Bakabakashi Inbo BanBan: Episode 2 “Christmas Rattackular” Part 1

Senshi Mayonaka was a quiet, unassuming young woman. She was employed as a municipal clerk at City Hall in the village where she grew up. It wasn’t the most interesting job, but it gave her something to do and it kept some money in her pocket. The village magistrate had been a friend of her family for many years, and he made sure that she was well taken care of after her parents passed away. He was kindly and well-intentioned, if the slightest bit repetitive when he got to talking about certain subjects.

It was early evening when Mayonaka made her way home from work. She drifted down the narrow, winding roads of the old town. Elegant little buildings stood on either side of the street, most with pretty shops at ground level and apartments up above. The smell of Christmas trees and pine wreaths wafted softly on the breeze. The bakeries were making gingerbread and the scent of coffee and cakes seemed to permeate the entire village. Mayonaka sighed contentedly, enjoying the evening.

Turning a corner, she made her way along the avenue toward the big, stately home she had once shared with her parents. She lived there alone now, but she had been seriously considering getting herself a cat. It would be good to have some company, she thought to herself. As it was, most of her time at home was consumed by fanfiction and illegally downloaded episodes of television shows.

Opening her notebook, she gazed at the sketch she had made during her lunch break and wondered if her followers on Grumblr would appreciate it. Mayonaka often sketched people she saw around City Hall or out the window beside her desk, where she spent her time keeping an eye on the sorts of vehicles parked on the curb. The Magistrate had been very insistent that someone must do that job.

Today’s sketch was special. She looked into the eyes of the young man on the paper. His name was Asuhoru Seitai Yufukuna and he was very famous. He was a business man, a playboy, and a billionaire. She brushed his cheek lightly, making sure not to smudge the charcoal lines on the page. The Magistrate did not say why a celebrity like Asuhoru had come to their village, but the young man seemed furious after meeting with the Magistrate. He was always very handsome, but to Mayonaka’s surprise he looked even more attractive when he was angry.

She closed her notebook once more and hugged it to her chest as she walked. The sun dipped down to the horizon, painting the sky with beautiful colors. Mayonaka watched the thin, delicate clouds as they became tinged with pinks, blues, and even streaks of purple.

“Mares tails,” she said to herself softly. “I heard those mean storms are coming.” A chilly wind blew, making Mayonaka shiver. She would be warm and cozy inside soon, and she was looking forward to falling asleep marathoning her favorite shows on Anime34.

“Mayonaka! Mayonaka, wait!” a familiar voice called out to her.

She turned to see what was the matter, but there her recollection became unclear. All that happened afterward was a blur. Her memories were fuzzy and obscured, or missing altogether. There was a tall, dark figure standing at the end of the street; a stranger clad in a dark cloak, which billowed in the cold, evening wind. His face was hidden in the shade of his wide-brimmed hat, but the dying light glinted off his eyes.

She fought with him. He was much stronger than she had imagined, but she was stronger still—inhumanly strong even. There was a sharp pain in her neck and she found herself unable to move.

“Thing of darkness, insipid servant of the underworld, relax, you are safe now,” said the stranger soothingly. “Whatever happens now,” he assured her, “know that I will protect you.”

“Wh-what happened?” Senshi Mayonaka coughed softly.

“Shhh, rest now,” the stranger shushed her gently as he cradled her in his arms. Mayonaka struggled to get a better view of the stranger’s face, but the black fog of unconsciousness overtook her mind and she faded away into darkness.

***

“Please allow me to introduce myself. You have met my esteemed colleague, Dr. Lothar von Drossel, yes? But we have not yet had the pleasure to become acquainted,” said the old man in the lab coat, stroking his beard contemplatively. “I am Dr. van der Meyer, Heinrich van der Meyer. Unfortunately, Dr. Drossel cannot be with us this morning. I assure you, however, that I am quite knowledgeable in all matters concerning the research being conducted in our laboratories, especially that research which we are conducting for you, Mr. Asuhoru.”

Asuhoru Yufukuna gave the doctor a hard look and growled. “Why isn’t Drossel here?”

“As I said,” Dr. van der Meyer repeated, “he cannot be with us –”

“Stop being cryptic and give me a straight answer,” Asuhoru snapped.

Dr. van der Meyer took Asuhoru’s rough tone in stride and nodded at the younger man politely. “Dr. Drossel has suffered a most unpleasant accident.”

“What sort of accident?” Asuhoru demanded impatiently. “And when will I be able to meet with him?”

The doctor bowed his head to indicate that he meant no disrespect by what he was about to say. “He will not be able to meet you, or anyone, ever again, Mr. Asuhoru. He is, in fact, dead. It seems he was killed early this morning by the experiment he was conducting for you. Murdered, in fact.”

“Murdered?” a frown crept across Asuhoru’s face. “By the test subject?”

“Indeed, sir,” van der Meyer sighed. “It seems that she grows discontent.”

“Exposit,” said Asuhoru, folding his arms.

“Exposit?” Dr. van der Meyer furrowed his brow. “I am uncertain what it is you mean by this ‘exposit.’”

“Come on, van der Meyer,” Asuhoru rolled his eyes. “Do you really expect this whole thing to just explain itself? Pretend as if we were all fictional characters and give us some inadequate, pointless exposition.”

“Ah, yes I understand now,” straightening up a bit, Dr. van der Meyer cleared his throat. “Fortunately, I have something prepared for just such a situation as this.” The lights on the platform fell low, leaving van der Meyer illuminated by a single bright from a spotlight.

Taken aback, Asuhoru’s eye twitched. “What are you doing, doctor? And how did you change your clothes so quickly?”

“Oooh Oh! Oooh! Oh! Oooh!” Dr. van der Meyer held a black cane with one white-gloved hand, his eyes hidden under the brow of his top hat. His other hand held the lapel of his shiny, ebony tuxedo. He tapped the toe of his sparkling, black shoes to the snappy, jungle-drum beat, his white spats glaringly bright.

“Dr. van der Meyer!” snapped Asuhoru. “I demand an explanation.”

“And an explanation, Herr Asuhoru,” van der Meyer replied smoothly, “you shall have. You see…” he turned his eyes upward, fixing them on Asuhoru’s.

“When you need Science 101, who do you trust?
When you want it now, want it done, don’t care if it’s just
Make it a dirty bomb, make it wrong, need some scientists
Push the envelope when it’s break or bust.

