Author : Desmond Hussey, Staff Writer

Detective Wu found Hitari in an executive hotel on Luna reveling in bohemian delights involving a low-G hot tube, two kilos of Moon Dust and four, identical, hermaphrodite pleasure clones engaged in activities both indescribable and illegal on most civilized worlds.

Wu dismissed the Copies, and as the bruised hermaphrodites gathered their scant belongings he couldn’t help but consider that somewhere, on another world, their Original was living a life of luxury and freedom purchased by these clones indentured servitude. Did Originals who sold their DNA to the Corporation know or care what happened to their Copies, which were often sent to certain death or worse in the service of humanity?

Wu hauled Hitari from the steaming waters of the hot tube and dropped him onto the couch. Even in the moon’s low-G environment it was difficult to maneuver the drugged and confused man, who, like a drowning victim, fights with his savior at the peril of both. Wu mused that it might have been easier to move Hitari had he been unconscious or dead.

As Hitari lay writhing on the plush couch, hands grasping for invisible flesh as his mind replayed hallucinogenic fantasies, Wu punched in an order on the room’s replicator. When the order arrived seconds later, Wu shoved the steaming cup of cogni-stim into Hitari’s air-groping hands and forced the man to drink the heady restorative. Moments later, every muscle in Hitari’s body relaxed and a thin stream of drool flowed from slack jaws.

“Mr. Hitari,” Wu said, “It’s my duty to inform you that one of your Copies has escaped.”

Hitari’s glazed eyes floated within his sockets.

“Mr. Hitari. Do you understand what I’m telling you?”

“How?” Hitari finally croaked.

“We’re uncertain. Somehow one of your Copies escaped the Farlon Insurrection on Licus III where he was assigned as a mercenary. His escape is most unprecedented.”

“What are you doing here?” The man’s eyes swam into focus. “You should be out looking for him, not bothering me!”

“We believe he means to kill you, Mr. Hitari.”

Spittle flew as Hitari laughed harshly. “Don’t be ridiculous. What reason would my clone have to kill me?”

“We believe he means to assume your identity, Mr. Hitari.”

“Ha! How would he accomplish that? Clones have nothing.”

“Copies typically have all the cunning and inborn abilities of their Originals, which are often enhanced through the cloning process itself. You’re ex-military, are you not, Mr. Hitari? Your physical and mental attributes were the very reason your DNA was sought out by the Corporation to begin with.”

“What about the genetic markers preventing such identity theft?”

“This is why I’m here. The Corporation requires a sample of your blood.”

“For what purpose?”

“To test for that genetic marker.” Wu smiled, withdrawing a portable genetic sampler.

Hitari frowned, but presented his arm for Wu, who quickly extracted the required sample. A moment later a green light blinked confirmation that Hitari’s Original DNA coursed through the man’s veins.

“My apologies for disturbing your festivities, Mr. Hitari.” Wu spoke as he rose to leave. “For your protection, I’ll station a detail of bodyguards until the Copy has been found.”

“I trust that will be soon.”

“As do I.” Wu bowed and exited the apartment.

In the spacious washroom, an identical, but slightly plumper and older version of Hitari lay crumpled in the bathtub. IV transfusion tubes dark with blood lay coiled about the man’s body.

Hitari rubbed his arm where the sample was taken. “I will make it easy for you to find him, Mr. Wu, but not too easy.”


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