"Where is the Commander? What happened?" Karen said as she woke up from the bed, back in her restraints. "My head hurts." Jilly tried to look where Jilly was. "Take it easy girl, you're back again with me. You're safe now." Jilly soothed Karen a bit and sat down next to her. "We had to move quickly on you…" "What do you mean?" Karen looked questioning at Jilly. "You seemed like you took your time before, with eating and all."
Jilly started to untie Karen from the bed. "You were down a long time and you needed the nutrients after all. We're low on this medical kind of stuff, so I decided to give you some decent food instead." Jilly replied to Karen. "You know, just in case things might have gone wrong, the least I could do was offer you some decent grub." Jilly unscrewed the hose from Karen's mask and screwed on a similar air filter as one she wore on her mask. "At this time of day, the air pollution gets really bad… Heheheh"
"You're being much too kind Jilly." A voice on the other side of Karen suddenly said. "Is that you Commander?" Reacted Karen with a smile, as she recognised the muffled voice. "Are you being sarcastic again, Nuage?" Jilly said in response to the remark about her behaviour. "Oh I wouldn't dare! After all, I know what you're capable of." Nuage winked at Karen. "A-are you…" Karen stumbled. "I'm sorry to have to break your dream, but no. I'm not your Commander." Karen's smile made way for an expression of disbelief. "Well, technically I am a Commander, but not of your ship. I command a special unit of which Jilly is a part. We're not with many, but we know the cause we're fighting for."
Nuage looked at Jilly. "You know that, do you Jilly?" "Of course…" Jilly grumbling answered. "I presume you didn't inform Mrs. Karen about our mission, now did you? You were probably too busy playing around with her, right?" Nuage made an imposing impression on Karen and Jilly nonetheless. Jilly grinded her teeth. Nuage was putting a feeling of guilt on Jilly. "Y-you know that's not my job. You should be happy I didn't kill her!" Jilly tried to defend herself, but Nuage wouldn't budge and looked at Jilly with a cold and dominating stare. "Please don't go against me. You've seen what the consequences are, haven't you…" Nuage warned Jilly with a knowledge only they seemed aware of. "Just… Shut up…" Jilly continued untying Karen.
Nuage turned her attention to Karen. "Now, I'm sorry we treated you this way, but it all went so very quickly. You see, Jilly is extremely impulsive and acts very quickly." Karen listened closely. "We're very much like you, artificial humans that is. We're nothing but clones.” Karen was shocked. “However.” Nuage continued. “We have feelings, like genuine human beings. They wanted us to be like them, so we became like them." Jilly finished removing the final strap of Karen. "But we're better than humans. We can endure longer, we can work harder and we're faster." Jilly nodded at Nuage's arguments. "Why should we ever listen to them? Why don't we even have the same rights?" Karen was astonished by these words.
"Us artificial humans are just disposable products to them, like a computer or a pencil." Jilly said to Karen. "We think on our own, we have built up an opinion and the will to be free, or at least be treated as humans!" Nuage continued her speech. "They call us malfunctioning products, but since we're made in the image of humans, it's only natural we would have an independent way of thinking! Do you understand Karen?" Karen nodded and said. "That… That sounds very logical…" "If they want us to be like humans, we should be treated accordingly!" Jilly added. "Anyone who disagrees with this does not deserve to live. Real or artificial, human or humanoid. I don't care!"
<- | ->
And the plot thickens! Holy macaroni!
And why are they all wearing gas masks? The answer will come in the next part
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I don't think so, somehow... Nuage speech... "we're better than humans. We can endure longer, we can work harder and we're faster." That make me think they are... Dreselandeses supremasists?
Somehow, I doubt they are clones of KASPAROV CIA, maybe from a smaller company... or GENTEK? That could explain the disdain Jilly have for Shiks of Kasparov!
Wonderfully done, and nice story!
Hooray! The big reveal has occurred! Jilly is a clone herself all along.
I suspected all along, either by coincidence or design, mostly because Jilly looks so much like the class 2 guards that were chasing Karen from the beginning. For that matter, she even acts much like one of them from the textual description. Her fetishes may be her own, however?
What I am surprised at, is that I sort of expected Jilly to be an "independent contractor", a bounty hunter, and professional kidnapper who kidnapped shiks, stealing them from their owners and taking them to some middle party. Using the vehicle metaphor, "Grand Theft Shik".
It turns out that Jilly is an agent operating with a clone rebellion group? It makes a lot of sense, as Jilly didn't seem to be quite her own boss at the beginning either; more like she was working for some other authority sent in for a temp job. And then she decided to rescue/kidnap a runaway shik on her own impulse. Then, what with her resources, and knowledge, made her seem like a professional kidnapper of shiks.
Now, it looks like she may be a recruiter for this shiks rights organization?
Clearly Nuage is running the show at this level. Hmn? "Nuage" = "New Age"? Nuage might be a dreselandes shik? Certainly she has the arrogance to be one!
This is where Karen had to, and needs to, choose her words with great care. Not the least once Jilly made her bombshell statement. Just when we think that Jilly's position, once defined, is lessened, we find that she does indeed have a bit of a homicidal streak?
Very interested to hear of the reason for the gas masks! It is due to environmental concerns. Possibly the colony is on a hostile world and requires domes and such and air scrubbers? It might even be a massive space station, or an outpost on a big rock in space for all we know. But regardless, where these runaway clones hide out is not terribly healthy! It might well be in the maintenance infrastructure of the colony, where breathable air is not a given?
So Karen's escape was not foreseen? Jilly did indeed act on her own impulse. That would explain Nuage's irritation and harsh words. On the other hand, Jilly seems to have made the right decision, as Karen is at least interesting to Nuage. I do wonder about Jilly's original intended job?
I also wonder what will likely come in search of Karen? And why did Karen run away in the first place? Was she deserting her position at all? She seems to have confused Nuage with her commander aboard ship, perhaps another dreselandes? Karen seems eager to submit, but then she might be inclined to submit to the local postal worker or a kid from the video arcade as well!
Did Karen merely leave the ship for a "look see"? Were those "class 2" guards part of the ship detail, or were THEY trying to steal her? Or they were merely "cops" of the colony trying to round up a stray shik? The battle cruiser angle has changed things from just thinking of Karen as escaping from the local clone facility with the class 2 guards chasing down their escapee as I first imagined.
Thanks for all the information!