Identity Crisis: Part Two
On the monitor, one could see what appeared to be a perfect
physical replica of Dr. Frank Sloth pacing ill-temperedly inside a small steel
cell. His normally-pristine black robes were somewhat worse-for-wear, as they
now appeared tattered and scuffed, mostly on the low-hanging sleeves. He would
occasionally pause and shout something at the locked, steel door, but his words
were lost due to the microphone feed being currently turned off.
Talzee scratched quizzically at one of his metal
ears as he watched the actions taking place on-screen. "He's been at it ever
since we had him contained in there," the Kyrii explained. "It's fascinating,
really. But it certainly raises some interesting questions..."
Gazlow suddenly shoved his way past Nate and
the commander until his blue face was nearly pressed against the monitor. "Are
you kidding me?!? That's got to be the real Sloth! Look at him! There's no way
that's a robot clone!" Nate promptly took Gazlow by the back of his uniform's
collar and hauled him away from the screen.
"Sorry, but no, Gazlow," said Nate slowly, as
if speaking to a child, "I assure you that this is a robot clone. Talzee did
"Of which the accuracy of is unmatched," spouted
Talzee proudly, but then quickly apologized for his interruption.
"Yes," continued Nate, "and Talzee's tests have
indeed never failed us yet. Despite looking incredibly lifelike, that...that
creature in the cell is indeed no more than a cybernetic doll made in Sloth's
likeness." Gazlow grumbled something under his breath as he busied himself in
straightening out his uniform. During all this, Halster's cold, green eyes had
remained trained on the monitor depicting the Pseudo-Sloth, watching it's actions
"It certainly is, as you said, a lifelike replica,
though," murmured the commander. "You don't think that Sloth has really succeeded
in making actual flesh-and-blood clones now, do you?" Talzee and Nate exchanged
uneasy glances before one of them spoke up.
Nate stepped up and began to fumble with his
notes again as he spoke. "We've run all the tests that are possible thus far,"
he began nervously. Talzee suddenly wheeled forward and threw in some extra
facts as well.
"Of course," he chirruped quickly, "some have
been rendered difficult to undergo since the subject can become rather violent
and thus far has proven impossible to sedate or subdue." Talzee then glanced
at Nate and said sheepishly, "Oh, I'm terribly sorry. Did I interrupt again...?"
Nate simply stepped forward and continued his
explanation. "Yes, as Talzee noted, we've been unable to apply any sort of chemical
or electrical sedation. This is possible evidence towards the fact that our
subject is indeed an advanced cybernetic clone..."
"Or that he's the real deal!" interjected Gazlow,
who had, until he spoke up just now, resigned himself to glowering at the monitor.
"We don't know Sloth's race or species! Who knows, maybe our methods of sedation
have no effect on his kind." Halster rested a clawed hand on the fuming Grundo's
"I wouldn't go that far, Gazlow," said the Buzz.
"While it always is a possibility, it's a slim one. We've got sedatives on this
space station powerful enough to knock even the Snowager out cold." The commander
blinked and then added lamely, "Uh, no pun intended." He then turned back to
Nate and Talzee. "But I assume that your tests have indeed proven that the subject
is steel and wires on the inside...?"
Talzee nodded his metal head energetically.
"Yes, sir! While the exterior is indeed the closest replica to living flesh
we've ever seen, my optical scans reveal that there is very complex network
of machinery that make up its interior. It's amazing, really," continued the
robotic Kyrii, his digital voice beginning to reveal something akin to admiration.
"It's insides reveal that this unit may even have a perfect mechanical copy
of the cardiovascular system and maybe even a working digestive tract! What
an astounding device our devilish doctor has devised this time..."
Gazlow muttered somewhat dejectedly, "So you're
sure that this thing isn't the genuine article?"
Nate threw up his gloved hands in frustration.
"YES!" shouted the Kacheek, "We are quite positive that we have not managed
to capture the real Dr. Sloth!"
"Pity that..." Gazlow muttered quietly as he
looked back at the screen that showed them the clone's cell. If only they did
have the real Sloth. Gazlow had not easily forgotten the horrors that madman
had put his race through and was still doing to this day. The harsh slave labor,
the endless toiling in his factories, the mutation several of his kind underwent
to make up his armies, and the experiments...those vile experiments he used
countless Grundos as guinea pigs for. Gazlow's small hands slowly curled into
fists just at the thought of it...
"All right," said the commander. "While this
thing is indeed a modern miracle of science, I still don't see what all the
fuss over it is about." Halster scratched the spines on the back of his head
idly as he spoke.
