Over the years I’d been conscripted by a fleet of warrior goldfish, witnessed the death of twin suns and their subsequent rebirth an episode of Loser Ville later, traveled through time specifically to punch myself in the face so I wouldn’t eat a doughnut that trigger Armageddon, and been possessed on at least six separate occasions which included having two demons shouting their titles at each other for a night. I think.
Some of those events might have been fabricated after really bad drug trips. I could have punched a man in the face outside of a doughnut shop because of starvation and extreme narcotics. The demons thing was one hundred percent true.
Being in a ring of obnoxiously dressed super villains while ugly face and the business suit pirate fought each other was newish. I still blame Ted for everything that happened. Things were acceptable before he gave me hope. All I needed was fatalism and time. Hope made everything feel more painful.
The two personal directors screamed at each other. I only got snapshots of people as I kept trying to find a quiet corner of a fighting circle. Circles don’t really have corners though, do they? God damned inconvenient of them for removing proper safe zones.
“Go for his peg leg! Punch the ugly one in the face!” a helpful giant with more flab than muscle shouted. He towered over smaller people and made the crowd wince as his arms lifted. “Use a suplex!”
The pirate swung at me with a hook. He might have been falling after the other man tripped him. I didn’t know. There were extra people rushing into the circle that were dressed in matching crayon barf uniforms. Instead of one squat ugly faced man there were four, and they were doing more harm to each other than me.
“Clothesline him! Get him in an armbar!” smelly pits shouted.
“I don’t fight people! It never works out!” I responded while throwing myself to the ground. The ugly one laughed with a bubbly snort.
You might ask why I dodged. Easy, I wasn’t thinking straight. Survival guarantee be damned, hooks were scary! I hadn’t mastered the art of standing still while shiny metal swung at my face.
“You’re far too complacent Mister Millard. Do try standing up, or punch someone. It will do you a world of good,” Ted voice was nearly drowned out by the shout of clones attacking goons.
“Truth,” a man buried in the crowd said clearly.
Ted had a stack of bills in both hands and was busy counting them. A set of attractive looking twins stood on either side chatting happily. People getting too close or reaching for the stacks of cash were shoved away. More than one person jerked spastically as electrical currents ran through their bodies.
I still don’t know who the hell they were and the action didn’t slow down long enough for me to figure it out. It only seems slow now because I’m explaining what happened in hindsight. Having this mess recorded by that stupid floating camera helps.
“Oh shit!” I shouted. Two people that were made of pure muscle picked up one of the stocky men then threw him.
I dodged right into the flailing body form. It hit, I tumbled. Someone kicked me back into the circle. People cheered. The sound of zapping went along with blue and white flashes. A body jerked near one of Ted’s twin girl guards. They wore yellow and black that displayed more cleavage than daytime television would be comfortable. Between everything going on Ted came off like a deranged kingpin.
“Get him! Made him understand that clones are superior!” the short man with an ugly face shouted. He sounded upset over losing a body double, or triple. To this day I only have a vague clue what he wore, his face was that distracting.
I scrambled for a weapon but found nothing. My heartbeat drowned out the crowd’s noise. The urge to cover my head and wait out disaster hit me. Another body tumbled into me. It popped into blue goo that hissed and smelled like ethanol and made me sneeze repeatedly.
“Some clones!” The pirate laughed. His henchman coupling had demonstrated an overwhelming power. Sort of.
A third meat wall pushed through the crowd into our circle. I stumbled passed another ugly face clone from the ugly assembly line. Their clothes were basically brown potatoes sacks and a dozen empty gooey remains lay upon the floor. They squished like blueberry jam making me sick.
“Only two! Two! That’s against the rules!” the uglier one shouted. He pointed a stubby arm at the business suit.
Crowd members booed. Others laughed. Ted still had stacks of cash that he was nodding happily over. Another person sizzled as they ventured too close to the funds. I couldn’t smell anything past the goop up my nose.
