Eating NailsEdit

Private Oya pulled out the metal folding chair and plopped down in its hard metal seat, then scooted up close to the table. The mess hall was empty, because it was 7 in the morning, and everyone else had finished eating long before Oya got out of bed.

He looked down at his tin plate, piled high with nails. He had to eat them. The Americans said they ate nails for breakfast, so he had to too.

He remembered Lt. Hardin saying so. I eat nails for breakfast, son. This was before Pvt. Oya had asked him if he was French. Oya thought he was French because he was wearing a beret. Lt. Hardin didn’t appreciate the question. Oya didn’t remember any of the rest of the US Special Forces training, because he’d spent the rest of the training in the medical building. Luckily for Pvt. Oya, Lt. Hardin was too busy to ever drop by and finish the job.

So that’s what Pvt. Oya got out of the special forces training…eat nails. But now that he was sitting here with a big plate of nails in front of him, he wasn’t sure how to go about it. He tried to pick one up with his chopsticks, lacquered black chopsticks that his mother had given him before he left for basic training, but the nail just squirted out from between the chopsticks and fell on the floor. Were you supposed to eat the ones that fell on the floor? I mean, Pvt. Oya would never think about eating a piece of fish that fell on the floor, but, these were nails, not fish, and so it might be ok to pick it up off the floor and put it back on his plate. It wasn’t a question of etiquette, mind you, I mean, Pvt. Oya was the only person in the mess hall, so he didn’t have to worry about offending anyone or grossing anyone out. It was simply a matter of hygiene. Pvt. Oya decided that if he was going to pick up the nail from the floor, he’d better do it soon before it got too dirty, so he glanced around (to make sure no one was looking, even though he was the only person in the mess hall) and then quickly bent down to pick up the nail. But he didn’t put it back on his plate. He just put it off to the side. Now that he’d touched it with his hands (there was no way he could’ve picked it up with his chopsticks without getting his chopsticks dirty) he was pretty sure he didn’t want to eat it anymore.

But this gave him an idea. Maybe nails were finger foods. Americans eat things with their hands, like McDonalds French fries, for example. Maybe nails were like French fries. Well, in that you eat them with your hands.

Pvt. Oya didn’t like eating things with his hands. He didn’t eat McDonalds French fries. He’d managed to go his entire life without eating a single piece of food with his hands. Even in Junior High, when they served a big piece of fried bread dusted with sugar and cocoa, he’d used his chopsticks, awkward as it was, to eat it. But now, sitting here in an empty mess hall faced with a plate of nails that he couldn’t possibly pick up with his chopsticks, he started to wonder if maybe it would be okay, just this once, to eat something with his hands. He tried again to pick up a nail with his chopsticks, but it just fell back on his plate before he got it anywhere near his mouth.

Faced with this difficult decision, he began to question the wisdom of eating nails. I mean, not that he wasn’t going to try it. Pvt. Oya wasn’t a picky eater; he’d eat just about anything, provided of course that he didn’t have to eat it with his hands, but he wondered whether he’d be able to digest the nails. Perhaps you had to build up to nails. He’d always eaten rice and miso soup for breakfast. Perhaps, you have to go in stages. Like, for the first week, just go from eating rice and miso soup to eating bacon and eggs. Then once your stomach gets used to that, you move on to say, thumbtacks. Then after a week or so eating thumbtacks, you move on to sewing needles. Then, once your stomach and other digestive organs were used to the sewing needles, you move on to very small nails, like those tiny little brass nails that they used to hang up the bulletin board in the barracks. He hadn’t hung up the bulletin board, but he remembered the kind of nails they’d used because he’d help them find one that they dropped while they were working on the bulletin board.

Anyway, then once you’re used to the tiny nails, you can move up to the real ones. Pvt. Oya did a quick calculation, and gathered that it would take him a couple of months before he was ready to eat nails that way. But then he realized that leaving a plate of unfinished nails sitting on the table for a couple of months was unacceptable. Pvt. Oya didn’t like to leave food. He always finished whatever food was given to him.

