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Jan 16th, 2017
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  1. "I just don't think it's possible sir."
  2. "I don't pay you to think! You get Those lab boys to do it, or all of you are fired!"
  3. "But..."
  4. "No buts Greenwald! You've got a month to make me a Miku or your fired. You hear me?"
  5. "..... Yes sir."
  6. -------------
  7. Chapter 1: the lottery
  8. -------------
  9. The sun danced through the tops of the pine trees, high noon shadows splayed across the ground.
  10. Like most lunchtimes, it was filled with a cacophonous serenity.
  11. Kenny, Calvin, and Taylor were shouting at the each over the sounds of super smash brothers, Craig was listening to music loud enough that people a mile away could probably hear it, and Vincent was contentedly watching Mal play bad rats on his laptop.
  12. The sounds of laughter, banter and rock and roll were signs that all was well. The sounds that followed seemed innocent, but spelled tragedy in ways then inconceivable.
  13. "Hey Vincent, I got tickets to the hatsune Miku concert this summer, but Dave is going to be out of town. Do you want to go?"
  14. "Dude, seriously!? That's awesome!" Vincent straightened up. "A chance to see the hologram tech they've got? Hell yeah I'll go!"
  15. "Alright. I'll pick you up at five."
  16. For Vince, the rest of the day seemed to be his best day ever. He aced his science test, managed to not miss his bus, found 20 dollars on the walk home, and caught his favorite show before it ended.
  17. Happily sitting at his computer, Vince did some research on the concert. Going into tech geek squealing spasms at all the talk of holograms, he noticed a popup.
  18. "Enter for a chance to meet Miku!" It proudly proclaimed in sparkly text.
  19. "Meet Miku? I thought she was a vocal program mascot."
  20. Vincent clicked the ad, shunting his browser to a entrance page.
  21. He thoughtlessly filled in his name, phone number, and dummy email address (just in case it was a "we will sell your information to our friends" dealie) and shot his entry off into the virtual void to join thousands of others.
  22. "Hey, who knows? With the luck I've been having today, I might win!"
  23. A funny thought.
  24.  
  25. "Mr.Greenwald, we can't use this, it's highly immoral."
  26. "I know. But what choice have we got?"
  27. "I'm going to quit. I won't do this and they can't make me."
  28. "Hah! If you quit, they'll just use you! And you know what it does. You can't quit."
  29. "So... All we can do is hope it doesn't hurt whatever poor sap is put through it?"
  30. ----------
  31. Chapter 2: the concert
  32. ----------
  33. Smooth jazz drifted over the radio, obscured by friendly chatter.
  34. Calvin knew they were getting close, as he could see large numbers of people who would look right at home at an anime convention.
  35. He and Vincent yammered on about video games and anime the entire drive, comparing the states of their amiibo collections, and Calvin gave Vincent a crash course in vocaloid.
  36. "Huh. So it's just a bunch of music producers who all use the same program?"
  37. "Yeah, pretty much."
  38. "Theatres in the left."
  39. "I see it, I see it. Hard to miss it really."
  40. After an eternity of waiting in line, they finally made it inside the building.
  41. Vincent dropped 2 bucks on glowsticks, but ran into a very tall man while turning around.
  42. "Are you Vincent ferrigno?"
  43. "How on earth did you know that?"
  44. "Well congratulations sir, you are the winner of the "meet Miku" raffle. Meet us out here in the lobby after the show." The man handed Vincent a small blue backstage pass.
  45. "Wow! Alright, I'll do that! See you then!" Vincent scampered off to find Calvin and tell him of his good fortune.
  46. "Enjoy the show, mr ferrigno."
  47.  
  48. "It's all arranged. He will be here after the show."
  49. "Good work Greenwald. I knew you could be trusted with this job. Mark my words, there's a promotion coming for you after this."
  50. "..."
  51. "What's wrong? You're not having any second thoughts about this, are you?"
  52. "Isn't this Murder?"
  53. "Greenwald, Greenwald, Greenwald. Think of it as... Rebranding."
  54. -----------------
  55. Chapter 3: the backstage
  56. -----------------
  57. That. Was. Amazing.
  58. Vincent was still reeling from it. Actual holograms.
  59. He'd been right there. He had watched hatsune miku, a fictional character, sing live in concert.
  60. His nerd excitement was too much to contain.
  61. And now... He'd get to meet her.
  62. He assumed it was just a cutesy way of saying they'd show him the hologram tech up close, which he was all for. But surely they would have said that somewhere. There was always the danger of some Waifu nut who seriously expected to meet someone back there.
