Watchers Council – Hallway Outside Conference Room – Resume
James and Antonia stood staring, open-mouthed, at James’s clone, who returned their frozen gaze. Lex and Livia peeked around James and Antonia to see what was up.
Finally overcoming her initial surprise, Antonia yelled and pointed, “Hey! That must be the clone!”
James remained in shock. The elevator doors on the opposite side of the hallway opened and the clone quickly ran around the stunned group before diving inside as they re-closed.
“You saw, right?” Antonia asked Lex, who nodded.
Livia instantly took charge and looked above the elevator to see it was going down. “Call security! No one in or out!” Livia commanded as she headed for the stairwell.
Lex activated his link. “Security, this is Lieutenant Colonel Lexington Harris. Initiate building lock-down immediately.”
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Moments Later
Giles and the others were back in their places at the conference table. James sat hunched in his seat, his arms wrapped tightly around himself. Livia was conspicuously absent.
“Where’s Livia?” Katherine asked.
“She’s still looking,” Giles reported. “No luck yet.”
“Well, the building is secure, no way in and no way out,” Lex added.
“What I want to know is how the hell this happened,” Antonia said. “Did you ever order a clone for yourself?” she asked James.
“No! Of course not!” James hotly denied.
Antonia held up her hands in defense. “Hey, it’s not a crime, James. People do it all the time, those who can afford it, anyway.”
“It’s standard procedure for the Council—as well as for many other corporations—to obtain a DNA sample from its employees when they are hired,” Giles explained. “I’m sure James complied, yes?”
“But cloning isn’t supposed to take place without the permission of the employee, right?” Katherine asked.
“Correct,” Jocasta confirmed. “There are exceptions, but only in rare cases of unique, ‘key-man’ employees in extreme medical emergency, which doesn’t apply here.”
“Well, I think it’s a given that the clone was created illegally,” Lex pointed out. “The real mystery is why he’s here.”
“Perhaps it’s as we suspected earlier,” Willowgram offered. “He’s here to turn over the data rod that he took from Dayson.”
“Or maybe he’s here to assassinate me and then replace me!” James said in a panicked voice as he stood. “That’s it. H-H-He’s some kind of body-snatcher pod-person!”
“I’m sure it’s nothing like that,” Katherine said in a gentle voice.
“Yeah, don’t worry, James,” Jocasta added reassuringly. “We’ll find this guy, detain him, and get to the bottom of this.”
“No, I don’t want him detained!” James yelled angrily. “I want him gone! He doesn’t have the right to exist!”
“Well, we’ll…ummm…cross that bridge when we get there,” Giles said. “Right now we need to find him.”
Giles activated his link and called security. “This is Chairman Sebastian Giles. We have an intruder alert. The intruder is an exact look-alike of our Computer Center Coordinator, James Wells.” Giles listened a moment. “Yes, that’s right. I want the intruder detained for questioning, so lethal force is not to be used, understood? I’ll expect an update every fifteen minutes.”
Giles ended his call and turned back to the group, directing his attention to James, who was still standing. “James, you’ll clearly have to stay put or else you’ll confuse the search.”
“I’ll head straight for the Computer Center then,” James replied. “I’ll keep trying to crack those encrypted files.”
“Katie and I will stay here with Willow and keep researching as well,” Jocasta said.
“Lex and I will head up top and keep an eye on the vehicle hangar after we escort James,” Antonia added.
“I’ll be in my office,” Giles said. “Keep me posted.”
Watchers Council – Hallway Near Computer Center – Moments Later
Jessica turned a corner and looked down the long, empty hallway. She glanced back in the direction she had been, then threw her arms up in the air and let out a frustrated sigh.
“They couldn’t put up signs?” Grumbling in annoyance, she turned and began marching down the long hall.
As she rounded the corner at the other end, Jessica ran straight into James. Her brother had been walking quickly with his head down, so he stumbled when she bumped into him. Looking up, he saw who he’d run into, and his eyes narrowed.