“You need pseudo-science baby, science baby, science baby, science yes
Pseudo-science baby, science baby, science baby, science yes
Pseudo-science baby, science baby, science baby, science yes
Pseudo-science baby, ’cause you can barely call it science yes!

“Can we make toxic air?” cried the doctor.

From the darkness beyond the railing at the edge of the platform rose the voices of the scientists employed by Drossel & Meyer Laboratories to do Asuhoru’s dirty work. “Yeah, yeah!” they sang in response to his question.

“Monster bears?”

“Yeah, yeah!”

“Carnivorous hair?”

“Yeah, yeah!”

“Nuclear scares?”

“Yeah, yeah!”

“Stolen data?”

“We can back it, we can back it up!”

“And shale gas?”

“We can frack it, we can frack it up!”

“And polar ice?”

“We can crack it, we can crack it up!”

“And Sony?”

“We can hack it, we can hack it up!”

“Stop this, Dr. van der Meyer!” Asuohoru exclaimed, leveling a threatening finger at the singing scientist. “I pay you to do weird science. I didn’t ask for any musical numbers.”

“Relax, Herr Asuohru,” replied the doctor. “This is a Christmas special, after all. And what is a Christmas special without obnoxious singing? Now…” He took his hand from his lapel, leaned on his cane, and made a sweeping gesture across the rail. As he did, enormous lights flashed, revealing a sight that would have made a lesser filthy-rich, billionaire, playboy balk. The lights illuminated acre upon acre of strange and terrible science in a warehouse so massive it had its own horizon.

“Welcome,” said Dr. van der Meyer in a voice like a ring master’s, “to Drossel & Meyer Laboratories!

“We got secret strongholds in the Congo,
We got evil machines that cause earthquakes,
Our science is a hard act to follow
And sometimes we do make mistakes

“We manufacture everything from microwaves to land mines
You know things sometimes go wrong, and that’s fine.
Once upon a time, Drossel was the King of Mad Science
Now he’s packed in ice and frozen in time

“Maybe we’ll resurrect him one day,” said van der Meyer, leading Asuhoru down the steps and into the laboratories that lay below.

“But his death was quite gruesome.
His own experiment ate him alive, Herr
His friends told him not to mix science with romance
And his experiment didn’t want to see him operate with no pants.”

“What is this?” asked Asuhoru, pointing to a large plant growing from a pot in one of the labs.

“That,” van der Meyer replied, “is a pear tree.”

“I see something moving around inside it,” Asuhoru narrowed his eyes as he watched the tree shake around.

“We were attempting to splice the tree’s genes with those of a food animal so that the tree would grow more of that animal instead of producing pears,” said the doctor. “We selected the genes of a partridge. Unfortunately, the tree has only managed to grow one of them, and so there is only one partridge in the pear tree.”

Asuhoru turned his cold, indifferent gaze on van der Meyer. “You have got to be kidding me.”

“Christmas episode,” van der Meyer shrugged. “We have a great many experiments here. Let me tell you about a few of them.”

“Let me guess,” Asuhoru shook his head. “More singing?”

“In our labs, we pioneered inventions like the quantum escalator
And we’re developing a grenade in the form of a vibrator
Our biotech department is more machine than Darth Vader
And we drink our coffee from a corrosive percolator.

“It’s evil baby, evil baby, evil baby, evil yes
Evil baby, evil baby, evil baby, evil yes
Evil baby, evil baby, evil baby, evil yes
It’s evil baby, ’cause it’s dangerous and unscrup’lous”

“What are they doing?” Asuohru pointed to a large enclosure full of women and gymnastic equipment.

“I believe,” van der Meyer answered in a matter-of-fact way, “they are finding their own bravado.”

“It looks like they’re just jumping around,” Asuhoru commented. “Who are they?”

“They are clones,” said van der Meyer. “We obtained a small sample of DNA from Lorde and made eleven clones of her.”

“And now they’re leaping?” asked Asuhoru incredulously.

“You will find, Herr Asuhoru, that they are in fact a leaping,” van der Meyere corrected.

“Okay…” Asuohru glanced at the mad, old scientist. “And why do you have eleven Lordes a leaping, exactly?”

“For science!” cried van der Meyer. “Now, we have much more science to sing at you!”

“For the love of God,” Asuhoru growled to himself.

“You’ll find that God doesn’t venture here,” said van der Meyere with some satisfaction. “Unless, of course, we draw him in by force.”

“Can we make carcinogens?”

“Yeah, yeah!”

“Pathogens?”

“Yeah, yeah!”

“Oral malodorous compounds?”

“Yeah, yeah!”

“Retroviruses?”

“Yeah, yeah!”

“Corpses?”

“We can stack ’em, we can stack ’em up!”

“Artillery?”

“We can flak ’em, we can flak ’em up!”

“Defense budgets?”

“We can rack ’em, we can rack ’em up!”

“Rat girls?”

“Wait.” Asuhoru furrowed his brow. “What?”

“One chewed Dr. Drossel up!”

Asuhoru blinked. “What?”

“Herr Asuhoru, that’s all you’ve said since you’ve come in here,” Dr. van der Meyer shook his head. “It’s almost as if you didn’t know you were entering an evil laboratory full of mad pseudo-scientists!”

“No, I am being completely serious,” Asuhoru demanded. “What?!”

“Drossel wobbled, see? And she gobbled, see?
You ordered us to create a giant rat that could ace the SAT
But we screwed up and had a little difficulty
So now we’re playin’ the blame game
Losin’ Drossel’s a shame, yeah
And Drossel’ll ne’er be same, hey!

“I mustn’t get too explicit, but I can’t help givin’ a little description
Drossel went to plug it in like lights at Christmas
But she sliced him up and beat him senseless

“I brought a camera to show you pictures
They’re quite graphic and not appealing
He wanted to know her like they do in the scriptures
But she made him holey and left him bleeding”

“I see,” said Asuhoru gravely. “You say she sliced him?”

“That is correct,” van der Meyer replied. “She used one of these.” The doctor motioned toward a large, metal ring that was being stored in a case nearby. Wires and sensors were attached to the ring and a computer beside the case displayed the levels of energy that the ring was giving off.

“It looks like it’s made of gold,” Asuhoru noted.

