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"And what makes you necessary for the job?"

Bettmann extended his arm and grasped the pit of his elbow. "What my clone doesn't know is that the CIA will be after someone who looks exactly like me: they'll arrest him when he tries to get on the plane. And if I get on the plane with your help, the hijackers will think I'm the copy, not the original."


Brad and Svetlana's bodies rubbed against each other in the shadows thrown by the wall they were up against, and then the two of them were tugging at one another's clothes in the darkness. Man was pressed against woman, pinning her to the cold stone wall, and there was soft grunting in the shadows, a sound muted by knowledge of the close proximity of others.

When the act was over, the two clones joined the rest of Carter Dedender's five hundred followers on the circular marble steps of the central meeting hall of Dedender's compound. Four hundred clones and the one hundred women who had borne and raised them over the last fifteen to twenty years all kept their eyes on the fifty-year-old Dedender, who had already begun to speak from his position in the center of the lowest level, directly beneath the skylight of two-way mirrors that offered a view of the southern hemisphere's night sky.

"My children," Dedender began with extended arms that spread his white robe, "I want to remind you what a tremendous occasion this shall be, not only for us, but for the world. In the morning, we must bid your mothers goodbye and depart for our awaiting destiny.

"Have no fear of the challenges that await us. For remember, it is our destiny that awaits us, irreversible and irrepressible, our destiny to continue the human race - with the best of the best, with the crème de la crème. Yes, my children, your originals are spread across the globe right now, most of them enjoying a summer vacation in comfort." Dedender began making a round of the bottom level of the hall. "But that comfort shall not last, nor shall they themselves."

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