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Identity Crisis: Part One


by del_somebody

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Author's Note: This idea of this story was planted into my head the first time I went to Kreludor and promptly received a Battledome challenge from one of the infamous Sloth Clones. While I don't bother with doing anything Battledome-related, I was interested by the robot's description, mostly due to the part where it states it sometimes lapses into moments where it believes that it is indeed the real Dr. Frank Sloth.

      So I eventually got to thinking: what would happen if someone had to run into one of these clones that was truly convinced it was the genuine article? While this storyline has several comedic possibilities, I felt this idea had much more potential as something a bit more serious. So I give you "Identity Crisis", a story of three parts. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. -DEL! Somebody

     **************

The yellow Kacheek ran down the hallways of the space station, his quick, pattering footfalls echoing down the steel corridor. He panted in small, shallow breaths, concentrating mainly on getting to the commander's quarters. He'd know what to do with this case...

      Finally, he came to the large, imposing, steel door where, behind it, the commander's chambers lay. The posted guard, a cocky fireplug of a Grundo named Gazlow, looked up from his handheld electronic game as the Kacheek came to a screeching halt and promptly doubled over, his hands on his knees, as he gulped for breath.

      "What's the rush, champ? Someone steal your oh-so-precious red pen again and your here to complain to the commander...again?" the blue Grundo said with a mischievous grin. The Kacheek glared at the guard as a temporary response until he could catch his breath.

      "Sh-Shut your face, Gazlow. I'm here to see the commander on urgent business," retorted the Kacheek as he straighten up and adjusted his goggles upon realization that his brisk jog down the station's halls had shifted them ever so slightly to the left. If there was one thing Nate the Kacheek hated, it was things being out of place...

      The Grundo guard shrugged and began typing in the code that opened the lock to the commander's door. "Suit yourself, Nate. Of course, your idea of 'urgent business' has always been a little on the over-dramatized side..."

      Nate scowled at Gazlow, who simply smirked back in return. While the Kacheek couldn't complain about his placement on the Neopian space station known as Nano, whose main operation focused more on the study of the nefarious Dr. Frank Sloth's technology than actual warfare against him (much to Nate's relief), he had to admit that some of his co-workers left something to be desired. Or, in Gazlow's case, a lot to be desired.

      "This is a real emergency this time around, that I assure you of, Gazlow," Nate muttered as he adjusted his goggles one last time before entering the commander's chambers.

      The Grundo's smirk widened into a full-blown grin again. "Oh, so does that mean that you actually admit that some of your previous tantrums weren't real emergencies after all?"

      Nate, fed up with Gazlow's juvenile teasing and remarks, simply brushed past him and pressed the button that released the final lock on the commander's quarters. The door made a slow, hissing sound and suddenly retracted into the ceiling, allowing the Kacheek entrance. Before going in, however, he gave one last look over his shoulder at the Grundo.

      "Oh, and you should know that those handheld game...uh, things are banned from use on this space station; they interfere with our equipment's frequencies," Nate said with a hint of malice. Gazlow only snorted haughtily and clicked his game back on.

      Nate turned and took a step towards him, perhaps intent on snatching the device from the guard, but the door slid shut again before he could make another move. "Leave him be, Nate," said a collected voice behind him. "He had his handheld gadget specially adapted by the lab so it wouldn't meddle with your equipment."

      The commander sat calmly in his chair, elbows propped on the desk and his claws steepled in front of him. Prior to Nate's arrival, he had obviously been working on some of the reports stacked on his desk that needed his approval and signature before they were sent back to their base on Neopia. The red Buzz raised his eyebrows slightly, prompting Nate to explain his appearance.

      The Kacheek quickly saluted, albeit clumsily. Military tact was never a strong point with Nate; he liked to study and record things rather than attack and kill things. Thus the reason he enjoyed his stationing on the Nano. He never had to come face-to-face with the real enemy. Well, at least not until this new case showed up...

      "Commander Halster, there's an unusual specimen that's made it into our labs as of...," Nate hastily glanced at his watch before continuing. "...2 hours, 6 minutes and 45 seconds ago that, after conferring with my colleagues, we think you should have a look at."

      The commander put down his hands and leaned forward on his desk, his eyes narrowing slightly, in annoyance or concern, Nate could not say for sure. "What exactly is it about this 'unusual specimen' that would require my attention?" Commander Halster inquired. "I don't exactly profess to knowing more about robots and whatnot then you and your colleagues down at the lab..." Nate coughed nervously before replying.

      "Well, you see, sir, to be more specific," began the yellow Kacheek, "we'd like your advice on the, eh, ethics and methods of dealing with this unit..." This clarification caused the commander to raise his eyebrows once again, this time in mild surprise.

      "What type is this unit, exactly, Chief Examiner Nate?" Halster asked. Nate fumbled for his notes that he had hastily crammed into his pocket before he had taken to his mad dash down the halls of the space station and peered at them through his goggles.

      "We've confirmed that this unit's production number is #547. It's a Class 4 Sloth Clone and..." The commander quickly sat up straight, his face plainly conveying his surprise and, ultimately, his irritation.

      "A Class 4 Sloth...?" he echoed slowly, as if trying to make sense of what his researcher just said. "Just dismantle it like we do to all the others that come through here! Is this really what you came to me for, Nate?"

      Nate sighed and slowly stuffed his notes back into his pocket before replying. "Yes, we realize that, sir, and that's what we were originally going to do...But there's something different about this one that we really think you should take a look at before we reach any decisions on how to deal with it." Again, the commander leaned forward in his seat in possible interest (or annoyance).

      "Why can't you just tell me what's unusual about this clone?" queried Commander Halster. Nate simply shook his head and, reaching up slowly, removed his goggles so that they rested on his forehead instead of over his eyes.

      "Just come with me, Commander," Nate answered wearily. "You're going to want to see this."

     **************

      When the door to the robotic observation chamber swished noiselessly open, Chief Examiner Nate the Kacheek, Commander Halster the Buzz and First Guard Gazlow the Grundo filed in. The commander's filmy wings buzzed and twitched occasionally, the only clue towards his mild irritation of being brought down to the lab for something he found rather trivial. Gazlow, on the other hand, looked around excitedly in hopes of getting to see the dismantling of a Sloth Clone, as promised. He was one of those Grundos that had become very bitter over the mad doctor's enslavement of his race, which was often a surprising fact to learn, given his cheerful and childish nature. Getting to witness even the smallest blow to Sloth's empire was indeed a treat for this Grundo. Ultimately, Gazlow used all the pestering and pleading at his disposal to ensure he was brought along for this one.

      At the trio's arrival, a robot Kyrii whirred up to them, chirping in it's immaculate electronic voice. "Ah, Commander Halster!" he purred. "So glad to see that you could take the time from you busy schedule to come down to our lab! As I hoped Chief Examiner Nathaniel has stressed, this new Sloth Clone that's been brought to our labs is indeed a bizarre specimen. I was hoping that..." The commander held up a hand to cease the robotic Kyrii's ramblings, he other hand slowly massaging small circles at his temple, as if trying to ward off an oncoming headache.

      "I apologize for sounding a bit brusque, Coordinator Talzee, but if you just show me this clone, I'd be much obliged," sighed Halster.

      Talzee looked a bit taken aback by being interrupted in the midst of his sentence, but after getting a confirming nod from Nate, he quickly wheeled towards a series of screens fixed on a control panel that also was host to a great deal of knobs, dials and buttons. As Commander Halster stepped forward, the Kyrii indicated towards the second screen....

To be continued...

 
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