( C L O N E | D / / I C
: : New York City
Her neck was killing her and so was her ass.
But that's what Jennifer Holloway came to expect when she took a red eye from Florida back up to New York. She had been visiting friends in Miami for the weekend. It was a fruitful endeavor and while the heat was welcomed from the New York mist and rain, the humidity was not. Jennifer spent most of her free time down south drinking and catching up with her friends. She was eager to also check out the historic landmarks and iconic buildings. She had carved away enough time to do pretty much everything she had planned to do. It was in her nature to plan things and make precise movements according to logic and necessity. With a one track mind such as hers, one may wonder if she did anything for fun which didn't require pre-planning. Well, she enjoyed a glass of wine and a night out every now and then.
While she wasn't one for spontaneity, Jen did try to make time for outings to Central Park. It was a massive venue and while she lived in the city for years upon years, she had yet to put a footprint on every inch of said expansive park. Her weekly trips to the park were somewhat habitual but due to the nearing winter season, she had to scale back and spend more time at The Plaza Hotel, where it was warm and had monetary value. All the same, the woman had no qualms with buckling down to earn a paycheck. She loved her work. She got to help people around the city find places to go and she also got to help her job with marketing and networking. The Plaza Hotel was so iconic that it didn't need too much help in the marketing department but Jen was making some headway when it came to reinventing certain charms for a new era.
Speaking of reinventing, she had some work she had to do while on her mini holiday and she was ready to get back to work to present her idea and see if her hard work had paid off. Jennifer rubbed her shoulders, trying to chase the soreness away but to no avail. Jen stepped through the back door of the hotel and adjusted her pin that was placed on her chest to let anyone address her as Jennifer. It was a dull Monday morning and a light rain was drizzling outside. She walked over to her concierge desk and found a hot cup of coffee waiting for her. She picked it up and gave it a sniff, it smelled excellent, just the way she liked it, cream and sugar included. "Pete, this from you?" She called out as she doorman, Pete walked into the lobby, closing an umbrella for an old lady who he had escorted inside. He caught her eye and she mouthed a polite thank you to him.
The next hour rolled on without her needing to assist anyone, which meant she could put the finishing touches on her presentation which would take place after work in about ten hours time. Jennifer stuck to her coffee and was on her second cup when someone approached her. "Good morning, sir. How may I be of assistance?" She asked but then she noticed a pale look on his face and he then started to ramble about a woman being shot next door on the street. "Excuse me?" She then picked up the phone to call the police but the man took one look at her face and ended up fainting. "Pete!" Jen called out and the doorman rushed over to help pick the man up. "Hello? 911? I'd like to report a shooting. Yes. Apparently someone's been shot." Then she gave the address and hung up, feeling quite bewildered. You read about shootings but never thought they'd happen on your doorstep. "We need to keep everyone safe inside." She said and headed for the reception desk.
: : London
Another deadline had come and gone.
Another article written with vigor and passion? Not quite. Douglas Ashbury was sort of a bland writer but in his mind, he really wasn't. And when his editor would sigh, press her fingers to her temples and tell him to rewrite, he was honestly blind-sided. Every time. Douglas was a soft spoken fellow who did enjoy writing but it seemed that the numerous facts and figures which he stored in his head, often betrayed his own opinion of excellent writing. Getting past the hardened shell of formal writing was tough but there were one or two creative exciting pieces he created, which perhaps were why he still had a job writing. Douglas was a good person and his editor likely knew this and knew that he could improve. There was nowhere else to go but up right?
It was a wet Monday morning and the man in question had been up all night pouring over some new articles for the paper which would be releasing a new print in a few hours. He knew he had to hurry to work and make sure things were finalized. Sure, he could have just emailed the finished products last night but he felt pretty good about what he had done so he wanted to see Marleen's reaction in person, as she gave him a rightful thumbs up. Bringing his hand out to check the time, he saw the train was running two minutes late, which he couldn't afford at the moment. Douglas looked down the line and saw another man with short brown hair pacing back and forth on the platform. Douglas hung back, not one to just approach strangers, especially those on the train. The other man seemed to be well dressed but very anxious about something.
If Douglas were an outspoken man, he would have inquired about the stranger's well being. But instead, he just watched a safe distance away. The stranger set down a leather briefcase and looked to where the train would be rapidly approaching. He calmly walked to the edge and a faint horn was heard and before Douglas could put one and one together, the stranger jumped in front of the train which had just pulled up and subsequently ran over the bloke. Douglas froze and saw two officers in neon vests run over to stop the train. Being a reporter for a news paper, he found himself now running on autopilot. Douglas ran for the leather brief case and then dashed off to the platform to just grab a cab to head home. He was in such a shock that he simply clutched the case to his chest until he was back in front of his flat.
He paid and went back inside and called into work, saying he'd email his articles but wouldn't come in, saying a suicide jumper had put him off. Once the call ended, he found the numbness fading away. Doug cracked open the suitcase and found the dead man's ID and wallet and some other odd documents. "We look exactly the same..." He muttered and studied the ID and then touched the side of his own face. He suddenly felt sick and began to question his sanity. Had he been overworking himself? He pocketed the ID and rummaged through the papers but nothing made sense so he decided to just go grab a drink. His curiosity was pulling at his motor skills as he found himself pulling out the ID of the dead man. "Devon Peter Evans..." He muttered and then saw an old screenplay in the bottom of the briefcase. Was he an actor, a writer? What? Douglas bit his lip and contemplated his next move.
: : New York City
Astrid took a small sip from the coffee in her hand, her nose wrinkling as she realized that the liquid had already settled at a lukewarm temperature. She had never been a lover of Monday mornings; they were far too early, far too dreary and far too demanding. The only comfort which she ever found on Monday mornings -something which also served as a subtle reminder that she would make it through each and every class and that she would find time to mark each and every essay- was a drink from Starbucks. The paper cup which she drank from now was branded with the familiar green logo, and she had no doubt that she'd return for another when the day came to a close. She much preferred to correct her students' work in the small cafe which had settled itself several blocks down from The Plaza Hotel, and usually the coffee was strong and scalding hot.
The blonde gave a small sigh as she rounded a nearby corner. When she had left her apartment that morning she had hoped that the rain would subside, but a light drizzle was still falling. For reasons she couldn't explain, Astrid's mood depended largely on the weather and time. As such, a rainy Monday morning was certainly no great cause for joy. Slipping to the side in order to accommodate several passers by, she took another of her coffee. It was far too cool for her liking, but at least the taste had been salvaged. The strap of her bag rubbed against one shoulder, dragged down by the wight of various classes' work. This last weekend had been dedicated to marking a mish-mash of practice exams, assignments and essays. Astrid had barely managed to make it out for lunch, and she had been running at least twenty minutes late. Her friends were used to it, though they never told her so; many New Yorkers excelled when it came to time management, but Astrid was always running behind schedule.
She turned another corner, stepping into the street which alongside The Plaza Hotel. It had been constructed differently the main streets, and the fact that it was so narrow gave the illusion that the buildings were looming overhead, inches away from caving in on one another. Astrid thought it fascinating. There were other ways to reach the school which she taught at, but she made a point of wandering down this particular street at least once a week. She had only just tossed the cold remainders of her coffee into a bin when she was interrupted by a loud 'crack'. For a moment she was rendered numb, and her fingers clutched tightly at the strap which lay over her shoulder. There was no mistaking the sound of a gunshot, not in New York City. Several of her fellow teachers lived in fear of a school shooting, though Astrid refused to entertain the thought. Mind churning, she moved cautiously towards the sound. It took a few minutes for her to catch sight of the body, propped lazily against one of the walls. Then, and only then, did her hands fly to her mouth.
This woman -while she was alive- could have passed for Astrid's twin. Her hair was cropped into a short pixie cut, but there was no mistaking the resemblance. Panic overtook fear, and the blonde took hold of the purse which sat beside the corpse, heart thudding in her chest. The woman's ID informed Astrid that she was named 'Sonja' and that their birthdays were only several days apart. For the first time since she had heard the gunshot, the twenty-six year old gave a strained scream. Several people heard, and all of them cam running. Astrid stood, stumbling away from the body as her vision blurred. Someone claimed that they were phoning an ambulance, and another the police. One man even volunteered to alert the Hotel. Astrid was too dazed to register what was happening, and she followed this last man towards The Plaza.
She was greeted, upon entrance, by confused expressions and hushed murmurings. There was only a small handful of people in the lobby, but it was the sight of another disconcerting familiar face which prompted Astrid back into panic. If the woman who lay dead on the pavement could have passed for her twin, then the take-charge concierge who worked at The Plaza Hotel could easily have passed for their triplet.
"Oh my God." Astrid gaped at the brown haired woman, eyes wide. "Oh my God, you're her." The woman might have said something in response, but Astrid didn't hear her. The stomach might well have given way, and the blonde turned towards one of the walls. She could try to compose herself by breathing deeply but she couldn't begin to explain the sheer improbability of her situation. "The dead woman, the woman who got shot - you're her and she's me. I think-" Astrid had no idea what to think, let alone what to do. Her doppelgangers were appearing left, right and center.
"I think we should probably talk."
: : London
"You know I've gotta go to work, love." Robert lifted his shoulder to prevent the phone from slipping, using the side of his head to keep it in place. His table was littered with papers; papers detailing hypothetical lawsuits and papers covered in hefty chunks of British law. He enjoyed the knowledge which his university course offered, but something the work became a burden. His on-again-off-again girlfriend, Eleanor, certainly thought so. Over the past few months she felt that she'd been placed second to both work and study. It would be an understatement to say that Robert was having a difficult time convincing her to see things his way, and she wasn't happy to hear that he was stalling their current conversation in favor of serving drinks to strangers.
"Come on, El. You know it doesn't come first, but I'm short in cash." Robert finished tying the shoelaces on one of his shoes, and he slung one leg over the other to get started on the other. His shift was longer tonight and he would grab something small to eat on the way. A year or two ago and it would have been El making sure that he had something in his stomach, but right now she was fed-up. "I'm not saying the money's more important, I'm just saying- no, don't worry about it. I'll started looking 'round for another job, huh?" His girlfriend, much to Robert's relief, took this as an offering of piece.
"Love you too," he concluded, ending the call with a small 'blip'. Sometimes it was difficult to imagine that the the 'I love you' statements meant anything. They had become a way in which to end arguments, or to tide the pair over until the next day. It wasn't that they weren't trying. Hell, Robert was doing his utmost to keep things together. The law student finished tying his laces and settled back in his seat with a drawn-out sigh. He would have to forget about it all for now; there was work to be done and money to be made.
