One of a Kind

by Retired5262020


Intro

-[INITIALIZING]-

-[ENDING SLEEP CYCLE]-

-[GOOD MORNING, #0451]-

With a loud hiss of chilled and pressurized air escaping into the warm, room temperature air outside,the floor-mounted door of the cryo-pod opens.

With a discontented grunt, you pull yourself from the cramped sleeping space. Standing with a yawn, you stretch your arms up and curse the fact that you never seem rested after any length of cryogenic sleep. The fact that you have to sleep with a lot of your gear doesn't help either. Taking a look around, you see the hundreds of other pods still in use in the huge warehouse like room, all of them arranged in rows. You can’t see the occupants inside the cylindrical machines due to the frost on the viewing windows, but you are already aware of what the faces behind them look like. After all, you look at the same one in the mirror every day. You take a deep breath and grimace at the stale, overly-sterilized air of the cryo chamber. The monotone, gunmetal gray that the walls and the pods possess don't help the atmosphere any. In fact, it makes it all feel very artificial and gloomy.

You twist your neck, letting loose a series of satisfying pops as your mind sluggishly starts up. Why is it you have quarters here, when technically you are a listed lab agent? You can worry about that later; right now you're pretty sure you have something that you need to be doing. Not even a second later, the DatPad on your wrist beeps, telling you that you have a new message and that you were probably awoken for a reason. Looking at the small, unassuming screen, you give it a mental command to open up a larger, holographic window.
You feel a tiny itch in the back of your head, the one that your comlink implant always makes when you use it. The standard implant can be used to interact with a number of electronics, like you’re now doing with the DatPad. It’s a shame that you only have the standard one, the more advanced models can do more
A translucent blue window materializes up over your wrist in a muted flash, showing off the message that was sent to you.


Anon.

Einstein-Rosen Bridge generator prototype is going into alpha testing and you were selected to help. Come to Lab 91 with your standard gear. We also have a few new toys for you.

Dr. Emma.


“Einstein-whata bridge? The wormhole thing?”

Did they really get you for something as stupid as this? More than once Frontier Laboratories had tried to pull this, and ended with about ten people dead. It took all day to clean the walls off... Now the eggheads of the theoretical physics and the astronautics departments want to try and tear a hole in space-time and shove you through.

“I don't get paid enough for this shit…” you mutter to yourself. Well, that would be true if you were paid at all. Looking down at yourself, you see your usual carbon microfiber outfit, fitted with all sorts of pockets filled with anything a random clone would need during their sometimes tragically short, life here at Frontier Laboratories. Why didn't you get better equipment? You’re not some run-of-the-mill flesh puppet like the others. You would sit around and complain more, but Dr. Emma and the rest of her little group don't like to be kept waiting. You start off to the corner of the warehouse-like room, your feet making an audible ‘clang’ noise on the steel floor.

Coming up to what seems to be a glass circle set to the floor surrounded by smaller, LED-like nodes, you step on it and a holographic display immediately pops up from the node closest to you.

[Thank you for using Frontier Laboratories’ ClearTrans©!]
[DESTINATION?]
[____________]

Did they really need to put that little ‘thank you’ during the startup of one of these things? It's just a teleporter, after all. Oh well, seems wasteful to you but apparently not to the higher-ups. A thought from you makes the back of your head itch and puts “Lab 91” in the input bar. Then, with a disorienting falling sensation and the smell of ozone, light erupts from under you. With the stereotypical sound of arcing electricity, your whole body is shorn into countless clusters of atoms that are converted into photons. Those photons shoot down into the glass platform of the teleporter and through a fiber-optic cable across the grounds of the laboratory. Once you are at the right destination, the bits of light that compose your being rise up through the glass bottom of another teleporter, where they are converted back into atoms and reassembled in a split second by precise pulses of magnetism. In a flash, you’re left at the side of a sterile white room standing on another ClearTrans were a number of people in lab coats rush about like headless chickens.

