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Korsakova stifled a giggle that still caused a pair of heads to turn. "A bunch of teenage New Zealanders heading to Moscow in the middle of the summer, and you think they're clones who will try to hijack the plane?"

Bettmann had slid down in his seat, following his companion's lead. "Laugh all you like, but it's not just a bunch. It's four hundred of them. Four hundred teenagers the same age as the clones of you and I, and they're not exactly New Zealanders either."

Korsakova looked at her companion for the first time since the film had started. "What do you mean?"

"They only have New Zealand passports. I scanned the Base--" To her frown, he explained, "It's a database of public records put together by the U.S. government: birth certificates, death certificates, passports, licenses, ship and plane manifests, you name it, all searchable by key word. I scanned the Base for a security guard who I think was kidnapped, and for two Colonists who were the targets of attempted kidnappings."

"What does that--"

"I'll get to New Zealand. I scanned the Base for those three names, and discovered that all three were born in the same Manhattan hospital, and that blood was taken from their left arms. That's when I suspected the truth: that we were dealing with clones. And now the truth's confirmed." Bettmann paused in his explanation as Michelson's wounded and smoking bomber rolled to a stop after a successful emergency landing on a Kuwaiti airstrip. "I searched for the names of all thirty-nine babies who had blood taken from them in that hospital that summer, and came to a dead end. And then I searched for those three names -- and yours."

"And?" Korsakova cringed as the B-2 exploded on the runway, leaving it unclear whether the two crewmen were dead or alive.

"And saw the common thread: all four of you have an interrelation this coming Sunday."

"Plain English, please."

First Star by W.R. Hammons:

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