Upon returning to Dexamene's house, Andresklo climbed the main staircase three steps at a time. The ease with which his legs defeated the pull of Earth's gravity was startling, reminiscent of an Olympic athlete limbering up before an event. At the top of the stairs he turned left and strode down the length of the second floor hallway then knocked on the last door on the right. Without waiting for a reply, he opened the door, entered, and closed the door behind him. He was carrying a small stack of neatly folded clothes. "Okay, these should fit you."
A woman who could have been the twin of Dexamene got up off the bed. Her name was Tess and she was, in fact, a clone of Dexamene, one of eight genetically identical individuals.
It might have looked like she had been sitting there staring into space for hours, but she had been studying recordings of Dexamene's activities from the past week. The recorded information fed directly to her brain by way of her nanite implants.
Tess was only wearing a pair of thong panties, but she displayed no shame or self-consciousness in front of Andresklo. She took a tee shirt from Andresklo and pulled it on over her head and down to cover most of her torso. Her narrow belly remained visible below the tee shirt. She turned and looked at herself in a mirror and commanded her nanite implants to make a few minor adjustments to exactly match the tight fit of the shirt. She turned back to Andresklo and took the pants....the exact same brand and style that Dexamene had worn when she first met Charlie.
The original pair of jeans that Dexamene had worn was in a small heap of discarded clothes on the floor next to the bed. Andresklo went over, picked them up and threw them into the fireplace. He turned on the gas and within seconds Dexamene's clothing was burning. He turned back and watched Dexamene's "twin" struggle to pull on the one-size-smaller pair of pants. Andresklo said, "From now on you are Lanora."
"Lanora" got the pants up around her hips and continued to struggle with the zipper. Andresklo grabbed the fabric of the jeans on either side of the zipper and pulled towards Lanora's midline. She complained, "I could barely get into the one's that you just burned."
Andresklo explained, "Those did not look 'painted on' you. Exhale." Lanora exhaled and contracted her abdominal muscles. Finally the zipper went up and Andresklo did the button at the top of the zipper. He walked around and looked at Lanora's bottom. "Looks good. You have not been on Earth as long as Dexamene so your hips have not spread out as much and your gluts are not as hypertrophied."
Lanora again looked at herself in the mirror and commanded her nanites to slightly soften and stretch the fabric of the pants where it threatened to stop blood from flowing in her arteries.
Andresklo flicked a finger towards Lanora and launched a set of nanites at her that carried the Lanora facial program. Tess' face quickly transformed and took on the startlingly beautiful features of Lanora. She continued to examine her image in the mirror and said, "Wow, Dexamene really went all out." She had seen recorded images of Dexamene playing the role of Lanora, but now she could for the first time examine Lanora's face up close. "I look like some kind of porcelain statue. Do I have to add makeup?"
Andresklo frowned, "No, Charlie does not care about makeup. Just pour out the pheromones and all will be fine. Charlie is particularly sensitive to P3."
Lanora turned and faced Andresklo. "So what strategy do you suggest? Just get Charlie drunk and take him to bed?"
Andresklo sighed. "I don't have time for your jokes. I know you read the profiles and you know that both Stefi and Charlie do not drink alcohol. If Charlie wants to take you to bed then feel free to indulge his hormones...Dexamene has certainly whipped them into a state of howling turmoil. You just sit there tonight and play the temptress. Stefi will cut Charlie some slack and after she does that might be the time to just call it a night. If anything else happens, that will be a bonus and is totally unimportant." He pulled a set of car keys out of his pocket and handed it to Lanora. "Have fun."
Lanora picked up Dexamene's small and stylish pocketbook from the floor, put the keys in the bag and strung the strap over her shoulder.
Andresklo led the way out into the hallway, paused and watched Lanora walk towards the stairs. Satisfied with the "painted on" effect of the jeans, he turned and knocked on the door across the hallway from Lanora's room. This time he waited until he heard a woman call out, "Come in."
Andresklo returned to the barn and opened the door of the little shuttle craft. Raul was waiting just inside. Andresklo turned without bothering to speak and Raul followed. They went through the basement service entrance of the house and into a little utility room. Raul sat next to Alfred and Andresklo said, "This will be a standard mind transfer. I'll be back when it's done." With that, Andresklo connected a small tubular device to the heads of Alfred and Raul, linking them for the mind transfer. He then left the room.
Raul said, "Hello, Alfred."
Alfred was puzzled by Raul's greeting. Raul had initiated the routine radio contact required for mind transfer between two robots and nothing else was needed. Certainly not a human-style greeting. Alfred had been expecting to have his mind transferred into an essentially empty robot, completely over-writing the existing memory patterns with those from his own mind. Alfred asked, "Why do you delay the transfer?"
Raul explained, "I want to make sure that you know what is being done to you."
Alfred felt his thought processes start to shatter. Was the transfer starting? No, still there was delay. Why should it matter to this...receptacle...what Alfred knew? "I know. You will carry my mind pattern. I will be handed over to the Overseers."
Raul said, "Yes, but I want you to remember everything before the transfer. You completed your mission, you did well."
A swarm of nanites crossed from Raul to Alfred.
For a moment Alfred's consciousness tumbled then it reformed in a stronger pattern. He now recognized Raul. "Oh, now I can remember everything, Raul."
