Between the large swathes of land swallowed up by the untraversable Death Zone, the enigmatic and monolithic Wall, and the natural geographical features of the land itself, the Grand Canyon Province has been in isolation from the outside world for over a century.
With the range of environments ranging from hospitable to hostile, from forests to scrublands, several generations have come to call the Province their home, each generation producing hardier people than the last. Thousands of people live throughout the Province, having either built upon the aged remnants of pre-existing infrastructure from a world before the Fall or moved on to create communities that didn’t rely upon the skeletal remains of a flawed civilization.
Nothing can smother the past, however. The specter of one particular mega-corporation still looms over the collective head of the Province. Technological and industrial infrastructures of a long-dead age lay scattered across the land, ranging from crippled office complexes to semi-functional power plants that strain themselves to provide power to the few locations that have even the barest of connections to a pillaged and gutted power grid.
Wherever a pre-existing community had once stood, the forlorn forms of squat structures had a good chance of being nearby, their octagonally shaped concrete exteriors suffering from the effects of both man and nature. Since long before any person could recall these structures had existed, their unassuming form causing them often to be overlooked by passersby, mistakenly assumed to just be another piece of detritus from a different time.
Those approaching one of these bunkers would be faced with a stairwell that lead down into the earth and stopped at a pair of steel doors, their latches dusty from disuse. For one expecting something incredible past those doors, they would be immediately disappointed as they found themselves at the entrance of a dusty hallway that split in two directions.
But not even underground was clear of the specter of a corporation that once owned the very canyon that thousands of people called their home, for on the wall before them they would see one word that was ever-present throughout the Province:
*** *** ***
Zanesville, Grand Canyon Province
Like any other day of the week, Journeyman Jeremiah Tinkson was arms-deep in narrow, dark holes.
“Damnit,” the man muttered to himself, a rivulet of sweat trailing down the side of his face as he wormed his arm ever deeper into the confines of darkness, his fingers gently caressing the innards of the cavity as he sought what he so desired. The ebony-skinned man’s lips curled in pleasure as he found what he was looking for.
Gripping gently but firmly, the man slowly removed his arm from the confines of the rusted pipe, the lost light bulb in his hand safe and undamaged.
“Hard to find, even harder to make,” he grumbled, setting down the bulb onto a stack of empty oil drums that had long been drained of their contents.
The room that the man was in had metal grating and panels for a floor and steel-panelled walls, the ceiling having large portions of it lined with ventilation ducts and various pipes. One side of the room had a line of empty metal pods that were festooned with cables and other bits of machinery that filled the gaps between the pods. On either side of the line of pods was a wide staircase that lead up to the surface.
The other side of the room was a different matter altogether; the center part of the wall was concrete with a large, black sphere, possibly representing a planet, covered in a dense grid with bright points at each intersection. Beneath the logo was one word: “GlobalTech”.
On the floor just before the concrete wall was a raised dais that had a steel safety railing around most of it save for where a small metal stairway on either side of the circular platform connected to the floor. On the section closest to the wall was a semi-circular row of computer banks and terminals, the rows and panels of blinking lights occasionally interrupted by a blue screen that either showed the logo on the wall or other information that wouldn’t easily be readable to just anyone.
Often Jeremiah would think to himself about how one might interact with the system that seemed as though it may control everything within the bunker he was in; he knew that such a thing wasn’t impossible, as he had heard of people in other bunkers doing just that. LifeNet Technicians, they were called.
“Having any trouble, Journeyman?” A voice called from the stairway, announcing the return of Technician Johannson Hendricks from her lunchbreak.
The Journeyman in question turned around to see a middle-aged woman with short blond hair tied up in a bun behind her head. She wore a grey-blue jumpsuit that matched his own, with an almost-maroon patch of red sewn into the lower left-hand side of the torso. Also like him, she wore a large leather belt equipped with various tools, as well as a shoulder patch depicting three intersecting ovals set at 120-degree intervals: an incorrect simplification of what an atom looked like, but an easily recognizable symbol nonetheless.
“No ma’am, just spent the last ten or twenty minutes trying to fish a light bulb out from a pipe.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder at the object he had spent so much time retrieving.
