Author Notes: I apologize for the delay and the short chapter, but there is a lot of information crammed in here. Not all of your questions will be answered, but a lot of them will be. There's still some mystery left that will be revealed slowly as the story progresses. BUT, get ready for some action! Okay, not in this chapter, this chapter will be a lot of dialogue but in the next chapter. We're winding up and ready to roll.
On a separate note, writer kaoruca translated my one-shot story "Odd Couple" into Spanish. To read "La Pareja Dispar" (Odd Couple) or "Monologos Interiores" (Streams of our Consciousness) go to my profile and look for the link. She's done an awesome job and she deserves more readers and reviewers, not just for my fics she's translated but some other stories by other writers and original work as well. So meander over and check it out!
Disclaimer: The Rurouni Kenshin world and all characters depicted are a creation of mangaka, Watsuki Nobuhiro.
"It's the same person." Enishi assured from his place leaning against the table.
Kaoru turned away from her search of inconsistencies between the Sano she knew and Private Sagara in the photograph. "How? Did you keep him on ice since the war?"
"Cryopreservation, or cryogenic freezing, wasn't exactly popular in the 40s." He answered in the way a teacher responds to a wrong guess by a student.
"But he died in the war." She argued, trying to piece together what she just found out. It just didn't make any sense. How could someone who died over sixty years ago be embedded with mechanical parts?
"Yes." He said simply and studied her as she processed the newly revealed information.
She furrowed her brows. "Cloning?"
"Cloning is no better than a twin. The resulting person could be completely different." He crossed his arms in front of his chest. "But that's a debate on nature versus nurture."
Moving from the documents about Private Sagara, she transitioned to various documents about Agent Sanjo. From what she could decipher from the classified documents with multiple words and locations blacked out, Agent Sanjo was a code breaker during the Second World War. This time, however, there was no photograph of the agent in question.
She continued her examination of the documents and didn't face Enishi as he gave an explanation. "You probably know Agent Sanjo as Tsubame."
"So we're all soldiers from World War II?" She moved on to the next set of documents and saw a photograph of Misao, but she was known as Agent Makimachi and her code name: weasel. "This doesn't make sense. If it's not cloning, what is it?"
When she turned to look at him, he shook his head. "You're looking at the profiles from World War II; we're all from different time periods." He pointed to the next grouping. "We range from the Warring States Era all the way up to modern times. The agency combed through history looking for prime candidates."
"Candidates for what?" She snapped, wanting an answer. "How is any of this even possible?"
"Resurrection cloning." He said.
Kaoru turned the term over in her bank of memories. She had always been an avid reader beyond her own field of research, but this term was new to her. "How is it different from regular cloning?"
"Like I said, cloning only replicates genetic material." Enishi stayed in his spot and answered her question. "The agency wanted those exact soldiers, not just a genetic match."
She furrowed her brows trying to figure out what he was saying. "The agency was able to clone soldiers with their muscle memories intact?"
"Not just their muscle memories." He stepped toward her. "We're resurrected soldier who fell in battle. We got our hero's death, and the Japanese government didn't see it that way. Apparently we have a debt to pay, so they brought us back."
"I don't know what you're talking about." She denied harshly. "I wasn't brought back from anything. I don't have memories from a past life. No one does."
Enishi studied her for a long moment until he smirked. He locked eyes with her deliberately looked toward a section of the wall in the back. She instinctively backed away from his looming form. Following his gaze to the wall, Kaoru gingerly approached the documents. From across the room she could already tell that these papers were much older than any of the other ones in the room. A sense of foreboding dread pumped through her veins as she stepped closer.
The relative silence was unnerving. Sano had been long kicked out of the room so that Megumi and Tsubame could concentrate. While Tsubame assisted per her usual role with these types of procedures, Megumi felt a heavy sense of responsibility as she tried working as efficiently and quickly as possible.
Strapped down to the table, Kenshin had his eyes shut as Megumi was bent over his cracked open chest. Although she had spent hours studying Kenshin's schematics, he was a different beast from what was written. Out of anyone else in the Agency, he had more repairs and parts replaced than anyone else. His original design blueprint was a far cry from the mechanism he housed now. But Megumi was not one to not do her homework, so she scoured the records to figure out what parts were replaced through the years. Regardless, she encountered wires where there shouldn't be and gears missing from where they should. The task of replacing Kenshin's core was more difficult than led on by the Agency, but Megumi anticipated as much.
She had anticipated the hodgepodge wiring and mish mashed parts, what he didn't expect was Kenshin's silence. Having been part of more than one replacement procedure, her most recent being Kaoru's eye and hand, Megumi was accustomed to the screams. She personally only had one replacement done in her existence, and she remembered the excruciating pain. She could still remember how the screams that tore out of her didn't sound like herself.
But Kenshin remained quiet. He didn't scream, grunt, or even whimper. He was stoic as she cut into him, cracked his chest open, and put him on an electrical bypass to detach his old heart core.