The bar where he worked wasn't far from the apartment complex in which he lived, and after throwing on a jacket and pocketing his keys it would only be a ten minute walk. They didn't receive the classiest patronage given the fact that they weren't situate aged in one of the richer areas of London, but the bar had a steady influx of customers. Many were regulars, and many more knew Robert by name. He made a point of being friendly. If someone looked as though they were struggling to find a conversation then Robert Rusmore could be counted up to rush (no pun intended) to their rescue. He had always been a charming lad, ready with either a joke or a compliment depending on the recipient's mood. He only realized that he'd forgotten to eat when he arrived at the staff entrance.
Eleanor would have made sure that he had eaten.
Eleanor also thought that he was a self-centered asshole.
The first hour passed without event. Robert found to chat to a couple of the regulars, slinging a dishcloth over his shoulder as he wiped down the bar and poured one drink after another. It was a quiet evening, but that was to be expected. Things didn't start hotting up until a little later into the night. The drunk and disorderly would stagger in, and if they caused any trouble Robert would direct them firmly towards the exit. That was one of the pros of having been on the school's boxing team: Rushmore could handle himself in tight situations. It was the appearance of a completely new customer which propelled the man out of his comfort zone. Dark haired and anxious-looking, Douglas Ashbury made his appearance. Though he was busy stacking glasses, Robert was aware that someone new had approached the bar.
"What can I get you, mate?" He asked, only turning around after he spoke. For a split-second he didn't know what to say. Looking at the stranger's face was like gazing at a mirror, though their hair differed slightly in color. Robert, at a loss for words, gave a cough. He tried to formulate a sentence, praying that the resemblance was nothing more than a mere coincidence. Nothing was coming. Robert coughed again. "Bloody hell," he managed eventually. "How's that for a coincidence, eh?"
: : New York City
The chaos around her was blurred, only moving in slow motion. Jennifer blinked several times and turned when someone addressed her. Expecting to be met with that of a guest of the hotel, she was thrown for quite the loop when she saw the young girl who looked exactly like her. Jen's mouth hung open slightly, "What?" She tried to mouth, not really sure what to say. Her mind was quick to draw up the assumption that she was being teased, as if this was some big prank and that she may be on tv now. The look-a-like turned away for a moment and her manager approached her with some duties she had to attend. "Right, yes, sorry." Jennifer said quickly in a calm manner. Then her attention swiveled back to the stranger who shared her face. The woman then muttered something which Jen wasn't too sure she really understood.
"I um...have a lot to do." Jen found herself unwilling to process the chances of this all happening. It had to be a joke. That was it. There was no way that she could have a twin, let alone two of them. Jennifer took a step back. "You must be suffering from second hand trauma." She said, her mind quickly going into logic-mode rather than anything else. It had to. "I'm sorry. I can someone for you if you...need a way home." Jen reached out to touch the woman's arm but felt a jolt of something, something she couldn't explain so she removed her hand. "Sorry." She found herself say once more. A flurry of anxiety and trepidation found residence inside of her stomach. "Excuse me." She then dashed back behind the desk and found the restroom and locked herself in it. When she finally came out, she heard sirens and a loud clamor of chit chat. Somehow she wished she had stayed in Miami where everything was simple and lacked the faint smell of blood in the chilled air.
Much to Jennifer's relief, the woman had left by the time she returned to her post at the concierge desk which gave her the rest of the day to apologize to guests and direct them to less, murderous areas of the city. "This is going to kill our season." She muttered as she punched her time card and turned to one of her co-workers. The day had finally concluded and she was ready to find the bar and settle down with a drink, only the faint dreams of the holiday to tide her over. Her apartment would be cold and unwelcoming. As she walked into the bar which was off to the side of the lobby, she slowed down when the girl came into view. Jennifer looked over her shoulder to see that Pete had ended his shift and now it was Edwardo manning the door. "She been waiting long?" She asked Edwardo. He tipped his had to her and shook his head with a polite reply.
"Delightful." Jen popped her lips and decided that this would the final confrontation between her and her supposed twin. "Listen, I don't know who you are or who the victim was outside of my workplace but...I don't have a lot of money if that's what you're after." Jen said as she sat down across from the duplicate on one of the brown leather seats. In between them was a round white polished marble table. A waitress came over who smiled knowingly to Jennifer and mentioned what a day she must have had. "Yes, it's been...troubling." She said.
"You two sisters?" The waitress, Kim, asked.
"No." Jen said firmly. "I don't have any family here anymore."
"Right. I'm sorry...so what'll it be?" Kim asked, tapping her pad.
When the drink orders were given, Jennifer also asked for some nachos. She hadn't had time to eaten all day, nor did she feel up to eating during any part of it. On her break, she managed to sneak out and take a peak of the victim in question. The resemblance was there, there was no doubt about it and it only made her even more nauseated. She brought up a glass of water and took a large gulp as the woman in front of her introduced herself as Astrid Evans who was a teacher and who had taken the ID off of the victim, named Sonja. "You can't do that." Jennifer found herself scolding. Jennifer sat back and stalled the conversation as their drinks and food were placed between them. "Put it on my tab, please." She told Kim who then walked off to tend to the other shaken up customers around the bar scene. Jennifer set her water down and replaced it with the glass of red Merlot.
It was sweet, bittersweet and the exact note the day had held for it. Jennifer relaxed and picked up a nacho. They weren't the greasy kind coated in fatty cheese, these were decadent and refined for the best of taste. Once Astrid had her own drink in had, she continued to talk about them looking so similar as if they were all related. "That's near impossible." She said, holding to her stubborn truth, clutching it to her heart. "You are not my sister and I don't know who Sonja was, she was no one to you and no one to me." Jennifer said quietly and sipped her drink for a while. It was then when Astrid began talking about clones and about how they should leave the city for their own protection. "Just because someone who looks like us got shot, you think I should uproot my life here?" She asked Astrid. "Now I know you're crazy." She stood up and tilted her head back, downing the rest of the wine.
To Jen, it was quite a shame that she couldn't unwind and enjoy it like a normal person but it seemed upon running into Astrid, normal had bolted for the door. "Listen Astrid, I don't want any part of this. I like my simple life. I really do." She pleaded and set her glass down. She then heard some commotion at the front door and then she heard someone say her name as well as Astrid's. Jennifer ran around the wall and saw Edwardo struggling to keep a dark figure from entering. And the assailant in question had a gun in their hand. Security was called but gunshots were fired and she heard a slump. She didn't dare peek back around and find her friend's blood had been spilled. "We need to get out of here, now!" She ran for Astrid and grabbed her hand, another spark bu she pushed it aside and pulled her to the back of the bar and through a narrow passageway meant for employees.
"I guess I have no choice but to get involved. You need me, you can't go around stealing things off of dead people or things like this will follow us!" Jen said as she pushed Astrid down a flight of stairs as they finally were out in the underground parking lot of the hotel. Her mind was working fast, as it usually did. "We need to find a car, not my car or your car but just a car. Whoever is after us is...really angry and it could be because we saw something...or took something," she gave Astrid a look. "that we shouldn't have. So just tell me about this clone theory of yours while we find a car to nab. We could rent one but we'd need to get a friend to so it isn't tracked to me or you." Jen said nervously as she looked to heard more gunshots being fired above them. She put her hands over her ears for a moment, still wishing she was someone else, somewhere else.
: : London
His day had clearly gone awry. After picking up the ID of Devon, Douglas headed home to contemplate what to do. He ended up pouring himself some scotch on the rocks. After his first glass, he ended up falling asleep. He was a light drinker which was probably why social events were painful for him. While his mates were off having a laugh and chugging down beers, he would be sitting down, trying to sedate himself with painkillers and anti-anxiety medication. Douglas didn't want to be a stick in the mud though, he liked going out but it was usually something he did rarely, not every night like some of his co-workers from the paper. Doug did teach children football. They were good with their feet but lacked direction, which was what he was used for, making sure the kids had fun but also remembered the basic rules of how to score and not slip on the grass.
But since it was the dreary season, he didn't have to teach the sport unless it was for some in-door sort of thing. So for now, his rent had to rely solely on his paper and when he woke up from his slumber, his usual contentedness, had been shattered. He licked his lips and fumbled for a glass and poured himself some milk before downing it. He looked at the time and saw it was only lunch time. The dark image of the look-a-like being sliced by the train wouldn't leave his memory. He knew another glass of scotch wouldn't solve it, nor would he dare to attempt to drink for another week. So he pulled out the ID of the dead man and flicked his finger against it a few times. The address of the man was in a well known upper class area.
That was interesting.
Douglas rubbed his temples and decided it couldn't hurt to check it out. His flat was dull and he didn't need the comparison to drive that fact home. Doug headed out and drove to where the other bloke lived. It was better than he imagined. He had the briefcase with him and looked around the neighborhood, hoping that if anyone saw him, they would think he was Devon. Doug tried and handle but it was locked. A rush of panic and reconsideration jolted him from his slightly groggy state. He then decided this was a bad idea, a very bad rubbish idea. As he turned to walk back down to his car parked against the curb he found himself being approach by a small old woman dressed in a bright pink sweater. "Devon dear, are you locked out again?" She asked and gave Doug a warm smile. "You know I have a spare." She then fished through her large purse and handed him the single key.
"Thank you..." Douglas said and the old woman waited. He felt he had no choice but to go back up the steps and let himself into his home. It was only right. He fumbled with the key in the knob and finally pushed it open. He gave a meek wave to the elder and slipped through the tiny crack he made. He shut the door and pressed his back against it. "Bloody hell." He sighed, his heart beating rapidly against his thin chest. Now he needed a drink. He turned right and found the kitchen. It was pristine and had a modern flair to it. He set the leather case on the table and found a bottle of white wine chilled in the refrigerator. While Doug wasn't a slob, he decided against dealing with glasses and simple opened the bottle and took a swig of it.
He made a bit of a puckered up face, the kind a child would make at the mention of eating their vegetables.
Now with a drink in hand, he decided to check out the rest of the fancy house, his eye for detail and information unable to just turn around and head back to his dump of a flat. He saw a few photos of groups who all appeared to be in costume. "He must be an actor." He muttered as he went from the living room up the the second level. The content itself wasn't interesting but the thrill was. He had never felt a rush like this before. He steered clear of roller coasters and the like. This was a high he had never felt before. He could be Devon. He found the bathroom and held up the largest photo of Devon he could find. He looked at it and then back at himself in the mirror. This process was repeated for a few minutes until the crazy idea had finally latched itself into his brain.
