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[Recovered from the logs of an abandoned North Vietnamese research station, circa 1977, translated]

August 12, 1962

The American planes overhead have just finished their daily defoliation routes. The air is thick with herbicide; I write this through a gas mask. Our soldiers are suffocating in this toxic environment, we are simply outnumbered in the unfortunate location of our outpost. Luckily, our food supplies remain hidden from aerial view, and we can only hope that none of the chemical finds it, lest we all starve. The only detail keeping me from leaving this wasteland is the generous grant given to us by the honorable Lao Động officials, a sum of over 10,000,000,000 Dong. This is enough for us to continue our research into creating an antidote for the American herbicide, Agent Orange. The successful creation of an herbal exfoliant would put an end to the mindless extermination of our crops, and provide our citizens and soldiers with sufficient rations. This could be the chance the glorious state of North Vietnam is looking for! Our chemists are extracting samples from the affected plants as I write; hopefully we will have the exact compound used in producing the diabolical substance by the end of the week.

August 15, 1962

We have at last made essential progress towards our goal, after three grueling days of research. We have narrowed the possible chemical compounds used in Agent Orange to the following: 2,4-D/2,4,5-T isooctyl ester, which may even include traces of 2,3,7,8-TCDD. If such is the case, it is clear that our American enemy is constructing a mass genocide of epic proportions. Lao Động has cleared the reverse-engineering of the herbicide, effective September 1st. We await this day with bated breath.

August 16, 1962

It has been confirmed that Agent Orange contains dioxin, which means it can now be officially considered a bioweapon. However, our suspicions as to why the chemical is present have been disproven. Having salvaged the wreckage of an American plane, we now see that the orange paint - its namesake - used on the barrel has seeped into the solution. This is both disturbing and exciting news. It means that all people who have come into contact with the herbicide are prone to extremely painful ailments, including rashes, blisters, and even cancer of the lungs and prostate. (This explains the disease raging through our soldiers.) However, it also means that our enemies are much more careless than we originally thought. We are preparing formulas for the impending project, and it cannot come soon enough.

Addendum: Some of the soldiers have entirely lost the skins on their legs and arms. The situation is becoming increasingly dangerous; September cannot arrive soon enough.

August 23, 1962

The formulas are complete. We look forward to the physical manifestation of the chemical.

The air outside has become so thick with defoliant that we must wear full-body hazard suits and gas masks whenever we walk outside. The soldiers that have remained at the site have been taken inside for protection. One positive that I can report: our food supply is still intact and flourishing. High hopes are present among the entire research staff.

August 29, 1962

This morning, some of the spray from an overhead plane leaked into the bunker, causing a severe allergic reaction in one of the hospitalized soldiers. He is currently suffering from anaphylactic shock, and is only serving to prove that the experiment must be conducted as soon as possible. I fear for our safety, as long as this hateful war continues.

August 31, 1962

We have decided to move our entire sample supply of crops indoors in preparation for the experiment. The plants in question include varieties of wheat, corn, groundnut, indigo, and wild rice, all salvaged from our herbicide-proof greenhouse. We plan to remain indoors for the majority of the chemical tests, so as to prevent any excess agent from leaking into the base. Our sustainable food crop cannot be moved, unfortunately, and we hope to send one volunteer each day to collect enough for the staff and soldiers. We simply cannot afford another casualty. Last we checked, the plot is herbicide-free, so we have relatively high spirits as we enter into the month-long tests of our new chemical, which we have decided to call Agent Indigo, as a protest to the “Rainbow Herbicides” employed by the American army.

September 1, 1962- Day 1 in the bunker

Our staff is concocting a batch of Agent Indigo right next to me, as I write. It looks every bit as exciting as I had hoped.

Our first food run was conducted today, and Phan, our youngest associate, was successful. We now have enough wheat germ and flour to make a healthy bread meal for our entire staff.

September 2, 1962- Day 2

The first vial of Indigo is ready for testing. We only have a limited supply of lab mice, so hopefully they will reproduce quickly.

Observations of initial test on mice:

  • control shows no effect.
  • sample 1 shows mild skin irritation, but no other adverse side effects.
  • sample 2 shows no effect.
  • sample 3 shows minor hair loss on applied area.

Plants:

  • control dies shortly after exposure to Orange.
  • sample 1 with only Indigo shows Orange resistance on all crops.
  • sample 2 with Indigo and sugar solution shows Orange resistance on all crops except groundnut.

A productive day, overall. We are trying to eliminate all possible side effects so that we do not result in another bioweapon.

September 3, 1962- Day 3

We’ve created a new sample that will hopefully eliminate the hair loss and skin irritation.

Mice:

  • control shows no effect.
  • sample 1 shows no effect.
  • sample 2 acquires bloodshot eyes and minor irritation.
  • sample 3 shows minor irritation.

Plants:

  • control dies shortly after exposure.
  • sample 1 shows resistance on only indigo crops.
  • sample 2 shows resistance on only indigo crops.

Well, it seems there is more work to do.