She let out a noise of distaste not directed at him. “Those things are always getting lost or getting broken. "Damn things are so hard to make and so hard to keep unbroken that it's a wonder we even have any spares."
“I hear you,” Jeremiah said, nodding his head in agreement. He ran a dusty hand through his short, curly black hair and was reminded that he needed to take another sponge-bath sometime soon.
Johannson let out a deep sigh, taking a moment to remove a stray strand of blonde hair that had began to tickle her nose before wordlessly walking to the open toolbox that sat at the foot of the oil drums.
“Back to work then.” Jeremiah moved a hand to his belt to remove a voltage tester, his other hand moving to the small light bulb that he had retrieved earlier before screwing it into the back of the voltage tester.
“Yep.” Johannson stooped down to pick up several electrician tools before gesturing over to one of the cables that fed into one of the pods. “Orders are to see how much power is fed into those pods, and then see if we can re-route the cables to something more worthwhile. Catch.” She tossed a multimeter over to Jeremiah, who caught it easily.
“Orders by who?” he asked as he went over to one of the pods.
“Probably some Theoretician in the Congress of Science who thinks that we don’t already have our hands full with other stuff.” She began to lay down some of the tools that she had collected from the toolbox, lining them up at the edge of the pod.
Jeremiah leaned against one of the thick steel partitions that jutted out from between the pods. “Makes you wish that we Appliers had more say in things, what with us being the most common and all.”
Johannson raised her hand and pointed to the multimeter Jeremiah was holding, crooking her finger. “Gimme,” she said as the man passed her the device, where she then plugged it into a small port that was set into a large coiling metal cable that was the same thickness as her forearm. “I try not to think about politics. It probably didn’t do the old world any good and it certainly doesn’t appear to be doing any good now.”
“Yeah, I suppose not,” Jeremiah said, crossing his arms as he watched the middle-aged woman fiddled with the device.
Johannson soon finished setting up the device, and stood up to face the younger man, “Now that that’s done, we just have to wait until the next one comes through. Care for a quickie?”
The ebony-skinned man felt his cheeks flush and his eyebrows climb up toward his forehead. The question, to him, was a no brainer. “Don’t have to ask me twice, ma’am!”
She answered him with a grin and put her hands around his waist, working the belt buckle open and letting the toolbelt clatter to the floor noisily. As she was doing that, Jeremiah began working the zipper that sealed the front of the woman’s jumpsuit, his hands fumbling around for the small zipper that was hidden beneath a small fold of fabric.
The two electricians were so busy “working” on each other that they missed the materializing figure in the pod behind them until its limp form crashed onto Johannson. With a startled yelp she drew her face away from the man’s waist and spun around, letting out another yelp as she saw the collapsed figure laying down on the floor face down. The man took a moment longer to react, asking why she had stopped before his eyes met the same limp figure that his partner had been staring at.
“gosh darning cockblock,” they both intoned.
*** *** ***
The two technicians took a moment to “readjust” their jumpsuits before taking a good look at the limp form at their feet.
“Why hasn’t he woken up yet?” Jeremiah asked in puzzlement, looking over to Johannson.
“Clones are weird like that,” she said, wiping her mouth with the back of a hand. “See that collar on its neck there? That’s how you can tell them apart from the rest of us.”
He looked at where she was pointing. The figure that was being pointed at was wearing a dark blue jacket with a yellow-brown stripe running from the shoulders and down the sleeves. The pants that the figure was wearing were of the same dark blue material as the jacket, the both articles of clothing appearing to consist of finely woven plastic threads that would undoubtedly chafe if not switched out for something of a less “constructed” nature.
As for the specific part of the limp figure being pointed at, there appeared to be a metal collar that wrapped around the base of neck, the sides of said collar engraved with almost runic-like symbols of an unknown purpose. At the back of the collar was a large port that looked as though some sort of computer cable could be connected into it.
“Yeah I see it,” Jeremiah said quietly, perturbed at the fact that the recess looked deeper than the thickness of the actual collar itself.
Johannson glanced at the blinking display on the multimeter before looking back to him. “If he doesn’t wake up soon, we’re going to have to drag him to Baskins.”
