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Author's note: I wrote this for Science class- we had the option of taking our topic and turning it into a story. So that's what I did! Hope you like it! Please comment!
February 19, 2:35 PM, 2035 AD- New York Labs
“Now, you are the new girl, I presume? What’s your name?” Dr. Shelt said stiffly. Cassie stood up straighter, somewhat intimidated by this man. He seemed… off, to her, and that scared her. She’d talked to him all of five minutes, and there was just something wrong with him that she just could not put her finger on…
“Rosen. Cassie Rosen. I’m the new trainee, sir. They’ve just sent me in from Connecticut- Sir, I’m not exactly sure what we will be doing here-” she stammered. Dr. Shelt looked at her, and that one gaze shut her up. His eyes were cold and calculating, and she wanted to go hide in a corner and never come out again so she didn’t have to look at him ever again.
“Didn’t they tell you? You are going to be put through extensive training to become one of the Scientists- you will be allowed the honor to create the clones- the greatest creation of all time, if I do say so myself. Your training starts in an hour. You have a lot to cover, and you only have three days to get down the fundamentals- and then we will go put you to work. As your career advances, you will be given more training, allotted higher access, but for now, you will be a simple tech assistant. But for now, I’ll give you a simple tour- you need to know the place before you can do anything with it, am I correct?” Not letting her answer, he continued.
“Over here we have the training room. You will report here in an hour. Then,” he pointed to a section in the corner, “you will be sent to your Scientist, who will fill you in on your job for him or her at the moment. Over here, we have the elevator.” He paused. “You are not, I repeat, you are not allowed in there. The only level it leads to is the Labs, and you are not allowed in there until you have a Level Five clearance, which I suspect you won’t earn for another year or so. It is a high honor to go in there and witness the creation of new life- or to CREATE it yourself!” he said. Cassie cocked her head.
“What exactly allows you to create the clones?” she asks curiously.
“Oh, it’s a long and grueling process. To shorten things up a bit, we take bits of DNA from the person we want to clone, and take a donor egg from another person. We wipe the DNA and all traces of programming from that egg and reprogram it with hereafter referred to as the stem. Then we find someone willing to carry the baby and be its temporary surrogate mother, and we surgically transplant the egg into the mother. We give her certain growth hormones that speed up the pregnancy, and the embryo is a fully developed human baby within five weeks. Once the clone is born, the baby grows at a rapid pace, and develops to the age of their stem within three to five months, depending on how old their stem is. The clone is now an exact replica of the stem, but has all of the more… attractive qualities that the original stem had mixed with less… desirable traits. The clone is our version of a super human! They do whatever we ask, and don’t think twice about it. It’s in their nature. We program it that way.” he explained. Cassie just looked at him, eyes as wide as an owl.
Well, if that was the short version, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to hear the long version, Cassie thought. She nodded. Dr. Shelt looked more excited than she thought possible for someone such as him.
“Such a marvelous thing, isn’t it? We came up with the process after about twenty years- we’ve been able to clone animals since the 1990’s. It was only a matter of time before we figured out how to clone humans. Those Resistance people,” he spat, clearly disgusted by them, “have no idea about how wonderful this is. They think it’s unethical, unnatural, blah, blah, and blah. They just don’t get that the benefits completely encompass any losses or disadvantages. I mean, think about it! We could create a race of super humans here- look how close we to doing it! I’m mean, look at the Doppelgangers- they are the closest we’ve come yet! Think about what we could do!”
Cassie nodded again, at a loss for words. This wasn’t what she signed up for! She figured she’d be in the medical labs- not the Cloning Labs! This was evil- she couldn’t participate! But she didn’t see any way out. Everything she saw here was confidential- if she ever told anybody, they would kill her! She didn’t want this for her life! She wanted a safe, normal existence- this was creation for the whims of man, not valued as it should be. This was mankind trying to play the role of God- and sooner or later it was going to backfire, and somehow Cassie knew she was going to end up in the backlash. It wasn’t safe to be here.
What were her parents going to think? As supporters of the Resistance, they might disown her. They believed this whole idea was blasphemy. Taking someone’s cells, wiping them, and then imprinting it with another person genes so it turned out to be an identical copy. And programming them so they didn’t have any choice whether to have freewill or not- that was even worse! Didn’t they see the beauty in diversity, the miracle in ones genes, untampered with and natural? But what could she do? Protest and hold a boycott? No. They’d have her killed in a second- no, an instant. So all she could really do for now was play along.
“Now, come. I’m to send you along to the Training Center and then you will be assigned a Scientist and sent to a lab somewhere across the states. Most likely Vegas, I’m assuming. We’ve been lacking in help lately there. But don’t worry. You’ll get the hang of everything soon enough.” He starts to walk away after he brings Cassie to the Training Center, but then stops and turn around. “Oh, and by the way Cassie:” he paused dramatically.