September 4, 1962- Day 4

Mice:

  • control shows no effect.
  • sample 1 shows no effect.
  • sample 2 shows no effect.
  • sample 3 shows no effect.

Plants:

  • control dies shortly after exposure.
  • sample 1 shows resistance on all crops except groundnut.
  • sample 2 shows resistance on all crops.

Now we have something to go on. Groundnut appears to be the most susceptible to Orange and least affected by Indigo. We may be close, and weeks before our deadline.

September 7, 1962- Day 7

I think we may have our formula. We’re going to conduct what will hopefully be our final test.

Mice:

  • control shows no effect.
  • sample 1 shows no effect.
  • sample 2 shows no effect.
  • sample 3 shows no effect.

Plants:

  • control dies shortly after exposure.
  • sample 1 shows resistance on all crops.
  • sample 2 shows resistance on all crops.

This is excellent. We have our product.

Addendum: Giang was today’s food runner, and after coming back he said the air was so thick with Agent Orange that he could barely see, and that the majority of his delivery was contaminated in the process. We have to begin rationing our supplies.

September 8, 1962- Day 8

Mice:

  • control shows no effect.
  • sample 1 shows no effect.
  • sample 2 shows no effect.
  • sample 3 shows no effect.

Plants:

  • control dies shortly after exposure.
  • sample 1 shows resistance on all crops.
  • sample 2 shows resistance on all crops.

This has confirmed our hopes: Agent Indigo is ready for deployment. We may as well start filling our barrel stock with Indigo prematurely, since we have over 3 weeks left to spend down here before the escort arrives.

Addendum: After the crew had gone to sleep, I went back to euthanize the mice. Two of the samples showed signs of minor aggression and irritation. I have no desire to report this; as it seems benign and should in no way halt our research.

September 10, 1962- Day 10

We have so much indigo crop left over from the experiments that we have trouble finding something to use it for. It was the only crop that did not die in any of the tests. Since it is a dye, after all, we’re now using it to stylize the barrels, like the Americans did with theirs.

While none of us want to, we must still conduct experiments until at least the 15th, as per Lao Động’s orders. From now on, all further observations should be considered arbitrary.

Mice:

  • control shows no effect.
  • sample 1 shows no effect.
  • sample 2 shows no effect.
  • sample 3 shows no effect.

Plants:

  • control dies shortly after exposure.
  • sample 1 shows resistance on all crops.
  • sample 2 shows resistance on all crops.

Addendum: While euthanizing the mice tonight, one of the bastards bit me on the finger. It was wriggling like a cat was chasing it as I plunged the needle into its fur. This piqued my interest. Could a delayed side effect be abnormal aggression? While it is insignificant compared to cancer, it is still something to consider. I shall be watching the subjects more closely from now on.

September 13, 1962- Day 13

We had an accident while packing the agent today. Phan had the idea to paint the barrel while it was already full, and it fell over and doused him in the chemical. We’ve hospitalized him in case any unknown side effects present themselves, although this is unlikely.

Mice:

  • control shows no effect.
  • sample 1 shows no effect.
  • sample 2 shows no effect.
  • sample 3 shows no effect.

Plants:

  • control dies shortly after exposure.
  • sample 1 shows resistance on all crops.
  • sample 2 shows resistance on all crops.

Addendum: When I went to euthanize the mice tonight, sample 2 was biting into the flesh of the control, who had been killed just moments before I arrived. This is highly worrisome. I’m beginning to think the batch is tainted in some way. I will notify the staff tomorrow that we should produce another batch.

September 14, 1962- Day 14

News of a disturbing nature has just presented itself. Today was my day to collect supplies, and as soon as I stepped through the door I could see what Giang had meant. Visibility is frighteningly low, almost as if the clouds had descended upon us. The situation became dire when I arrived at the crop site and found that it had become overrun by Agent Orange. I returned as fast as I could to the base and relayed the news. Luckily, we have enough to last us 2 more weeks, which means we should escape the fate of starvation, but only just.

Mice:

  • control shows no effect.
  • sample 1 shows no effect.
  • sample 2 shows no effect.
  • sample 3 shows no effect.

Plants:

  • control dies shortly after exposure.
  • sample 1 shows resistance on all crops.
  • sample 2 shows resistance on all crops.

Now that we have replaced the old batch with one taken from the sealed barrels, results should be more conclusive.

Addendum: Tonight, the mouse situation has become serious. All three mice were dead when I checked the cage, with their organs strewn about the floor. I assumed there must have been a massive fight between the three in response to one or more turning aggressive. This means that aggression is a standard side effect, which could potentially lead to murderous intentions. It is imperative that I keep a close eye on Phan, and to not tell the others.

September 15, 1962- Day 15

At last, the final test. Hopefully the side effects will go unnoticed by the rest of the crew.

Mice:

  • control shows no effect.
  • sample 1 shows aggression towards control.
  • sample 2 shows minor aggression towards control.
  • sample 3 shows no effect.

Plants:

  • control dies shortly after exposure.
  • sample 1 shows resistance on all crops.
  • sample 2 shows resistance on all crops.