A wave of nausea crashes into you with a vengeance. You would think after the numerous times you done this that the horrid feeling would go away at some point, but apparently Frontier needs to make everything you do unpleasant. After getting your bearings, you turn your attention to your surroundings. You raise an eyebrow as you watch countless scientists and lab hands sprint to and fro, not even one bothering to stop and ask why you are in the lab. This must be something really big.

Could Emma have actually gotten her wormhole generator to work? Really, you doubt it, but anything is possible if you think about it. Navigating through the sea of bodies rushing around in the polished white room, you make your way towards the back where and intimidating, gate-like machine and several of the senior professors stand and watch to their members argue.

“I’m telling you, this will work! Just have some faith in me, Arnold!” an auburn haired woman in a wrinkled lab coat shouts at an older man with gray hair.

The older man, Arnold, scowls. “Miss Emma, we've done this time and again yet the results remain the same: failure. Not to mention you tend to waste excessive amounts of clones for your ridiculous tests. They aren't cheap, you know.”

The younger of the two sighs and massages her temples. “Yes, I know. But this time I figured out what was going wrong on the last tests and brought the perfect candidate.”

You take this is your cue and step forward, bringing the attention of Arnold, Emma, and all the other scientists involved with this project upon you.

It’s a struggle not to fidget. You aren't used to this much attention.

Emma gives you a small smile. “Anonymous! You’ve shown up at the perfect time! Ready for your assignment?”

“Well, after hearing the little tidbit about all the others that apparently got trashed doing this, I'm not so sure. Then again, you're just going to pester me until I do anyway,” you say with a hint of exasperation.

Her smile grows slightly. “Yep. Any questions?”

Did you have any? You can’t say you were used to asking them, seeing as how most of the time you’re just thrown in head first with things like these and expected to come back in one piece. It’s certainly not a safe way to go about anything, but it's what you're used to doing and you will stick to it.

“Other than ‘why me?’ None.”

“Why you?” she thinks about it for a moment. “Well, you just have that perfect ratio of expendability and reliability.”

There it is: the reminder that you are just one of identical thousands. Even if it's indirect, you still tend to catch a reminder every day. You've long since stop being bitter about it, but you still feel your mood sour some from being compared to the mindless drones that the others are. Even with the ability to think for yourself, most everyone still sees your genetically sculpted face and neglects to consider anything else.

Your displeasure must have found its way to your face, because the auburn headed scientist immediately says, “Not that I mean that in a bad way; you’re an immensely important part of this operation.”

Arnold rolls his eyes. “Emma, 0451 is a fortunate mistake. He is a clone who is flawed, even if that flaw is useful. I don't even see the point in giving him a name.”

Asshole. The way you’re treated is nine kinds of illegal, but the government tends to be pretty blind if it produces results.

“If we're all done talking as if I'm not here, can we just get on with what you called me for?” you ask irritably.
Everyone seems to at least agree on that.

“Right right, so here’s the deal. This,” Dr. Emma gestures to the mechanical gate with a hand, “should be able to produce a vectored and stabilized form of wormhole that we can use for extreme long-distance travel. So far, we’ve relied on matter to energy conversion and fiber-optic cables for traveling considerable distances. The fatal flaw with that, however, is that the cable needs to be stretched between the two teleporters in order to be able to function properly. In other words, it’s useless for planet-to-planet travel, and flying between planets every time something is needed is extremely resource demanding and tiring for the crews of those ships. If we can perfect this, then we will have totally eliminated the need for traditional space travel!” she says excitedly.

No matter how ecstatic she seems about this, you have a horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach that this is going to go wrong. That feeling has saved your life before. “Doc? have you ever heard the phrase ‘If it seems too good to be true, then it is’? Because that is the vibe that I’m getting from this thing,” you reply, looking at the questionable machine.

“Is it really a clone’s place to be questioning the assignment that he’s given?” Arthur grumbles.

Emma shoots him an evil look, then looks back to you with a calm expression. “Yes, I have heard of the phrase. And I’m certain that this will work. Now, let’s get you geared up before the briefing. I’m not too sure how much you like this, but it will be undeniably useful.” She gestures to a lab hand, who nods and runs off. A few minutes later he comes back with two clear, metal capped jars that seem to be filled with mercury. What in the world you going to do with those? Accidentally break one and give yourself mercury poisoning? That seems real pleasant...