So he was stuck. He’d have to eat the nails. No way around it at this point. He tried again to pick one up with his chopsticks. This time, he got it about halfway to his mouth before it slipped out of the chopsticks and fell into his lap. He picked it out of his lap and placed it next the one that had fallen on the floor. He hadn’t decided yet whether he was going to eat that one. He figured, if I can find a way to eat them with my chopsticks, then he’d just leave the two that he’d had to touch with his hands. He didn’t like leaving food, but, after all, these were nails, not real food, so maybe he could make an exception.

He tried to remember why he didn’t like leaving food. He thought it was because of a documentary he saw when he was a kid about starving children in Africa. He had felt pretty sorry for those starving kids, and that’s why he didn’t leave food. It just didn’t seem right to leave food when kids were starving. Of course, this was nails, and he didn’t imagine that the starving kids in Africa would mind too much if he didn’t eat all his nails.

But, on the other hand, if he couldn’t find a way to eat the nails without touching them with his hands, then he might as well just eat the two that he’d dropped. No sense letting nails go to waste.

He made up his mind. He was going to eat them with his hands. But he realized that he hadn’t washed his hands yet, and if he was going to use his hands to eat the nails he wanted to make sure they were clean. But then he realized that to wash his hands he would have to go to the bathroom, leaving the nails on the table, and Pvt. Oya didn’t like eating anything that had been out of his sight for too long uncovered. He could eat the nails if he covered them up with plastic wrap while he was gone, but he didn’t have any plastic wrap. He looked around the mess hall, but there was no plastic wrap to be seen, and he couldn’t ask anyone if they had any, because he was still the only person in the mess hall.


Special Medical Director Dobashi sat in front of a small video monitor. The image on the monitor showed Private Oya in the mess hall. Dobashi had seen enough. It was clear that Private Oya wanted to eat the nails, but his instinct for survival was strong. Dobashi removed his rank insignia and pressed a small switch on the side of the video monitor. The image of Private Oya in the mess hall was replaced by an image of the galley. Seaman Shinsaku was at the sink scrubbing pots.

Dobashi stood up and grabbed a bottle of beta-carboline-17 off the shelf above the video monitor. Dobashi opened the door and turned sideways to fit through the doorway. It was 10 steps down the hall to the galley.

Shinsaku looked up from his work. Upon seeing that Dobashi had arrived, he dried his hands and gestured towards a mess tray on the food preparation island. Dobashi's hand hovered over the tray for a moment and then Dobashi gave a slight nod to Shinsaku. Shinsaku picked up the tray and took it into the mess hall, with Dobashi following.

Private Oya still sat in front of the plate of nails. Shinsaku pushed the nails to the side and set the tray down in its place. Dobashi sat down across the table from Oya. Dobashi spoke to Shinsaku, "Please dispose of these nails, seaman Shinsaku."

The look of relief on Private Oya's face was like a bright flower, but he said, "No! Shinsaku, wait! I must eat these nails!"

Dobashi raised his hand, palm towards the Private. "Private Oya, do you know who I am?"

Shinsaku picked up the plate of nails, waited for a slight confirmatory nod from Dobashi, then returned to the galley.

Private Oya looked longingly after the nails as Shinsaku left the mess hall, but he replied to the question. "You are doctor Dobashi."

Dobashi was surprised and quickly looked over his shoulder towards the galley. Nobody was in sight. "Yes, but you forgot that when we are with others you are not to call me 'doctor'. Just call me seaman Dobashi. We are both seamen and I am your buddy, right?"

A great deal of the tension seemed to flow from Oya. His shoulders sagged and he sat back in his chair. "Yes, you are correct." The problem was, Oya could clearly remember someone telling him that he should be more like Lt. Hardin. For a moment the sound of Dobashi's voice came up from Oya's memory- 'If it was good for Hardin, maybe it would be good for you.'

The compact network of logic reformed in Oya's mind and as he remembered the chain of events leading to Shinsaku providing him with the nails and again Oya felt a sharp desire to consume nails. He looked down at the food on the mess tray and he realized that he was hungry and mentally weak and would rather eat the food than eat the nails.