  63. But as he lingered in the theatre lobby, his train of thought was interrupted by Calvin.
  64. "That was great!"
  65. "I know, right?"
  66. "So, you wanna head for home, or stop and get something to eat first?"
  67. "I'm gonna have to take the bus back. Sorry." Vincent flashed the backstage pass. "I've got a meeting."
  68. "You lucky sunnuvabitch. Alright, I'll see you tomorrow. Get home safe, y'hear?" Calvin slapped him on the back and headed off towards the doors.
  69. "Mr ferrigno?" Vincent turned around to face the security agent who stood behind him.
  70. "That's me. I'm all ready."
  71. "Excellent. Follow me."
  72. Vincent followed him through a door marked "employees only", through which lay a maze of bustling backstage tunnels. Eventually, they arrived at a door.
  73. "It's right through here. Go ahead."
  74. Vincent opened the door and stepped through.
  75. "Hey, what? All that's in here is a giant white room."
  76. The unmistakable sound of a locking door came from behind him.
  77. "Hey! Come back! Don't lock me in here!"
  78.  
  79. "Target is in chamber, beginning first process at your order, Mr Greenwald."
  80. "......Execute."
  81. ---------------
  82. Chapter 4: the machine
  83. ---------------
  84. High up on the walls of the chamber, shutters rolled back.
  85. Vincent could see through the windows they revealed. It looked to be some kind of observation deck full of men in suits. The other side just had a load of people presiding over buttons.
  86. "What is this? Let me out!" Vincent banged at the door.
  87. Far above, a panel in the ceiling slid back, allowing a metal tool head connected to a large trunk of cables to descend.
  88. A speaker crackled to life.
  89. "Preparing subject for use."
  90. The large dangling machine came to life, bending up and pointing it's head at Vincent.
  91. "Oh shit."
  92. The ground beneath him moved, shifting him to the center of the room. He found himself unable to move his feet.
  93. The end of the machine came to life, revealing itself to be a cutting implement.
  94. It went to work removing Vincent's shoes, cutting straight through them, but not touching his feet at all.
  95. "Hey, I liked those shoes!"
  96. His socks followed, as the machine then went to work cutting up the sides of his pants.
  97. Vincent yelped, covering his crotch with his hands.
  98. "Hey!"
  99. His shirt came next, and his jacket was simply pulled off and flung into the corner.
  100. The boy was left stark naked, still rooted to the ground.
  101. "Okay, look, forcibly stripping someone with a giant metal tentacle apparatus is probably illegal.
  102. A set of arms extended from the walls, grabbing him by the ankles and wrists, pulling him into a spread eagle position.
  103. "Okay, I've had enough of this. Stop! Also, I don't like having my junk on display."
  104. The ceiling machine seemed to turn itself inside out, becoming a large tube. Vincent couldn't see inside it, but the arms pulled him straight and began to advance towards it.
  105. The speaker came to life again.
  106. "Preparation complete. Beginning conversion program "Idol-01""
  107. "No, no no no no nononononono..."
  108. As Vincent was moved inside the tube, a feeling of dread overcame him.
  109.  
  110. "Subject has escaped, I repeat, subject had escaped."
  111. "Oh no..."
  112. "GREEEEENWAAAAALD!"
  113. "Sir, it's not my fault, I swear!"
  114. "You were in charge of this project, so as far as I'm concerned, it is! Get security mobilized, We can't let her get away!"
  115. -----------------
  116. Chapter 5: the escape
  117. -----------------
  118. Vincent's breath was heavy as he ran. He didn't care where to, he just knew he had to get out of here.
  119. That machine had done something. Everything felt wrong. His head was pounding, every inch of his body stung and tingled. As soon as the machine turned on, he had been blinding pain. Too much pain to think. After it had finished whatever it had done, he had made run for it.
  120. They clearly hadn't been expecting that. He figured the pain was supposed to immobilize him.
  121. Truth be told, It should have. He could feel every part of him screaming as he ran. He was running off of pure terror.
  122. Everything felt wrong.
  123. He heard shouting behind him as he ran through the halls.
  124. Someone tried to get in his way, but he barreled straight through him and out a doorway.
  125. He was outside, in an alleyway.
  126. He kept running, rain coming down, harsh concrete beneath his bare feet.
  127. It felt horrible, like his feet were brand new. But the pain didn't stop him. He kept running.
  128. Eventually, he collapsed.
  129. The rain fell.
  130.  