“What are you doing back down here?” James snapped, trying to step around her. “Shouldn’t you be off signing things?”
Jessica’s jaw dropped, but she immediately shut it and stepped in front of him, blocking his exit. “All right, little brother. This ends now. What the hell is your problem?”
“I’m not your little brother! We’re the same age!” James exclaimed. “Stop treating me like I’m some incompetent kid!”
With a forceful push, James finally got around Jessica and stormed down the hallway. Jessica followed closely.
“Oh, yeah? Since when? Mom and Dad made me the responsible one because you were always too scatterbrained to take care of yourself!” Jessica panted as she struggled to keep up with James. Finally, she grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled on him until he stopped. James grunted and slapped her hand away.
“Look, Jessie, whatever childhood trauma you were hoping to hash out on this trip, get over it. I’m not interested. I’ve got work to do, okay? Work that’s way more important than making stupid movies and dating every hot new guy that wins an Oscar.”
When Jessica opened her mouth to reply, James rushed on. He waved a finger at her as he ranted. “And before you go off on some video game spiel, I’m not just the local computer nerd around here. I’m a valuable employee. Or, at least I try to be. But now there’s some stupid clone running around, pretending to be me, and I’ve got to find him and stop him, or I could lose my job, and my life here would be over. So kindly leave me the hell alone!”
James started to storm off again, but Jessica ran in front of him, a look of confusion on her face. “They activated one of your clones? Why?”
Frustrated, James threw his arms up in the air and rolled his eyes. “I don’t know, Jess! Why don’t you–” James did a double-take. “Wait, what did you just say?” he asked.
Jessica crossed her arms and smirked at him. “Oh, now you wanna talk?”
Teeth clenched together, James growled. “Jessie!”
“Okay, fine!” Jessica uncrossed her arms and placed her hands on her hips. “For your information, Mom and Dad had your DNA stored for future cloning when you went to work for Hubris.”
“What?” James exclaimed. “Without telling me?”
“Yeah, I had the same reaction. They had mine stored when I signed on with the Guild. I found out last year when I went in to have my kidneys replaced.”
At this, James raised an eyebrow. “You had surgery? You didn’t tell me that.”
Jessica’s eyes narrowed in annoyance. “You didn’t ask. Now do you wanna hear this or not?”
James gave a put-upon sigh and didn’t respond. After pausing a moment to catch her breath, Jessica continued.
“I didn’t find out until afterwards that the donor was a clone which had been created from the DNA they had ordered. Our loving parents said that it was a graduation gift. Funny how they neglected to mention it back when I actually left college.” She rubbed her shoulder, suddenly weary from the conversation.
James’s face tightened in deep thought. “I don’t think this has anything to do with what Mom and Dad did.” He paused then continued. “It doesn’t matter anyway. As soon as we find the little body snatcher, we’ll take him out of circulation.”
“What do you mean?” Jessica asked in an alarmed voice. “You’re going to kill him?”
“Well…yeah,” James said sarcastically. “I did not authorize a cloning, so as far as I’m concerned, he doesn’t have the right to exist.”
“But he does exist now, and he’s a real person, whether you want him to be or not. You can’t just–”
“Oh, but I can, and I’m going to.”
Jessica stared at James in disbelief. “That wasn’t you at the picnic today, was it?”
“Picnic?” James asked, confused.
“God, I should have known,” she said to herself, shaking her head.
“You went to a picnic with my clone, and you didn’t know it wasn’t me?”
“I knew it wasn’t like you, but…I wanted to believe you had changed,” Jessica said in a pained voice. Then her tone chilled. “But you haven’t changed a bit, have you? You’re still the same cold and callous–”
“Me?” James interrupted angrily. “You’re the one who’s too famous for her family, who–”
“Hey, I’m not the one who treats people like they’re just programs in a computer or characters in a game! Oh, don’t need him? Okay, delete! You can’t play Dungeon Master with people’s lives, deciding on a whim who lives and who dies!”
“It’s my life, not his!” James countered. “And you don’t know anything about me!”