His breathing was deep, steady, and only picked up at particularly painful increments, but he remained otherwise quiet and still. Megumi knew first hand from the many times he replaced and assisted replacing parts in Kenshin that he was as vocal as any other droid during these procedures. However, this time he seemed resolved to he kept calm, which allowed Megumi to work faster.
If she didn't know any better, she would have thought that Kenshin wasn't feeling any sort of pain. But she knew by the slight tremble in his fists and the tight clench of his jaw that Kenshin wasn't in a moment of serenity.
"Santa brings you the top gift on your wish list and you're still unhappy?" Cho accused from his place on the couch. He, Soujiro, and Kamatari were casually gathered in the above ground lounge of the same building Kaoru was imprisoned in. Unlike the dark and dank basement, the ground floor was a normal office building.
Soujiro glanced up with a smile and tilted his head in question. "I'm not unhappy."
The tall blonde rolled his eyes. "You sure as hell aren't happy."
"He's pouting because they won't let him play with his sister." Kamatari mocked while flipping through a gossip magazine next to Cho. "He probably planned on being out on a tag-team massacre by now."
"Sorry that the boss man is putting you behind schedule." Cho offered sarcastically toward the droid. "But we didn't go through an elaborate plan just because you wanted your twin sister back."
Soujiro kept his smile in place. "I know. I'm not upset. We have all the time in the world."
Kamatari and Cho shared a look, thinking back to previous conversations where they suspected the fragility of Soujiro's sanity.
Kaoru stood with the revelations of Kenshin's possible past churning in her head. She wasn't quite sure what to make with what Enishi divulged. Actually, she wasn't sure if she could trust him. For all she knew, Enishi was a deranged maniac who spent hours upon hours doctoring documents and photographs to fit his insane conclusions.
"You still have questions." He stated simply from his place in his seat. After nudging her in the direction of the documents containing Kenshin's history, he had taken his place back in the chair and watched her as she seemed to scan the documents quickly.
She whipped her deep blue eyes toward him and snapped. "Of course I still have questions." She narrowed her eyes. "Who in their right mind wouldn't have questions after all of this?"
He raised a brow at her rage, but remained otherwise unfazed. Enishi motioned with his hand for her to continue and awaited her inquiries. Even though he was civil enough, Kaoru knew she had to be cautious around him. Granted, she was raising her voice and questioning him, but a person could only squelch their inner rage so much.
"I don't think I can believe your crazy theory." She stated, not exercising much diplomacy.
"I thought I was getting you on the right track." He commented. "What part don't you believe?"
"All of it." She narrowed her eyes. "The Agency spent the past few weeks trying to convince me that I'm a robot and now you're telling me that there are some parts that are still squishy and human?"
"Not some parts, just the one or two. It depends on how you count it. Two, if you count the brain and spinal cord separately. One, if you count it as the central nervous system." He explained knowing she didn't believe a word he said.
"So you're saying the Agency cloned the best fighters from Japan's history with their memories intact, grew their central nervous system in some kind of test tube, built a droid body around it, and dispatched us to carry out covert missions?" She shook her head. "You don't understand why I find that hard to believe?"
"Well, for one, you got some of that wrong." Enishi pointed out. "The agency didn't just grow a central nervous system, they grew entire human beings. The top government scientists figured out how to accelerate human growth to reach and be sustained at their physical peak. But that's old news since that method was developed about twenty years ago -under wraps from the public of course.
"Phase one of this little experiment was training duplicate super soldiers, but none of the cloned soldiers lived up to their original DNA donor's standards." He continued his explanation. "Resurrection cloning was developed separately, but someone higher up put the two processes together."
Kaoru frowned at his explanation and cut him off. "You're not convincing me of anything so far."
"You've heard of Gein, right? First engineer for the Agency?" He asked. When he received a nod in confirmation, he continued. "He was a genius, but he was also sadistic and insane."
"I've heard." She commented.
"He's worse than you thought. Or, I guess he's worse than what Battousai told you." Enishi elaborated. "He didn't figure out artificial intelligence. Gein hit a logistical wall when he could get his drone robots to act the way he wanted. He needed something that could drive the machine. I mean, sure, he tried his hand at artificial intelligence, but that's a whole other ball game. The human race has made more strides in genetic engineering than it could hope to figure out in AI. He didn't revolutionize the field by connecting artificial intelligence with robotics. He figured out how to connect organic and inorganic matter."
Kaoru's eyes widened at the newest revelation, one of many. "He harvested the central nervous system out humans? How can the government allow that?"
"The government can get away with a lot as long as it doesn't show up in the court of public opinion." There was no denying that Enishi lived in a world of cynicism, but she concluded that it was much earned cynicism. "Gein's work is pretty hushed up, but the rudimentary aspects of it are used in those fancy new artificial limbs that amputated patients seem to be getting."
"What you're saying doesn't exist -at least not for another twenty years or so. Biology or robotics, you're talking about science fiction." She tried negating.
"It's only fiction until it becomes science fact." He corrected.
"But I don't remember." She started. "If what you're saying is all true, then shouldn't I remember my past life? Shouldn't everybody?"