  131. "We've got to find her. She could be hurt, she"
  132. "She could be endangering our brand, more like it! She's wearing our companies face."
  133. "Goddammit, I never should have agreed to this."
  134. "What are you talking about?"
  135. "I could hear him screaming inside that machine. I could hear every minute of it. He's out there now with a face that doesn't belong to him..."
  136. "Damn right."
  137. "And nowhere to go. I'd be amazed if the pain didn't drive him insane. This is the most inhumane thing I've ever done..."
  138. "And you call yourself a scientist. Pah!"
  139. --------------
  140. Chapter 6: the gutter
  141. --------------
  142. Vincent's dreams were ones of machinery and pain.
  143. His eyes snapped open.
  144. He was lying in an alleyway. Always a good place to start.
  145. He groaned, and shot a hand to cover his mouth.
  146. Why did he sound so strange?
  147. He looked down at the smooth dainty hand that covered his mouth.
  148. Oh no.
  149. He looked over the rest of his body.
  150. He was naked, and looking considerably different than he usually did.
  151. He slumped back, staring up.
  152. He was Hatsune Miku.
  153. His body was newly minted, perfectly crafted to match the character. He brought a hand up to the hair on his head, and ran his fingers down it.
  154. It was Miku's hair alright. Not in her signature twintails, but the right length, and the same bright blue.
  155. He looked himself over, taking in every part of his new body.
  156. He was now a she, As expected. He examined his new breasts, but lacked the courage look at his groin. He looked at his shoulder, finding a tattoo on the upper arm.
  157. "HATSUNE MIKU: 01"
  158. It proclaimed, in large numbers.
  159. "I can't believe this..."
  160. Oh right. The voice.
  161. It was Miku's voice, but it seemed to flow more naturally. Less like the program, and more like someone with that voice. It still had a slight robotic edge to it, probably just for authenticity, he thought glumly.
  162. He stood up, leaning heavily against the wall.
  163. "I've got to hide somewhere..." He mumbled. "They'll be looking..."
  164.  
  165. "Anyway, it's nothing to worry about. She won't be hard to find."
  166. "Seattle's a big city, and we didn't initiate the mental rewrite. She'll still know her way around."
  167. "So? We just tell the police were looking for a girl who matches her description, and Bam! She's back with us."
  168. "The police will ask questions. Questions like: why does this crying naked teenage girl insist she's not who were told she is? And; why is there no legal record of her existence? And; should we really listen to these corporate goons she seems terrified of?
  169. Going to the police ends with us all in jail for human experimentation."
  170. "So what, we search ourselves? I'm a busy man."
  171. "Please stop smoking in my car."
  172. -----------------
  173. Chapter 7: the sanctuary
  174. -----------------
  175. After a brief dig through a goodwill dumpster, Vincent had managed to fix the first of her many problems.
  176. Now clothed in a ratty sweatshirt and jeans which didn't fit right, (Vincent wasn't quite up to underwear yet), he would at least not be picked up by the cops for indecent exposure. He bundled his long hair up inside the sweatshirt. He didn't want to make himself too conspicuous.
  177. Now to solve problem number 2: a place to stay.
  178. He couldn't go home. He knew that. Mom would go insane, and attempt legal action. Then they'd know where he was, and they'd be able to carry him off in the night.
  179. They couldn't know where he was.
  180. "Calvin. Calvin lives alone. His dads always out at work. He'll Believe me. He'll let me sleep on his couch."
  181. Vincent muttered to himself. He Began the trek northwards.
  182.  
  183. Meanwhile, calving day had been far less interesting. He'd woken up, eaten some fruit loops, and was now sitting around watching anime.
  184. He was actually having a pretty good day.
  185. A knock came at the door.
  186. "that'll be Vince."
  187. He got up and wandered over to the small apartments door.
  188. But when he opened it, the figure on the other side was not the blue jacketed grinning figure of Vincent, but a bedraggled figure in a dirty gray sweatshirt.
  189. "Uh, hey there. What can I do for you?"
  190. The figure in front of him looked up pathetically. Calvin recognized the face immediately.
  191. "Wha... M... Miku?"
  192. Even beneath the grime, the face of the pop idol was unmistakeable.
  193. Before he could say anything, the vocaloid trudged inside, staggering over to the couch and collapsing.
  194. After pinching himself to make sure he was awake, Calvin slowly crept over.
  195. "Hey there. Um... I'm a big fan."
