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#12898358 Dec 04, 2016 at 11:35 PM
264 Posts
Jorge Sandoval, an NPC who didn't stay that way.


My name is Jorge and I'm a doctor. I specialize in metahuman medicine and work out of the East Briar Institute's teaching infirmary. It's a school, we get lots of hands-on experience with super-powered kids. Most of it is bumps and bruises- they're still learning how to handle their abilities. Someone discovers they can super-jump, goes through a plate glass window. Stuff like that. It happens.
Sometimes bad things happen too- kidnappings mostly. You get that in the superhero community, it's one of the risks.

Some days, after the worse days, I go down to the school chapel, it's dark, and quiet. Need it sometimes just to sit, reflect, straighten things out for myself. It's supposed to be non-denominational, everyone welcome, but an old Catholic monk takes care of it. He holds services at nine sharp on Sundays, gives me a scolding if I don't attend. Like most of the staff, he's got powers. I've seen him do things that are, frankly, miraculous. Given who he works for, I guess that makes sense. I stopped going to Mass after my Mother died.... but there are times I just want to stop a while. So I go there.

This one day, it turns out, I walked in on the school choir practicing. Not the quiet I was hoping for, but I stayed anyway. To say the school choir is "special" is something of an understatement. There are other music programs at the school, but the choir is unique. It's composed of forty clone girls. they have the physical bodies of grown women... seven foot tall grown women, but they're only four years old. It's a strange situation they have. They provide the staff here interesting challenges.

The chapel has good acoustics, and the monk, Ignatius, lets them practice there. They sing at Mass and he chaperones them on choir trips so it works out for everyone, I suppose. The clones are telepathic between themselves so they weren't audibly talking, flipping through sheet music when I arrived. I slid into one of the rear pews to listen. We've had to instruct the clones to not try to communicate mentally with other people: it has some really adverse side effects. Nose bleeds, migraines to subdermal hematoma and comas... they forget sometimes.

Anyway the clone that directs them is an unusual case. She's been mute most of her life until recently, a spell was put on her. The teachers in the Magic Department looked her over and said it's fine, but medically? There's no way she should be speaking. No idea how that works, other then simply "magic". She sings all the time now. I imagine she's making up for it.

One of the clones had a guitar and strummed it and the others began to hum. Didn't sound like church music from those opening bars and then they started to sing. A group on the right higher soprano background vocals, a group on the left the main words, all the others humming where normally the instruments would play, in time with their sister's guitar. I like music, but I'm not sure how you put it all together, that's far out of my expertise. Several of the other doctors working in the infirmary have expressed curiosity about the clone's vocal range, there's been some speculation on it's similarities to the Castrati tradition.

"I heard there was a secret chord/ That David played and it pleased the Lord..."


What always has amazed me with the clones is, when they sing, they can do it in prefect unity. I suspect it's because of their mental link with each other- but it isn't something that can be easily studied. So they began to sing, in perfect harmony. Some songs that style wouldn't work too well with, then again, that's why they're a choir.

"Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you..."


That's when I recognised it. Leonard Cohen, 1984. "Hallelujah" ..I was surprised the clones had even heard it. It's just a little before their time. I wondered if they knew Cohen had passed away and that's why they learned it, or, was it simply because they liked it?

Brother Ignatius passed by, lighting the Vigil Candle with a prayer and a long taper. I watched him, and he smiled seeing me do it. He slid into the long wooden pew beside me, blew out the taper, held it in his palm, careful of the wax.
"They're improving, wouldn't you say?" His voice barely above a whisper.

I nodded, and the singing soared into a crescendo, filling the chapel with lyrical poetry then faded again into the last line "hallelujah," repeated.
"...Hallelujah, Hallelujah... Hallelujah."

Then silence and I looked from the monk to the gathered clones and saw they were all looking back at us, standing in tidy rows on the low dais at the front of the chapel.
"Hi Jorge! Hi Iggy!"
"We did not see you come in."
"We are having choir practice."
Ignatius nodded. "Keep singing girls."
I laughed and sat back as they, with a rustle of paper kicked into another song. They sounded so exuberant. I realized about then that it wasn't the quiet I wanted, it was the company that I needed.



--Apologies to Leonard Cohen!

Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. It’s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly!
#13495214 Oct 23, 2017 at 02:54 PM
264 Posts
Just realized I had several story-snips I haven't added!

Linden on Clone's Decanting Day- this would be July last year. They haven't been Adopted yet and 1A is still at Happy Valley.



Hello Stupid Diary.
Yes I'm writing in you again. Dumb therapist scolded me for not doing it more.
I'm sitting here watching the clones prepare for their Decanting day. Which is like a birthday for normal people, only because they aren't normal [and yeah, I know, neither am I, shut up] they were decanted.
Decanted. It makes them sound like some sort of fancy booze. Brandy or an expensive export or something. Is that really the best word for it? Un-vatting? I suppose that doesn't roll off the tongue nearly as well.
Anyway the lot of them came back from a long vacation in Tahiti, someone told them it was "a magical place", so they all headed down there. I heard they all used the same fake passport and got arrested or something. But they seem to have enjoyed whatever they ended up doing down there, and came back tanned. I had no idea we -could- tan. So okay, that's kind of neat.
So I saw one of them making paper flowers- they've been gluing them on to green string the last few days, decorating the gym. But I saw one and I swear she was sucking on a bottle of glitter glue. Omnomnom. She was eating paste. Literally eating it. Why did I have to be created from these guys? Why?


I turn around and she was there. Me. Not me. My other self. Who I was supposed to be.
She looked a little older and a little shorter, if that's even possible. It took me by surprise, there wasn't the usual "presence" in the back of my head I feel when she's near. I guess because she has no powers. I could have shot her, knifed her, punched her through the wall or tipped her over the fire stairs, and there wouldn't have been anything she could have done to stop me. Instead, we just sort of stared at each other for a long really awkward moment.
"Hey." She said.
"Hey." I looked at her. "You, ah, came for the party?" I haven't seen her since the school's Christmas play.
"Yeah," She grinned. "They thought it would be good for me to get out a bit, see everyone. Have you tried the cake? It's really good."
"Yeah, It's not bad. You look kind of skinnier, they been feeding you over there?"
"Haha, yeah. They have a good chef, but no where near what French can do- he spoils us."
"He does." I had to agree. Despite my many disagreements with the man, there was no arguing he could cook, and cook well.

So we got to, well. Talking. She's staying at this retired heros complex... which I guess means they do the same thing normal old folks do in a home, just with eye beams and more guns or something. She told me about the two old cyborgs she hangs with, Gil and Garnett and how she fell through a pond playing football over the winter and they fished her out. Said they fought in World War Two -that's some sturdy cyborgs then.
Then she tells me about this old lady who used to be a diplomat, and a speedster before it was cool. She was teaching her how to knit and I guess crochets little outfits for her pet cats. Also I think I know where all the mittens and scarves the clones got at Christmas came from, and it wasn't Santa. But anyway, she had some pictures on her phone of this a absolutely adorable cat- I wanna say it was a Burmese? Like a Siamese but not so pointy. Posing in a knitty little cape and sweater, like he was Superman. She had a bunch of him posing on there, and pictures of some of the people at the complex.
We just... talked. Like normal people. Nothing weird. I didn't get angry, she didn't say anything dumb. It... worked. It even felt good.

Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. It’s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly!
#13495241 Oct 23, 2017 at 03:10 PM · Edited 4 months ago
264 Posts
The Vodun Loa Kriminel's viewpoint. This happened just after they were adopted this January.


I think she was trying to summon me for dinner, my poor generous child. She sat in a snowbank drawing mystical symbols in the frozen white water, a bowl of fried chicken beside her, steaming in the cold, and a plate of candy canes beside that. She knew I like both. Burnt chicken and hard candy please me.
I wasn't the only one watching, her father had missed her inside and came hurrying out. When she finished etching the symbols there came a slight magical flash in the fading afternoon, and almost instantly both he and I knew there was something inside the girl. He thought it was another of Us, but I... was not so sure. The Inquisitor spoke to the child: we are rather convivial spirits and would have answered back. Instead the girl sat and tore through the chicken, as though it was the most wonderful thing she had ever tasted- then a handful of candy shoved in her mouth, without bothering to remove the cellophane wrappers.

That's when it noticed me. The child had been my willing Cheval for years now- I tried to give her guidance and comfort when I could... and maybe play a few pranks on her sisters. We were connected deeply, and this creature wanted me gone. I felt it's power rise within her, even as it reached into the bowl for another chicken wing.

The Maffeian Inquisitor moved forward. He is a man from another galaxy who has an even better claim on the child then I do, albeit a much newer one, that of Family. We don't always agree, he and I, but we've come to an arrangement over the girl. I could feel him gathering his own powers- he is a notable priest of his people. I serve Bondye, the good God, distant from Mankind. His God? Well, his is much more reachable, shall we say.
I looked to him. "It does not want me here, I can feel it..."
At that moment the girl stood awkwardly, as though unused to having legs. One of her arms was raised in my direction and a voice, speaking words not meant for a human throat. I could understand it clearly though. It said "MINE."

Then a sort of black energy crackled around her fingers and a beam of absolute nothingness shot towards me! Let me tell you- that while I do not really have a physical presence -I can make manifest, I can interact should I desire it, but I am not quite Here. That black beam knocked me off and out and I twinkled away into void. Plus, I lost my hat. I do believe it meant to destroy me utterly. Other spirits perhaps it might have... instead I slid into the child and wrapped myself around her soul and mind to protect them from this thing wearing her body. I watched, in a detached sort of way what happened next. I saw the result of that black power, the flesh of her hand corkscrewing off her arm, melting away.
The Inquisitor hit her with an exorcism, and when that was resisted, another. The child's body glowed with an unnatural negative violet light, and her father stepped forward, his hands raised, washed in the light of his faith.
I could feel the creature's desperation, and almost -almost- felt sorry for it. It had a body now, it could touch, taste feel, it wanted to keep it. But neither he nor I wanted to give the child over to such a thing.
So it began to fight, bringing it's other hand up, a black beam lancing from that, to deflect off the Inquisitor's glow.
"Go feed on your ilk and leave my Child alone!" He growled, stepping forward again, his light intensifying.

The creature was too new in the body, too weak on this world- and drew on the child's strength to augment itself. I saw her beautiful wings shrivel, feathers flake off into greenish dust, shadows crawl along her torso under the skin, and rents open up on her back and sides, flesh melting bloodlessly away. The black un-light stabbed out at him, most of her arms gone now, and she fell to the snowbank as her lower legs dissolved, flapping on useless stumps, black magic of the void raging around her.

