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The Nursery

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Terence Ebodiah’s original plan to take emperor Justod I’s life failed. Before Terrence was granted access to the Bedroom someone from the emperor’s guard had thoroughly screened his past. They discovered his link with Ellen, an insignificant girl who was just one of the organ donors, thanks to whom the emperor continued his existence. Despite that, the geneticist wasn’t murdered. In consideration of his achievements, the emperor spared his life. Terrence ended up in a top secret imperial prison with a life sentence.

However, before it all happened, thanks to Justod I’s favorableness and influence he gained, Ebodiah managed to prepare a contingency plan. His plan was simple. He intended to produce the emperor’s clone and program it in a way that it would be able to secretly seize power after the original had been slayed.

To execute his plan B, Terrence Ebodiah bought a large cargo ship on the black market. He equipped it with the latest cloaking systems that were usually used by smugglers to hide their warehouses. He also installed a small but fully functional cloning lab that could produce five clones at once. The ship had simple life-support and food synthesis systems. There were learning machines controlled by artificial intelligence of Sentenence class programmed by Terrence. He intentionally turned off its ethical modules. The AI’s task was only to teach the clones whose main self was going to be overwritten later. Of course, some core character traits, such as protecting Terrence’s life or keeping the clones’ origin a secret, should survive the overwriting process. The geneticist didn’t want to create more unpredictable beasts. He was planning on getting rid of a particular one.

However, this plan has never been carried out either. According to the universe’s unwritten law, if something could go wrong it certainly would. And it wouldn’t go in a way that anyone could prepare for.

In the Nursery, as the geneticist called his ship, there were five clones. Terrence personally supervised their awakening and first connection to the learning machines but he wasn’t able to spend too much time on his ship. He had to continue his official work on perfecting the process of copying emperor Justod I’s self. When he was busy Sentenence would take over the preparation of the clones and their education.

After a year, when the clones reached full maturity and their core education was already completed, they were fully prepared for the process of overwriting the self. However, it’s been a few months since Terrence appeared in the Nursery and Sentenence was unable to contact him. The decision regarding the future of the experiment’s subjects had to be made. Being an AI, Sentenence was only familiar with the general assumptions of the project; the overall objective was to get rid of Justod I using available means. So she adjusted Terrence’s plan in her own way and according to measures that were at her disposal.

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First, she separated the clones from each other to make sure that they were going to differ from one another. She placed them in separate mini-apartments that consisted of two rooms: a medical room for connecting to learning machines and overwriting the self, and a residential room that was equipped almost like a standard room in a cheap hotel. Then she performed a trial overwriting of self procedure using the only full record she had. It was a record of a prisoner named Stevo who was sentenced to death for an attempt on the emperor’s life.

Because Terrence never contacted her in the following years, Sentenence considered him dead and decided to abandon the geneticist’s original plan, of course, the main directive stayed the same. She started production of new clones and she simply got rid of the old ones. She introduced significant modifications into the learning system. In the end, only four humans were brought to life. The fifth human remained in dormant form. So four humans were created, we know some of them from our times.

Kaiel was the first project and looked like Justod I’s identical twin. His personality was the most aggressive and impulsive. He was supposed to trigger a civil war and deal with Justod I’s followers, accuse them of treason and eliminate one by one.

Abelard, who also looked like the emperor’s copy, was programmed to draw crowds. He was charismatic and oozed the aura of wisdom and nobility. His plan was to gather together people who were against the tyrant and seize power under the cover of a new religion, after coming forward as an imprisoned and illegally hibernated Justod I’s twin brother.

Ardun was the one who preached the law of nature. Being openly opposed he was going to bring together a crowd of similar fanatics who didn’t care about religious matters. Under the guise of returning to nature he would start a revolution and stage a coup. As a decoy, his clone was intentionally genetically modified to display attributes of slight dwarfism. Impotence was an accidental side effect that appeared during the modification of growth genes and it wasn’t amended.

Aina was the only female clone. She wasn’t created to replace the current emperor on the throne. She was the result of Ebodiah’s original obsession with transferring the minds of clones solely into female bodies programmed into Sentenence. Her task was to fulfill the geneticist’s sexual needs as this was his way of humiliating the emperor even more. Additionally, Sentenence decided to give her the abilities to seduce and endear allies who treasured family values.

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After two years of training and personality forming as well as ensuring that core personality traits like the need to gain power and desire to kill the emperor were well-established, Sentenence decided it was time for the clones to meet.

After a few months of getting to know the ship and its capabilities, after discussions and arguments with Sentenence as well as with one another, together they decided that each of them should head to a different planet. In the system there were as much as six planets with environments hospitable to life so this wasn’t going to be difficult. Each of them was going to begin building their influence in slightly different conditions.

A few days before reaching their destinations something that changed their mutual relations had happened.

Abelard fell in love with Kaiel. He came to detest himself for that because they were twins and additionally, Abelard found homosexuality disgusting.

Kaiel desired Aina. Two nights before the arrival at the destination he tried to rape her. Her screams made the remaining two come to her room. Ardun was standing back calmly and watching the entire situation with quiet satisfaction. However, Abelard, without a moment’s hesitation, grabbed whatever he could get his hands on and hit Kaiel at the back of his head with all his strength.

This is how Abelard killed Kaiel.

What was worse, Aina seemed terrified by the murder and came to hate Abelard for it.

Only three clones arrived at their destinations. There was great tension and growing hatred between them. Sentenence didn’t think that it would significantly affect the implementation of the main directive.

So each of them boarded their own small lander prepared in advance, equipped with a cloning module and automatic machines for the copying of self. Each of them took off to a different planet.

Sentenence decided to wait in hiding and monitor the situation. Even despite the fact that most of the machines were gone from the ship she still had resources and capabilities left. And the main directive stayed the same.