“Welcome to the family.” He said cruelly.
But Cassie felt anything but.
July 14, 7:45 AM- Oregon, Town of Grace, Thane’s house
I’m not human.
At least, not a real one.
I’m different from everybody else here at my town. Everybody else was born naturally, with their own personal DNA and genes that nobody else has. They weren’t created with someone else’s DNA or born by someone who isn’t really their mother, just a woman who volunteered to be their surrogate mother. They weren’t programmed with specific traits and instincts.
To put things simply, I’m a clone. My stem was a seventeen year old boy named Arris, who volunteered to be cloned for the money. He died after DNA replication. That’s all I know of him. That he was seventeen, and that he’s now dead. I live in Oregon, a place where the Resistance completely governs. They would have killed me as soon as I was grown, but the strangest thing happened. Unlike every other clone in the world, I don’t have to follow orders from the Scientists. The Scientists are the leaders of all clones, and they create them- or shall I say us.
Because I wasn’t actually born by a real mother, I have no technical parents. After I reached the maturity of my stem after about four months, I was taken in by two people who wanted a child, but aren’t able to actually have one of their own. They took a liking to me, and took me in as their ‘foster child’. I love them, don’t get me wrong, but it would have been nice to actually have someone who is blood related to me, with a serious, ingrained sense to nurture me, love me.
Turns out that the world isn’t a magical wish-granting machine.
I joined the Resistance when I was physically sixteen, about a week or two before I reached full maturity. They accepted me, because unlike every other clone, I don’t have to listen to the Scientists. They figured I’d be good to have, a way to infiltrate the Labs and pretend to be on their side- a double agent, they said.
I went on my first mission two days after I joined. We infiltrated the last real Lab in California, and we succeeded. I’ve been on eight more raids since then.
I look around my room, and I inspect all of my meager possessions, trying to decide what to take with me this time. I’m supposed to depart with fifteen men, plus my best friend Jasper, on another mission, in about half an hour. I go to my closet and pull out a small backpack, and fill it with an extra shirt, a water bottle which I make a note in my head to fill up before I leave, socks, a couple granola bars, and lastly, my notebook. Okay, call me a sissy if you want, but without my notebook, I’d have gone insane within the first month of my creation. It helps me vent, without having to sit down with someone and scream at them until I lose my voice.
I shoulder my pack, and look around my room one last time before I leave. I want to get one last good look in case I never come back from my mission. It’s always a probability. I shut the door as I leave, and walk down the stairs, passing by Mom and Dad in the kitchen as I stop to fill up my water bottle. Once done, I head towards the front door.
“Be careful,” Mom calls. I crack a small smile.
“Aren’t I always?” I reply. Dad gives me a small nod, and sips his coffee. He’s proud of me; I know that, he just isn’t one for much talking. I close the door, and step into the frosty air, my hot breath forming small, swirling circles at every exhale. The cold, cold air hurts my lungs on every intake, but that’s okay. It’s the clearest air left to breathe in the United States. Everywhere else besides maybe a couple Resistance towns have very polluted air. I can’t image what it’s like to breathe in that filthy smog, day after day.
I get into Mom and Dad’s car, and start it. The heater turns on, and hot air rushes into the small sedan. It takes about ten minutes to drive to the base, and I park carefully. I get out, and walk over to the door. I enter my pass code, and hold my eye to the scanner. I hear a beep, and I know my identity has been read, and accepted. The door clicks open, and I walk through the first door. I am met by a second one, this one iron with a big click wheel. I place my hand upon the scanner next to it, the machine whirs, and my name is displayed on the top. I spin the click wheel to the numbers 17, 9, 3, and 1.
I change my combination every month or so, everybody having a different code that can only be used once their prints have been identified. I change it to numbers that are significant in my life. The last two haven’t changed for the past eight months. 17 stands for my physical age, and 9 for my months of actual age. 3 always stands for the number of people that I trust in this world. Mom, Dad, and Jasper. And 1… 1 stands for the man I have to blame for the destruction of the world, the man responsible for the Clone Epidemic. The man responsible for my abhorrent existence.
Dr. Shelt. I shake my head in disgust. The door creaks open, and I stand forward into the blackness, prepared for what I’m about to do.
Las Vegas Labs, July 15, 10:35 PM
The city was quiet. Different from what I heard and learned of it. I learned that it was a city of lights, casinos, and hotels, people everywhere, always loud, always packed and warm, and somewhat dirty. But not now. The city was a desolate area of broken buildings and shattered life. Only one intact place of civilization remained: the Lab.
But not just any lab. The biggest lab besides New York. If Shelt wasn’t here, he was twittering away in his place of horrors, coming up with God knows what. But if he was here, he was a dead man.