There was a sort of POP! all of a sudden, and a voiceless scream, and the child's body fell limp and unmoving into the street, the black energy that wreathed her blasted to nothingness by the Inquisitor's holy glow.
"Oh no, please no!" I'm not sure he was quite aware he said it. The Inquisitor ran, scooped the child up, and cradled her in his arms, on his knees in the snow. Her head lolled limp against his shoulder, wisps of pale feathery hair spread on the fabric. His lips were forming silent prayers, drawing on all the healing magic he could muster: the creature had nearly torn her body asunder.

I manifested, just for a moment, touched him and he began to draw on me as well- funneling everything, even his own life force into saving the girl. It felt like an eternity but was only a few short minutes before the magic had an effect. Withered organs regenerated. The hideous wounds closed, and bone by bone, sinew and vein then perfect new flesh as her limbs reformed. I saw his team's Doctor hurry out, robes flaring behind her as the Inquisitor stood, and they carefully brought her inside the building, down to the medical bay.

I felt newly formed fingers tighten in the folds of his overcoat, and heard a faint mewling. For just a moment my child was awake. I could taste the terror radiating off of her at an instinctive level. She recognized the Inquisitor, and calmed slightly. Then the shock of it all overpowered her and the girl slid into nightmare.

They laid her out on a med-bed and cleaned her up as best they could, and tucked the blankets in close. The Inquisitor sat on a well-padded chair beside her, holding her hand, murmuring comfort when the dreams got worse. His face was drawn and pale, the healing, more so then the battle, had taken a lot out of him. The Doctor treated him as best she could, then let them both rest.
I took my leave as well. They needed to be alone: you don't intrude when a man comforts his ill child.

I had saved her mind and soul, he her body, together we put her back together. There was a valuable lesson for the girl when she was well enough to learn it. Plus I think the next time she wants me to come for dinner... I'll just arrive at the table.

Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. It’s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly!
#13495313 Oct 23, 2017 at 03:49 PM
264 Posts
This was a What-if snip for an event that happened at the end of January. It didn't turn out like this, but that's okay, it was me brainstorming mostly. :)

"She has baby in her." One of the clones chirped excitedly.
I was reaching for the coffeepot when the clones swarmed the cafeteria. One, out of all her lean muscled sisters was noticeably thicker around the middle, with that tell-tale bulge in front. I stared. "Who did this?" I wondered if I would have to go defend her honour.
"Doctor." "At the hospital" "He said it would help." The clone in question looked down at the plate of salad she held and sighed a little. Her sisters seemed more excited then she was.
I poured myself a cup of coffee- that was why I came in here, the school cafeteria coffee is just that much better then the break room in the Infirmary, it's worth the extra walk. I took the clone by the elbow and steered her away from the others. "I need to talk with her, you go on and enjoy your lunch."
"'Kay." "We do." "Spaghettis! My favorite!" They dashed up to the buffet line and scooped up plates.



I squinted at the clone. They're hard to tell apart if you aren't familiar with the small details that separate the batches of them. This one had pink eyes, her brown hair spiked up with gel and metallic freckles. I was fairly sure she was a Westside clone. "You're a C model, aren't you? The one that got nuked, right? Your sisters told me about that."
She nodded again and sat carefully at the long bench, poked at her plate of salad and sighed again.
"How far along?"
"Six months"
"Do you know who the father is? Does he know..?"
"Yes. Eoghainin. He is not like it but he knows."
"Why didn't you come to me sooner? You're too young for this, C!"
"I... Well, I..." She frowned and speared a chunk of lettuce with her fork. "I only found out it was a thing the other day, after the car accident." She nodded at the cast on her arm.
I'd noticed the bandaids on her face as we walked over. She wasn't regenerating like normal. "What happened?" I stirred, tapped the spoon on the rim of my cup and sipped.
"We... went to the mall with a friend, then came back and started the car, and there was a BANG and the car went sideways. Into the wall." She gestured, clapped her hands together. "Lost time. Woke up. Probably only a minute. Friend was... bleeding out her mouth. I knew that was not good so I took her to the hospital. Didn't notice my arm and stuff until the nurse took me aside. They were fixing me up when the doctor came in." She nibbled the salad, made a face and grabbed the pepper grinder, shook it over her plate a while.
"Name?"
"He was, uh..." She reached into a pocket, pulled out a wallet and rummaged through it then handed me a business card.
I looked at it. Richard McDowwel, surgeon. I nodded, I knew him. I think I knew where this was going, too. "Your friend was pregnant wasn't she?"
The clone nodded. "The doctor told me she was hurt really bad. He came to talk to me while the nurse was cleaning me up. He said she might loose the baby... and that it was too little to live outside her without defect. Problems? I forget the words. She..."
"Premature birth has side effects, yes. Often serious ones." I sipped my coffee. "So he asked you to surrogate?"
"That's the word!" She nodded again then looked at her sisters giggling at the buffet line "I want a cookie. The nurse said I had to eat good."
"You can have a cookie C, just not too many."
The clone stood and moved to the buffet, leaned past her sister and snuck a cookie- then scampered back to me, and sat grinning. I could see several others scowling at her. I flipped them a thumbs up while C munched.
She mumbled around a mouthful of raisin oatmeal. "Doctor said he read the file the hospital had on us, he said I could help them both. Because we adapt. So he put me to sleep and put the baby inside."
I must have frowned because she looked at me and said rather plaintively. "Was that bad?"
"No C. No, that was the right decision. Not an easy choice I imagine. How is your friend?"
"Only choice. We are supposed to be heros, yes? We help people." She licked her finger, scooped up crumbs, ate them. "She is in the intensive care still. She was hurt real bad."
"And your sisters?"
"K said she could get the car rebuilt. They are okay. She said the police thought it was a pipe bomb. Our friend is married to another hero, and bad people have been targeting him." She hesitated then continued. "We think they were after her, not us."
"Ah. That could well be. A lot of villains target the families of heros. Has her husband talked to hospital security? You should talk to her family as well, get her somewhere safe when she's released, until she recovers." I could see C nodding.
"You did the right thing. When your sister first told me I thought someone had done something very bad to you. I'm glad you made this decision to help others. I--" She leaned over gave me a little hug.
"Jorge. You talk too much. I will be fine. Sisters are fine. I am just worried about my friend, and Baby." She picked up her fork and went back to her salad. "If I have questions, I will come to you, okay?"
"Okay."
"I be fine Jorge." She made a shoo-shoo gesture. She was right, I had to get back to the Infirmary. I nodded and picked up my coffee, stopping for a top off on my way out the door.



Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. It’s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly!
#13495350 Oct 23, 2017 at 04:14 PM
264 Posts
An introduction for an event in '14. Much as I liked Halaby, he didn't make another appearance as he was fed to an Eryops at the end of the event. :)
This was just after Snookums 1A was depowered.

*Late afternoon on a sunny- if a little windy- day. A small elf in pigtails was playing with a cat on the plaza, wiggling a catnip mouse. Not far from her aa tall girl with brick red hair was offering a Frisbee to a large fuzzy elephant.*
"...No Molly, it's okay. The others will be back in a few more days. I know I don't throw it as well as Z does..."
*The little elf is only paying a bit of attention, she has a lovely bit of ribbon and is trying to coax the cat to hold still so she could tie it on.* *That was when it started to happen. Several glass-and-metal balls floated up, the size of tennis-balls, and swarmed around the Mastodon. The clone waved the Frisbee at them to shoo them off.* "What is this? Someone science fair project?" *Abruptly they scattered into a rough semicircle around the pair and emitted a bright blue light.* *The elf looked over then covered her face, eyes watering. When she could see again... the girl and the mastodon had vanished, just the metallic balls hovering in a cluster, and a crumbling pile of -something- on the ground atop a Frisbee*
*The elf pulled a wifflebat out of her backpack and charged across the grass to smack one of the balls out of the air, and capturing her prize run off with it, into the school*

*Brilliant blue light and a heart stopping lurch, just for a moment- then heat and clear morning light. The sound of Molly trumpeting in distress. The clone found one brown furr'd leg and clutched it, solid and comforting, then Molly's trunk, curling around her.
*A voice- oddly familiar, cultured, English, with a hint of something else.* "The discomfort will pass in a few moments. I am Halaby. Welcome Molly. My Employer has been waiting to meet you with great anticipation!"

*the clone pulled out her smartphone and fumbled a moment, using the mastodon's broad side as cover* *She types out one quick text, sets it to vibrate then slides the phone under her body armour hoping the bulky shirt she was wearing would cover it. Hopefully it won't be noticed.*
*Footsteps crunching over- sand? Where the hell were they?* "Easy girl. I mean you no harm."
*The clone turns, blinking rapidly to see a tall dusky-skinned man with dark hair smiling at her. His suit is impecable.* "You are the trainer? We did not intend to bring you, but perhaps... it is just as well. Can you walk? Follow me." *And behind him, two men in long pale robes with red-checked headscarves holding automatic weapons.*

*What other choice is there? They follow* "My Employer is a collector of sorts, and has greatly desired Molly since he first saw her on the news, you understand. I can assure you, while she is here all her wants and desires will be given. My Employer strives to see all his p.. collection is happy. Ahh, our little Zoo of sorts." *A glass door slides open*

*To the immediate left of the door is the blue-green shimmer of a large tank of water, inside meandering above sand and coral Large sleek scaled fish in indigo and charcoal, coelacanths*

*They continue walking and the exhibits on the hall change along the way* "This is our Eryops pen. They're hard to see in there I know. Over by the log there." *Halaby points* "There's one. Ambush predators." *A swirl of the murky green water and something long brushes the window, slimy skin and a milky eye, and a mouth full of teeth.*

"Here is our Raptor exhibit, we bought them off a geneticist. There were more... but the creatures had a disagreement one night. I believe they're smarter then they appear. but..." *Halaby taps on the glass. The long ferns inside rustle, but nothing approaches the window.*

"Here, our Ground sloth... Many of my Employer's animals are recreations, of course, much like Molly herself. But only she is Sentient." *A slow shambling creature further back in the pen, pulling a sapling down to strip the leaves*

*They keep walking, past other exhibits, mostly megafauna, a tumble of dagger-tooth kittens, a stampede of spotted hooveless proto-horses, a gaggle of Dodo birds pecking at seeds below a faux tree, until....* *Halaby presses a button on the wall and a section of it rises up. Molly rumbles* "Your new home my dear. We did our very best to recreate it."
*The room is large, and cool, compared to the others, with a bank of spruce and pine trees on a low hill, and long spread of grass. There is a low pool edged with reeds.* *The silent men with the guns press forward, so that Molly has no choice but to enter.*
"It's okay Molly, It's okay." *The tall girl strokes her side.* "Is she... going to be alone in there? I can stay with her..."

