The Inner Man -- Episode 1 -- Protection

A Tokyo flung into the future, where it seems that technology can solve any problem; mankind has made life easy. But technology cannot solve all of man's flaws; they are still prone to illness, greed, desire and death. This is a fact that many forget, they rely and live off of the good graces technology. Technology has given them the power to change their lives for the better, however is all that technology for us…for the better. What if someone living a normal life became affected by technology so much that is completely changed their life and how they viewed themselves. Would it be worth all of the pain? One such person is Chiko Toyozama, who lives a simple life, carefree of problems taking up drawing and painting as a side hobby almost despite the fact it is his career. Chiko lived in small apartment and lived off of his work, such was his talent that he could make enough to live in a Spartan squalor and still not work more than one week out of a month.

The life he led was the desire of every man, making enough to live and still maintain a carefree life style that had no worries. The day he sleeps his hangovers off and the night he hits the bars and clubs dancing his life away. He spends the late hours of the night in the vast company of women all clinging around him because of his fame. He was simply living off his success and had nothing to worry about. There was nothing he wanted to change and would be pleased to live the rest of his life in the same repeating pattern.

However, fate had something in store for him switching the lines of his life bringing him to face his own self and everything he took for granted. It began one night; he was making his usual rounds to the different clubs having found a few women to accompany him from a bar. They had been waiting for their dates none of them knowing each other, but had the fortune of all meeting in the same bar. This was his usual method, finding a woman that was alone, she would be waiting a little longer than she wanted for her date and thinking about leaving. He would approach them and seemly offer to keep them company, buy a drink or something to eat, anything that would start a conversation. Then laying a few hints down if necessary, they would realize that he was the famous Chiko Toyozama. After that they were simply paints in his brush to control, and he would invite them to follow him to a club, he was rarely turned down.

This night was no different; he had found a couple sisters that were waiting for a double date, and another woman who seemed to be a fan of his work. He did not care, for him the more the better, he figured that he would end up sleeping with the fan since they were usually the most eager to follow him where ever he went. The thought made him grin slightly, though currently on his mind was something more importance thinking of a club to go for a couple hours. Most of the clubs he had been to in the last week and had been rather boring for him. But as he walked arm in arm with the three women he remembered a club that a friend of his was telling him about that was a little farther away than usual his hangouts. However, he felt like celebrating, his painting he finished a couple weeks ago was now sold and he would be able to live a couple months off of it before needing to paint again.

"Ladies, I have a real treat for you tonight, we are celebrating the sale of my painting and there is a new club that opened," he shouted. "It is VIPs night, all your dreams are about to come true tonight." The three women giggled and cheered him showing their enthusiasm whether it was false or not he would never know.

Coming to the block where the club was supposed to be on they entered a dark street. An ominous fog hung across the street left behind by an automated street cleaner that had recently passed by, its mechanical humming echoing around the buildings. Chiko looked around cautious trying to find a light or sign, anything that would point out the club's location. But he saw nothing until the sound of weapon's fire shattered the eerie silence.

The women quickly hung around him frighten, but not nearly as scared as he was, he was completely clueless and worried about what it was that was taking place. As the sounds of weapon's fire grew louder to a deafening point crawling up to a climax that was broke by the sudden appearance of a group of men in business suits. They were all carrying military issue weapons, but their enemy was still not in view. But that quickly changed as weapon's fire from the opposite direction from a nearby building spread out across the street bringing down four of the men in a matter of moments.

Before Chiko knew it, he was in the middle of a firefight unable to move, praying that he would not die. Weapon's fire crossed his view striking a nearby car starting a chain reaction within the engine igniting the fuel. In moments the car exploded knocking the four unfortunate beings to the ground and lighting up the street in flames. Now with a constant light he could see that the street was filled with men, many of them on the ground dead or dying. The explosion had awakened his senses and he tried to stand to get away. But before he could do more than stand, a large explosion in the building where the shooting was focused on blew up. Several of the floors burst into billowing flames ceasing the fight. The shoot out was over.

