Otacon sighed. [We want them to think they succeeded then. Take photos of the papers and give them back.]
[You want to let them mess around with UN backup files?]
[It's just one file.] Snake made a disparaging sound at the other end of the CODEC. [I'll deal with Philanthropy on it, okay?]
[Hm. I still don't like this idea.]
[Do you have a better one?] Snake's lack of response was answer enough. [Then do it.] Dave was nearly hissing with rage. This had been someone's idea of a trap? Making his partner doubt himself and his parentage, making Hal think his father had had anything to do with war...
If it had been true, Dave didn't think there was any reason to run from it, of course. Hell, he didn't run from the knowledge that he had been created from Big Boss. But these latest sheets of paper had been designed to knock Hal as off balance as they could.
First: Hal was a clone. Dave was a clone. They had been engineered, both genetically and socially, to be partners and lovers (and had they ever gotten that one wrong, he'd thought sourly as Hal laughed at it).
Second: they weren't the only ones, they were just the first. There was a virtual army of them out there. The Daves of the program could easily be controlled by their Hals' kidnapping. They were all set up to work on covert missions in partners with all the zealous devotion of soldiers for the cause.
If they'd come upon this information without knowing it was false, Dave would have been watching to make sure Hal didn't kill himself by deciding it was all his fault and he had to be the one to go off and fix things. According to the papers, after all, it had been Arthur Emmerich who had designed the program, though he hadn't expected the one he'd taken as his own son to take part in it. Big Boss had funded the research, and the CIA had decided to take over after they found out about it through a leak.
Dave was ready to spit.
And where was this whole thing culminating? Where was the trap they had been so eagerly heading toward? Outer Heaven, of course, the place where their own allies had said there was nothing.
He was so angry that he'd already figured out what he wanted to do. He wanted to go to the old Outer Heaven location and spring the damned trap. All he had to do now was convince Hal that it was the right move.
Speaking of his partner, Hal had been mumbling to himself for the past hour, going back and forth over all the sheets of paper and computer printouts they'd amassed. Time to distract him.
"Hey, Hal. Drop those for a bit. Let's go see a movie or something. It'll get your mind off the whole thing about your dad and this trap they've set for us."
He looked up in surprise, then shook his head and looked back at the papers. "It's not right. It just doesn't seem right at all..."
"No one likes knowing they've been played, now get your head out-"
"That's not what I mean, Dave. I mean this fake stuff, it just doesn't play."
"You mean you want to keep believing it despite the evidence to the contrary."
Hal shook his head and stood up. "No, look, I'll show you. See, this stuff all makes sense together. Not a single hole that you can find, right?"
"First, I get tipped about those databases, and find that my dad was working near Galzburg, which you tell me is Outer Heaven." Hal put the picture of Big Boss and Arthur Emmerich in Pripyat on the table. "Then these pictures. They were working together in Pripyat." He put the transcripts down. "We've got a conversation of it that seems entirely too accurate. I go to the place where they're supposed to have been selling the nuclear material, and find a research lab and guards everywhere."
"So they did a really good job."
"Wait, okay? Then you go off to- Julie's... and find these. Here's you, here's me, here's my dad, here's Big Boss..." He rustled the rest of them. "These two are probably your brothers. Politician would be Solidus, since he was the president, and Black Knight must be Liquid. Then the rest of these, I don't know who they are, but Confederate sounds like it's got some sort of ties to the Patriots. The last three are only connected through him, which might mean they are the patriots..."
"I'm not getting your point, Otacon," said Dave with a shake of his head.
"That's at least four points of contact, five if you include the talk you had with Julie, which she would have had to be prepped for. And a possible sixth if either of us had recognized the location of the other photo, or maybe even more if the other photos had printed. I mean, to do this, logistically you'd need more resources than I would dare to speculate on."
Dave was getting impatient. "And?"
Hal put his hands down on the table. "So the question, Dave, is: with all the resources they're putting into this, why would they make a mistake now?"
Dave frowned. "Good question." He took the printouts of new 'information' they had obtained at the UN. "It's possible they had a leak. Someone tipped Philanthropy."
"What if this is the truth, and someone's trying to make sure we don't believe it?"
Snake sat down and shook his head. "You're going to have to give me more than this to make me believe someone's doing that."
Hal sat down next to him, looking determinedly at the papers on the table. "What would convince you?"
Snake leaned back and nodded. Another good question. What would have happened if they hadn't found the guys who were planting it? They would have thought it real unless it could be proved fake. "What did they have in those two missions that was supposed to have happened? I mean, something we can check on."
"Hm. Cloning labs in Outer Heaven? That could be proven false pretty easily. I mean, we already had the guys from the South African teams check things out."
"And they didn't find a thing. But we'd probably be able to justify that one pretty easily. They just moved, or we couldn't get into the old Outer Heaven base itself. What else is there?"
"Well, we wouldn't really be able to verify the thing about dozens of us running around."
"No, we couldn't say that was true or false, so it would be completely useless."
"I don't know.... I'm a clone can't exactly be tested..."
Dave smirked, a certain glint in his eyes as he pulled the hair sample Julie had given him. "Yeah, we could test that."
Hal looked at him in disbelief before comprehension finally dawned on him. "You got that from Julie's too? Snake!"
"I told her I was an insurance agent, and that we needed to figure out if your dad was who we thought he was. A promise of ten million pounds makes people give you things they might not ordinarily give you."
"And they knew about the vials of blood you got from there, so they must have known about this too! You see, Dave, they planted this in there so that it would be just believable enough that when we tested every angle, we'd come up with a flaw!"
"Hm." Dave nodded. "Unless, of course, you really are a clone."
Hal lifted an eyebrow. "What?"
"Well, if the whole thing is true, then your dad and my dad were together. So unless he was bi, your father wouldn't have had you for a kid, right?"
Hal crossed his arms, looking a little peeved. "And I'm sure Julie gave you the real thing, right?"
Dave shrugged. "Right or wrong, you could prove it with a simple genetic test. If it comes back saying it's your own hair, then everything's up in the air still. But if it comes back saying it's not, then at least you know the UN thing was the real trick."
Hal frowned and stared at the hair, so Dave decided to take another look. It had a few greys scattered in with it. Hal was just starting to get a little bit of grey in his hair, but there was quite a bit more in this.
"Come on Hal. You can't be scared of the results, can you?"
"Of course not." Hal stood up and grabbed the hair sample. "I'll send it out to one of the labs we've used before, and I'll pay them enough to have the results in under two hours."
Hal went to the phone and brusquely made some arrangements. "A courier will be here in about ten minutes." He walked into the kitchen area and tossed Dave a roll of masking tape and a little bag. "Get one or two strands into the bag and label it. We'll save the rest in case we want to retest anything." Dave did as he was told, labeling the sample with the letter A.
Hal came out with a sample of his own hair in a similar baggy, as well as an envelope. He took the tape and marked the sample 'H,' then put the two samples inside the envelope.
"You're really touchy about this, aren't you. You think there's something wrong with being a clone of someone?"
Hal paused and looked at Dave. "No, of course not," he said, looking away. "But I'm not a clone. I'm not him."
"You know, we're all more than just our genetics."
"Yeah," said Hal, a little sarcastically. "We're also a product of how we were raised."
"Okay." Dave sighed inwardly. Hal was going to be very difficult about all of this, wasn't he... "Is there anything else here? The hair could just be yours, after all."
Hal didn't look particularly mollified, but apparently he was willing to keep looking anyways. "Well... anyone who knows us knows that I've been into the CIA databases at least a million times. I could check there pretty easily to see if the CIA has any details about this whole thing."