"No no, That will not be necessary." *Up above molly's room, like many of the others, is a shade-screen and a catwalk and more men with guns- tranq guns, she notices, unlike the ones beside her. The tall girl frowns and watches the wall slide back into place. Molly trumpets, muffled, and rubs up against the window, one chocolate brown eye looking at them*

"My employer will be here shortly to greet her." *Halaby nods and gestures and continues down the hall, making a sharp left as Molly's was the last enclosure. He strides through another set of glass doors and the clone, and men follow, into sunshine and a large compound, spreading Acacia trees, somewhere the play of a fountain, all done in colourful abstract tile and white stucco* "So... What happens now? Are... you going to send me back?"
*The dark man looks quite apologetic and shakes his head, no* "I'm afraid we can't do that. Thank you for getting her to cooperate though, and into her pen. We didn't want to damage her." *He makes another gesture and turns to go* "These gentlemen will take care of you. They don't speak any English I'm afraid. Please go with them."

*Both men bow to Halaby, and one opens a discreet side door and they escort the clone through. A sand-coloured jeep is waiting, and they climb in, and the girl gets her first glimpse of the outside world past the tall walls: pale blue sky, rolling salmon coloured dunes, and in the far distance white buildings and the glossy green heads of palms* *She's not in Kansas anymore...*

*The jeeps drives some distance, the compound she had arrived in seems to be on a hillside- and below, in the rocks the clone is let out. the heat is already intense, later on it'll be a stone oven.*
*there's a click, of the safety being disengaged and as she turns, -too late!- gunfire echoes out of the gully. A moment later the jeep pulls a u, raising a cloud of brown dust, and drives back the way it came.*


*On the other side of the world, as all this is happening, a small elf in pigtails runs into the school, down the hall and throws open the door to the Kitchen* "OHH! OHH!! I dunno what just happened but I think it's bad!! Come look! Come look!"
*Chevalier gets a short text: SOS. From Snookums, location: United Arab Emirates.* *The phone is on, but no further calls have been made.*


*The clone has curled in the small shade of a rock overhang, sitting up limply. There's a diagonal line of silver bullets spangling her body armour, from right hit to left shoulder. She's made a crude bandage to cover her shoulder from the over-shirt she'd been wearing, and had the rest draped over her face. Beside her under the stone is a hint of green moss and the tracks of many lizards and birds- a seep. She'd scooped the sand away to form a basin of sorts and another scrap of cloth was soaking the slow drips.*

Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. It’s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly!
#13495352 Oct 23, 2017 at 04:16 PM
264 Posts
This was a I wrote a good while ago to one of Thundrax's events, Invictus on the telly. Did I ever post it? I don't think so, and here it is!

The mute clone's jaw dropped open as she stared at the television broadcast. The past few days their ongoing school assignment to study current events had gotten much more interesting! Z flailed at the screen and tried to get the attention of her numerous sisters, most of whom were under Teacher's orders to tidy up their dorm.
The nearest one, duct-taping a lamp back together put the light down on a battered end table and moved to sit by her sister. "It that Roman guy again!"
"Ave Caesar Salad!" Another clone called, doing the salute they saw on that old 'Spartacus' movie, propping her broom against the wall.
As the interview continued the clones hurried into their communal common area and squeezed in, thirty six of them, to sit on the couch, the carpet, leaning against the walls. Across town, in Westside, alerted by the mental exclamations of their Downtown sisters, two hundred more of them turned on televisions in their sardine-cramped apartments and watched.
"What is he... huh.."
"Shhhh!"
"Poor reporter guy he out of his---"
There was a collective gasp as the recording of the bar played, the tiny spark, the girl slumping.
"Did... him have reporter followed?"
"Is bar bugged?"
"I think we been in that bar..."
"OH! LOOKIT THAT!" More flailing at the screen, as the outed reporter shot up and gave the Roman-clad man a blast of sparking blue light, nearly blinding the cameras for a moment.
"...Recording maybe been photoshop or edit but--"
"That real."
"Oh wow! He fry that guy!"
"Him still stand--oooh now is mad!" The clone swarm watched in shock as Invictus reached for the blond reporter, and crisped him with a touch.
"For guy who just say reporter zap girl is assault, is... not what he just do it, too?"
The mute clone scratched her ear and then signed to her sisters. "I think that is invasion of privacy to film man without him knowing."
They knew Invictus was a mouthy jerk from the last interview they watched, and all the stuff about him in the papers lately but this... this felt wrong. Outing a super, even one trying to hide it and live normally, on live television? "Him mooks drag him off."
"What that thing they put on his neck? Is it shock collar?"
"...This... this are not right."
"Him are not police of us. Him not police of nuthin."
"...Is it because of hims people throw rocks at us outside apartments other day and tell to go 'way?"
"Maybe, I guess?"
"That was silly, we lives there. How we gonna go away from us house?"
"I are go to check apartment for bugs. I not want be spied on."
"I will help."
"I gonna paint sign in art class tomorrow and nail to lightpost. 'Invictus Is Big Jerk!' yeah. I show him!"
The clones stared at the Invictus symbol, then the WCOC "Technical Difficulties' plate when that replaced it on the screen. They had a thousand questions swirling about what they just witnessed, and not the least of them was 'what happens now?'

Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. It’s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly!
#13495362 Oct 23, 2017 at 04:23 PM
264 Posts
Something of a sequel to Clone R's first adventure with William and Billy. This takes place during the Nightmare Event- and it turns out saved R in play from getting kidnapped by an evil sorcerer later!


My name is William. R, she's been a good friend to us for a couple years now. Helps us out when she can. She told us you adopted all of them at Christmas- oh they were so happy. I like to watch the girls practice football. Billy, he's a bit afraid of the mastodon, doesn't come that far over. Anyway, as it happened the girl came to visit us, Billy Two and me. It was a lovely afternoon and she was bubbling over. She'd made the both of us blankets stuffed with down from her own feathers. I admit that sounds a little odd- but I suppose if she shed it naturally it's a good way to use it. She handed us each one and told us she had sewn the blankets up in home economics class.

Billy Two buried his face in it. "It smells like.... violets." R had laughed and explained that was the scent of the oil she preened her feathers with. She had packed us a lunch too, ham sandwiches and a selection of fruit, and some of those little bags of chips. Billy traded me for the kettle cooked ones, he liked those best.

That was when things happened, only a few bites in. Billy Two had said grace- he picked that up from the church that he helps out at and I reckon its a good habit. Without warning this big old delivery tuck comes roaring into the alley- and if Billy hadn't pulled me back into the narrow brick arch in the side of the building I'd have been hit. But it wasn't me they were aiming for, it was the girl. The truck slammed into her hard and next thing I knew they had her pinned at the waist into the wall across from us, and every time she tried to shove the truck away - those girls are amazingly strong- the driver gunned it back into her.

But it got worse. The back of the truck swung open and eight young men stepped out, with bats and metal pipes. They were wearing stockings over their heads. Not that those really helped to hide their faces. As it turned out, it didn't matter. They said a few incoherent things about mutants and purity some other things that made no sense to me, then laughed. They were going to teach us a lesson, and make her into one. Two of them went for Billy, and he was young enough to try and resist them, and they scuffled along the gutter. Another came for me. I covered my head and huddled, I've had a boot party a few times before. The other five went for the girl, battering her with the pipes- and then one hauled out a wood axe, and as she struggled and flapped another grabbed her wing and the axeman began to chop.

"No!" She cried, and flailed, "Please no!" He kept chopping, and R began to scream. I heard Billy cry out and flop on the dirty pavement, rolling to cover something. I realized the something in his hands was R's cellphone. I could see his fingers move and knew he was dialing 911.

Silvery feathers littered the alley. Her screaming had turned to sobbing as they pulled her second wing taut. There was a sudden, terrible sound. One of the men held it aloft like a flag. Then out of no where there was an angry ghost standing barefoot beside the truck. He was nearly as tall as the girl with his eyes burning like they were on fire. Dark and lean, face twisted with hate. He had a machete in one hand. I think that's what they are- those flat curved blades for chopping vines and stuff? Like you see in jungle movies. Anyway he had one of those and leaned into the door and hit the driver with the blade. It chopped him in half. Half of the driver slid out onto the pavement, the rest flopped over in the seat. Splut. The ghost reached inside and turned the delivery truck off.

Then the ghost said something in French I think it is, he sounded quite emotional. Really upset. I have no idea what he said, I don't speak that lingo. He moved over to the alley wall and chopped the guy holding R's wing's arm clean off. Thump. Then took off his head while the guy flailed his stump around. Arterial spray spattered the bricks. It looked like paint- kind of fake, you know? And after that the ghost was a blur of blood and and dismembered bodies. Like a housewife at Thanksgiving dinner. Legs. Thighs. Breast. Light, dark. Just everywhere. All over the alley. I've... never seen anything like it. Not even after Detroit. I never want to see it again.
He chopped the men by Billy next, Billy huddled in the arch, wide eyed. Then the one that had been by me. That guy had tried to run, but he didn't even make it to the alley mouth before he just sort of... fell apart.

I heard sirens about then, Billy's call had gone out. Not only that but a good dozen of R's sisters- none of them were winged, and all of them dark haired- were running across the street, pouring into the alley, picking up Billy and me, dusting us off. Billy was crying, and the girls calmed him down some. Others had moved the truck from the wall, catching poor broken R. The guy with the axe hadn't had very good aim, and I could see several hits on her sides and back. Silver stuff was clotting where I thought blood should normally be.

The ambulance arrived and the paramedics looked almost as shocked as I figure Billy and I must have. Bodies everywhere. You hear all sorts of crazy shit happening in Westside- but this. Well. They loaded R into the back, with as much of her wings as they could salvage. Her sisters had tried to patch her up with duct-tape. Maybe that worked on them. I don't know. One of them hopped in the back with her so she wouldn't be alone. I didn't see where the ghost went. He was gone as quick as he had come.

The police arrived as well, and Billy and I had to sit in the back of a car for a while, try to explain what all happened. It was all so fast. I hardly knew what to tell them. There was some talk of Billy and I being arrested for vagrancy... but nothing came of it. The police herded the girls back to the school. I'm not sure where they went after that.
I felt you should know though, seeing as you're R's father. It's... the least I can do for her.

Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. It’s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly!
#13495378 Oct 23, 2017 at 04:34 PM
264 Posts
Linden again. A snip for a small story arc from spring, A Chap that worked on the Clones' nanite systems showed up to mind control them.

"Max"

Hello Stupid Diary,
It's me again. Linden. Like who else would write in here? Well okay the other clones would and draw dumb crap in the margins and scribble all over with markers or something. Cause they do that kind of stuff, they aren't too bright some of them. They'd think it was a good joke.
Hurrhurr Me write in linden book, I read all her sekret stuff, me so awesome. Whatever. Stupid clones. They all went off and got sick or something, down by their apartments in Westside. The cook and the school doctor went down to look for 'em. The cook sent the doctor back and called in the fuzz who hauled 'em all off someplace and stashed 'em for a week. Where the hell do you keep eight hundred and forty sick seven foot freaks? No idea and the cook he isn't talking. But the Elf, his minion, brought their dog home.

I'd always been told there was a No Pets rule in the dorms, and the clone's robot cat doesn't count cause its a robot and made of bottle caps and an erector set or something like that. But someone had to watch the dog and being his Minion - excuse me "Sidekick"- she got to do it. So Max is in our little common room right now, I gave him a tennis ball, I can hear him chewing on it.
She's supposed to take care of him, feed him, walk him, clean up any oopses and okay, the elf has been pretty good about doing that. I can't complain about that. Though I will say it has been really weird. In my memories- the fake ones from when I was in The Clone's body, someone gave me a dog as a kid. I guess they wanted to make them more believable, and they do feel real, even though I know they aren't. Super villain Mom, Supervillain Dad, House, big shaggy Golden Retriever, growing up with her, Sticky fingers in her fur as a little kid, Licking my face when I skinned my knee on the sidewalk. Throwing balls for her, playing with sticks, being little and crying into her fur... that doggie smell after the rain, fuzz on my sweaters. Believable. Who the hell puts that much effort into giving someone a lifetimes worth of fake memories? That much detail? Hell if I was in charge of making -me- I don't think I'd have put that in the budget.

Though.
Okay I'm kind of glad whoever gave me those did. I had parents. I grew up, did the stuff normal people did, played with kids, went to school, got older. Went to college, got a basketball scholarship for their team there all of that. None of the other clones ever experienced it, and maybe that's why they're so flakey. And that brings us back to Max.

I remember having a dog. And this week, I have one again. The elf set him up in the common room on a blanket with a chew bone and the tennis ball and stuff and went to bed. And I dunno what time it was, late, maybe three in the morning, I wake up to hear the saddest noises coming from out here. You ever heard a lonely dog whine? It was that kind of noise. So I get up and I crack the door open and he hears me and is looking at my door and his stump tail gets to wagging and dammit! Even I can't say no to that!

So he gets up, he's chewing that tennis ball and walks over to me, brushes my leg going through the door, and his tail smacks me on the knee repeatedly and you know It... was kind of nice. And I go back to my bed and he hops right on the foot of it and settles in, pulls down half the quilt, circles around and sits. And I flop against the pillows and there's a nose poking me in the back and he's getting all cuddly against me so I scratched him behind the ears. Maybe he can tell I'm related to the others, or maybe he just didn't like being alone.
When I woke up I found that he chewed the hell out of one of my sneakers, which was kind of annoying cause I had cheer practice that afternoon. But I wasn't really mad. Unlike the clones he didn't know better.

So that's what happened, and I've been letting him sneak into my room every night since. The Elf thinks he nosed the door open himself. Let her think that. Max makes a very good bed warmer. And he makes me feel happy when he's there. That good feeling when you're kid, and there's nothing wrong. That feeling.

I'm gonna miss him when we have to give him back. Though maybe the others will let me borrow him. I dunno. I'm going to ask.

Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. It’s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly!
#13495394 Oct 23, 2017 at 04:53 PM
264 Posts
I recently had a small arc with an artificially created virus targeting cyborgs and augmented people. "Cyborg Ebola"- it nearly melted several of my clones, and as a result the school chef offered Snookums and several of her more vulnerable sisters a temporary stay t his summer house!

"Coconut"

Somewhere in French Polynesia...

Tall identical women in slim string bikinis lolled on the packed white sand, on beach blankets, and wooden slat lawn chairs. Each one was intent in reading a encyclopaedia, each a different letter. Beyond them a series of low stucco bungalows set amidst gently swaying palm trees and low long banks of blooming brilliant tropical flowers.
Across the little island two barefoot children wandered. One was perhaps nine, tanned with scruffy sandy blonde hair, the other two growing into three, still pudgy and wearing a impromptu crown of grass and twine.
"This one? I thinkithas the biggestones!" The older girl looked up at a particular palm, the glossy green coconuts hanging off of it. She had a bad habit of speaking fast and running her words together.
"Yeh! Nasha, Big!" The little boy bounced beside her then kicked off and floated into the air. He swirled around the leafy top of the tree a few times then moved closer to hug a particular nut. "Yeh! Yeh!"
"Thatone?Okay!" Natasha looked at the tree then wrapped her arms around it and started climbing... fast. Small fingers digging into the pith and feet kicking skittering up the narrow trunk like a monkey. It bounced and shimmied under her slight weight.
She looked up, pausing a moment to see the toddler clutching the coconut and giggling, swaying with the wind. A moment later she was in the crown amid the leaves. She wrapped her legs around the trunk, and the tree bent under her weight. Then, hanging upside down she pulled and wiggled the coconut's stem. "You got it Jason? Ithinkitsalmost... Ick therearespidersup here!"
"Yeh!" The little boy beamed. There was a snap and the coconut dropped and Jason dropped with it, his flight compensating for the added weight and he soon slowed to a hover about four feet off the beach.
The coconut wasn't the only thing that dropped, however. The palm sprang back with a jerk and with a startled meep, the girl slipped out of the tree and bounced hard onto the ground. "...Ow."
The boy flipped upside down to wobble midair over the girl. "Nasha? You thunk."
"...I thunked yeah.." She sat up slowly, and looked at her left leg. There was a slick of sand on it, and a pale spur of bone sticking out of it. Silvery liquid seeped out and ran down her shin. "Jason? Can... can you go get one of my aunties?"
"Nasha? Kay." The boy nodded and, still holding the large coconut, flew off across the sand, back toward the bungalows.


Jason flew like a drunken bumblebee, and soon was bumping his prize coconut against one of the bungalow's shutters. "Auntie? Auntie Nasha. Auntiiiiiie?" All of the women, except one were "aunties" to him, just as they were to Natasha. The one, W was the closest thing to "Mommy" he had, even if it wasn't quite official.
One of the tall identical woman stood, setting down her encyclopaedia and moving to the boy. This one, the only one of them all had white hair and white speckled chicken wings. She stood out amongst her earthbound sisters. "Hay Jason, thatsh ah bhig coconut!" She spoke with something of a lisp.
The boy nodded, drifting over to her. "Yeh. Nasha. Auntie?"
The tall woman tilted her head, a birdlike gesture. "Where ish Natasha?" She looked around for her: usually the two children were inseparable. She opened the shuttered door reveling a long bar, glass bottles behind it in a locked cabinet. Jason drifted over and landed softly on the countertop and let go of the coconut. It rocked a little, gleaming in the sunlight. "Nasha thunk." And he pointed outside.
The winged woman blinked, frowned and abruptly the dozen other women, tall, muscled, with chestnut hair set aside their books and stood, moving up to the bungalow. From inside the building another door opened, and a last woman, this one in a loose shirt over her swimsuit with brick-red hair stepped into the room.
"R- find her." The red-head gestured. The winged woman, holding the toddler darted out of the room, wings flaring. "Z? See if there is a first aid kit in the bathroom. We might need it." Another woman nodded and moved into the house. "W find N. She'll need to be here."

Outside on the sandy-blown front patio the winged woman spread her wings, glistening with subtle runes on each feather, flapped once and shot into the air, the toddler clutching at her neck, laughing. "Letsh gho find Natasha, kay?" The two of them soared over the atoll, casting a long shadow over golden sand and verdant foliage as they passed, following the double pair of footprints in the sand, small and larger together, loosing them here and there at the edge of the lagoon where the ocean waves washed them away. And there, a small form in shorts scrambling on the hard-packed wet sand of the water's edge, waving clumsily up at them.
R landed with a whirl of dry sand and hurried over to the girl. "Natasha! Youh leg?"
"Ifelloutofthetree. It's weird." She pointed the palm out then held her arms up to her aunt. "That bigone,see?"
"Oooh that ish ah tallohnoe, yeah!" Jason peeked over R's shoulder and smiled to see Natasha again as R scooped her carefully up... and then they were airbourne, rushing over the little island until the bungalows came once more into sight. The winged woman landed and hurried inside, setting Natasha on the long counter. The other women moved over to look.
"Oh."
"Suck."
"Her leg is broke."
"Really broke!"
"If you poke that bit does it hurt?"
"OW! Auntie! OW!"
Jason climbed off R and padded along the bar to sit by the coconut a little further down. "Nasha thunked big."
"She did." Z set a bowl of warm water and a stack of towels on the bartop, carefully sliding one under her niece's injured leg. The little plastic first aid kit was already there.
N, the girl's mother, hurried in, and W after her. They could have been twins, so alike were they. W moved to Jason and ruffled his hair. The red-haired woman followed them in, walking over to examine Natasha's broken leg. "We're going to have to set this." She looked at her sisters and an unspoken communication passed between them. N moved over to support Natasha on the bar. Z opened the liqueur cabinet and poured out some brandy in a little tumbler... then scooped in several spoonfuls of white sugar and mixed it, stirring rapidly.
"Drink this. You probably will not like it." She handed the glass to little Natasha who wrinkled her nose at the smell but obediently drank it down. The girl grimaced. Her aunt was right, she did not like the taste.
The redhead washed her hands in the little bar sink and set about cleaning off the leg, the silver sludge, the sand, seasalt. Natasha tried not to wince, but began to snuffle anyway. She was nine, and it hurt!
Jason, as if in sympathy, watched her and began to sob as well. W picked him up to cuddle. "Hey sweetie sweetie, no no, she will be fine, you bet." W offered him some of the brandy. The toddler tipped up the tumbler with both hands and drank. The face he made after he sipped it made Natasha smile.
Then the girl's face went white and she slumped against her mother. The redhead had set her leg while she was distracted.
"I didn't know you could do that." One of the other women leaned in to watch her bandaging it.
"You don't marry a doctor without learning a few things." The redhead set to work, quickly and efficiently as any trained nurse. Normally you wouldn't reset a compound fracture like that, without x-rays and medical supervision... but the girl, like all the women there, her mother, her aunts, all regenerated. How fast, they didn't know. This was her first actual injury.
But soon the leg was wrapped and splinted and N carried the sleeping child into one of the bedrooms, tucking the unconscious girl into crisp cool sheets.
Jason slid out of W's arms to follow, bare feet almost inaudible padding on the planked floor and then climbed up into the bed beside Natasha, snuggling up to his friend.
"You're going to stay with her?" N asked him.
"Yeh."
"She'll like that when she wakes up."
"Yeh." He smiled then reached over to hug Natasha. N tugged the blanket up over both of them. W leaned in the doorway and spoke, her voice low. "You did good coming to get us Jason. Also, thank you for the coconut. It is very large."
"Hee!" Jason made a soft pleased noise then his breathing evened out and he, like the girl he snuggled with, not quite a cousin, was asleep.

