(Different Kinds of) Clone Club


chess4_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif

Scene Title (Different Kinds of) Clone Club
Synopsis Magnes tries to citizen-arrest terrorist Lanhua Chen, but ends up befriending Chess Lang instead.
Date September 5, 2020

Some bar in Brooklyn

Sometimes you want to go where nobody knows your name. If this bar has regulars, the bartender certainly doesn’t greet them by name and has the courtesy to pretend not to know their order by heart. It’s the sort of bar people go for clandestine meetings or to drink alone in the company of strangers. Nondescript in the best of ways, there isn’t much to the establishment but a long, narrow room with a bar, a few booths, and restrooms in the back.

Chess sits at one end of the bar, limiting those who can sit beside her to one. She’d have preferred one of the booths, but they’re taken. She sits, elbows on the bar top, one hand holding the glass of whiskey in front of her, eyes on the television behind the bartender that plays a baseball game she doesn’t care about.

One can hear the sound of a skateboard rolling outside, followed by assorted skateboard sounds as Magnes pops it up into his hand. When he heads inside, he's wearing a dark purple shirt with stylized gold letters that say EOW. He's dressed down more or less, with some jeans and some simple black boots.

Magnes J. Varlane is somehow known as a war hero, even though he didn't fight in this war necessarily. And he gets particularly recognized for being someone who people thought was dead for about seven years, and returned under some Mysterious Circumstances.

But Chess isn't unknown herself, and Magnes at least keeps up with some level of intelligence, and watches the news just to make sure the world isn't entirely on fire. And in his multiversal travels, you tend to remember the faces of people who might be a Problem later.

He heads over to the bar, and immediately slides into the seat directly next to her. "A Rolling Rock please." he orders, holding a finger up.

Chess will notice the space around her is a bit heavy suddenly, as if she's taken on some pounds of weight all at once. Though she can still hold herself up, and it isn't painful or anything. "So, I may be a bit behind on a few things, but you're definitely a terrorist, right?" he asks, keeping his voice down to a whisper as he looks her over. "I wouldn't move if I were you, you're in my gravitational field and I'm only using a little bit of force right now. Oh, right, Magnes. J Varlane. I'm not a cop or anything, technically I'm totally retired from this stuff, but I'm bored and also a bit lonely, so I figured we could talk and I could escort you to the police or something."

At first she frowns at the odd feeling, then trying to lift her glass to her lips is a more herculean effort than it should be. She turns to look for the problem just as Magnes speaks, and she narrows her gaze on him as he explains what’s happening and why.

Chess scoffs, letting the weight he’s placed upon her drop her hand and glass back to the bar top. “Everyone who fought for civil rights against the government was technically a terrorist, yeah? So you’re partly right. But walking me to the police’ll be a waste of your time and mine. I’m not wanted. Sorry to burst your bubble, Boba Fett.” Something about that quip strikes her as funnier than it probably should, and she huffs a short laugh and shakes her head slightly.

The gravitational pull makes it a slower motion than it would be otherwise, and she frowns at the sensation. “Let up on the tractor beam, will ya?”

"There's a bit of a fine line when it comes to terrorism. I remember seeing you on the news, but I know that things aren't always what they seem like either. I've broken out of so many super prisons run by an evil dictator, I think I'd know that as much as the next guy." Magnes motions to the bar, his gravity easing up. "Please don't stab or shoot me, there's this historical tendency for me to get stabbed or shot when I give the benefit of a doubt to an incredibly attractive person. I know, a very specific curse, but…" He shrugs.

"I'll pay for drinks if you tell me your terrorism slash freedom fighting story." Then, after a brief pause, he adds, "And I'll of course tell you a bit about mine if you want."

Chess takes a swallow of the whiskey, then flips her hair over her shoulder. “I don’t stab or shoot people, for the record. If you saw me on the news, you should know that’s not my MO.”

She angles a look at him, skepticism and amusement warring for dominance in her expression. “Pretty sure we have some friends in common. I work for Monica Dawson right now. If that helps vouch for me at all. Of course, from my understanding, she was a terrorist once, too.” Lifting a shoulder, she swallows the rest of what’s in her glass. “The best of us were, I think.”