The men in the street had won it seemed, and now were coming over towards him. Chiko helped up the women trying to get them moving away, but they were shaking in horror unable to move. Two men stopped in front of him while the others continued past. They raised their weapons up and without hesitation fired two shots each. The three women all receive a quick death with a bullet in the forehead, but since they were around him the final bullet for him did not going through his head, but chest. Their bodies fell limp around him as he collapse blood dripping across his clothes on to the ground.

Before his consciousness faded his eyes fixed on the man that shot him, long black hair tied back with a long scar from his forehead down around to his chin. The man eyes were deep black almost, cold and merciless having seen more death than anyone could know. The man aimed his weapon at his head starting to pull the trigger to kill Chiko, but a secondary explosion from the building set the lower floors a blaze sending debris across the street. Pieces of debris dug into the man's arm and face drawing lines of blood across his cheek. This man shook off the attack and pulled the trigger, but the gun jammed. Chiko lost consciousness afterwards unable to know what happened.

Chiko woke up to the sound of beeping and machines hissing. He looked around to find himself in a hospital unable to move with a tube in his mouth. There was no one else in the room, he wanted to call for a nurse, but before he could he passed out. While he was unconscious he had a dream, a nightmare that replayed the terror of that night. It was like a recording that just kept reaching the end and jumped back to the beginning to repeat it over and over again. He could not escape it and the haunting image of that scarred man hung in his mind's eye unable to disappear.

Chiko awoke again, but this time the tube in his mouth was gone and the room seemed quiet. He looked around to find a nurse checking one of the machines that was on his left. He slowly reached out with his arm touching the wrist of the nurse. She turned and looked down at him smiling warmly at him. "You have woken up, Mr. Toyozama."

"You're a sight for sore eyes."

"How are you feeling, Mr. Toyozama?"

"Better than the last time I was awake."

"I am sorry, but I do not understand."

"Huh…never mind, so what is your name?"

"I am Miimo, the Tokyo General Hospital's Automated Nurse Robot."

Chiko coughed suddenly realizing his mistake, "They making you pretty life like these days."

"Thank you, Mr. Toyozama, the doctor will be with you in a minute, I have informed him that you have woken up."

Chiko laid back into his pillow looking towards the ceiling, the image of that man still haunting his waking thoughts. As his mind began to go back to that moment, the seconds before he lost consciousness he tried to think what happened. It was fuzzy, but he knew from the look of that man that he would not leave a job unfinished. That thought began to make him wonder why he was alive; he was pleased that he was alive of course, but it seemed strange. He did not understand why, something must have happened that stopped the man. But then he remember the women with him, they were all dead instantly. They were the only things that saved him from certain death. He realized that it was because of them that he was alive; it was a terrible feeling, one that he was rather unfamiliar with…regret.

"Good afternoon Mr. Toyozama, I see you are awake now. I am Doctor Kuroaki. Feeling better?"

"Yes, thank you doctor. Can you tell me what happened?"

"Well I do not know much, but I can tell you that you were shot through the heart. We were barely able to save you, if you had arrived any later to the hospital you would have died." As the doctor finished, two men in business suits entered the room. Chiko did not recognize them, but they stopped the doctor from continuing.

"We need to speak to Mr. Toyozama alone."

"I must protest, he is not fully recovered yet, he still needs time before he can answer your questions."

"We'll be judge of that."

"But…fine, but only a couple minutes, he needs more rest."

"Questions?" Chiko asked.

"Yes, Mr. Toyozama, we are with the government internal security defense section three." The other man escorted the doctor out of the room while the other spoke, Chiko started to grow nervous as to why the government had an interest in him. It seemed like what happened was a police problem not a government one. "We need you to answer our questions the best you can, it is very important."

"Yeah, sure, but first why is the government involved and not the police?"

"I cannot tell you much, but simply put, what you were witness to was a criminal act by a syndicate called The Awaking Dragons. We have been investigating their activities for a while and need to know what you saw."