Over by the bar the redhead was tidying up, a silver soaked washcloth, several bits of gauze, water droplets on the bartop. One of the others was hefting the coconut.
"Why did they get this thing?"
"Its big enough to be a football."
"Maybe we should eat it?"
"Coconut football...."
"....Yes." And with that realization the coconut was hauled outside by the many sisters, teams organized without a word and goal posts marked. Z moved to gather up the forgotten encyclopaedias so they wouldn't get trampled or accidently kicked into the lagoon. Their laughter echoed a little through the opened doors of the bungalow.
Z looked to her sister, washing out the tumbler. "Why does Natasha bleed silver?"
"She gets that from Ray, N's husband. It's a mutation that he passed to her when she was made." There was a much longer explanation to it but for now, it would do.
Z nodded, accepting it. R had mutated into having wings, why not silver blood? They'd all seen stranger. "Do you think Jason's father will marry W?" That was a bit of speculation all the sisters where betting on.
"When, not if." The redhead smiled. "N married, then me, soon W. We're growing up Z, all of us."

Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. It’s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly!
#13608882 Jan 15, 2018 at 07:47 PM
264 Posts
ART DUMP! I recently finished my "To Do" pile, so some rather belated arts!
Enjoy!

Staas, for @RubyAmethyst


Fleabelly for @Nimashet


Priest for @LordWisp


Chevalier for @Shaelos


Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. It’s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly!
#13608885 Jan 15, 2018 at 07:54 PM
264 Posts
MORE ARTS!! I finished a bunch all at once. :P


Mutt for @TeotheOtter! I suck at guitars! :D


Jace& his son, Jason. For @LordWisp


My clones camping. This is the first picture I've tried of a group of them together. :)

Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. It’s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly!
#13608890 Jan 15, 2018 at 08:03 PM
264 Posts

Last ones! :) I hope you like them guys!


Rp snip, Thundrax disassembling a nuclear missile mid-flight. Sorry Drax, but I couldn't pass up a Doctor Strangelove moment like that!

For @BobFromAccounting, Razira swimming! I've never tried to draw a swimming pool from below before!

Rp Snip, "Eoghainin goes Mad" with @ManintheRain's Empress and @LordWisp's Ferrum, Priest, Justice Shield and Eoghainin.
I still suck at drawing animals, even with references! :)

Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. It’s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly!
#13608953 Jan 15, 2018 at 09:17 PM
281 Posts
I lurrrve them. My favourite is the "clone troopers" making camp.

More action at Champions Online Comics at http://co-comics.webs.com
#13611701 Jan 17, 2018 at 05:57 PM
PRIMUS Mod
457 Posts
I love how Raz turned out! Thank you very much for the random gift!
Owner and Lead Moderator for the Primus Database. Post your Hero today!
Razira's Primus Database Page
#13611769 Jan 17, 2018 at 07:28 PM
169 Posts
Hey, I've never seen your scribbles before, they're quite good. Clones Camping is especially nice.
AC
#13612010 Jan 18, 2018 at 12:02 AM
264 Posts
Thanks guys! :)
This was my drawing pile from 2016-up AC, I need to draw more often!

Bob, I'm glad you like it! Razira is a fun subject to work with :D

Haha, Thanks BB :)

Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. It’s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly!
#13612050 Jan 18, 2018 at 12:59 AM
264 Posts
And now for something a little different- at least for me. I've been working on this since September, slowly, trying to get it "right". I had to research a surprising variety of subjects, hopefully I've depicted them somewhat accurately.
It gets a little messy in the middle and rather personal for poor old Snookums. It's also taking her to a new way. Fair warning on that.

I give you...

"The Cave In"

The Beginning:
Snookums looked out the front window and made a decision. She had been restless all day. The storm of the night previous had left a glittering carpet of white fluff and the bare trees glimmered in the early afternoon sun with a touch of frost. The tall clone grabbed her long coat and scarf, made sure her gloves were still tucked in the pocket and went to find her husband.
Icarus, a little shorter then she, paler and dark haired to her tanned complexion looked up from his computer screen when she appeared at his office door.
"Save that file. We're going for a walk by the lake, It's beautiful out."
He typed a few more lines, glanced over to the window to his left, curtains half drawn and peeked through them, and nodded. "You're right, Darling."
She always felt he had a bit of an English accent when he spoke. She knew he wasn't from England, but the careful slightly formal diction combined with his native alien accent reminded her of it. He saved his work, turned off the monitor and stood.

A few minutes later they were driving across the state, towns, highways, winter-dark forests passing outside the tinted windows of their long sleek black car. They stopped at a spot they enjoyed picnicking by in the summer months. The fresh snow crunched under their boots and the pair stretched, taking deep breaths and smiling, as people do when they've been too long inside.
"Are you okay to walk far? I know the baby kept you up most of last night."
Snookums patted her stomach, the little bump under her coat. "Squirming away in there. Kind of riding lower the last few days." She looked around and brushed a wisp of pottery-red hair from her eyes. "It's so pretty now. Lets go!" She bent to scoop a double handful of snow at Icarus- then dashed up the hill laughing. He followed and for a long while they were just two people in love walking hand-in-hand together on a gorgeous winter day.


They had been hiking a few miles, long legs eating the distance when Icarus spotted the hump of blown snow, the hollow beyond it. He paused to look it over.
Snookums moved closer, curious. The remains of a rusted metal fence and an ancient sign stood there, mostly hidden by the drifting snow. The sign had once been white, scoured now by wind and time of it's paint to a weathered beige.
Under the snow her boot clanked on metal, a little springy. She stood there puzzling over what it might have said. "Icarus," The tall clone turned to her husband, "Do you know if there used to be a--" The rest of her sentence was hidden by a series of rapid fire metallic cracks underfoot and then she was gone, the briefest look of surprise on her broad face before the earth swallowed her.

Icarus had been walking over and had -through the grace of his own mutant speed- teetered off the old metal grate before it collapsed. He stood barely an inch from the suddenly gaping black hole, shreds of metal falling in, frozen earth, wisps of snow. "A ventilation shaft." He understood. Old mines peppered Michigan, many forgotten. His whispered voice echoed strangely in the hole.
There was a rumble from below, even as he carefully knelt, looking in, super-senses active to try and locate his missing wife. More earth poured in and with a sharp snap the stone he knelt on detached and crumbled, sending him tumbling into the darkness with it.

Snookums had no sense of falling until she hit the water, shattering the thin layer of ice layered on top. Her clumsy fall and the grate that went with her had battered roughly into the unsteady walls of the old pit, and caused rough chunks of stone and cement to splinter off.
She sank deep and fast, pinned by a rebar that had at some point impaled into her shoulder. Then she stopped as the tumbled stone and concrete wedged in the shaft, some above her, some below. She could taste blood in the water and struggled to free herself before her air ran out. There was a moment of blind panic when her injured arm could get no grip... then her fingers sank into the stone, pulling the blocking wedge four inches further down. But it was secure and with her other hand she reached up and pinched that sturdy metal rod off with her fingers at her back, then repeated the gesture at her front. It left a section of several inches of the rod still inside her shoulder, but that could be dealt with later, if she got out of this. She was getting rather light headed but she was free.
It took even longer and with much painful scrambling to swim and crawl, wiggling around the wedged stones to the surface. Her lungs burned and within her the baby kicked at her ribs, slight psionic abilities declaring upset and fear.
Her searching fingertips found a rock lip- it gave way, dropping her two feet down. She reached again and found more solid purchase. Again her hands dug in, using her mutant strength to hold her position as she clung to the wall of the shaft, panting, greedily sucking the cold air.
Her eyes had accustomed to the darkness somewhat and she looked up in hopes of seeing the narrow square of dim winter sunlight... and was surprised to find there wasn't one. A second cave-in some distance above the water level had completely blocked the shaft. There would be no easy flight out that way.

Slowly, carefully she eased herself out of the water. Blood streamed out of her shoulder and pooled in the water, dark on dark. Her lungs ached and she hurt in a dozen places. That was good though, it meant she was alive, and the baby was alive and they had a good chance to get out of here. Wherever here was... She guessed a mine of some sort.

She sat shivering then moved to tip the water out of her boots, squeezing what she could from her socks and now ragged blue jeans. She didn't try to take her coat off- it would only aggravate the wound, and without her nanomachines her natural healing should help, but only slowly. She did rip several inches off the hem of her shirt. All that extra fabric on maternity wear came in useful for once, who knew it would make a good bandage?
The clone took stock of her surroundings. The ventilation shaft, though it had been open to the winter air, was somewhat warmer below then at the surface, as evidenced by the little layer of ice she'd dropped through. The air stirred around her slightly, confirming the shaft's use, and that it led to a deeper mine. There were probably other sections below her, in the submerged areas, but that was too dangerous to even consider, not in the shape she was in.
"Icarus...?" She called out. Only the shifting of stone answered her and the smell of dust from the rock-fall. It was terribly quiet.
Snookums could still "feel" her husband's presence- and not far away either. He was a mutant gifted with many abilities, one being strong psychic powers. He'd been keeping her own abilities down for months, with the help of psi-dampeners. It was a precaution for the baby, whose developing body they both knew could not withstand the side effects Snookums' own powers carried. She looked down at the sparking dampeners on her wrists and sighed. So much for those: they must have been broken in the fall.

"It's okay Baby. We'll get out of here." She patted her stomach, the little form below her hand quieting. Her voice sounded incredibly loud to her ears. Then, blind in the darkness, she crept forward in a crouch, down the side shaft. Somewhere, she knew there had to be the main shaft the miners descended in, or a maintenance tunnel for equipment, or even another air shaft. She would find one of those and fly out. Or climb or wait at the bottom until someone came by. Icarus, or one of their friends come looking when they didn't return.


