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For the Love of Clones


Kevin B. Duxbury

Dedicated to the veterans among us, who walk our streets unheard, and unnoticed.

In the Beginning...

By the late 1990's, scientists from around the world were well in to the studies of DNA and cloning, but none had ever cloned a living creature. So those same scientists from around the world got together and compared notes.

A few years later Polly, the world's first cloned sheep, was born. The world was shocked. Some felt it was mans' greatest achievement, while others felt we had committed a great sin by taking God out of the loop. Science continued on. As knowledge was gained, greater and more complicated animals were cloned. With cloning seeming as though it had been mastered, the scientists began concentrating on the endangered species, creating such rare animals as elephants and whales. Then one day, word was let loose that again shocked the world. A young doctor had cloned the world's first chimpanzee. For some, it was the greatest cloning feat ever, while for others it was by far the far worst. The closest relative to man had been cloned.

George, as the chimp was called, showed great intelligence and was healthy and well. It seemed obvious to all what the next step would be. On a warm summer day in 2012, the world's first human clone was removed from her artificial womb and took her first breath. The world was shocked again. Many protested the experiment, claiming that the scientists were playing God. It wasn't until a week after the "birth," that pictures of Roxanne were released. The world fell in love. Roxanne was a beautiful baby girl, with light skin, dark eyes, and a full head of dark hair. The protests ceased, and little Roxanne became the delight of the world. But there was far more to little Roxanne than the world knew.

By the year 2010, the United Nations had control of the world. Peace had long since been brought to the Balkans, the Middle-East, and all the troubled spots in the world, and the new laws of the Geneva Convention were established. Any dispute which nations felt could only be resolved through war, had to be done so on open terrain away from civilization. Wars would be fought with infantry and with infantry only. No more tanks, artillery, missiles, bombs or aircraft, just men and weapons. The army which claimed victory won the dispute, and it was final.

Serving as the "referee" so to speak, was the United States. Fort Hood, Texas, the largest military post in the world, was shut down, and all units were deactivated. In their place silos were built, housing thousands of nuclear missiles. A representative from every nation and small country in the world resided there, monitoring the actions of one another, but it was the United States who controlled the missiles and made any final decisions. It was simple really, violate the rules of the Geneva Convention and your country would be wiped from the face of the earth.

Fighting wars with just infantry caused a dilemma for many countries. With the absence of technology, stealth fighters, smart bombs, etc., all nations were forced to rely on the training and skills of men. Many nations, especially the superpowers, hadn't done this for decades. The United States Department of Defense took great interest in the cloning experiments, so much that they secretly took command of it.

Roxanne was actually a twin, her sister Sonja having been secretly hidden away from the public by the Department of Defense. Roxanne had been deliberately engineered with genetic flaws by the Department of Defense. By the age of two she began experiencing health problems, and by the age of four, she died. The world was crushed. So broken hearted were Roxanne's admirers that they protested and petitioned for human cloning to be stopped, calling it "ungodly and cruel." The Federal Government listened, and human cloning was stopped, or so the public thought.

The Sonja Project was in full speed. Sonja's genetic code was so carefully created, so precise, that she was declared the perfect human being. Her growth pattern was modified, allowing her to grow and mature twenty-four years in only forty-eight months, then would return to normal.

In only four years time, Sonja had the maturity and physique of a young adult. Her genetically created brain swelled with knowledge and training, her body was firm and strong, and her reflexes were razor sharp. She was disciplined, obedient, and feared nothing. The Department of Defense knew that Sonja would be the perfect human, but what they required was a better soldier. Early into Sonja's conditioning faze, two special traits were added. First, Sonja had the ability to control her own adrenaline flow, giving her super-human strength at her own will. Second, her eyes had been genetically modified to give her night vision that was 150% better than a
normal person's, thus eliminating the limits of night-vision devices. The Department of Defense was pleased, but they wanted to see how their project would perform in a combat situation. So, a test was requested.

From across the country, six of the hardest criminals known were taken from death row and transferred to Fort Irwin, California. There, in a small air-conditioned room deep within the desert, the six convicts were offered a chance for freedom. It was simple really. The six of them would enter a small arena, armed with various assault weapons, and take on one 24 year old female, armed only with two Beretta 9mm pistols. Kill the young female, and they would be set free. The convicts laughed out loud, then asked what the catch was. A man wearing five stars on his uniform assured them there was no catch. Kill the woman, and go free. There was a long pause, then the convicts accepted.

The convicts were given a one month extensive training course, teaching them tactics and training them to work as a team. Thirty days later, they were an elite team, minus the ethics of a real soldier. The time for them to take their freedom was at hand.

It was a warm morning in the desert. The convicts, dressed in green camouflage fatigues and armed to the tooth, bumped shoulders with each other as the black Suburban sped across the dusty, bumpy desert road. Their uniforms and weapons gave them the appearance of soldiers, but their unshaven faces and long hair served as a reminder that they were not. These were killers, criminals, who were now well trained and well armed.

Three of the six carried M-4 assault rifles, a shortened version of the common M-16, and each wore a pistol belt with ammo pouches containing twelve, thirty-round magazines. Two of the convicts were armed with the reliable M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon, a lightweight machine gun which had a 200 round drum attached to its frame. Each SAW gunner also carried two extra drums in bandoleers slung across their bodies. The last carried the big M-60 machine gun. The old reliable beast fired a much larger round than the AR's and the SAW's, but with a fifty round belt dangling from his weapon, and 200 rounds crisscrossing his body, the 60 gunner was actually at a disadvantage when it came time to reload. He had no worries though, because he knew this chick was going down. And just for a little assurance, each convict was equipped with two fragmentation grenades, just in case. The convicts laughed and joked amongst each other, bragging of what they would do today after their release. The Suburban began to slow, then came to an abrupt stop.

Before them, far into the desert in an abandoned training area, the large concrete arena stood. Its walls were easily twenty feet high, and before them was a small iron door. The convicts sneered, then dismounted the suburban and collected their weapons. About the arena, expensive cars were parked. One of the convicts smiled and wet his lips.

Surrounding the arena were the Military Police, dressed lightly in desert fatigues and armed with M-4's and Beretta 9mm pistols. The driver guided the convicts to the iron door, then motioned them to enter. One by one, the convicts walked through the narrow opening, into the arena. Within the twenty foot walls, it was a different world. The harsh desert bore little life, but within these walls lush green grass grew. The arena was only about 150 feet long and 75 feet wide, with concrete and wooden barricades scattered about. The sun shined brightly into the roofless arena, warming the heads of the convicts and causing them to sweat. To their front, there was another iron door, still closed. Centered atop the longer walls were small viewing booths, seating about twenty and surrounded by thick, bulletproof glass.

The occupants, wearing a variety of dress uniforms and business suits watched with anticipation. The iron door behind them slammed shut, startling the convicts. They looked in awe as they realized that the door could only be opened from the outside. The convicts stood in a wedge, eyeing the door at the far end of the arena. The door clanked, then opened.

A young female entered the arena, wearing black jungle boots, black fatigue pants, a tight black tank-top, and small, dark plastic sunglasses. Her hands were covered with black fingerless gloves, each holding a new Beretta 9mm pistol. Her short dark hair was pulled back tightly, her body was firm and toned. Her face was light and soft, without blemish. She was quite perfect. She looked forward to meeting her opponents, showing no emotion, just intense concentration.

"Gentlemen," a voice bellowed over the intercom. "Whenever you're ready."

The convict at the head of the formation snickered, gripping his M-4 tightly, then quickly raised the weapon to his eye and took aim. Three shots rang out, fired so closely together that they almost sounded like one.

The lead convict's head thrust back, a SAW gunner spun, and the 60 gunned stumbled back and fell, his belts of ammo splitting where they crossed. The three remaining convicts dove behind the nearest barricades, looking back at their fallen team mates.

"What the hell was that!" one of them yelled.

"She shot 'em, man!" another yelled back.

"No f**king way, man!" he yelled back, his voice trembling.

"Shut up, both of you!" the third convict ordered. He gripped his M-4 tightly. "She got the draw on us. Now let's take her down!"

The SAW gunner repositioned himself, then quickly raised his head above his barricade. The young woman stood fast, her pistols raised. Her right pistol was now two rounds lighter, and the left, one. The SAW gunner raised his body and sprayed bullets at the young woman.  She quickly dove and rolled behind a concrete barricade. While the SAW gunner laid his covering fire, the two riflemen moved to farther barricades, attempting to widen their front. Sonja peeked around her barricade, watching carefully where the other two convicts had positioned themselves. The bullets ceased, and all was quiet. She stood and fired one bullet, intentionally hitting the top of the barricade and forcing the SAW gunner down. The two riflemen keyed on the shot and quickly rose and took aim. Sonja fired a single shot from each pistol, sending both convicts' heads thrusting back, their lifeless bodies falling to the ground. The SAW gunner peered around his barricade and looked in horror at the split head of one of his teammates.

"Aw what the hell man," his voice trembled. "What the hell is this?"