That’s misleading, of course, and Chess isn’t dishonest, so she adds, “I think you’re confusing me for someone else. Lanhua Chen. I’m not her. We just share some genetics.” She looks into the empty glass, signals to the bartender for another. “Shared.”

"Oh, Monica. Yeah, we went on a road trip a long time ago, I had a crush on her before the whole me dying thing, but we were young. You work for her? I didn't know she owned a business. I might be a bit out of the loop." Magnes gets his pint of Rolling Rock, taking a long sip as he stares at her out of the corner of his eye.

He sighs in relief as he sits the mug down, listening. "I know how that is. Having a bunch of people who look like you running around." But at the correction, the 'shared', he adds, "Sorry to hear that. Twin sister I'm guessing? Marginally better than Nazi experiment at least." he smiles, trying to joke to lighten the mood. "Sorry, bad out of context joke."

Chess is quiet as he speaks, watching sidelong out of the corner of her eye as she waits for her refill. She huffs out a short breath at his joke, and shakes her head slightly. When her refill is slid in front of her she picks it up and takes a smaller sip than the last, her gaze returning to the television.

For a long moment, it might seem like she’s not planning to answer. “There was at least one Nazi involved, if sort of indirectly,” she says. “Well, sort of directly. But without his knowledge.” She lifts her shoulder. “It’s complicated.” To put it lightly.

She swaps to the easier conversation topic. “Monica’s… it’s not a business, exactly. The Deveaux Society. She’s the president, as of a few months ago.” Her brows lift. “You have identicals running around?”

"I wish the Nazis would just stay dead already, both literally and in terms of their research butting into my life." Magnes takes another long sip, raising an eyebrow. "Okay, that's pretty surprising. I always figured Monica was more the action hero type, not the running a whole rich person society type." But he just nods. "Good for her, she deserves it."

"Had." Magnes clarifies, having to take another sip at that. "While it'll sound kind of insane, most of them melted, or were killed by my psychotic father. Technically, and I know this will sound even more insane, but I was the only successful one. Yay Nazi science?" He says half-heartedly, his drink already almost gone. "I'm basically a successful prototype for an insane immortal's Nazi science cloning program. Can you believe he wanted to steal my brain? So I went into hiding and became a professional wrestler."

"I probably sound absolutely out of my mind, but I'm at the zero fucks point of my life." He raises his mug to her. "Technically I'm fourteen years old, but I have generations of iterations in my brain, so I'm mentally and physically thirty-two."

He motions for the bartender to refill his mug. "And yes, I do overshare sometimes. But there's not usually a lot of people willing to listen to this. It makes my friends a bit uncomfortable, and it's just something I need to talk about, even if with a stranger who likely thinks I'm out of my mind."

First one brow lifts and then another, before she turns slightly toward him, resting her cheek on her hand to just listen to the rest with unabashed fascination.

“Yeah,” she finally says, eyes widening slightly as she shakes her head, “I don’t really do that.” She gestures vaguely in his direction to mean his whole oversharing deal, before picking up her glass and taking another swallow.

“But let’s doubleback. Your Nazi scientist wasn’t Adam Monroe, was he? I mean, he doesn’t really do the science himself so much as pay other people to do it, I don’t think. But this is important to know,” Chess says, before tipping her head at the bartender. “You’re gonna get him fired, serving a juvenile. Rude.” It’s a stupid joke, but she makes it anyway. Alcohol makes for poor decision making.

“And finally, I don’t know that being a professional wrestler is the best way to go into hiding, you know?” she points out. “I mean, maybe you wear a mask, but it’s still a little questionable, especially if you have a power you use. Trust me, I spent a good year in hiding after my kinda Nazi was trying to have me killed.” The fact she joined up with him anyway goes unsaid.

"I did wear a mask. And in all honesty, if Adam did find me, and yes it was Adam who wanted to steal my brain, I would have thrown him into the atmosphere. But people kept telling me not to throw Adam into the atmosphere for some reason, so I just took their word for it." Magnes shrugs, letting go of the mug to stare down at his hand, as if to confirm the realness of himself.