Icarus stirred in his stone tomb. He knew with precision several hours had passed, that his legs were crushed, that the stone that crushed them weighed as much as a small Japanese pickup truck, and that his wife was somewhere below, injured, worried but alive.
The winter sky loomed meters away, hopelessly out of reach. Wind blown snow dropped like rain to melt on his face. Carefully, hesitatingly he sat up. The stone below him shook and creaked, loose dirt and debris shaking through cracks and small holes. He reached out to the boulder and touched it. It was cool, granite slightly banded in orange and pale grey. The hard bedrock of Michigan that trapped so much coal that was once so desperately needed for the steel mills of Detroit. Gently, patiently, he coaxed it to move, focusing his mutant strength. Changing the molecular structure of his damaged legs to better withstand what he was about to do, and of his hands. He noticed the dull light picking out an artificial rectangle a few feet to the left, across the shaft from him.
The boulder wiggled, shifted, a centimeter, an inch. It would be a trick he knew, to get his shattered legs out, set the boulder down and get to that opening. He knew with certainty once he let the rock down this entire blockage he lay on would tumble into the depths.

One leg out, bone protruding through his stained pants, a quick final shove and the second freed, his flesh pulped and purple and numb. It would heal, and quickly. He knew that too, an analytical part of his mind assessing the damage, what supplies would be needed to repair it, what had he brought in his pockets when they went for the walk, he and Snookums on that crisp winter...
He blinked, focusing. The shock was starting to set in. Icarus reached behind him and sank his fingers into the stone, one hand to awkwardly support his bodyweight. Then he dropped the boulder.


The floor trembled, the walls around her dropped chips and pebbles and there was a fresh wave of cloying dust from somewhere behind her. The flicker of air she had been following into the mine was abruptly cut off.
The shaft, some ways behind her now, had completely caved in. "Shit. shit." She pulled her torn woollen scarf over her mouth as an impromptu filter, took a slow breath, then another. She had to keep her breathing even, blood pressure down. The tall clone had reached a wider passage some hours before and walked slowly, head stooped along it, feeling for the air current to lead her out. Now and then she stumbled, jarring her shoulder and sending a warm ooze of blood down her numb arm. There was a growing spot on the small of her back that hurt, a little on the sides as well. She must have done something in the fall, twisted awkwardly perhaps, and the walking didn't help. Now and then the baby fussed, kicking absently at her ribs.

"It feels like I've been pregnant forever." She muttered, mostly to herself. She had been for the better part of a year, much to the surprise of her doctors. Her husband, Icarus wasn't human... though to look at him you would be hard pressed not to think he was. He had modified his appearance at the celluar level, much as she had done, turning her hair from chestnut brown to brick red. The thought brought a smile to her grimy face. Only the delicately pointed tips of his ears gave him away: why he had a habit of wearing hats. Then she thought of the stymied expression on her doctor's face, nine months in -two months ago now- and she wasn't near due. His confusion was almost comical.
She kept walking, how long she'd been creeping around down here she wasn't sure. Hours probably. She needed to find another way out.


Icarus woke with a start. He was curled in the mouth of the small shaft without memory of getting into it. The faint glimmer of late afternoon sun picked out red-gold highlights on the rock wall beyond, striations in the stone. He was exhausted... but it was a needed sleep. His legs had healed for the most part. He only had one shoe left and his pants would barely be decent in polite company, as they were shredded almost all the way up his thighs.
He felt for his wife and found her, lower then before and a good distance away. He could feel her pain and winced as it set off a reminder of his own injuries. He had no memory of getting into that ledge, nor of the boulder falling. He knew that memory loss directly after a trauma was very common, one saw it in emergency rooms quite often. But for a man who was dependent upon his faculties for so much, it was unsettling.
Icarus stood carefully, pulled off his remaining shoe and curled his toes, pale against the grimy ground. He adjusted himself for super-speed and ran off down the small corridor.... and slammed face first into a low hanging stone in the partially collapsed gallery. He reeled dizzily and sat on his rump, seeing flashes of light behind his eyes for a few moments. "...Perhaps a brisk walk instead..."


The pain in her back kept growing, moving more into her sides, a dull constant ache. The tall clone was stopping more often now to rest. Sure she had superhuman reserves... but bloodloss and the thin air of the mine were taking their toll. Snookums laid her head on the battered stone. It felt cool, and she felt hot. Was she feverish, or was it just a psychological effect of being trapped under how many tons of rock?
"It's okay, just a little further." She patted her stomach, felt the baby stretch. Had she woken it up? The baby had not been moving as much this last week, sitting a little lower within her. That was nice, no more little feet trying to kneed her lungs. She took a breath, held it and slowly exhaled, moving again down the rough floor. "This was not what I had in mind, you know Baby?" she was rather glad she wasn't -quite- alone down here. "A nice walk, maybe shoving snow down his coat collar, some hot cocoa after we got back... wait until you try his cocoa. The secret is the condensed milk, he loves that stuff... dinner... A nice day you know? Nothing fancy, nothing weird, no super villains showing up to start trouble...."
Was that a hint of movement in the air? Or was it her imagination? She could feel Icarus' presence in the back of her mind, vaguely behind and to the left. But the air... was it really airflow? Came from the right. She followed the air.


The old mine was a maze, shafts upon shafts, blocked here, collapsed there, traces of ancient wiring and lights, rusty grates, forgotten tools disintegrating with time and damp. Icarus moved as fast as he dared, running now, then climbing. He had changed his eyes so he could see in the gloom, a benefit of his meta abilities: minor shapeshifting. He could feel the worry from Snookums, so far below, and it charged his own need to reach her, to see her safely out of this terrible gloomy place. He knew well there were worse things then bats or strange blind insects to be found in the lightless depths.


"I pulled a muscle. That's right. Just a pulled muscle." She bent at the waist, panting, left arm limp and draped inside her half-opened coat, her right arm, wrapped under her belly. She had an idea what else might be happening to her. It was about the date they expected, maybe a few days before, but between both of their odd physiologies, this pregnancy was a lot of guesswork. She had married a doctor, she knew the signs. She ...just didn't want to admit it might be happening, here and now, even to herself. Hopefully it was just a pulled muscle...
So Snookums clung to her goal, walking toward that trickle of air. It was getting stronger now, a little more chill then the muggy press of the mine around her. She'd had to back track three times, twice coming upon submerged tunnels, and once an old rock-fall... but this time she was sure she would find the air, the open, the way up. She just had to keep walking...


The cramps had been going on for hours, getting worse, the nausea, the dizzy spells. The makeshift bandage on her shoulder had soaked through, and the second layer she'd tied over that as well. The third seemed to be holding up, but her shirt was getting a little short now, on the stomach. She could feel the itch under her skin, her nanomachines there, wanting to protectively seal the injury. She had been having her doctors siphon them out each week. It was the nanomachines that kept her clone-sisters sterile. That had discovered that when one of them tried to surrogate for a badly injured friend last spring. Though for that reason, this baby was her first, and probably her only one.

She had been given a small miracle two years before, Snookums reflected, concentrating on keeping moving, one step at a time. A good friend had taken her powers away, leaving her a tall, sturdy but effectively normal human girl. She had had many adventures that way, and learned to enjoy life as a more mundane person did. She had met Icarus through another sister and their friends. He was a clone like her: a geneticist by design, a doctor by trade and an astronomer by hobby. He helped her with her problem genetics and then... to her surprise had offered her a job. She had accepted, and they had gone from colleagues to friends to lovers not long after, much to their friends' astonishment.

Then this spring through a robbery gone wrong while she was at the mall shopping, she had been shot. The criminals had meant to kill her- It would have killed an ordinary person, instead it dropped her into a coma. It was then at the hospital, the doctors had noticed the impossible: She was pregnant.
Her brush with death had reactivated her mutant powers though, and so many precautions were needed to keep the fetus sound- the dampeners, the siphoning. One chance to have a family with so many things that could go wrong. She had leapt for it, and Icarus, bless him, agreed. They were married in July, not long after her birthday. The memory made her smile in the gloom.

And now... now... Snookums grabbed a rough pebble in her right hand and clenched it, crushing it. The dust flowed through her fingers, flickering in the barely existent breeze. She was doing that every time the cramps hit, it made her feel better, crushing the stones. Gave her something tangible to hold while the pain swept through. She took a larger rock and did the same. Her body was giving in to base instinct. She could not allow it. "Not like this..." She had to keep walking. She had lost track of time, lost track of the back pedaling, the dead ends, the loose rocks tumbling down just after she passed...

After a while she was walking in a shimmering haze, of pain and exhaustion, coughing from the bad air and bloodloss without much coherent thought left, other then she needed to walk. The whisper of moving air beckoned to her though, enticing her forward. The clone stumbled through a low arch, skidded on loose debris, arms flailing for balance, and fell hard on her back. Warm dampness oozed from her injured shoulder and from her groin. "...No... no..." She moaned breathlessly. The air was fresher here, and bemused, she noticed from this position she could see a lighter patch of black. A patch speckled with.... "Stars?"
She could hear a faint sound, water lapping, something moving. Was it the wind, her own panting breaths? She wasn't sure any more. That tiny patch of sky was reassuring. Another rolling wall of cramps hit and she curled into a ball on the floor, grimacing. For a moment, consciousness fled.

Something was touching her shoulder, probing the injury. The sensation woke her, like a thousand little hot needles, from a half-dreaming state in which hungry mouths closed in on her and pulled and ate... She flinched away, rolled to her side and tried to sit up. A wave of nausea washed over her and she slumped faint again.

"Snookums. Snookums." Someone was calling her name. "Wife. Calm..." She awoke this time to a voice, familiar, soothing. "I'm here."
There was more light now, she caught a glimpse of dancing shadows black on blacker rock and a warm golden glow. A small fire burned nearby, of windblown pinecones, twigs, trash and the rotting remains of old boards. Icarus was there looking down at her, sitting back against the stone with half a roll of gauze on his lap, blood dark on his fingers as he checked the pulse at her wrist. He was filthy, clothing torn and stained. She had never been happier to see anyone in her life.

Her husband smiled. "Please try to stay still, Darling. You've lost a lot of blood. I managed to fix my comm- I've called for help."
Agony rippled through her. She and her many sisters were built to feel pain less then a normal human but these periodic muscle contractions Hurt! She knew she was in labour, had been for some time now, and with a strange clarity of thought in her pain-induced haze, wondered how normal women went through this without shattering their teeth! Snookums' vision blurred. Something inside her moved. She could sense the baby's instinctive fear of what was happening. She felt her husband take her hand and squeezed him hard as another wave hit. She saw his jaw clench, his face pale under it's layer of dirt and knew she had probably broken bone.