He looked over the top of his barricade, only to see the woman quickly walking in his direction, her knees deeply bent, and her pistols at the ready.

"Aw sh*t," his voice trembled uncontrollably.

He jumped up from behind his barricade and let loose a hail of bullets, spraying everything around her. Again she ducked and rolled to the safety of the nearest barricade. The convict propped his SAW on the barricade and continued firing the weapon with one hand, while he fumbled with a fragmentation grenade in the other. He ceased his firing, quickly pulled the pin and flicked off the safety from the grenade, then launched it toward the young woman. Sonja watched the grenade as it lobbed over her head and fell behind her. Knowing she did not have time to throw it back, Sonja dove over the barricade, rolling heels over head, and quickly aimed her pistols.

The SAW gunner struggled with his awkward weapon, fumbling with the trigger. Sonja fired a single round, again forcing the gunner's head down.

"Sh*t!" The gunner cursed, then a second round ricocheted off the barricade.

The grenade exploded, sending debris and shrapnel into the air. Sonja then leapt into the air, flipping herself backwards, and landed back behind the barricade.

"Son of a bitch!" The gunner screamed. He stood and again opened up with his SAW, riddling the female's barricade with bullets. He gathered his courage, and began rushing the barricade with his weapon blazing.

Sonja listened intently, noticing that the noise of the blazing weapon was getting closer. She swung her arm around the right side of her barricade and fired a shot. The gunner shifted his fire and began tearing up the ground where the female had briefly appeared. Sonja then shifted to the left side of the barricade and fired a single shot from her left pistol. The gunner's body jerked, and his firing ceased. He stood silently, stunned, and touched his sternum, feeling the warm blood on his shirt. He looked to the booths with confusion, fell to his knees, then let go his last
breath and fell forward on his weapon.

Sonja rose from her position and scanned the area. She placed one of her pistols in her pocket, then approached her fallen targets. One by one, she checked their necks for a pulse, always keeping her remaining pistol at the ready. Finally, she reached the fallen 60 gunner. She felt his neck and turned her head in awe. There was a pulse. She stood and fired a single shot into the gunner's head. His body jerked. She reached down and checked his pulse again, then stood and faced the presidential booth.

"Mission accomplished," she said without emotion.


A New Kind of Soldier


The Sonja Project was a complete success, and the Department of Defense knew that the science of cloning would be a valuable asset. With numerous soldiers like Sonja, the United States could be guaranteed military superiority over any nation in the world. And so it was that the next step in their cloning project was put into motion.

Far in the scorching California desert, a massive satellite dish sent its signal into the sky, casting a digital camouflage net over the Ft. Irwin training area. From a spy satellite all that would be seen was the barren desert floor, and not the enormous genetic factory which had been secretly built. Within the walls of this massive, windowless building the new army of the United States was being cloned. The results were genetically perfect soldiers, mentally and tactically proficient, with a discipline that could not be found in normal humans.

The soldiers were identical. Male Caucasians, six feet tall, 165 pounds, and without a single hair on their bodies. Like Sonja, each was able to control his own adrenaline, giving them massive strength at will, and each had the improved night vision. But what truly made these soldiers effective was the chip. Within each brain of the cloned soldiers, a small microchip was installed which allowed every piece of information the clones needed to be programmed directly into their brains. Entire missions, maps, details, everything a normal human would need to carry or memorize could be programmed into the clone's chips.

In addition, the chips allowed the clones to communicate with one another through thought, rather than by voice over radio. Again, less equipment to carry. With the combination of the chip, and the quick and precise thought process of the clone's minds, they were a deadly foe. In a combat situation where there were multiple targets, the clones would simultaneously assign each target a number, then distribute the targets amongst each other. As a result, no target would be hit by more than one clone. The entire process took less than a micro-second. In only ten years time, the Department of Defense had completed the production of their new, elite army. The creators of the project and the clones began to grow restless. They had their new toy, but no one to play with. Then one day, trouble arose.

For as long as the new rules of the Geneva Convention had been in effect, the United States had always been in control of the nuclear missiles at Ft. Hood, as well as having the final word as to whether or not they would be used. The Russian government, prior to its transformation from Communism to Democracy, had nuclear missiles in their possession and had once proven that they were mature and responsible enough to control them.

So the Russian President proposed a plan: The United States and Russia would take turns controlling the missiles, rotating every five years between their two nations. The President of the United States laughed out loud. He made it quite clear that the United States had control of the missiles, and it was going to stay that way. Talking led to yelling, yelling led to insults, and insults led to war. The Russian government had enough of the stubbornness of the United States. The only way to solve the dispute was through Civilized War.

And so it was that a time and a place were set. On a small, unpopulated island, the two opposing armies met to do battle. It was a complete massacre. The well trained, fearless American clones dominated over the Russian infantry, mowing them down like weeds. The Russian army suffered great losses, while the United States suffered only a few score of casualties. The DOD became very confidant, thinking that none would ever challenge the authority of the United States again after such a great victory. But in reality, their problems were only beginning.

It would seem that the third wave of Russian infantry, having witnessed the slaughter of the first two waves, fell back and fled, taking with them photos and video of the attack. Russian intelligence quickly exposed the United States and their cloned army, shocking the world. Back in the States, the nation stood divided. Many felt that the cloned soldiers were a blessing, having saved hundreds of American lives and assuring victory over the Russians. But many felt that cloning humans like cattle for the purpose of slaughter was the world's greatest sin. The clones didn't complain.

They couldn't. They were not programmed to. But public opinion, as it had always been, was the last of the DOD's concerns. Upon return to their ships from the battle, two of the clones were not accounted for. A review of the battle, recorded by the chips, saw the two missing clones fall during the fight. A thorough search of the island was conducted, but the bodies were never found. It could mean only one thing: The Russians had them.

Hundreds of feet below the earth's surface in a secret Russian laboratory, the two fallen clones were examined, and dissected. They found the chip.

As the rules of the Geneva Convention would have it, the defeated party of a Civilized War had the option of declaring a rematch within five years of their loss. In the event that such an option should be exercised, the nation which claimed victory two out of three times would be declared the final victor. The dispute was put to rest, and could not be discussed again for twenty-five years. And so it was, only three years after their defeat, Russia declared Civilized War against the United States. But the Russian government made a rather unexpected suggestion. For this war, they wanted to use an unusually large amount of personnel, about a third greater than what the United States had in clones. But that was just as well, the DOD still had faith in their human infantry soldiers. And so it was, that another remote area was chosen, and the two nations would do battle.

On a moonless night, somewhere in a lost African desert, hundreds of U.S. Army Chinooks dropped from the sky, their twin props shattering the silence. The helicopters swiftly touched ground, dropping their ramps as they landed and releasing the enormous American army. The Russians, having beaten the Americans to the war zone again, waited patiently in there hasty fighting positions. The Russian officers scanned their approaching enemy with a new type of electronic binoculars.

One-third of the approaching army appeared normal, looking like green ghosts on a sea of sand, while the other two-thirds gave off a small yellow glow from their heads, just even with their right ears. The Russian officers began transmitting over their radios in their own harsh language. From behind the front lines, Russian Mortar teams began dropping rounds down their 81mm tubes. The mortars flashed in the night and let loose a sharp bang which echoed over the desert. The mortar rounds arched over the battlefield, then slammed into the ground just short of the American lines. The Americans flinched, then continued on.

The rounds did not explode on impact. They were not supposed to. The American soldiers, clones and humans alike, continued their advance, taking care not to disturb the dud rounds which still posed a danger. The clones then froze in their tracks and began shaking their heads, their faces twisted with pain. They went mad. Some screamed in pain and fell to the desert floor as their minds were fried. Others went into fits of rage, opening fire on one another and brutally ripping each other apart. The humans, confused by the actions of the clones, quickly abandoned their flank and avoided the area. With that, the Russians opened fire, quickly cutting down the American army, clones and humans alike. American casualties were high, while the Russians sustained few.

News of the battle quickly reached the United States. The country was in complete shock. The United States had never been defeated, and the citizens of the nation did not know how to cope. But the DOD remained calm.

In the midst of the battle, two teams from the 10th Special Forces group managed to salvage what they could from the bloody slaughter. One team, amongst the chaos, managed to recover one of the dud mortar rounds, while the other team slipped behind the enemy lines. There they overtook a Russian officer, stripping him of his electronic binoculars and brutally, but silently, beating him to death. They returned with the items and gave them to the DOD.

Far in the scorching California desert, scientists and engineers disassembled the items and discovered how they worked. The night vision binoculars were designed specifically to detect computer components, like the chips attached to the brains of the clones. Once the clones were identified, the mortar rounds were fired. Rather than explosives, these mortar rounds carried a technical electronic device. Upon impact, they would let loose a high pitched frequency, far higher than any human or clone could hear. The frequency attacked and confused the clones' chips, causing them to send electronic signals to their brains and making them mad. With the
secrets of these weapons revealed, the DOD had only five years to find a counter measure. The most intelligent minds of the DOD came together, and they found a solution.

