Project Cherry Blossom was as secret as it could get; half a mile beneath Tokyo in a secret military bunker, surrounded by scientists with name tags that had barcodes instead of actual names, great machines being worked on while biological warfare divisions cooked up new ways to melt flesh from bone. But Project Cherry Blossom was different.
It was going to go active, very soon.
Yukina Soon, or 014 as everyone called her, was a young woman in her early twenties, someone you would expect to bump into at a bar or club. While not a giant, she was unusually tall for a Japanese woman, coming in at five foot eight inches. With her slim figure and pert breasts, it was no wonder the other men had a hard time focusing on their tasks at hand.
All except the project head of Project Cherry Blossom. This annoyed Yukina to a degree that she could not really explain.
The older man, one Yoshi Konta, or 048, was a balding, be spectacled man who looked as if he had never seen the sun. With his white lab coat and black slacks, he was the picture of a what a scientist was, as well as a perfect picture of what the Japanese business men wanted: clean, efficient and utterly emotionless.
“Hello Yukina,” Konta greeted, his back to her as he rapidly typed away at a dual screened monitor. “I’ll be with you in one minute, I’m just putting the finishing touches on Cherry Blossom Swarm One.”
Yukina scowled at the little man’s back. She was still in the dark about the exact nature of his half of the Project. She knew he was into everything, on multiple projects and had hacked through the security firewalls to discover everyone’s true names. Why he hadn’t been removed was probably due to the fact that he was an unrivaled genius in many fields of science, some of which he practically invented.
Yukina specialized in autonomous machinery, or in laymen’s terms preprogrammed drones. The closest thing to an actual intelligence manifested in technology, Yukina had given birth to it. It was her baby, and she used it to control a small fleet of drones that her superiors would then order to be sent out to perform complicated actions. The fact that four of her stealth drones were being retrofitted, by Konta’s orders, was something that bothered her greatly.
“What are you doing you little freak?” Yukina growled, spinning his chair to have him face her.
His eyes stopped at her sizable chest before he began to calmly speak. “I’m having four of your X-37’s refitted with smaller thrusters to increase their mobility and turning radius. This should allow them to literally turn on a dime if the need arises, while going at top speed. I’ve also removed their weapons and have replaced them with canisters of my own design. A program has been uploaded to your AI’s perusal that will allow the drones to pierce the canisters or merely drop them. Piercing them will result in a spray that, if your drones remain one mile up while flying, will be able to seed clouds and provide rainfall within one hour.”
“Rainfall? That’s what this is about then, rainfall?” Yukina screeched, drawing the attention of several lab techs working at their private stations. The whole lab practically shook with her anger, several computers coming out of their screen saver mode from her stamping her foot in anger.
Konta looked up from her breasts and blinked, eyeing her like she were mad. “No Yukina, this has never been about rainfall. Why would you even think that?”
“You just said… uhhh, fine. What’s this about then?” Yukina crossed her arms, massaging her brow. Talking to Konta was like trying to solve an annoying riddle. It always led to a headache.
Konta hopped from his station to his feet, his head barely reaching Yukina’s shoulders. “Follow me, I’ll show you what we are doing here. I just so happen to have set up a live demonstration of what Project Cherry Blossom is all about.”
“Finally!” Yukina sighed, following the small man as he walked through a set of double doors, leading down a stone hallway. Armed guards moved out of his way as he crossed their path, both stopping to allow the small man his long strides, and to watch Yukina as she walked away.
They stopped outside of a vault door, labeled SI:9. Konta held his name card up to the scanner and, after an audible beep, the door hissed open, air pressure seeming to sizzle out of the frigid room as the vault doors separated.
“It gets a little chilly in there, but I assure you, you’ll be fine. Hypothermia will set in after fourteen minutes; we should only be in there ten.”
“You have a refrigerated vault that can cause hypothermia in your sector?” Yukina asked, somewhat impressed.
Konta shrugged. “The directors allow me some funding for side projects, so long as they can have a use once I’m finished.”
“You have the time?”
“My dear, when you’re a real scientist, you find the time.” Konta smirked as he walked past her onto the icy grate flooring of the vault. The hall was maybe ten feet wide, and air conditioners from high above kept the place frozen over. To her right was a thick glass wall with white padded rooms, some with people inside them, others with animals. To the left were what she could only describe as tanks of glowing orange fluid, bodies suspended within them with various tubes and wires running in and out of them.
Yukina was quick to follow Konta.
Konta stopped in front of the orange tubes, pressing a hidden button to have a panel unfold from the base. Typing quickly, he looked up at the body in the orange canister. Turning to Yukina, he smiled.
“Meet Tetsuo Hibiki, age seventeen. He’s currently listed as a runaway, but will be found dead in the next few weeks, marked by the serial killer that’s been running around Tokyo.”