"I see…well it was pretty dark most of the time so I could not see a lot. But what I can remember was there was big shoot out between some guys in the street and someone in the building. I could see that the guys in the street were wearing suits. I don't remember how long it went on, but eventually the building blew up and they left. Two men came up to me and shot the women I was with."

"Do you remember what they looked like?"

"I remember one of them, he had a scar from his chin to his forehead and long black hair. He had a strange aura about him, he was cold." The image of the man's face came back to him, the thought made him cough. His hand shock a little thinking about the man, he had gone so close to death. The image would not leave his mind as he began to cough more, his stomach churned up sending nausea throughout him.

The doctor came rushing in looking at the vitals on the machine, "You are finished here for now, go and let him rest." The doctor helped Chiko back down to his bed trying to comfort him. He checked the tubes that were in his arm and the machines that were feeding liquids into Chiko's body. The doctor continued to monitor his body checking various things that Chiko was unsure about.

"Fine doctor, we will be back tomorrow. Thank you for your time Mr. Toyozama." As the two men left his room the nurse robot entered walking over to the doctor. Chiko closed his eyes, while the two talked to each other their voices to soft for him to hear. The image was beginning to fade away, but he was still worried. How long would he continue to be in fear, it was not as though the man even knew if he was alive. The man could have even died himself from that explosion, and yet no matter what he thought he could not relax the idea. Chiko slowly faded into sleep again.

The next day Chiko woke up and was greeted by the two men from the government again. They asked him more questions, which he was not able to answer completely. But it was the idea that he had been nearly killed by a man from a syndicate. He knew a little about some of the darker things that happened in Tokyo, and this syndicate was well known, most people in the city knew it. Most did not know where it was, who they were or much more than the name, but when a syndicate is as large and powerful as The Awaking Dragons it was hard not to know. Yet despite the fact that they were known, it was the fact that people knew nothing else that made them so dangerous. The syndicate worked so quietly and carefully that no one knew anything more than rumors about them. So this act that they had happened in the street was of great interest to the government, it was a change in tactics and that worried them.

As the week past Chiko began feeling better now able to walk around leaving the bed for at least a short period of time. His chest still hurt some, but the doctor said the pain should go away in time; it was from the surgery and transplant. So it was only natural that he would experience pain for a while. But he was off the painkiller now as well as most of the medicine and started eating real food.

Two weeks since Chiko had been shot he was released from the hospital with a full bill of health, and a full bill of costs. He knew his insurance would cover most of it, but he still had a decent bill to pay. It seemed wrong to save someone's life and then turn around and slap him with a bill as though they would take your life away from you if you did not pay. But he was just glad to be getting out of the hospital, getting shot, nearly killed scared him, however he wanted to get back to his life and was already planning a party.

Unfortunately for him, the two men from the government were following him for his safety they had said. Since he was nearly killed by the syndicate, if they knew he was not dead, they would come to kill him. Plus he was apparently an important witness since he was the only person to have lived and would make their case against the syndicate far stronger. So they were his bodyguards to protect him.

He made it back to his apartment, still left in the same mess as he had left it. The maid had apparently stopped coming since he did not put in a call. Chiko started to look through some of his things trying to get his bearings, trying to find a piece to start his life again. He continued looking around noticing something strange, a wooden box, "I do not remember this box, maybe I got something from a fan while I was in the hospital."

"What?!" Suddenly the two men grabbed him and pulled him out of his apartment running through the hallway throwing him to ground and falling on top of him. A moment later an explosion shook the floor, his apartment had just blown up. His door was sent flying across the hallway hitting one of the men in the back snapping his back. The man coughed blood that sprayed across Chiko's face as images of that night two weeks ago ignited in his mind. It felt like it was happening all over again, his ears rang with the echoes of the explosion and fire alarms blaring.

Soon water began to fall from the ceiling trying to put out the fire, unfortunately the explosion destroyed the entire room and most of the ceiling, and so it was a futile effort. But the water did begin to wash away the blood on his face. He looked around while trying to get up; one of the men was dead and the other checking his dead partner. The floor began to flood turning red from the blood; it crept towards him crawling up the walls surrounding him until there was nothing but blood all around him. He got up and started running finding the stairs at the corner.