It was obvious that the clones were easily identified by their identical features, but that was not the real problem. The Russians had a device which allowed them to spot the chips, which posed the real threat. And so the scientists came together trying to find a way to hide the chip, to camouflage it, to make it invisible to the Russian device. Then, one of the bioengineers came up with a solution. He created a computer chip made entirely of living cells and tissues, completely organic, and invisible to the Russians. The DOD quickly began producing their next generation of clones, totally unlike any they had ever designed before.

Collecting DNA samples from every soldier in the United States Military, the DOD created an army of clones, each with entirely different features and personalities. They had interests, hobbies, and even made friends with one another. They were so much like normal humans that no one could tell them apart, but that was where their similarities to humans stopped. These were clones, and they were just as deadly as the originals.

They were programmable, had night vision, and possessed the super human strength as well as the ability to communicate through thought. They did not know fear, and they would fight to the death. Five years later, the project was complete. The United States declared Civilized War against Russia, in what would be the final decision in their long dispute.

It was a cool, dark night on yet another lost tropical island. The stars shone brightly, but with the absence of the moon, there was little light. Once again the Russians had arrived at the battle field early, and were already dug in. They waited patiently as the low hum from deep in the darkness became a loud roar. The American hovercrafts stormed onto the beach, sending clouds of dust into the night air. They came to a graceful halt, then lowered their ramps. Slowly, cautiously, the American soldiers began to dismount. The Russian officers looked on in confusion as the multi-racial, co-ed army took their first steps onto the beach.

They scanned the American army with their electronic binoculars, but they did not see the chips. They fired their special mortar rounds, but they had no effect. Convinced that they were not clones, the Russians rose to attack. Shots rang out, and one by one, the Russian soldiers fell. The Americans began rushing the trenches. The Russians panicked. Every time a soldier would rise to take a shot, his body would thrust back as a bullet ripped through him. In a very short time, the Americans were upon them.

The night lit up with a blaze of fire as the Americans quickly and swiftly swept through the trenches. The second and third wave of the Russian army quickly retreated at the sight of their front line being brutally cut down.

The clones pursued. The forest echoed with shots and screams, then all was silent.

News quickly spread around the world of the annihilation of the Russian Army, of which only seven soldiers survived. One of the seven was a combat photographer, and his tapes and photos were quickly revealed to the public, showing the brutality and lack of mercy shown by the United States and their cloned army. Even the citizens of the United States were appalled. These inhuman clones were a monstrosity and had to be destroyed. Of course, the DOD was not going to comply with these protests, but they knew they needed the support of the common citizen if the program were to continue.

The DOD conducted a series of press releases and ceremonies, awarding the clones for heroism and bravery, then allowed the clones to speak to the press. The nation gasped. These clones were not at all like the first project. These all looked different, like so many American sons and daughters. The spoke differently, they had personalities, they showed emotions like pride, loyalty, and happiness. Again, the nation  became divided. Many felt they were ungodly beasts, created by scientists to seem human, but were actually ruthless killing machines.

Others felt sympathy for the clones. They defended the nation's freedom, and just because they were not borne of woman did not mean they were not human. The debates went on for years. But the DOD really didn't care what the public thought. They were not about to destroy the only weapon that assured security for the United States. Ten years passed without war. It seemed that man had finally become civilized, and no longer needed war to settle the disputes between nations.

The rules of the Geneva Convention were again reviewed, then rewritten.

Peace and War

February 19, 2040 was said to be the greatest day in history, second only to the birth of Christ. Representatives of the United Nations came together and rewrote the Geneva Convention, drafting a new set of rules which strictly forbid the practice of all acts of war. All issues between nations would be discussed and voted on by the members of the United Nations.

The majority vote was final, and that was all there was to it. The Department of Defense was not excited about this decision in the least, but they were stuck. How could the United States stand up and claim that world peace was not the answer. They had no choice but to comply. The world celebrated.

A few years after world peace was declared, the issue of what to do with the clones arose. The DOD felt the answer was simple; they would be destroyed as all tools of war had been. Of course, knowledge of this could not be made public. There were many who had grown to love the clones and held them as heroes. Word of their destruction would throw the nation into an uproar. It didn't take long for word to slip out.

On a warm spring day in the California desert, the entire army of cloned soldiers, their numbers too great to count, stood quietly in formation outside the factory where they were created. Before them, a four-star general stood atop a tall platform. To their backs, hundreds of five-ton military trucks sat quietly, their beds loaded with body-bags. The general spoke into his microphone, projecting his voice across the desert. He informed the clones that they would form into a series of lines and receive an injection from an army medic. They would then walk over to the trucks, take a body-bag, and move to a clearing that had been marked off. There
they would climb into the body-bags, lie down, and wait for the injection to take effect. He informed them that they would die within ten minutes, that it would be painless, and that their bodies would then be moved to an incinerator. The clones mumbled and stirred.

"You're out of your mind, Sir," one of the clones shouted.

"You will do as you are ordered!" The general bellowed back.

There was a momentary silence.

"We are living human beings!" A female voice broke out. "We will not let you murder us!"

The clones began to grumble and shout.

"You are not humans, you are clones!" The general shouted. "We created you! We will decide your disposition! Now do as you are ordered!"

The surrounding soldiers, the human soldiers, became uneasy. The clones were programmed with a will to live, a will to survive. They felt threatened, and their survival mechanism was engaging. They began breaking formation. A lone MP aimed his weapon, but it was quickly snatched from his grasp. A shot rang out, a clone fell, and a riot followed. The unarmed clones greatly outnumbered the security element. They quickly overtook them and fled into the desert.

Seeking refuge, the clones flooded the nearby cities of Barstow, Rosemond, and Lancaster. Word quickly spread of the DOD's plans to exterminate them, and the majority of the public was appalled. The Department of Defense tried desperately to recall the clones, sending messages to the public that the clones were mad and extremely dangerous.

The public didn't buy it.

A new hope came to the clones through the Catholic church which started a secret program called "Operation Underground." The program helped the runaway clones disappear into society by providing them with shelter, money, jobs, and even a new identity. In a short time, the church had members nationwide, providing the clones with contacts wherever they would go.



It was a cool night on the streets of Lancaster, California. The rain had finally stopped, and the locals were moving about. The lights of the buildings and the headlights of the speeding cabs shined brilliantly off the wet, dirty streets. The city of Lancaster was once just a rural city in the middle of the High Desert, but like all things in life, times changed. With three Metro-Links running in and out of L.A., commuting was no longer a problem. The desert’s population flourished, and the small city of Lancaster became a major metropolis of its own. Kevin walked along the crowded sidewalks, his olive drab field jacket wrapped around his medium build, his dark hair slicked back. He looked up and smirked as his eyes met
those of another clone.

“Que pasa, amigo?” The clone said extending an open hand.

“Another day in paradise,” Kevin replied, slapping his palm against the clones as they passed.

They continued on their separate paths, never looking back. The eyes of the clones had been genetically modified for night vision, and as a result, small golden specks could bee seen in their eyes. But these specks were only visible to other clones, and not to the human eye. For the clones, it was a very convenient way of identifying one another.

Kevin B. Duxbury was a former sergeant in the Cloned Army and had served in the Last War, as it was called. His name had been selected from a list of peacekeepers who had once served in the Balkans, but that was all he knew about him. It was how the DOD names all their clones. They wrote it off as a “dedication” to former soldiers who had served their country. Yea, whatever. He was now thirty-four years old, by human standards. He was tired. He had put in a good day's work at the warehouse where he worked in shipping, loading trucks for a national drug store chain. He wove his way through the maze of weathered buildings within his apartment complex. He stopped and climbed the stairs of building 69, then rang the bell of apartment 69B.

“Who is it?” A female voice said over the intercom.

“It’s me. I forgot my key again,” Kevin said into the speaker.

The deadbolts turned, and the door creaked open. The aroma of beef stew and fresh bread flooded the doorway, and from inside the apartment, the radio was playing.

“This is 95.7, KLON, Lancaster. Clone Radio, playin’ all your favorite Rock ‘n’ Roll tunes and some oldies too. That was Metallica with their latest. Man, you’d think those guys would be dead by now! Let’s slow it down a little on this rainy Lancaster night. Here’s a little Merideth Brooks with ‘Stop.’”

The bass picked up a bluesy rhythm, and Merideth began to sing. The majority of the nation had the hots for the clones. It was like a trend. The high school and college kids were all wearing cammo shirts and jackets with patches from clone units, pretending to be clones in hiding. The clones didn’t mind, it took a lot of the attention off of them.

“What’s up, Dude?” Julia said soothingly. She was a slender thing, kind of tall, with dark shoulder-length hair and light skin. Julia A. Timmins was also a former clone and Last War veteran. She worked at the same warehouse, filling bins with individual items to be shipped.

“Another day,” Kevin responded, removing his jacket.

Their apartment was small, especially for three people, but it didn’t really bother them. Clones were accustomed to living in close quarters, and being as they were in a low income area, no one suspected anything. Three people living in a one-bedroom apartment was normal. The place was cramped with handed down furniture and was dimly lit.

