Disclaimer: I do not own Shadow Hearts.


PROJECT M.A.L.I.C.E.

Chapter Two: The Girl Who Knew Too Much

Alice Elliot could have sworn she had heard someone call out for her before she stepped onto the plane. The twenty year old was only able to glance backwards at an empty blacktop before the police officer prodded her to go inside.

Her suspicion did not disappear. Even as she sat in her cushioned seat under the surveillance of officers surrounding the empty aisles, Alice still had a prickly feeling on the back of her neck, bare from her light blonde hair braided in a bow. Perhaps the goosebumps were due to the cold air conditioning in the cabin or the intimidating silence of the uniformed men strapped with guns, but she knew something else was off-putting about this flight. The whole circumstance was strange—she had been kept under watchful eyes of the Witness Protection Program ever since her father's murder, yet suddenly, overnight, the Japanese police had required escorting her to Tokyo. Their reasons for her business there, she did not know. The only thing she did know was the tight clench in her stomach when she thought she had heard someone yell for her to stop right before she boarded the private plane.

Alice rested her chin in her palm as she stared out the window. Her blue eyes squinted to watch the ground roll below the aircraft during takeoff, and she noted that the blacktop was completely clear of other stragglers. Had that voice warning her merely been her imagination?

She gazed blankly at dark clouds drifting over the night sky. How simple life would be if her senses were imaginary. Her ability to take in information at an incredible speed had granted Alice an acceptance to a private university in London; yet, at the same time, it was the reason why classmates considered her brain to be unorthodox. In her freshman year, she had picked out a sliver of metal inside a dissected rat, and the professor concluded that the substance probably was stuck in there after the animal died. But she knew that couldn't be right. The way its tissue had grown around the metal was not normal—as if the rat had been tampered with before its demise.

"Now you're talking like those scientists over in China," her classmate had joked. They had read news about Project Malice all over the Internet. Alice hadn't liked the idea of those experiments one bit. Two years later, she still didn't.

The girl tore her gaze off of the cloudy sky outside her window and turned on the tablet sitting in her lap. After connecting to the network, she typed 'project malice' into the search engine and selected the most recent news article. The fear creeping in the back of her mind had come true: some of the animals involved in the experiments were spotted trickling over to England. What frightened her was not that it was recent news—it was the fact that people believed this discovery was recent.

Her eyes trailed over to another article on the website. Just skimming the title made Alice stiffen in her chair. A month had passed since she was taken into witness protection, and yet the world was still talking about her father's murder. There was no need to press her finger over the article to see pictures of the horrid scene. Her photographic memory had allowed her to help her father develop research in DNA recombination, but this time it backfired on her—every vivid detail of that night replayed in her mind, like some gruesome horror film that she couldn't turn off. She could still see it: bright blood splattering over faded walls, and the raw flesh and bones of her father gleaming in black dirt.

Alice shuddered as the fresh memory made her nauseous. No, she had to stop replaying that scene in her mind. She had to stop trembling at the vision of the man who killed her father.

Tucking the tablet in the pocket of her blue dress, Alice stood from her seat and crossed the aisles. The officer who stood in front of the bathroom kept his eyes glued on her as she passed him. She closed the door behind her and splashed water over her face from the sink. When she looked up, the mirror showed her distraught expression in the stained glass.

Alice furrowed her eyebrows when she noticed a smudge in the center of the mirror. Someone's fingerprints had pressed against the glass, and the friction ridges were lined together in an unusual pattern. Furthermore, she didn't remember any officer entering the bathroom when they had boarded the plane…

"Trying to forget something you've seen, huh?" a male voice said. "I do the 'splash water on my face' trick too. It never works."

Alice spun around, but the bathroom was empty. She recognized that voice. It was the one that had called out to her at the airport.

"Up here, girlie."

She turned her head up. Sprawled over the ceiling was a man with dark shaggy hair wearing a brown trench coat. Alice shrieked, causing Yuri to lose balance and fall down. He was quick to get back on his feet and put his finger to his lips.

"Shh, be quiet or I'll get caught!" he shushed her. "No need to scream bloody murder."

"You were—" she stammered.

"I tried to stop you from getting on the plane, but I was too late," he said. "Listen, I'm not here to hurt you, alright? But you gotta get out of here. Don't ask me why, just do it."

He reached out for her arm, but Alice yanked her hand away and pressed her back against the door. "Stay away!" she warned, then twisted the knob behind her and stumbled out of the bathroom.

The sight at her feet stopped her in her tracks. The officer who had stood in his spot a few minutes ago lied on the floor, his cap overturned to show the bullet in his head. A puddle of blood soaked half of his pale face. The rest of the police were gone, their bodies strewn over the corridor, limp and dead.

Yuri stepped out of the bathroom and gawked at the massacre.

"Alright, now you can scream bloody murder," he muttered.

The door to the flight deck opened. Shoes clacked over the blood-stained floor as an older man stepped into the cabin. He took off his pilot's hat to reveal his graying hair. The pilot's eyes crinkled as he smiled from across the room.

Alice remembered this feeling. The sick motion of her stomach churning inside of her. The coldness of her blood streaming through her veins. Only one person could make her tremble as if her entire world would collapse.

"It's you," she whispered.

Her father's murderer.

"Yes, Roger Bacon," he said, thin lips twisting into a smile. "I'm honored that you remember me so well. You're quite good at remembering things, aren't you?"

Alice swallowed the lump down her throat. Her eyes darted towards the emergency exits, but she knew that at the altitude they were flying, there was no way she could stand the pressure if she escaped—much less survive from jumping. Roger noticed Yuri standing beside her and chuckled.