The team of fifteen men and I hid in shadows, guns locked and loaded, ready to shoot at any moment. We’re prepared, and dangerous, willing and able to take down anything and anybody that crossed our path. We have our orders, and this is the last stop before we hit the big one: New York.
The team and I turn the corner, guns pointed at the front of the building. It’s almost midnight, and we see almost no lights in the windows, except for one, a small broken window near the first floor. I silently point it out to my men. I get a nod from them all, and we creep towards the entrance, unheard, and unseen, in the shadows.
This is it, I thought darkly, the Lab. If Dr. Shelt is here, he will die, or I will die trying.
July 16- Thane’s Journal
The raid is done, and it was a mistake. We lost all but two of our men. It’s a miracle even those two got out with their lives.
Jasper’s gone. He was taken, kidnapped by a group of Scientists. One of my soldiers, a woman named Cara, betrayed us. It turns out she isn’t a human- she’s a Doppelganger. She alerted the Scientists of our upcoming raid and they were lying in wait, ready for us. I don’t know why they want Jasper, or why they didn’t just outright shoot him. We also got one scientist, only identifying herself as Cassie. She was scared- not calm and demented like the others. It’s strange. I’m pretty sure there is no chance she has any idea where the hostages are kept, but we might still get information out of her. She doesn’t seem as tough- probably easier to break. If she were innocent, I would feel bad for saying that. People are people. Not things for us to break and manipulate- if that’s what we did with innocents, we’d be no better than them. But she isn’t an innocent. She is one of them- no matter how different she may seem to be. We’ve never been able to get information on the cloning process, at least not specifically, and she may just be the ticket to that jackpot of information. She claims she is only a tech assistant, but I’m not buying into it. She could just be saying that to avoid interrogation and to save her own skin.
He wasn’t there, either. Good for him, but bad for me. Because that only means one thing: Dr. Shelt is New York, and we only have the smallest chance in the world of finding him, killing the mad doctor, and destroying the largest central of clones on the continent. Because he’ll be in New York, there will be extra security, extra weapons,
extra men needed to use and more men that could possibly die. I don’t want to be responsible for the deaths of more of my men, but it seems that there’s no choice. My personal reasons aside, Dr. Shelt needs to die. Dr. Shelt is the body of the hydra; if we destroy a head, it’s just going to grow back with an additional one as well- we kill him,
we kill the body of the hydra, and it can’t come back.
I don’t know how I’ll survive.
July 16, 12:35 PM- A Road in the Middle of Nowhere
“You need to answer me, Cassie. Do you have any idea where they are? You tell us everything that you know, and you won’t be harmed. We will protect you, you just need to spill.” I say, growing impatient. We’re driving along on a back road, heading back to Grace. I don’t feel anything towards the Jasper gone thing, but that’s mostly because I’m numb. Shocked. All I’m able to feel is a cold, blank emptiness. I need
to get answers out of Cassie, and soon. My two men, Arrow and Jake, sit silently in the back, absent mindedly taking apart their guns and putting them back together. They know me better than to say anything when I’m in the middle of an interrogation- especially under these circumstances. Cassie says nothing, and starts crying softly. I sigh.
Even towards Scientists, I feel uncomfortable making girls cry. It almost makes me feel like a bad person. Guys crying, well, yeah, whatever, I’m all, suck it up. You’re a psychotic grown man. Shut up and stop being a baby.
But girls… God, it makes me feel horrible.
“Listen, Cassie. I promise you won’t come to any harm, but you need to cooperate. Did you know I lost my best friend on that raid? He wasn’t shot- he was kidnapped. And I want him back. But please. You need to just tell us everything you know- please.” I say, my voice softer than before. Cassie sniffs, and wipes her eyes. She takes a couple of deep breaths. Besides saying ‘Cassie. I’m a tech assistant’, she hasn’t said a word.
“They… kidnapped him?” she says, horrified. “No, this can’t be true- do you know what that even means? If they didn’t kill him on sight- there is no way. Um, mister…?” she asks. Excited that I got her to talk, I oblige her question.
“Thane. First Captain, Double 0 Ranking, Leader of Raid 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9 of the nine I’ve been on.” I say, giving her my full ranking. She stares at me cross eyed. “Just call me Thane,” I clarify. She nods.
“Thane, do you have a picture of your friend?” she says urgently. I nod, confused. I reach into my pocket while keeping one eye on the road. I pull out my wallet, and take out the picture of Jasper and I on my physical seventeenth birthday. I hand it to her. She looks at it, and hands it back. She puts her left hand to her forehead, her blonde hair falling in her face.
“Well, Thane, I’m pretty sure there is no way you are going to get your friend back. Can you tell me his name?”
“Yeah, his name is Jasper-” I start to say.