"I'm going to be Devon. I'm going to be an actor with a great job and great house and..." He licked his lips and looked at the bottle in his hand and just set it on the counter by the sink. He knew his cruddy attire would need to be altered so he bounded for the closet and found a pair of black ironed jeans and a button up dark blue pinstripe top. He slipped them on and pulled on some nice dress shoes. "Not bad eh?" He said to himself in the full length mirror before he headed back down to the kitchen to grab his wallet and switch out the ID with Devon's. In the back of his mind, Doug knew that this would be a one time thing, after that he would need to go to the police. Or something. It's not that his life was so bad that he wanted to pretend to be a dead man's, but he just never had this much fun before.
At least that's what he thought he was feeling.
He exited the house and locked it up before going back to his car. He drove into the city and was fortunate enough to find a parking space. That was a good sign wasn't it? Devon got out and walked into the closest bar and slipped into a seat on the bar. He rubbed his face and found himself getting another heavy dose of second thoughts. The day had gone on long enough. He felt guilty and rubbed his face but was thrown off by the bar tender speaking up. "Huh?" Devon muttered and then blinked, letting the change in lighting adjust before he saw it. "You've got to be bloody kidding me..." He panted. "I need a beer, pint of Guinness." He muttered and handed him Devon's ID. "You know this is the third drink I'll be having today...and I hate drinking but...considering I just saw someone who looked like...us...off himself, I really need one." He said flatly, not a tone of humor to be found in his words. "How many of your customers can tell you that, mate?" Doug asked him.
: : Moscow
It wasn't the most luxurious of ceremonies, nor was it the most formal.
Her slender pale hand reached for her companion's and she gave it a tight squeeze.
The two of them were now the only ones left and the truth echoed within her, with every breath her duplicated lungs took. Sasha was from the US of A. A rainy city on the west coast by the name of Seattle is what she called home but she had left her husband and job behind once she was sought out and shown the truth of her flimsy existence. She was older now and wiser but far more isolated than she cared to admit. No, she was the warm ray of sunshine to ther group she once called a family. She looked down at the floating logs drifted down the small stream. It was all they could do to honor Blanche and James. They had their final battle only two days ago and now they had to move or they would be killed as well.
"If there was once warmth here, it's depleted now, Ollie." Sasha said quietly as she shut her eyes, unable to watch the makeshift headstones float away from view. She inhaled deeply, the smell of rich soil and rain filling her nose. The air was damp and she knew they needed to keep moving. "Come on, let's go get us some tea." She smiled and looped her arms around his arm and they traversed down the muddy slope to the back road which they had used to get to their burial site. The bodies were unrecoverable and too risky so they had to incinerate them and dispose of the ashed. All that could be used for the funeral of sorts, were the mildewy logs they had found and carved up. Once they got on the road, they got in the car and drove back to the city where they would grab a plane to head to Germany. During the drive back, she took the wheel while Oliver went on his laptop, babbling about the various labs where people may be cloned or stored.
"Ollie...please..." She whispered. "Sto...not now." She asked as her blurred eyes focused on the gray road ahead of them. She parked the car and grabbed her duffel bag and Ollie grabbed his own gear and they headed into the international airport. The long blond haired beauty wasn't as perky as she usually was but she had just seen two of her friends, her family, a part of herself, get shot and she had to clean up the mess. A mess made by someone else, an insane mastermind. Her only comfort was Oliver Edwards. She would trust him with her life, and she did. As he did with her. As they passed through security and moved toward their gate, a routine for them at this point which they could go through in their sleep, she felt as though she was being watched. In order to mask her concern, she tapped Oliver on the shoulder. "I'm going to grab us some lunch before we board!" She then jogged up ahead and ducked into a small cafe.
She wasn't very tech savvy but she knew how to canvas an area. She and her clones and Ollie's clones had been together for many years, evading execution until it was just them. And each death was hard. Even James, the one who got on her nerves, was missed dearly. She refused to cry though. After the third death she witnessed and the carnage it brought upon her family, she refused to cry. She had to be the one to smile and to stay positive but now that she was alone, just Ollie by her side, she found the backup of tears unwilling to wait a bit longer. As she stood in line, she found her body becoming rigid with stress. Sasha inhaled sharply and a pain rang through her body. As clones, their bodies were delicate and warped. If they got away from Russia, there was no telling how much more their bodies could take. There were scars on her body, bruises that would never go away no matter how much time had passed.
Once at the counter, her gloomy thoughts were disbanded as the man behind the counter complimented her on her long hair. "Thank you." She grinned and threaded her hand through the ends. She ordered two sandwiches, the way she had for many years. After paying, she met Ollie at their designated gate. Just a single compliment from a stranger had seemed to pull the girl from depression, to happiness. She handed Ollie his bag with his drink, chips and sandwich. They called First Class and she and Ollie boarded and took their seats, ready to settle in. "I wonder what film they'll show. Oh, we haven't seen a movie in ages. I don't even know what's current anymore." She said as she patted Ollie's hand, rather eager to sit back and relax while the loss of her family sank deeper. She unwrapped her sandwich, unable to wait any longer. "Before we get a move on, we should restock on supplies for our journey back to Nachbildung." They would arrive in Berlin but they true goal was Nachbildung, a mysterious amusement park on the outskirts of Germany.
: : New York City
"They won't find out."
That's what Astrid had told the Jennifer when the doppelgänger had scolded her for stealing Sonja's ID. It had been the police who she had in mind when she had spoken, but with the appearance of a masked gunman the meaning of her statement had shifted. She had left The Plaza Hotel just as several police cars had pulled up, sirens squealing. She struggled to think practically at the best of times, and the stress of the situation had thrown her into a panic. It was only when she distanced herself from the street in which the shooting had occurred, and from both the concierge and Sonja, that she had found time to think. Huddling over a Starbucks' table, fingers gripping onto a coffee, Astrid had begun her investigation. There was little to be done in the space of five or six hours, but the blonde had garnered as much information as she could. The Internet had been swimming with theories: government conspiracies involving the introduction of cloning technology within the military, the ability to genes to replicate themselves and manifest in two entirely separate human beings, some even claimed that the world was populated by doubles. Astrid had chewed at her lower lip. There was no such thing as coincidence.
Now, as Jennifer pulled her through a doorway labelled 'employees only', it was difficult to believe that any of the events which had transpired could be out down to coincidence. She ignored the faint spark created by their holding hands. Her chest was throbbing with a combination of adrenaline and fear, and she could no longer distinguish the sensation of her heels pressing against the floor. Astrid might as well have been floating, watching two strangers as they hurried through the bowels of The Plaza Hotel in a desperate attempt to escape. They might well have been starring in a Hollywood blockbuster. The blast of cold air which hit them as they entered the parking lot below sent a jolt running through her spine, and the young woman shivered as she was brought back to reality. Her stomach churned, and her head threatened to succumb to a sharp wave of nausea.
"It's more use to us than it is to her," Astrid reasoned when Jennifer returned to the subject of the ID. They had more pressing matters to contend with, but Sonja's belongings might prove integral to unravelling the truth which lay behind their shared appearance. The sound of several shots being fired placed her back on edge, and her eyes searched the parking lot for some form of salvation. Jennifer was talking, but Astrid could barely register what it was that she was saying. "I- one of my friends has a car she isn't using, she's on holiday." The blonde, usually far more articulate, glanced at her double. In any other situation she might have been able to find the words, but not now. "It's not that far from here, if we can just find the exit-" Another shot was fired on the floor above, and Astrid took hold of Jennifer's arm. The concierge had both hands fastened over her ears, and the teacher had to tug her towards the neon-green exit sign. They were underground, but at least there was another way up.
"I don't know that much about the whole clone thing yet," Astrid admitted as they scrambled for the exit, pushing their way up the concrete staircase. It was absurdly narrow, and the blonde fumbled several times. "But I was looking online and it seems like we aren't the only ones. I don't know how or why it's happening, but it's a global thing. I think the dead woman...Sonja, I think she found out as well." Astrid paused for the first time as they reached the too of the staircase, pushing open the door which led out onto the street. Her eyes stung, and the blonde realized that she was on the brink of tears. "I know it sounds impossible," she added, a small tremor evident in her voice, "I thought it was too. I mean, I hoped it was. I just...I don't know how else to explain this." She gestured back towards The Plaza Hotel, unable to form the words 'gunman', 'murder', or even 'clone'.
Clones. The thought left her numb. Was that all they were, mere copies of one another? Astrid shuddered. They needed to move on, but time seemed to have slowed. "This way." The blonde tilted her head and set off, setting a quick pace. "We should probably hurry." She turned to look back at Jennifer, attempting a shaky smile. Jennifer was yet to warm to her, but they were in this together now and she didn't want a share a car with someone se was on bad terms with. Especially not if that person looked exactly like her.After rounding several corners they arrived outside Astrid's friend's house. Her car was parked on the curb, a silver BMW. Astrid unlocked the doors with a small 'click'. "Here's our ride."
: : London
Rob gave the ID a cursory glance. He rarely had to deal with troublemakers, the clientele were too predictable in that sense, but it was better to be safe than sorry. The man's card elicited a slight nod, and Robert Rushmore turned to prepare his drink. Jesus; after running into 'Devon' he felt as though he were in sore need of a drink himself. Anyone who didn't know them might have mistaken them for twins, and Rob wouldn't have blamed them. Instead of pouring himself a second glass (his boss wouldn't have been happy to discover that employees were drinking on duty), Rob opted to listen to what the young man had to say. From the way he spoke, the low voice and the pauses, it was apparent that he was carrying some sort of burden. The droop in his shoulders gave it all away.
"You're the first." Rob slid the Guinness across the bar, wiping his hands on the dishcloth. The look in Devon's eye suggested that he was telling the truth, and the lawyer-to-be felt a spark of curiosity at this revelation. Curiosity wasn't the thing which you were supposed to feel when people died, Rob knew that, but he wanted to know more. It was coincidence enough for two people to be sharing the same face, but three was the breaking point. He gave the bar another wipe, though the surface was spotless. The brunette propped one elbow on the wood, leaning forward so that he could speak without being overheard. Sometimes the music wasn't loud enough to act as a cover and conversations drifted. Through conversation you could learn how people worked. That was one of the perks of working at a bar.