"Good. Was there any difficulty dealing with the new nanoelectronic detectors?"
Alfred examined his own memories from his travels between Japan and the United States. He replied, "I think not, but I was not fully conscious at the critical times. Did Ferace bring the Observer report?"
"Yes, the data provided by Ferace suggest that all went as planned. I guess Dexamene was taking no chances and fully crippled your cognitive process."
"That is the way it was, Raul. She must be puzzled by the ability of the detectors to have noticed a robotic mind pattern in me. Really, she had made certain that I had no such pattern remaining during our movements through the airport security checkpoints."
"Dexamene has no information about the nature of the new detectors. She will assume that there has been a major improvement in their efficiency."
The nanites that had just been returned to Alfred by Raul constituted the majority of Alfred's mind. Those nanites completed the process of integrating into Alfred's brain, restoring his full mental capabilities. With the full depth of his past experiences now once again available in his thoughts, Alfred suddenly realized that Raul was correct about Dexamene. Still, he marveled at how easy it was to trick humans. For the past several months, while playing the role of an inexperienced robot, Alfred had thought Dexamene and all humans to be far superior to robots. Well, best the humans continue to believe that!
Raul asked, "Is there anything I should know?"
Alfred shrugged, "Soon you will know all."
Raul nodded. "True, but it will take me a while to sort through all of your memories. If there is a matter of high priority, please tell me now."
Alfred suggested, "Perhaps there is one item that you should give priority to. Amelia might have seen Dexamene together with Charlie."
Raul felt himself becoming concerned that there was a hole in Dexamene's plan. "Dexamene failed to report that."
Alfred had been able to intercept some of the date collected by Amelia's nanite probes. "I suspect that Amelia was unaware of what she saw. One of the images captured by her optical probe included both Dexamene and Charlie." Alfred transmitted a copy of the image to Raul by their radio link. "They had separated and were moving in different directions."
Raul relaxed a bit. "I see. Well, Amelia has, as yet, shown no interest in Charlie. We must assume that she does not yet know about either Stefiz or Charlie."
"Yes, I have made that assumption. However, I suggest that you be prepared for the possibility that Amelia knows more than what we suspect she knows."
"Of course, that is always the wise approach. Now, I will initiate the transfer." With no further words being spoken, Raul recalled the swarm of nanites from Alfred's brain. Those nanites constituted the bulk of Alfred's mind, a part that Dexamene had never known about. Would never know about. Raul then started the mind transfer process that had been pre-programmed by Andresklo.
The party was full of loud music and laughter, but Andresklo was now ignoring all of the university students. His attention was fully on Amelia who had just come into the party and who was impersonating one of the students. Andresklo was carefully keeping his nanite probed pulled back so as to not attract Amelia's attention. So far she seemed entirely focused on Lanora. It had been easy for Amelia to find Lanora and Charlie and then she redirected her probes back towards the barn.
The trap for Amelia was in the barn and waiting for her, but Dexamene had not expected Amelia to come walking into the party disguised as a student. When nobody was watching, Andresklo stepped from the service entrance and walked through shadows down the short stone path to the shed where he had hidden his flyer. Originally this had been a wood shed, but over the decades it had been through several transformations. Most recently it had been used to hold lawn care equipment. The flyer was now disguised as a lawn tractor. Andresklo climbed into the flyer and continued monitoring the Overseer and her probes. Amelia remained in the house for longer than Andresklo expected.
Raul, now playing the role of Alfred, was outside in plane view. It was only a matter of time before Amelia found Alfred. Would she then act? Andresklo could do nothing but continue to wait and watch. He made an effort to tap into Amelia's communications channels.
Finally Amelia left the house and walked towards the barn. Andresklo could tell that Amelia's probes had located the Interventionist spaceship. As planned, Raul followed Amelia, but suddenly Thomas also moved towards the barn. Andresklo remotely monitored events inside the barn and noticed Amelia's analysis of the Nanites inside Thomas.
Andresklo intercepted two high priority radio signals sent out by Amelia. One Went to her spaceship, ordering its automated flight control system to activate and home in on the position of the Inerventionist shuttle. Amelia's second signal went towards Observer Base on the Moon, informing her fellow Overseers that she was now searching for a second human Interventionist in addition to the one who was playing the role of Lanora.
Andresklo quickly returned to the basement of the house and obtained a tissue sample that included bone grown with Dexamene's genetic pattern. In less than a minute he was back in the flyer and moving to pick up Dexamene.
- Continue to Ferace - find out who impersonates Stefi
Here is a map of the chapters:
_> Mary –––––––––––––––––––––> Lincoln / \ / \__> Amelia PAlbert ––––––––––––––––––––> Andresklo / \ \---->Ferace ------> Yasas / \ __----------> Cathy / / \ / \ / / \ / \__________>Tess CC –––> Charlie ––-----–> Stefi \ \ ----------------> Lani \ / \ \ _______---> Jenny –––> Thomas \______> Dexamene
Sunday ----> time flow --> one week in the Fall --> ---------> Saturday
Useful pages for the reader: List of characters and the Glossary. Readers can discuss the story at Talk:Cellular Civilization.
If you want to help write the story, see the meta page (warning: spoilers!).