Ha! Tricked you! Thought you'd gotten rid of me, didn't you? ;o; Yeah, that's right. I know you all secretly hate me but don't want to admit it.
Moop. I'm sure most of you haven't known me long enough to have seen the original draft of this three-book-long sister-saga, but I'm going to try for it again. Hopefully people will like the rewrite as much as they liked the original....
Just in time for Halloween I have turned out the first chapter of a rather macabre shade of Lavender [Town].... (Anyone who picks up on that horrendous pun gets a cookie. ;x)
Chapter One: The Blood Is the Life
It was around noontime, and I was in my quarters, reading a few passages from my text and making some notes here and there. To say the field of genetics had always been a dream of mine was an understatement—I was obsessive. From the time I was old enough to speak, I was asking any question I could come up with about what comprised the very elements of life; from the time I was old enough to read and write, I dreamt of the age of the genetics wars that had taken place on my planet over five centuries ago; from the time I was old enough to enroll in classes, I had begged and persisted to be apprenticed to Sarina Kizuki, the greatest, and oldest, geneticist my world had ever known. I'd asked many questions, learned much, and gotten my way. Suffice it to say, I was spoiled rotten as a child. Not just that, but Sarina had taken a liking to me from the first time she'd met me.
The clatter of heels on hardwood floor forewarned me of her entry. 'Dear, you can have the lab this afternoon if you like. I just restocked, so everything should be fresh.'
I looked up from my book, my jade eyes full of dumbstricken gratitude. My mentor stood across the room from me, her eyes stern but gentle, her stance firm, and a small smile always trying to come out from that falsely-emotionless face. She was a beautiful woman, and brilliant at that. 'T—thank you...!' I could say nothing more, bowled over that she'd let me of all people have my way with her laboratory.
She smiled, walking over to where I sat in the armchair and began to play with my short, dark hair in a motherly manner, looking down at my literature to determine its author. 'Hm, Maruo,' she deduced after skimming a moment. 'What's got you hot into the subject of splicing this time?'
'Well,' I began, digging the crimson and silver Pokéball from my pocket. I pressed the release button to permit its captive to escape. The ameboid creature emerged and sat itself in the middle of my bed—if one could call it sitting, when one has no feet, legs, or any particular anatomy of which to speak—and seemed to stare at the two of us in silence for several minutes. I couldn't tell whether it was upset, confused, or hungry, but one thing was certain: it wanted attention, and it wanted it right then. It voiced its displeasure with a series of guttural noises, followed by a few shrill squeals, then began to wallow in my sheets as though throwing a temper tantrum.
'Oh, Ditto, don't act like that,' I whined, getting up and sitting beside it, stroking its suede-like tan skin to calm it down. I looked to Sarina, blindly petting it. 'I caught the little one Tuesday when I found out that you can manipulate a Ditto's genetics more easily than any other known species. I figured it would be a good basis for some testing.' I smiled, giggling at how cute its big, round eyes were.
'Suri, you should know better than to experiment with live subjects,' she chided. 'You're not experienced enough to compensate for neural damages it might do.'
'I know,' I admitted sheepishly, 'but how else am I to learn? I've been told that Ditto have little to no pain receptors, anyway. It's not like I'm going to hurt the little guy. Ow!' I jerked my hand up and looked at it in surprise. The thing had bitten me! Blood trickled down my fingers and I frowned, sticking them in my mouth to try to get the bleeding to stop.
Sarina's smile won the fight temporarily and curled up out of her face. 'It seems as though your captive thinks otherwise,' she began, amused. 'Dittos often bite. Don't let them drink too much, though. It makes them bloated and even fussier than they usually are.'
'Don't let them—what?!' I glared at her in denial. 'You're not telling me that this little guy drinks blood!'
She chuckled. 'I'm not telling you that. The Ditto is.' She stood again, and walked out. As she turned the corner, she looked back at me. 'You'd best get cracking if you're going to play with your little pet, m'dear. I don't let anyone in my lab past dark, not even my students.'
I nodded. 'Understood. I'll be there as soon as I get myself together.'
'I've used Ditto for several experiments before, if it's anything to you,' she interjected. 'There's a few bloodbags in refrigerator C if your patient decides it won't behave until it's fed.'
"I swear, Tsume, the thing bit my finger! I don't understand it!" Sitting at the computer desk in the laboratory, I began to lament over the captive shapeshifter in the ball before me. I was beside myself.
The albino arched a pierced eyebrow. "How could a little slime creature bite? It doesn't even have teeth."
"I don't know. I guess it's no matter—an experiment's personality has little bearing on how its body shapes up."
"You sure about that? From how you described that thing," — he pointed at the ball — "you'd think that making it less capable of doing whatever it wants would make it fussier...."
"Perhaps...." I thought back to what Sabrina had said to me before she'd left this afternoon, and got up and walked over to refrigerator C. Sure enough, there were three bags of medical blood laying on one shelf of the fridge. Shivering slightly at the thought, I pulled one out and closed the door. I had to figure out how the Ditto had bitten me. "Let it out for me."
"Wh—is that blood?" He seemed disgusted by it. "Dittos don't bleed. They don't have a circulatory system. Why do you need that?"
"I'll show you. Let it out."
He anxiously complied with my request, and, like before, the creature emerged, fussy as ever, and planted itself on a nearby counter, whining at me. It then saw what I held in my hands and shut up, staring at me. "Good Ditto. You want this... don't you...?" I approached it slowly, as not to excite it too much. "I'll give you some if you won't misbehave... okay...?"
It gave a flat "Dit" in an attempt to skip formalities and jump straight to the main course, straining to stay put while trying to stretch nearer to me. But it knew it wouldn't get fed if it moved.
I sighed, holding the bag about a foot out in front of the thing. "Go ahead, little one. Just don't make a mess...."
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Tsume queried.
It leapt upon the bag as though trying to suffocate it with its own body, as though it were its prey. Almost instantly the sound of puncture was heard, and the Ditto's body began to ripple as it siphoned the blood out of the bag. Again I shuddered, taken aback at how hungry it was. Within minutes it relinquished its lifegrip on the bag and let it go, the empty plastic falling from its face. However, the blood—and drool—trickled from its eyes down its face, not the slit through which it breathed. I could do nothing but stare at it as it purred and curled up on top of its victim's "cadaver," taking a short nap.
I twitched. "I—"
"I don't believe it," he uttered, in similar dismay. His blond-highlighted white hair stood on end when he came upon a similar revelation to mine. "That thing sucked the bag dry with its eyes!"
"....I feel faint...." Tsume took action as though second nature and maneuvered the desk chair behind me such that I fell back into it. "I—thanks...." My attention had not wandered from the creature. "I can't believe it. That thing bit me because it was hungry of all things—!"
"I knew it was a bad idea to give it that bag of blood," he worried, massaging the stress out of my shoulders from over the back of the chair.
"I had to know, though! I had to know what Sabrina'd meant by not feeding it too much! She was amused by it, for the love of Mew! She laughed when she saw it had bitten me!"
He made a face. "She's probably experienced the same thing before, and it did her heart good to see a green scientist happen upon the same mistake."
"Some sadistic woman she is, if you're right," I muttered, making a face. After a moment of silence I sighed. "I can't work like this. I have to apologise to her and tell her I didn't get anything done today."
"I could tell her if you like."
"Thanks, but it would be best if I did. If you'll give me about fifteen or thirty minutes we can go out for a bit. I just need to be back on grounds before dark."
"'Kay. Want me to put the little vampire back in its ball?"
"If you would. I'll only be a bit." I got up when I felt I could stand, and walked out of the lab. I had a long road ahead of me if I was going to accomplish what I had set out to do, and this was only just the first of many enormous steps.
Though most wouldn't know at first glance, I'm not what I seem to be, and neither is Sabrina. We are of a race called the Tenshi, of Hanehasu, a planet not as far away as one may think, but small and easily forgotten to those who have never been there—it's a matter of secrecy and diplomacy that anyone who gets a passport off Hanehasu has splicing done such that they can take on the form of the species with which they'll reside once off the planet (many races have issues with the thought that they aren't the only ones in the universe). Aside from cosmetic differences, there is little comparison between us and humanity. Our skin is powder blue, similar to scales, and our eyes and hair have a more brilliant variety of colours than humans do. We have a different tongue, of course, and our customs vary in more places than one. Our internal anatomy is probably intrinsically the same as well, albeit that our bodies last roughly six times longer than the average human's—it makes it difficult to blend into human society without questions raised about longetivity. It's one reason Kizuki-sama altered her name—she can kill off her human alias at any time should she grow bored with it. There are other reasons for it, but it's a sensitive matter.
Tsume had been reviewed by one of Sarina's aides and nonceremoniously dumped on me as an aide of my own. He'd only helped me a few times since he'd been hired onto the staff there, and I don't know much about him. I'd hoped that going out for the evening would give us some bonding time, since we hadn't gotten much of a chance otherwise to get to know one another, and since we'd need to know each other's strong points if we were going to work on anything serious together.
I figured he wasn't of Tenshi birth, since most Tenshi would have known immediately that Sabrina is really Sarina, and would have likely picked up on any of the conversations of ours he'd overheard if he knew any Tenshi. Thus, if he wasn't Tenshi, then he likely was probably in his early twenties, and of the typical class standing that he was just out of school and in dire need of a way to pay the bills. Of course, I mentioned earlier that he's an albino. Albinism—lack of pigmentation in the skin and hair—is a rare genetic glitch, and unheard of on Hanehasu. I remember how awkward it had been when we'd met the first time and I had to ask him in order to silence my insanely overwhelming curiousity. He still doesn't think I'm normal because I had to ask him what his condition was called.... I'd never seen one before. It's not my fault, is it?
We'd decided, after a short walk through downtown Lavender, that we'd duck into a Gavrelli's for dinner. We got a two-seat table by the window, where there was a wonderful second-story view of the town below.
I looked up from my salad. "Why'd you dye your hair?"
"Hm?" he murmured, mouth full.
"Why'd you dye your hair blond? You only dyed parts of it, even."
He set his fork down after swallowing the cherry tomatoe, and formed a response after a moment's thought. "I guess I'm in denial. It's a way to pretend I'm normal."
"Then why didn't you dye all of it? I'm sorry if I sound like a little kid, but you know my insatiable curiousity."
"I can't forget that I'm different, Suri. If I do, I'll forget who I am."
"Isn't that a bit... shallow, though?" I blushed at the accusation I'd just made, but continued without hesitation. "You are more than just different from everyone else. You're you, and there's more to you than just being an albino."
"....Wow. I thought you were a hopeless airhead, but that is the single most profound thing anyone's ever said to me."
I was stunned. Me? An airhead? Hardly! I gawked at him, slightly put off. "I... what made you think I'm such an airhead?"
He chuckled, then started counting on his fingers. "You ask lots of questions that have simple answers. You often act immaturely. You always have to get your way, or you don't let anyone else get theirs. And you have that airheaded cuteness about you."
He grinned as he enumerated the last of these. I blushed again, looking down at my salad, then giggled nervously, but said nothing, unable to form anything coherent in response. Then the waitress took us by surprise, setting our food on the table and leaving us with an awkward silence what was cured only by means of dinner.