This is not good. The experiment showed that our last four lab mice had an urge to induce violence on one another. Luckily, the staff agreed that it was too late to change it, and that it was already proven to prevent damage from Orange. We’re getting to the last of the barrels now, and we still have indigo to spare.

Addendum: I sincerely believe we are in trouble. We had separated the mice due to the danger of one killing another, and when euthanization time came, all three sample mice had quite literally imploded. Their organs and skeleton were hanging from the outside of their skin, as if they had been turned inside-out. I threw the mice corpses into the furnace and hoped that no one would question their disappearance.

Addendum: One of the soldiers taking shelter here came into contact with a batch tonight. He has been hospitalized next to Phan.

September 22, 1962- Day 22

Giang found one of the untouched corpses in the damn furnace. I informed him of the situation reluctantly, and fortunately he agreed to keep it quiet. We took the remaining mouse and applied some of the chemical. It was only 17 minutes before it began to convulse wildly, spewing blood out of its orifices. What we witnessed next was truly horrifying. The mouse’s skeleton was forced out of both the mouth and anus, and the skin receded into its ears, eyes, and genitalia. Its muscles were clearly spasming out of control, forcing out anything inside the body that was not Agent Indigo. After the process was complete, we could see clearly that its veins were pumping the chemical rapidly, with its heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and stomach were hanging by thin strands of flesh, attached to the skeletal midsection. It was a disgusting sight, and we ordered the staff to quarantine Phan and the soldier. Considering the human inner workings are much larger than a mouse’s, it should only be a few more days before… it happens. I can barely sleep now, just thinking that this will occur to them.

Addendum: It’s approximately 2:45 in the morning. I can hear moaning from down the hall; I think it has begun.

[The following is from a set of scribbled notes recovered along with the log]

The moaning isn’t stopping. I understand it should take longer for a human to turn compared to a mouse, but it has been over two hours now.

It is 3:10. I can hear yelling from the quarantine zone.

Oh, God. I can hear them. I can hear their screams. The pain they must be enduring...

The screams are being muffled now. It must be close to the end of the process.

Giang is in the room with me. He says Phan’s turned, but he is still moving. How is that possible?

The soldier’s turned now; I can hear the shrieking. I plan to run with Giang to the storage room; it is the furthest place from the quarantine zone.

We just heard glass breaking.

One of the soldiers just came running into the room in a panic. He is dripping with sweat and blood, but he claims it is not his own. He claims that Phan and the other soldier are still very much alive. I am terrified.

We are about to make the run to the storage room.

Oh, God, what have we done? As we were running down the hallway, I caught a glimpse of what used to be Phan, rolling onto the floor with his skin turned inside-out. I could hear the soldier, still attempting to scream from the quarantine zone. HOW ARE THEY STILL ALIVE?

Giang just went out to try and salvage some rations from the refrigerator, which involves passing the quarantine zone. May God be with him.

OH, MY GOD, THEY… THEY KNOCKED HIM DOWN… HOW? HOW… OH, MY GOD…

...

I fear I may not live to see an end to the destruction of Agent Orange. What they did to Giang was… disgusting…

...they...enveloped him…

...I heard him screaming…

...the chemical pouring from their veins onto him…

...

It is 5:00. The rest of the staff is in here with us. We are huddling around each other, and all we can hear is the muffled moan of those… things that used to be human.

They… they are rolling their mangled bodies toward us…

They just knocked a barrel over next to one of the soldiers. Indigo is all over the floor. The barrel… oh, my God…

We were so… stupid. It was the barrels. It was the DAMN BARRELS…

...we made the same mistake the Americans made… only this time, we may have endangered the lives of everyone in this country.

Of course the indigo plant fared so well… the indigo was an agent of its own. The barrel material just accelerated the effects.

And the aggression… it just made it worse.

My God. It… it is deliberately knocking over the barrels. They are all soaked… everyone… I… I am the only one still clean.

I have to go.

...

October 2, 1962- Day 33

They lied.

Lao Động never sent backup.

It has been a full day since the rescue was promised, and I can ensure that they are either dead or nonexistent.

North Vietnam will die because of this.

I am currently at the exit. It’s 8:45. I am standing in the doorway, peering outside. It is dawn, and the herbicide is everywhere. It persists, even though the planes had stopped targeting this area days ago. I cannot see a thing. I can hear gunfire from all around the outpost. Even though it is most likely miles away, it is still deafening.

But I can still hear them.

Those things that used to be my colleagues.

I hear them rolling about the facility, moaning softly, as if to say, “It is fine. Come be with us.”

Death is certain, no matter where I go.

Although I think I would rather stay and face the hell inside this bunker than the hell that is going on out there.

The pain endured by those things could never amount to the pain endured by the people of Vietnam who are forced to fight this war.

If anyone finds this note, please, destroy all that remains of Agent Indigo.

[The log and notes were discovered by American troops shortly prior to their withdrawal from the country.]

[No trace of the alleged substance Agent Indigo was ever found.]

[No bodies were ever recovered.]