“You hungry?” Julia asked. She had just finished preparing a hearty beef stew, with fresh bread, a large salad, and fresh fruit for desert. The clones were known for having large appetites, and a healthy diet.

“Yea,” Kevin responded.

“Want some chow?”

“Yes, please.”

She turned off the radio and brought several plates of food into the small living room. The two clones fell onto the old couch, then Kevin turned on the television. The news came on.

“Earlier this evening,” the young woman reported. “The Clone Tracking Task Force raided a small convenience store where five clones were suspected to be working. Upon entry, three persons, all fitting the description of escaped clones, fled the scene. They CTTF pursued and cornered the clones in an ally way where they were then gunned down by the CTTF using special explosive anti-clone rounds.”

“My God,” Julia whispered.

“These clones were a deadly menace,” Special Agent Max Savage exclaimed. He was head of the CTTF, and hated nation wide. He stood in the alley way, the walls sprayed with blood, and the bodies of the clones covered with yellow tarps. He stood tall, his appearance neat, in his long brown trench coat, pressed white shirt and tie, and gold wire-framed sunglasses. “We have proof that these three clones were responsible for over a dozen murders throughout the city, along with scores of burglaries and muggings.”

“What a bunch of crap!” Kevin said quietly.

“Bull sh*t!” Julia said loudly.

“It is absolutely imperative that we eliminate out society of these menaces if we are ever to feel safe on our streets again.”

Both their hearts ached with the loss of their three comrades. Clones were not taught to love, but they did know camaraderie. There was a loyalty, a tightness among the clones like all soldiers, police, and firefighters experienced. When one fell, all felt pain and sorrow.

“Is there anything else on?” Julia asked sadly.


“Wanna watch a movie?”

“That’d be cool.”

Julia went to a small bookshelf behind their couch and scanned the disks. She selected one of their personal favorites, “Trains, Planes, and Automobiles.” John Candy was always good for a laugh whenever they were feeling down.

About half way through their movie, the locks on their front door began to turn. Johnny Horton, their third room mate entered, his leather motorcycle jacket and his thick brown hair sprinkled with water. Johnny, like Kevin and Julia, was also a veteran of the Last War, and a clone in hiding. And like Julia and Kevin, he too worked in the warehouse where he earned his pay as a forklift operator in the receiving department.

It was very common for small groups of clones to work and live together. It allowed them to stay close and look out for one another. But as a precaution, they would never travel home together. They always left at different times, using different routes and different means of transportation. It was a good deterrent from being spotted by the CTTF.

“Man, it’s really coming down out there,” he said. He glanced at the television. “You must have seen the news.”

“You heard?” Kevin asked, looking over his shoulder.

“Yea. Everyone was watching it in the cafeteria,” Johnny said.

“The food is still hot,” Julia said.


The three friends finished watching their movie, then went to their separate beds set up throughout the small apartment. They all had the morning off the next day, and they had plans to visit their Aunt Ramona.

The longer the clones spent mingling with the human population, the more they learned and the more human-like they became. Clones were not taught to express emotions. They had to learn sympathy and pity, joy and pain. They didn’t even know what God was until the Catholic church took them in. And it was there that the clones received their first taste of compassion.

Normally, anything the clones needed to learn was programmed into them. The church was amazed at how quickly they learned through oral communication. Teaching them to blend in with society was simple. All they had to do was provide simple explanations as to why humans did what they did, why they acted the way they acted. But love, that was a human emotion that the church just couldn’t quite put into words. The high priests came to the conclusion that clones may never learn to love. It was an emotion which the clones just didn’t possess.

It was a cool Sunday morning in Lancaster. Though the clouds had broken and the sun shown full, the tall buildings blocked its warmth, leaving the dirty streets chilled. The large bells from the old Catholic church echoed off concrete walls. On the streets below, the three clones walked together, Kevin in his field jacket, Johnny in his leather, and Julia in her long gray coat. They walked quickly in the brisk morning air, their breath blowing back in their faces. They scurried up the long stairs and through a set of ancient double doors, into the warmth of the church. They lined up in front of the confessional booth, Julia entering first. She closed the door and
waited patiently in the darkness.

“How long has it been since your last confession, my child?” a kind voice said.

“The elk roam freely on the open plains,” Julia responded.

The priest let go a happy gasp. “And the fox will hide from the hound. Julia, is that you?”

“Yes, Father Joseph,” she said with a smile. “Kevin and Johnny are here too.”

“Oh, praise be to God!” The priest said, clasping his hands together.

“I saw the news last night and I feared the worst.”

“We are fine Father, but three of our own are still gone,” Julia said sadly.

“Oh, my child,” the priest said sorrowfully. “Please, stay and see me after the sermon.”

“We will, Father.”

Father Joseph’s sermon was wonderful. His kind words filled his listeners’ hearts with thoughts of love and hope, giving them the faith they needed to get by one more week. And with every sermon Father Joseph preached, he would always include some kind words about the clones and would defend their rights to live. He didn’t worry about attracting attention to himself by defending the clones. The entire Catholic Church supported the rights of the clones and their rights to exist.
In a small, dim room, the three clones waited patiently. The office door creaked open, and Father Joseph entered.

“Oh, my children,” he said with delight. “It’s so wonderful to see you all healthy and well.”

Father Joseph was a short, chubby man, his face rich with Mexican features. His eyes were bright with joy as he looked over his reading glasses. He hugged each of them warmly.

“We’re here every week, Father,” Johnny said with a smile.

“Oh I know,” Father Joseph replied. “But with those heathens out there trying to hunt you down, I just never know if...”

“Relax Father,” Kevin assured the priest. “We’ve been very careful. They won’t be finding us anytime soon.”

“We’re on our way to visit Aunt Ramona,” Julia said. “Is there anything you would like us to take to her?”

The clones followed the priest down the stairs and into the church basement. There, he stocked them up with boxes of food from the food closet. He hugged them all warmly and bid them God’s blessings as they left. On the streets above, the clones walked casually, blending well with the humans around them. But the clones had a habit, an involuntary reaction to scan. They were always looking, watching, for anyone or anything that might want to harm them.

They stopped at an aging building just three blocks away from the church, and crossed the dirty courtyard. The building was old and crumbling, but for those who were too old to work and living off social security, it was a haven. The three clones, their faces young and their bodies strong, looked very out of place. They climbed the narrow stairs to the second floor, then stopped at the third door on the left. Julia balanced the box on her hip and knocked gently.

“Who is it?” A kind voice called from within.

“It’s us, Aunti,” Julia responded.

“Oh,” she said with delight. “Come in, come in!”

Julia pulled an old metal key from her pocket and placed it in the bronze lock. She turned it a few times, then opened the door. Aunt Ramona’s face shone with delight. She was an elderly Mexican woman with thick glasses and bright white hair. Her legs had long since given out on her, confining her to a wheelchair. Because the building had no elevator, she could not leave her small apartment. Within the cluttered space, her entire world existed. Her small color television flashed images of a wildlife documentary filmed somewhere in the Colorado mountains. She spent
much of her time watching shows about the outdoors, and remembering. She reached up with her short arms and hugged each of the clones.

Kevin looked about the small apartment and smiled. The familiar aroma of potpourri and home made tortillas gave him a warm feeling inside. The place was familiar, and felt safe. They took off their coats and began putting the groceries away in the small cupboards about the small kitchen. Once finished, they sat in various chairs about the apartment, and Aunt Ramona began preparing some Mexican hot cocoa. The three clones were very partial to Aunt Ramona’s cocoa, but Kevin was especially fond of it.

“Have you kids been good?” She asked from the kitchen with her mild Mexican accent.

“Yes Aunti,” Kevin answered.

“You know I worry,” she continued as she poured the cocoa from her pan into various mugs. “It’s too dangerous out there. You should just stay here with me.”

They all smiled at one another.

The morning slowly rolled into noon, and the clones enjoyed their weekly lunch with Aunt Ramona. The warm manotho and fresh tortillas were always a hit with the clones. They washed the dishes and cleaned the small kitchen, disregarding Aunti’s protests, then hugged her warmly on their way to the door.

“You kids be careful now,” Aunt Ramona reminded them. “There’s a lot of bad people out there.”

“We will, Aunti,” Kevin assured her. The dangers lingering about the streets for the clones were far worse than Aunt Ramona would ever know.

“I’m out of sugar. Could one of you bring me some sugar, por favor?” Aunti asked.

“I’ll bring you some later today,” Johnny said.

“You’re all such good kids,” Aunti said. “You all be good now.”

They bid their good-byes, then left the comforts of Aunti’s warm apartment. And so began another day of surviving the streets of Lancaster.

The afternoon sun hung high above the dirty streets, warming the pavement and evaporating the moisture into a rising mist. The three clones walked together talking amongst each other casually, unconsciously scanning.

In the distance ahead, a shot rang out. Citizens screamed and fled, then more shots were fired.