"It won't be safe if you stay there," he said. "I've placed a bomb in the cockpit. There's only one parachute in this plane and it's mine. You'll either die here or survive by jumping off with me. What will it be?"

Yuri stepped forward, cracking his gloved knuckles. "Too bad for you, but the girl's coming with me."

A wry smile stretched Roger's lips as his eyes glinted in amusement. Accepting the challenge, he opened the door behind him and released a small creature. The animal had more bone than flesh bulging from its emaciated body, and its ribs convulsed as it made wheezing noises. There was no doubt that the animal had been one of the test subjects in Project Malice. A sharp cry emitted from its mouth as the creature lunged forward. Alice shrieked and dived to the floor. The animal had missed her by the strands of her hair, but she had heard its teeth slash through Yuri.

Looking up, she gasped at the sight of his dismembered arm on the floor. The creature's screeches were muffled under the tight hold of Yuri's free hand. Calmly, he held the critter up by its head and squeezed so that its bloody skull splattered on the wall. The screeches silenced. He picked up his arm and let the limb mold back with the rest of his body—with nothing more than a shrug.

Alice's heartbeats thundered against her chest. What was supposed to take hours of surgery only took this man a matter of seconds, and his arm was as good as new. No way could this be humanly possible.

Yuri charged forward with his fist flying towards Roger, to which the English man swiftly dodged. Alice rolled over behind the seats. As they fought, she crawled through the aisles and tried to keep herself out of sight. She suppressed her whimpers every time she heard a body bang against the wall or the chairs breaking down. She slipped through the door to the cockpit, then shut it behind her.

The plane had been left on autopilot, but the lights on the instrument panel flickered from the damage of the fight taking place in the cabin. She could hear the engine rumbling as the aircraft was plummeting. If they were descending, a jump from here would have a better chance for survival. Alice grabbed the plastic bag that held the single parachute and ripped it open. She squeezed the handle on the exit door and sucked in a sharp breath.

A thundering crash from the cabin made her jump. Alice peeked through the window in the door. Rows of chairs were split open. Past the dust wavering in the air, the shadow of a man lay on the ground. Roger had knocked him out.

Alice clutched the parachute in her trembling hands. She didn't know this stranger. She didn't even know if he was human. Alice shook her head. No, it didn't matter whether he was a monster or not—he had risked his life to get her out of here, and she couldn't leave without him either.

She threw the bag to the floor and scanned the flight deck. The lights of the panel shut down one by one from the engine being destroyed. Alice knelt down to examine the underside of the dashboard, but it was difficult to find the bomb with the lack of light. She ran her hand over the surface until her palm bumped into a slight protrusion. Wrapping her fingers around the device, she removed it from the panel to examine what she had found.

A small and flat object sat in her hand. It could have easily been mistaken to be a USB flash drive, except the device was missing the standard-A plug. Alice dug her nails into the side of the thin device to pop it open. Her eyes widened at the number counting down on the chip inside. She was expecting to struggle with unraveling wires, but how would she get rid of a bomb like this?

Alice only had a few seconds to tinker with the device before a handkerchief clamped over her mouth. Her screams dampened under Roger's tight hold as she grappled with his arms around her. The chloroform flared in her nostrils and dizzied her vision. Her hand fell limp over his jacket before she slumped over him, unconscious.

In the cabin, Yuri sat up from the splintered chairs and coughed in the dust. His bones throbbed from the impact of being tossed around by Roger—the guy was stronger than he looked. He wobbled as he stood up, and could tell from the empty aisles that the English man had already gone after the girl.

Yuri trudged through the passageway. His eyes avoided the slaughtered officers scattered over the floor. It was like a scene from a freak accident, but it reminded him too much of that night many years ago. He gritted his teeth and told himself that this was not the time to remember that. All he had to focus on was protecting that girl.

A sour taste lingered in his mouth as Yuri chuckled. If she had any sense, she would have escaped by now. Anyone would have, after seeing him fuse his arm back into his body.

Better to die jumping off a plane than to stay with a freak like him.

Yuri barged through the door and found Alice hoisted under Roger's arm. He blinked bewilderingly. After all that time to run away, how could she have gotten caught?!

Roger smiled as he opened the exit. The parachute flapped behind him from the gusts of wind.

"Even if you had transformed into a monster," he said, "you'll still never defeat me."

Roger bent his knees, prepared to make the leap. He stopped when he heard a beeping noise. Looking down, he spotted the blue light flashing from inside the pocket of his jacket, where the bomb had been dropped—as if on purpose.

"H-How on Earth…?!"

The beeps raced against Yuri's adrenaline as he charged forward and jumped out the opening, snatching the girl from Roger's grasp. The wind howled past his ears as the two plunged down together. An explosion rumbled above their heads. Pieces of the airplane shot outwards like bullets. Yuri dug the girl's head protectively into his chest as he clenched his eyes shut, taking in the fall.

A ball of fire burned in the moonlight before thick, black smoke drifted from the crumbled plane.

After that, the wind lingered with nothing more than a gentle breeze.


Author's Note: Thanks to anyone who's reading this! The fandom is indeed small, but the game is too good to pass up writing fanfics for. I was unsure about handling this due to the difficulty of eliminating magic for real life limitations, but I'll manage it somehow. Oh how I wish I had paid attention in AP Biology now. On that note, it's kind of amusing that in the story Alice and Yuri's intelligence seem to be worlds apart (genius college student vs. high school dropout). If you enjoyed this chapter, please do review!