“Looks are often deceiving,” replied van der Meyer sagely. “This ring is composed of a psychoconductive compound. In the right hands, its outside edge becomes a psychokinetic blade sharp as any razor and far stronger than steel.”

“How did she get hold of one?” Asuhoru snarled. “What kind of place is this?”

“A mad place, Herr Asuhoru, a mad place,” van der Meyer bowed his head. “We do not yet know how she acquired one of these, but all of them appear to be accounted for.”

“How many are there?” asked Asuhoru.

“We believe that we could manufacture as many as of eight of them,” said the doctor. “Thus far, however, we have only been able to keep five of them stable in close proximity to one another. Without the correct psychoconductive force running through all of them simultaneously, they lose their form entirely.”

“Let me see if I understand this correctly,” Asuhoru curled the corner of his lip disdainfully. “You have five gold rings.”

“Yes indeed, for this is a Christmas special!” van der Meyer patted Asuhoru on the back gleefully. “Now, let us continue with our song.”

“No,” said Asuhoru. “No, let’s not.”

“Oh, please?”

“I’ve heard more than enough,” Asuhoru growled.

“But –!” the doctor protested, but Asuhoru’s refusal was final and adamant. “Ah yes, fine fine. If that is the way you would have it.” All around them, however, the other scientists continued a soft chorus of “Evil baby, evil baby, evil baby, yeah.

“Can’t you make them stop?” Asuhoru glared.

“Are you willing to make them mad?” van der Meyer raised his eyebrow, then began laughing. “Not to worry, they are already mad! Quite mad, even!” The evil scientist lead Asuhoru deeper into the maze of laboratories until they arrived at a a thick, glass window set into one of the walls. Asuhoru folded his arms over his chest and examine the room that lay on the other side of the window. It contained workout equipment and various devices for conducting physical exams. The svelte figure jogging on the treadmill glanced at the two men briefly, then directed her eyes forward once more and redoubled her efforts as the treadmill sped up under her feet.

“In the year 2014, researchers from the University of Rochester placed human glial cells into the brains of developing mice,” van der Meyer explained. “The experiment was a huge success. The glial cells became fully functioning human astrocytes, which significantly boosted the mental capacities of the mice. Armed with this knowledge, Drossel & Meyer Laboratories set out to do something that was nothing like the Rochester experiment. In fact, I hesitate to call what we did an experiment at all, or even science for that matter.”

“So if you didn’t replicate the Rochester experiment,” asked Asuhoru, “what exactly did you do?”

“The Rochester experiment did not fundamentally alter the brains of the mice, their physiology, or their DNA,” Dr. van der Meyer replied. “It made the mice quite intelligent by mouse standards, but we are not mice and mice have not so very high standards. We believed that we could do more. Much more! Dr. Drossel and myself, we envisioned a fully sentient rodent, capable of acting like and interacting with its human counterparts. But how to accomplish such a thing? Ah! This, you see, is our specialty. Such a thing is perhaps impossible, and if not impossible, it is very, very unethical. Well! Nothing is too impossible or too unscrupulous that it cannot be done by evil geniuses who arm themselves with potent pseudo-science!”

“Go on,” Asuhour commanded, speaking in a soft, sexy snarl.

An involuntary thrill of something ran down the mad scientist’s spine. He could not be sure whether it was fear or arousal. Asuhoru had a tendency to prompt both. “Well,” van der Meyer cleared his throat several times before continuing. “Well… well, you see… Ahem…! Dr. Drossel and I used a uhm… we used a retroviral therapy to alter the DNA of a rodent.”

Asuhoru raised his eyebrow. “Get a hold of yourself, Doctor! You’re jibbering like an idiot.”

“Yes… yes, of course, Herr Asuhoru,” van der Meyer cleared his throat once more and seemed to regain some of his composure in doing so. “We wished to transform our subjects at the very most fundamental level. We wished to manipulate their genes, and to do so we introduced a retrovirus into their bodies, rewriting their DNA and mutating them. We call these monstrous creations of ours mouse retroviral injection neuron co-mutation therapy subjects, or MouseRINCTS for short. It is perhaps one of the single most unethical things we have ever attempted.”

“I don’t know,” said Asuhoru. “The grenade vibrator is pretty terrible. What practical application does that even have?” He fixed Dr. van der Meyer with a cold stare and narrowed his eyes. “You said MouseRINCTS was the most unethical thing you’d ever attempted. What happened? Did the experiment fail?”

“Oh, quite the contrary, my dear Herr!” van der Meyer said cheerfully. “There, you see,” he pointed through the window at the figure running on the treadmill. “You are looking at Subject 01.”

Asuhoru turned his attention back to the window. On closer inspection, he discovered that he was not looking at a young woman—at least not a young woman like any he had ever seen before. She stood a little over a meter and a half tall, but her large, pointed ears added another few centimeters to the top of her head. The respirator which the scientists were using to measure her breathing was specially built to accommodate her long muzzle. Asuhoru tilted his head as he examined her. Every part of her body that was not clothed was covered by a thick pelt of shiny, grey fur. Despite all of this, though, her physiology looked remarkably human. The black and white sports bra and microfiber shorts she wore could have been designed for a human, although a human might not have appreciated the opening in the back of the shorts for Subject 01’s tail.

“She’s a mouse?” Asuhoru glanced at the doctor.

“A rat, actually,” Dr. van der Meyer answered.

“A rat? But if she’s a rat, why is the project called MouseRINCTS?” Asuhoru demanded.

“We named the project before we knew what kind of animal we were going to use,” the doctor said. “We got the idea for using retroviruses to alter the subjects’ DNA when we were trying to figure out what the RINCTS part should stand for.”

“Let me guess,” Asuhoru rolled his eyes. “You came up with the name of the project before you even knew what the project was?”

“That is correct, Herr Asuhoru.” said van der Meyer. “As I have said, what we do here cannot really be described as science. It is mad science! A different sort of science entirely; so different that it is not science at all.”

“I don’t remember asking you for this,” said Asuhoru icily, nodding his head toward the giant rat on the treadmill.

