Identity Crisis: Part One
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
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...