James stomped away down the hall, leaving a furious Jessica behind.
Watchers Council – Jocasta’s Office – Same Time
Jocasta and Katherine were each at a computer, aiding in the research for their current crises. Jocasta resumed trying to track Tyrell and Rayne while Katherine continued digging in the files from Dayson Laboratory.
Katherine paused in her work and looked over at Jocasta. “This whole cloning thing is kinda weird, huh?”
“I guess,” Jocasta replied, her eyes still directed at her screen.
“It’s just strange,” Katherine continued, “to know that there’s a person out there that’s another you.”
Jocasta finally met Katherine’s eyes. “It’s no stranger than knowing you’re reincarnated,” she said with a chuckle.
“Yeah, I guess,” Katherine agreed with a forced smile.
When Jocasta turned her attention back to her work, Katherine frowned and looked away.
Watchers Council – Computer Center – Later
James sat at his desk, trying for the umpteenth time to decrypt the hidden files from Dayson Laboratory. He finally pushed away from his desk with a huff of frustration.
He sighed and then leaned his head over so that he could massage his neck muscles. When he lifted his head, he rubbed his temples and grimaced in pain.
He opened his desk drawer and pulled out a bottle of aspirin. He opened the bottle and poured several tablets into his palm. Then he got up and headed for the restroom.
Watchers Council – Computer Center Restroom – Later
At the sink, James popped the aspirin tablets into his mouth and gulped down some water from a glass. When he finished off the water, he set down the glass, and his eyes settled on the mirror.
For a moment, James stared at his reflection. Then he frowned and glanced away. When he looked back, he reached out and touched the surface of the mirror. An expression of decision and resolution came over his face, and he rushed from the room.
Watchers Council – Hallway Near Computer Center – Moments Later
James hurried down the hallway towards the elevator. As he turned the corner, he ran into a figure who just emerged from the stairwell. When he realized who it was, he backed away. James and his clone locked eyes. Slowly, they circled one another, gaping in disbelief.
“I don’t know what you’re up to,” James warned, “but you can’t have my life.”
“Your life?” the clone replied in a haughty tone. “How do you know it’s not my life?”
“Because I’ve been living it, and you haven’t!”
“They can make you believe anything they want–do anything they want,” the clone replied. “Maybe you’re already–”
“Stop messing with my head!” James screamed as he attacked his look-alike.
Watchers Council – Elevator – Same Time
Jessica shifted nervously in place as the elevator car moved. She looked at her reflection in the mirrored surface of the elevator walls.
“Okay, you can do this,” she told herself. “You’re both adults. You should be able to talk this out. There’s no sense in continuing all this fighting.”
The elevator doors opened.
Watchers Council – Hallway Near Computer Center – Moments Later
When Jessica emerged from the elevator, she instantly saw James and his clone scuffling on the floor. She froze in place, not knowing what to do.
At that instant, Livia came out of the stairwell. When she saw, the ongoing fight, she activated her link. “Security, I need security to the Computer Center, now!” Then she ran towards Jessica, pulling her sidearm.
Livia pointed her gun at the two men wrestling angrily on the floor. She directed it at one James, then the other, clearly confused about who was who.
“Which one’s the real James?” Livia desperately asked Jessica.
Jessica shook her head. “I don’t know!”
James managed to get his clone pinned, although they were still grappling. Mid-struggle, the clone found Jessica with his eyes. “Jessica, don’t let him hurt me,” the clone pleaded. “We’re family.”
Jessica’s mouth opened in shock and then realization. Livia looked at Jessica expectantly. Jessica’s expression became sad. Then she pointed out James on top. “That’s James.”
The clone kicked James off and began to run away. Livia pointed her weapon at the clone’s back and discharged it, sending a burst of electricity into the clone. The clone convulsed and hit the floor unconscious. Livia ran to his side.
James got to his feet and joined his sister. “How did you know it was me?”
“You never would have said ‘we’re family’,” she answered sadly as she went to the elevator and pushed the call button.