As if Dobashi could read Oya's mind, Dobashi said, "Eat the food, Oya, and we will talk."

Oya realized that he still held his chopsticks. He reluctantly started to eat, cursing himself for his weakness, but somehow Dobashi's order to eat made it alright.

Dobashi sighed and sat back. Shinsaku returned from the galley with metal cups of hot tea for Dobashi and Oya. When Dobashi and Oya were alone again, Dobashi asked, "How do you feel now?"

Oya took a sip of the hot tea and he smiled at himself. Already he was wondering why he had even asked Shinsaku for nails to eat. Yes, Lt. Hardin had mentioned eating nails, but clearly that was a metaphorical reference to an act that would indicate toughness, and in reality it was not wise to actually eat nails. A seaman should always act in wisdom. "Much better, now. Did the test go as you expected?"

Dobashi chuckled. "It is good that you feel better, but we do not speak of tests here where others might enter and hear us. Yes?"

Oya observed, "We are alone."

"But Shinsaku and others are nearby, so we will speak with caution." Dobashi crossed his arms across his chest.

"Yes, I agree." Oya ate silently for a few minutes and tried to order his thoughts. Slowly his memories returned to an ordered pattern. He looked up at Dobashi with full comprehension of the tests and his true relationship with Dobashi and the world. "Okay, I'm back."

Dobashi could now speak about the outcome of this test. "I am concerned about your honesty, Oya."

Oya was instantly hurt. "What have I done that you question my honesty?"

Dobashi explained, "We are trying to make it possible for you to act on orders that you would normally reject instantly. You need to develop strategies that will allow you to do this. You must be able to build up several layers of reality within which your mind can flawlessly function. We all do this, it is part of living as a social human being."

Oya thought back through the nail eating test and realized that Dobashi was correct. "I was mostly thinking about myself and doing what was right."

Dobashi suggested, "Now that you are back to a normal state of consciousness, can you think of how you might have solved the problem of living up to Hardin's standard of behavior?"

Oya now remembered that it had been Dobashi who suggested that Oya's memory of Hardin could form the basis for a test. They had spent a large part of the previous afternoon planning the test. Oya now remembered one of Dobashi's suggestions for the test: 'You will be under the influence of the drug. We know that this lowers the range of your consciousness. You get stuck in mental ruts. Try to remember to recognize frustrations and when you are frustrated, allow your thoughts to open up to other possibilities.' Oya and Dobashi called this problem of narrowed consciousness the zombie effect.

Now that Oya was fully conscious, he could imagine alternatives. It was not a source of pride to remember how obsessed and narrow minded he had been during the nail eating test, particularly since he had spent much of the previous evening planning and exercising his mind so that he would be able to avoid the zombie effect in today's test. "During the test I was thinking about various ways to complete the test, but they were all unworkable solutions to the problem. My mind felt slow and rigid."

Dobashi did not want to let Oya off this hook. There was a lesson to be learned here. "So tell me now how you could have solved the problem."

Oya hesitated. He still could not think of a good solution.

Dobashi studied Oya's face. Dobashi had selected Oya for these tests because of his impressive openness to suggestion. However, it had become clear that in other ways Oya was not an optimal test subject. When the look of puzzlement failed to leave Oya's face, Dobashi said, "Imagine that Hardin had ordered you to eat nails. Imagine that he would beat you if you failed to follow the order. Do you have to eat the nails or do you only need to make Hardin think that you ate the nails?

Oya thought about it for a moment. "Hardin is no fool. If I did not eat the nails, he would know."

Dobashi shook his head. "You are too honest, Oya. Do you want to know what I would have done? Listen. First, there is another problem. Logic. Hardin never said how many nails, right? Two would be enough. Shinsaku gave you the entire box of nails, but you should have known that you did not have to eat them all. Second, how would Hardin know if you ate nails? You would get sick, that's how. In training, a commander will order men to do dangerous things just to build confidence. Soldiers must learn that they can suffer injury and keep fighting. So I would have taken two of the nails and gone to the dispensary, complaining of stomach pain. All you have to do is say that you followed your commander's orders and ate nails. Get them to take an x-ray. When they do, put the nails against your belly so it looks like they are inside you."

