The thump on Dokugakuji’s little office door was familiar. The speed Yaone came through it afterward wasn’t. Biochemistry and its various effects on potential psychokinesis were her things, and neither of them worked well with panic. “The files. Kou. Found something – found Nii-”
Panic. Definitely. He grabbed her and dragged her in, glad he’d swept for bugs again this morning. “Slow down. Breathe. What about Nii?”
Granted, Nii all by himself was enough reason to panic. Man or woman. The guy was slimy. And every member of security was specifically ordered not to kill him.
“In what Kou was working on,” Yaone got out. “The ones you got me just before his access closed down. I don’t think he saw all of it, he didn’t have time – and I used your black key sweeper, I had to, I don’t know everything the program vacuumed up but the data I saw-!” She shuddered, shoving a tablet at him as if it burned her. “Fourth video. Oh god.”
Yaone had used his last-ditch info-grabber? Sweet little Yaone, who played with Lirin like a big sister and had survived all Kou’s paranoid vetting with a smile and ‘of course a big brother worries’?
This is bad.
Then he played the video, and knew it was worse.
It’s a monster.
Tentacles. Skin that shifted like the best cammo-armor. Teeth.
And from the framing data around the video, this was just one of Nii’s specimens. Specimens he was letting attack people, on-screen, who after the time lapse went feverish and rabid, tearing through everything short of steel restraints.
What the hell’s going on?
“The key grabbed a sort being run on company personnel’s DNA registry,” Yaone said in a small voice. “By Nii.” She gulped. “We were both listed. And… so was Kou.”
And Kou’s missing.
“Oh, screw this.” Dokugakuji glanced over his shoulder out of habit, then fiddled under his desk for the secret drawer of the rest of the program tools he wasn’t supposed to have. “Tell me you didn’t get a pet recently.”
“Er, well, no.” A finger found long dark hair, curled nervously in it. “Unless you count my aloe plant-”
“It’ll have to live or die without you,” he shrugged, slamming the little drive home.