The sample was named “Cor Ouadae 17-C-B”.

At the Yazuno Central Environmental Research Institute, research into this biospecimen proceeded along three main lines of inquiry: What are its characteristics? How can it be proliferated? What sort of being is it, in the first place?

All in all, they knew close to nothing about it.

Even its origin was dubious.
Nagasue, who brought the sample to the laboratory three years ago, had gone missing the following year without telling anyone of his whereabouts.
To top it off, its cellular structure did not resemble any of the multicellular organisms known to man.

One of the researchers described it as resembling “a display sample of chicken tenderloin.” His fellow colleagues had chortled wryly in agreement.
Indeed, it looked no different from a piece of chicken tenderloin one could find in the supermarket’s frozen section.
While both resembled food, one was made of plastic resin and silicone, while the other of something completely alien.

Nevertheless, there were certain things they had discerned about it.

The cells comprising the sample were all totipotent cells, which meant that they were capable of differentiating into all other cell types.
When inserted into the wound of another organism, it transformed itself into a replica of the organism’s cell and aided with the cell division process.
Subsequently, it became a part of its host (and on the surface, the wound would appear to be healed perfectly).

One of modern medicine’s goals is the reproduction of totipotent cells.
It would have been the achievement of the century had they been able to replicate such a function in other cells via research into this special specimen.
In the modern world, however, the buzz generated by any discovery could be a double-edged sword.
Thus, while there were high hopes for this research, it was also being conducted in secret.

Till date, they were still unable to find a way to cultivate the sample in its unchanged state.
As such, they proceeded cautiously by slicing off tiny portions of it at any given time.

There was a lab rat.

Its stomach had been cut open and implanted with trace amounts of “Cor Ouadae”.
The “Cor Ouadae” mutated before their very eyes, differentiating into the abdominal cells of Mammalia Rodentia Myomorpha and undergoing cell division.
Within 52 minutes, the wound had closed completely, without even a scar left behind.

After that, an abnormality was observed—the rat’s behavioral patterns had started to change.

The speed at which it performed certain actions in an operant conditioning chamber​ had clearly risen.
In addition, it had even developed a certain degree of foresight based on past patterns.
In a classic maze experiment, the rat displayed greatly above-average learning speed.
Not only had it not shown the increased aggression commonly observed in such experiments, it in fact started behaving more cautiously.

Short-sighted members of the staff came to a conclusion: the treatment had increased the rat’s intelligence.
This was fantastic news; not only had“Cor Ouadae” repaired the damaged organ, it had also activated(?) the neurons(?) in its brain(?). What a marvelous discovery! This will surely bring humanity to the next level!

The more prudent staffers rejoiced in moderation.
Cells of unknown origin had caused a change through some unknown mechanism. Whatever the reason, we can surely gain more insight by studying this further.
We ought to be thankful for that.

However, a small fraction comprising the rest grimaced.
They were well aware of the many parasitic organisms in the wild that were capable of inducing changes to the mental faculties of its hosts.
If “Cor Ouadae” were one of those, an astronomical effort would be needed to cross the colossal barrier of its conversion into a practical medical procedure.

Lastly, a few said nothing.
They averted their gazes from the rat which stared at the humans with its unfathomable eyes, and asked with a tinge of fear in their voices:

Can we really still call that creature a rat?

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