  196. The figure before him grumbled. "Blow it out your ass."
  197. Calvin was a bit taken aback by the lilting voices rough insult.
  198. "Can I offer you a drink? Water?"
  199. The figure sat up, turning and sitting up straight on the couch.
  200. Calvin was a simple man, but even he could detect the thousand yard stare and exhaustion present in the girl before him.
  201. "Water sounds good."
  202.  
  203. Calvin now sat opposite Miku as she slammed back another glass of water. She must have been massively dehydrated, as shed drunk 13 as fast as shots.
  204. She now sighed and sat back.
  205. "Alright Calvin. I'm going to give it to you straight."
  206. "How do you know my name? Actually, scratch that. How are you real? I'm not dreaming, but I'm currently face to face with a virtual pop idol."
  207. "I'm getting there. Calvin... I'm Vincent."
  208. Silence.
  209. "This may be hard to believe."
  210. "Duh."
  211. "Do you remember when we went to the hatsune Miku concert?"
  212. The story that followed was a chilling tale of machinery, pain, and escape. (One you have already read).
  213.  
  214. "Oh my god..."
  215. "And I am now as you see me."
  216. "So let me get this straight, you expect me to believe that my best friend was kidnapped and completely rebuilt to look and sound like Miku?"
  217. "Why would I lie?"
  218. "I don't know, maybe this is one of those elaborate prank shows on tv. Maybe I'm being haunted by the ghost of Chris Angel."
  219. "I don't think he's dead."
  220. "That would stop him how?"
  221. "I swear it's the truth."
  222. "I'll believe you. If you beat me at street fighter."
  223. "What."
  224. "Vincent could always kick my ass at street fighter."
  225. "But neither of us own street fighter. We always play darkstalkers. We agreed it had better characters."
  226. Calvin spun around.
  227. "Holy shit. You are Vince."
  228. "Now do you believe me?"
  229. "Yes. I... I..."
  230. "All you have to do is let me stay here. I can't go home like this."
  231. "Sure. What are friends for?" Calvin let out a little nervous laugh. Sheltering mad science projects apparently. He kept that thought to himself.
  232. An awkward silence descended.
  233. "So, what's it like?"
  234. "Huh?"
  235. "Having your entire body rebuilt."
  236. "Imagine the most excruciating white hot agony you can imagine. Multiply it by 10 and make hay feeling your entire being."
  237. Silence.
  238. "What's it like?"
  239. "What, the pain?"
  240. "No, I mean... Being a girl?"
  241. "I haven't had a chance to think about that yet. I've been busy getting here. So so far it's been exactly the same as any other naked homeless person experience."
  242. "I wouldn't have pegged you as the kind of person to know a lot about those."
  243. "Shut up."
  244. Vincent stood up.
  245. "I'm going to use your shower. I spent last night in an alleyway."
  246. Vince trudged off, shutting the bathroom door behind him.
  247.  
  248. Calvin didn't really know how to feel about any of this. As he entered his room, he looked over at his bed. He spent a good few moments examining the hatsune Miku body pillow that currently occupied half of then bed.
  249. "This could be a problem."
  250.  
  251. "Well, the woman working the coffee shop hadn't seen her. Here's your latte."
  252. "Ay, thanks."
  253. *sluuurp*
  254. "So, where do we check next?"
  255. "We could keep looking around downtown."
  256. "Nah. Let's go to the mall up north."
  257. "What? Why?"
  258. "Well, a newly minted teenage girl will soon have to answer to her base primal instincts and go clothes shopping."
  259. "Wow."
  260. "What?"
  261. "You are one of the most horrible people I have ever met."
  262. "Funnily enough, I sign your paycheck. Get driving."
  263. ----------------
  264. Chapter 8: the day out
  265. ----------------
  266. The night had passed uneventfully.
  267. Vincent had insisted on sleeping on the couch.
  268. In the morning, Calvin was awoken by the sound of someone messing around in his kitchen. He stumbled up and turned the corner, only to realize it was Vincent.
  269. "Your stove is shit."
  270. "There's a reason I eat nothing but cereal and takeout."
  271. "You had eggs."
  272. "Well yeah, but I don't eat them."
  273. "How old are these then?"
  274. "Iunno."
  275. "So, Burger King then."
  276. "Sounds like a plan. Are you sure you want to wear that sweatshirt again?"
  277. "Well sure."
  278. "It's really nasty."
  279. "I pulled it out if a dumpster."
  280. "You need actual clothes. Have you got any money saved up?"
  281. "I was saving up for a new 3ds. But that doesn't sound too important right now."