“Yep. You are never getting him back. Ever. There’s no chance to rescue him from Shelt. Now that he has what he wants, he is never going to give him up. It’s better just to leave him where he is right now, and just believe that he won’t be hurt. Because, Shelt would sooner die than let any harm come to him.” She says. I’m sure I’m looking utterly confused. And then she breaks and tells me everything, my men listening quietly in the back and afterwards, letting me cry.
July 17- Thane’s Journal
It’s so much worse than I imagined. The processes, the whole Jasper thing- I’m not sure I know how to deal. It might be easier if I get it out now, in the private expanse of these yellowed pages in my old journal. I don’t know if I can handle talking about Jasper just yet, so I’ll start with writing down everything that Cassie said about the cloning process.
It’s horrible, the things that they do. Brilliant, from a scientific standpoint- but horrible, from an ethical one. Maybe if it were natural, it’d be fine, like with twins or unfertilized eggs triggered by a chemical stimulus. But it’s not.
As I’ve already known, they need a volunteer to carry the clone. They take an egg, and wipe it clean of all genetic coding- essentially destroying the human who could’ve
been. Then, they take certain genetic information (quality’s, physical/mental traits, etc.) from people they think would have the ‘best’ genes, and program it into the blank egg. They can control whatever they want to implant the egg with- height, ethnicity, basic instincts, the need to want to do whatever they say. Of course, they don’t usually change looks and such. After all, they want a clone, and changing all that takes far too much work for them. Only some people are strong enough to survive gene replication, and after they don’t die, the Scientists keep them to make more clones from their genes.
They program them with a need to obey the Scientists, to serve them and do whatever they need. When they program the blank egg, they have to be very careful, because if they screw up the initial programming, the rest of the process will be a complete failure. They also experimented with many people of many different ages, but they found that the older the person, the older the cells, and they’ve found that if the cells are too matured, the programming will not work correctly, and the end product will not be pretty- or survive for very long, that’s for sure. Especially since the older the stem is, the shorter the chromosomes are. I learned from Cassie that telomeres are DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes, and the more times that they are copied, the shorter they get, and the shorter they get, the shorter the lifespan. She said the Scientists say that volunteers are never harmed, but what they don’t tell them is that even if they survive the initial cloning process, their lifespan shrinks more rapidly than natural, and they keep them to repeat the process; they just die that much faster. It’s sick. Twisted. It’s unpredictable, though. Some people’s telomeres length is longer than other peoples, and sometimes, very rarely though, the telomeres don’t shrink. They have found a case or two that actually got longer and lived longer than the regular person. At first, “the success ranged from .1 percent to 3 percent, which means for every 1000 tries, only one to thirty clones are made, or you can look at it as 970 to 999 failures every 1000 tries.” (C3., Learn. Genetics, The Risks of Cloning, P. 1, S. 2) Then they experimented further, and found only certain peoples genes would work, and that the programming had to be beyond perfect.
The success where they don’t have a severely shorter lifespan happens oh so rarely, though. But the Scientists exploit these outlandish results, trying to make it appeal more to the public, to get more volunteers. Because of that whole telomeric length thing, clones life spans are shorter, and they need to produce quicker, in mass production almost. But what the Resistance has always known though is that they want more clones so they can build an army. Not to take over the country, or even the world. No. They’ve already done that.
No. They want to defeat us, the Resistance. We are the one thing in the entire world that stands in the way of their complete domination- once we’re gone, we’ll be nothing but a tiny blip in history. So we can’t go away. But with a clone army so big, I’m not sure how we will defeat them.
Now… Jasper. It’s so crazy I can’t even comprehend it. It doesn’t make any sense! I don’t know how I never knew. Jasper is what we both are trained to fight, and eliminate. What I hate myself for being.
Jasper’s….. a- a clone.
And now I know why Shelt wants him. I knew old Shelt was psychotic, but I never expected he was this crazy. He had a son, named Cole Shelt. He was fourteen when he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He had severe anemia- “The condition of having a lower-than-normal number of red blood cells or quantity of hemoglobin. Anemia diminishes the capacity of the blood to carry oxygen. Patients with anemia may feel tired, fatigue easily, appear pale, develop palpitations, and become short of breath.” (MedTerms Medical Dictionary) Cole had it a lot worse than the normal case, and eventually his lack of sufficient oxygen caused lung cancer. He died within a month, no longer able to breathe. Dr. Shelt, maddened with the grief of losing a child, replicated Cole’s genes, and extracted all diseased DNA, and cloned Cole. Five weeks later, Jasper was born. He was Dr. Shelt’s twisted version of Cole’s replacement. When he was about physically three, a Scientist felt bad for Jasper, and decided to get him away from Shelt. She thought that a clone, meant only to be a replacement for his dead son should not have to grow up in that kind of environment. One night, she waited until Shelt was asleep, and stole Jasper away. Within the night, she had him halfway across the states with her brother. As soon as Shelt found out, he raged, and demanded him back, but it was too late by then. Infuriated, and betrayed by the one he trusted most, he ordered his own wife to execution for her treason.
