Lawrence was out in the hallway weeping. He had no idea how he felt about Malinao until he saw her reach down to kiss Chong. He felt horrible about how he felt. He had no right to want her. Chong was one of his best friends. One fo the few people he had known all his life. But the pang of jealousy he felt was unavoidable.
He walked down the hallway and out the doors. He eventually found himself sitting on a park bench across the street from the hospital. His heart felt empty. He was killer and a traitor to his friend. It was all too much for him. He thrived asa lieutenant but the recent events had forced him to take a role of leadership and he found he had a taste for it. Now he had killed a man, and unfortunately he found he had a taste for that too. The thought made him shudder. Who was he becoming?
It was dark now. The dome lights had been dimmed and silvery sunlight was drifting in from above in the perpetual twilight Lawrence had grown used to. He thought about Sira. why had he not fallen for her? He lived closely with her in that small apartment for several days. She had saved her life. She was very attractive. But somehow her attachment to Ford Junior had sealed her off from him. Made her into a motherly figure he could not fall for. He wondered if things would be different if he found her now. Or would his position in the government prevent her from wanting or even being able to see him.
A man approached out of the twilight and sat down next to Lawrence. It annoyed him. Lawrence wanted to be alone now. The man wore an overcoat and a hat. Lawrence had gotten used to that kind of outfit when he was disguised as Chong. He suddenly grew suspicious.
“Can I help you?” he asked the shrouded man.
“You are Lawrence?”
This jolted him even more.
“Who’s asking?” He thought he sounded like a cheap mystery character but he meant it anyway.
“You’ve met me. If I tell you, will you promise to keep our meeting a secret.”
Lawrence’s first impulse was to say no and call hospital security. He could hold the man long enough for them to get there. Security was high with the President in there. But instead his despair took control of his voice and answered for him.
“My name is Patel. I ama cloning scientist.”
Lawrence leaped up.
Patel grabbed him and looked up at him pleading, “You promised!”
“That was before I knew who you were.”
“I am not a monster. I was paid to do work. Your government could pay me to do work too.”
“I don’t know if you realise this but one of your clones was killed trying to get that plan in place. I don’t think it will work any better now.”
“But I don’t need to do anything malicious. I will do whatever you order me to do. You can keep me out of the hands of more evil people.”
LAwrence looked at him with pity, but a feeling grew within him. Now he knew why he was so conflicted. His feelings for Malinao, were genuine, but meaningless. They were merely the human urge instigated by his proximity to her. His loyalty to Chong was something higher. It was what separated them from the Fundys. What drove humanity to a better place. manipulating Patel might serve a need, but it would be letting the ends justify the means. And that always led to degradation in the end. In the end the ends never justified the means. It couldn’t. Because the means ended up affecting those ends.
“You don’t understand Patel. You’re not a device. You’re not a tool. You’re a person. You have a choice. A moral choice over what you do. You too can stop yourself from working for evil men. You’re asking me to be less than what I can be. Let me do the opposite. let me ask you to be more. You want to work asa scientist? Choose a discipline. Work in public. Deal with the pressures of public life and help change the methods of science for everyone, not just yourself. Go aboveground and share your great talents with the world. If that’s truly what you ant to do, come see me and I will make an introduction at the UMC Science Institute for you. That’s the best I can do.”
Patel stood to go. He took a few steps away and then turned.
“Genius is never understood or appreciated.” He spat and walked off into the twilight.
The door opened in Jamaica Bay to great applause.
President Richard Chong exited the elevator car alone.
“President Chong, where is the rest of your party?” President Torres greeted him personally upon exiting. Speaker of the House Samantha Malinao stood at his side beaming at Chong.
“Coming along in the next car. They had business to attend and I did not wish to keep you waiting,” said Chong.
“Show off,” said Malinao. In front of the reporters and the attending digintaries she rushed up and kissed him. The reports of their romance were now not only known but a sensation in the news. They were called the couple of the universe and a bridge between two worlds and all matter of ridiculous metaphors. The fact was both worlds needed this. After the long war and after the scare of a Fundy resurgence, the people of both worlds needed a good story to latch onto and believe in and Chong and Malinao had provided the romance they needed.
A car whisked them up to Manhattan where Chong was scheduled to deliver a speech to the United Nations. His first in quite awhile. It had taken months for him to recover. Mentally he had to battle wiht the idea that some of the familiar parts of his body were not his. He was a patchwork man with one DNA, but two body sources. He sometimes thought he could tell which parts were the clones and which were his, though the doctors said there was no way of knowing. It was pure dumb luck that his head had survived and been saved. The doctors could only tell him that his neck and most of his upper torso went with that head. Everything else had been a jumble.
Malinao had stayed with him as along as she could, but eventually she had to return to the US. She had flown to the Moon as often as possible. When Chong had been approved for space flight, she had negotiated a dedicated landing bay at ISS V for the UMC so she could visit him. Finally he was approved for Earth gravity. She wanted him to come to a vacation on Earth but he couldn’t. He had promised victims of the war something and he intended to deliver perosnally. He would speak to the UN about his promises to rebuild and withdraw as soon as possible. But he would also tell them what he learned about the clones. He wanted to tell them why the Fundys survived. What a repressive attitude towards anything engendered.
Malinao watched produly as he made his way through the speech. He saw the leaders of the world finally accepting the Moon as a true leader in both worlds. The tales of President Chong’s adventures were epic. A few video serials had already been produced overdramatizing the events to make them even more dramtic than they already were. Chong had been disappointed by the actor playing Malinao.
