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engine that gave out a hiss as it did its job, and he continued his physical tirade as he rolled out of the interview-room. Scarcely had he gone a step when he was stopped by the head scientist, whose name he did not care to know. “Dechard,” the scientist started, threatening to roll over his rage with a calculated efficiency, “the mimic. It is imperfect. Patience.” “Patience?” boomed Dechard. “We have been in this case for days. I am trying to wrap your head around the system. I investigate various copies of the reporter, the only witness to the murder of the grand Dechard, disguised as the grand Dechard, and we have got nothing to show for it? Lies, this is an affront to nature.” “Dechard, patience. This is a new technique. Undetectable to them. You have damaged a primary template! That does not bode well as we try to get closer and closer to the reporter’s psyche.” “Drat that noncooperative reporter!” Dechard fumed. “Must I play roles when we can approach this the sane, rational, detective-driven way? You try what is left of my patience more than I try yours!” “And I am in your great debt.” The scientist made a little bow. “More time, more time; then the case is yours. There is nothing else that I ask of you but time.” Dechard seemed to consider this, his head cocked to the side. He liked this mannerism of the original Dechard. It was nice that he was getting it so well. “Of course. Of course. I will get dre--no, orders are to act until bedtime. I shall see you then. Scientist.” “Same to you, Dechard. I shall now check on the template.” The scientist watched Dechard until he was nothing more than a broad blot, then went into the room. Dr. Miles had regained consciousness in the few minutes spent arguing with the Dechard template. The cut to his head was nasty enough to bloody the whole right side of his head, but a trip to the clinic would fix everything. “Well?” Miles managed to sputter. Blood leaked from his lip. “I hope this is worth it. I hate this line of research, Myra.” “Relax.” Dr. Myra sat across him. The seat was still warm from its last occupant. “The non-invasive postnatal cloning process is going as planned. He’s got the mannerisms down already. The next couple of months we’ll start with his psyche.” “I still can’t believe Dechard went through with this. Well, I could understand, because he didn’t want to be turned into a wetware chip that’s basically a brain on a disc, but still. Eight months out of the public spotlight. The man must have been crazy with attention deprivation when they hauled him back to Standgrich Stadium.” “Better that being forced into clinical death so we can study his brain processes. This unsuspecting template is perfect.” Dr. Myra allowed herself a small smile. “He doesn’t even know.” “Does he, Myra?” Dr. Miles cast a suspicious glance towards the door. “Does he?” Daqueir Dechard snuck out of the gap between the supply closet and the outgoing warehouse. It was always the weakest link in their compound. It was just on loan from the government, so there were bound to have some glaring design flaws. The supply closet was an afterthought, added to the main complex three years after everything has been set in place by the old facility before this was a research institute. It was poorly built on one side, paltry mortar giving out in places to show the harsh warehouse lights beyond. For a man of his strength, strength the real Dechard never had, it was a simple matter of punching his way out. They were so confident, too. No CCTV compounds in his usual path, because in his past life he had been a detective. He would see through them, no doubt. But they were too cheap to put cameras in the bathrooms and in the storage units, so here he was. He always knew he wasn’t the real Dechard. It was part of the initial deception, the ruse. But their 56

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Joust Volume 1  
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