Battle Quills... ready! Circulation: 90,555,988 Issue: 164 | 29th day of Collecting, Y6
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Identity Crisis: Part Two

by del_somebody


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 multiple scans..."

      "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 intently.

      "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 shoulder reassuringly.

      "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.



      "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 crisis."

      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 Halster's side.

      "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...

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Other Episodes

» Identity Crisis: Part One
» Identity Crisis: Part Three

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