They had him here, in the last state completely Resistance, within three days. By then he was physically three and a half. Dr. Shelt now dead wife’s brother begged someone to take Jasper in, to keep him safe. Who I thought were his parents took him in, and he grew up as one of us. He grew to fourteen within three months, and then I came into town. For some reason, I grew slower than the usual clone, and I was told it was because of some incredible phenomenon with my genes. Now that I know about telomeres, it probably has to do with some weird dysfunction in those. I can’t remember much before I was physically fourteen, which is strange. I’ve always wondered about that. I just have this feeling like I lived before then; I just can’t remember the things I did. But after that, I remember meeting Jasper for the first time the week after we moved into town.
I asked Cassie why Jasper didn’t grow as fast as a clone after he reached fourteen, and she told me that when a clone reaches full maturity, their genes start behaving as a normal humans would, then on growing as slow as a humans. Since Cole was fourteen when he died and was cloned, Jasper grew regularly when I met him.
It’s just such a shock. Why didn’t he tell me? Did he know that he was a clone? Seeing as the growth patterns aren’t atypical with a humans, he should have noticed growing up too fast. Maybe he did then... I just don’t understand why he didn’t tell me. He could have trusted. Renegade clones together, you know?
If everything Cassie is saying is correct, I don’t know how we’re going to get Jasper back from Shelt, after Shelt has already lost Jasper once. I can’t imagine that he’d let him slip through his fingers that easily again.
July 18, 2:45 PM- Oregon, Town of Grace
“W-what?” I ask, stuttering. I can’t say anymore, and I slam the truck door behind me. I drop to my knees on the wet, ashy gravel. This… this can’t be. I trail my fingers along in the sooty dust, and a single tear traces its way down my cold face. Instead of snow, which we can get sometimes in the summer, ash and little orange and red embers rain down from the sky. The day is cold, and dark, and everything I see before me is blackened, ruined, and irreparably gone. It’s gone.
The gates leading to the city are falling off their hinges, and the wall that surrounds the city is almost gone, only a few bricks scattering the expanse of the burned ground. All the buildings are burned to the ground, and nothing is left but some black, gnarled trees, and discarded wood, upturned cars, and fallen street lights. Nothing stands. Nothing moves. Jake and Arrow run up behind me, and fall to the ground next to me. Cassie exits the car quietly, and comes up behind me and puts a warm hand on my shoulder. Jake breaks down his tough guy façade then, and starts crying. Arrow keeps looking around and yelling “Why?” at the sky. It hurts like nothing had ever before, but somehow I think it’s worse for Arrow and Jake. Jake is only fourteen and his first mission was one filled with sorrow and death. And Arrow… there isn’t a single person left alive in this place, from what I can tell. He had a wife and a dog named Finnick, and there’s no doubt they are dead or captured now. And then it hits.
“Mom?” I whisper. “Dad?” I cry harder. I cry every tear that I’ve been holding in since that failed raid, and it’s a lot, the salty water pushing to break the dam I set up there, and it breaks, tears streaming in thick, cold rivulets down my face, mixing with the ash. Cassie says nothing still, but from her facial expression, I can tell that she feels sorrowful for us.
We all stand up, and set our shoulders straight. I wipe the tears away, and make a vow to myself that I won’t cry again. I will remain silent, stoic, unmoved. I’ve cried far too much already. If I don’t show strength for my remaining men, how are they supposed to expect to do the same?
And then I hear a single shot fired. I see a blur of movement, and I hear Arrow cry out, a strangled moan I don’t think I will ever forget. I spin around. A single circle of blood blossoms around his heart, spreading, his shirt starting to soak red. He falls to the ground, and moves no more.
“Arrow!” Jake screams, and then another shot rings out, a shrill piercing note. Jake looks down at his own shirt. He says nothing as he looks at me in shock. His own black shirt hides the red, but we both know the blood is there. He crumbles, and lies on the ashy ground, now glassy eyes towards the sky, his jaw slack. He isn’t breathing.
Arrow! Jake! I scream in my head, No! Cassie opens her mouth to scream, but I clamp my hand there before she can. We run towards the car, and I fumble to unlock it. We scramble in, and I start the car. I motion for Cassie to duck her head down, and slam on the gas. We drive through the gates into the city and past Jake and Arrow’s bodies. I spot a man, my age, running towards us with a speed that blurred, it was so fast. He shot at the car, but its exterior was built of iron enforced steel, and the windows are bullet proof. He couldn’t breach the car, and so he ran faster to come up in front of us. He stopped in front of us suddenly, expecting us to yield and stop, but I’m not that easily stopped. I press harder on the gas pedal, and he is so shocked that we don’t that he doesn’t move. Guess superior strength and speed doesn’t guarantee superior intellect.