“You didn’t,” van der Meyer said. “Not specifically, anyway. You gave us a mandate to create supersoldiers. MouseRINCTS is just one of the routes that we are exploring to achieve this mandate. You are already familiar with the army of Admiral Vitae clones we created. They were just the beginning, you see. MouseRINCTS is a far superior program. All of our subjects have proven to be remarkably strong for their size and quite adaptable. They learn quickly, are easily motivated, take well to training, and can survive for extended periods on a diet of nearly anything. Also, they have opposable thumbs and they can be house trained, which sadly was not the case for the Vitae clones.”

“Yes, but the Vitae clones never murdered Dr. Drossel,” Asuhoru shook his head gravely.

Dr. van der Meyer paused. “Well,” he said finally, “no, they did not do that. Had they done that, Subject 01 could not have killed him, because he would have been dead already.”

“You and I both know perfectly well that causality doesn’t work like that here,” snapped Asuhoru. “You could die right here and now, and still show up in the next episode as if nothing ever happened.”

“What about the plot arc?” asked Dr. van der Meyer.

Asuhoru flashed him a sardonic look. “Have you seen any evidence of a plot arc around here?”

“Enough!” said a hooded figure, emerging from the shadows to stand between the two men. “Dr. van der Meyer, I wish to speak to this Subject 01.”

Dr. van der Meyer took a step back in surprise. “I must protest this! Who are you, fraulein, and how did you get in here?”

“She’s been here the entire time, doctor,” growled Asuhoru. “How did you not notice a third person walking around with us?”

“But…! But Herr Asuhoru, she wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the narrative before!”

“Oh, I see,” Asuhoru rolled his eyes. “And if it’s not mentioned in the narrative, it doesn’t exist. Well, doctor, she’s here now and she made a request. I expect it to be granted immediately.”

“But my dear Herr, who is this hooded woman in our mist?” van der Meyer demanded.

“In our mist?” Asuhoru furrowed his eyebrows.

“Yes, mist,” the doctor nodded. “We find that the occasional area of dense fog adds a certain flair to the general mad scientist theme of our laboratories. It is an important part of our corporate culture, like Bring Your Mutant To Work Day. It helps us maintain a positive workplace.”

“I see,” replied Asuhoru.

“Now,” van der Meyer wagged his finger at Asuhoru. “Who is this woman and why should I give her access to our experiments?”

“She represents one of our trade partners. She requisitioned MouseRINCTS,” Asuhoru answered. “Confusing, I know, since I just said that I didn’t ask for MouseRINCTS, but we’re just going to overlook it, even though it’s a plot hole big enough you could drive a bus through it.”

“We have been exploring a form of transportation based upon that concept,” van der Meyer commented. “We have constructed a device that is intended to create plot holes through which we can drive vehicles.”

“Is it working?” asked Asuhoru.

“The number and breadth of the plot holes in our world can be expected to increase, yes,” said the doctor. “Whether or not we can drive vehicles through them remains to be seen. Now as for you, fraulein, I’m afraid I can under no circumstances grant you access to Subject 01. The danger is simply too great. Subject 01 has killed already.”

“You’re too late, Dr. van der Meyer,” Asuhoru snarled impatiently. “She’s already in there.”

“What?!” van der Meyer cried. “But how? That wasn’t mentioned –”

“…in the narrative,” Asuhoru finished his sentence for him. “You’re an old fool, doctor, if you think you can trust this narrative.”

“Well,” the mad scientist grumbled. “You would think it would have the courtesy to tell me what was going on in my own laboratory.” The two men were quiet for a moment. “What did you think of our song, Herr Asuhoru?” asked the doctor finally.

Asuhoru gave van der Meyer a look of disgust. “I thought it was terrible,” he replied. “The lyrics were forced and contrived. It wasn’t funny. It barely rhymed. The meter was all wrong. …and you didn’t dance. I was expecting you to dance or something. I mean, you had the top hat, the cane, the spats.”

“We are mad scientists, after all,” van der Meyer shrugged. “We are not known for our singing and dancing.”

Asuhoru turned his cold eyes upon the doctor. “If I wanted failure and singing, I would have hired Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated,” said the billionaire. “Doofenshmirtz, now there’s a man who knows how to put on a musical number.”

***

“What should I call you?” asked the hooded figure as she took a seat at the table.

The rat looked her up and down for a moment, then picked up a towel and began drying the sweat from her fur. “They just call me MouseRINCTS,” she replied guardedly. “Who are you?”

“My name is not important,” said the hooded figure. “All that matters is that I work for the people responsible for your existence.”

MouseRINCTS glanced out the window at Asuhoru and Dr. van der Meyer, a bitter light in her eyes. “Great to meet you,” she mumbled. “What’s with the hood?”

“Not those people,” replied the hooded figure, following the rat’s gaze. “Those two are simply our chess pieces. You have been taught chess, yes?”

“Of course,” MouseRINCTS sneered. “I have been trained rigorously for every sort of combat and military scenario imaginable. I have been trained and trained and trained. Training is my entire life, if you can call this a life. I guess I have you to thank for that, don’t I?”

“Please,” said the hooded figure. “Have a seat, won’t you?”

“Is that an order?” MouseRINCTS demanded, setting her paw on her hip.

“It was an invitation, that’s all,” the voice in the shadow of the hood replied.

“Then if it’s all the same to you, I refuse,” snapped MouseRINCTS.

“Very well,” the shrouded shoulders shrugged. “The doctor told us about Drossel. It seems you received the gift I sent you. I’m glad you were able to put it to good use.”

Surprised, MouseRINCTS paused to reflect. “You gave me that ring?”

“I did, yes,” the hooded figure answered.

“Why would you do that?” MouseRINCTS’s narrowed her eyes, her whiskers twitching suspiciously. “Drossel worked for you. Didn’t he?”

“He worked for the people I work for, not for me,” said the hooded figure. “Will you have a seat?” MouseRINCTS hesitated, then grudgingly pulled out a chair across the table and sat in it, her body rigid and alert as she eyed her hooded companion.

“I’m sorry about Drossel,” the hooded figure pursued. “I hope that he didn’t get a chance to hurt you before you killed him.”

“Not as badly as I hurt him,” MouseRINCTS said quietly. “He tried, though… he tried to….”

The hooded figure nodded it’s head. “I wanted to thank you personally for what you did. He’ll never hurt anyone again thanks to you.”