  282. "Awesome. We're going to go get you clothes. I can't have you stinking up my apartment."
  283. "Aw man."
  284. "It is settled. To the mall!"
  285.  
  286. It was a short bus ride, and eventually the pair ended up at northgate mall.
  287. The whirlwind shopping trip can not be recounted here, as the writer buys all his clothes at value village, but rest assured it was certainly something to behold.
  288.  
  289. Calvin and Vincent now found themselves in familiar territory. After the alien landscape of the clothing stores, it felt good to now be surrounded by the walls of the GameStop.
  290. Vincent was now wearing a far cleaner pair of jeans and a hoodie. He still had his Miku hair hidden, but overall he was now a lot more comfortable. (Shoes helped, although women's underwear felt really damn weird still.)
  291. He couldn't help but stare at the centerpiece of the vita shelf. Project diva. Heh.
  292.  
  293. As they were leaving, a weedy looking boy who had been watching Vincent approached them.
  294. "Er... Excuse me, could I have an autograph?"
  295. "Huh?" The voice fully gave Vince away.
  296. "Well, I'm a big fan, and... yknow..." He mumbled.
  297. Calvin shuffled awkwardly.
  298. Vincent decided there was nothing for it.
  299. "I'd be happy to. Who should I make it out to?"
  300. He took the game case from the boy.
  301. "Benny."
  302. Vincent ran the pen over it, making sure not to sign his real name. Instead he died a little inside and signed what he knew was expected.
  303. To Benny, love Miku.
  304. He handed the case and pen back.
  305. "Don't let anyone know, ok? I'm off the radar for a while." He smiled and raised a finger to his lips.
  306. "You got it. Thank you!" Benny ran off.
  307.  
  308. "That was a nice Miku signature."
  309. "Shut up."
  310. "Vocaloid fans will probably be able to spot you easily. Hell, that guy was able to do it even without the hair. Do you want to get it cut?"
  311. "I should, but... I don't want to. It would feel wrong, if that makes sense."
  312. "I getcha. Think you have enough clothes?"
  313. "I don't think I even need this many. I could make do with 2 of everything."
  314. "You need more than two pairs of underwear."
  315. "Why? I get the underwear underwear, but why do I need more than one bra? Speaking of which, this is incredibly uncomfortable."
  316. "Millions of women wear them every day."
  317. "Doesn't change the fact that it feels like shit."
  318.  
  319. As the pair walked through the food lift towards the parking lot, Vincent got a feeling.
  320. "We're being watched. And not in a casual way."
  321. "How can you tell?"
  322. "I pay attention to things. It's a hobby. Act natural."
  323. They continued moving. Vincent suddenly stopped, and patted his pockets. "Oh geeze, I left my wallet in the Nordstrom. Come on, we gotta go back."
  324. "What? We didn't even go into Nordstrom!" Hissed Calvin.
  325. "I know, Dumbass. Come on."
  326. As they headed back in the other direction, Vincent scanned the crowd.
  327. "I think I see them. Tall guy, Smart suit. Fat guy, suit, cigar. Near the baskin robins. I can't tell who they are though."
  328.  
  329. "Alright, so we haven't seen er here. Where do you want to check now?"
  330. "I see her."
  331. "What!? Where!?"
  332. "Sit down, don't make a scene. She's over by the door. She's with a boy."
  333. "Who, the girl in the hoodie? How can you tell that's her?"
  334. "I've had to stare at that face for hours on end."
  335. "Ey, do you hear that? They're going to the Nordstrom."
  336. "I'm going to approach the target. You hang back."
  337. ---------------
  338. Chapter 9: the encounter
  339. ---------------
  340. "One of them is standing up."
  341. "Oh dear. Do we leave?"
  342. "I can see his face... Oh god..."
  343. PAIN. MACHINERY. AGONY.
  344. "Run. We run. Now."
  345. The pair took off, Calvin being pulled strongly by Vincent.
  346. "Who are they?"
  347. "They were both there. I remember. The tall one was running the whole thing. The fat one was one of the grinning businessmen watching."
  348. Dashing as fast as possible, they swung around a corner and out a door, now in the parking lot.
  349. "Okay, I think we lost them. We've got to be carefu-"
  350. "Excuse me."
  351. "AAAAA!" Vincent screamed, startled by the tall mans sudden appearance.
  352. "Hello there, subject 01."
  353. "Get out of here!" Growled Calvin, putting his hands up in front of him in a vaguely threatening pose.
  354. "I'm afraid I can't. Not without subject 01."
