Experimental Fusion

In the time of 2067 it is every country for itself; a huge war that broke out eight years ago plunged the world into disarray. In this world, suspicion gives rise to conflict within conflict, and every person continues fighting for their own reasons.

Every country, in despair, works in secret on its own means of winning the war. England's secret weapon is Mutants, people who have been fused with animals, giving them incredible abilities such as flight and super senses. But there is a catch. The mutants can only be created from children, young children who need to be trained. With the guidance of the unlucky scientist, Danny, and training that plunges them into danger, can they hope to succeed in time, and help England survive the Third World War?

(Note that this is my first Movella and full-length story. I am still in the process of proofreading, but please do give feedback on what you think of it so far!)

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3. Training Mission

There was a thick hubbub in the air by the time morning broke. All the experiments were gathered in the Entry Room, in which the scientists prepared them for their training mission. Despite the scientists that tried to calm them, there were flurries of excited barks, yips, hoots, and caws ringing out as the experiments chattered excitedly about tactics, techniques, and what they ate for tea last night, whilst Karasu moped around because his caretaker had forgotten to give him breakfast.

Joey, on the other hand, could be a rather apathetic or vain sort, simply sighed, and muttered sideways to Moony. “I really don’t get why everyone always makes such a fuss…” But Moony wasn’t truly listening, and all he did was give a hiss of “shh!” and then burst out into excited hooting again. Despite all the kerfuffle, though, it was surprising to see that Danny and Toby, the ones who usually paid the most attention to the training missions of anyone, were both missing.

After what seemed like an age to all the hopelessly failing adults, one of the scientists finally managed to gain control. The head scientist, Amanda, was known throughout the laboratory for her stern temper. The effect she put on the young mutants was similar to the effect of a headmistress walking into a classroom of rowdy children, and they all fell silent immediately, looking up with pale-faced terror, and waiting to see who’d done something wrong.

Sally and Cassie each gave Karasu a nudge forward and snickered silently as they remembered his feast yesterday, and the golden retriever boy looked vaguely ill; he obviously remembered, too.  Joey looked completely calm, Moony shrank down a little so that he was hidden among the taller experiments and slyly picked his nose in the shade, whilst Benny twitched his nose nervously and huddled close to Ginny, who looked tired, and confused, her hair sticking out all over the place like she’d just been electrocuted. Even Bethany had the grace to look fairly sheepish for all the tricks she’d played yesterday, and the day before that, her russet tail fluffed out even as it curled around a clearly terrified Emerald.

Amanda was silent for a few moments, observing them like a strict teacher would a silent class, waiting for one of the youngsters to make one wrong move. Her slick black hair shone like the feathers of a raven under the whirring lights of the entry room, and her brown eyes were narrowed for a moment, shining blackly beneath the shadows cast by her hair. Eventually she spoke, and a flinch ran over the ranks of the nine successful experiments like an ocean wave.

“Right, you lot!” she boomed, her voice thunderous, and echoing through the room so that everyone could hear. She knew that any attitude that was more encouraging before the mission start would serve to only give the trainees a false sense of security.

“Today’s mission deserves extra caution! Your aim is to infiltrate the security and access the scientific headquarters which create the newest secret weapons of the base country!”

Despite Amanda’s voice still being loudly reverberating, excited whispers broke out among the children again as the scientists began to snicker amongst themselves about Amanda’s poor was of phrasing the mission. Amanda’s face visibly darkened and she shot everyone in the room an acidic look that couldn’t be neutralized.

“Silence! You will aim to break inside and take the memory device that serves as a backup for all the data. Plans, blueprints, coding- everything relating to the country’s secret weapon is stored on the device, and it must be obtained at all costs. You will have exactly an hour to complete this mission! If you do not make it out of those doors by the time this timer reaches an hour, then you will have failed and the mission is forfeit!”

The children exchanged worried glances as Amanda gestured to a timer that was strapped to one of her wrists. They had never been on a timed mission before.

“Stay hidden, stay silent, stay unnoticed, but most of all, stay in one piece. The fate of this mission, and the fate of England, depends on those things!”

Amanda pointed towards the doors that would open up into the training room, and the mission itself. Each child, with ears pricking, feathers twitching, whiskers wiggling, looked serious. Ginny began to give those telltale little squeaks that a guinea pig makes when scared.

Slowly, the doors began to creak open, and they silently waited until the image of an alleyway beyond the door had crept into view. Amanda began to count down.

“Your mission starts in…”

The children readied themselves, each looking brave, frightened, or both.

“3…”

The children began to walk forward, filing in through the doors.

“…2…”

They looked back, their eyes holding expectations beyond any hopes. The light emerging from back in the laboratory lit up each of their faces and caused their eyes to shine.

“…1…”

Some of those that had looked brave now looked frightened. Most had begun to dance on their feet as though itching to either get a move on, or jump back through those doors; like just about any child, the experiments here were notoriously impatient.

“…And your time starts… Now!”

And then the doors back to the laboratory slammed shut, leaving them in the darkness of the alleyway.

Now there was no other way to go but forward.

***

“Danny… Wake up, you lazy oaf…” Toby’s rasping voice growled as loud as he possibly could. He couldn’t see Danny, of course, but he could definitely hear the man’s snoring through the one ear that worked.

Toby had been woken up by the yelling of Amanda down the hall. Apparently there’d been a power blackout sometime that morning, and the emergency power supplies had focused mostly on keeping the in-fusion experiments alive, so the usual wake-up call of a small static electric shock that would awake only the selected person had failed to go off at 8:30. Some people had woken up despite the absence and completed their daily duties, but some seemed to have taken the chance to stay sleeping. Today had been possibly the worst day for such a thing to happen; it was the day that Danny and Toby had planned to be the first ones awake in order to give the experiments special attention before their mission, but here they were, with Toby lying helplessly in bed, and Danny still fast asleep.

Toby hissed in annoyance, jet-black ears flattening back. His glazed, sickly-yellow eyes flitted about unseeingly out of habit, and the man’s thick black hair began to stand on end. He certainly wasn’t the most patient of people, and his failed fusion certainly hadn’t improved that, leaving him blind, deaf, and with paralysed legs. To top that off, his throat and vocal chords had been warped so badly that it pained him even to breathe, let alone speak. His fusion had been carried out before the discovery had been made that children made better fusions than adults.

Now he possessed back legs that were covered in black fur that had little to no muscular strength any more, rosettes of fur all over his body, and a long, thick tail. He had soft black hair through which panther ears poked through, and a heart that had even been modified to pump too strongly, giving him blood pressure problems. To top that off, his body still seemed to be trying to fight off whatever was ‘infecting’ him, and this gave him constant inflammations and rashes all over his body. He needed crutches to get anywhere at all, and a guide to deal with his blindness; Danny took this role, and so far, hadn’t done anything against him, nor treated Toby like he was a child. Toby held the man with more respect than most for that, because being treated like a child was what he hated most about his new disabilities. He absolutely refused to use a wheelchair, insisting repeatedly that he still wanted independence to some extent.

Finally getting irritated and impatient, Toby moved over to the side of the bed as far as he could without falling off, and flung his hand in the direction of the snoring. He hit something, but Toby was pretty sure that it wasn’t Danny…

Toby drew his sore hand back and rubbed the knuckles with the other, then took to searching the area for his clothes, pretty sure that he’d hit the bedframe, or something equally as… Well, metal. If he couldn’t wake Danny, then he’d just have to go off himself. Toby would always tell himself that, given the chance, he could act independently. The way he saw it, now was his chance to shrug off that humiliating view that everyone looked upon him with.

So Toby fumbled and struggled, leaning over to one side of his bed to try to find his clothes, then the other. It took a while, but eventually he managed to find where they were. Upon discovering this, Toby fought to pull them over to him, but then, in a blind hurry, slipped the hand that was supporting him and felt only empty air. Struggling to balance himself for just a moment, in an instant Toby was falling with a muffled smack onto the smooth floor.

Ever stubborn even so, Toby eventually managed to abandon his pyjamas, pull on his underwear, his shirt, and a pair of loosely fitting trousers. Feeling proud of himself as he felt about, and took hold of, the crutches that had fallen nearby, Toby began to haul himself to his feet, wanting to get out of this room before Danny awoke; he knew that the other man would likely be worried for his safety, and Toby could hear him beginning to stir even now. To Toby’s experience, Danny sometimes made funny grunting noises before waking up.

So Toby hastily limped away, supporting himself with his crutches and trying his best not to crash into anything. He fell down one set of stairs and bust his lip after walking into a wall, but other than that, Toby had surprisingly few accidents. Amanda’s voice had faded long ago, so the blind man could only assume that the training mission had kicked off.

Ears pricking, he broke into a faster limp, despite the searing pains that were beginning to run through his arms, and the prickling agony and yet, scary numbness, that slipped through his torso and up his neck like some sort of ghostly parasite. Still, Toby continued to limp on, bare claws scratching against the floor even as his movements became laboured and breath ragged, his heart pounding stronger and faster as his panic rose. Time after time, Toby had felt death creeping through him, and now he felt it again.

Slipping to the ground, Toby searched around for all the tablets and pills that he kept in his labcoat, and then a second later realized that he’d left said coat back in his room- he’d left in such a hurry. Dropping his head slightly, Toby wheezed out a breath, then sucked it back in.

Sitting there, struggling, Toby listened out for voices, footsteps, or anything that would tell him he could call for help, and that someone would come to help him.

He cried out…

But nobody came.

***

In the darkness of the alleyway, the young mutants huddled into a little crowd. They were stood there for a while, taking in their surroundings and not seeming overly bothered about the passing of time. They whispered in frightened voices amongst each other, over each other’s voices, and then hissed over their interrupter. Eventually, they quietened down, though, their loud fear replaced by a silent panic. Karasu was the only one who seemed unmoved, and he had sauntered over to investigate the curious scents of food that were wafting from a nearby dustbin, and he was sifting through it greedily for some sort of snack.

Eventually, Joey spoke up in a hushed voice, ruffling his tufty feathers.

“I think… I think we’d better get a move on…” he whispered, looking around. Some of the others nodded, then the rest hesitantly followed. Joey slowly began to walk, feet moving slowly but silently over the cold concrete ground. There was a crashing sound, and they all whipped around to see a wagging gold tail, and Karasu nosing through the remains of the bin he’d toppled over. He didn’t look guilty at all.

“Karasu!” they all hissed at once, and the dog boy bounded over on all fours with long, gold hair bobbing over his shoulders. He reeked of strawberries and cheese, and all the children leaned away from him, seemingly determined not to be ‘infected’ by the smell.

Joey, now determined to be the leader of this, groaned loudly and shushed them all hastily. “Follow me…” he grumbled, flicking the short cluster of tail feathers that he possessed. They all obediently trailed after in a small huddle, with Karasu doing the walk of shame behind, with tail between his legs. His dark, puppylike eyes and the way he crouched so low to the ground made him seem young and vulnerable. He whimpered softly.

Moony seemed displeased by the thought that Joey was leading, and had taken a spot behind him, seeming convinced that since he had been the first successful experiment, he should be in charge. Joey didn’t seem pleased with this, but he looked just barely able to tolerate it. Each of the others looked on expectantly as they rounded a corner of the alleyway, and saw two guards staring dead ahead, each on the side of a door that seemed made of the heaviest, thickest metal imaginable.

Everyone froze instantly, and backed behind a corner so that they wouldn’t be seen. Moony looked at Joey. Joey looked at Moony. Ginny and Benny began to squeak, and both their ears drooped.

“So? What’s the plan?” Moony asked expectantly, the feathered tufts on his head flattening into his hair. His golden eyes gleamed dully, and they were half closed.

“You’re asking me? I thought that you wanted to be the leader here!” retorted Joey.

“No, you did! You were the one who went first and tried to be all grown-up!”

“No-one else was going to, now were they? If you didn’t want to be the leader, then why did you try to push in front of me?”

“I didn’t! I just have better night vision, so I thought I should go help! Besides, I was walking next to you, not in front!”

“My night vision is a million times better than yours!”

“No it isn’t! You’re so stupid!”

Above the bickering, Bethany began to whisper into one of Emerald’s ears. In the darkness, the dragonfly-girl’s eyes glittered into thousands, like each pupil possessed within it a black diamond, and the fox’s eyes glowed and glittered like she was possessed. The grin on her face said it all. As she whispered, Emerald’s antennae drooped, and after a while, she whispered back, visibly unsettled. Her wings were twitching from her shoulders, all four of them transparent except for tiny veins running through. They shone like the finest glass.

Twitching her lips up in a grin, Bethany watched for a second as the boys continued to argue, then wordlessly tucked her thick tail into the back of her jeans. Curling her furry little toes for a second, the girl pulled the hood of the hoody that she was wearing over her head and folded her black-tipped ears against her head so that they were hidden. As she skipped out into full view of the guards, Emerald nudged Benny and whispered into one of his huge, floppy ears. The boy blinked his pink eyes a few times and then gave her a brisk nod, ears flopping. He gave a grin, then hopped out into the shadows, hiding from the guards’ sight quite unlike Bethany, who skipped out to greet them, a huge smile on her face. Her purpose was clear; she aimed to distract the guards for as long as she could, and give the others the chance to attack. Her tail was hidden, as was most of her fur apart from the black over her hands that could easily be dismissed as gloves. In a few seconds, Sally and Cassie followed Benny into the darkness.

Emerald peeped out from behind the corner to watch. She had chosen each child for a specific reason. Benny had back legs that were strong enough to knock out a full-grown human with a mighty kick, and Sally and Cassie each had the instincts of police dogs and when they worked together as a team, they were more confident and skilled than most. Double the power, and double the damage.

Bethany was laughing in a childish way, and the guards seemed to be trying their best to ignore her. Bethany’s amber eyes danced, just as she did, skipping around in circles and pestering the guards with a string of difficult questions.

“Why are you wearing that funny suit? You look like a mechanical knight!” she giggled, gesturing to the gleaming black suit that the guard wore, obviously to be able to ward off any attacks, whilst keeping in touch with inside the building itself. Benny, Sallie, and Cassie got into position, each one waiting in the shadows behind the guard. Even despite his poor eyesight, Benny could still see with the help of his glasses; he could now see exactly where he was going to hit.

“Do you just stand there all day and do nothing? That must be reeeeeaaally boring!” commented Bethany, laughing again, but still getting no reply. She could tell that she was really pushing their buttons, though. One of them had turned away from her slightly, and the other had clenched his fists. Benny, Sally and Cassie crouched, waiting for the signal from Emerald.

Emerald sucked in her breath, then spread out two of her wide wings. The thin membranes flashed.

The guards both sprang into action, that strange wing’s reflection both bringing paranoia to life in each of them, but that was the signal. One guard was hurled forward as Benny leaped and kicked with a powerful flex of his muscles. He bounced forward and began to heave off the helmet, before delivering another powerful kick into the centre of his forehead. Benny threw the helmet aside, then thumped at the pavement with one of his back feet.

Meanwhile, Sally and Cassie had each of the man’s arms in their jaws. No matter how he swung and flailed, they shook and they writhed, and they didn’t let go, until they had brought him to the ground in the way that a police dog would have done. They, too, struggled to yank off his helmet, but either this man’s face was fatter, or he was more stubborn. He tried to struggle back to his feet as soon as he was down, until Sally grabbed onto his neck in her jaws, and then Cassie yanked off the helmet. The man saw stars for a moment after several blows had been delivered by unsure paws to his face, then saw no more.

Emerald scampered out towards them, and all the others followed, with Moony’s face burning with rage and a childish shame. Emerald was plucking a passage card from one of the unconscious guards, having seen a card scanner on the wall, just beside the door. However much she stretched and strained, though, Emerald couldn’t reach it. Even though Moony was busy blowing up at her, Bethany noticed her friend’s struggles, and quickly finished untangling her tail. Trotting over to her friend, Bethany smiled and pricked her ears, then lifted up the shorter, six-year old girl so that she could pass the card through the machine. A little green light flashed, and Moony started hauling a tantrum at them again.

“Heeeey! But I wanted to open the door, I wanted to!” he said, stamping a foot on the ground and pointing rudely at them. They all watched expectantly, but the door didn’t open. Then suddenly, their stomachs all plummeted down to their waists, and they all fell silent from their chattering as an automated voice called out to them.

“Key card analysed. Please place finger.”

“Seeeeee!?” insisted Moony, hooting unhappily at them all. “I tooold you that you should’ve listened to me!” Moony gestured to himself with his thumb, and stuck out his lower lip, folding his arms huffily, and then plopping down on the ground. “You do this, because I just wanna see what you can come up with!”

Joey sighed. “But Moony, Amanda said that we all need to work together on this!” he protested, poking Moony irritably. “And she’ll probably get really, really mad if we don’t!” No-one liked the thought of the head scientist getting angry, but even this didn’t faze Moony.

Besides one of the unconscious guards, Ginny was squeaking loudly as she tried to pull one of the guard’s gloves off. “I’m not gonna give up! Last time we failed a mission, I wasn’t allowed outta my hutch for a week!” she squealed, yanking and heaving, then beginning to chew the object off. “You’re being really selfish, Moony! And selfish people can’t lead, and you wanted to lead earlier, remember?”

Despite Moony’s hooting protests, Ginny refused to give up, and eventually managed to work the gauntlet from the guard’s hand. Then she took his hand in her fat little paws and uncurled his fingers. The rest of the children joined in with her efforts, all of them seeming remotely encouraging to her, apart from the grumpy five year old that was Moony. Joey in particular seemed pleased with this effort, if only because they were proving Moony wrong.

“Please place finger.”

“Heave, ho!” he called out as he Sally, Cassie, Karasu, and Bethany worked on lifting the man’s back from the ground, whilst Emerald’s wings whirred as she took to the air, carrying the man’s arm. She pressed one of his fingers onto the sensor, antennae waving expectantly. A light flashed under the finger she’d placed, scanning the finger closely.