I hear a sickening crunch as I run him over.
I stop the car, and I get out slowly exit the car, assault rifle in hand. I peer around the back of the car at the Doppelganger. He lays there broken and lifeless on the gravel, his legs twisted at an unnatural angle. My stomach lurches at the sight, but I manage to keep everything down. Cassie, though, isn’t as strong willed. She takes one look at the mangled corpse, runs over to a ruined bush and empties her belly onto the dead branches.
Threat eliminated, I run back to my men’s bodies. I drop to my knees once more, and cradle my head in my hands. True to my vow, tears don’t fall, but they threaten to, pushing hard against my closed eyelids. Cassie walks up behind me and puts her hand on my shoulder again. Then I hear a sharp barking noise, and I’m on my feet in an instant, immediately wary and ready to kill anything in my path.
A dog, covered in soot, dirt and blood, walks up to me, favoring his left paw. It’s Finnick. Arrow’s dog. He yips at me and motions with his furry head to follow him. I do, and we walk along into the city until we come to in front of Arrow’s old house. He walks through the space where the door once was, and leads me to the bathroom. I step through, and gasp.
“Help… me.” Arrow’s wife croaks. She’s caught under a fallen beam of wood, trapped from the waist down. I rush over to her, and struggle to lift the heavy wood off of her. She squirms out from under it, and sighs in brutal relief when she’s free. I help her up, slowly, and she leans on me as I lead her out of the house. We exit, and Cassie runs up to me, a quizzical expression written clearly on her face.
“This… this is Arrow’s wife and dog, Finnick, Cassie,” I say quietly. She puts her hand to her mouth and starts crying anew.
“What’s going on?” Arrow’s wife interrupts, “Where is Arrow?” I put my hand over hers, and get ready to tell the woman who loved Arrow most that her husband died not ten minutes ago, less than a mile from where she lay trapped, unable to help him.
July 20- Thane’s Journal
It was unbelievably hard, telling her. How do you tell someone that their spouse is dead, and it’s your fault? How do you deal with the shock, the initial denial, and then finally showing her the one thing she never wanted to see- her husband’s lifeless body?
We sent her off to Canada, where close to the border I know there’s another camp, completely Resistance.
We searched the rest of the town- there were no survivors other than her, and I never found my parents bodies.
We’re driving to New York - we’re about five hours away now. We’ve been on the road almost three days, and we haven’t come across any Doppelgangers or Scientist yet. Over the entire trip, Cassie and I have said maybe ten words to each other. I think she’s in shock, after seeing what her people do to innocents. I’m not sure she knew what exactly the Scientists were capable of.
It’s her turn to drive, so I’d thought I’d fill in my journal to pass the time.
Now, more than ever, I want Dr. Shelt dead.
Am I wrong, for wanting that? That I want to see more death than I already have? Why do I want to add to the suffering that people all over the world has felt as a result of the Clone Epidemic? Am I sick? Is there something wrong with me to want that?
Or is it justified, by the amount of pain and suffering he has inflicted over the years? By all the horrible things that he has done, does he deserve the death sentence? I, of course, and I’m sure countless other people, agree that he should- but who are we to decide who lives and who dies? We aren’t God- why do we have the right to act like we are- that we know best?
I don’t know. I’ve been questioning myself about this lately, and I can’t seem to find the answer… Maybe it isn’t right, maybe it isn’t good, and maybe it makes me evil- but, despite my internal struggle for these answers, I will end Shelt. And soon. I just want this to be over already.
I want to live in peace, and to not have to worry about the war, or whether or nor I’m on a hit list that week.
But I don’t know if that day will ever come, truthfully.
July 20, 11:57 PM-New York Labs
“You ready for this?” I ask Cassie softly. She nods, her face determined. We are hidden, in the shadows of a deserted alley. None can see us- and that’s just the way we need it, if we’re going to survive. In front of us are colossal buildings, shiny and chrome, built to withstand anything. They have high technology and complicated, twisted routes to get to the places that we need to get to.
“I’ve actually gotten lost in there, funny thing, but if you have a master key, you can get in anywhere, and it has a code on it that shows you the way. Like a built in GPS, almost.” she had remarked with a small smile. She told me that after ten o’clock, everybody was required to leave, so Shelt could have an hour or with his own personal experimentations before he had to leave. She said that each door had a lock, impossible to pick, impossible to break. But that wasn’t necessary, if you had a key. She said there weren’t any video cameras, just two Doppelgangers at the entrance. The Scientists had a smug belief that the Doppelgangers would always come out on top, so they didn’t feel the need for any extra protection. Little did they know that I defeated one in under ten minutes. They really should put less faith in them… us Resistance peoples are made of stronger stuff than we seem.
