The Game of Clones

The Forge Region – Onirvura Constellation
Poinen System

16 August YC 121

Some time ago I invested 40 million kredits into two implants which would increase my neural attributes Willpower and Perception by 3 points each. Such boost was expected to expedite training of skills required to fit a bitier version of Heron which could explore Sleeper Cache sites. To reduce the risk of losing expensive implants I decided to install them in a jump clone which would be used in safer locations. I quickly trained Infomorph Psychology to level II and was about to head to a clone bay to order my first ever jump clone when I remembered that my base station did not have a cloning facility. Cursing a certain fan of Vesa Yamaguchi I boarded the capsule and asked that fan to fly us to the nearest station with a clone shop. Seeing my expression, Aura without further questions brought us to Expert Distribution Retail Centre at Poinen 4-6.

At the clone bay reception an elderly Civire lady greeted me and asked how she could help.

“I’d like to install a jump clone here,” said I.

The lady silently typed something on a payment terminal and turned the screen to me; it showed the amount of 900,000 ISK.

“Tap your kredit card here,” she instructed me.

I baulked at the figure, “What’s that?”

“This is the clone installation fee.”

“Is it a one-off payment or periodic?”

“it’s one-off. Just tap the terminal,” said the lady impatiently.

As a baseliner I would not be able to save such sum in my lifetime; now it was just an hour’s work. I shrugged and touched the screen with my kredit card. As soon as transaction was approved, the receptionist smiled at me and said, “It was a pleasure doing business with you. Have a nice day.”

“Hey, wait a moment. Is that all?”

“Yes. What else did you expect?”

I frowned, “I don’t know. Probably some paperwork, DNA tests…”

“No need for that. You have identified yourself, Mr Korff, by using your kredit card. The transaction approval is considered your acceptance of our terms and conditions. As to your DNA, entering into this transaction you have authorised us to access your medical records in the State Archive.”

“What terms and conditions? I haven’t seen any! Aren’t you supposed to let me familiarise myself with those T&Cs before taking my money?”

“The terms are standard and are regulated by SCC,” explained the lady, “Don’t worry, Mr Korff, we are not going to pull one over on you. We are a reputable company, not like that butcher shop in Kisogo.”

“Hmm… And what about clothes? What will I wear after jumping into my new body? Do I need to leave some garments with you?”

“Clothes is not a problem. You wear one of standard capsuleer outfits and we have a huge stock of those.”

“And how do I pay for it – now or after the jump?” asked I.

“Oh, you don’t need to pay for that at all. Compared to the price of the clone, your clothes costs close to nothing. It is complimentary.”

With a smirk I remembered a quirky phrase that I read somewhere: standardisation is the price we pay for the prices we pay.

“I have just one more question,” said I, “When will the clone be ready?”

“Before you leave this station.”

I was astounded, “What? How can you grow a clone so quickly?”

“We don’t grow clones, we manufacture them. Anything else I can help you with, Mr Korff?”

The Civire’s tone clearly indicated that I was wasting her time, so I bid her good-bye and returned to the base.

Although NOH station didn’t have a clone factory, there was a small clone bay which offered clone storage and consciousness transfer services. At the reception I was greeted by a big heavily-tattooed man who looked like a nightclub bouncer. Without any small talk he pushed a POS terminal to me and said, “Tap here. Your change room is number two.”

I looked at the terminal screen; it showed a familiar figure – 900 thousand ISK.

“What’s that?” I asked suspiciously.

“Clone installation price,” replied the guy.

“I don’t want another clone.”

The receptionist snorted, “Why did you come here then? We don’t offer any other services.”

“I want to jump to my other clone,” I explained irritably.

He pointed at the POS again and said, “No problems, mate. Tap here.”

“But it’s a price of creating a brand new clone! All I want to do is just leave this body here and transfer my mind to another clone.”

“Ha! Listen, pal, if you paid 900 grand just for a new clone you were ripped off royally. These days clones are cheap as dirt. The real cost is in storage. We offer up to one hundred years of guaranteed preservation. Now if you think that renting a grave-sized block on a space station to store your carcass for a century is cheap, then think again. This is to say nothing about the running costs and depreciation of all the machinery which will keep your body habitable.”

“But I don’t plan to leave the clone here for a hundred years!” exclaimed I.

“I hope not!” laughed the receptionist. “We need to show some profit. So, are you paying or not?”

I couldn’t believe I had to fork out almost a million kredits for accommodation, but apparently I had no choice. Having settled the account, I proceeded to the change room. There I took off all my clothes, left them in a bag and went to the clone bay. In the antechamber leading to the storage room I was thoroughly washed, dried and disinfected and only then I was allowed into the sanctuary. It was a large room filled with rows and rows of storage containers, some occupied, some empty. A loud hissing sound attracted my attention; I turned my head in its direction and saw that it was caused by an opening transparent cover of one of the vessels. The operator instructed me to climb inside and lie down, putting my head into the bracket of the brain reader.

Just before the glass cover closed over me I raised my head and asked, “Does it hurt?”

“Not a bit, mate. Just a little sting,” was the response.

The last thing I remembered was a robotic arm with a syringe which appeared from the internal wall and injected something into my arm.

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