Oya shook his head. "That would not work. The medic in the dispensary would see the nails."

Dobashi shrugged. "Its called 'thinking on your feet', Oya. When an x-ray is taken the technician always goes behind a shield. That's when you put the nails in place. The point is, you have to try something. When you get an order you have to act. You cannot sit around thinking about it all day."

Oya nodded. "Yes, but the zombie effect is hard to deal with. I am not even aware that I am impaired."

"What about frustration? That should create conditions in your mind that motivate you to act, to do something."

Oya thought back to his state of mind during the test. "I think that at some level, my mind knew that it was only a test. I was not conscious of being in a test. I was only thinking about the task, about finding a way to eat the nails, but-"

Dobashi interrupted, "What about fear? Emotions?"

Oya replied, "My emotions were active, but my rational mind was in control, constructing chains of excuses for why I need not eat the nails. I was about to say, it was like having an argument with myself. I had to struggle to find new ways to move to my goal, but each step towards my goal was immediately countered. It was like a game...moves and counter-moves."

Dobashi thought that Oya might be on the right track. "During the tests, the drug is preventing your consciousness from expanding fully as it normally does when you try to solve a problem. Under those conditions, large parts of your brain probably can function unconsciously and in contradiction to your conscious core of thought. If so, we need to find a way for your conscious core to ignore those other parts of your mind. Normally we do listen to our hunches, but for these tests you cannot do so."

Oya was made uneasy by Dobashi's line of reasoning. "You make it sound like I need to create a new personality, a new fragmented compartment in my mind."

Dobashi nodded. "That might be a good way to think about what we are doing."

In Oya's mind, he associated a fragmented personality with mental illness. "That sounds dangerous. Isn't having multiple personalities a disease?"

Dobashi tried to point Oya in another direction. "Sometimes. Most people simply behave differently in different social contexts. It is normal to do so and you could say that people have a normal capacity to fragment their mind. The problem we are dealing with is that the drug is disrupting many of your normal brain functions." Dobashi drinks the last of his tea and stands up. "Let's go. I want you to tell me everything you experienced during the test. Then I have an idea for what to try next."

A new beginningEdit

Colonel Masahiro of Defense Intelligence sat in front of a large video monitor. The image on the monitor showed Private Oya and Medical Director Dobashi in the mess hall. Masahiro had seen enough. "Lieutenant Shimousa!"

Lieutenant Shimousa instantly responded to the Colonel's call and slipped through the cloth that hung across the doorway of Colonel Masahiro's office. Shimousa bowed and waited. Masahiro barked orders, "Go below and find Dobashi. Bring him here at once!"

Lieutenant Shimousa saluted and said, "Immediately, sir!" She turned and ducked back out into her tiny outer office.

Colonel Masahiro was under mounting pressure to achieve results. The problem was that spineless Dobashi! The man was a clever scientist, but he refused to take any risks with the test subjects. The video monitor now showed Oya following Dobashi out of the mess hall. Masahiro switched off the monitor and looked through the papers on her desk, looking for the list of psychoactive drugs Dobashi had brought on board. She called out, "Shimousa! Where is that list of drugs?" There was no reply and Masahiro quietly cursed Shimousa for not being in two places at the same time.

A minute later Shimousa returned, pulled open the cloth and stood aside to let Dobashi walked through the doorway into the Colonel's office. He saluted and asked, "Is this important? I need to fully debrief Private Oya before he forgets the details of the latest test."

Masahiro only briefly looked at Dobashi and pointed emphatically at the chair. She shifted her gaze to the doorway and called for the Lieutenant, "Shimousa! Where is that list of drugs?"

Dobashi sat down in front of the Colonel's desk and Shimousa popped into the office. The Lieutenant saluted ad replied, "Its on your desk, sir."

Masahiro said, "No, its not."

Shimousa looked through the papers on the Colonel's desk and quickly found the list of drugs. She handed the sheet of paper to the Colonel, saluted, turned, winked at Dobashi and retreated to the outer office.

