Narang lifted the robotic prostheses Patel had supplied him.  It felt like a real arm.  It worked like a real arm.  But Narang knew it wasn’t a real arm. He seethed inside against the miniscule girl who did this to him. Once Ford 18 had seen the Chong clone on its way to New Canaveral, Narang would take care of the girl. She was a nuisance.
Patel and Carlos came through the door of the cavern. The Canaan authorities had turned away from him and they had been forced to hole up in a cave in Amrstrong. There were several near th eedge of the dome in a crusty part of the surface that had never been developed or formed into any kind of usable terrain. It was a low point in Narang’s leadership. They had never before been forced to crouch in such squalid circumstances.  He decided to make a point of the irony.
“Look around you gentleman, for this is an illustartion of the principle, ‘darkest before the dawn.’ We are on the ve of our greatest triumph, so it is no mistake that we are laid into our humblest surroundings.  Don’t you think?”
Patel looked uncomfortable. Carlos looked reverent. Narang knew he would have to do away with Patel one day.  But he needed to have him train a brilliant scientist. Perhaps another CHong?  The Ford clones were too unpredictable. Perhaps a Patel clone.  Patel had resisted the idea vociferously, but there were ways.
“What have you come to tell me?” Narang inquired, knowing the two wouldn’t pair up to pay him a social call.
“Ford 18 has contacted us<" Patel recited.  "He initiated a successful vocal probe on the Chong clone.  It is programmed and responding as expected. Lawrence seems to have bought the programming.  I'm quite proud of that.  He's  tough one to convince." Carlos jumped in with some annoyance at Patel's self-congratulations.  It was not the Fundy way. "They are headed to New Canaveral in the morning to make a policy speech." "Excellent," Narang agreed. "We must make for New Canaveral ourselves.  I may need to fine tune the clones programming before the big speech." Patel balked at this. "What fine tuning would be needed?  I've laid in all the instructions we need, and there's no cause for suspicion?" "I have my reasons," Narang growled. "Do you doubt me?" "No sir, of course not." "Very good," then make the arrangments for travel to New Canaveral and bring the necessary equipment.  We can leave the base here for now." Carlos turned to go. "Wait with me for a moment Carlos." Patel stopped too. "You're dismissed Patel." The scientist looked aggrieved at the slight but turned on his heel and left. Carlos approached his master with a look of blank obedience. "You have served the Fundys for many years Carlos." "It is true sir." "You even served for a time in Toureg's household itself no?" "An honor that I was lucky enought to have yes, though never on the great man's staff itself." Carlos' words had the rhytym of litany, of ritual. But Narang knew it irked him to use the Toureg's name plainly rather than with a title or simply 'the great man' as Carlos had put it. "You have seen much. You have served well.  Will you do one last thing in the name of the Great Man?" The fires of passion lit within Carlos' eyes. "Anything!" Good, Narang thought. He had provoked with just enough blasphemy to get just the right amount of obedience when he reversed it. This was precise psychological programming and needed just this kind of finesse. "Take out your knife please." Carlos unsheathed his knife with a quick motion. "Cut a three inch gash in your belly." His hand stalled. "The Great Man issues a test through me.  You will only win his glory through obedience." Carlos' hand shook but he did as commanded and fell with a grunt. Narang rose and walked past the fallen man as he bled. "Do not move Carlos. It is a test of your faith." Narang knew Carlos would die in an hour. He found Benito outside the cavern chamber. "Carlos requeted to stay inside in meditation Benito.  He had an odd look in his eye but I granted his request.  Do not disturb him." "Yes sir." "You will accompany Patel and I to New Canaveral." "Yes sir." Narang wondered why he had given into his whim regarding Carlos.  He knew it was a strike against the Fundys of old, but he regretted losing such a strong man.  Still the stain of Touareg's mistakes and failure could not presist in this new incarnation.  Narang would see to that.  Thsi was greater than all of them.