  355. "Fuck off. I'm not going anywhere with you."
  356. "Why not?"
  357. "Because the last time I was anywhere near you I HAD MY ENTIRE BODY HACKED TO PIECES AND PUT BACK TOGETHER. WRONG I MIGHT ADD."
  358. "You weren't put together wrong. The procedure wasn't finished, certainly, but the parts that were finished went perfectly."
  359. The fat man came creeping around the corner behind the tall man.
  360. "Hey there Greenwald. Is this our girl?"
  361. "Yes."
  362. "I'm not anybody's! Stop talking about me like I'm intellectual property!"
  363. "Look, I'm sorry about what's been done to you but..."
  364. "Ay, let me handle this."
  365. The fat man stepped forward.
  366. "Listen girlie, you are company property. Your face and voice belong to us. At current, you ARE in violation of intellectual property law. And since you can't really stop using our ip..."
  367. "Look here you disgusting little man, legally, your already In trouble for kidnapping, unconsentional human experimentation, corporate espionage, and false advertising. If you want to bring the law into this, you haven't got a foot to stand on."
  368. "You were grown in a lab. Unfortunately, the memories we attempted to implant into you borked and you escaped."
  369. Vincent froze in shock.
  370. "No..."
  371. The fat man kept a straight face for a few moments before besting into laughter. "NAAAAH, had ya goin there though didn't I?"
  372. "Mr.Glin, please. Don't aggravate subject 01 more than is necessary."
  373. "Aw cmon, it was hilarious."
  374. "I am not subject 01."
  375. The two corporate stooges looked back at Vincent.
  376. "My name..."
  377. Vincent took a step forward.
  378. "Is Vincent ferrigno..."
  379. Step.
  380. "And I am a goddamn man!"
  381. Suddenly Throwing a punch, Vincent managed to smash Glin in the side of the head, toppling him over.
  382. "Now subject... Vincent, I'm Dr.Greenwald. I can help you..."
  383. Greenwald took a step back.
  384. "LIKE FUCK YOU CAN!" Sobbed Vincent, throwing himself forward into another punch.
  385. It did not connect.
  386. Vincent found Calvin wrapped around him.
  387. "Vincent, calm down."
  388. Vincent went limp, all power spent.
  389. "I'm sorry Calvin. Oh god..."
  390. Vincent collapsed into sobbing, still held in place by Calvin.
  391. Calvin turned to Greenwald.
  392. "Haven't you done enough?"
  393. Greenwald seemed on the edge of tears himself, his calm stranger act broken down.
  394. "I didn't want to do it. I was told I'd lose my job if I didn't. I had to listen to every minute of his screams. The only way I could properly justify it to myself was by knowing his mind would be rewritten at the end of it all, and he'd never remember the pain of what he lost."
  395. Bending over and pulling up Glin, he turned away.
  396. "We didn't see you today. I'll make sure Glin knows that. The company shareholders are desperate to find you. They don't want to go to prison. They deserve to."
  397. Greenwald trudged off, carrying Glin.
  398.  
  399. "Cmon Vincent, let's get you home."
  400.  
  401. "Whazza?"
  402. "Wake up. We need to talk."
  403. "Oi, my head. Did you get the girl?"
  404. "I gave her a second chance. If anyone asks, we didn't find her."
  405. "The shareholders won't like that."
  406. "They can go to hell."
  407. "The shareholders REALLY won't like that."
  408. "The search will pick up from here, but I gave sub... Vincent, a chance."
  409. "Look Greenwald, im gonna be honest. I'm sorry."
  410. "For what?"
  411. "For making you do any of this."
  412. --------------------
  413. Chapter 10: the angst
  414. --------------------
  415. 2 days after the mall trip, Vincent hasn't left the apartments he has become listless. He lies on the couch watching anime all day.
  416. Calvin has been in and out doing things, but is beginning to worry about his friend.
  417.  
  418. "I'm home."
  419. The call was met with only silence. Calvin crossed over to the couch to find Vincent exactly where he had left him.
  420. "Hey, come on man, you can't lie here staring off into space forever."
  421. "I'm not gonna be here forever, just until I die."
  422. "No ones dying on my couch. Get up. Come on Vincent. Vincent!"
  423. Vincent sat there ignoring him.
  424. "Fine then, if Vincent won't answer, I'll just talk to hatsune. It'll be like freaky reverse therapy puppets. Hello there hatsune, how are you today?"
  425. "I'm fine."