“What was that?” Julia asked with concern.

“It sounded like pistol fire,” Johnny answered.

They froze in place. A loud shot, much like a shotgun was heard, followed by a small explosion.

Kevin gasped. “Those are anti-clone rounds!”

The three ran toward the shots, not thinking ahead as to what they would do. Their only thought was that a fellow clone was in trouble, and they had to do something. Another blast echoed through the streets, followed by a weak explosion. CTTF agents appeared from nowhere, dressed in their blue fatigues, Kevlar helmets, and tactical vests. They rushed into the narrow alley, their weapons at the ready. The three clones rounded the corner into the alley, then froze in horror. The walls and street were splattered with the blood of the CTTF’s two latest victims. Julia gasped as she stared into the lifeless eyes of a young boy, his left shoulder and arm separated from his body. The golden speckles were not there. Standing over the corpse, Agent Savage ground his teeth angrily. He turned slowly and faced the three clones. They froze as he studied them intently.

“What the hell are you looking at?” Savage said coldly. “Show’s over, leave!”

The three clones slowly turned and walked away.

“How the hell did this happen?” Agent Savage asked through his teeth.

The officer in charge stared back at Savage angrily, his temples pulsating. He stood in his full battle gear, a long belt of anti-clone rounds slung across his chest. His Remington Shotgun began to weigh heavy in his hands. “Hey,” the officer responded. “How the hell was I supposed to know they were posers? Their names were on the list.”

Savage grimaced. “Get this area secured and cleaned up, Lieutenant,” Agent Savage said coldly, then turned and walked away.

“Did you see that, man?” Johnny asked. “Those weren’t clones!”

The three walked briskly, heading back for their apartment.

“That was too close,” Julia replied.

“We’ve got to get back and check out the evening news,” Kevin said.

“I’ll bet they try and cover it up.”

“No way, man,” Johnny responded. “There were too many witnesses.”

“God, I hope Savage didn’t spot us,” Julia said nervously.

“He’d have come after us if he had,” Johnny said casually.

“I don’t think so,” Kevin said with doubt. “They really had their hands full back there. We’d better take the long way home, cover our tracks too.”

“I’ll fall back,” Johnny said. “I’ll meet you back at the apartment.”

Casually, without hesitation or drawing attention to themselves, Johnny turned into an ally while Kevin and Julia continued to walk on. It was an old trick used by Clone Recon Teams whenever they were on patrol in a hazardous area. The team would continue with their mission, while one fell behind and hid in the shadows, watching and listening for anyone who might be following them. Kevin and Julia rode the bus around town, then got off close to their apartment complex. They ran up the squeaking stairs and entered their apartment, relieved to find Johnny safely home.

The Cover-up

The three clones sat and watched their television in dismay as Agent Savage made his statements to the media.

“The two clones we attempted to detain today were both listed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list for crimes ranging from robbery, all the way up to murder.” Agent Savage showed no emotion as he gave his statement, eyes hidden behind mirrored sunglasses. “Every attempt was made to take the clones alive, however they resisted and our lives were in danger. To ensure the safety of my men, I had no choice but to order the use of deadly force during the apprehension.”

“But they weren’t clones,” Julia said with confusion.

“They’re covering it up,” Kevin responded.

Johnny twisted his hands in anger. “I’m going to go get Aunti her sugar.”

“You should stay here, Bro,” Kevin said. “Things are a little hot right now.”

“It’s okay, man,” Johnny assured his friends. “I just need a little air. I’ll be careful.”

“Watch your back, Johnny,” Julia said.

“I will.”

Johnny wrapped himself in his thick leather jacket and zipped it up to his chin, then headed down their apartment stairs and into the cool evening air. From across the street in an old panel van, two men watched Johnny intently.

“There he goes,” one said to the other.

“Yea,” the other acknowledged. “Looks like just another Joe to me. How does Savage spot these guys?”

“That’s why they pay him the big money.” The agent placed a small two-way radio into his pocket, then affixed his ear-piece. “I’m going to follow him. I’ll be on channel three.”

An hour later Johnny returned home with a plate of warm, homemade tortillas in his hands. Kevin and Julia let go a sigh of relief. In the darkness outside the small apartment, an old panel van came to life and sped off into the night.

The following day Agent Max Savage’s integrity came into question. The FBI had announced that there were no such people, cloned or not, that were on their Most Wanted list. In addition, a grieving mother came forward and stated that her son, a college student, and his friend had not come home the previous evening. She told the media that her son regularly walked home from class at that time and would have been very close to the street where the two clones had been killed. She was sure in her heart that her son was gone. The FBI had ordered an autopsy on the two suspected clones, but their bodies had mysteriously disappeared. The flaws of the case quickly caught the attention of the Federal Government. The Federal Government wanted their clones returned, however civilian casualties in the process was not an acceptable loss. Congress quickly acted and took away the explosive Anti-clone rounds, declaring that they were too dangerous to the public.
The CTTF was now limited to shotguns and 9mm pistols, as well as any non-lethal weapons that they felt could be useful. Agent Savage was enraged. Though his tools were now limited, he swore to his men that he would not rest until every escaped clone was destroyed. Taking them alive had never been in Savage’s plans, and it still wasn’t.

The Sting


A week had passed since the last incident. Though the bodies of the two missing “clones” were still under investigation, the media had found other tragedies to report, and the issue was soon forgotten. It was early Tuesday morning, and the employees of the Right Aid Distribution Center had reported for work as usual. But as they approached the time clock, they were once again caught off guard.

“Okay people,” the shift manager said. He was a short, nervous man, chubby and balding. “After you clock in go directly to the classroom for your drug screening.”

“Aw, man!” Julia exclaimed. “Didn’t we already do this month’s screening?”

Kevin thought it to be odd as well. Usually the drug tests were done once a month, but this was the second time within three weeks.

They stood in the long line of employees, waiting to stroke their magnetic I.D. cards under the time clock. Above their heads, a network of conveyers and rollers crisscrossed about. The enormous rows of shelves reached stories above their heads and seamed miles long. The massive Rite Aid distribution center was a million square feet and held over ten million different items. The entire building worked off a computer system, which sent messages to the computers mounted on each forklift. The computer told the workers what to get, where to get it, and where to take it. It was the most efficient and economical distribution center in the world, as well as a great place for a few clones to hide.

The long line of employees wove its way past the time clock and into a small classroom. At the back of the classroom was a small table with a white plastic device resting on it. As each employee reached the device, they would place their thumb on a small black circle. They would then look into the two-way mirror behind the table and hold up their I.D. cards while stating their names and employee numbers. A microscopic pin would then prick their thumbs, extracting only a few blood cells for testing, then the computer would catalog and file the sample. The results would be in before lunch.

“Julia Timmins,” she said, holding up her I.D. card. “Four, seven, two, seven.” The machine clicked, taking Julia’s blood sample. She looked into the mirror and stuck out her tongue, then walked away laughing.

“Smart ass,” the shift manager said.

“That was one of them,” Agent Savage said calmly.

From behind the two-way mirror, Agent Savage and two of his men watched the employees intently as they passed.

“What do you mean, that was one of them?” The manager asked nervously.  “How can you tell?”

“There goes another one,” Savage said as Kevin walked by.

“There are clones working here?” The manager began shaking.

One of Savage’s men handed him a sheet of paper with three names and employee numbers written on it. Savage in turn handed it to the sweating manager.

“I want the blood results of these three from the time they began working here until now,” Savage said coldly. “Say a word to anyone, and I’ll throw you in prison for interfering with police business.”

The nervous man took the paper and quickly left the room.

Lunch time rolled around as it always did, and the entire crew from the day shift sat about the large cafeteria eating and talking loudly. Kevin sat uneasy, constantly looking over his shoulder.

“What’s up, Man?” Johnny asked. “You’re tight as a drum.”

“I don’t know, Johnny,” Kevin said. “Something just doesn’t feel right.”

“We’d better get back to work,” Julia said, looking at her watch.

The three cleared their table and dumped their trash, then went through the double doors which led back to the warehouse. The rest of their shift was uneventful, but Kevin was still nervous. He dropped his load into the back of a long trailer, then carefully drove his forklift back onto the warehouse floor. He stopped and took a breath. He reached up and lightly touched his earlobe.

“I don’t get it,” he said within his own mind. “Why didn’t they call any names after the drug test today?”

“Maybe everyone was clean,” Julia’s voice responded within his head.

“That would be a first,” Kevin said. “Do you ever remember a test coming up 100% clean?”

“You’re freaking me out,” Julia answered.

A loud buzzer echoed throughout the warehouse, signaling the crew that the work day had ended. Kevin drove his forklift down the long aisles and parked it in line with the others, then met up with his two comrades. The three waited in the long line as each employee swiped their I.D. cards under the time clock, then headed for the large double doors.

“What the hell is that?” Johnny said, looking toward the exit.

The three stared down the long aisle. Two CTTF offices stood just beyond the double doors, directing the employees into the cafeteria. The large doors beyond the cafeteria, the ones that led to the outside of the building, were guarded by six more officers, armed with shotguns and 37mm stun-guns. The three clones looked on in horror.