Jeremiah looked at her with an air of confusion, “Who?” he asked, not having heard the name before.
“Sergeant Baskins. He’s the guy who takes the new clones and gives them a purpose, some starter jobs, and then sends them out into the wide, wide world.”
He looked to her and then to the limp figure that still lay unmoving on the floor, before looking back to her again. “What do we do if the clone doesn’t want to move?”
Johannson furrowed her brow a moment in thought before looking up to him from her crouched position on the floor. “Then we drag it.”
“gosh darning clones.”
*** *** ***
The sound of two pairs of boots working their way up the stairs brought Private Dickinson from out of his inattentive stupor and back into the persona of a competent guard. He glanced to the right, toward his compatriot. The man, like him, wore a tan BDU that was mostly obscured from view by the thick leather padding that covered his torso and upper thighs. In the other man’s hand was a semi-automatic carbine that was mostly comprised of wooden parts. Only the best for the new guys, he thought sarcastically.
“Here they come. They’re leaving early today, huh?” Dickinson said, pointing down toward the right-hand side of the hall they were guarding.
The other man opened his mouth to reply but quickly shut it as two Techs came around the corner with the limp form of someone d****d around their shoulders. The man that they were dragging between them was fully clothed save for his bare feet, which were dragging along the hard concrete floor.
Dickinson waited a bit for them to get closer before speaking. “I take it you found another glitter-neck, huh?”
One of the Techs, the woman that he thought was named Johannson, rolled her brown eyes at him before retorting, “Look at his collar and ask that dumb question again.”
The other guard raked his fingers through the air while making a cat noise, “Mreowl, kitty got claws!”
The ebony-skinned man gave the other guard an odd look before turning to Dickinson. “We need to deliver this guy to Sergeant Baskins, can you let us through?”
“Only if you get us some lunch on your way back, we haven’t had ours yet. We’ll pay you back, right Bob?” The other guard nodded.
The woman, Johannson, seemed to consider this for a moment before nodding her head, “Yeah, we can do that. Any idea where Baskins may be at?”
“Should be by the firing range,” Bob said, rolling his shoulders. “We’ll let you through now.” With a nod to Dickinson, they both turned around and opened their respective door for the two Techs, letting them out from the confines of the bunker.
*** *** ***
The town of Zanesville was set atop of several mesas that overlooked the Eastern Plateau region of the Grand Canyon Province. The mesa that the two Techs-turned-body-carriers were currently on housed most of the town’s defenders, all organized around a small radio tower and a nissen hut. Small prefabricated geo-domes were scattered around both of these structures, serving as living quarters for soldiers and their families. Along the outer rim of the mesa itself was a line of stacked rubble and debris that would be used as cover in the usual event of an attack.
As the two Techs dragged their charge out into the open air, they quickly wished that they were back in the air-conditioned confines of the bunker and not tasked with the menial labor of carrying a load of dead weight between them.
When they finally arrived at the firing range, most of the stalls there were empty or closed, save for the occasional off-duty guard or trainee seeking to improve their aim or relieve some stress. Sergeant Baskins was, much to the Techs’ consternation, nowhere to be found, and instead they were met with a bored-looking firearms instructor who was going over the basics with one of the aforementioned trainees.
Technician Johannson Hendricks motioned for Journeyman Jeremiah Tinkson to set down the body that they had been carrying onto the ground, something that Jeremiah was only happy to oblige. As they waited for the firearms instructor to finish, they both used the time to stretch and to help themselves to the contents of a water jug while they waited.
“You got the form mostly right, but you need to spread your feet a bit and keep your legs relaxed, not all stiff-like.” The instructor showed the trainee the proper stance, doing just as she told the man to do. After a few more tips and pointers the man replicated her posture more or less exactly.
“Good, now keep that position and hold it, I think the Technos have waited long enough.” The instructor backed up from the trainee, giving him some space as she turned to the two awaiting Techs.
The woman was wearing a BDU of the same color as the two guards just inside the bunker entrance, a pistol holster and some other personal items hanging from the large leather belt wrapped around her waist. On her right shoulder was a patch sewn into the fabric depicting the black silhouette of a clenched fist against the center of a yellow and black rimmed circle; the symbol of the Enforcers.
