Far away, outside, Cylee leaned against a building. This wasn’t happening. This couldn’t happen. She couldn’t handle it, so she ran away.
In her head she replayed the end of the conversation.
“So…who are you? To me, I mean. Are you like, my sister? Daughter?” Cylee had asked, standing there in front of Kelly, this little…un-ruined version of herself.
Kelly laughed and shrugged. “I dunno. I’ve never had a sister before, but Tamara has always been my mom.”
Cylee turned to face Tamara. “How old is…she?” She managed to avoid the word “it” just in time. “Kelly is physically around fourteen-and-a-half, which she thinks means basically fifteen. Temporally she’s four.
“And she has all of my memories?”
“No, I altered the process for her. I only gave her basic motor and pre-teen abilities, but kept all the higher function stuff out of her lamination process. Otherwise she’d still be learning to walk. But I didn’t let anything else get in there.”
Kelly: Not…quite true. But don’t tell Tamara.
Cylee looked around, but Kelly was in the kitchen getting a couple of slices of pizza, seemingly not even listening.
“So…you took her out…”
“And said she was non-viable, yes.” Tamara finished.
“Okay…why?” Cylee asked.
Tamara looked into Cylee’s eyes and laughed a little, surprised.
“Well, because…I couldn’t leave her there. I had to save at least one. No offense, Cylee, but these girls deserve to have their own minds, without your memories being pressed down into their minds like a cookie cutter into dough.”
“I’m sorry, Cylee, that was insensitive. I know you didn’t ask for this, any more than they did.”
Cylee just shook her head and looked at Kelly. Kelly was sitting on the floor, eating a slice of pizza and looking up at a Cylee with open curiosity. Cylee tried to remember herself at fourteen, but it wasn’t like this. She had already been drafted, and was built like a soldier, all hard muscle and no fat. Kelly was skinny—Cylee’s family didn’t run to large bodies—but was normal for fourteen. She was dressed leggings that went to her knees and a large pink shirt with iridescent hearts scattered across it. She smiled when Cylee looked into her eyes. Seeming to sense it was her time to talk she asked “So what do you do for fun, Cylee?”
Cylee half-smiled, unable to come up with an immediate answer. It was like watching a kitten sit down on an unexploded bomb and start playing with a piece of string.
Also there was an odd sensation in the back of her mind. It was subtle, but it felt like parts of her mind were working very hard at something and not telling her what it was.
Cylee: Are you doing that? Agent: Kind of. Don’t worry, we will be done soon. Cylee: Do you want to tell me what you’re doing? Agent: Not yet. Talk to Kelly.
And the Agent would answer any other questions. Cylee looked at Tamara and said,
“I’m sorry, I know I’m not responding very well. I just…this was all over. The Child Army was gone, and anyway they weren't family. They were just soldiers. We were all just soldiers.”
Tamara nodded and patted Cylee’s hand. “I understand, it’s a lot to take in, and it’s been a whole night of 'a lot to take in'. Take your time. Do you want more pizza?”
Without Cylee saying anything Kelly hopped up and fetched a slice of pepperoni and brought it to Cylee. Kelly smiled, sat back on the floor, took her braid out and started re-braiding in a gesture that was odd to see from the outside.
Cylee shuddered remembering all of this. She started walking again, not really thinking about where she was going, just trusting her Augments to keep her from getting too lost.
If it had just ended there. If it had just ended with “hey guess what, you have a secret clone sister or daughter or whatever and figure out what to do with that information!” She might have been able to, well, figure out what to do with that information.
But Tamara had one more thing in store.
“There’s one more thing,” Tamara said.
“What’s that?” Cylee asked. The sensation going on in her brain was making her tired and also a little annoyed.
“So, I mentioned that there are nineteen other clones, in the facility. They represent the best that Pacifica has to offer, and if these nineteen turn out well, they plan to go into full production again.”
“So…Pacifica is planning to rebel again? With clones? Again?”
“I don’t know the whole plan, but yes, that seems to be the direction things are moving.”
”WHY?” Cylee yelled. “Haven’t they ruined enough? Why do they need to start it up again? They lost, too bad, it’s all over, give up!! We don’t need any more revolutions! What good will it even do?” Cylee found she was crying.
Tamara sat stock still, and Kelly, somehow, seemed unperturbed by Cylee’s outburst. And it was Kelly who answered. “It probably won’t do any good. I don’t think they can create enough of us.”
“And that’s why Kelly and I want to sabotage the cloning program.” Tamara continued, quietly.
“What? What do you mean? I thought you work for them?” Cylee said, and put her hand to her forehead.
“I do, but only to keep an eye on the cloning process. I don’t trust them, Cylee, any more than you do. I knew they were planning something, but I had no idea it was this…again….until about five years ago. We think they’re getting close to 'done', whatever that means. The clones are in military training, just the nineteen. We think this will be the last batch before full production. But there’s more.”
“Tamara,” Kelly said. “I don’t think…not just yet. Let’s just say that there’s a deadline.”
“What deadline?” Cylee asked.
“Don’t worry about it just at the moment, but Kelly is right, we have two months. The final judgement for this batch of clones will be in November. So we want to break them out and sabotage the cloning facility before then.” Tamara said.
“So the two of you want to break nineteen clones out of Pacifica’s top secret training facility.”
“Yes,” Tamara said.
“And take them where?”
“We don’t know.”
“And sabotage the facility so they can’t make any more clones.”
“Well, make any more clones for at least six years. Those facilities are very difficult to set up, even once you know what you’re doing…”
“Fine, you want to buy six years. Why six years?”
“That’s how long it takes, and honestly I don’t think Pacifica will want to be Pacifica for another six years.”
“And you want to do all of this with just the two of you.” Cylee finished.
“We...were hoping…it would be the three of us.” Tamara said, not meeting Cylee’s eyes. Kelly smiled and nodded, fully meeting Cylee’s eyes.
“Yep, that’s what we want!” Kelly said.
“Are all the others fourteen year old girls too?”
“Yes, but they’ve been getting military training.” Tamara said, in the tones of woman who knows exactly how impossible this task is, but still willing to see it through.
Cylee sat back, covering her eyes. She didn’t sign up for suicide missions, she sighed up for easy scores and won. This…this was impossible. She would get killed. They would all get killed. Then all the clone girls would get marched into battle and get killed, and then all of Alaska would get killed. And, somehow, it was both entirely out of Cylee’s ability to change any part of it, and was at the same time going to be all her fault.
“So. Will you join us?” Tamara asked.
Cylee couldn’t speak. It felt like entire hours passed. How could she say yes? How could she say no?
Well, like this.
“No.” Cylee said. She stood up, eyes streaming tears, and walked out the door.
And then she had walked out into the dark, and leaned against some random building. But one more weird thing had happened. As she walked out of the lobby of the building, still crying, Kelly messaged her.
Kelly: Thanks for coming! I just want you to know that you can come back whenever you want. Tamara understands, and so do I. Lovies!