He tripped after the first step falling to the landing between floors, his head hit the corner of the railing. Blood now dripped from his forehead, his sight blurred, as he wanted to run again. All he could see was blood, it was everywhere, and he could not escape it. He began to claw at the wall with his hands trying to get out, the images of the three women's flashed back to him. The sights of their dead bodies could not escape his mind.

As Chiko tried to get the images out of his head, the man that was with him as bodyguard came to him. The bodyguard tried to shake him lose of his delusions, but unsuccessful he picked up Chiko and carried him out of the apartment. As Chiko was carried out of his building he saw the flames that were coming out of his windows. It reminded him of that night again, there were too many things recalling back to him. His mind began to be swallowed by images, voices, and sounds until he could not take it anymore and overloaded, passing out.

Waking up once again, he found himself sitting in a chair staring at a small room with a mirror on his left and the door on his right. There was a table in front of him with another chair; his first thought was that he was in a police station. He had seen enough shows to know what it looked inside, but he began to wonder if it was not somewhere else. If it had anything to do with his apartment blowing up it he could be in a government building. The syndicate was trying to kill him now, that bomb was not a warning.

Chiko began to look around in a panic, if the syndicate knew where he lived what else did they know? How much did they know about his life, where he visited, the people he associated with? How far would they go to kill him? What was it that he had seen that was so important to kill him? There was nothing that he had seen that night that he thought was important enough to kill him over. Of course he saw some faces, but could having seen their faces be so important to kill someone over? Did they know that he was in this building? Would they be waiting for him outside when he left to shot him down? There were too many questions and no one was answering any of them. He needed to know why he was so important to both of these parties.

The door opened suddenly in mid thought, it was the same man that had been walking him back to his apartment and someone else. But there was a different air about the new man that enter behind him, he seemed important simply by the stance and his motions. Who was this man, could he be the one in charge or at least someone with more answers? His bodyguard remained standing, but the new man sat down looking directly at Chiko. The man's glance was piercing, not unlike that scarred man's eye, though he did not see the same senseless malice in these eyes. But he did see a man that would get a job done, even if meant playing dirty, getting the job done was important no matter how it was carried out. It was this stare that worried him, what did this mean for his future?

"Mr. Toyozama, welcome to section three. I am Shinzaburo Honichi director of section three."

"Finally a name, first name I have gotten from any of these people," he thought. "Mr. Honichi can you answer for me then what is going on?"

"I can understand feeling like you are in the dark, however I cannot tell you what is happening simply because it would make your life even more of risk than it already is. Currently The Awaking Dragons want you dead for having survived and witnessed one of their operations. This makes put your life in jeopardy already, I cannot add reasons for them to kill you, especially if in the future they think you know something and capture you. I cannot allow our work to go waste."

"But doesn't me just being here make them think I know something?"

"They can think all they want, and if they do capture you, I know you will not be able to give up information for which you do not know. As long as they wish to kill you the better."

"How is that better for me?"

"However, because they want to kill you, we cannot allow this. We need you to help make our case against them and with the recent bomb in your apartment we are left with only one choice."

"What choice is that?"

"For your safety we are placing you in our witness protection program. Much like previous government agencies in the past would change important witness' identities we will change yours. However, it will not be so simple as a new identity and living somewhere else. We will transfer your mind into a cloned body we have made. Each body is completely unique with genetic difference that would make it seem like any normal human being other than it was grown and not born. It will be your choice the general age, appearance and gender, but we do hold the final say, since we cannot have you looking like yourself."

"You can't be serious, I have a life, a job. I'm an artist. I'm famous. You can't simply make me disappear."

"On the contrary, you have already disappeared. That explosion in your apartment, we have leaked information to the media that you were in your apartment when it exploded. You body was found with one of my men."

"You can't do this to me, I have rights!"

"In the interest of protecting your life, we can do what we need. The fact of the matter is that the people think you are dead."

"No! What do you expect me to do? I have a career, a talent. How am I supposed to live?"

