The Beast, Pt. 66 (Chapter 17l)

I blink, stupidly. I can’t decide if that’s more or less strange than them being robots. My crew seems similarly split on the issue.

“Hm,” Erb says noncommittally.

“Wait, what?” asks Googe.

“That’s awesome!” proclaims Monk.

Papa Chub says nothing for a few moments, just looks from one woman to the other. “So,” he finally says, drawing out the word, working up the will to finish the thought. “How’s that work?”

The women share another look. I begin to wonder if they’re all psychic. Maybe that’s the reason they’ve been cloned. Some shadowy government cabal identified a mutation that might lead to psionic potential in a woman centuries ago, and through experimentation and mad science and selective breeding they brought that mutation to the forefront. And then of course you’re going to clone such a person. Once you have a weapon, you want to mass produce it. You want options. So now there’s an entire army of genetically-engineered psychic Amazonian super soldiers, each of them impossibly beautiful and subtly different so they can infiltrate anywhere. Got to bring down an organized crime ring that only accepts members of a certain ethnicity? Send in R3-N474 and have her slit the racist fuck’s throat mid-coitus. Bam, government deposed, country destabilized, truth, justice, and the NAC-1 way preserved for another day.

My breath catches in my throat. Oh, shit. The Beast. There are so few things in the world that are still illegal. Fewer still in the Meadows. And since Beast is largely unheard of, it’s probably not illegal because it hasn’t been legislated against (at least, I don’t think it has.) And even if it were illegal, the Meadows’s autonomy meant that neither NAC-1-31 nor NAC-1 itself had any jurisdiction here. But you know who doesn’t give a damn about jurisdiction? Shadowy government cabals. These women were clearly special forces or secret agents or something sent to capture me and carry me off to some black site prison where I’d spend the rest of my days with an electrical battery shocking my testicles.

“Oh, it’s really kind of stupid,” the brunette answers. “Our mother is a terrible person.”

“Greedy. Selfish,” the blonde adds.

“Vain most of all,” the red head says with a nod.

“Just really unpleasant, for a variety of reasons. She was from a rich family, married a rich man. You know how it goes. Had a few sons, and decided she wanted a daughter.”

“But not just any daughter. The perfect daughter.”

“But there’s such thing as perfect, right?”

“Well, not if you have money!”

“The way she looked at it, perfect children don’t just happen. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be grown.”

“You just have to start with the right ingredients.”

“A good base.”

“A good model.”

“And what better model could there be than an intelligent, beautiful, gracious debutante turned businesswoman turned professor turned diplomat?”

“So, the bitch cloned herself.”

“And not just once, but three times.”

“She wanted to pick and choose, see.”

“She wanted to make sure the final product was perfect.”

“She wanted options.”

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