Jocasta’s Apartment – Evening
Jocasta and Katherine sat across from each other at the dining table. Jocasta was eating her dinner, but Katherine merely picked at hers.
“Katie, what’s wrong?” Jocasta finally asked.
“Nothing, why?” Katherine replied.
“Because the usually ravenous slayer hasn’t eaten more than two bites since we sat down.”
“I’m just not hungry.”
“It’s more than that,” Jocasta said worriedly. “You’ve been distant ever since the other day. Katie, what aren’t you telling me?”
Katherine cast her gaze down in shame, hiding her face behind her long blonde hair. Jocasta didn’t speak; she simply waited. Katherine bit her lip and looked up. When she saw Jocasta’s determined face, Katherine sighed and lifted her head fully.
“I know, I’m sorry,” the slayer said. “I…the other day, when I was waiting on you to get back from seeing Giles, I- I got a little bored, so I went to look at your old books, you know, the ones on the shelf in the bedroom?”
“So…” Jocasta prodded.
“I went to open one of them, and a picture fell out…a picture of Tara.”
“I’m sorry,” Katherine said, hanging her head again. “I didn’t mean to be nosy, snooping through your stuff.”
Jocasta got up and moved to sit next to Katherine. She touched the slayer’s arm gently. “Katie, I don’t mind if you look at my things,” she assured the blonde. “I hope you know that. I want you to feel completely welcome here.”
Katherine smiled in response and took Jocasta’s hand. “I do, it’s just…it kinda freaked me out when I saw the picture. I mean, I look just like her.” She paused and then continued. “How do I know where she ends, and I begin? And…Is it me you love or just the memory of a woman I happen to look like?”
Rocked by the admission, Jocasta didn’t have an immediate answer.
Watchers Council – Outside The Council Chambers – The Next Morning
James and Jocasta stood near the entrance, speaking with Giles before he went inside to open the Council meeting.
“What’s going to happen, Giles?” James asked.
“I don’t know,” Giles admitted. “First, Tyrell and Rayne escape, now this. Frankly, the Council’s in an uproar.”
“I know I said I wanted him gone,” James said, “but I don’t really want him dead. I mean, he shouldn’t exist, but…whether I like or not, he does exist, and I guess he deserves chance at life. As long as he’s far away from me.”
“And as long as he’s not an evil, body-snatching pod person,” Jocasta added with a playful nudge to James’s ribs. James had to smile.
“I’ll do what I can, James, but this is much bigger than just one man’s unauthorized clone. I can’t promise anything.”
James nodded, and Giles went inside the Council Chambers.
Watchers Council – Council Chambers – Moments Later
Giles once again stood at the podium staring out at his fellow Councilors.
“Here we go again,” he muttered to himself.
Suddenly, he felt a hand on his shoulder and glanced up to find Veronica smiling at him. He smiled back.
“If this is going to turn out to be par for the course, I should demote you for getting me into this position,” he said playfully. Veronica tried to hit him on the arm, but he dodged and turned his attention to the gathering of Councilors. He sobered and drew a deep breath then rapped the gavel on the podium. Once the room had quieted, he opened the meeting.
“I realize that this is probably beginning to become redundant,” he announced to the group, “but we have another serious situation. As my earlier report indicated, within the past twenty-four hours, information has come to light concerning the existence of a Council-sponsored medical research facility that has been conducting illegal cloning. Even more disturbing is the fact that one of the clones produced by the facility is an identical duplicate of our head computer center coordinator, James Wells. The clone was temporarily at large, but has now been detained. Our present task is to decide what to do with the facility.”
Morgan Travers stood up and was recognized by Giles.
“Clearly, the only sensible course of action is to initiate an immediate shutdown of the facility. Any and all specimens involved in the illegal cloning operation should be destroyed, and all records should be classified.”
“That seems a bit extreme,” Veronica interjected. “After all, we still have no idea why these clones were created in the first place or if it was one person in particular that did the cloning and not the facility on the whole. The situation warrants further investigation.”