He pulled her up into a loose crouch, knees back, torso leaning forward, resting much of her weight against him. His arms locked around her, under her shoulders, careful of her injuries.
His voice was even though, and calm, a little commanding. He was a doctor and while this was an awkward situation, but he'd dealt with much worse. "Now... I want you to push..."

"But--?"

"Love, this baby is coming and neither you nor I can stop this. I know it... this is not how we planned. Just breathe and listen to my voice."

She felt something release inside of her, like when once her arm had been severed at the shoulder, the bone pulled from the socket. It hurt and didn't hurt at the same time, just an odd sense of detachment. she Smelled the wind from above, whistling down the narrow ventilation shaft. It smelled like snow and damp stone.

He gently stroked her cheek with his thumb, still smiling. "I promise. It will be okay."

Another contraction hit and Snookums stared up at the little patch of open sky, panting. The world faded into the distance as her vision tunneled.
"Good." Icarus' voice, calm and even in front of her. "Again."

"...Again." She writhed on her knees against the cold snow-swept floor of the abandoned shaft, unconsciously crushing his forearm with her hand as she tried to curl in on herself, his firm grip keeping her upright. The contractions were coming faster now, and harder. Tears streaked the dust on her face. Then there was a different sensation of wetness on her face, Icarus with a rag, -ripped she saw from his trouser leg- brushing meltwater on her forehead.

"Again." The clone pushed with muscles she had not known she had, felt the strange shifting inside her once more, more so now, felt the small comforting presence of the baby's mind leave her own and screamed, both audibly and mentally. It echoed horribly on the ventilation shaft and the connected side chambers, the wail of a tormented beast.


Icarus knelt to gently tuck his tiny new daughter inside his battered winter coat, holding that precious bundle close to his chest as his hand began to heal. He watched the silver nanomachines burst through his wife's skin, over and around her body as she lay slumped against him even as blood gushed from her nose, green eyes rolling back into her head. That done he gently laid Snookums' limp form on the cold rock, beside his small fire. The nanomachines were safe again for her to use, and would keep her condition stable until they could get back to proper medical facilities. But for the moment, Icarus sat beside his unconscious wife and held the baby close -Their Baby- quiet tears dripping down his cheeks. He rocked the child a little, murmuring comforting nothings at them both. "Shhh... shh, thats my girl..."


The Reaction:
It was a reaction that no one could have predicted happening... but it happened anyway. As Snookums' scream reverberated through the dark tunnels of the mine, echoing strangely, it also reverberated in the minds of her multitude of clone-sisters, all across the world. They were psionic, but she -the original- was the lynchpin that connected them all. The strength of the scream was unexpected and sudden and the many clones fell where they stood: hundreds of identical women collapsed on the ground, eyes open and unseeing.


Clone H with a squad of her sisters tumbled unaware in the hot Libyan sand. They had been stealthed on a secretive errand that would go uncompleted now, phasing into sight amid a host of surprised nomads.
There was a sudden command in Italian and an armed man pushed through the stunned crowd. A camel bleated nearby. The man gestured at the unexpected unconscious women and one by one people stooped to raise their limp bodies and carry them out of the sun.

In an unused part of the Caspah in Algiers, a solitary B model in native dress would be found by the local child beggars she had been teaching, fallen against a handmade blackboard.

In Washington D.C. several tall girls in tidy navy-and-gold uniforms standing silent guard at key points in one particular building would jerk, and moaning a little, fall where they stood. Several had blood gush from their noses. One would bump a French Diplomat in passing, causing the started woman to swear eloquently in surprise!
An alarm sounded moments after the clones fell, and medics hurried out to check them over- is it an attack? What is going on? The concerned diplomat was moved away.

Somewhere on the Alaskan-Yukon border, about fifty of the clone sisters fell flat in the snow-fort they had been building. Drips and drops of startlingly red blood frozen around them.

Clone W would be found later in her boyfriend's home, in a fetal position on the floor, long dark hair tangled. Blood from her nose stained the tepid liquid around her. His two dogs, an old Labrador and a young Shepherd obviously had made the most of the tipped -now congealed- spaghetti that had been planned for that evening's supper.

Clone G with dozens of her sisters would droop in place where they had been working, repairing walls in the lightless depths of Lemuria. Molemen working with them paused to check on them.

A store clerk saw clones K and Q crumple on the sidewalk, their untasted smoothies puddling on the cement beside their "Oobur" service cars. She pulled up the store phone and quickly dialed 9-1-1 to report it.

Clone N was on the freeway when it happened. One minute she was driving contentedly, singing along to the music on the radio, the next slumped against the side of her door, the car fishtailing. Angry honking from the next lane and Natasha, N's own clone shrieked and clutched the little boy in the car-seat beside her in the back, sure they were going to get hit and spun. They didn't and the child unbuckled herself in an eye blink, crawling over the front seat divider to grab the wheel and, not knowing how the pedals worked ignored them and turned the wheel right, slamming the shifter into neutral! The car wobbled onto the shoulder of the road and rolled a few feet. Natasha hit the big red button she wasn't supposed to touch except in emergencies and the hazard flashers began to blink.
There was the wheeze of airbrakes behind the little car and a moment later a man was throwing open the passenger door. He was about in his early sixties, had a days worth of stubble and wore a faded red 49's t-shirt.
"My god- are you okay? I saw the entire thing!" The man stared at Natasha, at N then, at hearing unexpected amused clapping turned toward the back, looking at the child-seat there, little Jason, the boy N watched in the afternoons. The toddler's happy laughter rang in the car, he had thought it a fine ride!
The man took a breath, then gestured. "You kids, how about you come and sit in my truck, I'll call an ambulance for your mother."
Slowly Natasha nodded, climbed back over the seat and took Jason out of his restraints. Then both children moved out of the car, down the trash-strewn shoulder of the freeway to follow the old man to the large maroon Peterbilt semi parked behind them.
"Truck!" Jason squealed happily. "TRUCK!"

Across Detroit, at the edge of Dearborn, clones fell like ninepins on the lawn of a high walled complex. They had been rough-housing with a strange hammer-headed alien feline, the mascot of the super-team's base. The cat, after a few moments of watching their prone forms, nudged several of the identical women together to form a loose pile with his head, and then contently sat on them to sleep and snuggle.

Inside that same complex a skinny blonde girl in a blue-and-silver cheerleader's uniform had been speaking with a red alien in a long grey coat. Then mid sentence she had staggered and fallen hard to the floor, smashing her head on a corner of the wooden office desk as she did so.
The alien bent to crouch beside her, brushing her hair back to check the injury. He spoke quickly into a comm-unit, calling for a doctor... unaware of the other clones limp in the hallways and up on the lawn.

On the other side of town, in a poorer sort of neighbourhood, an Australian Blue Heeler pawed at a screen door, yelping piteously. All around him lay women, on the lawn, the curb, half out of cars in the building's garage. One had been barbequing and had fallen into the grill, tipping it, the propane hose knocked loose. Luckily her own body muffled the jets and it hadn't exploded.
The apartment complex the dog was trying to get into was still, a radio playing somewhere inside, occupants.... unmoving.

And in downtown Detroit at a particular school for super-powered children, nurses and doctors rolled stretchers of comatose clones through the swinging doors of the Infirmary there. They filled the fourth floor, tucked them into beds, pulled the blankets up and gave them I.V. fluids. Many bore signs of bloody noses.
"Kneebreaker- Get a team together, we need to check their apartments. If it's like this here, the Good Lord only knows what it's like over there." A young Hispanic doctor called, putting supplies in a travel bag. "I've only seen something like this happen once before, when the original Snookums was incapacitated. Call the base, have them put a trace on her nanomachines, we need to get her location..."



The Epilogue:
A bar of rich golden light came through the slats of the Venetian blind that hung over Snookums' small window. It took a while before she understood where she was. In her own bed, warm, dry, clean, safe. Her left shoulder was bandaged and her arm in a sling over the floral coverlet, an I.V. snaking down below the sheets.
The room itself was small and somewhat plain, a cloning tank bubbled quietly in the corner there, a low steady comforting noise. It was the earliest memory she had, that noise, and helped her to sleep at night.
She lay there a while, taking stock of herself. The psi-dampeners were back on her wrists she noted, and she trailed her hand over her stomach, a little pudgy, but under that flat and muscled... Her body was reverting back to its 'default' state. Her green eyes widened and she lurched upright, setting off a myriad of dull aches.

"Shh, shh, easy." Icarus was stepping through the doorway in his shirtsleeves, a tray in his capable hands- a glass of orange juice and a steaming bowl of... was it porridge with raisins? It smelled heavenly. "We need to talk about your mental connection with your sisters. There was an incident with them- but that can wait until you feel up to it." He set the tray down on a small side table and bent to ratchet the medical bed into a sitting position. Then he swung a low arm with a tabletop over her lap and set the tray on it. "Eat. You've head a rough time of it. You need to regain your strength."
"...Icarus? The baby..?" Her hand shook a little as she picked up the spoon, dipped it into the hot mash and ate. Her eyes half closed in appreciation of the simple meal.

He bent to run a hand through her sleep tousled ginger hair, and kissed her forehead.
"She's perfect. She had a big lunch. You should see Ithikos feed her, he giggles." He moved across the room as he spoke, telling her of his business-partner who had rescued them. In the other corner, shielded from the sunshine that painted stripes on the wall he stopped, picked up something small, pink and delicate from a shell-coloured wicker bassinet. Icarus adjusted the fuzzy yellow blanket that covered the baby, cradled her in the crook of his arm and moved to sit beside the bed.

The clone stared, amazed. She had seen babies before, held them, taken care of them- toddlers too in anticipation of this, but... it wasn't the same. This was her own little piece of flesh and blood, not created in a lab, not raised in a machine...
"...She has your ears..." A breathless whisper. The little ears had slightly curved pointed tips, just like his did. The child had that oddly translucent pink shade that new babies tended to have. She knew it would fade to a more normal skin tone in time. The clone marveled at the delicate eyelashes, the perfect arch of barely-there eyebrows, the small nails on the fragile fingers that wrapped tightly in sleep around one of her own. They looked so tiny in comparison!

Icarus moved over cautiously so as not to jar the baby, to lean against Snookums' side, half on the bed. His dark brown hair mixing with hers on the pillow, breath warm against her cheek. "I think the rest of her takes after you." He, normally quite reserved, positively beamed. "Worth the wait?"