"We will support you until you are able to get on your feet, just do not think you will be able to lead the extravagant lifestyle that you are so accustom to. The arrangements have already been for you for a new life in Osaka."

"Osaka, but I have never been to Osaka."

"Then I guess you better start learning the city. Good day, Mr. Toyozama." Shinzaburo stood up and walked out of the room leaving Chiko alone with the man that was his bodyguard. Chiko clinched his hands together angry, he had just lost what was left of his life to someone that he did not even know. He lost it to a man who apparently knew more about him that he realized. There seemed like nothing that he could do, he was in a position where he could only accept what was given to him. Leaving meant death, if he was not shot immediately, the syndicate would kill him eventually.

"Mr. Toyozama I will take you through the process for selection of a new body as well as brief you on your new life."

"Why…"

"Excuse me? Did you say something, sir?"

"Its nothing."

"Well then, to begin, which gender do you wish to be?"

"Gender, as if you need to ask. Why would I want to be anything but a guy? However, being a woman might prove entertaining. Bah…Male." The idea of being a woman had a certain appeal, but he was used to being a man. He wanted to remain himself as much as he could considering he was losing everything else, he did not want to lose what dignity he had left.

"Male, okay then, now age. Depending on how old you wish to be will vary on the growth process. Older bodies will take a couple days to grow, while younger ones a day at most."

"Age, I really prefer the way I am, he probably will not let me be my own age or anywhere close to it. But if they change my face I could probably still be the same age. Late twenties I guess."

"Can you be more specific?"

"Does it really matter?"

"Well yes, we need to know how old to make the body."

"Fine, 26."

The process continued for what seemed like hours, questions about hair, eyes, facial features, and body features. The list seemed to continue forever and Chiko was growing tired. He wondered how much of what he picked would remain and how much they would change because it suited them. The idea of stealing his identity and removing it seemed wrong, completely immoral. There had to be some law against this, the government could not possibly have the right to make changes to a person's life. What sort of government was this taking away his life?

The process finally finished and he was told to wait, in a couple hours they would have an image of what he would look like in the new body. In the meantime he was tired and quickly fell asleep with his head on the table. It felt uncomfortable, but at the point he was at, he really did not care anymore what was comfortable. Nothing would be comfortable anymore, and soon not even his own skin would be comfortable.

Chiko was shook awake by the bodyguard and told that they were ready for him. They escorted him out of the building, it seemed that the lab where they did the work was in another building across town. It worried him though the number of men that were around him, it was as though they were expecting something to happen. He thought that having the increased number of men around him would look rather suspicious, but he could not be allowed to die either.

It was only a few more steps to the vehicle that was parked waiting for him when the men started to handle him roughly trying to get him into the vehicle. But as the door opened a gunshot echoed across the square in front of the building. One of the men around him went down, he had been in front of Chiko and the bullet went clean through the man's skull grazing Chiko's arm. He bit his lip in pain as he held his wound with his other hand. Blood began to drip through his fingers as the men shoved him into the car. Moment's later two more successive shots rang out taking down two more men, the ones shoving him into the car.

The driver was already in the front seat waiting for Chiko to be in fully. Chiko scrambled into the back seat as an explosion in front of the car shook the ground. They fortunately had missed a direct hit, but were getting more serious. The driver looked back quickly and then sped the car off with the door still open. Chiko could hear gunshots still echoing and another explosion near to the car. The glass of the back of the car shattered falling into the seat.

"Get up front!"

Chiko obeyed quickly and climbed over the car seat falling down into the seat still shaking. "They are going to follow us aren't they?"

"Most likely, but I can shake them."

"How?"

"Just watch."

As Chiko looked behind him he could see two cars following them both of them getting closer weaving through traffic. Turning back to look forward, Chiko was slammed into his seat as the car accelerated. The high-speed skyway was crowded today and as they came up to the peak of the skyway he could see down across the road ahead. It was heavily backed up, everyone was moving slowly, he did not know how this man was going to get through that and still come out alive at these speeds.