“Which would only leave the Council open to further attacks in the media,” Travers countered. “We’ve already been skewered by that Lance woman over that debacle at the charity hospital. I’m sure she would leap at the opportunity to exploit a scandal like this. Our approval ratings would plummet, and we would find our already difficult job of protecting the public even more difficult.”
Murmurs of agreement rolled through the Council, and Travers’ mouth lifted in a smug smile. Giles looked at Veronica worriedly.
Watchers Council – Outside The Council Chambers – Later
After the majority of the councilors poured out of the Council Chambers, James and Jocasta finally saw Giles emerge, and he didn’t look happy. They quickly joined him near the doorway.
Giles gave a quick smile in greeting, then returned to a stony expression. He looked at James and shook his head. “There was nothing I could do. I’m sorry, James.”
James’s face fell into shock.
“What happened?” Jocasta asked.
“The Council has voted to shut down the facility. All legitimate medical research and services will be transferred to another laboratory, but all unauthorized work is to be completely classified.”
“But what about the–?”
“All illegally stored DNA and its derivatives, including all clones, those activated and those in development or in stasis, are to be destroyed.”
James head shot up. He glared angrily at Giles, then stormed off without another word. Giles dropped his gaze, a look of failure on his face.
Jocasta touched her mentor’s arm. “It’s not your fault, Giles. You did what you could.”
Giles lifted his head. “I know…still…” He didn’t complete his sentence.
Watchers Council – Computer Center – Mid-Morning
James sat moping at his desk. His eyes kept glancing at the small business card that was lying on the far corner. He finally picked it up. On it were three large stars in a line and large text that read, “Orion Hotel.” A room number was written on the front. James fingered the card several times and then punched the numbers into his keypad.
He shifted in his chair as he listened to the phone ring.
“Orion Hotel, how may I help you?” a perky voice answered.
“Jessica Wells’ room please, room 7480.”
“I’m sorry, but room 7480 has already checked out, sir,” the voice said.
“Oh,” James replied in a disappointed voice. “Thank you.”
After disconnecting, James slumped in his chair, holding his head in his hands. When he straightened up, the sadness in his face had turned to anger. He stood up and walked away from his desk. When he reached the area where Anya was working, he stopped and called to her.
“Anya, if anyone calls, tell them I took the day off,” he announced and then headed for the exit.
“Wait,” Anya said to James’s retreating back. “You can’t just leave! What about your new work ethic? James?”
James ignored the android and walked out of the computer center.
Watchers Council – Travers’ Office – Late Afternoon
Travers sat before his computer, Tyrell’s image showing on his screen.
“Are you sure the Dayson situation has been taken care of?” Tyrell demanded.
“Yes,” Travers replied. “The clone has been destroyed, the entire facility has been shut down, and the matter has been classified at the highest security level.”
“And the data rod that the clone removed?”
Travers cleared his throat. “It has yet to be recovered, but Dr. So assures us that it contained nothing incriminating.”
Tyrell grumbled and scowled. “Keep me posted,” he said gruffly before ending the call.
James’s Apartment – Same Time
James trudged into his living room, a slim letter-box package in his hands. He plopped onto his sofa and sighed. After a moment, he finally looked at his package. It had no return address. He carefully opened the box and slid out the contents. His eyes widened in surprise.
Watchers Council – Main Entrance – Same Time
Calling it a day, Jocasta, Katherine, and Giles walked out of Council HQ together. They gathered by the flagpole, unaware that they were being watched.
The three of them wore saddened expressions until Giles uttered a comment that made them all smile. They laughed, and then Jocasta suddenly snapped to attention and saluted Giles. Katherine laughed again, but Giles put his hands on his hips, clearly not as amused with Jocasta’s joke as the two women were.
Across the street in the shadows of the nearby building, Sean Rayne lowered his binoculars.
“Be seeing you,” Rayne said, an arrogant smirk twisting his lips.
End of Duplicity
Next on Watchers: Restoration …