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51 - Happy hunting - mostly

Stars began flying by rapidly as the ship that I was piloting (huh?!) traversed the vast reaches of space. It was a small vessel, I had 8 people on board, all wearing what looked like space-going combat armor. An indicator changed color on the console, and I somehow changed the speed of the craft to accomodate an attack approach to a large vessel, which appeared to be a warship.
We were coming in very fast, and my hand landed on a lit, pulsating icon, which seemed to have launched a very bright object toward the massive hulk. Several streams of light also swung back and forth as a large area around us lit up. We barely slowed down in time to "land" on the hull of this very large ship, apparently adjacent to its engineering sector (how do I know that?), with a resounding clang. It bothered me that I had not been thrown around by gravity (or lack thereof), but it seemed I was just along for the ride, watching through the eyes of another me.
That bright object had left a gaping hole and we were on top of it. All eight of my passengers scrambled through a floor hatch, into the hole, while I manipulated things I apparently understood very well, but I have no idea whatsoever what they were.
Moments later, my people were back on board, and they had brought two prisoners. No sooner were they aboard than we were off and flying, and just before the stars snapped back into their zooming-by pattern, I saw that massive ship burst into flames and splinters on a viewscreen, apparently looking behind us.
In the back, all eight passengers were wrestling with the other two, and as I left the console to help them, everything faded away into the somewhat more spartan, far less technologically-oriented surroundings of my room at the hotel in Spirit of Botswana. After I settled down and re-accustomed myself to reality, I remembered what Ser Briggs had said about cloning defects and how we could expect them from time to time.
The problem is that I am not so sure that was a defect.
Beside me sat something that belonged to my friends from Taungoo. That was all I needed. After the dread of losing my friend at the hands of such a monster, the relief of him AND his son showing up unharmed, then that phantom, and the people's response, and now this . . . nightmare . . . it was time to get out of here, at least for a while.
My course in riflery had finished, so it was time to start something new, and that meant Tau. I was surprised (and pleased) at how well I was handling the shuttle rides along the way. So were the shuttle attendants. I only recycled a few bags this time.
I stopped in at Tau's cloning station to speak again with Ser Briggs, and he seemed more interested in the details of my dreams than their occurrance. All he had to offer was his admonition to keep reporting in to Anima every time this happened. From what he says, they are working on gathering data to help future customers. I wonder how true that is and if its meaning is really what he represented.
Along the way, I logged into the mesh to catch up on what was going on, and an obvious newcomer was bragging about having killed 5 citizens. None of the names he gave made any sense, so I set my friends to looking for him. Sure enough, he was on Tau, and I would soon be there - after my errand and a shift at the Broth Base.
At the end of my shift, after catching up with my friend and meeting some of his family, I logged back into the mesh and found this same newcomer, who had changed his name slightly, bragging about having killed one of the same fictitious people he had bragged about before. In the meantime, he had gotten into a long-distance armchair standoff with Citizen Moritz. That frosted me.
Now it was personal.
More than that, it fit a very disturbing trend I had been observing. Among my low profile employers, among the criminals I encounter, I see the same people over and over again, with the same names and the same characteristics. They are the same. Clearly they are redundant clones. Someone has a rogue cloning facility.
Now I see citizens doing the same.
This, I can stop, and I shall.
I caught up with the second iteration, the one without the numbers, leaving Tau on a shuttle, so I took the next one in that direction and followed him around for a while. After a few stations, I was right behind him in line at Nouveau Limoges and followed him to Kobenhavn, where I disabled the cameras so I could have a meaningful conversation with him.
Well, alarm buzzers went off and guards appeared in sudden numbers you wouldn't believe. There was nothing I could do. I was carted off to brig before I could even charge up a weapon, much less threaten this abominable multiclone.
As I sat in my cell, I began to ponder how exactly I could get to him without winding up in here. They had left my slate, and my CoreTechs were still working somewhat, though I couldn't see around very well . . . but I could get on the mesh.
Somehow I found a specialist they call a lawyer, and he came down to the brig, demanding to see the arresting officer and receive a full report. Item after item, they struggled to find, and finally, he shoved a document in the face of the prosecutor, who had also been called in.
"How many of these things are required by law?" my very expensive friend asked forcefully.
"Uhm . . . All . . . of them," the bumbling prosecutor said, haltingly, hesitantly, unsure of himself altogether.
"And how many did you fulfill?" my friend snarled back, seeming ready to rip this man's heart out through his throat.
"Aahh, well, uhm--"
"HOW many?!"
"Ah, well, you see, . . . that is, uh, I . . . I think we got these two."
"These two?" my friend challenged him, quite condescendingly. "You claim to respect the rule of law, and out of all the requirements, you met these two . . . you think . . . and with this you accosted a man whom you can't even prove did anything wrong?"
This went on for quite a while, and the lawyer seemed to be enjoying himself immensely, although he and I were the only ones with any sort of joy by the time a magistrate came onscreen. After a brief summary by the officers, broken up several times by their self doubt and obvious sense of guilt, the lawyer responded with a lengthy and very detailed explanation of an endless list of things they had done wrong, and his last question was "what has my client done to be dragged here in the first place?"
Next thing I knew, I was off to the market and found myself standing behind that multiclone (and he had just disabled the cameras). Then the fool tried to attack me! Let's just say he will be in the sick bay for a while. Now I need to find the rest of his simultaneous multiclones. This type of abomination must be eradicated wherever it is found.