They came down the sloping road as cars and trucks began to slow down, the gaps between becoming smaller and yet the driver was increasing speed. He was turning in front of cars with mere inches between them; Chiko could have sworn he heard metal scraping at one point. But the traffic was getting thicker, soon the driver would have no choice but to slow down or crash. However, the driver refused to slow down and turned sharply in front of a large semi. The car spun quickly, the driver having let the steering wheel go and then suddenly grasped it hard braking and turned counter to the spinning. In one mere circle the car stopped and thrust forward along the very narrow strip of road before the railing.

The driver then proceeded to perform an insane stunt of ramming the car into the side rail when the road began to turn. The wheels caught the railing acting as a ramp launching the car into the air and on to the roof of a building. The roof cracked a little giving to the stress of the car, but the driver did not waste time stopping and continued to accelerate breaking through several roof ends until he came to an off ramp for the skyway that they had leaped off from only a minute before.

Speeding up even faster the last roof end launched the car into the air once again sending it as a projectile into the off ramp. The wheels bumped over the railing and the undercarriage sparked as it scraped across the railing. The momentum of the car pushed it over and back on to the road cutting off a car that was trying to get off. Their car continued down the ramp, while the cut off car crashed into the rail shattering the glass and crushing the front end of the car.

The driver did not even look back to see how the car was, he continued focusing on the road, speeding through the downtown streets of Tokyo with equal recklessness that he had shown on the skyway. However, there was a semi coming up behind them that Chiko noticed in the rear view mirror, part of it cracked off.

"When I say to, get out of the car!"

"What?"

"Just do what I say!"

Ahead Chiko could see a short tunnel of a building that was built across the street. Though as he looked back the semi was growing closer until it was on top of them. But as he was realizing their speed was also dropping. The driver quickly spun the car around switching lanes in the process just after it entered the tunnel. The semi past them and as he could see the back, he noticed that its back was open with a ramp. The driver quickly drove up it. The car jumped into the semi's back and stopped immediately nearly sending Chiko through the glass.

"Out now!"

Chiko did not know what was going on, but he quickly obeyed and leaped out of the car. The moment he stepped out the car that they were driving in it rolled out of the semi hitting the road. The car then sped away, but the driver was not in it. The car seemed to have a computer controlled system that was popular in the luxury cars. But as he saw the car leave, the ceiling of the semi started to fall down. But what he soon saw was that the ceiling was being lifted down, a new car resting on the ceiling.

"Get in!"

He quickly got in the new car and the driver pulled out of it the semi's back returning to the road. However, he was not driving like a maniac now, but at a normal speed with the rest of the cars obeying the traffic laws. The tunnel ended and the driver made a right turn as the semi continued straight along with the car he had just been in a minute ago.

"Well that should send them off on a chase for a while, I doubt my stunt on the building roof actually lost them. But now that we are safe, how are you doing? My name is Mashiro."

"Safe! What crazy lunatic are you?"

"The same crazy lunatic that managed to save your life."

"Right, not how I see it. You nearly killed the both of us, several times!"

"Nah, I've been in far worse. This was easy, frankly it was boring."

"Boring…you're a lunatic."

"Thanks."

Chiko looked forward in a huff sighing out loud. The man nearly got him killed and all he can say is thanks. Just when he thought that his day, or days, could not get any worse someone manages to find a new more inventive way to screw up his already blown up life. He would wonder how much worse it could get after this, but if he did it would only jinx himself into discovering what was worse than this.

After an uneventful drive through the downtown streets of Tokyo the car came to rest into a parking garage. The driver had gone all the way down to the bottom of the garage even though there was plenty of parking on the upper levels. But before Chiko could question it, the driver locked the car doors and the car shook for a moment. He looked around only to find himself sinking into the ground. The car was being lowered down even deeper into the ground. What had been an old, rusty garage that needed to be rebuilt became a clean metal shaft that was new.

The car continued down for a minute or so until finally stopping. The doors unlocked and the driver stepped out. "Well, we are here." Chiko stepped out of the car, his legs a little shaky still from the drive. Mashiro walked towards the only door in the room and Chiko followed expecting to have some answers soon. But as the door open he knew where he was, or at least was fairly certain.

