Thursday, April 23, 2015

Being more than a Simulacrum (A Kim Possible fan fiction) (part 8)

[Link to part 1]

Wade couldn't shake the feeling he was being followed. It was true that he'd made a lot of progress on dealing with his agoraphobia, but sometimes he had relapses. Moments when the fear and the insecurity came crashing back in.

Paranoia did not help him deal with such moments. It made things many times worse because the best way to deal with a relapse was to find a place to himself where he could calmly work through it before having to face people, but if he were being tracked by someone with ill intent, being alone would be what they wanted. His fear of being out amoung people was an irrational fear. His fear of being abducted was a rational one.

His therapist had recommended some meta-cognition exercises. If you can't stop thinking about what makes you afraid, she had said, think about thinking. Look at the way you were thinking in a manner entirely divorced from what you were actually thinking about and then, with that level of abstraction, try to work on the problem.

Unfortunately Wade found himself thinking about how fast his fear was increasing. Linear? Exponential? Definitely not linear. In fact it was getting worse so fast... Factorial!

He had to find a place to be alone before he had a panic attack.

He took a side street and ducked into an alley. Alone at last he started to do breathing exercises.

“Hey, Wade.” He didn't even process the words at first, the mere unexpected noise sent a jolt through him. “Are you ok?”

He looked up to see someone rush over to him, a look of concern on her very familiar face.

“Kim?” He asked.

“Not exactly, but... I thought you got over your fears.”

“And Ron thought he got over his fear of monkeys, and of camps, and of bugs.”

Not-exactly-Kim nodded. “How is the giant mutant cockroach population doing?”

“Happy at the dump, last I heard,” Wade said. Thinking about giant mutant cockroaches was taking his mind off his previous fear. “If you're not exactly Kim, then...”

“I'm a clone of Kim that has most of her memories, sorry about scaring you.”

“That tends to happen when you follow people without warning,” Wade said, he tried to be angry, but his heart wasn't in it. The clone seemed genuinely apologetic and she had Kim's features to back it up.

“I couldn't exactly call out, 'Hey, Wade, over here!' and maintain a low profile.”

“Why are you maintaining a low profile?”

“Because Kim doesn't know I exist yet and there are things I want to sort out before I let her know.”

“Then why come to me?” Wade asked. “I work with Kim almost constantly.”

“Because I need someone to check that there's no mind control stuff in my head,” the clone said as if it were obvious.

“And you think I can do that because...”

“It took you all of two seconds to scan Shego's brain during the reverse polarizer incident, you did it by remote, and without her knowledge or consent. I'm sure that if we head back to your lab you can get much better, far more detailed, results for me.”

“And how do I know this isn't a plot to locate my lab, uh...” Wade realized he had no idea what to call the clone.

“Leela. Leela Place Possible,” she said. “And you don't. How could you know when I don't know?”

“Ok, that's a good point,” Wade conceded.

“So, brainscan?” Leela asked. “Then we'll both know if there are any evil plots afoot. At least ones involving me.”

“Ok,” Wade said. “Follow me,” he said, emphasizing it with a gesture.

It turned out to be a mistake, he wasn't ready to face the masses of humanity yet. But when panic started to set in as they reached a main street, he felt a reassuring hand on his shoulder. It was, he knew, a conclusion reached entirely without rational grounds –manipulation and honest support were impossible to tell apart with such little evidence– but he felt like Leela was a good person after all.

* * *

Place still wasn't used to 'Leela' as a name. She figured if she told enough people to call her that she'd get used to it, maybe before she returned to the lair. Of course, back at the lair, everyone already knew her as 'Place'.

She followed the thirteen year old super genius to his house and realized that she had no memories of ever being there.

“Has Kim ever been to your house?” Place asked.

“No, Leela, she hasn't,” Wade said.

Above ground the house was fairly normal. Three levels of security later and they were in Wade's room, underneath the house. Place looked around with eyes wide for it was, hands down, the single most impressive lair she had ever seen.

She looked at a workbench that included regular tools and instruments that Drakken only dreamed of. She pointed to a partially finished work inside a light saber prop and asked, “Still turning toys into tech?”

“As fun as it is, not so much. I abandoned that one over a year ago.”

Place took a closer look: mirco air compressor, carbon fiber cable, three setting fire mode, adjustable speed retraction and release. It was a new grappler, and it looked nearly complete.

Place, “Why'd you abandon it? The tech looks solid.”

“It is,” Wade said. “I started it because the hairdryer grappling hook launcher looked a little bit too much like a gun for some people's comfort.”

“It was a gun,” Place said. “The only reason it was a safe gun was that Kim knew better than to point it at people.”

“Anyway, after I built the new Kimmunicator with a grappling hook inside of it, there wasn't much call for it.”