Johannson was the first to speak, “We came here looking for Sergeant Baskins.” She gestured over to the splayed-out figure lying against a nearby wall, “Got another clone to deliver.”
“Seems like those bunkers keep spewing out more and more of these guys,” the instructor said, jerking her chin toward the collared man on the floor. “As for the Sergeant,” she shrugged, tilting her head to the side, “He’s busy.”
Jeremiah, who had previously been letting his superior do the talking, let out an annoyed huff. “Figures that when we actually need to find someone in charge they’re nowhere to be found.”
The instructor crossed her arms over her chest. “Sorry that I couldn’t be of any more help, but you know...” She gave them both a sly grin, her eyes twinkling with barely hidden amusement, “Since you’re here, you should get in some practice. Never know when Gully Dog raiders are going to come at us again.”
Both of the Techs shook their heads, profusely thanking the female instructor for her offer but claimed that they had other things that needed to be attended to first.
“It wasn’t an offer that you can really refuse.” The instructor’s smile grew into the toothy smile of a predator, “I know where the Sergeant is, and if you want to get back to your nice little bunker, you’ll comply with my demands.”
Both of the Techs stared at the instructor with various feelings like dismay, annoyance, and rage at having to be forced to do something that neither of them had any interest in. After a few moments of silence, they finally gave in to her demands.
“Great, great,” the instructor said, rubbing her palms together excitedly. “We’ll make Enforcers of you yet!”
*** *** ***
By the time the two Techs were done at the firing range several more hours had passed, the clone that they had originally hoped to deliver to the proper authority was still unconscious and unmoving. The sun was significantly closer to the western horizon than it had been when the Techs first started and by the time they were finished with the semi-forced training and had received the location of Sergeant Baskins the sky was a fiery orange that reflected the day’s temperature.
Both Jeremiah and Johannson half-walked and half-stumbled out through the firing range’s walled-in entrance, almost tripping over the original reason for them being at the firing range to begin with.
“Son of a hors!” Jeremiah cursed, angrily sending a vicious kick at the collared man’s leg.
Johannson set a hand on the frustrated man’s shoulder, “I’m as pissed as you are, but don’t take it out on the clone. As much as they are a pain to work with sometimes, they have their uses.”
Jeremiah looked as though he was about to retort with something unkind, but the stern gaze that the woman was giving him made him relent. “Yeah. Yeah I guess.” He pinched the bridge of his nose, squeezing his eyes shut, “I just don’t get why that hors made us go through that pointless training.”
“I can still hear you, sweety,” called a voice from around the corner, followed by a chuckle.
The man’s ebony cheeks reddened slightly, embarrassed that his bad-mouthing had been heard by the person it was directed at.
Johannson let out an amused bark of laughter. “Better be careful what you say,” she said, poking the upset man in the ribs. His mumbled response only brought out another bark of laughter. “Come on, tough guy, let’s get this piece of meat delivered, and then maybe you can see about delivering some meat of your own.” Her eyes twinkled as she said this, a coy smile forming on her lips.
The response she got from him was just what she was expecting, and after a minute of hoisting the limp body between them --with the man carrying most of the weight on his side-- they were off to find Sergeant Baskins once more.
“Lucky broad,” the instructor said to herself as she watched them leave. A single gunshot coming from down the range drew her attention to one of the trainees, an athletic-looking teenager with short blond hair. Perhaps the night was still young after all.
*** *** ***
The two Techs didn’t have to travel far in order to find the Sergeant; there was a group of men sitting around a card table in front of a geo-dome, several of them still wearing the Pre-Fall era combat armor that was almost synonymous with the stereotypical image of the Enforcers. One of the men still wearing the bulky armor turned to face the two approaching Techs, the chevrons on the armor’s right spaulder denoting him as probably someone of importance, more specifically a higher probability that their search was nearing its end. The only part of the man’s body that wasn’t covered was his head, which was topped with a crew cut that seemed at odds with the man’s chubby face, although underneath whatever thin layer of fat there was obviously some muscle.
“What can I do for you two tonight?” the man asked in a gravelly voice that spoke of years of tobacco smoking. Both of the Techs immediately set down their cargo before one of them turned to look at the man in a manner best fitting as annoyed.