"I asked myself the same question." He stood up. "I knew the agency was harvesting DNA from fighters, but I didn't know they reached far back in history to find the right match. I only figured that out a when we got a hold of Soujiro. I needed a non activated droid to see how we're connected to the machines."
"You biopsied him?" She asked disbelievingly.
"He wasn't awake." Enishi defended half heartedly. "Anyways, I found that they implanted a central processing unit directly into the brain's hippocampus. The CPU holds our programming; everything from agency protocol to the skills package. It's what activates us and gives us our first basic instincts to trust MIRU. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that forms, organizes, and stores human memories." He paused in his explanation and tried to judge her possible reaction before continuing. "Given the opportunity, I wanted to see what I could do with Soujiro."
Kaoru wasn't sure what was worse, knowing the agency resurrected the dead and used organs for droids or that Enishi experimented on one of his own. "After everything you found out, you still fiddled around in his head? Is that why... he's off?"
"I didn't know we were resurrection clones until after what I did to him." He confessed. "If I had known... I don't know if I would have done things differently."
"What did you do to him?" She felt oddly protective of the droid everyone referred to as her brother.
"I couldn't remove the processor without leaving him as a vegetable, it's vital to how the brain is connected to his cyborg components. So, instead of letting the CPU activate and wake him up, I triggered his hippocampus to wake himself up." Stepping over to where Soujiro's past was laid out in documents on the wall, he glanced them over. "He woke up, but not like the rest of us. We wake up with the clarity of a mission and a clean slate with no memories. Soujiro woke up from the dead."
Kaoru stood stock still as she watched Enishi. His back was toward her as he continued to look over Soujiro's past. Even with everything he explained so far, Kaoru still had too many questions. The more she learned, the more she realized she didn't know anything.
"He woke up with all his memories still intact. He said it felt like he woke up from a nap. Something about the processor firing the hippocampus causes the past memories to get suppressed and tucked away into our subconscious, but that didn't happen with him." He continued with his explanation. "He woke up with the memories of his past and that's when I realized that we weren't just clones of warriors from history, but we were getting resurrected from the dead. And the first person Soujiro asked for was his sister."
She furrowed her brows. "He knew about me? How? He's never met me."
"Not this time around, but he swears that he had a sister in his past." He shook his, indicating he didn't believe Soujiro's story. "There's no record of Bushi Seta Soujiro having a sister."
"Bushi?" She wondered aloud. "He was samurai?"
"Low class, but he was a legendary swordsman so the agency hunted down his DNA. Lucky for them, a shrine amputated his right hand after he died and preserved it. Something about protecting the shine in the afterlife." Enishi said the last part as if he didn't quite understand it.
"Wouldn't the DNA be degraded? What century are we even talking about?" She continued her attempts at poking holes into his explanations.
"16th Century, during the Sengoku period." He answered. "And DNA has a half-life of 521 years. The agency had about a hundred years before his DNA went completely sour."
She shook her head. "But that's still degraded. Four hundred years of sitting around in a shrine can't be good."
"Hence the reason why his memories are jumbled. He has a difficult time distinguishing between his actual memories and the agency programming." He remarked. "But he didn't have a sister, and Soujiro won't say where she went if she did exist."
"You think he's confusing his droid sibling with a real one?" She considered the idea but somehow she felt that there was something wrong with Enishi's conclusion. "Everyone keeps calling him my brother, even the Agency. There could be truth to it."
He raised a brow at her statement. "I've figured everyone else out, except you. I can't find you in history. And there's no record of Soujiro having a sister."
"Not everything from history is documented." She argued.
"Then how would the agency know to go looking for you?" He recalled his own conclusion from when his own search turned up empty. "You're a combat-espionage model, they can't just choose anybody."
"Is that why you stole me?" She asked the question that had been nagging at her. Up to now, she wasn't really sure why they had even bothered. "It's been bugging you not knowing who I was? Are you going to hack into my head?"
"That's something I've been trying to figure out, but it's not possible. I'm sure Soujiro told you."
She narrowed her eyes. "I guess the paranoia got the better of me with the knocking me out and kidnapping."
"That actually took some careful planning. You and Soujiro aren't just droid siblings, you two are twins." He commented proudly on his own discovery. "Near identical programming. Fraternal programming, if you will."
"Is that supposed to mean something to me?"
"It helped me figure out how to initiate a power down mode that knocks you or your brother out. One of the disadvantages of the Agency going wireless." He explained. "But it only lasts for a few hours."
"So you can knock me out whenever you want?" Kaoru couldn't help the worry slipping through her voice.
"I could, but that's not exactly productive." He pointed out. "You were a lot of work to get, I expect you to pull your weight."
"Pull my weight in what? I don't understand what you expected to accomplish by kidnapping me." She fixed him with a calculating glare. "What makes you think I'll cooperate after what you did to my father?"
Enishi carefully considered her for a long moment, and then shook his head. "That wasn't me."
She was taken aback by his simple statement. Furrowing her brows she didn't believe or trust his words, but he was likely to deny any involvement to further his objectives. "Why did you bring me here? What do you want me to do?"
"I thought it would be obvious." He asserted with a smirk tugging on his lips. "I want you to destroy the Agency."