Nate stepped forward once again, pointed at
the screen to indicate the fuming Sloth clone. "Well, while we have confirmed
that this is indeed not the real Sloth..."
Talzee quickly came forward and put a metal
hand on a knob near the featured monitor and interrupted Nate's explanation,
as he was wont to do. "...We're having a hard time convincing it that it's not
the real thing," finished the Kyrii grimly, as he turned the knob, thus reactivating
the sound that accompanied the actions on the screen...
"YOU'LL ALL PAY FOR THIS DEARLY, YOU DISGUSTING
ANIMALS! NO ONE CAN IMPRISON THE GREAT FRANK SLOTH AND LIVE TO TELL OF THEIR
EXPLOITS!" The Sloth clone walked back and forth in his cell, turning sharply
each time he met a wall and swiftly made his way towards the other wall, where
he then would repeat the process, pacing like an angered beast in a cage. How
he came to be in the situation, he couldn't rightly recall. But as soon as he
came up with a plan for his escape, every last living thing on this space station
would pay a terrible price for this humiliation...
"OH, YES! A TERRIBLE PRICE INDEED, YOU MISERABLE
FLEA-RIDDEN CREATURES!" he shouted wrathfully at the steel door, the main target
of his rage ever since he had been thrown into the cell. It gnawed at his mind,
though. How did he end up in here in the first place? His deplorable captors
must've somehow given him some sort of sedative that slowed his thought process
and caused him to loose his recent memories. There was simply no other explanation!
He punched the door in frustration.
"A TERRIBLE PRICE! I SWEAR IT!!"
"Amazing," murmured Commander Halster as he
watched the screen with renewed interest. "This Sloth clone sincerely thinks
he's the real Sloth?"
"That's about the long and short of it, Sir,"
confirmed Nate as he hastily scribbled down notes about the clone's behavior.
"While there are indeed robot Neopets like myself,"
mused Talzee, "we are still sentient because we were flesh and blood to begin
with and then turned into robots by means of the Lab Ray. In my case, I willingly
became a Robo-Neopian to aid the research upon this vessel. But things like
this," the Kyrii waved a metal hand in the direction of the screen the Sloth
clone paced angrily upon, "are different because they were created. They were
never intended to have emotion or independent thought, let alone an identity
The commander scratched his chin thoughtfully.
"I wonder if this particular clone was a fluke? A mistake in the assembly line?
Or perhaps it's infected with a virus of some sort? Or," he continued, "the
most troubling possibility of all: was it made this way intentionally?"
Gazlow snorted. "Why on earth would anyone want
something like that ?"
Halster continued to explain calmly, "While
the regular Sloth clones are effective in their lack of emotion and undeterred
duty to their given mission, the fact of the matter is that while something
like that will fight hard, something that fights for its very life will always
fight even harder."
An unsettling pause hung in the air long after
Commander Halster finished his explanation. Finally, Nate, shuffling his notes
nervously, spoke up. "Y-you mean he may have intentionally programmed this clone
to think it was really the real Sloth because it would assuredly do anything
to reach its goal? B-because he knows that he, the real Sloth, would do the
same?" Halster only nodded and closed his eyes slowly in thought.
"I get it!" Gazlow suddenly piped up, breaking
the hush and causing both Talzee and Nate to jump in surprise. "Because, if
the real Sloth was in this situation, he would certainly fight like a freak
since, if he goes down, everything Virtupets ever stood for would fall since
he's the ringleader!" Halster simply nodded again.
"And one must never underestimate the might
any living thing will fight with when confronted with the end of their own life,"
Talzee added quietly. Commander Halster then opened his eyes.
"I'm going to go down there and talk to it,"
the Buzz said simply. Talzee and Nate exchanged surprised glances again. Gazlow
quickly jumped down from his seat up on the control panel and ran up to Commander
"If you're going in there, I'm coming with!"
he shouted. "There's no way I'm leaving you alone with something as dangerous
as that...that thing!" The Grundo jabbed a finger at the screen depicting the
clone's cell as he finished his sentence.
"If you must, Gazlow," replied the commander
as he turned towards the door and punched in the code to open it. "I will not,
however," he added, "allow you to interfere with my interrogation in any way.
You may not speak, you may not provoke it and you may not harm it unless it
is posing a direct threat to either of our safety."
Gazlow opened his mouth to protest but he then
slowly cast his eyes down at the floor and muttered, "Yes, sir." Commander Halster
nodded and motioned for the Grundo to follow him.
"Oh, I do hope they'll be all right!" whimpered
Talzee as he watched the door swish shut behind the exiting pair. Nate only
looked back at the screen and said nothing.
To be continued...