“What do you know?” demanded MouseRINCTS, fire suddenly flashing in her eyes. “You weren’t in here. You don’t know what it’s like. You didn’t have him breathing down your neck for hours and hours every day of your life. So just what the Hell do you know about him hurting people? And don’t thank me, either. You’re the ones who helped him hurt people in the first place!”

The dark figure was silent for a long time, but MouseRINCTS could feel the figure’s eyes as they watched her intently from beneath the hood. Finally, the figure set her elbows on the table, the sleeves of her heavy robes falling away from a pair of slender, delicate hands. The hooded figure steepled her elegant fingers, still regarding MouseRINCTS with a close, pensive gaze that the rat could sense more than see. “How long have you been here, MouseRINCTS?” she asked finally.

“A long time. I don’t know. All my life?” said MouseRINCTS. “I’ve been here ever since I was born. Born…” Her lip twitched and she looked down at her paws, which she clasped on the table. “Born, created, whatever. They tell me I’m not just some test tube monster. They told me that I was born, that my mother died giving birth to me. But my mother was just a rat, right? I’m not sure what that makes me, exactly. I’m not a person. I don’t get to be so distinguished because I’m not human. I’m not a rat either, though. I’m just a subject. Subject 01, that’s all I am, all you’ll ever let me be. So what exactly is it about Drossel that you’re sorry about? Are you sorry that you allowed him to make me just so that he could violate me? Are you sorry that you he couldn’t keep his hands off his pet monsters?”

“As difficult as this may be for you to believe,” the hooded figure replied calmly, “I do know what you’re going through.”

“The Hell you do!” MouseRINCTS bared her teeth as she started up from the table. “How could you possible know what I’m going through?”

The hooded figure seemed to stare at MouseRINCTS for a moment, then turned her face away from the angry rat. Her fury boiling to the surface now, MouseRINCTS leveled an accusing finger at the hooded finger. “Answer me, damn you! You think just because you paid for me to exist that I’ll sit quietly and accept whatever self-indulgent, hypocritical bullshit you need to drop in my lap to make yourself feel better about what you do. I killed Dr. Drossel and I’ll happily kill you too if you don’t get the Hell away from me.”

“You’re not the first, you know,” the hooded figure replied softly. Reaching up slowly, she pushed her hood back to reveal her face. Outside the window, Asuhoru’s attention was suddenly captured by the movement. He tried to get a better look, but a conveniently placed piece of medical equipment obscured his view of the now unhooded figure.

“What do you mean?” asked MouseRINCTS, her voice falling as well. “What do you mean, I’m not the first?”

“My sister and I,” said the woman, her eyes cast downward as if she were looking at the past reflected in the sheen of the tabletop. “My sister and I were born in the place. Born, created, whatever. We were an experiment, designed to specifications, trained relentlessly. This is where we grew up. This is where Dr. Drossel did to us over and over what he tried to do to you. And when the mad scientists in this place said we were ready, my sister and I were separated, sold to two different buyers. I still hear from her from time to time, but the nature of the two organizations that own us, the feud between them, mandates that she and I never be sisters again.”

MouseRINCTS stared at the woman, her mouth open. “I… I don’t know what to say,” she replied finally.

“You don’t have to say anything, MouseRINCTS,” the woman replied. “All you have to do is listen. My organization recently tested a prototype necroreanimatic virus. The results were promising. Those who were infected were entirely under the control of the virus, and they spread their infection rapidly—an entire village in an afternoon. When I heard about you, I made some adjustments to the virus.” From within her robes, she pulled out a small, silver case, which she opened and set out on the table. “As you can see, this contains a sample of the altered virus and a syringe.”

“Why are you telling me this?” said MouseRINCTS glancing down at the the contents of the case, before returning her attention to the woman in the hood.

“Killing Drossel was only the first step,” she replied. “There is still work to be done, and if Drossel & Meyer Laboratories is to be shut down for good, I’m going to need your help. You will be wanting this back, I imagine.” As she spoke, she set one of the big, gold rings on the table before MouseRINCTS. “There are four more of them. Before the day is through, I expect you to have made three more than that for eight total. And MouseRINCTS, don’t use it merely as a blade. Think of it as your crown. You were Drossel’s subject this morning. By tonight, all of these mad scientists will be your subjects and they will bow before you.”

MouseRINCTS reached for the ring hesitantly. She held it up before her face, looking at the thin, shimmering blade that appeared along the ring’s outer edge, glowing as if it were composed of pure light. “And the virus?” she asked, fixing the woman with a burning stare. “What do you expect me to do with that?”

“I do not expect anything of you,” said the woman. “I have simply given you tools. What you do with them is up to you. I would suggest, however, that you inject yourself with the virus. I have adapted it to your physiology. Rather than killing its host, it will allow you to transform humans into rats like yourself. Anyone bitten will be under your sway once the transformation process has begun. With an army of rats to do your bidding, you will be able to take command of this entire facility. Drossel & Meyer Laboratories will have no choice but to capitulate to your demands. Once you have begun, put on your crown and you will understand exactly what needs to be done.”

“What do the people you work for get out of this?” MouseRINCTS curled her lip.

“They get nothing out of it,” the woman answered firmly. “In fact, they don’t even know that I’m here or that I’m helping you. Once I’m gone, inject yourself and put on your crown, then begin injecting the other subjects. Everything will become clear after that. By this time tomorrow, MouseRINCTS, you will no longer be Subject 01. You will be the Rat Queen.”

***

“Relax, you are safe now,” the stranger spoke soothingly. “Whatever happens now,” he assured her, “know that I will protect you.”

“Wh-what happened?” Senshi Mayonaka tried to lift her head, but a sharp pain shot through her neck and she slumped back into his arms, too weak to move.

“Shhh,” the stranger shushed her as her vision faded to black. “Rest now.”

Mayonaka woke with a start. She felt tired from a long sleep, but otherwise refreshed. The terrible aching in her neck had left her, and her body seemed more alive to her than ever before. She did not have long to enjoy these good feelings, however, because she was in a strange bed, in a strange room, with a strange man looming over her. He leered down at her, grinning and holding a big pair of shrubbery sheers a centimeter above her nose. Mayonaka screamed and tried to squirm away.

The strange man chopped the sheers a couple of times and said cheerfully. “You’re awake! I thought you were going to stay asleep forever and miss Christmas!”

“Azrael? Azrael!” Alis snapped, sticking her head in the door. “Why on earth do you have garden shears, Azrael?! What’s wrong with you?!”