Place thought back to that point in her memories. “And it was when Team Possible was trying to grow up. Ron decided to stop being a goofy mascot and be a football player. They both got jobs, Ron was suddenly an older brother. Kim updated her look for the first time in forever. Things started to seem more serious. Shiny new tech like the wrist communicator and grapple was in. Reused toy casings were out.”

“How many of Kim's memories do you have?” Wade asked.

“I think all of them from before the genetic sample that created me was taken. I run out shortly after the Possible house was declared fully reconstructed.”

“How do you have Kim's memories?” Wade asked.

“The going theory is magic,” Place told him.

“Magic?” Place detected a hint of skepticism in Wade's voice. She didn't think it was appropriate.

“Four statues give mystical monkey power, prophecy correctly predicts when a monarchy becomes a democracy, magic amulet turns someone into an giant anthropomorphic Jackal, magic amulet turns someone into a monkey, magic sword carves a school in--”

“I get the point!”

She hadn't meant to make Wade angry, but at the same time, she was feeling a bit annoyed herself, “I didn't even get to the part where Drakken was possessed by a ghost pirate.”

“Just because magic exists, doesn't mean that something strange is a result of magic.”

“Very true, but no one has yet been able to figure out how science could possibly support the idea that a tissue sample, which was not even a brain tissue sample, could reproduce memories,” Place said as she looked around the cavernous room. “Is this the part where you did the holo-vacations?” she asked.

“Yes, I thought you wanted a brain scan.”

“I do; this place is just so amazing,” Place said, taking another look around. Part of it was clearly a giant internet routing station, there were machines she'd need to study years to understand, there was a gaming set up with immersion caps, presumably with the whole “trapped in virtual reality” bug overcome. There were some recovered evil devices including ... “Is that Ron's plasma catapult?”

“Brain scan?” Wade asked. He was clearly becoming increasingly agitated, probably from having a stranger in his inner sanctum.

“Just one more question,” Place said.

“What is it?”

“Am I imagining things, or is this room larger than the house above it?”

“I won't be able to tell if you're imagining things until I run the scan, but the room occupies the entire plot while the house, obviously, doesn't.”

“Neat,” Place said, “So, how will the scanning work?”

Wade pulled out a familiar blue device. Place was confused.

“The old Kimmunicator?” She asked. “You'd already replaced it by the time you did the scan on Shego. Why use inferior tech?”

“I never stopped upgrading it.”

“Even though Kim was never going to use it?”

“Call it a hobby,” Wade said with a shrug.

Wade had her sit in a chair and scanned her head from multiple angles.

“It'll take about 18 hours for my software to analyze the data,” Wade told her, “but I can already tell you that there are no control chips or other foreign objects in your head.”

“So... I've got nothing to do until tomorrow,” Place said. “What are you doing for the next few hours?”

“Why?” Wade asked, there was completely unnecessary suspicion in his tone.

“I noticed the immersion caps,” Place said. “Everlot?”

“You want to play Everlot?” Wade asked.

Place shrugged. “I'm trying to try new things-- well, everything is new to me. New to Kim things. Things that she never really gave a chance, but might enjoy if she did.” Wade simply looked at her. “Otherwise, I figure I'll just end up walking in her footsteps. I don't want to do that; I want my own personality. So, while I make no promises, I'm open to trying Everlot.”

“Ok...” Wade said.

* * *

“Hey, Zita, Felix,” Place said without thinking.

“Kim?” They said in near unison, both with a fair amount of surprise.

“Actually, I'm Leela.”

“She's Kim's clone,” Wade said.

Place facepalmed. The immersion cap, of course, meant that she did it in the game. “I told you I wasn't telling people that yet.”

“They'd want to know why you knew their names,” Wade said, “and I'm not planning on lying for a clone I just met.”

Place sighed.

“Leela Place Possible,” she told Felix and Zita, “I'm Kim's clone who has most of her memories, but I haven't told Kim I exist yet because I'm trying to work out some personal stuff first.”

“Personal stuff?” Zita asked.

“Well, right now I'm awaiting the results of a brain-scan to tell me if there's any sort of mind control type stuff going on in my head.”

“So...” Felix said.  “Your life is about as normal as Kim's.”

“So far,” Place said.

“Does Ron know about you?” Felix asked.

Place was actually uneasy about that point. Kim was a special case, and that was how she justified holding off on telling Kim. Ron wasn't a special case. He was basically family. Concerns about Kim dating Ron aside, he'd spent so much of his life in the Possible household that he might as well be related.

But, there was the obvious thing that stopped her from telling Ron, “I want to, but... but telling Ron is tantamount to telling Kim and I am definitely not ready for dealing with Kim.”

“So, if you're keepin' a low profile,” Zita said, “why'd you come to the most popular MMO on earth?”