“She’s not as good looking,” he had said.
But now he was being the staesman. Now he had the ear of the world, and they were finally learning the wisdom of this man. Her man, she dared to think. He was measured, and thoughtful, and even though he would disagree, he was wise.
“So after all of this, I leave you with this. When you wish to put a stop to something, study it instead. When you wish to help, don’t harm. And most of all, don’t fear to do the right thing. Don’t compromise. Make the hard choices when needed and life will be easier for all of us. Like free markets, like slavery, like stem cells, in the past, cloning is an issue that engenders hard choices. We must change the way we thinkg. The old rules do not apply. Let’s all get together and do the right thing. Thank you.”
The applause was uproarious. Every single one of the world’s most influential leaders was standing. The one notable exception was the empty chair for Britain. Minister Narang was reported murdered in his home. Whether the man Lawrence killed was the real Narang, or a clone, we may never know. Ford wore black in mourning and sat behind the empty chair as a temporary represntative to the conference. A new Minister had been chosen, but decided to leave the chair empty in remembrance. Narangs role had not been fully disclosed, and Chong chose to allow his memory to stay positive with the British people. It wasn’t a lie, but a presumption. Chong hoped the Narang he met in Versailles had been the real Narang.
But now was Chong’s moment. He was mobbed by well wishers congratulating him. He could have ruled two worlds now had he chosen. He could do no wrong. He finally pushed his way through the crowd to Malinao.
“Madame Speaker. Would you care to join me?”
Malinao had not been expecting this. There was a night of events for all the diginitaries. It was quite bold of Chong to ask Malinao to be on his arm for all that. Something the US hadn’t panned for in any event.
“”Join you for what? There are so many parties. I’m not sure my staff could allow it,” she teased.
“Oh I’m not attending those after all. Come with me.”
Suddenly he was pulling her away from the crowd and with the aide of a few UMC guards, had whisked her out of the UN building entirely and into a private car. They were whistling through the night air before she knew it.
“Where are you taking me?”
“Well I’d love to take you to the Moon, but that’s a bit long. So I’m just going to the Pacific Ocean.”
They were there in 30 minutes. Chong played coy the whole time, refusing to answer questions form Malinao, as well as refusing to answer his phone which was ringing off the hook.
The landed in Oakland, California, alongside Lake Merritt. It was dusk and a soft glow lit up the lake, while lamps and a string of lights were becoming visible as well. Malinao thought it was gorgeous.
Lawrence met them at the car.
“Everything is ready for you sir.” He gave a sad smile to Malinao and bowed his head.
Malinao was touched. She sort of suspected Lawrence might have had a crush on her. But she knew his loyalty to Chong would never be broken. She wasn’t sure how to respect those feelings except to say thank you and try not to make to big a deal of it.
Chong led her dwon to the shore of the lake where a gondola waited. He helped her in and operated the pole himself, steering her out onto the water. They reached a point int he middle of the lake where the lights from the shore and the light from the setting sun balanced in a dazzling play of sparkles off the water. The Moon was just beginning to rise above the horizon and looed huge off int he distance.
“This is one place where our worlds meet Samantha,” Chong sayed, turning towards her. “The twilight is what I know, the silverly light form above comes from my world. The blue sky melting into it is yours.”
Malinao waited breathless.
“Like the sky melts into the Moon at sunset, will you marry me?”
Chong held out a ring. It was two stones set together. One brilliant diamond and one gorgeous polished Moon gem.
Malinao for once could barely speak.
“I promised and I meant it.” She finally managed.
“Is that a yes?”
In a dark shed outside Queenstown, New Zealand Patel finished feeding the sheep. He was disgusted by the animals, but his care of them paid the bills for now. It also got him an independent generator, undetectable from the normal power grid. As long as he could keep it fueled, he could use as much power as he wanted and noone would know the difference. He trudged back inside the shed, past the cramped closet where he kept his bed.
The main area of the shack was filled with his remaining equipment. He took off his sheep boots and jacket and donned his familiar lab coat, now worn to threads.
He had separated a portion of the main room, and locked it off behind steel. He showed his palm and retina and unlocked it. Walking inside was like entering a metal box. His most recent work was kept in a case at the back of the box, wrapped in coils. He stepped up and pushed several buttons releasing the lid of the case.
Today was the day he had been working for since leaving the Moon. He felt his pulse quicken with excitement. He entered the activation sequence and waited. Inside the case a man began to stir. It wasn’t the first time he would wake, but it was the first time he would wake with any knowledge of himself. Patel had even brought the clone out on the ranch to help with a few things, but that was before personality and memory imprints. It had understood only the barest minimum to get the job done and prove the health of the clone body.
Now it had a full personality and complete set of memories. Ifa ll had gone well it would be able to live a complete active life under Patels’ control, believing it was the original person at all times.
Patel led the clone to a seat and gave it water. It drank thirstily. “I’m dry” it said.
“That’s normal,” Patel reassured. “Perfectly normal given the operation. That was a very close one. We almost lost you. Do you know where you are?”
The clone shook its head no.
“We’re in New Zealand. Just outside Queenstown on a sheep ranch.”
The clone wrinkled its nose. “New Zealand. Great rugby. Awful country.”
This was a good sign.
“Please don’t be offended, but I have to ask. Do you know who you are?”
“Of course I do Patel, I’m Minister narang. Who do you think I am?”
Patel leaned back and smiled.