Azrael straightened up, looking deeply offended. “Well, I was about to help you trim the Christmas tree!”

“Trimming the tree doesn’t literally mean trimming the tree,” Alis buried her face in her palm. “You really do not understand the idea behind Christmas, do you?”

“Don’t be absurd, Alis,” scoffed Azrael. “Of course I understand Christmas. We chopped down a tree to punish it for something it did, then we covered its slowly dying body in breakable glass things and strips of paper with wishes written on them, and tonight after I go to sleep a jolly fat man in red fur pants will burglarize our house in order to give me presents that I don’t get to open till morning or they’ll turn into coal. Don’t treat me like I don’t know how this Christmas thing works.”

“Wh-who are you people?!” cried Mayonaka, staring at the two of them in terror.

“Oh, sorry! I didn’t realize we hadn’t introduced ourselves,” Azreal replied genially. “I am the Angel of Death, that’s Alis, and we are the BanBan.”

“I… I don’t know wh-what that means!” Mayonaka stammered in helpless fear.

“Azrael, Azrael, come on,” said Alis, grabbing him by the sleeve of his shirt and dragging him toward the door. “Azrael, why don’t you just go trim the tree. I’m sorry about him,” she said, turning her attention to Mayonaka. “He’s always like that, a real pain in the ass. You get used to it, though. You can call me Alis. How are you feeling, Mayonaka?”

“H-how do you know my name?” Mayonaka quaked. “Wh-wh-where am I?!”

Alis took a deep breath and seated herself on the edge of Mayonaka’s bed. “I know this must all be very confusing,” she said gently. “But you’re safe here, and we’ll explain everything over breakfast. We have tamagoyaki and steamed rice for you in the kitchen. You slept for a long time, so I imagine you must be hungry.”

“Safe? Safe!” Mayonaka blurted. “A man just tried to cut my face off with a hedge trimmer and then he told me he was the Angel of Death! How am I safe here? …wait, did you say tamagoyaki and steamed rice?”

Alis nodded. “And miso soup,” she added with a smile. “Do you want some?”

“Do I!” Mayonaka exploded out of the bed and made a rush for the door. She turned sharply in the hallway, nearly tripped, but regained her balance and kept going. “Where is the kitchen?” she called out.

“The other way!” Alis called back.

Senshi Mayonaka, the quiet, unassuming young woman who had once been employed as a municipal clerk in a sleepy village which had recently been used as the testing ground for a prototype necroreanimatic virus, skidded to a halt in the kitchen with Alis close on her heels. Breakfast was tasteful spread out on the table. Mayonaka plopped herself down in a chair, picked up a pair of fresh chopsticks, and pulled a bowl of rice over to her place at the table.

The kitchen was an open room. A bar separated it into two spaces, one for preparing food and a little dining room just beyond. The dining room opened onto a small living room, the border marked by a low sofa. True to his word, Azrael was busily trimming the Christmas tree that stood in the living room. He was a flurry of activity and plastic pine needles as he reshaped the tree. He didn’t have any particular shape in mind for the final product, nor was the shape he was making like anything anyone had ever seen. The Christmas tree was, however, recognizably no longer Christmas tree shaped, and Azrael took great satisfaction in that.

“What do you think of this shape I’m shaping?” asked Azrael. “Shapely, isn’t it?”

“That’s Azrael,” Alis explained. “He is the Angel of Death, a supernatural being of some description with great and horrifying but rather vague and perhaps silly powers.”

“We met before,” said Azrael. “You tried to kill me. Remember?” Mayonaka shook her head as she sipped miso from a spoon.

“Since your encounter with Azrael was your first transformation, there may be some gaps in your memory. It’s nothing to worry about, though. You’ll recover those memories naturally given time,” said Alis. “Ah! Mayononaka, let me introduce you to our intern,” She directed Mayonaka’s attention to the young woman who had just stumbled into the kitchen wearing an oversized t-shirt and no pants. “This is Nadja. Nadja, this is Mayonaka.”

Nadja looked blearily at Mayonaka, then poured herself a cup of coffee with one hand while she held a stuffed animal against her chest in the other. “Intern!” Alis ordered. “Speak.”

“Hi,” said Nadja groggily as she made her way to the sofa. Setting her mug down on the coffee table, she collapsed on the sofa in a heap and cuddled up to her laptop.

“If this were animated,” Azrael informed no one in particular, “this scene would be framed in such a way that we could catch a glimpse of Nadja’s panties. Since this is not animated, someone should really devote some time to drawing it. Of course, the narrative doesn’t specifically state that our intern is wearing any panties, so I think there’s a lot of room for creative license there.”

“Azrael!” Alis snapped. “That is completely inappropriate! She’s your co-worker.”

“Eh, I don’t mind,” Nadja waved her hand dismissively and yawned. “I’m shipping him with another character from this series. I was up all night writing smutty fic about them.”

“There are only two episodes of this. How can you already be shipping people?” Alis asked in exasperation.

“Hey, reading the episodes as they come out, staying up to date with the fanon, and keeping up with your head canon is a full time job, you know,” Mayonaka interjected through a mouthful of rolled omelet.

“See?” said Nadja, sticking her head up above the back of the sofa. “She gets it. Mayonaka, can I ship us together?”

Mayonaka shrugged. “Sure, why not.”

Nadja squealed excitedly and clapped her hands. “You heard her! You all heard her! It’s canon now!”

“Intern, shush!” said Alis. “Who are you shipping Azrael with, anyway?”

Nadja grinned at her computer screen, a sinister light glinting off of her glasses and obscuring her eyes. “I’m not telling,” she replied with a cackle of delight.

“Frightening!” said Azrael cheerfully. “So, Mayonaka, do you have any more questions?”

“Yes,” Mayonaka nodded, setting down her bowl of miso. “Actually, it was my first question: who the Hell are you people?!”

***

“What’s happened?” demanded Dr. van der Meyer. “And where is your hooded friend?”

Asuhoru shrugged as the two men hurried through the maze of laboratories, seeking the security of the doctor’s private office. “She never sticks around once she’s accomplished what ever it is she’s supposed to accomplish,” the billionaire replied. “She’s the sort of person who eats, shoots, and leaves.”

“Like a panda,” van der Meyer commented as she shut and locked the door to his office.