I stood up and tried to get my bearings. The pirate and squat man argued. Their minions fought. A mob of clones landed on one of the large men. One got his knee while the other popped into blue goo. The bodyguard or whatever wearing clothing that made him look like a peacock fell down screaming. I ambled over then used his sleeve to wipe off my face while checking his pulse.
Rainbow goon was still alive but battered. I looked around quickly. People were pointing. Ted used my cash to pay the twins like they were strippers working for a buck. Every time they sizzled someone he slipped in another bill into their string-laden costumes.
Each time they fucking giggled and smiled like he was the sweetest man in the world. That cash belonged to me, and though it took a certain amount of angry delusion to believe I’d be able to keep it, I didn’t like him handing it away.
“It’s time to finish this show up,” the pirate said while waving his hook at both remaining mercenaries. The rainbow clad duo moved forward like the meat walls they were and happily slammed potatoes sack clones into each other.
A crowd of clones that kept squeezing past convention goers mobbed the left one. He went down yelling as the third wall-barian started swinging a clone like a baseball bat. That left the pirate, laughing himself absolutely retarded.
If they were going to bet on me, by god I would go down kicking before a lucky strike rendered me unconscious. I steeled my gut, grabbed two potato sacks, then tossed one at the remaining goon. He reached up to intercept it but goo flung in his eyes. A second sack was tossed to further obstruct the large man.
I ran for the recruit a henchman and kneed him in the balls. He wore some sort of protective covered that hurt me more than him. My knee spiked with pain that sent me reeling onto the ground. The goon fell too in a different direction, mostly from being pushed. People laughed in a mad chorus of cheers that mingled into insanity.
“Wish I had thought of that,” a clone muttered behind me. Maybe it was the original, fucked if I knew. At least three clones ran by after the hook in a business suit.
I ground my teeth and tried not to bite my tongue. The other foot lashed out repeatedly on the fallen muscle man’s backside. All it did was push me around like a top and send more remains of burst clones all over the floor. From above we’d look like a freaky work of art.
“Hey! No fair using the dead!” the mercenary captain said. At I think that’s what it sounded like. He could have said ‘my hair is baked bread’!
Pirate’s hook hand sat rigid at one side while the other one kept trying to get ahold of the slippery sack. I managed to get up and limp over. Colored goop caked on my face and free hand wiped away layers.
“Armbar! ARMBAR!” someone jumped and the ground shook.
Fighting people only require a wanton disregard for their wellbeing. I didn’t care about how this guy handled what came next.
“Arggh!” I yelled and dove. The man dodged then slipped on a dead clone. I adjusted then hooked one arm around his neck and latched on with the other.
“Get off!” he yelled. Or ‘Giraffe’ using one of Ted’s accents.
A hook reached up and jabbed at me but he hit his own face. I hung on while both arms ached. Knees locked around his ribs. The pirate kept spinning around trying to jab me in the face with his hook. A goon out of nowhere pulled at my legs. Hanging on was something I had lots of skill in.
All of us fell to the floor. Shoes squeaked. We flopped around while I kept up my death grip on the suit’s neck. People cheered when my foot slammed into someone’s face. A mean scowl hung in the edge of my vision. Scars under the pirate's eye patch became more visible. I lost my shit then started ranting.
“You’re lucky don’t have the God’s Fist still! You’re god damn lucky I don’t have my hands on Glazer’s Rifle!” I yelled. “Fuck you people! I didn’t want to be here! You never let me sleep in! I barely catch up on television! People die! You ruin my birthdays!”
The crowd’s reaction was mixed to my insanity. I had been more of a fighter the first few years, or at least willing to try. Every time I got ahead someone took those items or knocked me out. Frail mortal shells don’t get to hold onto weapons of doom.
I pulled my arms tighter. The man screamed. A hook dug into my arm. Pain echoed along another limb as I loosened my grip. One hand latched around the other’s elbow and I twisted wildly. He yelled, another foot flew into a downed goon then the captain popped into a pile of green.
Green shit lay all over the purple. I huffed rapidly and stared. It was like a rave had thrown up then made a music video. All that we lacked was a milky white substance that hopefully glowed in the dark.
“The fuck,” I groaned while rolling to my side. Audience members were talking but looked equally confused. There were people in the crowd with plastic splatter guards.
Laughter broke out slowly, then turned downright maniacal. The hook sat there gleaming along with a candy coated peg leg. It hit me; that man had popped like all the others. He was a fucking copy like the others.
“Captain Claw was a clone? That’s new,” Ted said calmly. “Who know The Minutemen Group worked both sides? That’s worse than having the robots. And what’s God’s Fist?”
“That’s how my last date ended,” the large mountain said.
“Truth,” the other man near Ted spoke softly but clearly.
People were talking at once. I couldn’t make out their words. Both ears range. Even Ted’s tone only stood out because he annoyed the daylights out of me. It was like hatred gave me a super power of only being able to hear his voice.
“Show’s over! Results are in! Winners I know who you are, line up for your payout, losers enjoy the rest of your convention!” Ted’s voice picked up in volume as he spun around and waved. The two girls nearby were already herding people into a line.
There was a small army of multicolored goons already present cleaning up the mess. Beaten men were drug out in stretchers. Three lizard men with buckets and mops grumbled in unison and started cleaning up. A fresh towel slapped me in the face. I automatically started cleaning myself up.
My knee hurt. I sneezed and a gob of blue purple snot went into the towel. One lizard man coughed with a disgusted tone and took away the used cloth. It refused to touch the actual fabric and instead lifted up the mess with its broom.
“What just happened?” I muttered.
People were still laughing but the mirth had mostly died down. Instead the line near Ted grew long but surprisingly well ordered. He handed out small stacks of cash. They were disturbingly good natured and treated this mess like a floor show.
My attempt at cutting the line earned glares. Both eyelids drifted as I tried not to pass out. Someone lifted my arm and before it fully registered a bandage had been slapped around it. The arm tingled and my mouth tasted apple cider. Then people pushed me back into position between smelly armpits the large and a mad scientist with thick goggles. I recognized her but didn’t want to say anything. Last time we crossed paths she left me tied up, naked, and on an operating table of a Chicago hospital.
It, like so many occurrences in my life, was a whole thing I wanted to block out.
“Come on! Let's get this done, no arguments. All bets were guaranteed by the Sir TS himself. I made no attempts to cheat anyone!”
Ted sighed as he counted out money. “In in the interests of being upfront I needed more money and was willing to lose my capital,” he said.
“Truth.” The dead faced man standing next to Ted nodded.
I tried to piece together how he’d wrangled bodyguards and a lie detector as I listened to Madam Zhora’s confessional. The line moved forward while I remained unenlightened. Exhaustion pulled at my steps while droning in the background told me the hucksters of this convention were still trying to sell items. I pushed off fliers and pamphlets.
Finally, I got to a bench with a chart of odds propped up. It sat directly opposite where the clone master and pirate man had been. ‘Live Demonstration’ and ‘Volunteer now! Prizes available!’ was crossed out. My name sat under it as a victim in order to demonstrate which one brand of minion would be more effective. ‘Unpowered Civilian Client’ it said.
Next to that was a second chart with bets on the outcome. Choices included surviving until someone broke up the fight, the pirate’s men incapacitating us all, clones running out, and so on. My win had been a low expectation, with the longest odds on my death.
I reached the front of the line and almost toppled forward. One hand shot out and braced against Ted. Either his bodyguards didn’t notice or ignored my weak form.
“Where’s my cut?” I asked while wondering if I should smear more goo all over his pristine looking suit.
I chose to be the nice one and stood up under my own power. Ted eyed the new colorations before answering.
“Oh no, you don’t get money.” He leaned over and wiggled fingers to the next person. Mad doctor lady stepped past me then collected a stack of twenties. My theoretical mentor said, “You’ll get something better since we’ve increased our capital.”
“Subjective Truth.” the dull looking powered man said. He wore grey clothes, had a grey faced with nearly no hair. Even his shoelaces were grey and so well knotted I felt sick.
“Did you get me a pony? Because I don’t want one. Pony’s bite.” What I wanted, was to body slam Ted into the concrete but fate had given me the wrong power for that. There were too many people around, and the scantily clad lightning twins both stood nearby with hands protectively on their money man.
“We’re going to find you a lot of toys, something you can’t lose. Something to give you back the power when scuffles like that happen,” Ted said while nodding at the blue goo on my clothes. “That way you’re not reduced to using underpants of dead clones to win. Unless you get your jollys by such actions.”
“Truth,” Sir TS said.
The girls laughed. I smiled a bit at the idea of having my own freeze guns then grew annoyed again rapidly. Ted gave them a wide smile that didn’t reach his eyes, put away nearly all of the money into a space that couldn’t possible fit under his arm, and gave them their final paychecks.
Both lightning ladies left Ted to his own devices. That left me, Ted, and a crowd of people eyeing where the piles of cash had vanished. He somehow managed to park himself next to a sign that said ‘rules for attendance’, one of which was no theft. Apparently it was bad manners to steal even among villains.
“You deserve a kick in the nuts,” I lifted a cheek as both nostrils flared.
“Is that sarcasm?”
“No. Utter truth.” the gray Sir TS answered then put out a hand. Ted forked over another pile of money. My eyes rolled briefly and I took a deep breath. I nodded then gave my own fake smile. Maybe he’d think the idea was a joke. I’d simply save the assault for when his back was turned.
“Well then you and my ex would get along swimmingly,” Ted said at last. “Come on. The one mission down, and after this one perhaps we can both go our separate ways. If we’re forced to deal with each other much longer than we might shoot each other.”
“Truth.” The dull man handed me a business card which I shoved rapidly into a pocket without looking. With that, Sir TS left. That left the Ted and me staring at each other.
Ted smiled briefly, reached under an arm and flicked the switch around until his clothes appeared as inky alphabet soup. Telegraph’s messy costume had once again reappeared, and I couldn’t tell why he chose now.
“Away we go sidekick! To the toy store!” Ted let loose eight out of ten evil villain laughter. Someone clapped, to which Telegraph bowed. After a few more nods to the audience, he marched off rapidly.
I walked slowly behind him and prayed for a meteor to crash into his skull.
We traveled two floors down, a floor up, and around god knows how many desks. I didn’t bother committing anything to memory but instead tried to add up all the times in my life things had been worse. Perspective only made me wish for other super powers. Something more useful in venting frustration. Those walls of meat body guards had been all veiny and my noodle arms weren’t much to compare with.
Maybe I could do some pushups in between alien attacks. It was that or try to figure out if I liked ted or hated him. The idea that it was possible to feel both ways about someone almost made me feel normal for a moment. Complacent was the word Ted had used to describe me. Then that lie detector labeled it as truth. I could argue with circumstance and word choice. There were ways to quibble, minimize or deflect. His declaration being backed up by a power hit harder than the clones had.
I walked right into Ted’s backside and he hardly moved. Both his hands were up with in the air. Ted in his black and white getup gestured to the sign like it was on an award show. "This place is perfect. Everything you could possible want from the Bio-Regradable world."
The sign hanging above the doorway said ‘Dirty Tricks’ in black with red lit trim. It had the same motif as all of Ted’s cores. There was no one inside, just racks and racks of buckets badly labeled with marks. Price tags ranging from two thousand to a quarter million were in large numbers. Nearby two machines that looked like dog’s with laser beams attached to their heads guarded the doorway.
"Bio-Degradable?" There was that word again. I started while wondering if the dogs might win in a fight. Maybe I could steal a bunch of cores, blame it on Ted, then run off until a portal whisked me away.
"No. Learn English for the love of god. Degradable things break down in dirt. These build from. Plus the cores all withstand Tier four pressure, which is nearly invulnerable. Wait.” He paused then put up a finger in the air. “We’ve already talked about this, haven’t we?"
The man finally caught on. The more I worked with Ted, the more obvious is wall of canned responses became. He was distracted almost constantly and it amazed me how many things he tried to juggle at once. If he also had the other two in his head constantly they might be giving him a wall of information.
"I’m working on my ability to ask the hard questions.” I wandered around the racks and wondered when Ted would stand still long enough for me to push something on top of him. That whole mess drove me crazy and my clothes smelled like burnt jelly plus pool water.
Ted was back to his suit without an ounce of muck from the earlier chaos. He stepped inside and the robot dog’s eyes lit up. Its head turned slightly and one metallic ear cocked forward. He ignored it, while I whistled to try and get the creature to attack Ted. The robot didn’t respond to me ‘go get him’ gesture.
“Tier four pressure, why does that matter?" I asked while frowning at the dog.
"I set up my lairs with them, when it's demolished or needs to be moved I can collapse building then recover the cores. It’s simple enough for me." He held up one the small objects then glared straight into its center. His nose lifted and mouth curled. “But lairs are a terrible plan for you, but finding something difficult to destroy has merit. As you said, objects tend to explode around you.”
“Not all the time. My record is two weeks. I think.” I couldn’t remember anymore. One wall had bins labeled ‘garments’ which I wandered to.
I thought back to the black box he'd been clapping about when we'd first met. Having something that would survive in nearly any situation was a good idea. For people out there in the business of baiting super heroes, indestructible is good. I would have killed for indestructible clothes. Instead, it seemed like we would need to pay a few thousand dollars. The devices in this bin made no sense at all and weren’t cores like everything else. They looked more like memory cards.
“Mine’s six months in one of the most boring and mundane stretches of my life. That’s why we invented TeleGraph.” Ted found an item he liked then put in a hand cart. It too was red. “If we couldn’t make it to the action in time, then we would bring the action to us. Plus being a registered villain has perks. We’re on nearly every newsletter and can attend most events around the globe.”
"That's convenient." I drug out the word while glaring at another stand. The memory cards were thousands, but the device that housed clothing was at least thirty or more. It was bonkers.
"Oh yes. Encrypted, delivered straight to our Email. Derrick has a tumbler lock that spits out some rolling code. All the supervillains have them. Heroes have their own versions I’m sure. There’s a newsletter that comes out every week called Hero Wiki Leaks, where it happily explains whose cover and plans are blown."
“You have some real bright minds on your side,” I said while crossing both arms. This place made me uncomfortable. It might be the utter lack of any human presence. "Why even bother with a lair?"
"It's stylish and convenient." His eyes rolled as Ted repeated the word back at me. "I only have a base in order to set up my recordings. It gives me a zone of control." Ted kept on explaining while digging through the display cases. Anyone who thought about coming in would be deterred by Ted’s wild motions, not that anyone had even come close.
"You talked about that earlier. Is that what you do when you can’t find a real story, set up a base with traps and other nonsense? Record how the hero gets out, and sell the footage?" Maybe one of these items came with bandages and gauze. Life as a powered magnate often came with an endless assortment of scratches. The wrapping around my arm still itched.
"Indeed. The villain stick allows me get a story, play a part, and also test out new heroes. We actually get a small kickback from the government for keeping things non-lethal.” Ted paused and stared up. For a moment then sighed. “My share ends up in alimony.”
He took one of the small stones and held it up to the light. His squinted at the object like there was a secret inside. A moment later he'd nearly shoved it into his face.
"A dud!" He threw it against the far wall without any further explanation. If there was a defective pile I couldn't tell. The place was a mess of little objects.
“What in fornication are you doing to my shop you hairless weasel?”
“Ah, Adam Millard, I’d like to introduce you to this shop's proprietor. Meet Hans Wrench, he’s one of the leaders of a crafters guild for cursed objects.”
“Prices are final, non-negotiable, and not subjected to change no matter how twisted your soppy panties become.” The man smiled and put out a hand. “Pleasure to meet you twat face, I mean pig fucker Adam.”
You got that right. He looked friendly as hell but cursed like a sailor.
“Yeah,” I didn’t shake back.
“That’s rather rude. No respect for a man’s condition. Hans my good man, don’t mind Adam. He’s had a terrible life and believes that being an offensive twit will keep him safe,” Ted said.
“No shit? Well, weak-minded simpletons who can’t figure out which hand to wipe with are still welcome to spend their money in this rat hole anytime.”
Hans was still smiling. I turned around to find both robot dogs away from their posts. One went straight for Hans in demand of pettings, while the other picked up cores and started sorting them back into their bins. Its legs extended like freakish metal ladders to reach higher storage locations.
“Well, needle dick? What the fuck are you shopping for?” Hans’ turned to Ted and waved him over to a counter. The man’s words were mismatched against his friendly manner. He literally acted one way but his voice and body size were so rough looking that nothing lined up. The man was a smiling biker from hell who loved puppies and dressed in overalls.
Ted started babbling off a list of items that didn’t fully register. Hans got out a fancy looking calculator then happily plopped in numbers. In the mess of display cases each new item brought up a three-dimensional display along with the running total. We were up to a quarter million already and I suspected most of those price points were shoes.
I mean, towels and shoes were both very important. Hans kept cursing while Ted paid it no mind. That part confused me the most. Ted simply didn’t care about the unending stream of vulgarities while I caught flack for sarcasm. Was he really tone deaf on something else?
"Yeah. Four sets of combat boots does look useful,” I muttered while staring at the long list that hovered midair. Poking it caused the image to distort and wiggle. Hans smiled, pointed a remote control at the counter, and a second list popped up that I could flip through. If Ted’s lair was set up using these things, it made sense that the shop would have equally neat gadgets
"We are here shopping for you. If you're going to be a field reporter then you'll need a bag of tricks, and clothes for any situation. Maybe a weapon or two, if anyone is willing to trust you with one that can’t be lost."
I nodded without question. All purpose clothing had very real appeal. I could be dropped from an alien spaceship into the scorching hot desert and be able to put on weather appropriate attire, for once. "A bag of tricks? Is that what you call the pouch under your arm?”
"Yes, Mister Millard, it is. A small one costs around fifty thousand after a discount. We rent out ad space on Hero Watch’s website in exchange for Hans’ guild giving us decent prices.”
“The kind of big dick discount we shouldn’t be giving to scum sucking filth like yourself.”
“Hans,” Ted said while pulling his head back.
“Sorry, that one slipped out a little more off fucking color than normal. Anyway, Adam, marketing is important you twat faced piss-ant. You gotta have marketing. A name, a brand. A fucking identity.”
You might be wondering about his vulgarity still. I hadn’t grown used to it and I once hung around with a man who’s only vocabulary consisted of the word fuck in various cadences. Finally, something clicked and I asked, “Are you cursed to, curse?”
“Sure as shit,” Hans replied. “Foul-mouthed enough to make a whore blush red. My wife loves it.”
I let that slip by without even blinking. “Because of these items. Like Ted is.”
“That took you long enough to figure out. You’ll need to get quicker to survive.” Ted smiled then nodded once. He poked at the images and picked up a few more items, tossed away others, then started matching up clothes and boots. His fashion sense made me sick.
I said nothing and stood there. It was one thing to be cursed by a power, like Alice, Zhora, or myself. These people chose to bear a curse in order to get access to gadgets. None of that made sense to me. The idea almost mocked people like me who had to suffer under unwanted problems.
“So, no matter how many you use, it’s one curse?”
“Severity can increase. Most are fucking compulsive issues, but others can be physical. One guy got warts on his cock and taint and all over his little grubby fingers.” The man hung his head and looked sad but sounded nothing like it. “Then he shit a nuke in my store.”
“Oh I hadn’t heard about that one,” Ted said
“So, you have to tell the truth, and I guess you have to curse a lot.” I pointed to them in turn then to myself and asked, “Do you have any clue what mine would be?”
“Maybe it’ll curb your wit. Wouldn’t that be novel.” Ted clasped his hands together.
"Can I even use these?" I asked.
"Maybe? I actually don't know. Immortality has strange rules." My mentor shrugged.
“A whore turtle?” Hans asked. Ted shook his head and shook his hand slightly, motion for Hans not to ask.
“Yes, immortal. Don’t worry, it’s news to me too, sort of. Unkillable, immortal, and that lady Zhora can’t even foresee my death. It’s the best side effect ever,” I said while looking down towards the ground and watched one of the dogs scurry about cleaning up devices. The commentary wasn’t intended as gloating but my normal tone probably made it sound that way.
“Is he being sarcastic?” Ted asked while looking at the shopkeeper.
“Maybe. Is that where you got all the money to pay for this?” Hans asked Ted while pointing at the list of goods.
“I don’t want to answer.”
“Well, now you can pay that tab your ratty haired ass has been building.”
“Is he joking with me?” Ted asked while staring at me. I chuckled weakly at the absurdity of asking my perpetually sarcastic self about another man’s sincerity.
I shook my head then tightened both lips. A deep sigh built up then whooshed out. “You said something about a weapon that can’t be taken away. I want one.”
“How about a giant pink dildo. I’ve got a few of those,” the main with too much forearm hair said while smiling happily.
“Keep that to go fuck yourself,” I responded without thought. I almost worried that he’d hike up the prices, but there was cash to spare.
“No thanks. Besides, my mom might object if I repurposed it into a weapon. Satan take her blighted soul to the depths of hell and fornicate it with a cactus.” He smiled. Despite his gentle demeanor he found being insulted funny, almost like his curse wasn’t really detrimental.a
Much like the rest of my day, I felt clueless on how to respond. Meanwhile, the camera floated around happily filming everything. I hadn’t noticed it since the fight upstairs, and apparently neither had anyone else.
Hans sure cared the moment he saw it bobbing through his stacks of product. He stood up, dropping one of his mechanical dogs onto the ground. It whimpered then righted itself. The large foul-mouthed man stumbled forward toward the camera.
“What in god’s name is this shit?”
Ted smiled and this time it reached his eyes. He wore the same maniacal grin that Telegraph had but in a clean suit. Somehow the combination felt darker than normal, almost predatory. The shadow that covered his eyes as he leaned forward worried me.
I could have paid more attention, but part of me was used to nonsense. The black unicorn touching Cindy’s dead body and it jerking back to life was a good example. Then that followed by alien crystal thing and the Mole People rushing to inform their leader about the world heart. The Alice and Alice being closer than normal bothered me too, but what the hell could I do?
I mean, they didn’t stay unsolved. I got to them eventually. It was just a matter of getting the right tools for the job.
As for Hans’ question, I sighed then said, “I don’t have a fucking clue.”
All clones are based on another person, place (confirmed cases cited in attached files), or ‘thing’. Most copy persons that were recently alive or are still alive. In general all clones fall short of the original with minor exceptions that are dependent upon technology and aftermarket tampering.
Important Note: Aftermarket tampering is frequent, including genetic modification or cybernetic attachments
Clones are measured on four scales. All are generally measured on a one to ten range. Five is considered the baseline / generally matches the original source material. Sliding scales apply and it is possible for clones to completely deviate from their original which will result in an updated categorization.
Important Note: Those with categorizations meeting or exceeding the original will almost always (97.5% of the time) attempt to usurp the original material when provided a chance. This is how London had two Big Ben towers for a week.
Any further attempts at classification lead to redundancy and excessive nitpicking. This portion has been written to cater to average Hero intelligence levels.
Important Note: Clones should not be confused with constructs, Alternate reality Doppelgangers, or Shape Shifters of any sort.