breast pocket and landed on Vincents left arm, shattering and spreading a vile smelling clear fluid over the desk and arm below the elbow.
"SHIT!" Hojo screamed. Some of the acid splashed on his clothes, and burned holes in his coat. He pulled the coat off and threw it in the corner. When he looked back, the desk was burning merrily.
"SHIT!" he screamed again, and reached under the desk for a fire extinguisher. He finally dragged one out and quenched the flames. Vincents arm was blackened, the nerves cauterized.
"Shit. More work." Hojo leaned over Vincent again, carefully this time, and whispered. "Dont worry. My perfect soldier isnt going around with only one arm." With that, he brought over a trolley with his surgical tools, and selected a small scalpel.
"Intermediate Phase complete" Hojo finally sighed.
"Shut up." Hojo had been working too long now, and was getting edgy. The cloak had seemed funny at the time, but now Hojo kept thinking about vampires, stories hed read, films hed seen. He was constantly reminding himself that Vincent was still technically human, just scientifically altered and enhanced with Mako. But he would be glad when this was over. He looked at the prosthesis he had put on Vincent. It was the only one could find at such short notice, a gold-colored claw hed salvaged from a destroyed war robot. It was disturbing.
"Commencing with Phase three."
Hojo placed a small piece of circuitry on Vincents right temple and pressed a tiny button on it. Miniature hooks embedded themselves into Vincents skin, and a needle started to drill its way into Vincents skull, stopping two millimeters into the brain, Hojo knew. After two minutes the drilling stopped, and Hojo removed the chip. The needle had gone, and the hole created healed over as he watched.
"Computer, download information contained in file Hojo seven-two-one-one-nine."
The door to the lab/library crashed open. A junior lab assistant stood there, red-faced.
"Shes gone into labor! The baby is coming!"
"Damn!" Hojo cursed, "I wanted her in the lab when it happened. I didnt expect a premature birth." He ran off after the assistant. Vincent was left alone with the computer.
"Error. File "Hojo seven-two-one-one-nine", "SOLDIER training" does not exist. File was erased after download to subject Lemstrad. Nearest file name found is "Hojo seven-two-one-one-zero". File catalogues DNA and psychological data for test subjects seven through ten in Shinra high-security containment facility. Continue download with this file?"
It received no answer from the empty room.
"Please respond within twenty seconds."
"Automated download activated. Beginning with file "Hojo seven-two-one-one-zero"."
Vincent groaned as his head filled with hate and insanity.
"Download complete. Subject revivification commencing"
Vincent screamed as an electrical shock was delivered through his skull. His eyes opened and he blinked at the ceiling. Then he remembered where he was, and jerked into action. He swung his feet off the table, but stayed sitting when he noticed his clothing. He examined what he could see, and stopped when he noticed his left arm. It looked like it was covered with golden armor. He pulled at it, trying to take it off, but soon realized what it really was. Hed seen them before, soldiers who had lost limbs in battle, and had been fitted with replacements so they could continue fighting. It wasnt uncommon, Wutai fought with bladed weapons mainly, and often removed limbs from soldiers trying to pardon the pun- gain the upper hand.
It wasnt important now, anyway. He had to stop Hojo, the man was insane. He had SHOT him for Gods sa-
Vincent stopped. He lifted his black shirt and checked his chest. No wound. Hojo had healed him? Why? Probably for some twisted purpose, no doubt. He wasnt sure if that man had any sanity at all. Vincent hopped off the table and took a step forward when he heard the voice. He looked around, but saw no one. He took another step and the voice spoke again.
Vincent looked around again. "Hojo?"
(Theyre all filth)
"Whos there?" Vincent cried out.
The voice, Vincent realized, wasnt coming from anywhere in the lab. It was him. He was thinking these terrible things. He wasnt alone anymore in his own skull. He could FEEL them three, maybe four of them- all fighting for control of his body. With a wave of pain, Vincents right arm suddenly went numb. It moved, but not of his accord. It picked up a gun from the table Vincent recognized it as the one Hojo pulled on him- and fitted it comfortably into the palm. Vincent saw that he was going to have fight the others for his own body, and concentrated. He forced the arm, if not to put down the gun, at least to holster it in his belt. Eventually he fought the voice to submission and found he could operate his arm properly again. Sweating from the voices attack, he knelt on the floor and cried.
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