Lawrence sat waiting in the President’s office. He had immediately ordered Tranquility armed forces to search for a Chong imposter, but for some reason he had stopped before changing the access codes or putting out a general alert.Â Something was nagging at the back of his mind. When Chong had showed up in Armstrong, he’d had those nagging suspcions caused by the idea that something wasn’t quite right. Now, in the face of all reason, Lawrence had the opposite feeling.Â The cadence and tone fo the man calling from Tranquility had sounded real. He considered some sort of temporal disturbance, but that was the stuff of fiction and highly unlikely.
Before his doubts could take him further, Chong entered the office.
“What’s this I hear about an imposter in Tranquility?” he asked.
Again Lawrence got the nagging feeling that what Chong had said just din’t sound liek Chong. “Probably nothing sir. I believe it to be a prank.Â I’ve asked the museum security staff to look into it.Â IF they report back anything worth knowing, we’ll be sure to follow up.”
“Very good. I’ve asked Ford Junior to meet me down here in a moment.Â Do you mind if we have some time alone.Â I want to get his advice on a few things from the clone’s point of view.”
“Of course sir.”
Lawrence decided to head down to the cafeteria and happened to run into Junior as he was leaving the office waiting room.
“You can go right on in Junior. He’s waiting for you.”
Ford junior nodded and headed in. As soon as Lawrence was out of ear shot, he opened the door and let in Narang. They locked the door and Ford Junior led the way into the President’s office.
“Hello Junior,” Chong smiled and stood up, then stopped. “What are you doing here?” Chong’s tone was deadly but he found himself immobilized.
Narang smiled. “Good to see you again Mr. President.Â Memory Release Code Alpha Wipe Center Gold Devil Fawn Beta Indeterminate Reprogram and Restart.”
Chong’s eyes glazed and he dropped a pen he’d been holding.
“You’re right Ford 18.Â We will have to see to that muscle repsonse system won’t we. I’ve told Patel about it, but I shall remind him. Chong?
Chong’s eyes fluttered and then he spoke in a dull, not quite monotone voice. “Basic system accessed. Reprogram stream spooling. Ready for further instruction.”
“Excellent. We’ve heard a little trouble may be coming our way.Â I want to know I can count on you.Â Sometimes if a clone sees himself clones, or see the original unprepared, it can break programming. We don’t want that to happen. If you saw a duplicate of yourself, what would you do?”
“That’s what I was afraid of.Â This clone mind control is tricky business.Â But we’re going to give you a patch Chong.”
Narang pulled a small flat metal box from his pocket and held it front of Chong’s glazed eyes.
“Please look deep into the light Chong.”
The glazed eyes focused on the box. Narang pressed a button on the side and Chong’s eyes began to dart back and forth.Â In a moment there was a low chime from the box and Narang removed it and put it away.
“Thank you Chong, you can return to normal input state.” Chong’s eyes glazed over again. “now, Chong, let’s see what happens here. If you saw a duplicate of yourself, what would you do?”
“Assess danger and eliminate duplicate target unless counter-instructed by handlers,” Chong droned.
“Excellent.Â Did you see that Ford 18?Â The pacth took in a jiffy.Â Ocular reprogramming works.Â It bloody well works. Patel will be overjoyed.”
“was I ever like that?” Ford Junior asked.
Narang raised an eyebrow and turned. “Like what?”
“All slack and programmed like that.”
Narang looked sympathetically at the boy.Â It had really been only a few days since his programming had been broken.Â He was starting to doubt.Â Narang needed to stop this kind of thinking at once.
“Never. You were programmed yes, but only a false program that could easily be broken so that they could be taken in. I’m sorry we haad to fool you in that way at all, my boy.” He patted Ford Junior in a fatherly way.
Junior smiled. “It’s OK.Â I understand its for the greater good.”
“That’s the spirit.Â Now. One last thing before I go.Â Chong. Self-diagnose and identify fundamental mission layer.”
Chong closed his eyes for a few seconds then opened them. “Diagnosis complete. Normal. FML – Startegic INtegration of Fundamentalist Union officials into UMC governemtn starting with research institute for cloning.”
“Excellent,” Narang stood to go.Â “Ford 18?Â You can carry on from here.Â Reactivate him I assume?”
“Of course sir.”
“Excellent, excellent. Be sure to back step him a frame or twoi so he doesn’t remember me walking into the room.Â It will give him a momentary jolt, but it’ll pass.”
“Will do sir,” Ford Junior ackknowledged, and accompanied Narang until he was safely out of sight in the hallway. He returned to the office and approached Chong.
“Affirmative, memory wipe to semantic request three frames prior to access code.Â Control returning to biological imprint in five seconds.”
Chong blinked a few times then appeared startled. “What?Â What just happened?”
Ford Junior bent to pick up Chong’s pen. “You dropped your pen sir.Â Here.”
“Is that all thank you.Â I could have sworn– but anyway.Â Where were we?”
“You had called me in to consult about the cloning speech.”
“Yes of course.Â Have a seat.Â I want your unique perspective on this.Â I’m not a clone of course.”
“Of course not sir,” Ford Junior grinned.