“Two reasons,” Place said, “first there are plenty of people who look like Kim when run through Everlot's your-face-on-your-character algorithm so I wasn't expecting it to come up –I didn't think before saying, “Hi,” to you– and second I'm sort of on a mission to try new things.

“I don't want to be a copy of Kim, and I figure if I'm open to new things I'll find some I like that she's never gotten into, and that'll give me a basis for forming my own identity.”

“So how do you like Everlot?” Felix asked.

“I could really use a group of powerful people to tag along with until I level up,” Place said. She considered, and rejected, the idea of employing the electronic version of a puppy-dog-pout.

“Join the party,” Zita said.

“You in, Wade?” Felix asked.

“Definitely,” Wade said.

“So, Felix,” Place said, “I didn't think this was your kind of game.”

“He plays this with me; I play Zombie Mayhem with him,” Zita explained.

“It's really growing on me,” Felix said.

“And I'm liking Zombie Mayhem a lot more than I once did,” Zita said.

“That's sweet,” Place said. “And neat. Good for both of you.”

Place found herself feeling good about three things. First, the ease with which people were accepting her. Second, that her friends, for she thought of them that way even though she knew they were Kim's friends, were in a happy relationship. Third, that she was going to have some heavy hitters help her move passed being a knave in a hurry. Wade would have been a great help on his own, but Zita was the undisputed queen of Everlot.

Except for when it was fun to dispute it. Events were held, of course, but it was hard to imagine anyone ever surpassing Zita's legend.

Without warning, Zita and Felix spoke as one, “Wade, do you think that you could...” and then they stopped when each realized they were talking over the other.

Place smiled and said, “Somebody owes somebody a soda.”

“If you're wondering about a Zombie Mayhem Everlot crossover...” Wade said.

“How did you...” Felix and Zita said in stereo again.

Place just smiled and followed the group as they walked toward whatever quest Zita and Felix had been headed to before they bumped into each other.

* * *

Wade exited the game, soon followed by Leela.

“I can't believe she gave me the sword of Elsinore,” Leela said. “Isn't that like a Hamlet reference or something?”

There was something infectious about the girl's enthusiasm.

“It's a pretty impressive item,” Wade said. “I think you've made a friend.”

Leela perked up at that statement, but then suddenly looked down again, “I just hope that they don't tell Kim about me before I'm ready for that.”

Wade didn't understand.

“Why do you need to be ready?” Wade asked. “What's the big deal?”

“You've hacked into her diary and read stuff that she hasn't shared with anyone,” Leela said in a way that made Wade feel like he was going to have to deflect some kind of attack any moment. None came. “I have her memories, most of them anyway. I know about things so personal she never put them in the diary. I have access to everything.” Leela paused. “Well, everything up to a point. We already got into that.

“The point is, it's a different situation. I know her better than anyone else ever could, and I have some strong feelings as a result of that,” Leela said with a dark tone. “Everything that feels like mine --my memories, my personality, friends I remember having, things I remember owning, experiences I remember … uh, experiencing-- that's all hers.

“And she never chose to share it.”

“Ok,” Wade said, more in response to the tone the conversation had taken than the words that were actually spoken. “Well the results of the brain-scan should be in by tomorrow morning.”

“Ok,” Leela said, as she started to walk toward the stairs that would lead her to the ground floor and out of the house. Her shoulders were slumped as she walked. Looking at her go Wade felt sorry for her.

“Hey,” he said.

Leela turned back. Well, she half turned, looked at Wade, and said, “Yeah?” in a way that wasn't quite a question despite the intonation.

“Today,” Wade said, “making friends with Felix and Zita, fighting that dragon, taking on the killer plants. That was all yours. Not Kim's. Yours. It all belongs to you, and you alone.”

Leela cracked a smile. Wade wasn't sure if she was faking it or not.

When she said, “Thanks, Wade,” he knew that it had been a real smile.

She started to walk out again, but stopped. Then she turned all the way around and said, “I haven't figured out where I'm staying tonight yet. Could I crash here?”

Visions of puppy-dog-pout played in Wade's mind. “You can stay here on one condition.”

“What's the condition?” Leela asked.

“Never, ever, use the puppy-dog-pout on me,” Wade said while trying not to shudder.

“Deal.” Leela said.


[Kim Possible Index]


Exactly what kind of a slip is it when you write:

“So, brainscan?” Leela asked. “Then we'll both know if there are any evil thoughts afoot.”

instead of:

“So, brainscan?” Leela asked. “Then we'll both know if there are any evil plots afoot.”


1 comment:

  1. That went reasonably well. I don't think there's mind control stuff in her head, but it'll be better to know.

    As for the slip ... huh. It feels like anchoring - you had thoughts on the mind, and "thoughts" and "plots" sound similar, so the former managed to insert itself where the latter belonged. I'm not sure, though.