  426. "Ah, that got a response. Tell me miss Miku, would you like me to fix your hair for you? I will interpret silence as a yes."
  427. No response.
  428. "Fine."
  429. Calvin went and dug through his junk drawer, eventually finding s pair of hair ties an ex girlfriend had left there.
  430. "Okay Miku, I'm going to tie your hair up now. Here we go."
  431. A good 5 minutes of effort later, and he had finally managed to shape the blue mess behind Vincent into something resembling hatsune Miku's signature twintails.
  432. He pulled Vincent up and aimed him at a nearby mirror.
  433. "Isn't that pretty? Just think, you'll wear it like that all the time if you decide to just give up and stop being Vincent. But you're not going to do that, because Vincent is a smart, cool dude who wouldn't be content to sit around moping all day. So if you're going to sit around moping, your not Vincent. And if your not Vincent, then I suppose you have to be Miku. And Miku has responsibilities. She has fans, she has songs to sing, she has evil labs to go back to to have her memory wiped."
  434. Vincent fidgeted uncomfortably.
  435. Calvin finally broke.
  436. "SACK THE FUCK UP. I CANT STAND WATCHING YOU LIKE THIS, AND I KNOW YOU CANT EITHER. SO GET UP, AND FIGURE OUT WETHER YOU WANT TO BE YOURSELF OR MIKU, BECAUSE IM ONLY WILLING TO KEEP ONE OF THOSE AROUND MY APARTMENT."
  437. Vincent pulled forward and stood up.
  438. He breathed out.
  439. "Im Vincent. I play the piano badly, I build sets for the drama club, I play video games too much, I daydream easily, I can be too crass at times, but goddamn it, IM ME."
  440. "YES."
  441. "CALVIN, GET YOUR SHOES ON. WERE GOING TO GO FIND THESE FUCKERS AND MAKE THEM CHANGE ME BACK DAMMIT."
  442. "HELL YEAH!"
  443. An object dropped through the mail slot with a light thud.
  444.  
  445. "We are disappointed."
  446. "Look, we've done all we can go search. Perhaps we should just give up?"
  447. "The board of shareholders has taken matters into their own hands. You have underperformed."
  448. "What the hell are you planning to do?"
  449. "Do not go to your enemy, make your enemy come to you- sun tzu."
  450. --------------
  451. Chapter 11: the note
  452. --------------
  453. The object in question was an envelope.
  454. Vincent, still smoldering, split it open with his thumbnail.
  455. "Oh no..."
  456. The page unfolded like the jaws of the abyss, and with roughly the same emotional reaction.
  457.  
  458. Mal was a very good friend of Vincent's. They'd known each other for years. They played video games together frequently, and Mal had an impressive knowledge of militairy procedure and proper weapon use.
  459.  
  460. That was probably why this picture of Mal strapped to a chair unconscious caused Vincent to panic.
  461.  
  462. The ransom note was not cut out of magazine letters, but rather typed neatly in 12 point times new roman.
  463.  
  464. "To whom it may concern: the man known as Mal green has been abducted. By us. In 3 days, he will undergo the same process as one Mr. Ferrigno, however steps have been take to assure escape impossible. If however, Mr.Ferrigno were to offer up himself, Mr.Green would be released, perfectly intact, and Mr.Ferrigno would be given a job as not-so-virtual pop idol Hatsune Miku.
  465. Reminder: three days. Decide.
  466. We will await your decision at [address]."
  467.  
  468. Vincent stared at the letter.
  469.  
  470. "Calvin, we have an issue."
  471. The letter was presented and read.
  472. "What the fuck do I do? Mal is one of my best friends."
  473. "You can either allow a friend to suffer intense pain and mind rape, or you can turn yourself over and become the property of a corporation. Your choice."
  474. Vincent wanted to pretend this was some huge quandary. That he would have to think it over. But he hung his head. He knew he had only one choice.
  475. "I guess I'm going to go turn myself over to them."
  476. Calvin nodded solemnly.
  477. "I'm sorry it had to go like this."
  478. Vincent stopped to look in the mirror. He raised a hand up to one of his twintails.
  479. "We bought a dress at the mall, right?"
  480. "Yeah, I think so."
  481. "Then it's time to go without a hood on."
  482.  
  483. "Do you think he'll come?"
  484. "What does it matter? Either way we win. Either Subject 01 gives herself up, or her little friend here takes her place. I always like it when a plan has no potential for failure."
  485. "Mmmph fmmphn" *rip* "fuck you you piece of shit, you give me 3 minutes alone I'll break out of his and stove your head in with... Mmmmmpph!"