Computer panels, screens, lights and other electronic devices littered the room. It was one massive control room and on several of the screens were bodies in tubes. He could only guess that this was the cloning facility where he would receive his new body. Mashiro walked into the middle of the room waving to someone out of sight. "Hey doc, I got your newest patient."

"Hello Mashiro, you do? I am coming right now!" Chiko could hear footsteps coming closer until he a man appeared from behind the computers. He was a tall man with long black hair that hung around his shoulders and down his back. The doctor had small glasses that hung at the edge of his nose and a transparent panel in his hand that he was glancing at before looking up. "Chiko Toyozama? It is you, oh wow this is pleasure."

"Huh?"

"I am quite the fan of your art, it is most expressive. Even a scientist like me can appreciate some fine art, oh this is a pleasure." The doctor smiled taking Chiko's hand and shaking it firmly and repeatedly. "A real pleasure."

"Ah, excuse me, my hand."

"Oh yes, yes, sorry about that," the doctor said patting his hair with his hand in slight embarrassment. "It truly is a shame that I have to give you a new body."

"Why is that?"

"Your new body will not be same as your current body obviously, so it is doubtful that your artistic style will remain the same since the body will function a little different. Truly regretful, yes."

"What?!"

"Well in time you might be able to train it to work the way you want, but it is highly unlikely you will have the same abilities. Most of the talent is in the mind, but the rest lies in the body, and your mind will not be used to your body in the exact same way as it does for your current body. No it will not, no not yet."

"I was afraid of that."

"But worry not, when this is all over we will be able to return you to your original body. We keep them status, yes, yes. But we are only able to perform two mind transfers, afterwards the mind seems to go to mush and we lose things. It is a real shame, the mind just cannot deal with the transfer and it puts a great strain on the brain. Yes, yes, you cannot imagine how long it took us to make this work. So many poor, poor people… But anyway, I have started on your body already; it is a real masterpiece I must say. I worked on it personally." The doctor moved close to Chiko when he said that looking at him strangely.

"Ah, right, so how long do I have left with my body?"

"Well lets see, lets see…" The doctor stared down at his panel, his fingers rapidly moving across it. This doctor was an expert or at the least experienced in what he was doing, even if he seemed eccentric. "Ah there we are…the body has another twelve hours to grow before being ready. However, in the meantime I must examine your mind and start the process. The computer will need some time to analyze your mind and make the copy of it required to transfer."

"Copy?"

"It is all part of the process, and the reason for why we have limited transfers. The copy gets worse, since we copy back, and a copy of a copy is never the same now is it. No it is not. But see we take the copy and the original and bring the two together in your new mind, it helps to re-enforce the new existence. It is all perfectly safe."

"For the first two times."

"Yes!"

Chiko sighed, "So where do I go?"

"Sit down here," the doctor said pointing to a chair that rose from the ground. Once Chiko sat down in the chair, he was strapped down quickly and his head forced back. He could barely look around let alone move any part of his body. All the while the doctor whistled some strange tone and began to type on the panel again. The doctor walked over to the computer consoles, though all he could hear were the sounds. It worried him that he could not see what was going on, though he had very little choice in what he could do.

Time passed slowly and after twelve hours of sitting in the chair unable to fall asleep, strangely enough, the doctor said he was ready. The entire time the doctor had gone about his work, and telling him his opinions of Chiko's entire art history. Not even Chiko could remember half of the things he painted and as much as he enjoyed a fan, it was boring. He had the constant urge to reach out and strangle the man where he stood just to shut him up; the man never stopped talking.

"Your body is ready," the doctor said pushing a button that turned the chair around. "I will let you see it for yourself."

"That mind thing you did, it's a little strange it finished the same time as my body."

"Oh that, I did all that in an hour."

"What?! Why you-"

"There you are, your new body, handsome isn't he?"