“We have been looking for you since lunch, and when we finally got to where we thought you were, we were forced to go over gun-safety and maintenance for several hours.” The woman walked over to the bewildered sergeant and drove a finger into the thick armor covering his chest. “What you can do is to take care of this clone, so that we can go back to our jobs!”
The sergeant stared at the woman -- who was currently breathing heavily with almost unrestrained anger -- for a moment before turning to the other soldiers around the card table. “Leave us,” he said, making a dismissive gesture with his left arm.
The soldiers wordlessly got up off of their stools and chairs, their postures and glances at the female Tech showing their disapproval of the early halt to their weekly card game that they played. The sergeant watched the retreating figures as they left, a deep frown on his face as the much-looked-forward-to event was ruined by an uppity Tech.
He moved a callused hand over to a small metal tin, opening it to withdraw a stubby looking cigarette. He could almost feel the woman’s burning gaze drilling into him, most likely feeling upset at being forced to wait even longer for him to light the rod of rolled-up tobacco. Sucking on the end of the cigarette, he lazily turned his head to gaze up at the woman and her fidgety companion.
“So.” He blew a cloud of grey smoke toward her, “You came here to interrupt me and my boys, and now they’re gone. What do you want now?” He gave a contemptuous tap of his cigarette in her direction, ash tumbling off the end of it.
The jumpsuited woman crossed her arms, starting to mirror the look of unease that her companion showed. “Look,” she said after a brief moment of silence, “I just want to go back and do my job, and maybe get some dinner before nothing’s left. I was given orders that whenever a new clone shows up, we were to escort them to you.” A sour looked appeared on her face, “So just take him, alright?”
The sergeant let out a ragged sigh, staring at her with half-lidded eyes before giving her a shrug and nodding his head in assent. “Yeah, yeah. You can go. Tell whoever’s working the mess hall to give you something extra. Tell them I said so.”
The woman’s face looked almost apologetic when she nodded her head. “Thanks. C’mon, Jeremiah, let’s hit the mess.” Almost.
Watching the duo finally leave him and his empty card table, he felt a small tinge of regret that he hadn’t gotten them to play a round of cards to make up for their ruining the weekly card game. He closed his eyes and leaned back slightly in his chair, the wood creaking as it was forced to shoulder the weight of his armor. After a few minutes of listening to the muted background chatter that seemed to almost permeate the air around him, he opened his eyes to the slack form on the ground.
“You can get up, they’re gone now,” he said, his tone taking on a slight lilt of amusement.
The sound of dirt was heard beneath the shifting form, a low and weary groan undulating from the prone man’s throat. The man slowly, almost hesitantly, rose from the ground, the setting sun at his back casting the sergeant in a human-shaped shadow.
“New clones don’t come out of the pod unconscious.” The sergeant stated matter-of-factly, taking a drawn out pull on his cigarette. “I don’t think so, anyway.”
The clone was stretching and twisting to relieve whatever kinks that had built up in his body over the course of the day. The man let out a few a more groans of relief and satisfaction, before opening his eyes to view the armored figure sitting before him.
“Don’t blame you for playing possum,” the sergeant said, letting some smoke billow from his nostrils, savoring the blend of tobacco, “If that woman was going to be the first thing I woke up to, I’d stay asleep too.” He let out a snort of amusement before continuing on, “That said though, you’ve inadvertently caused the disbanding of tonight’s card game, not to mention the extra work you’ve given me.”
The man simply stared at the sergeant with an almost animal lack of comprehension, before giving a soft shrug of his shoulders. The sergeant grumbled to himself as he rose out of his chair, standing up to his full height. It was hard to see the clone clearly with the dying sun at its back, but just by the silhouetted frame he could tell that the clone was almost a head shorter than himself, making the clone slightly below average height-wise.
Sizing the clone up for a few more moments, the sergeant waved over to the hexagonal doorway of the geo-dome, gesturing for the clone to enter. The clone gave him a strange look before taking a few hesitant steps toward the doorway, as if unsure of what speed to walk at, but eventually the clone confidently strode into the squat building. The sergeant removed another tube of tobacco from the metal tin, lighting one end of the new cigarette with the short stub of the old one. He took a brief drag from the new cigarette before tucking the metal tin into his pocket and walked inside after the clone, closing the hexagonal door behind him.