Cassie reaches into her pocket, smiling wickedly. She pulls out a small silver key, its underside impossibly complicated in its ridges. It has a small button on top, chrome and smooth. She hands it to me, and it feels cold to the touch.
“And I just so happen to have stolen one of the two in existence.” she says, incredibly smug. I let out a big breath, and then I ask the question that I’ve been scared to ask ever since I met her.
“Why… Cassie you need to give me a straight answer right now,” I say quietly, not looking at her.
“Yeah, sure, I will.” she says, confused.
“Why- why are you helping me? I kidnapped you, interrogated you for information, and nearly got you killed at least three times. Why did you steal a key, and… just- I think that I can trust you- but… I’m looking at the possibility of us going in there, and me being immediately ambushed, and having it turn out to have you being a traitor the entire time. Because, honest to God, if the roles were switched, that’s what I would do. I would never help the enemy. How do I know that this isn’t what this is? How do I know that you are actually trying to help me?” I admit, looking down at my feet. Cassie lifts my chin with her fingers, and looks into my eyes, hers an unreadable sea of blue.
“I was never on their side, Thane. I grew up Resistance, and I came to New York to be a doctor- the medical kind. Then I was forced into becoming a Scientist- but the entire time, I was plotting my escape. I stole this key during the raid, because it was finally my chance to get out of my situation- and I figured someone was going to need to go to New York, after all. I’m not a traitor, Thane. Just- just trust me okay? I would never do that. I mean, even if I did, I would betraying my own family. Have you heard of the Infiltrators?” she asks. I shake my head. I’ve never heard of them. “Well, to shorten things up a bit- the Infiltrators are a group of specially trained Resistance officers specially used near the Labs here. I lived in Connecticut, and that’s where the base is. My father, Sergeant Dylan Arcadia, is the leader of the Infiltrators. Why would I betray you? You are another branch of the Resistance. I would never do that to a fellow Resistor. I was inducted into the service when I was sixteen. I only got a year of it before I went to New York. The Scientists need to be eliminated, and so do all of the clones- except for Jasper, of course. Jasper is good, I can tell. If you can proof his innocence, we can rescue Jasper, kill Shelt, destroy the lab, and go back to Connecticut. My father will take you in if you show that Jasper is not evil.”
I rub my hands together nervously. I don’t say anything, and then Cassie frowns.
“Why? What’s wrong? Besides the obvious reasons, of course. Tonight is going to be a good night. It will mark history! Why aren’t you excited?” she says, confused and frustrated at the same time.
“Cassie…” I say. “You don’t know, then? About what I am?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Cassie… I’m not human. I thought you knew. I’m-” I break off.
“You’re what?” she says, her voice growing louder.
“I’m a clone.” I whisper. She looks at me, and then bursts out laughing. I motion for her to quiet down frantically. She falls on the round, almost crying from laughing to hard. After a second or two, she quiets, and stands back up. She wipes her eyes.
“That’s not the very best joke to make, you idiot. Funny, but totally not appropriate. Stop joking around, okay? We gotta get in there now.”
“But- I’m not joking-” I trail off. She rolls her eyes. I don’t say anything further. Maybe… maybe it’s best if she believes that I’m not a clone. I shake my head, and follow her into the building.
July 21- Thane’s Journal
It’s not possible. It just can’t be. I’m losing my mind, or this is just one gigantic bad dream. There’s no way this has happened.
I keep pinching myself, though, but I’m not waking up.
Mom and Dad are dead. Arrow’s dead. Jake’s dead. Everyone in Grace is dead. Cassie’s dead. Jasper’s dead. Shelt’s dead. And I wish I was too. I’m surrounded by death, and it’s just this close from drowning me.
But why don’t I start from the beginning.
We got in easy enough. The weird part was, and more than just a little suspicious, the two Doppelgangers were already taken care of. They were tranquilized, and unable to do anything. We used the key to get to the Main Area, and Cassie used the key to get into the elevator that led to the labs. We got into the Cloning Area, and Dr. Shelt had looked up at us in utter shock. Jasper sat tied in a chair across from him. He saw us and freaked out.
“I’m sorry I never told you!” he cried. “I just couldn’t tell you! It was too shameful.”
And then there was the general screaming and Shelt fumbling for a weapon. Cassie freed Jasper, and so it was three against one. He screamed for the Doppelgangers, but of course, they were incapacitated. Cassie pulled a move I didn’t think possible for her- she flipped over the desk and pinned Shelt to the ground. When I looked at her after she pulled this maneuver, she just shrugged and said, ‘Five years of gymnastics’.
Then we went through the process of demanding answers from Shelt, he looked at me like I was an alien.