“Preparing fingerprint analysis.”

There was a pause, and all the children held their breaths.

“Processing…”

If it had taken any longer than it did, a few of the children, aside from Emerald, who was already turquoise-tinted, might have turned blue.

“Analysis complete. Access granted. Welcome back, Tom.”

The children all cheered and whispered, softly, but happily amongst themselves and they all tossed the unconscious guard carelessly back to the ground besides his comrade. All the children gathered expectantly around the door as it began to slide open with a low humming sound. Though they may have hesitated before, now even Emerald was smiling, her deep eyes glimmering with happiness, and a newly emerged confidence in her voice as she finally said something for all to hear, as she was hugged closely into her best friend, Bethany.

“I… I did it…” she whispered.

And the children all cheered even louder.

***

Back in the dormitory, there was a small mumbling sound as Danny finally came to, his blue eyes blinking dazedly about him as he gave a final, waking grunt. For a while he lay there, at loathe to remove himself from the warmth of the quilts and sheets that kept him all snug and toasty warm, but it didn’t take him long to realize that there was something terribly wrong. His sluggishly sleep-induced stupor made him just lie there for a while, pondering, until he sat up in his bed and took the chance to look around.

He was the very last one to awake, and everyone else had left the dormitory, leaving their quilts and pyjamas strewn all over as though they had left in a great hurry. At first, Danny wasn’t overly concerned, until he remembered that it was an important training mission this morning for the young experiments. His face fell totally, the calm, if a little tired, look quickly being replaced by one of horror. Panicking inwardly, Danny looked over to Toby’s bed, only to see it abandoned, as well, Toby’s labcoat hung over the bottom of the bed.

Where had he gone?!

Danny’s eyes widened in fright, and he threw back his quilts, hauling on his clothes with about as much grace as a stupefied dog getting itself dressed.  Wherever Toby was, he was without any kind of medication that he needed, and possibly without a guide, too…

Danny wished that he could kick himself for not waking up earlier. Slinging Toby’s labcoat over one forearm, Danny heard the rattle of all the pills and the brush of cardboard against fabric in the pockets of the clothing. His heart lurched. They were all still there, meaning that Toby hadn’t taken out any of the boxes and decided to risk going without. Maybe he hadn’t been able to find the clothing? He couldn’t have forgotten it, right?

“Toby!” Danny called out, his voice ringing down the lengthy corridors and then right back towards him as though to mock him. The halls here were like endless mazes, and Danny still found himself walking in circles or into areas that he had no knowledge of even now, after working here since the experiments had begun. What if the same thing had happened to Toby? Supposing he hadn’t crashed into anything, then one could end up anywhere if they were blind, and still think that they were going the right way.

But, blind or not, no man could simply vanish.

“Toby! Where are yoooouuuu-?!” Danny cried out desperately again, panic stealing into his voice. What if Toby was already dead? If Toby’s heart rate rose too much, it could become fatal, and sometimes, even though he might try so hard to make himself heard, sometimes Toby could only utter a whisper.

Searching through the halls as if his life depended on it, Danny kept on calling. The halls seemed almost deserted. Were all the scientists too absorbed in the training mission to pay any attention to the ruckus that Danny was making?

Or perhaps they thought he was overreacting. Even though he had begun his training in medicine and first aid and had almost taken a job as a doctor, Danny still tended to overreact if he didn’t know what was happening, and was rather overprotective about those he cared for. In addition to that, Danny still stirred up some distrust among the people here, because he had been born in another country; a country that was now involved, like England, in the great war that shook the whole world and every ounce of human life to its very core. Sometimes, Danny didn’t even feel like he was human, the way the others treated him.

That would make sense… Danny thought bitterly to himself, heading on, checking in every door, and peeking around every corner that he went through. And then, it’d all be my fault for not being able to get there before he died… A thrill of horror ran through Danny’s stomach, and a twinge of painful shame accompanied it. But in the end, it really would have been my fault…

Danny swallowed, but searched desperately on. He dared not give up, and he dared not call anyone else. Tears streamed down his face, but he would not stop. For every positive thought that ran through his mind, a thousand more that were negative strangled the positivity from his brain in as brutal a way as any medieval torture device could.

As Danny finally began to backtrack towards where he could hear voices discussing the progress of the training mission, Danny was barely paying any attention to where he was going any more. He was afraid of what he would find at the end of his journey.

A troubled soul, clinging to life?

A dead body?

Or simply Toby, as Danny had always known him to be… Independent and strong?

There was one thing that kept on nagging him, even worse than the revelation of many months ago.

Toby trusted me, and yet… I failed…

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