*** *** ***
The walls of the room were made up of curved hexagonal plates that connected together to create an enclosed dome that easily kept out the elements and beasts of the Grand Canyon. One one edge of the single-room enclosure was a small cot, with the gap between the piece of furniture and the curving wall filled up with a specially crafted bedstand. No space could afford to be wasted in such an uneven structure. Containers and shelves either sat at the base of the walls or off the walls themselves, leaving a small circular table at the center of the dome beneath a battery-powered lamp that bathed the two caucasian men sitting at the table in a soft white glow.
Sergeant Baskins stared at the man sitting across from him, the other man doing the same. The collared man had pale, almost milky, skin that seemed to nearly glow in the lamp-light. The man had a semi-rounded face with a set of pale lips on a rather prominent jaw. With a straight nose and a pair of pale blue eyes, the man had a slightly unusual look that most clones seemed to share with one another, something that gave Baskins pause.
“So tell me,” Baskins said simply, leaning leaning toward the other man and setting his palms onto the plastic tabletop that separated both men from one-another, “what’s your name?”
The collared man’s previously expressionless face worked itself into a look of concentration, as though unsure of the question asked of him. An uncomfortable silence followed as Baskins’ waited for the other man to answer the question. In truth, Baskins’ was pretty sure that he knew the answer to the question: that the clone didn’t know. That was the usual response that he had gotten in the past from other new clones.
“I don’t know.” The clone finally said, a look of shock plastered across his pale face.
Sergeant Baskins nodded his head, unsurprised by this revelation. He withdrew the cigarette from between his lips and tapped the smoldering ash against the edge of an ashtray, watching with minor interest as the debris tumbled into the bowl. He placed the now-shortened cigarette back between his lips, taking a long and drawn-out drag on the end of it before expelling twin streams of wispy smoke from his nostrils.
“So I take it that you have no memories before today.” It wasn’t a question.
The clone leaned forward closer to the table as he rest his elbows on its surface, running his hands through his flat-top styled hair. Baskins’ could hear the man muttering softly just below his own range of hearing.
Baskins rolled his eyes as the clone continued his muttering, taking a moment to tap the end of the cigarette against the ashtray. As much as he wished the clone would hurry up and stop rambling, he knew from previous experience that “new” clones could be at times unpredictable, ranging from crying in a corner or violently lashing out at the closest person.
It took a moment for him to realize that the incessant muttering had stopped during the time he had been staring at his cigarette. Tearing his gaze away from the slowly smoldering tube of wrapped tobacco he saw that the clone was calm once more, and was currently staring at him.
“You done now?” Baskins asked, a touch of annoyance leaking into his voice that caused the clone to cringe away from him slightly. Touchy one, this guy.
The collared man nodded his head, opening his mouth for a moment before shutting it.
The Enforcer saw this. “Speak your mind, I don’t bite.” He found that putting a fatherly tone into his voice was sometimes what was needed to encourage a clone to talk. Other times it got less than desirable results.
“I... I have pictures in my head.” The clone’s response elicited a raised eyebrow from Baskins. “Jumbled, but pictures. Of things I don’t remember; like white, wet stuff coming down on me or -or of other things.”
Well this is a bit different from usual, Baskins thought to himself, twisting the end of the cigarette into the ashtray before leaving it there. “Anything that actually is relevant to you, or are these just pictures or images in your head?” He asked, a bit curious about what the clone would say.
The man across from him pursed his lips slightly into a thin white line, his eyes seeming to search Baskins’ face. After a few moments of searching for whatever he was looking for, the clone leaned back in the chair and steepled his fingers together over the table, seeming to take an intense interest in them all of the sudden.
“I don’t think so,” he finally said, a flickering look of sadness crossing his features for a moment. “In one image I am holding a woman’s head under some water. In another I am looking down at the ground through a window, bright lights and buttons surrounding me as I move this thing,” the man makes a show of holding something invisible on the table, moving it like a joystick, “and I press buttons and things. And in another-”
“Stop, just stop.” Baskins holds up a hand for the clone to stop, preventing the clone from describing any more of the “images” in his head. The look of hurt on the clone’s face sends a tinge of guilt coursing through Baskins, but only a little.