  486. "Yes yes, I understand you gave the extraction team a bit of trouble. No matter. You'll be free soon. Or if not, you soon won't care."
  487. ---------------
  488. Chapter 12: the trade
  489. ---------------
  490. On a rooftop in downtown Seattle, there is a hostage and a machine.
  491. Dr Greenwald must operate his machine, wether he wants to or not.
  492. Glin stands by with a crowd of company shareholders.
  493. "Mr Greenwald, is the device ready?"
  494. "Yes sir."
  495. "Good. It is the final day of the time we have allotted subject 01. If she does not appear now, then this boy shall take her place."
  496. The roof exit has opened.
  497. In the doorway is the figure of a girl with long twintails.
  498. "Here I am."
  499. One of the shareholders steps forward.
  500. "Lovely to meet you at last, subject 01. I can only assume you are here to trade yourself for the hostage?"
  501. "Yes. That is correct."
  502. "Come here then. Let me get a good look at you."
  503. Vincent approached the man. The man had a lean, hungry look about him, and a smile that oozed deceit.
  504. "Yes... Your quite lovely. That is the face of an idol..."
  505. "Don't touch me, creep."
  506. "Is that any way to talk to someone who now owns you?"
  507. Click
  508. "Hey, what the fuck?!"
  509. "They're handcuffs."
  510. "I can tell, jackass. Why?"
  511. "Please stop swearing in that voice. Your ruining our brand image. The handcuffs are to keep you restrained."
  512. "Grrr..."
  513. "Greenwald, initiate the machine."
  514. "What?!"
  515. "We knew you'd come to us. The machine will not change this boy into another Miku, we have no need for more than one of each character. He will become Len."
  516. The roof exit burst open, this time revealing Calvin. "Vincent, wait! It's a trap!" Men descended upon him from both sides, grabbing him by the arms.
  517. "Aaah, and here is our Rin. I love it when a plan comes together."
  518. "Calvin!"
  519. "Vincent!"
  520. "Hey, you two quit shouting and get free! I don't like how close in starting to get to this death machine here!"
  521. "Shut up Mal!"
  522. "Same to you!"
  523. "Ahahahahahaha! Gentlemen, a toast. To the company!"
  524. "To the company."
  525.  
  526. A helicopter rises up alongside the roof. Several more join it.
  527. Seattle police department is written along the sides of all but the first one.
  528. "Stop right there!"
  529. Police begin to swarm out of the helicopters. The machine is shut down, the security guards are knocked out, and the shareholders are surrounded.
  530. From the non-police helicopter, comes a flustered looking Japanese man in a suit.
  531. He approaches the assembled crowd.
  532. "I came as soon as I heard about what was going on here, and let me say that I am VERY dissapointed."
  533. Glin seemed almost overjoyed to see him.
  534. "Sir! You got my message!"
  535. "Be quiet Glin. Youre in enough trouble already."
  536. The man turned to Vincent, as a police officer uncuffed him.
  537. "Vincent, I know everything about what has happened to you. I can offer you no compensation for what has been taken."
  538. "So wait, you're..."
  539. "The head of the company, and the original creator of the vocaloid program."
  540. "It's an honor to meet you sir."
  541. "Ah, to see Miku in the flesh should overjoy me, but to know what had to happen to create her makes me weep. Again, I am deeply sorry. Know that those responsible shall be punished severely."
  542. Calvin and Mal both came up alongside Vincent.
  543. "Hey there Vince, long time no see. Your looking a bit different than last time. You do something with your hair?"
  544. Calvin slugged Mal in the shoulder.
  545. "I must apologize to you two boys as well."
  546. "It's alright. When a company gets big enough, no one can keep track of everything going on within it."
  547. "If I had been too late, you would have both suffered the same fate as Vincent. I am now glad I didn't stop for coffee in the airport."
  548. "Don't even joke about that."
  549. "Sorry. Well, I hope all of you keep safe. Remember, we are all deeply in your debt. Never hesitate to contact us if you need something."
  550. Vincent shook his hand.
  551. "It was a pleasure to meet the man who created my new voice."
  552.  
  553. Vincent, Calvin, and Mal headed back down to the lobby of the building.
  554. The insanity was over.
  555. As they wandered back out into the street and towards the bus stop for home, they were met with one final trial.
  556. "Um, excuse me... I know it's impossible, but are you the actual Hatsune Miku?"
  557.  
  558. Well, one insanity was over.
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