"Jesus. What are the chances." Rob shifted, eyes resting on his double. What were the chances? They must have been close to nonexistent. It was impossible for three unrelated people to appear identical, and it was impossible for three identical people to stumble across one another over the course of a day. And yet it had happened. Rob, the vigilant law student that he was, wanted to know why. He wanted the details of the case, so to speak. "You gone to the police with any of this?" Discussions involving police tended to prompt information, or they prompted the person being questioned to claim up. But Rob was an easy fellow to talk to and he hoped that Devon wouldn't stiffen under fire. "Makes me think I could do with a drink myself," he added as an afterthought. Their conversation was going to get heavy and it would be best to keep some things a little lighter. Freaking out wasn't going to do anybody any good. "I'm off in a couple of hours, mate. You look like like you could do with something to eat." The invitation, vague as it was, was designed to give them an easier place to chat. There were too many people here, and Rob didn't want any uninvited guests dropping in on them.
Their conversation was cut short by the sound of voices being raised. Rob's attention was caught, and he looked sharply towards the source of the noise. Two new figures had entered the bar, hoods pulled down, and one of them had sent another customer's drink flying. It wasn't just any customer's drink either, it was Walter Jenkins' drink. Mr Jenkins was renowned for his inability to hold his liquor, his penchant for distasteful humor, and for his quick temper. Rob raised his eyebrows and took a deep breath. He didn't want to have to deal with this now. "One minute." The bartender excused himself, moving lithely through several thin crowds of people.
It took a good five minutes to convince Walter Jenkins that he didn't need to sue, and then it took another five minutes to convince him that the 'pricks who did this' didn't need to pay for a new drink. The two hooded men remained silent, though Rob expected them to speak up. Only when he caught sight of the flash of metal in one of their pockets did he realize that something had gone awry. Neither of them were regulars, and neither of them were showing any interest in ordering drinks. In fact, both of them seemed fixated on the back of Devon's head.
Something clicked. Rob frowned, pushing his way back towards the bar in a desperate attempt to reach his new acquaintance before the two men did. Devon was drinking alone when he returned, and the brunette caught him by the arm. "Don't panic or anything," he hissed, keeping his gaze on the drinks behind the bar, "but I think there's more to your mystery man offing himself than we know. The two blokes who just came in -see them?- they're armed. Good thing you've only had three today, we'll have to take the staff exit."
He had no idea what was going on, but Rob wasn't about to let himself be killed by the two masked men who had spilled Mr Jenkins' drink.
: : Moscow
They had a routine; it was a routine which involved constant traveling, airports and passports, but it was a routine all the same. Oliver Edwards could only be glad that he still had someone to share that routine with.
The lanky blonde gave a small nod when his companion announced that she was going to go and grab some lunch before they boarded the plane. He had always admired Sasha, and he trusted her with his life. He would never understand how she could appear so at ease around strangers, and he would never understand how she could engage in conversations without attracting the stranger looks which were nearly always thrown his way. He could understand, however, that they had no one left to reply upon aside from one another. It was a difficult thought to come to terms with, and Ollie pushed it away. Eliminating the thoughts and memories was impossible, but he could tuck them away and hope that they didn't resurface. Psychologists spoke of it as a survival mechanism. Ollie was just trying to survive.
Sasha ducked into one of the cafes and the young man was left to his own devices. The orange backpack slung over his shoulder carried most of his belongings, his laptop amongst them. They had been running from their creators for years now, and Oliver had collated all of the data and information which they had gathered on his computer in the hope that it would one day assist them in revealing the truth. They had collected such a vast amount that he required several USB sticks to store everything, though each was color-coded and labelled accordingly. The laptop also made Internet banking possible. Money could be switched from the accounts of the clones who had been killed to either he or Sasha's. The fact that they were taking money from the dead often left Ollie feeling cold. Time and time again he tried to convince himself that it was just another method of survival. Time and time again he failed to do so.
The young man arrived at the gate alone, taking the first seat which caught his eye. They had a good half hour until boarding, and that was plenty of time to check on the accounts and make sure that everything was in order. Oliver balanced the laptop on his knees. There was a mouthful or two of water left in the plastic bottle which he had brought with him and Ollie finished it off. He had only just settled down when he became aware of the group of girl sitting opposite him. They giggled and talked amongst themselves in hushed voices that made him certain that he was the subject of their conversation. That was always the assumption he made when he couldn't what groups of people were discussing. With his thin build and his mop of matted blonde hair, Ollie always felt as though he had been plunged into a social spotlight. He glanced up, embarrassed to find that the group of girls were looking at him. The clone ducked his head. He could feel his cheeks redden and he diverted his gaze to the laptop screen which sat before him. Oliver been in contact with another clone via online chats, though when he logged in with the screen name 'Lars' he saw that the other wasn't online.
No matter, he and Sasha would be called to board soon.
The female clone -as if she had been reading his mind- appeared with lunch in hand. Ollie accepted the drink, sandwich and chips with a self-conscious smile. The girls opposite him were still whispering, and he supposed that they were curious as to why such a weirdo was traveling with a young lady so beautiful and well composed. They wouldn't take his answer seriously, of course. To the majority of the population human cloning was nothing more than a myth. Oliver returned the laptop to his bag, shrugging it over his shoulder as all first class passengers were called to board. They found their seats quickly, and Sasha was the first to speak.
"It's a mystery," he said awkwardly when she asked him about the film. Neither of them were particularly well versed in pop-culture anymore, though the film appeared to be dealing with a group of mutants who referred to themselves as the X-Men. The title of the film also made reference to 'First Class', and Ollie smiled at the reference to their plane seats. "Supplies?" Last time Sasha had placed him in charge of supplies the blonde had returned with several boxes f matches, a large bunch of bananas, five blank USBs, and a two liter bottle of diet coke. "We might need a couple more," he agreed, tone wry. "We should probably look for some new clothes. I- uh. I'm not sure about you but...it would feel wrong wearing their clothes." By 'their' he meant Blanche and James, and he knew that Sasha would agree.
"But I guess it all feels wrong."
Sometimes it was difficult to speak the truth. It was even more difficult to believe that truth would ever become bearable.
: : New York City
That was so insane but what other explanation could be had? Jennifer felt her mind switching between two gears: hyper fast or hyper slow. She had been living a normal life less than twenty-four hours ago and now? Well, her life was being abruptly shattered at the simple sound of rapid gunshot fire above her head. Her workplace was under attack and it was supposedly all because of her existence. "Clones!? That's...that's out of some sci-fi novel, this is real life. Clones don't-they can't-it would have been on the news!" Jennifer tried to protest. Of course such a concept, let alone success, would have been brought to the public's attention. But if that's what they were and if this knowledge was kept secret, something else had to be going on, that was clear.
While danger was quickly breathing down their necks, Astrid was quick to come up with a vehicle that could meet their needs. With some urging from Astrid, she uncovered her ears and they headed out into the real world. It seemed Astrid had thought of a car they could use, if they could just locate it. "Alright great." Jen said, the notes of bitterness evident in her snarky reply. Jen wasn't one for outbursts or nastiness but this situation was pulling at the very fabric of her reality. She was a clone and being pulled along by another clone. As they scrambled up the stairs to find the ground level outside, Astrid continued to babble about their situation. Once outside, Jen gave a wild glance left and then right. So far the coast seemed to be clear for them to carry on with making their escape.
Astrid took the lead once more and they spent the next few minutes darting left and then right, through alleys and small sections of the dingy city. Astrid offered her a small smile but she couldn't really return it with any genuine effort. Astrid herself was alright but the situation itself was so off-putting that they couldn't even acquaint themselves with one another. Shame. They finally stopped in front of a small home which mimicked all the others in the surrounding area. "Excellent." She said and got into the passenger side of the car. "We need to get some things together before we jettison off." Jennifer said, her brain finally starting to work properly. Her mind was quickly running through various situations and things they may need if they were to actually flee the great city of New York. "We need passports, IDs, money, some clothes, just the basics though." Part of her was tempted to suggest they leave behind cell phones and laptops.
Then again, they may need them so they could always get disposable ones in the future, whatever that looked like. Jen withheld the idea from her head and allowed Astrid to go to her place first before they headed off to Jen's. Once they both gathered a small duffel bag of supplies, they decided it would be easier, well harder for their pursuers, if they drove rather than flew. The most certain thing they could grasp was that they needed to get out of New York City, as soon as possible. After getting her things, they were quick to take the back roads and fumble around. After the first hour passed with awkward silence, Jennifer decided they, as sort-of sisters, needed to get to know one another and perhaps try to steer away from tense topics. As they pulled up to a stop sign, there was a faint cry of some old man cheering about winning the state lottery. Lucky him.
"So..." Jen said. "I guess it's pointless to burrow clothes from one another." She gave a dry smile.
: : London
There was a momentary surge of guilt as Douglas handed over Devon's ID to the bartender.
But there was no harm right?
Douglas wasn't too surprised that he had attracted the attention of his second twin. It was a near impossible situation to stumble upon. "Nah, not yet...to be honest I nicked his ID. I'm not Devon actually." He decided just to confess sooner rather than later. "I actually went to his flat." He laughed a little, knowing how weird it sounded but he was interested. How could he help himself? "I know that sounds weird...really weird." He let out a sigh between his teeth. Then the male mentioned food and he nodded. "Yes, that would be lovely." Doug said to him. Before he could order anything, the man behind the bar had to excuse himself. He nodded and flagged down another waitress to bring him some bar food to tide him over. He finished his beer and snacked on some fired fish sticks.
He looked over his shoulder to see some sort of confrontation going on but he shrugged his shoulders. There was more to think about than some drunk's issue. He finished his snack and considering leaving but when the bartender returned, it came to his attention that leaving was in their best interest. "Alright." He said and set his glass of water down and dug out some pence and put them on the bar. He followed Rob into the back as discretely as possible. Since it seemed things were only getting more complicated, he decided to reintroduce himself. "The name's Douglas." He quickly said as they went out the back door and heard the pushing of chairs in the bar behind them. "And I don't think our escape went unnoticed." He frowned. He knew they had to leave and find a place to hide in order to make sense of everything.
"Come on." He said and hurried to the car which he had taken into the city. He didn't care much to debate about his mental prowess when it came to capable driving. Instead, he got in and quickly drove off once the bartender was in the seat beside him. "I really don't know who those chavs are." He said as he drove. "I went to Devon's house but nothing seemed weird well save for the guy's briefcase." He said as he quickly drove to said house so he could show the man who finally introduced himself as Robert. They hurried inside and Douglas showed him the case full of files containing various passport copies of people who looked exactly like them. "This feels too elaborate to be a practical joke." Doug mused aloud.