Masahiro waved the list of drugs at Dobashi and asked, "Which of these did you use on Oya today?"

Dobashi replied, "Just the harmitryptoline."

Masahiro shook the sheet of paper in Dobashi's face, "Which we know does not work. Did I not order you to use a combination of drugs for the test?"

"We have discussed several combinations, including combinations of a drug with hypnosis. I told you that the drug combinations are dangerous. We need to go slowly in order to not-"

Masahiro interrupted the doctor. "No. You have gone too slowly. I order you to use a combination of two or three drugs for the next test. Which is the most likely combination to produce results?"

Dobashi started a careful account of why each possible combination was too dangerous. After two minutes Masahiro interrupted. "Stop!" She took a pen and wrote on the list of drugs, "I will decide. Use harmitryptoline and one of the new cannabinoid reuptake inhibitors. Which one is best?"

Dobashi complained, "Those combinations have not yet been tested on monkeys. We can't use such a combination on a human until-"

Masahiro picked up a pen and made a circle on the list of drugs. "There it is. AJK32. See how simple it is to decide? Now, what is the next test on our list?"

Dobashi was tempted to protest, but he decided it would be easier to simply trick Masahiro. Dobashi had long ago realized that Colonel did not understand drug doses; she never wanted to discuss the key issue of how much of a drug to administer. That meant Dobashi was free to use as little of the AJK32 as he wanted and Masahiro would never know the difference. "We can tell Oya to-"

"No. Oya is not a good subject. Use Shimousa. Oya is too unimaginative."

Dobashi was shocked by the idea of using Lieutenant Shimousa as a test subject. All of his test subjects were volunteers. "Lieutenant Shimousa will have to sign the release forms."

Masahiro said, "Yes, of course. Lieutenant Shimousa! Bring a set of the medical experimentation release forms."

Ten seconds later Shimousa handed the forms across the desk to Colonel Masahiro. The Colonel did not take the forms. "Sign them! You will be the new test subject."

Lieutenant Shimousa had previously read the forms. She turned to Dr. Dobashi and said, "Page five has the section where you are supposed to list the drugs to be used, and you must sign to indicate that you have described the risks to the test subject."

Masahiro said, "Give me page five." She began to fill in harmitryptoline and AJK32. "Dr. Dobashi, explain the risks of harmitryptoline and AJK32 to the Lieutenant."

Dr. Dobashi said, "I do not think the risks are large, but this combination has not been previously tested on humans. There is an unknown level of risk. Potentially you could suffer some form of physical brain damage resulting in compromised cognitive capacity."

Masahiro handed page five to Dobashi. "Excellent description, Doctor, concise and to the point. Now sign the form." Dobashi signed. Masahiro ordered Shimousa, "Now you sign and initial each page indicating that you read each page."

Lieutenant Shimousa signed and initialed all the pages then handed the forms to Dr. Dobashi. Dobashi wanted to tell the the Colonel how despicable she was to order the Lieutenant to sign the forms, but he decided that Masahiro was in no mood for arguments or challenges to her authority. He asked, "Do I understand correctly that you want me to drop my work with Oya and immediately start a new test on Lieutenant Shimousa?"

Colonel Masahiro leaned back in her chair and smiled, "Your choice of the word "immediately" is exactly correct! But do not forget, I want results. I order you to use enough harmitryptoline and AJK32 to get the job done."

Dr. Dobashi's heart sank. Apparently one of Masahiro's superiors was not a fool and had explained the importance of drug doses to Masahiro. "Yes, sir." Dobashi muttered quietly.

Colonel Masahiro leaned forward and shouted, "Dismissed!" Dobashi and Shimousa saluted and went to the the outer office.

Lieutenant Shimousa picked up a set of file folders off her desk and locked them in a file cabinet. "Okay, I am at your service, Doctor."

Dobashi and Shimousa went below to the Doctor's small office. Only when the door was closed did Dobashi dare say what was on his mind. "I'm sorry you have been forced into this position, Lieutenant."