“Arris?!” he yelled. I shook my head violently.
“No. You killed him with your stupid cloning process, remember? My name is Thane. I’m his clone.” I spat at him. Then Dr. Shelt chuckled a madman’s chuckle, and then shook his head slowly.
“My dear boy. You aren’t a clone! I remember you, now! You were stolen from your mother when you were fourteen! Don’t you remember that? Don’t you remember this? Your mother is one of my Head Scientists! Don’t you remember Arris, too?” he said. My curiosity was deeper even than my urge to kill.
“What? And… no, I don’t remember anything before I was fourteen.” I said, my tone cold enough to freeze the sun.
“Oh, they must have wiped your memory. Arris will tell you everything.” He struggled to reach into his pocket, and pressed a button. I threw a punch into his face, and he winces.
“What did you do? What?! If it was a call for help, you won’t be able to get it. I’ll just kill you right now!” Then I heard a whirring sound, and a door behind me opened up.
“What, Uncle Shelt?” I heard a bored voice behind. I froze. I know that voice. I turned slowly around, and then I saw my reflection.
He gave me a shocked look, and then ran towards me. I tensed up, and he hugged me.
“Thane? Oh my god- how did you get here- how are you here? I thought you were taken, three years ago!” he yelled.
“Arris?” I whispered. “But… I thought you were dead-” He pulls back, and gives me a quizzical look. Shelt laughs out loud.
“Nephew, allow me. Thane here thought he was a clone- a clone of you. He was told that you were dead, that you were nothing but his stem. When he was fourteen, he was taken by those infernal Resistors, and they erased his memory. He knew nothing.”
Cassie and Jasper edged behind me.
“Oh, you aren’t going to leave, dear Cassie. Or you, Jasper. You aren’t ever going to leave. I won’t lose my son again. Not to anybody, ever. So, Cassie, resign yourself to a slow, painful death, and Jasper… you just aren’t going to leave. And Thane- you have a choice. Stay here with me, or die the same death as Cassie.”
Arris looked between all of us, confused.
“Uncle, isn’t that a little far? Nobody needs to die-”
And it all went to hell from there.
All of the sudden, randomly, two girls and a guy burst into the room.
One of the girls saw my official Resistance stripes on my sleeve, and motioned for me to come over to her. Shelt looked utterly confused.
“Take your people and get out of here. We got this. But leave Shelt.” She spoke with a thick European accent. I motioned for Cassie and Jasper and Arris to come to me. Arris ran over to me, looking in disgust at Shelt. Shelt explodes then. He yelled, his face cherry red.
“If I don’t get to have Jasper, no one does!” he screamed. “He’s my son!”
He leaped for Cassie, and put his hands around her throat, forcing her to the ground. She gasped, and turned as red as Shelt.
“Cassie!” I yelled.
“Leave me!” she choked out. “Save yourselves!” Jasper ran at Shelt, and tried to pry his fingers from her throat. Then the room got suddenly really hot.
“We set the building on fire!” the guy said, his accent as thick as the girls. Jasper pinned Shelt down, but still he could not get him off Cassie. The best he could do was hold him there. Jasper looked at me desperately. I don’t think I will ever forget his face. His eyes filled with an understanding.
“Leave us, Thane. You can’t save all of us.” he begged. Cassie went slack, and slid to the floor. I howled, and the guy and girls dragged me out of the room, Arris following. Then beams started falling to the ground, fiery, and that was the last I ever saw of Jasper and Cassie.
July 23, 8:30 AM- Forest in the Middle of Connecticut
“We can’t stay long,” Aylo says. He was the guy from the Lab. The two girls are Raze, and Nova.
They are clones, but they aren’t under any influence from Scientists. They explained that they were from the European District, across the Pacific. Their Scientist had felt bad, and about thirty clones had been made without having to listen to the Scientists. They had teams all over the states, clones and Resistors, burning down Labs everywhere. And they’re taking us to the Europe to finish the rest of the world.
I don’t know what I’m going to do after that. Maybe I’ll hold all the deceased a funeral, or light a pyre in their memory.
But I don’t know what I’ll do with the rest of my life. I’ve spent the entire expanse of my remembered life thinking I was one thing, and I turn out to be another. I’m not sure how I’ll deal. But one thing is for sure:
Things will never be the same. Not for me, not for the Resistance, not for Arris, and most of all, not the world.
I know what I am now, and what I did, and who died for me to do it. And I will always remember that. 17, 16, 98+, 0. These are my numbers now. I’m seventeen. I watched sixteen closest people in my life die. 98+ died in Grace, and I will remember. And zero- it’s the time I will spend to fail protecting who I love, and the world along with them. Maybe there is no point in keeping these numbers- but I will. Forever and always in my heart and mind.
This is Captain Thane signing off. And this is my legacy.