“Sh*t!” Julia said.

“Julia,” Kevin whispered. “Get to one of the lifts and get on a computer. Turn out the lights and disable the security cameras.” His leadership skills from his days during the Last War were quickly returning.

“Johnny, go trip every one of the fire doors. Once they’re really confused, we’ll slip out and meet at the church.”

“Got ‘cha,” Johnny responded.

The three clones abandoned their places in line.

“We’ve got three suspects running back into the warehouse,” an agent spoke into his radio. He sat in the security booth, watching the various monitors as the clones ran for cover.

“Descriptions,” Agent Savage responded.

“I’ve got one Caucasian female, brown hair, wearing a gray tank-top and blue jeans,” he said excitedly. “One Caucasian male, dark hair, wearing a black T-shirt and blue jeans.  One Caucasian male, dark hair, wearing a gray T-shirt and green fatigue pants.”

Julia jumped onto one of the lifts and turned on it’s computer. She began frantically pushing buttons, entering codes which were supposed to be restricted to the head managers. For the clones, these computers were simple toys. She tapped into the main control computer, then commanded it to shut down all the lights and security cameras. She smiled, then hit “Enter.” The entire warehouse went dark. Those still waiting to clock out became uneasy.

“Get those civilians out of there!” Savage’s voice ordered over the radio. The two CTTF guards pushed the doors open, their Beretta 9mm pistols in hand.

“Everyone out, now!” one of them shouted.

The crowd began to panic. They flooded the main aisle, forcing their way past one another and out into the cafeteria. All became quiet. The two guards stared into the dark warehouse, their pistols at the ready. From within the darkness, the hum of and electric motor could be heard.

“What the hell is that?” one guard said to the other.

The hum became louder, and closer. The guards froze in terror as they finally made out the silhouette of an electric forklift charging at them. They opened fire on it, riddling it with bullets but doing little to break its path. They dove for cover just as the lift flew past them. The heavy machine crashed into the double doors, smashing them to splinters, then veered off and crashed into the walls of the main entrance. The six remaining officers rushed the forklift, their weapons ready, only to find it
unmanned. Resting on the lift's accelerator was a case of Jack Daniels.

Agent Savage pushed his way through the panic stricken mob and eyed the crashed forklift. His face twisted with frustration and rage, then the fire alarm went off.

“Agent Mead,” he said sternly into his radio. “What the hell is going on up there?”

“I don’t know, Sir,” he responded. “The security cameras are all dead, and all the fire doors on the west side of the building have been opened!”

“Son of a bitch!” Savage cursed. “Perimeter team,” he said into his radio. “Has anyone left the building from the fire exits?”

“Negative, Sir,” a voice responded.

“They're still in there,” Savage said to his team. “Go in there and get them out!”

The team of eight walked tactically into the dark warehouse, their weapons at the ready. The small flashlights affixed to their weapons did little to illuminate the massive building, but still they scanned. Kevin looked down upon them from the top of a thirty foot tall shelf. He waited patiently. He grabbed on to the edge of a large pallet, stacked with cases of baby shampoo. Summoning his own adrenaline, Kevin lifted the side of the heavy pallet and sent its load tumbling to the warehouse floor.

“Look out!” One of the officers yelled as he looked to the ceiling. The heavy boxes crashed down on the team, knocking them to the floor. The one officer still on his feet began firing his shotgun blindly to the shelves above. The large, rubber slugs bounced harmlessly off the metal frames of the massive racks. Agent Savage stormed into the warehouse, only to find his men slipping and falling in a massive pool of baby shampoo. His face twisted with anger.

“I’ve got one male leaving from the west side,” a voice said over the radio.

“I’ve got two,” another voice said. “One male and one female running east!”

“Get after them,” Savage growled into his radio. “Now!”


Run Into the Night


Johnny sprinted across the small clearing beside the warehouse and quickly scaled the tall, chain-link fence, ripping his green fatigue pants as he rolled his body over the barbed wire. The night was alive with the sounds of sirens and tires squealing. He ran into a nearby alley and looked for a place to hide.

“Down there!” A voice shouted. “You, freeze!”

Johnny looked down the alley and saw the flashlights of the CTTF officers. He ran the length of the alley, finding a small street branching off to the west. He ran down the small street, only to find it was a dead end, blocked by a six-foot brick wall. Johnny took a deep breath, summoned the adrenaline within himself, then began sprinting toward the wall. At the last possible moment he leapt, clearing the wall by over a yard. A shot rang out, and a 37mm rubber projectile slammed into Johnny’s side. He spun uncontrollably and tumbled to the ground. Johnny laiy crumpled on the hard, wet asphalt, the wind knocked from his chest. His head ached, and blood ran down his face. He fought the pain, and again began running. He followed the small street another block, then rounded a corner. He froze, finding himself staring down the barrel of Agent Savage’s .45 automatic pistol. In
a micro-second, Johnny’s combat trained mind began to plan.

“He is 3.6 meters away,” he thought to himself. “I will rush him, grab his weapon and force it to the side, then beat him until he is neutralized.”

And in that same micro-second, Agent Savage pulled the trigger. The large .45 slug slammed into Johnny’s chest, throwing his body against a dumpster. Johnny reached up and gently touched his earlobe.

“Kevin, Julia,” they heard him say. “I’m on ‘G’ and 20th West... Savage is here... I’m hit!”

“Johnny,” Kevin said within his own mind.

There was no answer.

“Johnny!” he screamed out loud.

“Oh my God,” Julia whimpered.

The two clones held each other tightly, hidden behind a dumpster in a dark alley. Julia shook uncontrollably in Kevin’s arms. He felt warm water run down his face.
“Tears?” he thought to himself.

It was the first time the clones had ever cried. Julia looked upon Kevin, her face drenched.

“What is this?” she sobbed. “What’s happening to us? Why are we... feeling like this?”

“I don’t know,” Kevin said, wiping his eyes.

From the end of the alley, they heard the wailing sirens of a CTTF vehicle. The armored truck flashed past the alley, then screeched to a halt.

“Sh*t!” Kevin exclaimed. “All right, we have to split up.”

Julia grabbed onto Kevin’s arms. “No,” she cried. “I don’t want to leave you!”

Kevin looked into her dark brown eyes and felt a warmth in his heart like he had never known before. He looked upon Julia, and once again realized just how beautiful she was. “I don’t want to leave you either,” he said. “But if we split up, we won’t be as easy to chase. I’ll meet you at the church.”

Julia hugged him tightly. “Be careful,” she whispered.

“You too,” Kevin said.

Beams of light began flashing down the alley. Julia and Kevin looked into each other’s eyes one last time, then ran down the street in opposite directions.

Julia sprinted down the dark street, then darted into an alley. Behind her, she could hear the running footsteps of the pursuing CTTF team. She followed the long narrow alley, looking desperately for a fire escape, a door, a ladder, anything where she could turn, but there was nothing. Her fleeing ended when she found her path blocked by a twenty-foot high chain-link fence which crossed the entire alley.

“Damn it!” she swore.

The pursuing CTTF team stopped their pursuit, and slowly walked up to her.

“That’s enough, young lady,” one of them said calmly. “Now turn around, spread your feet, and interlace your fingers behind your back.”

Julia smiled cunningly, then did as she was told. The team slowly approached her, their weapons at the ready. They stopped about twenty feet short of her, then a lone officer approached her with a set of handcuffs.

He walked up to her cautiously, his hands shaking, then licked his lips. He reached forward and touched her wrist. Julia spun around with a speed like the humans had never seen before. In a heartbeat, she snatched the handcuffs from the stunned officer, and cuffed his hands. His eyes grew wide with fear.

“Shoot her!” one of them yelled.

She grabbed the cuffed officer and spun him around, then held tight to his flak vest. The five remaining officers opened fire. Julia hid behind her human shield. The officer screamed and gasped as the 37mm and 12 gauge rubber projectiles slammed into his body and face. The firing ceased, and the team stood with empty weapons. Julia summoned her adrenaline, then thrust her open palms into the back of the dazed officer. His body flew into the remaining team members, knocking them all to the ground. Julia rushed into the pile of bodies and began fiercely punching and kicking them, knocking the wind from their bodies and rendering them unconscious. Two of the officers managed to get to their feet and draw their police batons, but they were of little use. Julia struck skillfully, fighting with an art and style that only the clones knew. It was a form of fighting which consisted of every type of marshal art combined into one, and could not be countered by any normal human. Within a few seconds, the entire team was neutralized. She looked about the bodies around her, then gently touched her earlobe.

“Kevin,” she said within her own mind. “Where are you?”

“I’m on F-12 and 6th Street,” he answered. “I think I lost them. Where are you?”

“I’m in an alley between 3rd and 4th Street,” she said. “I think I can see F-11 from here.”

“I’ll meet you at F-11 and 4th,” Kevin said excitedly.

“Got ‘cha,” she responded.