Shimousa shrugged and smiled. "Not at all, Doctor. Being away from the Colonel will be like a vacation."

Dobashi grimaced. "You can joke now, but later you will curse me. These drugs will take away your free will. I will force you to perform acts that normally you would not even think about doing."

Shimousa was quite familiar with the doctor's work, having read all of his reports to Colonel Masahiro. "Doctor, you are not regular military. You were drafted and given your rank so that Military Intelligence can control your research. When you talk about loss of free will it it sounds, to me, like you are describing the normal day of a soldier. Your warnings about unknown risks do not scare me. I trust you to not do anything foolish."

Dobashi shook his head. "Then you are a foolish child! You heard the orders. So far I have been able to proceed through my experiments with a reasonable amount of caution, but now all is changed. I have been explicitly ordered to abandon the slow and careful methods of ethical research and rush to get results. You should be scared."

Shimousa laughed, "I'm from a family of soldiers. Your chemicals do not scare me. Sometimes you have to take risks in order to attain a victory. Let's get on with it."

Dobashi put the Lieutenant's medical experimentation release forms in the drawer of his desk. "Very well, Shimousa. Do you mind if I call you Shimousa?" Dobashi felt that they had gotten to know each other fairly well since he had came on board, but now they suddenly were being thrown into a doctor-patient relationship, and that gave him new responsibilities.

She replied, "Not at all. Do you insist that I call you 'Doctor'?"

Dobashi sat down behind his desk. "In this room, we can seek efficiency. When we are out among the crew we will use formal language. Now, since you are in such a hurry to get your mind warped...." He reached into the desk drawer and pulled out a bottle of harmitryptoline. After rummaging around in the drawer he also found a bottle of AJK32 and broke the plastic seal from around the cap. "...we must start with a test of your reaction to these drugs. Do you have any allergies or past adverse reactions to drugs?"

Shimousa replied, "I'm allergic to procaine."

"Okay. Do you have any existing medical condition?"

"I'm in perfect health, Doctor."

"Wonderful. How much do you weigh?"

"About 60 kilos."

Dobashi had never administered AJK32 to a patient before, but he knew it had a problem: it was not easy to get this particular chemical into the brain. It had to be administered by way of the intranasal route. Since harmitryptoline could also be given intranasally, Dobashi decided to prepare a mixture of the two drugs for simultaneous nasal administration. He tossed the bottle of harmitryptoline tablets back into the drawer and pulled out a smaller bottle of harmitryptoline in liquid form. After some calculations with the computer, he added 150 microliters of AJK32 and 600 microliters of harmitryptoline to a nasal spray dispenser bottle. He then filled the bottle half way full with water, attached the spray cap and shook the bottle. He turned to the side and used a balance to weigh the bottle. He entered the weight into his notes.

Dobashi opened a cardboard box and took out a small pair of nose plugs which he pushed up into his nostrils. He handed the spray bottle to Shimousa. "Place the spray nozzle in one nostril and squeeze the bottle once." Shimousa did as instructed and handed the bottle back to Dobashi. He weighed the bottle again and noted how much of the liquid had been administered to Shimousa. He capped and carefully sealed the bottle. The drugs were so potent that he decided to leave the nose plugs in until the air in the room had a chance to exchange. He turned back to Shimousa, "I want you to tell me if you feel anything unusual. Hot flashes, tingling sensations, anything. Have you ever had hallucinations?"

"In officer training school I once had to hike twenty miles with a broken foot. They pumped me full of morphine and I was in an alternate reality. Ya, I was seeing 'things' that were not real."

"That is a little strange, most people would just give up and go to sleep, but then, I know you are a strong willed individual. I suppose you would never show weakness in front of your fellow soldiers." Dobashi looked at his watch and tried to think of how to kill some time until the drugs reached Shimousa's brain. "So, how did you end up working for Colonel Masahiro?"

"Captain Yutak trusts me to deal with unusual tasks."

"Have you ever dealt with Defense Intelligence before?"