Chiko stared at the new body; it would soon be what he would be staring at in a mirror, looking at when he raised his hand. It was a strange feeling looking at what he would be going into soon. The body was pretty close to what he imagined, they did not seem to change it much, "The wacko doctor does have a point, he is a handsome devil. I always wanted a stronger chin and a smaller nose; this might not be so bad after all. Well then doc, when do we start?"

"Everything is ready, all I have to do is push the button and the process will begin. The transfer will be almost instant, has to be in order to-"

"Enough, I do not need to know. Just get on with it."

"Alright then, beginning mind transfer now!" The computer started to warm up, sounds grew louder from it as it began to work. The entire room began to light up nearly blinding everyone in the room. The doctor quickly looked over his panel before pushing the button that would transfer Chiko's mind into the new body changing his life forever. "All systems green, transfer commencing." The doctor monitored everything from his panel scanning it with his eyes making sure everything was working correctly. Suddenly the entire room turned from green to red, alarms flashed around the room them. "Uh oh. Ooops…"

"Ooops? Hey doc what is going on," Mashiro asked.

"It seems the body rejected him and the computer sent it into the nearest compatible body before he was lost completely."

"How did that happened?"

"I don't know."

"Well which did he get transferred into then?"

"No! NO! NO! My precious," the doctor fell down to the ground starting to cry. "Not my precious…precious…"

"What is it doc?" Mashiro tried to shake the doctor to get him back to his senses, but it was no use. He picked up the panel that the doctor had been holding hoping to find an answer in whatever sort of mess there was on the screen. Mashiro looked at the screen in shock dropping it to the ground, the doctor grabbing it quickly still crying uncontrollably.

Mashiro ran to the door that led into the clone tubes looking around for where Chiko was suppose to be now. He finally found him back in the corner, his tube isolated from all of the others. The tube was opening now, gases and liquids poured out from the tube and surrounding environment filling the area completely. His shoes splashed in the liquid that spilled out across the floor. Breaking through the mist of gases he found Chiko still held up in the tube with liquids pouring out of the tube rapidly. "It is true then." He saw Chiko's eyes open suddenly and he was not going to like what would come next.

Chiko stared out through a glass plate; a thick mist surrounded the area around him preventing him from seeing past the glass. But he looked down to see Mashiro staring up at him with an expression of bewilderment. He did not know why Mashiro was staring at him, aside from not having any clothes on what should there be strange. "Mashiro!" a soft, high-pitched voice said. The sound echoed around in the tube, Chiko heard it, but looked around trying to figure out who said it. "Mashiro!" he said again, but he only heard that same high-pitched voice. His eyes widened suddenly realizing why Mashiro was staring at him, he was not in a man's body. It was a woman's body, what happened? "I am going to kill that doctor when I get out of here. Get me out of here now, Mashiro! I am going to kill that doc for putting me in a woman's body." The tube slid up completely opening the tube to Mashiro, who was still staring at Chiko. "Stop staring at me you pervert, haven't you seen a woman's body before!?"

"Umm…"

"What?" The tube suddenly released Chiko dropping him down to the ground. The fall was a lot farther than he expected. "How short am I?" He looked down at the ground seeing his hands, they were petite, tiny hardly the size of a woman's hand. Chiko pushed himself up standing and looked straight at Mashiro's waist. "What?! No…no. NO! I am going to kill that doctor, let me at him right now!"

To be continued…

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Chiko has been turned into an eight year girl and now forced to deal with his new life and body at the stature of only three and half feet tall...Mashiro laughs as the narrative started serious and falls into comedy.

"Stop laughing this is a serious matter!" Chiko screams at Mashiro.

"Ah come on, you have to find the humor in this, really. Chiko the playboy and artist, who makes all the women's hearts jump now thing more than little child. Sounds like divine justice, or maybe poetic in your case."

"Why you, after I am threw strangling the doc you are next..."

"Oh look the preview is almost over."

"What?!"

"Next episode of The Inner Man, Lost, how will poor Chiko live life a little girl," Mashiro says laughing at the end.

"Don't miss it or I'll strangle you next! Teehee!"

"Little much don't you think?"