Enter the Snowflake's lair... Circulation: 90,555,820 Issue: 165 | 5th day of Storing, Y6
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Identity Crisis: Part Three

by del_somebody


Commander Halster slowly punched in the security code to undo the observation cell's locks where the wayward Sloth Clone was being contained. Just before he pressed the last button, he said to Gazlow without turning to look at him, "Remember my orders, soldier."

      Gazlow nodded in response but then, realizing that his action went unseen, barked a quick, "Yes, sir."

      The commander pressed the final button and, after a great deal of clicking and whirring from the inside of the steel panel, the door slowly slid open. Halster heard something make a sudden movement inside the cell and growl in hatred and irritation. He then stepped inside with the captive, Gazlow close on his heels. The door then slid shut with a final slam.

      "So...I guess introductions are in order," Commander Halster said calmly, noting that Gazlow was narrowing his eyes at the Sloth clone, one of the young Grundo's blue hands wandering dangerously close to the blaster at his hip. "I am Commander Halster," he went on, "the one in charge of this space station, and this is my trusted guard, Gazlow."

      "I need no introduction, mortals," snarled the clone. "All Neopians know full well who I am. The mere mention of my name can cause grown men to crumble, children to cry...Even the faeries themselves fear me!"

      The Buzz only blinked his cold, green eyes slowly, as if he was duly unimpressed. "I would still appreciate you giving me your name, just for the record." He could hear Gazlow snicker at the shocked expression the clone displayed due to Halster's blatant lack of fear, but a slightly raised claw from the commander quickly silenced the Grundo.

      The clone glared malevolently from behind its cowl for several, silent moments before complying with the Buzz's request. "I am the one known as Dr. Frank Sloth," it said in a smooth, venomous, voice identical to the its creator, "but I will soon also hold the title of Lord of all Neopia."

      Halster arched his eyebrows, as though he was somewhat impressed by this response. "Yes, I'm afraid I have heard of you, Doctor. And I've also met you before a few times on the battlefield. Me and several friends took part in overthrowing you during your attempted attack on the Lost Desert a few years back...Several of those friends perished in that battle."

      The clone chuckled darkly as Halster finished his sentence, causing Gazlow to curse and close his fingers over the handle of his gun. Another raised hand from the Buzz commander, however, held the young Grundo's wrath at bay. The commander continued to speak calmly as he went on.

      "While I have seen your heartlessness towards other living things firsthand," Halster spoke, "I have also witnessed your amazing ingenuity and intellect. I must say, I'm a little shocked that THE Dr. Sloth hadn't yet broken his way out of this cell by now. The Frank Sloth I know would find our locks as mere child's play."

      The clone snorted derisively and pulled his cloak closer around itself. "Don't speak to me in that tone," it snarled. "At the very least, I've already figured out that you must've given me some sort of sedative that stunts my mental abilities. I've ran into difficulty trying to piece together the exact events that transpired to result in me ending up in your prison, but I assure you, once I regain my composure and stability, you will all..."

      "Pay a terrible price, right?" Gazlow finished, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

      The Sloth clone slowly turned a glaring eye upon the haughty Grundo. It stared a long while before a thin, venomous grin spread over its green features. "Why don't you tell your little stooge to behave itself while we talk, Commander?"

      " A 'little stooge', huh, Sloth?" spat Gazlow as his grip tightened more fiercely around the handle of his blaster. "You should talk! You're nothing but a stupid robot servant!" Halster turned abruptly on Gazlow and told him to hush. The clone started slightly and murmured for Gazlow to repeat himself.

      "Yeah, you heard me!" Gazlow shouted despite Commander Halster ordering him to remain quiet. "You're nothing but one of those stupid clones that you probably think you make! You're not the real Dr. Sloth, you dummy!"

      The clone laughed and said that that was impossible, but there was a hint of uneasiness in its voice.

      Gazlow went on, his voice growing louder and shakier. "Go ahead and deny it; it makes you closer to the real thing, anyway, which gives me a perfect chance to tell you what I've been meaning to tell you for a long time now! 'Stooges'!" Gazlow spat. "Is that all you see us Grundos as? Just stooges? Or maybe the better word would be 'slaves'?!? We're nothing more than cheap labor and lab rats for you, that's all! I remember what it was like, being forced to work in your factories! But that's nothing compared to what my family went through!" Gazlow was now clutching the gun in both hands, as if struggling to bring it out of its holster. "You must be one sick jerk to actually pick out the entire family of a single slave and use them all for you twisted experiments! My sister would come back and tell me about how you'd prod at her and pump chemicals into her like she was some sort of science project!" Tears were now welling in Gazlow's eyes and he continued, his gun now slowly being lifted out of its holster. "And the last time I saw her before she disappeared into your lab and never came back out, you couldn't even tell she was a Grundo to begin with! And this is all NOTHING compared to what you did to my mother and father and younger brother, you...SICK..."

      Gazlow suddenly raised his gun and leveled it at the clone's chest.


      Commander Halster reached out for the gun, yelling at Gazlow to stop.


      The Sloth clone's eyes widened.


      The gun fired. Up in the observation lab, Talzee screamed and covered his mouth. Nate could only gawk in horror.

      Commander Halster snatched the gun from the Grundo and knocked him to the floor. Gazlow didn't move from the spot from where he fell; he only laid there limply and sobbed into his shaking hands. The commander was about to say something to him concerning his disregard for orders, but a sound behind him caused him to look back at the robot.

      The Sloth clone had slid to the floor, his back against the wall and his legs sprawled out in front of him. The blast, being at such close range, managed to blow a large hole in the robot's chest, as well as strip half of the prosthetic skin from its face, thus revealing a glimpse of its mechanical skull. The clone was looking down in dismay at the hole in its chest, its hands shakily reaching up towards it but not touching it, as if in fear. Its jaw worked slowly as if trying to form words as it stared in absolute horror at the wires and gears that made up its insides. Then it haltingly brought its hand near its face and looked at the dark liquid that was smeared on its fingertips. Not blood, but oil.

      The clone slowly looked up at the commander with genuine sorrow filling its remaining eye. "I-I'm a...?" it said weakly. Halster could say nothing in reply. The clone searched the Buzz's face pleadingly for an answer as oil oozed from its undamaged eye like black tears. Then, as sparks, crackling sounds and a thin trail of acrid smoke emitted from its damaged chest, the clone arched his back as if in pain, jerked its limbs fitfully a few times and then slowly went limp, its chin resting on what remained of its chest, its only eye staring blankly at its feet. There was a slow droning sound as the robot became still.

      Commander Halster listened and watched as the clone shut down and didn't even turn when he heard the door behind him slowly grind open. Nate dashed in and quickly began to babble questions about whether he and Gazlow were all right.

      "We're fine, Nate," Halster told the Kacheek, not taking his eyes off of the motionless robot. "But I'll see to it that Gazlow here spends a few days in the brig." When Nate questioned exactly why, the commander replied, "For disobeying direct orders, for damaging a robotic research subject...and for....that..." He jerked his head slightly in the direction of the unmoving clone lying on the floor.

      "I-I don't understand, Sir," Nate ventured carefully. "You already charged him with damaging a robot research subject. What do you mean by 'that'?"

      "I mean there are worse things than death, Chief Examiner Nate," Commander Halster responded.


      "It's one thing to die. It's another thing to discover that you were never alive to begin with."

The End

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Other Episodes

» Identity Crisis: Part One
» Identity Crisis: Part Two

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