"As far as I know, my father had a lot of grief over the original me, who died in the eighties. Nice guy, original me. Long and confidential story on why I know that." He smiles at her, taking all of this in stride, as if this is information he's lived with for a little while now. "But anyway, my father helped Adam perfect this cloning process. Tons of versions of me had to be created and die before the process was apparently perfected." He motions to himself. "I mean, not to refer to myself as literal perfection or anything."

"I forget which number I was. Maybe the seventeenth? Something high up there. I transferred bodies with a few, still not sure on what the story with that was. Probably a part of the Nazi science. But I know the others were in a lot of pain. I experienced the death of the final one." He holds up a hand, as if to stop himself. "Let me know if this endless rambling becomes unattractive. And also, are you saying that Adam Monroe was trying to kill you?"

The glass she’s working on is tossed back and she signals for another because this is some shit that is best chased down with whiskey. Or sake, but this isn’t that kind of place.

“Small world,” she says wryly. “Yeah, he was trying to kill me. Or rather he sent some of my sisters to try to kill me. We did eventually work past that, sort of. Maybe not. It’s complicated.” She says, before adding, “He’s also my father, so there’s that.” Chess picks up a paper coaster to fiddle with, spinning it between her fingers and the bartop. “If it makes you feel better, I blew up one of /his// clones.”

"Your father? That's pretty intense. I guess that's why he wanted my brain. The clone connection is pretty powerful, at least mine was. I think some of his DNA was at least used in the experiments on me, but not on the parental level. My best guess is that his DNA is what made me not melt like the other clones." Magnes reaches over to gently pat her shoulder, while simultaneously downing tilting his mug all the way up.

When he motions for another, he looks over at her. "We may have had evil and selfish supervillain fathers, but here we are, alive, drinking. I don't know what it is you do, but from what I saw on TV of your sister, I'm guessing we're basically a two person small army, and yet here we are, not being evil or going on a megalomaniacal rant."

He removes his hand and grabs the mug with both now. "I fought so many people like Adam, had so many of them try to tell me about my great destiny, the bigger purpose of my ability, but it's all bullshit. People like that get drunk on power, they get convinced that their genetics make them special. But it doesn't really matter. We're just people, regular people, no matter what we can do. Me and you, we can do whatever we want, but we're choosing to sit here talking and drinking, with no greater purpose."

"Our only responsibility is to live and be happy. Clone, Nazi experiment, children of people who think they're gods, who cares?" He stares deeply into his beer now, watching it swirl like a small whirlpool in the mug. "I lost the one woman I truly loved more than anything because of men like our fathers, because of people who believe they're gods. And it's up to us to teach our children to be better, to teach our children to live. And to teach ourselves those same lessons."

He laughs a little, shaking his head. "Sorry, my emotions ran away with me a bit. Hope I didn't kill whatever mood this was."

“Technically speaking. Genetically speaking,” Chess corrects, regarding the term father as it relates to Adam Monroe and his relationship with her.

Chess lifts her shoulder. “I’m not that kind of clone, for the record,” she adds, feeling the need to correct that misunderstanding as well, for whatever reason. “And Adam didn’t father me and my sisters knowingly. They used his DNA to create us. For our ‘destiny’ as you say. I don’t think we lived up to our purpose, from what I can tell, so you’re right,” she says, giving the bartender a nod as he refills her glass. “No greater purpose. If there was one, it didn’t take.”

She huffs a short laugh, setting down the coaster to reach for refill. “I don’t know that there’s any mood here besides trying to pretend the last year of my life didn’t happen, but don’t worry about it. Sorry about your lost love, though. Adam’s cost me a lot, but that honor goes to the US government at Raven Rock.”

Tipping her refilled glass in his direction. “To megalomaniacs and mad science, I guess, or we wouldn’t be here.”

Magnes holds his glass up, lightly clanking it against her's. "To making our own destinies and not drinking alone." He takes a long drink, then exhales, running fingers through his hair. "You know, I can't really tell the full story, but I once felt the entire multiverse. I think it's what cured me of thinking I'm anything special. It makes all the megalomaniacs in the world feel like people who are just really loud, when you feel the infinite expanse of the whole of existence. It makes you appreciate just sitting on your rock and not making a big deal over who rules it or not, as long as no one's destroying anything."