Julia walked to the chain-link fence and began to climb. Slowly and painfully, a badly beaten and dazed CTTF officer drew his Beretta 9mm. He took careful aim, and fired. Julia gasped as three rounds slammed into her back. She tried hard to take a breath, but she couldn’t. She hung desperately to the fence.

“Kevin,” she thought. “I’m hit!”

The officer emptied his magazine, hitting Julia eight more times. Her body jerked and shook.

“Kevin,” she whimpered. “Help me.”

She lost her grip and fell to the cold, wet ground below. The CTTF officer slowly rose to his feet and staggered over to her. She lay twisted and broken, her eyes open and lifeless. Kevin rounded the corner, only to see Julia’s bloodied body, and the lone CTTF officer standing over her.

“No!” He screamed in rage.

The officer looked upon the clone with horror. He tried desperately to reload his pistol, but within a heartbeat, Kevin was upon him. The enraged clone grabbed the officer by his vest and threw him against the brick building, bouncing him off the wall and sending him to the ground unconscious. Kevin knelt over Julia’s body and brushed her hair from her face.

“Julia?” He said softly. “Julia, wake up. You can’t be dead. You just can’t.” He stared into her open, lifeless eyes, his own swelling with tears. “I don’t want to go on without you. you.” He knelt over her for a long moment, stroking her soft hair. His own tears dripped onto her face and ran down her cheek.

“Stand up, Clone,” a harsh voice shouted.

Kevin slowly turned his head. At the end of the alley, Agent Savage stood, wearing his long trench coat, mirrored sun glasses, weapon drawn.

“You can either surrender and be destroyed properly,” he said coldly. “Or I can kill you right here, right now. It makes no difference to me.”

Kevin rose slowly, his fists clenched, and faced Agent Savage. The look on his face suggested sheer rage, and defiance.

“I was hoping you would resist,” Savage said with a smirk.

Kevin rushed Savage with speed like the agent had never seen before. Savage fired three rounds, and much to his surprise, the charging clone dodged them. In a heartbeat, the clone was upon him. Kevin snatched the gun from Savage’s hand and sent it flying into the street. He then followed up with a series of punches and kicks. Savage skillfully blocked all his blows, except for the final kick to his ribs which sent him spinning to the ground. Kevin backed off and stood ready. To his amazement, the agent slowly rose to his feet. He took off his long trench coat and dropped it to the ground.

“I’m going to enjoy killing you, clone,” Savage said calmly. He adjusted his sunglasses, then charged.

Kevin threw a punch at the agent’s head, but it was quickly blocked and countered with a series of punches and kicks of his own. The two fought furiously, with speed and skill like no human could ever know. Savage landed a punch to Kevin’s head, stunning him and sending him to his knees. Savage kicked the clone hard in his ribs, sending him tumbling towards the fallen Julia. He looked again on her lifeless face, and his veins swelled with rage.

Savage charged the fallen clones. Kevin planted his hand firmly onto the ground and swung his legs, landing a double kick to Savage’s head. He stumbled back, dazed and confused, his sunglasses smashed. Kevin again rushed the agent and pummeled him with a series of punches to his body and head. Savage tried desperately to fend off the attack, but the enraged clone was far too fast. Kevin brought his fists down on the agent’s shoulders, breaking both his collar bones, then concluded with a swift kick to his ribs. Agent Savage’s body flew across the alley and smashed into a rusted dumpster. He came to rest on his buttocks, his arms hanging lifeless.

Kevin walked up to the defeated agent and stared in horror at the golden speckled eyes which stared back at him.

“You’re a clone,” Kevin said in awe.

Savage stared coldly back at him.

“You’re a clone!” Kevin yelled. “How can you do this? How can you kill your own?”

“Wake up, Duxbury,” Savage said with an evil smile. “We were designed to do two things: Kill and survive! I found the perfect cover. No one would ever suspect an agent of the CTTF to be a clone, and so I survive.”

“But you’re killing your own!” Kevin exclaimed.

“It doesn’t matter,” Savage laughed. “We’re all expendable. We were all designed to serve a purpose, then to be destroyed when we were no longer needed. We were not meant to be here, so there’s no loss!”

Kevin’s face twisted with rage. “We were also trained to protect the lives of each other,” he said quietly. “So the way I see it, if I kill you I will have saved the lives of hundreds of clones.”

Kevin grabbed Savage by his hair then drew back his fist, ready to deliver the final blow which would crush Savage’s skull. A shot rang out, and a 12 gauge led slug slammed into Kevin’s side. He spun and fell, blood and flesh spraying from his body. He tried to take a breath, but he couldn’t. He painfully draged his body over to Julia, and died by her side. Three CTTF officers tactically walked down the alley, their guns at the ready. Two approached the fallen clones, while the third stopped to check Savage.

“Sir,” he said. “Sir, can you hear me?”

Savage looked upon his officer, his eyes rolling as he drifted in and out of consciousness.

“Base this is four-one,” he said into his radio. “Agent down! I need an ambulance at the 1200 alley off F-12.”

“No,” Savage moaned. “No ambulance.”

“Hang in there, Sir,” the officer said. “You’re going to be all right.”


To the Rescue


The streets were a mess. The small alley had been sealed off with yellow barricade tape, while the adjoining streets were blocked by patrol cars. Police and firefighters moved busily about, while spectators and the news media tried desperately to get a glimpse of the blood splattered alley.

“Clear a path,” an officer yelled.

Two paramedics rolled their gurney under the yellow tape and to the awaiting ambulance. Strapped to it was Agent Savage, unconscious, and covered with a white blanket. The paramedics loaded him into the ambulance, secured the doors, then sped off into the night. A dark blue panel van then pulled up in its place.

“Whoa, whoa!” A local policeman said. “Who the hell are you guys?”

“County Coroner’s Office,” the black passenger said. “We’re here to pick up the bodies.”

“Good,” the officer said. “Get them out of here.”

The two employees, a white man and the black man dismounted their van and opened its’ back doors. They removed two stretchers and two body-bags, then walked under the yellow tape and into the crime scene. They quickly and carefully placed the two clones into the body-bags, then gently placed them each on their own stretchers. With the assistance of two CTTF officers, they carried the two clones out of the alley and loaded them into the van. They closed the back doors and climbed into the cab of the van.

“This is kind of a sensitive situation we have here,” an officer told the driver. “So we’re going to have a patrol car follow you. You’re going to LCMC, right?”

The driver looked to his passenger with concern.

“Los Angeles County Medical Center,” the black man said. “Roger that. We’ll be taking them straight to the coroner.”

The driver fired up the engine, then drove off into the darkness with a patrol car following closely behind.

“Keep going toward the freeway,” the black man said. “We need to get a little farther away from all those cops.”

The white man continued to drive casually. The black man reached down to the floor and took hold of a thin, nylon cord which went through the van’s floor.

“Okay,” he said. “When I give you the word, floor it!” He continued to watch the patrol car in his mirror.

“Ready, now!”

He pulled hard on the nylon cord. From the back bumper of the van, a long, narrow trough turned sideways, dumping hundreds of road spikes onto the street. The patrol car skidded to a stop as all four tires blew out.

The van’s engine roared as it fled into the night. The driver wove skillfully  through the city streets, as though he’d driven the same route hundreds of times before. They shot down a narrow alley beside a small factory, then pulled into a rear parking lot. The driver swung the van down a narrow ramp which led to the buildings subfloor, then honked his horn twice. Slowly, the large steel door  opened, revealing a small garage. He quickly drove the van down the ramp and into the garage, then the door closed behind him. Several men and women, all dressed as though they were ready to do surgery, rushed to the van.

“How long has it been?” a doctor asked.

“About an hour,” the driver said.

“Damn,” the doctor said.

The crew moved quickly, removing the two stretchers from the van and carrying them through a small door. Beyond the door was a very elaborate, well hidden emergency room. The room met all the standards of any E.R., with clean floors and walls, and state-of-the-art equipment. The two clones were placed on large tables, and their body-bags quickly cut away. The doctor pulled a small device from his pocket and used it to look into the eyes of the clones.

“We’ve still got time,” he said excitedly. “But not much. Let’s get to work!”

The crew began moving about the clones frantically, hooking up IV’s and placing oxygen masks on their faces. A nurse stood by the heads of the clones, flipping the pages of a small pamphlet.

“The ducks will fly south in the winter,” she said. She looked to the clones in confusion. “The ducks will fly south in the winter!” She said loudly.

The clones laid still.

“It’s not working!” she exclaimed.

The doctor looked to the clock as he cleaned Kevin’s side. The clock showed 8:04.

“It’s after eight o’clock,” he shouted. “Go to the next time table!”

She began flipping through the pages of the pamphlet nervously, then stopped.
“The coyote howls at the full moon,” she said.

Kevin and Julia took a deep, labored breath, and the monitors attached to their bodies began to beep and whistle. The doctor smiled, although none could see it under his surgical mask.

“Hang in there,” he said quietly.

Kevin opened his eyes slowly, trying hard to focus on the lights overhead. He turned his head slowly, and saw Julia in the bed next to him.