"Oh... Oh yes!"


Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. It’s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly!
#13614789 Jan 19, 2018 at 10:49 PM · Edited 23 days ago
264 Posts
Over on the Protectors of the World forums recently some rp buildup for an event has inspired several members to write their own versions of what happened in this not so distant but dreadfully unpleasant future where the bad guys win.

Reading those in turn got me thinking "what if" so...
*EDIT* Thundrax compiled everything into an impromptu book:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1okGKxIUuArGftgGR45olMAUMaWmT6vmU/view


"Futures Imperfect: Busy Day"

Natasha sat on the edge of the bed, staring up at the one small window by the ceiling. Bright morning light shone against the far wall, a clear white wholesome glow. She thought, as there wasn't much else to do but think. Some days she sang, some days she danced, other days she made as much noise as she possibly could, simply because she could. Today though, she was thinking, and more then that, remembering.

Her room was not large, and the small bath to the left wasn't completely concealed. The furnishings were sparse and sturdily built, like you might find in a prison, or a mental institution. The bed was bolted to the floor and the door had no handle on this side. A small table, a few books and geegaws, some cheap paper and a packet of crayons -mostly nubs- sat there alongside one faded picture of a smiling family in a cracked frame without glass. Beyond the table, under the band of light cast by the window, was an older model treadmill. The walls of the room were a dingy sort of pale green, save the wall the treadmill was against. That had a large scale print of a forest photograph made up into a wall paper. It's rich greens, creams and browns were the only real colour in the room, save the gleaming beryl eyes of it's occupant.
There was no mirror.

The slim boyish form was barefoot and clad in grey utilitarian scrubs. Lean and leggy she looked younger then the age listed in the electronic file outside her door, twenty five. Technically, it was sixteen: she aged slowly. A long hose spooled out of the back of her smock, connected to a metal plug in the wall above the bed, painted the same odd green shade as the walls. The hose was long enough to give her free movement around the room, and did not intrude when she slept. The sound of the machines on the other side of the wall, siphoning her blood, filtering it were comforting now, but when she was newly brought into the room she thought they made an awful racket.

Natasha was a mutant, an artificial creation made by an alien geneticist of two meta-human's DNA, a combination of both to be greater then either. She had her mothers regenerative powers and durability, her fathers super-speed and special "N-Vision" eyes, that could see through things: walls, machines, even people. She had her mother's nanomachines and her father's silver blood. "Cyberline" they called it, once upon a time.
When she was a little girl her parents had explained it to her once. Before her father was even born, someone had tinkered with him in utero, changed him so he carried the Cyberline, the special fluid that gave select PRIMUS agents mild superpowers. He had gotten a few extra additions because of it. His parents -her grandparents- had worried when he was younger that someone would take him and use him for some unethical experiment.
Instead, it had been her. Her blood and her nanomachines, constantly being regenerated even as they were removed. She had once heard one of the rarely seen guards laughing about it as they spoke with the technicians that serviced the machines. "Liquid gold" they called it, Pascal's hidden goldmine. What she made created agents, and adaptive cyborgs and ... she didn't know what else, but she doubted it was anything good.
She missed Grandma Waters, she had made the BEST empanadas. She thought of her grandmother standing in their little kitchen, rich black hair sprinkled with grey, stirring a pot over the stove, her Spanish-accented voice laughing at some joke. Natasha scowled then: she couldn't remember what an empanada tasted like.


She had tried to escape twice. Before things went bad, and the New Social Order came into power, running was what she loved to do. No shoes, just the dew laden grass damp under her bare toes in the evenings, the pink glow of sunset overhead, jogging with her father. She was too young to patrol with him he said, but her parents had surprised her with a supersuit in navy blue and teal for her birthday, her first Birthday, or what for everyone else would be her tenth. Being a clone got a little confusing at times. It was sleek and durable and made of some special fabric with a tongue-twisting name that resisted friction.
Now she was tethered to the tube, and the treadmill was the only thing she could run on. This was her fourth, and she had been warned, if she overheated the motors on it, her last: no replacement would be forthcoming. Natasha wasn't quite sure she believed that threat. They had to keep her healthy and in shape for their siphoning scheme to be effective, right?
She had long since stopped being able to pretend she was out, in the open, free. The first time she had managed to overpower a technician, steal his keys and bolted before an alarm was raised. They'd broken both legs for that, and the man who had done it in his pristine white shirt had laughed when she screamed. The second time she'd smashed through the window. They caught her four days later, running down a gravel road in Nebraska. When they had brought her back, they cut off her feet. Like her legs, like her blood, they eventually regenerated. Natasha hadn't tried to escape after that. It...wasn't. ...She just couldn't.
The guards had bricked in the rest of window then, until only that little top pane was left.

It could swing inward a few inches, enough to let in a bit of fresh air. That's how the spider must have gotten in. It was her secret friend, always there, watching, waiting. It listened when she needed someone to talk to, to hear the sound of her voice, to the half-remembered stories her aunts told, so long before, and her speculation on the weather. Though that was limited to warm, damp, cold and if it was daylight or not. Though other then the occasional housefly buzzing in, she really wasn't sure what it ate. Wandering ants perhaps? She couldn't reach the window to see. She did know it wove a tidy web and was a reddish spider, with white-pink spikes on its body. It made her think of dried apples, it was that sort of red.


She didn't know what happened to her aunts, clones like she was though made by someone else. Wasn't it VIPER? Though VIPER didn't exist anymore either, now. They'd been eaten by the Men in White's operations like so many others. She remembered the riots on the news, the villain attacks while the heros and the army and the national Guard had been busy trying to stop problems in other places... the villains had hit and hit hard. Had one really burned his way into Fort Knox and reduced the country's bullion supply to slag? Let it all wash down a storm drain, went the story. The news had been running shorts on that days before she was taken. She knew some of her family had been killed in the fighting. Some had fled to Lemuria, down under the ocean somewhere, some with friends into Fairyland, others into space. She vaguely remembered hearing others had gone to Europe, where the anti-mutant hysteria wasn't so bad.
Natasha stared at the picture of the forest, the mossy trees. She never knew what happened to her Father. He worked for PRIMUS, and like so many of their agents.... they simply never found them after the troubles. Her mother had shared some secret link with him, and stopped trying after a while. She lasted maybe a year. One day she just ...wasn't home when Natasha returned. She hoped her Grandfather- adopted of course, on her mother's side- had taken her to be with him. She was sure her Grandfather would find her too. Find her and take her out of this place, away from the tube and the lingering exhaustion it caused and the empty hopeless green walls. He would come, she knew it.


The shadows on the walls were growing longer, the day fading. She didn't move.
Natasha thought about the heros she remembered in her brief childhood, in colour photos on the news stands, streaking across the afternoon sky in their flamboyant outfits, capes waving, stopping now and then to pose and preach about duty and honour and "fighting the Good Fight". They popped up in odd commercials on the television and in internet movie trailers. Some were in Stronghold now, in prisons, in meta-human internment camps doing forced labour. Others were dead, or gone underground. There were whispers of a resistance, that smuggled guns and food far away, to... Mexico maybe? Or slipped them to port cities inside those great big cargo ships that looked like they carried Lego on the top, brightly painted rectangles of metal in blue and crimson and gold. They used to come up the Detroit river, long ago. She used to watch them chugging by going to all the corners of the world. She liked to think those heros -the ones left- were still helping people, somewhere. Just not as... openly as before, perhaps. She had told the spider that, on several occasions during their one-sided conversations. The spider always agreed, it was obliging that way.

Some days she painted her nails with the half empty bottles the technicians brought with her meals, slid in through the narrow slot in the door, the utensils carefully counted after. Like the crayons, there was never enough to make her ill if she tried swallowing it. Once it dried, chipping it off gave her something to do, at least for a couple hours.
She remembered the old video arcade she and her friends would sneak off to, before things got bad. It had a Dance-Dance machine: you were supposed to sync your movements to what it showed, and the better you did the more points you got. The more points the more paper tokens it spit out when the routine finished. You could trade them in for candy or imported sodas from Japan, or if you got enough a plush toy! She had been trying to teach the boys how to do the Hustle on it. When the manager had realized she was using her powers to twitch the machine, they'd been politely asked to leave, and that had ended that. Then things started to go downhill and there wasn't time to visit the arcade, and then it had gotten to dangerous to even try... Han, the fae had been called back to Faerie. Jake had moved with his family because they were targets, because of his father's job. Daedalus came by sometimes, but he had alien DNA, and that was hardly better then a human mutant to the mobs.
The arcade had been closed for months when she decided to stay there, after her mother disappeared. She slipped in through the skylight in the girls restroom and had been hiding there. The plumbing worked and the doors had been left locked securely. She had found a hotplate and a coffee maker in the managers office and slept in the bucket seats of a road racing game, the sort that shook when you took a corner. There wasn't anything in an arcade worth looting, not yet. And of course no one had quarters to waste feeding the machines. She found through trial and error if you stuck a bent paperclip attached to a Phillips screwdriver just -so- inside the mechanisms, some of the machines would play.

It was up on the roof that they had grabbed her. Someone must have seen her creeping around on her previous forays for supplies though ...she had always Looked so carefully, all around before she climbed out. But the Whiteshirts had been waiting and she hadn't run far enough, or fast enough over the slick rooftops before the tranqs had hit her and she... she what? There was a vague recollection of falling, she must have gone off an edge, or landed in a dumpster. She was missing that part, what had happened next.
Then she woke up here, with doctors and technicians poking her, sampling in their pristine white lab coats. She had been strapped to the bed, bandaged, unable to move. And watching by the window the dark haired man leaning on the cane. He had a streak of white in his hair, and in her drugged stupor it made her think of a skunk. She noticed, even then, the men deferred to him, even though he didn't say a word.
She wouldn't learn who he was until later. And by then? It was much too late.


The light had gone from the window, leaving only damp darkness, lit from below with a yellow-purple glow from the building's old sodium vapour security lights. Occasionally a Finder-drone flashed by, searchlight brilliant in the gloom. They made her eyes hurt and for a split second beamed a terrifying shadow of the spider onto the far wall, over by the tub. She could hear the techs joking behind the wall, other voices exchanging greetings, footsteps, coming, going. Shift change.
Natasha hoped that tonight her Grandfather, someone, anyone, would come for her. She had hoped that every night for the past fourteen years.


The slight form sighed then in the darkness and reached back behind her to flip her thin blankets open, drawing the tube around and over her as she settled in bed. "...Goodnight, Spider."
After all, tomorrow would be another busy day.


Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. It’s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly!