Well. It's November. Again. Back to the NaNoWriMo drawing board.
Last year, I chose to write about Dai'mon, a character in the "Chronicles of Avairean" – a collection of stories based in a fantasy world. Yeah, I normally write fantasy. Although I didn't finish the story, I learned a lot about my character, about his race, and about my world.
But I wanted to step out and try something different. Nothing seemed to come to mind, though, until I pulled up an old story idea from the back of my mind. An idea dealing with an issue alive today. Cloning. It's illegal. But what if someone were to secretly clone himself, and then not only that, but turn him into a cyborg weapon. Imagine this guy – does he have a soul or not – programmed like a computer, and with abilities to survive a nuclear explosion. Imagine who would want him on the black market.
Yeah. A super-human robotic, cybernetic type clone. This is the closest to reality I'll ever be in a book. Let me know what you think. I'm curious for opinions. The prologue takes place in New York City on the September 11th; I'm sorry if this offends anyone in anyway.
It was bleak. Dreary. Empty.
All his days were like this, it seemed. Full of nothing. He felt like he existed, and yet didn't. He felt like he was alive, and yet not. He felt…He felt…
Maybe that was what made him real.
The act of feeling.
In an act of complete brilliance, he opened his eyes. He saw the light. He was alive.
Color came slowly. Shapes came first. Bodies. Others. Gray. And black. And white. Then red and blue and yellow. The barest hint of yellow from above.
Sound came next. Understanding came with it. A man—he knew what to call the being even without formerly meeting it—parted his lips and spoke.
"It is a success."
A jolt from behind. A strange sensation. He grimaced. Slightly.
"It feels pain, but not like you or I," the man said, speaking to the others, who were all gathered around, staring. "It can see and hear, but much better, and more controlled, than you or I."
Knowledge hit his brain. A steady rhythmic beeping noise came from above. He felt like he was absorbing all the knowledge of the world.
The act of learning, simplified.
"It is a computer. No, a robot." This from one of the others.
The original speaker shook his head. "No, not quite."
"But it's not just a simple clone! You did more with the experiment than you should have!"
Voices. Many voices. Exploding, yet they did not speak loudly. In an instant, he knew how to turn them down, to drown out the many squeaking thoughts. Just one voice did he concentrate on. Just the one, from the man he had seen first and heard first.
"It is our weapon."
My name is Erik Daivensky. Black hair. Blue eyes. Not skinny, not fat. Just your average American, I suppose. Except for one thing.
I'm somewhat of a spy for the United States government, but don't tell anyone I told you.
Of course, a book can always keep secrets. As long as no one reads this, we're fine. And since I keep this book of mine—I suppose you could call it a journal—on me at all times, I feel safe to write what I want inside it. Believe it or not, I do have the itch to spread some secrets. Since I've sworn not to tell anyone, even my wife and kids, I've become accustomed to spilling out my special secrets in this little diary. Well, at least, I will become accustomed to it.
A friend suggested I do this. A friend in very high places, and, yes, still planetside. She works under the President himself. She wasn't elected, but she's a nice, smart secretary who handles the paperwork we spies send in.
No one knows we exist, remember. Keeping our job quiet is part of the job, and no one has it harder than Christine Smith, at least as far as I care. Somehow she manages to stay in the White House without having important people questioning her reason for being there. Maybe having her own personal bodyguards helps, but, hey, I know I couldn't do her job.
I much prefer the act of sneaking around curious places. Perhaps I'm still a child inside. For whatever reason, I know I'm much less of a child now than I ever have been, and I blame it on my most recent adventure.
It's the entire reason I wanted to write this out; I wanted to tell someone, somehow. And since I can't do that, I'll have to be content with writing his story. Too bad it's all from my point of view. I'm sure Christine would have interesting chapters…
Prologue: 11 September 2001 – 8:45AM – New York
Chaos roamed the building. Beyond the thick wooden, windowless door I could hear the screams of people running by, the clatter of footsteps streaming down the stairways. My eyes searched through the glass window, but all my eyesight showed was smoke. Sometimes I could see through the smoke, but then I was looking at a nightmare, peering beyond the grayness to stare at the building twin to the one I was standing in.
The twin burned, fire escaping from its many openings, smoke filling the air. There were people in that building, too, most likely running and screaming to escape the fiery devastation. Some had died instantly, though, the very second that stray airplane had made an impact. That was frightening. The United States of America was under attack, but the attackers were unknown and slightly unimportant at the moment.
A pounding on the door brought me back to present thoughts and my own present situation. "Eric! Eric, open this door! We have to get out of here!"
I reached over to pull at the doorknob, but my hand slicked off yet again, red with pain. It was very hard to force a stuck door handle to open when it denied every push or pull. I shook my hand and held my breath with a sudden gasp of pain, my eyesight suddenly including a streak of black hair.
"Daddy, I can't open it. It hurts!" I shouted, hoping my voice carried through the door.
A few seconds passed but it seemed like forever before my father replied to my call. "Eric, there's got to be another way out of my office. Look around for an air vent that you could fit through or something. You have got to get out of there now!" My father's voice was passed the critical panic stage and it was now entering hysterical.
I pushed the black forelock of hair out of my eyes quickly as I scanned the room for another exit. In one corner the television showed a news broadcast and the topic was the attack on the World Trade Center. I shivered. To see the outside of the building where I was trapped on the News at the exact same moment was just simply freaky. I moved my gaze onward, passing over the computer and messy desk where loose papers lay scattered without a care in the world. Next in my view came the window, and I knew there was nothing helpful behind me.
I opened my mouth to tell Father that there was no other exit, that I was most assuredly trapped, but it snapped shut when the floor shook, the room shook. I covered my ears against the loud grating noise, so I hardly heard my own scream when I saw melted metal slide down the glass window. My father's voice had gone suddenly mute, and not because I had slapped my hands over my ears.
The floor began to tilt, the glass in the window broke, and I began to slip and slide downward. I screamed and cried, felt the tears run down my cheeks, and I closed my eyes to avoid seeing my death. Death was definitely coming; it was waiting; time seemed to move slower. This was my birthday; I was going to die on my birthday! My life would last exactly seven years. I felt pain scratch into my skin and then cool air followed, and the tears came freely, sliding down my face.
Seconds passed, a minute, two minutes, three minutes. How long would it take to reach the ground? How long would it take to die?
It took another long minute before I noticed I was still alive and not moving. I opened my eyes slowly, wondering why I could see green grass and flowers underneath my feet. I had to be dead. I had to be! There was no other explanation for it; there just couldn't be any logical way to escape a fall from that high.
A look up and out across a body of water proved my assumption wrong. New York City was in utter chaos; the World Trade Center, the Twin Towers, my father's work place and burial site, burned with the impact of not one, but two drunken airplanes. The tears on my face were fresh, but I did not feel them.
Looking out at the city, red lights bouncing in the air all around, I began to ponder why I was standing on a grassy island staring at the chaos in New York, alive. And then I heard the shuffling sound of moving feet on wavy morning dew-dropped grass. I quickly shifted my gaze to look at the creature—the strange man—that had somehow denied physics and saved me from certain death.
The man was tall, his dark black boots tight around his feet, and his black pants seemed to shine in the light. A dark leather jacket, complete with pockets and a silver lining along the cuffs and shoulders, waved with the breeze, revealing a thin black shirt with a bright blue lining along the edge.
His hair was also black, matching well with his clothes. What kind of person wears so much black? The man's hair was as long as Eric's, but it was spiked up in a messy fashion to show the "cool" look of today. His face was perfect, lacking all blemishes possible, unrealistically so.
The man's eyes stared out at the chaotic New York City, never blinking. The green eyes held onto a calm, cool, and emotionless gaze. No. There was emotion hidden deep within that look. Sadness. And regret.
"Excuse me, sir, but who are you and what just happened? I'm confused."
The man's green-eyed gaze turned to me, but it still portrayed that same hidden emotion. There wasn't even a fake smile. "I am known as Jace, and I believe I just saved your life."
I blinked. That was a simple answer when I had expected more. I did say I was confused. At least I knew the man's name. "But how did you save my life? I was falling from the hundredth floor!" I raised my voice, trying to let Jace know that I wanted something more than just a simple answer.
"How? I jumped and caught you when I heard you crying."
I blinked again. What? This man had to be some kind of lunatic. But if that were so, then how did I survive? "Jace, explain to me in as much detail as you possibly can, how that is truly possible."
Jace's face remained hard as he answered, his eyes remained emotionless. "It is very simple. I am a clone of my master's father, and my master tweaked my DNA in certain ways to make me a somewhat of a super robot. I can jump to any height I need, I can hold my breath as long as I need to underwater, and I can survive the blast of a nuclear explosion from the very center."
The wind moaned in the silence as I stared deep into the eyes of the man—the clone. It was crazy, something only a child would believe. I was that child.
"Wow! That must be pretty cool to have all those special advantages. You're kind of like Superman, using your powers to save innocent lives." I cut off quickly, remember something very important. "Thank you." Jace didn't even seem to notice the gesture of thanks, turning back to stare at the chaos enveloping New Your City. I pushed a black forelock out of my eyes and asked Jace another question. "So, what's the bad side of being a superhuman clone?"
The man blinked, the first blink I had seen Jace make, and the clone's eyes actually showed shock, if only for a second or two. "I-Is that meant to be a question asking my opinion?"
I nodded, having to blow the annoying bangs out of my eyes again as I turned my vision to a chaotic, smoke-filled New York City. "Yeah, I guess it was," I shrugged. "I want to have your opinion about everything. You can talk freely in front of me."
A single tear fell from Jace's eyes, the mask gone and the green eyes showing off that sadness and regret at full force. "I-I've never been granted the freedom of my own opinion before. This is…" Jace stopped in the middle of his sentence, and when I looked back up at the clone, the mask had returned.
Jace seemed to be concentrated on something out off in space. After a while, the clone turned to him again, putting a hand up to his shoulder, rubbing at the skin underneath his jacket.
"What's wrong?" I asked, hearing the sirens blaring louder in the midst of the city.
His eyes caught and held mine. "I have to go. My master's calling me."
I shook my head. "No, I mean what's wrong with your shoulder What caused that?"
Jace winced, turned away and dropping his arm. "I have to go." He took a deep breath and still hesitated before forming a question. "Do you have a way to get back to the main land?" I shook my head again. "Then get on my back and I'll take you there."
"Okay," I said with a shrug.
Jace squatted down and I climbed onto the man's back, discovering that the man did indeed feel like a normal human being. I had kind of expected him to feel different from a normal human, like an android or something, because I wasn't ready to believe a human clone could jump up one hundred stories and still land safely on the ground.
They stayed in that position for a quite a while before I realized Jace was weeping. "What's wrong?"
"I gave an order."
Now it was my turn to blink. "And?"
"I've always followed orders; I've never been able to give one." Jace's happiness was cut short instantly; his face turned hard and the mask returned yet again. "He's calling me; I have to go."
And without even a warning, Jace used his superhuman abilities to jump up into the air, high above the city. My breath caught in my throat as we soared through the sky above the waving water, and I hardly felt the jolt run up to my teeth when we hit solid ground again. However, I did feel the strange hot burn stinging my hand right where Jace had been rubbing his shoulder earlier. The clone fell to one knee and I got off the man's back as fast as I could.
"What's wrong?" It seemed that I was asking that question a lot lately. Something was always wrong with Jace.
The clone spoke through clenched teeth, his eyes squinting up as if in pain. "Hide!" It was a forced, whispery sound that came out of his mouth before he fell to the ground completely and remained silent.
I moved forward, ignoring the warning, putting a hand out to touch the man and see if he was still living. Jace didn't seem to be breathing at all anymore. My hand was suddenly grabbed and I was ripped away from helping my new friend.
I swung my head around to see who was grabbing me and met eyes with a dark coated man with dark sunglasses and a cruel-looking smile. "Did this man talk to you, kid?" I nodded my head, prickling in fear so much I just ignored the black bang that fell in front of my face. "Did he tell you what he was?"
I gulped, a hot breeze drafting by from the still burning twin towers. This must be Jace's master. I still don't get it. "You mean that Jace is really a-" A hand muffled my next word, leaving my question incomplete.
"Do not speak a secret out loud where others can hear." The man looked around, and my curious eyes drifted back to Jace.
Another man, wearing the same exact secret-agent-looking clothes was leaning over Jace's leather jacket to inspect the shoulder Jace had been holding before passing out. First he just studied it, then he touched it very cautiously with his finger, which he immediately pulled back as if burned.
"Well, it still works. So JACE knew Akira was calling him." The man said Jace's name as if he were talking about some program or experiment, like NASA or SPUTNIK. If that's true, then what's JACE stand for? I don't get it.
Suddenly, a buzzing radio static noise broke the semi-silent air. "Simon, did you find JACE?" It took the voice to let me know the man holding me back had a com-channel connection.
The man, Simon, put a hand to his ear, letting me breathe through my mouth again. "Yes, Akira, sir. We've found him, and he appears to have been side tracked."
I tried to get away, but Simon gripped my shoulder tightly, which in my mind was always a gesture that meant 'I'll explain later if you just wait' so I stood still and waited. And I got quite a surprise.
Akira's voice shouted through the communicator. "JACE is not a 'he,' Simon! Why can't you understand that? JACE is a clone, and a clone cannot think for itself; therefore, any clone, human DNA or not, is on a scale less than all humans. I don't care if it's got special attributes to make it seem like some kind of superhuman, it's still just a human creation that does not have a soul. You must refer to JACE as an it; otherwise, that damn clone may get the idea it can be independent even though it can hardly think for itself. And then we'd have a disaster. Do you understand me, Simon?"
"Yes, sir," Simon was quick to answer in a meek voice, but I could tell he was holding back anger because my shoulder was starting to really hurt after being squeezed so hard.
"Good. Now, I want you to bring JACE home; it needs to relearn a lesson about being late."
Simon nodded his head, looking straight as his buddy, who was poking Jace like he would some alien species. "Over and out," Simon said before sighed. "Now what am I going to do with you, kid?"
"Oh, that's an easy one. Akira would want him dead for overhearing all of that," the other guy pointed out, standing up and turning his back on the clone.
"I know what Akira would want, Daniel, but I didn't ask him about it so I don't have to do it."
I blinked and not because the two men were talking about murdering me. Jace was twitching; he was waking up. Without saying a word, I watched as Jace clenched his teeth in obvious pain as he stood up. Jace noticed the two men and looked at me with a full load of that regret and sadness before putting on his mask.
I expected Jace to say something, but he didn't say a word until Daniel and Simon finally noticed him. "Holy shit, it's awake!"
I expected Jace to flinch or look away as a sign of shame at being called an it, but he just stood there and took the insult like a statue being laughed at because of some imperfection. "Daniel, I don't give a damn what Akira says. I was the one to work on Jace's brain cells and I still insist that clone or not, Jace is a human being who deserves to be called a 'he' and recognized for having free will.
"Oh really?" Daniel shifted his head and faced Jace. "Give me a pistol, JACE."
I watched as the clone opened his palm, closed it, and then in the next blink a pistol was in his hand with the handle outstretched toward Daniel. It was like I was at a magic show. How can he do that?
Daniel took the gun, looked up into Jace's emotionless eyes, and then growled, "Akira tells you to kneel whenever in front of him, so from now on why don't you kneel for the one who gave you that ability?" Jace only blinked, his face showing confusion, which made Daniel angry. "I said kneel, you dumbass!" He shouted, hitting the clone with the gun on his one weak point. Jace winced and immediately complied. I felt like stepping on Daniel's feet for treating my new friend like that. The cruel man smirked and ignored Jace as he turned back to Simon, who still squeezed my shoulder rather harshly. "If that doesn't prove to you that clones can't think for themselves, then nothing will."
I gritted my teeth, forming a real hated toward this cruel, unfair man. "It's not like that at all!" I shouted, getting a shouted raising of the eyebrows from Daniel. I took a step forward, clenching my fists and realizing that Simon had let go of his grip at last. "Jace saved my life and if he can do that without being ordered to, he sure as hell can think for himself!" I only said the curse word because I was angry and it was a great way to get an adult's attention.
I could see Jace hint at a smile, and maybe Simon noticed it too. "I agree with you, kid. I don't doubt that Jace saved your life. Daniel, both you and Akira have been making the mistake that a clone is the same as an android…"
"JACE is more machine than human, Simon, especially if it can make weapons," Daniel interrupted.
"You added that ability into his DNA, just like I forced him to follow orders without question. That does not make him any less human just because he's got special attributes in his DNA."
"Well, then something's messing up because JACE knew Akira was calling and it still didn't respond. I'd call that a machine malfunction, wouldn't you?"
Simon sighed. "I suppose you're right. Now what am I going to do with the kid?"
Daniel shrugged and took his gun off of safety with a simple swipe of his arm, aiming the barrel at me. "Kill him."
I shut my eyes, feeling tears racing down my cheeks as the fear overtook my senses. A minute passed before I noticed I wasn't dead, and then I felt pain and tasted blood. I was on the ground, but another body was on top of me, and the other person was trembling as if in serious pain.
"I don't believe!" Simon's shocked voice came through to my ears as a muffled shout. "He saved the boy's life without being ordered to. He made a solitary, independent action!"
I let my eyes open as far as they could when I realized who this trembling person on top of me was. "Jace…" The man breathed heavily and I felt blood drip onto my arm. Then I remembered the gun. "Jace! Why did you do that?"
The clone opened his eyes and forced a smile on his face, although he still shook in pain. "You're the only one who treated me like an equal. You're my only friend."
Jace groaned as he was pulled off of me, allowing me some fresh air. I ignored the groaning pain in my back and blinked back tears that formed in my eyes when I saw Daniel punch the wounded clone in the stomach. "You better feel that," the man muttered, smirking when Jace doubled over, falling to his knees.
Blood soaked one spot on the back of Jace's black jacket where the gun shot had gone through his body. Tears welled up in my eyes and I looked down at the ground, watching as the pavement began to consist of tiny dark wet splotches. Jace had just saved my life for the second time today, and those two guys still treated the clone like a stupid machine.
"Daniel, stop it!" I looked up again only when Simon decided to step in and stand up for my new friend. "Leave him alone. If you kill him, Akira will kill you." Simon took a hold of one of Jace's arms and helped the wounded clone to his feet. "Let's just get him to a nearby rest stop so he can take us back to Colorado. Or did you forget that Jace is our only way back to Akira?"
I blinked. Akira is Jace's master. That makes a little bit more sense. But they live in Colorado? Then what are Jace, Simon, and Daniel doing over here in New York? Did they have something to do with the crazy airplane attack?
Daniel seemed hesitant about helping Jace, so while the cruel man pondered on his next course of action, I found the strength and courage to walk over to my new friend. Looking up at Jace, crying for the poor man, I allowed myself to be a little babyish and gave my new friend a hug goodbye. "Don't forget me."
To my surprise, Jace smiled. "I wouldn't forget you, even if they ordered me to."
"Stupid kid. Go run home," Daniel growled, pulling me away from the cyborg clone and basically throwing me down the street.
As the three walked away and disappeared into shadow, I stood up and waved goodbye, thinking I would never see them again. With a sniffle and a sigh, I turned my vision to the smoke in the sky, new tears forming at the memory of my father, who was now a victim of the devastating attack that would go down in American history. 9/11 would be a date that no American would forget, especially not me, Eric Daivensky.