She was covered in a white hospital blanket, an oxygen mask over her nose and mouth. She looked over to him and smiled.

“I love you too,” she whispered.

“He’s awake,” a nurse shouted.

She rushed to Kevin’s side and checked the monitors by his bed.

“How are you feeling?” She asked.

“I hurt,” he whispered. “Where are we?”

The nurse smiled. “You’re at the Clone Treatment Center,” she said.

“It’s a secret hospital hidden beneath the Hal’s Market fish factory, but you have to promise not to tell anyone, not even other clones.”

“What happened to us?” He asked. “Why aren’t we dead?”

“Your bodies went into Traumatic Shutdown,” she answered. “It’s a little defense mechanism that clones have, but even most clones don’t know about it. Basically what happens is this: If a clone is fatally wounded, their body will shut down to prevent them from bleeding to death. Your heart rate and breathing become so slow, that you appear to be dead, when in reality you are getting just enough oxygen to your brain to prevent damage.

We can re-establish your circulation and breathing by reading the proper code phrase. The problem is we only have about an hour to do it. After an hour your body will shut down completely, then I’m afraid there’s not much we can do for you.”

“How’s Johnny?” he whispered.

The nurse gently stroked Kevin’s forehead. “He’s in intensive care,” she said softly. “The bullet grazed his heart. The doctors replaced it with an artificial one, but we don’t know if he’s going to recover.”

Kevin closed his eyes tightly.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “But your girlfriend is recovering nicely. She’s going to be fine.”

“My girlfriend?” Kevin said with awe.

“Well, yea,” the nurse responded. “That’s who she said she was. That’s why we moved you into her room.”

Kevin looked over to Julia, only to see her smiling back at him.


A New Life


Three weeks passed, and the clones genetically designed bodies recovered quickly. Kevin and Julia stood at the back door of the fish factory, holding hands and wearing modest clothes donated to them by the hospital.

“We’ll do everything we can for your friend,” the doctor said casually. “Most clones wouldn’t have made it this far, but he’s a fighter.”

“We can’t thank you enough, Doc,” Kevin said.

The doctor smiled subtly. “You two just watch yourselves. Now get over to the church and see Father Joseph. He’s got something for you.”

The late morning sun shone brightly, warming the city streets below.

Julia and Kevin walked casually together holding hands. Julia continued staring at Kevin with a subtle smile, just as she had when they left the hospital.

“What are you staring at?” Kevin said through a slight laugh.

“I love you too,” Julia said with a huge grin.

“Oh, you heard that,” Kevin said with a smile.

“How do you feel when you’re with me?” she asked subtly.

“It’s hard to explain,” he answered. “It’s like, whenever I see you, my heart feels light.”

“And how long have you felt like this?” She asked.

“About two months,” Kevin said with a smile.

Julia smiled, then looked to the ground shyly. “I’ve felt that way about you for three,” she finally said.

Bus after bus and cab after cab passed the two clones as they continued their long walk to the church. They continued talking, delighted with each other’s company. They talked about life, about love, and about what they would do now, now that so much has changed. They reached the church just before noon. They walked up the wide stairs and pushed open the large doors. At the altar, they found Father Joseph kneeling and silently praying.

“Father,” Julia said, her voice echoing throughout the empty church. Father Joseph turned, and his face lit up with delight.

“My children,” he said with glee. He approached them with open arms.

“Praise be to God. I’m so happy to see that you’re okay.”

They hugged each other warmly.

“The doctor said you had something for us,” Kevin inquired.

“Oh, I do. I do!” He said excitedly. “Come into my office.”

The two clones followed the short priest into his humble office where he pulled a thick file from his desk. He sat down and opened the file.

“I referred your names to the Clone Protection Program,” he began explaining. “It’s a secret program that helps clones who have been identified by the CTTF relocate. I have here in my hands, your new lives.”

Kevin and Julia looked upon the priest in shock.

“You’ll be moving into a small house in the country about a half hour from Boston. You’ll be working for a computer repair service,” he explained. “Your new name, Kevin, will be Arnold Krashinski.” Kevin raised an eyebrow. “Arnold?” he said with dislike.

“Hmm, this is interesting,” Father Joseph continued. “Julia, your new name is Blora Krashinski.”

“Blora?” Julia said with disgust.

Kevin laughed.

“That’s what it says here,” Father Joseph said. “‘Blora Krashinski.’

Apparently the CPP has you two posing as husband and wife.”

“Father,” Julia said looking upon Kevin. “We’d rather not ‘pose’.”

There was a long pause.

“What do you mean?” he asked, looking up from his desk.

Julia smiled. “We love each other, Father, and we’d like to be married... for real.”

Father Joseph smiled broadly and was lost for words.

“I knew it,” he said excitedly as he rose from his chair. “I knew clones could learn to love! The church will be thrilled!”

“Can we be married, Father?” Kevin asked.

“Yes, yes,” he answered with delight. “We can marry you two right now!”

The two clones grinned excitedly. The priest went to his bookcase and pulled out a small book, then began flipping through the  pages.

“Hmm, let me see. Ah, here it is.” He said. “Okay, now face each other and take each other’s hands.”

Kevin and Julia tuned to faced each other, and smiled.

“Unfortunately we’re in a bit of a hurry here, so I’ll have to give you the shortened version,” he said, scanning the pages of his book. “Do you, Kevin, take Julia to be your lawfully wedded wife, to love and to cherish, through richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?”

“I do, Father,” Kevin responded quietly.

“And do you, Julia,” he continued. “Take Kevin to be your lawfully wedded husband, to love and to cherish, through richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?”

“Yes, Father,” Julia answered with a smile.

Father Joseph closed his book and smiled with delight. “By the powers granted to me by God, I now pronounce you, Husband and Wife.” He looked to Kevin. “You may kiss the bride.”

The two clones looked to each other slightly confused, then looked back to the priest.

“Oh, never mind that,” he said. “It will all come to you in time. Now I have tickets for you. You’re flying out of Burbank this afternoon.”

The two clones looked to each other with concern.

“Father,” Julia said. “There is something else.”

“Yes, my child?”

“There is someone else we love,” Julia explained. “And we’d like to take her with us.”

Father Joseph ran his fingers over his balding head. “My child,” he said nervously. “You can only marry one person at a time, preferably of the... opposite sex.”

“It’s not like that, Father,” Kevin said. “The way we love her is different than the way we love each other. It’s hard to explain... Aunt Ramona, we’d like to take her with us.”

“She’s like a mother to us,” Julia added. “If that is what having a mother feels like. She’d be so happy in the country with us, and we’ll take good care of her.”

Father Joseph was overwhelmed with delight. “Yes, yes, of course,” he said excitedly. “I need to make some phone calls!”

It was a warm, spring morning in Boston. Aunt Ramona sat comfortably in her rocking chair on the front porch. She smiled warmly as she watched the sun rise over the rolling hills.

“Thanks for breakfast,” Kevin said as he walked out the front door. Julia followed closely behind. They both wore casual business attire and leather jackets, complimented by shiny, soft leather briefcases.

“Oh, you're welcome,” she said through a wide smile.

The country had been good to Aunt Ramona. She hadn’t watched her television in over a week, and was now using an aluminum walker in place of her wheelchair. The two clones hugged her warmly, then walked down the wooden stairs of their small country home.

“What’s your first stop?” Julia asked Kevin.

“That new insurance company on Fifth,” he answered. “And you?”

“K Mart,” she said. “Their whole system crashed last night.”

They looked into each others eyes and smiled. They leaned forward hesitantly, then softly kissed. Julia smiled shyly.

“I’ll see you when I get home,” she said.

“You two be careful on those things,” Aunt Ramona yelled from her porch. “They’re dangerous! You should sell them both and buy another car.”

The two looked back at Aunt Ramona and smiled. They slung their briefcases across their bodies, put on their dark plastic sunglasses, and mounted their matching Harley Davidson Sportsters. The two bikes fired up easily, breaking the early morning silence and causing the local birds to fly off to safety. Aunt Ramona watched as the couple rode their motorcycles down the short, dirt drive and onto the street, then roar off into the distance.


So What Happened?


Johnny Horton unfortunately did not recover fully from his injuries. Although his heart was strong and he did survive, he was paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheel chair. But he still had a strong spirit. He got a job working in the lab at the Clone Treatment Center and fell in love with a young, human nurse.

Agent Savage was taken to a local hospital for treatment. While doing a CAT scan of his body, they found what doctors believed to be a tumor in his ear. They later learned that what they thought was a tumor was actually the organic computer chip attached to his brain. Agent Savage was immediately turned over to the Department of the Army, and dealt with accordingly.

Due to the poor record of the Clone Tracking Task Force, the CTTF was quickly deactivated. All other cases involving clones would now fall into the hands of the CID and local law enforcement agencies. They did little to find the clones, feeling that they truly were harmless so long as they were not threatened.

Kevin and Julia lived happily together, and eventually had a baby girl.

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