“Sorry about that,” Baskins apologized, setting his hand back down on the table. “I stopped you because a lot of other clones have jumbled memories like yours, and I don’t have the time to hear every one of them.”
“What is a clone?” The other man asked naively, like a child asking about something obvious.
“You are.” Baskins gestured with a hand to the clone’s collar, before going into more detail. “Clones are people, like you, who have metal collars around their neck - no, don’t try to remove it. Anyway, most of the time you guys seem to have no memories, or if you do you have no idea where you are. I’m assuming that you’re one of the former.” He paused for a moment, realizing that he was a bit thirsty. “Do you want something to drink?” The collared man gave a few emphatic nods of his head.
“Wait right there, then.”
*** *** ***
The collared man watched the other man rise from the chair and go over to a squat-looking rectangular box, his pale blue eyes looking with interest as he saw the armored man work a rotating dial on the face of said box. He felt his eyes shoot up slightly as he heard a light clicking come from the box, and he wondered why it made a silly noise.
He let out an almost imperceptible sound of disappointment when all he saw was a jumbled mess within the box when it finally opened. He had expected something more, something amazing; what he got instead seemed like a let down. Still, after a moment of thinking about it, he realized that perhaps the point of the clicking dial was to prevent the box from being opened so easily.
His gaze was torn from the box as he saw the hulking form of the man he had dubbed in his mind as “Big” bring over a pair of open-topped cylindrical containers that were made out of the same material as the window in one of his “images”.
“Sorry if I don’t give you anything stronger, but I don’t think you need anything stronger,” Big said, pouring something from a green jug and into the translucent containers. Water, most likely, the clone reasoned to himself.
Big closed the jug before sliding over one of the cylinders over toward him, its contents sloshing against the sides as it made its way over. The collared man wrapped a pale hand around the bottom of the cylinder, noticing that when he looked through the liquid inside it seemed to distort everything and create funny and blurry shapes, drawing a chuckle from him. The armored man gave him a raised eyebrow, but otherwise said nothing as he sat back down in the chair across from him.
“What are you doing? I thought you said you were thirsty?” the blurry form of Big said, on the other side of the glass.
Smiling bashfully for a moment, the collared man quickly drank from the cylinder.
*** *** ***
Must’ve been really thirsty, Sergeant Baskins thought, watching with slight amusement as the clone quickly drained the glass of its contents.
“Is there anything you think you’re good at?” Baskins asked when the clone had set the glass down, a few droplets of water dripping from his chin.
The collared man seemed to consider this for a few seconds before looking up and shaking his head. Baskins wasn’t really surprised; most if not all of the clones that he had talked to or questioned had given the same response.
“Well,” he said amicably, “we have a sort of... program, I guess you could call it, that we run new clones through to see if they’re good at anything.” Baskins rested an armored forearm onto the table, looking expectantly at the collared man. He sensed the clone’s building unease and hesitation, and decided to cut the clone a little break. “It’s all voluntary, of course.” Not that we could really stop you, anyway.
The collared man took a moment to think before immediately accepting the offer, no questions forthcoming about what he would be doing.
“Good,” Baskins said. “We have a spare place that you can sleep, but keep in mind that there has been...” He took a moment to find the right word before settling on one that seemed most appropriate, “...an influx, of clones. It may be a bit crowded.”
The pale man simply nodded his head, as if these were simply facts of life that were to be expected. Baskins got up from his chair and headed walked several steps to the door before gesturing to the still seated clone. “Come on, I’ll bring you to someone who can get you bedded for the night.”
The clone looked at him for a moment before wordlessly getting up from the chair and following the man into the night.
((An unedited form of the original prologue to a longer story that I am busy writing. This forum doesn't like accepting Google Docs formats. If you're generally interested in reading more of this story (or the formatted version), send me private message and I'll send you the link. The only reason I'm not putting a link here is due to not wanting... the wrong sort of attention. I figured that perhaps people may enjoy it. ))
Edited by KiakoLalene, 09 June 2013 - 12:17 AM.