“These are canisters of nanomachines! You should be able to control them with your comlink chip.”

You feel your jaw drop. Remote-control nanomachines are almost impossible to make, and when they are made they cost a small fortune. There has to be some sort of catch to this...

“Downside? They can’t self replicate and they need fine tuning if you ever want to control them well. Sorry, Anon, but we had to get these from the defective bin. We aren’t authorized to give out the top grade stuff.”

Yep, you called it. A catch. Why is it so many of the scientists want to bitch and moan about how expensive it is to create clones yet they never want to give out any half decent equipment to them when it comes time for things to be done? You swear there must be some policy in place that is doing this. The lab hand gives you the canisters, which you strap to your right leg for easy access.

“With some practice, you should be able to do all sorts of things with those. Now for your briefing.”
Emma gestures to empty air, where a holographic map comes from seemingly nowhere. It morphs to show a rather unassuming town that is supposedly on another planet. ”Alright, this is where you will be going. The town of Glade on Tiberias II. It’s a rural town that’s sort of out of the way, which is why we gave you nanomachines just in case you accidentally end up in the woods,” she says. “With them, you should have a basic assortment of tools.” She dismisses the map and reaches into her lab coat, where she pulls out a thin, clear plastic case that holds a number of small electronics inside. She hands you the case and you stow it away in your pant’s pocket without a second thought.

“That,” she starts, “is the beacon that we are going to use to bring you back approximately one week from now. The reason that we are waiting a week is to see if the wormhole travel has any adverse effects on you.”
That’s really confidence inspiring...

“So,” the doctor says as she brings her hands together, “ready?”

“As I’ll ever be, I suppose.”

Not really. Honestly you would much rather just refuse, but despite all the usefulness you have, you’re well aware of what the leadership of Frontier Laboratories does to unruly staff, be they clone or otherwise.

Emma turns to one of her assistants who is standing by the wormhole gate and barks in order to start the machine. With a rumble and crackle of power, the inside of the archway lights up in a laser red color that begins to slowly expand. In just under a minute, it’s ready. The inside of the archway is glowing an ominous blood red that looks a little more dangerous than you would’ve liked. Still, you step forward into the aura of red and feel goosebumps immediately breakout all over your body. There is something distinctly unnatural about this machine.

“Here we go!”

The assistant presses a button on the control terminal of the machine, when a warning klaxon suddenly roars out over every other bit of noise.

You feel your heart jump into your throat. Was this supposed to happen? It gets louder, and looks of panic immediately break out across everyone in the laboratory. Many begin to run and scramble towards the multiple ClearTrans near the back of the room.

“Power failure! It’s destabilizing! Everyone make way!” an assistant shouts.

“Oh god! I don’t want to die!” exclaims another.

“0451! Get out of there!” someone screams.

Before you can even move, your whole being erupts into unbelievable pain. Never before had you been in such agony. It’s like someone replaced your blood with gasoline and set you on fire. Why? Why did you choose to just go along with this? Could you have avoided this all by simply refusing? You have no time to lament upon it anymore, as your world goes black right after a blinding flare of light and the sound of metal being crushed.

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Celestia sits upon her throne as she sorts through a lengthy pile of paperwork. It seems that the duties of the princess are never done; the stack of papers seems to grow whenever she takes her eyes off of it. Today has been a rather boring and uneventful day. Play nice with the nobles, squabble with the council, a rushed lunch... Up until now. The days seem to be melding together almost seamlessly with each one that passes. It’s almost maddening.

Without any warning, a guard barrels through the doors of throne room with a wild look in his eyes. Something seems to have spooked him so horribly that the guard stallion had broken the the stoic façade that the gold clad ponies have become known for. Maybe this will be something interesting? Celestia dearly hoped so. Right after hearing what the guard has to say, she immediately takes it back.

“Princess! News from the sensor team! Something...something has broken through the aether into this world!”