Yukina gasped at that. While she rarely left the compound, she had heard the news on a serial killer that had been taking people away and then leaving them to be found, usually mangled as if killed by wild animals. Most had multiple defensive wounds while others seemed to have died while at rest. All of them were missing their tongues, a subtle hint to the police that the corpses wouldn’t be telling them anything.
“That’s been you?” Yukina accused, looking at Konta with a different level of loathing than she had before.
“Oh for heaven’s sake no… that would be the one behind you.”
Turning, Yukina let out a slight shriek as she saw, behind six inches of glass, a six and a half foot creature composed of several corpses. Two forearms jutting from one elbow on each arm, the creature’s hands were now just black tendrils, licking the glass. Nude, the creature bore no genitalia, only an incision that went up the whole body to where the head was, revealing a muscular mouth that held more black tendrils at the ready. The head was upside down, the lower jaw replaced with the upper part of another head, granting the beast four gruesome eyes. Thick bony ridges grew over sections of the body and, where you looked closely, you could see marks from the bodies old lives; on one of the forearms a faded tattoo stood out against the pale grey flesh.
“What in the hell is that?”
“That would be Adam… I know, cliché, but I’m a sucker for classics. He’s the first of his kind.”
“What is he?”
“A symbiotic creature that, I assure you, was once human.”
Yukina turned to regard Konta carefully. “How?”
“The canisters I mentioned, they contain the mutagen that starts the process. It floods the body with endorphins and adrenaline, causing a sort of pleasurable high with violent outbursts. After one hour, the mutagen makes the flesh malleable and, in order to stay alive, the host will then seek out other living creatures to harvest from. In colder conditions, they can live indefinitely, if fed, but in warmer conditions… they last at most three days before they die in a euphoric haze.”
“So that… thing… is what Project Cherry Blossom is all about? A form of biological weapon?”
“But of course! Why else would they pair you up with me?”
“I won’t do it! I won’t let my baby deliver this… evil to anyone in the world, I’m going to cancel this project altogether!”
Konta reached out and grabbed her number arm, pulling her back. “Can you not see that this is a masterpiece of genetic engineering? Why would you want to see such a thing ruined?”
“Because it’s a monster!”
“Aren’t we all Yukina?”
“I’m not… I’m just a scientist! I try and make the world a better, safer place.”
“Oh come off your high horse, you make drones that bomb the homes of children and elderly alike. Your only real accomplishment is the creation of that rudimentary AI that my techs are currently hijacking.”
“What?” Yukina’s voice went as cold as the room, her head swimming with anger.
Letting go of her arm, Konta put his hands in his lab coat and stood there regarding her for just a few seconds before speaking. “I assumed that the directors didn’t tell you, but your division is coming under my leadership now.”
“Over my dead body,” Yukina growled.
“That was actually the plan, yes.” Konta smiled, before pulling a stun gun from his pocket and stabbing her in the chest with it, causing her body to spasm uncontrollably. But for some reason it didn’t hurt.
It felt great. Like sex, but better. Her body felt weightless as she thrashed about on the floor, foam spilling from her mouth and freezing along the side of her face. Her heaving chest strained against the fabric of her blouse, begging to be released, to be touched. Looking up as best she could she watched Konta wave in a few guards. They came in and grabbed her under her arms, hauling her up.
Konta leaned in, patting her down for anything of value as she moaned lustily. Konta laughed. “On any other day my dear, maybe. Just maybe.”
Pulling a remote from her pocket, he studied it and pried it open, pulling the batteries from it. Before dropping it all in his pocket with the butterfly syringe he’d used upon grabbing her arm. That would have to be disposed of carefully, as the mutagen was likely to latch onto anything it could. In the cold, it would just molder… but once Konta walked outside, he’d have to have the syringe burned.
“Well Yukina, or Eve, we’re going to put you in the adjoining cell with Adam here and once you’ve fully metabolized the mutagen, we’ll see if you two get along.”
Yukina only moaned happily at that, her eyes heavy with a lustful haze. The cold was rendering her sleepy, which she knew to be a warning sign… but somehow, she didn’t care. She just drifted away on her own cloud as he body was dragged into the vacant glass cell next to Adam, where three tied up teens screamed for help.
Konta walked into view of them as the guards deposited Yukina in the middle of the room. “Don’t worry boys, this pretty little lady will keep you company from here on out.”
“Let us go, I swear we won’t tell anyone what happened down here!” One of the boys shouted his breath foggy despite the parka he was wearing.
Konta merely smiled. “No, no you won’t be telling anyone anything ever again. Goodbye gentlemen, I can’t say it’s been a pleasure for you, but I feel my experience has been enriched just knowing you.”