"I may have accidentally stumbled upon some conspiracy while Devon stumbled to his death."
Awfully morbid but astute. Douglas' intelligent brain was already running away with various facts and figures, trying to find the proper way to go about the ordeal. He and Robert were connect, along with Devon. But how? And more importantly, why? "I don't think it's wise that we stay here though." He said and looked around. They had to scramble to get things together. "I know we just met, mate but we gotta stick together on this one. Whatever it is." He said and paced around. He was just a simple writer, nothing weird ever happened to him until today and his gut was telling him to get away as far as possible, as quick as possible. "We need to go. I don't know where but we just need to go. Those chavs could be here any minute." He said and darted upstairs to gather some clothes from Devon's closet. If they all looked alike then they must wear the same size clothes which would save them time.
Once down and ready, he motioned for Robert to follow him out the back.
: : New York City
One duffel bag wasn't large enough to hold even a quarter of her belongings, though that was probably for the best. Personal items were easier to track, and the men who were pursuing them had already proved that they didn't plan on messing about. Jen and Astrid were supposed to be out of the picture by now. Jen and Astrid were supposed to be dead by now. The blonde, had she not been scouring her room for clean clothing and a hairbrush, might have found herself retching in the bathroom. Unfortunately they didn't have time for any additional hindrances, especially ones which involved throwing up.
Astrid pressed both palms against the bathroom mirror, forehead resting against the glass as she took a moment to breath. They had escaped The Plaza Hotel, but her breath was still shallow and she could feel something -whether it was blood or adrenaline, she wasn't entirely sure- pumping through her veins. It was a miracle, given recent events, that there was anything left to pump. She would have to pack a pair of sneakers, of course. If tonight was any indication then they were going to be doing an awful lot of running.
After leaving her apartment the pair made their way to Jen's place. It was difficult to stand aside, let alone wait patiently. Astrid kept her eyes trained on the door. It threatened to burst open at any moment, hinges giving way to a small army of masked figures. It would only take seconds for a gunman to lumber down the hall, and within a minute both women would be dead. Astrid, like most people, didn't really want to be killed. After gauging her clone's practicality and snark, she came to the conclusion that Jen felt the same way. The blonde was so caught up in the moment that she didn't pause to consider that the majority of the human population probably felt the same way. She could feel muscles tense at the smallest of noises, and only when Jen finished packing did her shoulders slump slightly in relief. For several years she had considered New York home, but now she wanted nothing more than to get the hell out. Home, when you were being chased by murderers, was not where the heart was.
They had been driving for an hour, the car curling it's through a maze of lane-ways and back-roads, when Jen first spoke. It had been a tense hour. It had been an awkward hour. It had been an hour which Astrid had spent glancing neurotically from the front windscreen to the rear view mirror. If they were being tailed then it wouldn't matter how many times they switched phones, they would be found.
"I don't know," Astrid replied, shrugging as she made the effort to smile. "It might liven things up - not that they aren't lively enough already." She had an iron grip on the steering wheel, and though they were obscured by neon lights and a fading sky, her knuckles were white. Jennifer, from what she had gathered, had quite a dry sense of humor. They didn't have an awful lot in common for people who could have easily passed as twins, but even a strained conversation was better than nothing. At the very least it would provide a distraction, and if there was one thing which Astrid needed it was a distraction from everything which had already occurred. "When I was little I always wanted a twin. Just to play tricks on my teachers with." She didn't dare look across at Jen. Jen didn't seem like the sort of person who would have ever wanted a twin. "Though I guess we could still do that now. If we swapped clothes we'd be halfway there." The clone gave an unconvincing laugh, focusing intently as she steered the car around another corner. She could only hope that she wasn't going completely nuts.
"So, should we figure out a place to stay, or...?" Astrid's gaze shifted briefly to Jen. They hadn't settled on a particular route, though she figured that it would be safer for both of them to leave the country. Whatever it was that they had stumbled upon, it was big. They would need food before they made a finite decision; there was little that could be said without food and rest, and she didn't want to risk offending her companion. She didn't want to risk her companion at all. Both of their lives had been placed firmly on the line. The thought elicited a sigh. "Maybe it's better to eat first. Most fast food places and diners are open 24/7. I don't know if you're hungry or not-" Astrid paused, teeth digging into her lower lip. "It doesn't really bother me what we do. I just thought that it might be better to grab food while we can. You know, before we work out what to do next?"
: : London
"Rob." The brunette replied, though he was more focused on the sound of chairs scraping against the floor than he was on introduction. Why, on today of all fucking days, did he have to deal with this? The young man had never had much of a temper, but this was enough to put anyone on edge. Silent, he slid into the passenger seat of Doug's car. Now wasn't a good time for questions.
"People who know something about your pal's death, I'm guessing," Robert replied when Douglas stated that he didn't know the two men who had taken an interest in them. Anything else would be too much of a coincidence, and if there was one thing which studying law had taught him it was that there was no such thing as a coincidence. Not a coincidence as drastic as this, at least. "Sounds like he had a bit more than a briefcase to deal with." Rob's tone was dry, and he made no attempt to lighten the mood with a smile. This Devon bloke had thrown himself in front of a train, and somehow that didn't seem as though it was a promising sign. It didn't take long to reach the actor's house, and the bartender followed Doug inside. When the other man had mentioned a briefcase he had expected something a little less...intricate. Instead he was greeted with eyeful of files, passports and papers. All of them belonged to people who looked exactly like he and Doug.
"I see what you mean, mate. Looks like he's been keeping this stuff for months." Rob squatted next to the case, frowning as he examined the first few papers. They all looked genuine. "One hell of a conspiracy, no wonder those other blokes were after him." Overwhelmed, he waited for Doug to finish speaking before he jumped back in.
"You take upstairs, I'll take downstairs." Rob watched as the writer hurried up the staircase, before turning back to floor that he'd volunteered to tackle. Clothes would be upstairs, of course, but food and electronics would be downstairs with the briefcase. He grabbed a bag, fumbling through the kitchen and lounge areas for anything which would be of use once he and Douglas took off. In the end he settled on a couple of cups of instant noodles, a laptop which he found sitting on the counter, and briefcase itself. They could figure out a way to stop people from tracking the laptop, but they also needed to know if there was anything else that Devon had discovered. There was a chance that they only knew half the story, and Rob didn't like being kept in the dark.
As soon as Doug was finished the pair left, and the bartender followed his doppelgänger out through the back of the house. In addition to the food and papers he'd nabbed a set of keys from the kitchen bench, and nestled amongst them were several car keys. They couldn't really afford to travel in one of Devon's cars for an extended period of time, but at least they could get out of the area.
"This should do as a getaway ride." Rob unlocked the more practical looking of the cars, a solid looking BMW. Silver, it wouldn't attract attention the way that a red convertible might have. The house was large enough to ensure that they could drive out the back and onto one of the adjoining streets. The young man let himself in on the driver's side, settling down in front of the wheel. Doug looked exhausted, and the prospect of ending up as road kill wasn't all that appealing. Had he been able to see the bags under his own eyes, or how sallow his own skin looked, Robert might have reconsidered. "Here," he shoved the bag of items that he's collected at the other man. "Not much to see, but at least we'll having something to eat if we end up in the middle of bloody nowhere." He didn't plan on driving them out into the middle of the countryside, but it was either that or an airport and it was pretty obvious that they needed a chance to talk things over.
After ten or so minutes of weakling his way through the local area, Rob pulled out into one of the main streets. He hoped that they would blend in for the time being. The windows, thank god, were tinted. The car might have seemed natural. The bags might have seen natural. But the sight of two complete strangers sharing identical features and concerned expressions might have attracted some attention. "I don't know what we're going to do," the bartender sighed. He could see his life slipping; Eleanor was already pissed off, the sudden disappearance which he now had planned would probably prove to be the last straw. His studies would be gone too, and his job at the bar. Rob winced, turning his attention back to the road. "I don't know where we're going to go. We might be able to get a flight..."
Robert didn't know what they were going to do at all.
: : Newark
This wasn't normal, nothing could have prepared them for this converging of two people, two clones. And more? Her whole life had been shattered, while all the bits and pieces rest, suspending in midair, waiting to fall and vanish. No. She wouldn't let that happen. Jennifer was determined to recollect everything that had broken, and put it back together herself. So her life was now utterly mysterious, that didn't mean all hope was lost. Well perhaps it was but that didn't mean she couldn't find it and claim it for herself. Her eyes traveled to the rear view mirror to see if anyone was trailing behind them. Her body was in constant stress, tense with her chest unable to relax. Jen could barely breathe as it felt like she was on the side of the road, rather than in a car speeding along as if nothing was out of the ordinary. At Astrid's remark, she tried to smile back. It was hard to believe that the one person they had to trust was a duplicate of themselves, yet at the same time, a total stranger.
Astrid continued to speak now, talking about how fun it might have been to share a twin at a young age. She smiled in acknowledgement of such delicious pranks but then again, the humor could only reach so far before the truth bounced it away from her heart. Jennifer licked her lips and let out a laugh from her nose. It wasn't a snort per say, just a release of light amusement. "Yes, because I'm sure our lives would be fun to exchange." Sarcasm of course. Maybe a week ago but not now. Now it seemed as though their identity as clones had squeezed out any notion of individuality out of them. "Sorry. Tense." Jen apologized, knowing her bitterness was misplaced. Astrid was trying to help and Jen was only making things worse. "I know we have to get along because somehow we're starting over and we're all we have. I mean...we're parts of each other, we have to rely on each other." She stated. It was then that Astrid mention finding a place to stay.
The night was catching up to them. Darkness would either provide them with a blanket of security or insecurity.
Jennifer brought up a hand and rubbed her stiff shoulder blades. "Yes, a place to stay..." She leaned over to the window with caution and saw an exit coming up. "Take the next exit, nothing happens in Newark so we may be safe finding a hotel and crashing there for a bit." It didn't sit well with her to go someplace and stay for too long but they needed rest. "We'll stay the night, at most." Jen said and looked down at her lap, her arm dropping back down to rest in her lap. Astrid mentioned eating first. "Yes...we can find a drive thru, I'm not picky and we can't afford to be." She said carefully. Though if her clone had any allergies or phobias, it was best to put it on the table now. Jen assumed their DNA was the same which meant their allergies may be the same. Jen didn't have any, the rest of their differences made the list of nature versus nurture.
Not in the mood for a philosophic debate about her own supposed upbringing and existence, she sighed gently. Time to mull over something besides their predators or humanity. They decided to grab something from a burger joint which had a drive thru. Jen offered to cover the tab because they were using Astrid's friends' car. They found a small hotel and grabbed their food and got a single room with two single beds. After they settled down, Jen sat on her bed and snacked on the fries from her own bag in front of her. They had the bare essentials: two beds, a small closet, bathroom, a bed side table between them with a lamp and a tv. They didn't have a desk and their window looked out at a brick wall. It didn't matter. Their view could be of the Caribbean but she wouldn't have noticed at all. Jennifer found herself unable to stop trembling. Her body was still in shock and every time she looked at Astrid, she just felt even more sick.
"I'm sorry this is just...so..." Jen tried to explain but she had a feeling Astrid understood without needing to struggle. "Weird-but...somehow not so...weird." Like, Jen was glad there was someone like her who looked exactly like her. They could have had the fate of Sonja, for all they knew. And for all they knew, there were more of them. Her mouth curved up into a sincere smirk. "But if there are more of us, well it just means the world gets to have a few extra pretties." She took a bite of another fry. She couldn't eat much more and set the bag down by the foot of her bed. She grabbed the cup of soda and shook it. "I'm gonna get us some ice." She set it down and moved for the door, grabbing the ice bucket on her way out. Three minutes passed and she came back but more abruptly. "We have trouble." She pressed her back against the door. "Some guy...in black, I think he's onto us. I saw him coming up the stairs, he had a bat in his hands and I don't think he plays baseball." She turned and locked the door and scrambled backwards and pulled Astrid into the small closet with her.
"Sorry." She fidgeted and curled her arms around Astrid tightly from behind, as space was pretty much nonexistent.
: : London
Once they headed out the backdoor, adrenaline rushed back to tackle his senses.
For the moment, Douglas could at least take solace in the fact that he and Rob were getting along and able to work well, even though the situation thrown at them was rubbish and near unbelievable. If he hadn't been smack in the middle of it, he would brushed the idea of clones off as sheer fiction. "Fantastic." He panted as Robert showed him the keys. For now, they would do. They had to. There was no way they could double back to either one of their flats and get a car, and even that, it would be risky. Stealing Devon's car might work as Devon's body may not be identified yet so the car itself wouldn't be picked up by any rozzers. He got into the SUV with Robert and shoved his own supplies in the backseat. The male looked to the other who had taken the driver's seat. Considering Doug didn't hold liquor well, he didn't argue with being taking shotgun.
His pride wasn't on the line, he had other things to fret about. When Rob shoved the bag near him, he began to rummage through it. "Alright, nice." He said and rubbed his eyes. "I hope we don't end up in the middle of bloody nowhere but hey, that might not be such a bad idea considering our screwed up circumstances." Doug pointed out. The car was soon started, not soon enough in Doug's mind, and they took off trying to act as inconspicuous as possible. "Neither do I..." He said honestly, knowing it wasn't the best response but it had to do for now. "No." He said quickly at the mention of a flight. "That's too risky, and with our identities already up in the air, we don't need unwanted attention, especially at an airport. And if people are after us, they'll find out in a crowd much easier." He said and pushed the bag full of food back where his other one was.
"Let's just stay on the back roads for as long as possible...then take the M3 and we can head to Portsmouth down south and then take a ferry across to France. We need to get off this giant rock as soon as possible." He said, his brain already churning and grinding out a plan. And then other, just in case. The ride went smoothly, both talking about what they did for a living. They even tried to see if their childhoods matches up, to see if maybe, just maybe they had a connection which may lend itself to finding out more about this mixup. "So Devon was collecting others, others like us. And whatever he dug up was too much." He said as he sifted through the papers in the briefcase for the millionth time. He was a reporter, he had to be of some use. As they merged onto the M3, the sun set. "We may need to find a place to stop for the night."
He had a feeling that a hotel wasn't a great idea. They were men, surely they could get away with sleeping in a car. The SUV was huge, it shouldn't be an issue. "Then again.." He began to reconsider. "if people see a car like this parked on the side of the road or in the trees, they might try to investigate." And they'd have to come up with a lie about being twins. He shook his head. Somehow he was leaning more towards that, than dealing with a hotel and watching their backs. "Let's just pull over somewhere by a petrol station and people will assume everything's all good." He waved a hand. Now was not the time to be fussing around. "Hey." He looked at saw Devon's bank records. "This guy was pretty loaded for a stage actor. One of us could go into a branch and withdraw his money...then we wouldn't need to be overly careful about where we stay."
Better to have cash on them, than deal with cards and pen numbers and signatures.
As they drove along and found a deserted petrol station, Doug pushed their bags under the seats. He knew it wasn't an ideal condition but it would do for the night. He was dog tired and needed to sleep off the massive headache he was getting. And he felt rather nauseated as well. "Remind me never to drink again." He muttered, pressing his fingers to his temples. Once parked, he stepped out and welcomed the gust of cold air against his flushed face. He leaned against the side of the car and surveyed the surroundings. So far, so good. He headed into the market and bought them some snacks and drinks and came out and got back in. He reclined his front seat back and handed Rob a sandwich and chips. "Tomorrow we'll make it Portsmouth. By night fall if we're careful enough." He said and took a drink from his water bottle. The writer still couldn't shake the feeling they were being watched. "We also need weapons...to defend ourselves."
: : San Francisco
"Onto us?" Astrid's eyes widened as Jen spoke. Moments ago they'd been joking about how the world was lucky to have numerous versions of them, but now that we're back to dealing with murderous thugs. Astrid had hoped, had prayed, that they had evaded the people pursuing them. Apparently her hopes and prayers had amounted to absolutely nothing. Fate had deal her and Jennifer an unkind hand and they would have to make the best of it. Before she had time to say anything else Jennifer had pulled her into a small closet. The lock on the door rattled - once, twice, three times. "It's okay," Astrid muttered when her companion apologized. "Now's probably not a good time to be picky about personal space anyway." She could make light of the situation all she wanted but it was impossible to disguise the tremor in her voice. The last man who had come after them had been armed. This man, she supposed, was also intent on doing some damage. Jennifer had mentioned a baseball bat and Astrid winced at the thought. It was only a matter of minutes before he broke down the door. It wouldn't be difficult for him to uncover their hiding place. Aside from the space beneath the beds there was no other space large enough to harbor two bodies.
"We can't stay here," the blonde murmured. "He'll find us. We have to do something else...get rid of him somehow." she pressed one hand against the wood and used the other to feel around for any objects. If there was something that they could use to take him out then they would have time to escape. They didn't need to kill him, just render him unconscious. Her fingers grasped hold of a metal bar, some spare part which the hotel owners had hidden in the closet. They had obviously hoped that no one would find it, or care about it. Astrid had found it though, and she cared about it immensely. "He's going to break down the door in a minute," she whispered, hearing a note of panic in her voice. "I know this sounds crazy, but I think we can knock him out. If one of us hid behind the door and the other stayed as a distraction..." A loud 'crack' sounded and Astrid started. Their mystery man had broken down the door. She could his his breathing, fast and heavy. The clone swallowed. "Sounds like we might have to stick to the hitting part. Ready?"
The closet door swung open. The man had busied himself searching below the beds, and by the time that he looked up it was too late. Astrid squeezed her eyes shut and brought the bar crashing down on their attacker. The metal hit its target and his startled cry was cut short. It wasn't enough though. Fingers clenched tightly around the base of the bat, the man attempted to launch a counter-offensive. It was Jennifer who stopped him. The lamp connected sharply with the man's head. His body slumped. Astrid blinked. "Oh my god." The room was spinning and she could barely breath. He looked too still. He looked too dead. "He's dead. We killed him." It took her a couple of minutes to realize that she was crying, and she reached instinctively for Jen. Her clone didn't seem like the sort of person who enjoyed hugs, but Astrid damn well needed one.
It had been five days since the attack, counting back. Astrid, for a couple of hours afterwards, had been completely incoherent. It was Jennifer who had calmed her down. They had spent an hour talking, discussing how they felt about Sonja's death, the revelation of their matching appearances, and what they should do next. In doing so they had bridged the gap that lay between them. There were still moments of awkwardness, and moments where it was painful for Astrid to be reminded that she wasn't an individual, but it was also nice to have the company. It made the drive to San Francisco beatable, and it meant that they could take turns driving. They couldn't afford to stop, but they couldn't afford to go without sleep either.
The airport itself was bustling with activity. Families clung to one another as parents attempted to quieter their children, couples shared cakes and coffees in the various cafes which had been situated throughout the building, and businessmen adjusted their suits as they used their laptops to peruse the stock market. Astrid and Jen had passed through the metal detectors with ease. The weapons which they'd acquired, flamboyant as they were, we're tucked safely in their carry on luggage. It was Jen who had masterminded their entrance and, as a result, she had ensured that they had as much freedom as possible. After making it through the airport security they'd split up. Her clone was on the hunt for the gate which their flight would leave from. Astrid was on the hunt for breakfast. The blonde stopped by the first Starbucks cafe which caught her eye, though she ordered two coffees instead of her regular. The drinks smelt good after five days stressful days of driving, and she was certain that they'd taste even better. They would need food as well though, so she picked up two chocolate muffins at a small stand which had been built on the rim of the departure lounge.
"Here." Astrid passed one of the coffees to Jen as she took a seat beside the brunette. "Sorry, I know it's not the healthiest breakfast," she apologized, fumbling for the bag which contained the two muffins. A couple of her friends had labelled her love for Starbucks as an obsession. The blonde glanced sheepishly from the green logo on her own cup to the green logo on Jen's. "At least it'll taste good, and I can vouch for the coffee." It was good that she could vouch for their drinks, because there was little else that Astrid could hope to explain or support. She had Jen, of course, but that was it. Their situation was so vast and so complex that she was still struggling to grapple with the grim reality which it posed; there were people out there who wanted them dead, and recent events suggested that those people weren't likely to call off the hunt.
: : Paris
"Armed and on the run," Rob mused. "If it weren't for the thugs and the stress I might even enjoy it." The bartender tore open the plastic wrap which covered his sandwich. He had been chased out of a bar, he had robbed a dead man's house, he had stolen the car of a prominent actor and escaped with a writer who could have passed as his twin; it was no surprise, in hindsight, that he was completely ravenous. The pair fell into silence for a few moments as Rob chewed and Doug drank. "There should be a few places around which still sell hunting supplies," he said eventually, setting the half-eaten sandwich down. Hunting was an expensive hobby, he knew, but it was likely that Devon would have a license. If they could withdraw money then it would be relatively simple to purchase a couple of firearms. "If Devon's got a license then we can grab a couple of guns on our way Portsmouth. They'll have to do until we can find something better." Rob reached for the bottle of soda which Doug had brought back with him and took a swig. It hadn't been all that long but he was completely exhausted. His eyes were rimmed with red, and bags were beginning to form underneath. "I know you don't want a drink, mate, but I'd kill for a beer."
The rest of the night passed quietly. After they'd finished their meal, of the variety of snacks which vaguely resembled a meal, they spent half an hour clearing up their plans for the coming days. They would stop by any hunting supply stores, but a couple of new phones and register new numbers, and then they'd jump on the ferry to France and head for Paris. Traveling with Doug was like traveling with an old friend, or a brother. Though they'd only met one another and were vastly different in their general demeanors and aspirations the two young men had 'clicked'. To put their friendship down to shared genetics or the fact that they looked exactly like one another seemed shallow. Rob liked to think that it was something genuine, something a little more human, which had given them the ability to connect so quickly.
The pair spent the majority of the next day on the road, though Rob ducked into several convenience stores to grab a couple more bottles of water and additional snacks. Driving was surprisingly stressful when you had to keep a constant eye on the road and if it weren't for the fact that he had company the brunette had no doubt that the paranoia would become overwhelming. They decided to stop in a small town for lunch, and Doug went to order chips while Rob withdrew a hefty amount of cash from one of Devon's accounts. The bank branch, staffed by friendly locals, didn't think to question the identity of the man that they were serving. It was one of the perks, he supposed, of living life as a 'clone'. His shoulders felt stiff and weighted, especially seeing as they were taking advantage of a man who had committed suicide, but the will to survive overcame Rob's guilt at using so much of Devon's money. The actor had been in the middle of an investigation into their existence. Surely he would have wanted to keep his doppelgängers alive?
The town, much to Robert's relief, was also equipped with a store specializing in hunting gear. He and Doug had rooted through Devon's credit cards, licenses and membership cards and had managed to find a hunting license. It didn't seem as though the actor had ever really used the license, but it relieved Rob to know that they'd been able to solve the weaponry issue so efficiently. And so, after they'd eaten, the two men armed themselves with an assortment of firearms. Most of the guns which the store sold were larger and sport oriented and it took a while for them to settle on what it was that they wanted. They eventually procured two of the larger models and a couple of pistols, none particularly decorative. They might have been on the run, but at least he and Doug would be able to protect themselves from any of their potential assailants. He only hoped that they wouldn't have to utilize their weapons during the trip to Portsmouth, or on the ferry to France. Thankfully the next two legs of the trip passed without event. Well, without any major incidents.
He'd travelled to various European citified during his younger years, but Rob had never found the time -or the money- to visit Paris. Now, with a wealth of money under his belt and still no time to spare, he intended to make the best of it. "May as well stay someplace fancy," he suggested to Doug as they took a wander to gain their bearings, "we've got the money, and chances are we won't be back." At least they agreed on that point. The pair checked in to one of the more expensive hotels, the sort which boasted an array of lavish restaurants, incredibly polite concierges and a stunning view of the city. In accordance with their accommodation the two men decided to dine out, and after a couple of hours of deliberation they decided on a chic bar which was located in the bowels of the city. Rob made sure that he brought a map with him. They'd need to plan their next move. Paris was nice, but they wouldn't be able to maintain their anonymity for long.
"Nice place." Rob nodded towards the bar, tastefully decorated with greenery and rich trimmings. The two englishmen, dressed in checked shirts and worn leather jackets, stood out amongst the bars carefully groomed clientele. Their map lay on the table, positioned between the two menus. The bartender furrowed his brow as he studied the tangle of streets and roads, expression morphing into a slight frown. "Pity the city's so damn complicated." he sighed, glancing over at one of the waitresses. "We might as well order. This map'll take for-bloody-ever to decipher."
Help, thankfully, was on the way. And it was on the way in the form of one Arielle Calder.
: : Paris
Another night, another hotel.
She woke to a room filled with light. The curtains, decadently colored, had been drawn back to reveal a small balcony. Several intertwining branches of ivy furled along the metal ledge, curling up the faded walls and towards the windows. It certainly wasn't the grandest hotel in Paris, but it was nestled amongst some of the most fashionable cafes and expensive boutiques in the city. The effortless class and nonchalant cafe culture of the French was what had first attracted Arielle to the city, though she'd lived there since the tender age of seven. Fluent in French and English, it had become difficult for the young woman to imagine living anywhere else. She had perfected an image, carefully manicured but considerably rough around the edges, and the French magazines loved it. There was something appealing about a model who combined the grittiness of the Dublin's streets with the sophistication of their own city which instantly appealed.
Arielle pulled the covers back, lighting a cigarette as she made her way towards the balcony. Her gaze settled on the street below, and she surveyed the stream of people going about their everyday business with an expression of barely concealed scorn. Such mundane activities bored her. It was far better to live in the moment. The press, in accordance with their reputation, had been incredibly quick to latch on to such a 'free spirit'. Each one night stand was recorded - plastered crudely across the trashy sort of tabloids which people only read to pass the time. Each potential boyfriend was carefully evaluated, though more often than not it was Arielle who was deemed 'unworthy' or 'controversial'. She paid them little mind, however. The journalists could speculate as often as they liked, they wouldn't receive a response. Besides, she quite liked the edge which their reporting gave her, and the image which their name-calling formulated only made her more appealing in the eyes of potential employers.
Her companion grunted, twisting in the sheets as he turned to face her. He was the latest of her endeavors, an American musician who had more time for parties, bars and alcohol than he did for music. They were perfectly suited in that regard; Arielle had far more time for parties, bars and alcohol than she did for most people. Usually she steered well clear of Americans, but this one had caught her eye. It was nothing serious -to assume that she would become involved in anything even remotely serious would be to misjudge her character completely- but he made her feel good. They could laugh at the expense of their fellow party-goers and drink until the early hours of the morning. They could smoke. They could swear. The media, though most Americans had little idea who she was, loved them.
"I have a gig tonight." Her companion kicked the covers away as he ran a hand through his hair. Arielle didn't bother to turn. He was a musician, she expected him to play the occasional gig. She just hoped that he didn't expect her to join him. The model was a self-proclaimed fan of 'rock and roll' but she couldn't find any redeeming features in the music which he and his bandages created. There was no genuine emotion underpinning the lyrics; they were aimless, meandering along the melody as though they hoped to take on some meaning of their own. After a few minutes she shrugged and glanced over her shoulder.
"Congratulations," she said, disinterest evident in her tone of voice. Arielle was hardly the sort of girl who became entangled in the lives of those she slept with. That would require an element of care which she didn't possess. No, there were too many faces, too many hotel rooms, for her to care. Once upon a time she might have found herself enchanted by the naive romanticizations of a whirlwind romance, but not now. They were like alcohol in that they have her a cheap thrill, that was all. They hadn't fallen asleep until around six that morning, and from color of the sky and position of the sun she could tell that it was heading in towards evening. That gig was less than a few hours away. Arielle would have to find some other source of entertainment for the night. She would step out to a bar, perhaps, and indulge in a couple of expensive wines. The fact that she had no shots coming up granted her an element of freedom which she quite enjoyed. The brunette raised the cigarette to her lips before pausing for a moment. "Remind me never to date another American."
They weren't dating though. Dating required commitment. Arielle didn't do commitment. The musician appreciated her humor though, dry as it was. He gave a small huff of amusement, pulling on a shirt and a pair of jeans as he staggered towards the door. He might have said goodbye, the young woman didn't know. She wasn't listening.
It was a small bar which attracted her attention when she finally made her way out, a pair of sunglasses shielding her from any invasive reporters. They were unlikely to bother her, but one could never be too careful. She wasn't in the mood to answer question after question. She wasn't in the mood to divulge the latest information on her relationship with the American rock star. She was, however, in the mood for a drink. A good drink and good company. The bar was decorated with greenery and gold trimmings which were pleasing to the eye. Where some of the larger bars had appeared crowded, this one appeared to be comfortable. The staff knew her well enough, and she received several polite nods as she wandered in. Despite the vast array of drinks it was the two men sitting in the corner who first caught her eye. They were identical, close enough in appearance to resemble twins, and both were hunting over a map. Their expressions were imbued with such concentration that they were set apart from the standard, zombie-like tourist.
It took a lot to fascinate Arielle. These two men, as it were, posed a multitude of questions. The young woman swerved through the crowd, hips swaying from one side to another before she came to a stop in front of the table at which they were seated. "You boys look a little lost." The model lifted her glasses as she spoke. Her English was tinted with an Irish accent, though French influences crept in here or there. A richer 'r', a smoother transition between words. "Anything I can help you with?"
: : San Fransisco
Unlike Astrid, Jennifer has gotten a decent look at their predator and she didn't think they'd be able to take him on physically. There wasn't a lot at their disposal. Astrid spoke quickly and quietly but before a new plan could be formed to satisfy Jen, Astrid asked if she was ready. "No, ready for what. We can't do this!" She hissed. Jen rolled her eyes as Astrid took the first crack at the man. Jen was on her toes and lunged for the lamp as she knew it may prove better as weapon than as a light source. "Move!" She shouted and swung her arm forward, the connection resulted in a large crack and a thud. The first thing she heard, because in her mind everything was muted beautifully, was Astrid saying 'oh my god' and her heart dropped. "Are you okay?" Was the first thing to leave Jennifer's mouth. She looked at her hand which had some puncture wounds from the lamp. Jen then looked to the man. Yep, he looked pretty dead. She started to shake. "I didn't..." She wasn't sure what to say.
They didn't have a choice. It was him or them. And it was that difficult choice that was weaving itself through their long day at the moment. Life and Death. Jennifer and Astrid stood in the room for what felt like an eternity as Jen tried to reason with herself. Her throat wasn't functioning very well and she wished she had the nerve to walk over to where her drink was sitting. Without much warning though, arms moved around her and she stiffened. Jen, after long five long seconds, finally returned the hug. Jennifer needed one and it seemed as though Astrid did as well. It felt cold though and she was quick to break it. It didn't have the same electric warmth as before but that could have to do with the smell of death hanging in the room. They were soon quick to make their escape before anyone else came looking for them. They gathered their things and hopped back into the car and decided to just keep driving as nowhere was safe for two lost clones such as themselves.
Over the next five days or so, they were connecting much better than when they first collided. Jen learned a lot from Astrid and they ended up spending most of the time talking and joking when sleep wasn't needed. And when it was, they took turns driving across many many state lines. As they neared the west coast, Jennifer decided they needed to procure weapons in order to properly defend themselves. She had picked two: a long curved blade which was about eight inches long, as well as a small jagged dagger for quick attacks. Astrid, on the other hand had picked a stunning classic gun. Jennifer managed to fiddle with her account and add Astrid and make them high enough members to sneak their weapons through airport security. It was ultimately decided that they would head to Berlin, Germany. The tip off for that was thanks to a report on the tv which mentioned that Sonja had recently been there.
So why not check it out?
Jen replayed the events back at the hotel their first night through her head. She had to console Astrid to the best of her ability. She didn't mind too much, as it somehow ended up soothing her own anxiety and fears. As they finished getting through security, Jen let out a grateful sigh that they hadn't been stopped. They parted ways just to cover more ground. Once Astrid left her side, she couldn't help but get a bit concerned. They had each other and only each other for nearly a week and even at the momentary separation, it felt weird. Jen did her best to conceal her uneasiness as she headed for their gate and made sure it was on time. If they stayed at the terminal for too long, things could get messy, even with supposed top notch security. As she sat down and checked her carry on bag with discretion, she looked up and found herself more than just happy to see Astrid coming closer.
"It's fine." Jen just said and took the coffee. It wasn't her favorite beverage choice but she had learned quick, to cast away any picky habits. She would have preferred tea or cocoa or even juice but coffee would keep them alert. "Thanks." She then added and took the offered muffin, which met her standards much easier than the offering of cliche Starbucks coffee. She wouldn't poke fun at Astrid, not yet. She noticed a flash of worry on Astrid's face and smiled. "Come on, we're going to Germany, we need to buck up a little or we'll never be happy." She teased gently. She took a gulp of coffee and made a face similar to that of a six year old being forced to eat their broccoli. She followed with a large bite of the muffin which dimmed the signature taste of coffee. In due time, they were the first to board and settled into first class, a place Jen had only been in once.
These were different though. Instead of having two rows of two, it had one row of three and was off to one side. Everyone had space of course but it was just askew sort of.
: : San Fransisco
Nari Wafume was from Tokyo, Japan. He moved there with his parents when he was about six. He was obviously fluent in both Japanese and English. His mother was Japanese while his father was from Scotland. He was actually adopted but his features could pass for many different ethnicities, or so he had been told in the twenty-seven years which he had been on this Earth. As a child, he was treated differently for being a foreigner but thanks to the big move from Hokkaido to Tokyo, he had a more accepting experience in high school and college. Nari decided he liked helping people even if it was a tough skill to execute, which meant he ended up getting a degree in Law Enforcement. He ended up getting a job as a 4'th Division Detective which meant he dealt with burglary, kidnapping and blackmail. His real aim was 1'st Division which dealt with homicide and advanced weaponry.
His only friend on the force was Hideo, who worked with bombs and explosives with the 5'th Division. Nari and Hideo often would clock out and grab a beer and a smoke. Nari wasn't seeing anyone but Hideo happened to be married to his high school sweetheart, Hinata. Nari would sometimes make jabs that if Hideo got himself blown up on the job, that he'd lend his shoulder to the grieving widow. It was a funny joke until Hideo had twins and then Nari found it a little less cute so now he just joked that when Hideo got killed on the job, that he'd turn into a rouge cop who'd enact some sweet justice. It had a harmless bite to it but Hideo was pretty sure that Nari often toyed with the different sides of justice. Nari had gotten quite a reputation around for being more street friendly and less interested in going by the book. Nari didn't date unless you counted his occasional trips into the seedy underworld of Tokyo's nightlife. He was a cop, he couldn't have connections or any sort of vulnerability.
Instead of commending him on his wisdom, he was labeled a loner with no soul.
Soul was what drove him to get up each day and face the harsh realities that life wasn't fair. In fact, it was often cruel and unjust. He would spend any spare time online, which may be part of why Hideo was his own friend in the city. His parents were around and worried for him but he told himself he never had time to visit, didn't want to somehow indirectly involve them with his dangerous line of work. And it was how he got to sleep every night for however long the sandman would grant him. When was online, he would spend time on a private chatroom which was only meant for skilled hackers to break into. If his work knew about his level of hacking and information obtaining, they would push him into another Division which wasn't what he wanted. His skills were just that, nothing special. Another white lie he told himself to ease the pain. Most cases he worked on weren't ones with happy endings. People's possessions would be taken, their livelihood, everything and anything.
The nature of dark minded people made Nari sick. Ill with hatred. It was something he had to fix. Every morning he would set his feet on the cool floor and a renewed sense of determination would numb the longing to hug his mother or to actually sit down with a lady and talk about shit like the weather or recent politics. Nari had a goal, several actually and his whole world was driven by them until he came across a distributing discovery. It was in a chatroom, a different one than what he frequented. Some user posted two people by the name of Michael and Will who had died and they were twins except samples were provided which proved they weren't related. The idea of clones was circulated and Flux, Nari's online alias, logged off with a scoff. At the time, he tried to be ignorant but the idea had latched itself and couldn't get go. So for months he dug around and found more sets of clones. Set XJR92 had been killed as had Set XKB11.
He learned that sets of clones were everywhere, under everyone's noses. It was then he made the choice to leave work and settle this mystery once and for all. There were answers waiting for him and he refused to be labeled a set, rather than as a human being.
Nari ended up following a trail and found himself hurrying to head off two clones and from the looks of it, they could be the next people to get taken care of. Nari was currently boarding the same plane as Jennifer and Astrid. He had gotten a seat right between the two ladies. In the back of his mind, he though about his parents and Hideo. He had left Japan over a month ago and was smart enough to eliminate any trail that could be lead to his current location, which was a plane headed for Berlin. He sat down and looked from one to the other, trying to quickly decide which was which. He tucked his carry on laptop bag under his seat and decided to come out and just say it. "They sure got it right when they cloned you two lovely ladies." He smirked and looked to Jen on his left and then Astrid who was on his left. Jennifer gave him a bit of a cold stare. It wasn't his fault his pick up lines were crap. "I'm not one of them, who's after you." He tried to explain. "I'm one myself...a clone I mean." He put a hand to his chest. "Props to sneaking weapons on board, you two sure act more reckless than you appear."
"Don't concern yourself with how we look, it makes you seem quite shallow and void of any intelligence which may betray your true identity." Jen said coolly. "You obviously know what-who we are." She lowered her voice as people started to board the back of the plane now.
"I'm Nari Wafume, while it may break your lovely heart-" He reached out to brush a finger tip along Astrid's cheek bu Jen smacked his hand. He looked back to Jen now, "I don't know very much."
"You know more than we do." Jen glared. "So spill, Nori." She didn't like Nari. Not one bit.
"It's Nari." He corrected with a smirk.
"Whatever, Nori." Jen folded her arms and sat back in the chair as Nari began to talk about what he knew, starting from the beginning, nearly a year in history.
: : Paris
For the most part, Douglas and Robert ended up getting along pretty well. The two became rather close and didn't need to fuss over a lot.
Doug and Robert managed to locate a town and got some supplies. Doug had a feeling that Devon's hunting licensee was unused if only for protection or appearance. Even so, having some protection eased his constantly worrying mind somewhat. He wasn't one for guns but he and Rob did spend some time using them so if they were ever needed, that they could preform without unwanted casualties, namely themselves. Douglas had some of the money from Devon's bank account, while Rob had the rest. As they should, they split it up evenly. After they disembarked the ferry, they started to make a plan. Rob was right, they needed to do something, they wouldn't be in Pairs again, if they could help it for their own good.
The pair of men found a great hotel with an even more great view. Douglas was astounded with the suite they had for themselves. It was lavish and exuded the life of that of royalty. Once settled, they headed off to finally have a good meal. They had earned it, considering trouble had yet to find him like it had back in London. After dinner, they were trying to decide what to do. And it wasn't much of a surprise to find that Doug wished to check out an upscale bar. Douglas felt very under dressed. "We should have gone shopping to blend in, we stand out way too much." He said to Rob as he mentioned ordering. He slid the map toward himself. "Just order me a rum and coke, easy on the rum." He muttered as he took a better look at the map. "This is bloody confusing, the French can't do anything right." He muttered.
They made their drink order and presented their IDs. Doug was back to using his, as he decided Devon's didn't need to be flashed around in public unless necessary for their survival. And it would be a tricky situation handle if he acted as Devon and someone managed to know him or of his work in theater. Devon's ID would just mark a silent reminder of those had been lost, clearly there wasn't just three of them. There were more, thanks to the digging their actor had done on their behalf. "I wonder...do you think Devon would have ever sought us out, or if he didn't want to for our own protection?" He asked Robert as he took a sip of his drink which by all purposes contained such a small amount of rum, that it wouldn't even register on a breathalyzer. That's just how Doug liked it. He licked his lips, still able to detect the hint of liquor. He gave a frown and picked up a small peanut and flicked it at Rob with a bit of a smirk. "This map isn't so hard but if you're drinking, it sure as hell won't get any easier."
Just then the volume of the bar intensified.
He wasn't bothered to turn and see who just wandered in. He hunched back over the tattered map and traced some roads with his finger, staring intently at it. "I think we need to keep going, remember, some of Devon's papers mentioned a German park or something. I mean there were other places but we're close enough." He sighed. A jolt of apprehension shot up his back. Were they safe going out? Sure, the bar itself was crowded which provided them with some cover but their guns weren't on them and if someone attacked, they could get hurt, as well as countless others. He knew that Robert couldn't be kept cooped up forever so this air, even if it was the smog that the French dubbed as air, was what they needed. Their legs needed to be stretched. He rubbed his eyes and swallowed the urge to tell his friend to order another round before calling it a night.
To distract his tiresome worries, he took a large gulp of his drink which caused him to explode in a fit of coughing. He pounded his chest and finally settled down. Doug's face was now flushes and he wiped the map off. It seemed his embarrassing outburst was witnessed by a pretty looking woman who approached them. "Um." He swallowed and caught his breath finally. "I think we're...I think we're good." He said. He wasn't one for small talk and given their current situation, he knew that if they involved a pretty girl, things would get even worse. "I mean, we appreciate your offer miss, but I think we're good here." He then gestured to the map. If this had been a different situation, he would have given his mate the green light to have at the girl but things were complicated and couldn't get anymore so. He rubbed his neck and looked to Robert, unsure of what to say or do next. "Actually...what's the um best way to get to Germany?" He asked her, deciding to not be a total prick about some feminine company.