Shimousa felt she had gotten to know Dobashi as a friend since he had come on board. She had come to feel comfortable speaking honestly with him. "I'm not sure I have yet. Colonel Masahiro is an arrogant fool. Clearly she got her rank and position through family connections."

Dobashi chuckled. "What if I told you she has a camera planted in this room?"

"You're not a good liar, Doctor. I know where all the cameras on this ship are located and there is none in this room." Still, as she said it, doubts crept into her mind. Could she really be sure? Maybe Dobashi knew something she did not know...

Dobashi was an experience observer of patients and trained to recognize when their words did not match their body language and their facial expression. He recognized the discrepancy between her seemingly confident statement and the look of doubt that had come to her face. "Okay, that is a good starting point for us. You call Masahiro arrogant, but in reality, it is you who are arrogant. You think you are invincible, so you often volunteer for dangerous tasks. That has pushed you quickly up the ranks, but you are still not really very experienced. You are cocky. You think you know everything that happens on this ship, but while you have been doing Masahiro's work for her, and thinking she is a fool, she has been preparing for this day, the day when your own youthful indiscretions would reveal your lack of respect for superior officers and destroy your career."

Lieutenant Shimousa felt her heart start to pound. She wondered, was it possible that this room had been bugged? There was that Defense Intelligence courier who was helicoptered in yesterday. He had spent a whole day on board rather than just deliver orders to the Colonel and then fly back to land. Maybe he had installed more of the tiny Defense Intelligence cameras....

Dobashi could see that Shimousa was now breathing fast and a pink flush had come to her face. "Yes, you have arrogantly shown disrespect for your commander and now you will be punished. Your budding military career will be destroyed, by your own foolishness. You have brought shame upon yourself and your family."

Tears filled the Lieutenant's eyes and then spilled down her cheeks. Yes, this was dishonor! There was only one course open to regain honor... She began to rise from her chair.

Dobashi quietly said. "Remain seated Lieutenant. You have not been dismissed. You will do nothing unless I tell you to, understood?"

Shimousa sagged in her chair, "Yes, Doctor."

Dobashi continued, "You must repair your honor. To do so, you must repair the damage you have done to Colonel Masahiro's respect for you. Do you know how this can be done? It is simple! You must make Colonel Masahiro's mission here a success. Do you know that mission?"

Shimousa replied, "I have read her orders, even those brought yesterday by the courier. The mission depends on your research Doctor, the goal of finding a way to make soldiers follow orders without regard for personal safety."

Dobashi nodded, "But remember, we do not want soldiers who will be following orders with stupid disregard for their personal safety. That was the problem with Oya and the other test subjects. They were poorly educated grunts who could not think in the face of danger. But you, Shimousa, you are different. Your expensive education and training make you different. The blood of gallant military heroes flows through your veins. You can accomplish the mission, regain Colonel Masahiro's respect and save your own honor."

Shimousa's mind was now neatly split into two parts, like two ships sailing past each other. One part of her mind knew that she was part of Dr. Dobashi's experiment. But the other part believed every word Dr. Dobashi spoke and eagerly strained to make the test a success. For the test to be a success, she needed to do exactly what Dobashi told her to do, no matter what. But doing so was no problem! She would do anything to make the test produce the desired result. If the test succeeded then Colonel Masahiro would be pleased and Shimousa would be forgiven for showing disrespect to the Colonel. Honor would be restored!

Dobashi stared in fascination at the Lieutenant. Her pupils were dilated and her whole body was now tense like a cat stalking a mouse. Her rapid shifts in mood from normal confidence to deeply shamed and back to confidence were startling. Dobashi had intended this initial test as only a check to see if Shimousa might have a bad reaction to the drugs, but now he was caught up in the moment and the possibility that this combination of harmitryptoline and AJK32 was just what he had been searching for. Still, there was something frightening in the power of Shimousa's reactions to the drugs. Dobashi stood up and grabbed the bottle of beta-carboline-17, the antidote for harmitryptoline.

Dobashi almost decided to terminate the test, but then he remembered Colonel Masahiro's demand for progress. Very well, she had given explicit orders.


Continue to Chapter 2