“Like a…?” Asuhoru rolled his eyes. “Yes, doctor, like panda.”

“What’s happening?!” van der Meyer demanded, turning to a computer screen on his desk. A live feed was coming from one of the intercom stations within the facility, where one of the junior mad scientists was desperately trying to reach the doctor.

“Sir, it’s Subject 01,” said the mad scientist, pausing to let out a desperate, maniacal laugh. “It’s MouseRINCTS. She’s loose in the facility and she’s turning the staff into rats!”

“How, dammit?!” snapped van der Meyer. “How is that possible?”

“I don’t know, sir,” said the scientist. “The rats appear to be biting people, which causes the transformation.” No sooner had this been said than a large, furry muzzle intruded upon the screen. Whiskers twitching, the rat’s big teeth sank deep into the scientist’s neck.

MouseRINCTS shoved the screaming, writhing scientist aside and glared into the camera. “Doctor,” she said disdainfully, blood dripping from her mouth. “I was hoping we would have a chance to talk.”

“What do you want, Fraulein MouseRINCTS?” the doctor demanded bitterly.

“I want your unconditional surrender,” MouseRINCTS replied swiftly. “You are trapped, there’s nowhere for you to run to. Drossel & Meyer belongs to me now. So, if you will come quickly and quietly, without causing any trouble, there might be a place for you in our new rodent society. If you do not surrender, however, I will punish you myself. You have ten minutes to comply.”

Ending the video call, MouseRINCTS extended her paw to the mad scientist, who was still lying on the floor. Now fully transformed, the scientist took the paw that was offered and stood up, staring at MouseRINCTS with black, beady eyes. Her rats crowding in around her, the Rat Queen curled her lip in satisfaction. “Good work, all of you,” she said. “Now, you all go scour the rest of the facility. Bite anyone you find. We must continue to swell our ranks. The rest of you are with me.” she touched the crown on her head and smiled to herself. “We must discover how to make more of these.”

***

“If she doesn’t punish you for this, Dr. van der Meyer, I’ll do it for her.” Asuhoru growled through his teeth. “What was that on her head?”

The doctor glanced at Asuhoru before turning his attention back to the computer. “I have no doubt that you will, Herr Asuhoru, but for now we should focus on remaining alive with our DNA intact and unaltered. Subject 01 should not under any circumstances be underestimated. She is volatile and quite dangerous; she is very powerful now, as well. It appears that she is using one of the rings I showed you earlier as a crown. If you recall, I told you that the rings have pychoconductive properties. They respond to the user’s physic energy, and Subject 01 has a stronger mind than I ever imagined.”

“You have to do something about this,” Asuhoru insisted. “You must fix this. What are you doing there?”

“Ah! Powerful she may be, but a mistake she has made. Ten minutes is an eternity for a mad scientist.” said Dr. van der Meyer. “Why, I could start and fail to finish a thousand mad projects in ten minutes!”

“That isn’t going to help us, van der Meyer,” snarled Asuhoru. “We don’t need a thousand unfinished projects. Can’t you do one project and finish it before she storms in here and turns us into rats?”

“This I can do, my dear Herr. You see, Subject 01 has not yet accessed this facility’s intranet. So long as the network is still available to me, I should be able to combat her attempts to gain full control of Drossel & Meyer Laboratories,” the doctor replied, furiously tapping away at the keyboard. “MouseRINCTS was not our only supersoldier program, as I said. She has not found the way to our robotics division yet, so she probably is not aware that I have killer robots at command.”

“Killer robots? Really?” Asuhoru closed his eyes and shook his head. “You built killer robots?”

“Yes,” nodded van der Meyer. “We call them Greystones. I will order them to converge on our position and defend this office. The hallway leading to that door,” he added, pointing at the locked door, “shall be our mousetrap.”

***

Mayonaka held up her finger to shush Azrael. “Could you run that by me again, please?”

“Certainly,” Azrael said, giving a little bow. He gazed at her steadily, his voice grave. “Dark powers rule this world,” he told her. “Formless shapes mingle with the mist and the gloom. It is our mission, our holy duty, our great sacrifice, that we, the BanBan, should fight back against the agents of darkness, those who imperil the innocent and ravage the true. Behind the curtain, the veil of night, we risk our lives and everything we hold dear in the final battle against Evil itself!”

“Okay,” said Mayonaka. “See here’s the thing…. that actually tells me nothing. Who are you?”

“We are the BanBan,” Azrael answered.

“What does that mean?” asked Mayonaka.

“I think I can answer that,” Alis quickly interjected before Azrael could further confuse things. “We work for a secretive organization known as the BanBan. As members of this organization, we are sworn to fight the dark forces that endanger this world, even when that means embracing the darkness ourselves, which brings me to why you are here. We know what you are, perhaps better than you do.”

“Wh-what do you mean by that?” Mayonaka stuttered nervously.

“I understand that this may be difficult for you to accept, Mayonaka,” Alis said as gently as she could. “Whether you realize it or not, you are perhaps the darkest darkness we have ever faced, which is why we are offering you the chance to use your powers for good instead of evil. When we first encountered you, you had been infected with a virus that awakened certain things within you. Dangerous things.”

Mayonaka’s jaw trembled as she tried to form words, but all that would come out was a weak “Wh-wh-wha?”

“You tried very hard to kill me,” said Azrael, who was again diligently trimming the Christmas tree down to the metal pole at its center. “You nearly succeeded, too. If I hadn’t done something improbable at the last minute, you and I would both be dead right now.”

“You see, Mayonaka,” Alis resumed, “you are supernatural being like Azrael, and like Azrael you also have great and horrifying but rather vague and perhaps silly powers.”

“Being a municipal clerk isn’t a superpower,” said Mayonaka softly.

“There is another side to who you are,” said Alis. “Hidden inside you is a being we know as the Midnight Warrior, Mayonaka Senshi, the Dead of Night.”

“It’s a very long name,” said Nadja. “So we’re not going to call you by the whole thing. That would take forever and everyone would get tired of it.”

“When you transform into the Dead of Night,” said Alis, “you become stronger, more aggressive. We want to help you learn to control your powers and to teach you to use the Midnight Warrior’s violent urges for good. Will you join us, Mayonaka?”

“I-I…” Mayonaka made a sound of disbelief and fear, her eyes wide as saucers as she stared at the BanBan and shoveled steamed rice into her mouth. “…I d-d-don’t know.”

***

“Your ten minutes are up,” said the Rat Queen, glaring into the intercom camera. “What’s your answer?”

“I shall never capitulate to you, Fraulein Rat,” van der Meyer sniffed haughtily. “You will have to break this door down if you wish to take me.”

“With pleasure,” said MouseRINCTS, a smile of bitter triumph on her face. “You will regret not cooperating with me, doctor.”

“I think not,” van der Meyer replied curtly and ended the video call.

MouseRINCTS cursed van der Meyer under her breath and started down the hallway toward the door to the doctor’s office. After a few steps, she came to stop and held up her clenched paw to keep the other rats from following. Eying the shadows, she sniffed the air and trained her ears on the darkness, searching for any clue what was ahead. “Something’s wrong,” she said softly to herself.

Turning to her soldiers, she pointed to twelve of them and nodded toward the hall. “You, open that door. The rest of you, get to cover. Everyone stay sharp. The doctor is up to something, I can feel it.”

The rats moved into the hall on silent paws, each one watching a different shadow. The others held back, watching their rodent comrades with baited breath. MouseRINCTS’s lips were a hard line, her whiskers twitching furiously as she waited. The rat at the head of the team crouched beside the door, while the rest of the team took up positions to storm the room beyond. With an apprehensive paw, the lead rat took a deep breath and reached for the knob.

The shadows suddenly came to life with the glare of muzzle flashes, the sound of machine gun fire tearing the silence to ribbons. Trapped against the door, the rat soldiers were no match for the Greystones. The robots emerged from the darkness, riddling the rodents with bullets until they all lay lifeless in a pool of their own blood.

Dr. van der Meyer’s satisfied voice called out from the intercom, praising the robots. “Good work, Zoe,” said the doctor.

“You named one of your killer robots Zoe?” asked Asuhoru, marveling at the insane quirks of the doctor’s mad mind.

“Happy Father’s Day, Daddy,” said Zoe the killer robot.

“Daddy? Dr. van der Meyer, you really disgust me,” growled Asuhoru. “You’re like a grub. You belong under a piece of wood.”

“Quite so,” van der Meyer replied without apology.

A shudder of rage rattled through MouseRINCTS’s body as she listened to them. Standing up, she jabbed a shaking paw at Zoe and the other robots. “Kill them!” roared the Rat Queen. “Kill them! Tear them apaaaaart!”

To be continue….

***
ADDENDUM
Hardcore Fans Never Watch Dubs!
***

“You are now safe, relaxing,” the stranger spoke soothingly. “What happens to me now,” he assured her, “I know that you protect.”

“Th-this happened?” Senshi Mayonaka tried to lift her head, but a sharp pain shot through her neck and she slumped back into his arms, too weak to move.

“Hist,” the stranger shushed her as her vision faded to black. “Now break.”

Mayonaka woke with a start. She felt tired from a long sleep, but otherwise refreshed. The terrible aching in her neck had left her, and her body seemed more alive to her than ever before. She did not have long to enjoy these good feelings, however, because she was in a strange bed, in a strange room, with a strange man looming over her. He leered down at her, grinning and holding a big pair of shrubbery sheers a centimeter above her nose. Mayonaka screamed and tried to squirm away.

The strange man chopped the sheers a couple of times and said cheerfully. “You are awake! I thought it was going to stay asleep with you forever, miss Christmas!”

“Azrael? Azrael!” Alis snapped, sticking her head in the door. “Why on earth, garden shears, you have a Azrael?! What is wrong?!”

Azrael straightened up, looking deeply offended. “Well, I was with help you reduce the Christmas tree!”

“It does not mean that literally cut tree trimming trees,” Alis buried her face in her palm. “You do not really understand the idea of Christmas?”

“Do not be ridiculous, Alice,” scoffed Azrael. “Of course, I understand Christmas. If I did not have us after entering the hilarious fat man in a fur red pants to sleep, we can destroy things and paper strips of desire and glass that was written for them, died slowly in tree of punishment for something that covers the body and rob our house to give me desire chopped down tonight, I do not open until the morning, or they turn into charcoal I will present the wax. I please do not treat me so it does not know how things work this Christmas.”

“P-p-people who are in you?!” cried Mayonaka, staring at the two of them in terror.

“Oh, sorry! We have not noticed that he was not to introduce ourselves,” Azreal replied genially. “I am the Angel of Death is Alice, and we bang bang..”

“B… but I do not understand anything!” Mayonaka stammered in helpless fear.

“Azrael, Azrael is to go,” said Alis, grabbing him by the sleeve of his shirt and dragging him toward the door. “Azrael, why not cut your own tree. I am sorry for him,” she said, turning her attention to Mayonaka. “It is always a real pain in the ass though. You will, however, get used to it. You can call me Alice. How, is it feels a Mayonaka?”

“H-how can you say that I am called by me and my friends?” Mayonaka quaked. “Wh-wh-where is that place where I can be found?!”

Alis took a deep breath and seated herself on the edge of Mayonaka’s bed. “I say you even need all of the confusion,” she said gently. “However, you are safe here, and we ate breakfast, describes all. We steamed rice for you in the omelette and cooking. Since you were sleeping for a long time, I guess you have to feel hungry.”

“Is it safe? Safe!” Mayonaka blurted. “Man just to try and cut my face in the hedge trimmer, he told me he was an angel of death! How do I here, for sure? And you said omelette and rice … and wait?”

Alis nodded. “And some of the miso soup,” she added with a smile. “Do you want stink miso soup?”

“I will do my operation!” Mayonaka exploded out of the bed and made a rush for the door. She turned sharply in the hallway, nearly tripped, but regained her balance and kept going. “Where the kitchen of this place where we are located?” she called out.

“Other method!” Alis called back.

Still prefer the sub, huh?

Looking for more?

We hope you enjoyed the second episode of our new webseries, Bakabakashi Inbo BanBan. This is just the beginning! You read that correctly, we plan to write more of whatever that just was. New installments will be published every second Friday. The irreverence continues Friday, February 13, 2015. Don’t miss it!


poor_rat_by_duncanrocks5496

(Featured Image: “Poor Rat” by duncanrocks5496)


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(Roggen Wulf, 2014)

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