He stares forward, looking at the various bottles and glasses behind the bar. "I feel weirdly transparent talking to you. I mean, I'm not really the most quiet person, but I don't know, you seem like you understand where I'm coming from in an esoteric way that not a lot of people get. I kind of wish we met at a different time, where I could have said something dumb and embarassed myself because I didn't think before I acted on the first thing I felt."

A brow lifts at the word multiverse, then Chess huffs a small laugh at the disclosure at the end.

“I’m still trying to figure out the whole ‘not reacting on emotion’ thing. Not destroying things, well.” She lifts a shoulder. “My power is destruction. Haven’t really found a constructive use for it in the strictest meaning of the word. I guess I could not use it. Also,” she tips her glass in his direction, “need to find a rock I guess.”

Chess is used to metaphors, being a friend of Eve’s. She’s giving him a hard time.

“As far as the multiverse, if you signed the NDA everyone else did, I already know. Not the details, but I know it exists,” she says, taking another sip of her whiskey. “I have a friend who came over last year. Dead ringer for the one I lost in Raven Rock except for a tiny difference — he had no idea who I was.”

She shakes her head slightly. “I don’t know what I was, what I am in other places, but given the fact I was created in a lab to be some sort of clone warrior or whatever, I don’t think I want to know.”

"I've seen myself in many other places. What I could become both for better and worse. I think it's better to never know what you could have been, or what you're capable of being." Magnes raises a hand, pushing against seemingly the air over the bar, but it bends the space slightly, as if pushing on rubber, and then he pulls his hand back from it.

"I spent seven years in those other worlds, fighting in multiple horrific wars. This world could be much worse than it is. In many ways, we're lucky, far more lucky than many people realize. And I know how you feel, exactly how, really…" He looks over at her with a sympathetic smile. "When I was younger, when I arrived in the first of those worlds, I became involved with the alternate of my ex. But after years together, I lost her at the very end, when we were finally here. And now, well…"

He shakes his head. "Well, my ex, who is a very good friend of mine, she's here, alive, but she's a different person, she's not really the same woman from that other world who I fell in love with. I've gotten used to seeing her, but sometimes it can feel so distant, knowing that she's her but not her. Knowing that I can't hold her or talk to her in the same way, that we didn't have the same experiences together."

"Is it not weirding you out even a little that we have these eerily similar experiences?" he asks, raising an eyebrow. "I guess the world has become strange enough for even the most bizarre coincidences to be possible."

But, after leaning in to take another sip of beer, he says, "It is nice for someone to be able to relate though. Sorry for trying to citizen's arrest you. Is there any way I can make it up to you?"

"Oh, and your ability can be plenty useful. I work in construction using my ability. Do you know how useful it would be to destroy things? Destruction isn't inherently a negative, and you're not a weapon." he assures, reaching over to gently squeeze her shoulder.

Chess nods in agreement to Magnes’ feelings about his ex not being the same person as the one he lost. Her lips turn up slightly, and she confesses, a little drunkenly, “I call him the wrong Miles in my head, but one day I’ll probably call him that to his face and hurt his feelings. He already has enough issues, being in this world, I think. With me knowing the other him, and you know. Land.”

She huffs a small laugh at that, reaching up to scrub a hand over her face and then rake through her long blondish hair. “Yeah, I used to do demolition. It’s still destructive. Useful, but destructive. I was speaking, you know, literally,” Chess explains, fingers picking up the cardboard coaster she had dropped a few minutes before. “You can’t create something when your power is to blow shit up. You can clear the area for someone else to make something, sure. It’s not the same thing.”

Gesturing to him with the coaster, she lifts her glass to take a sip, then asks, “So what do you do now? Literally sit on a rock or…?”

"Some construction in the safe zone, still doing professional wrestling, I'm getting pretty popular locally. I even have my own shirt. I'm helping out at a commune outside the city, getting to know my young daughter again. She was taken from me, but I finally have her back. Very long story. Also getting to know my adult daughter from the future, which is a whole other long story. You happen to be friends with Adel?" Magnes asks, curious, since Chess seems to know a lot of things, and people.

"But I'm mostly taking it easy. I need to investigate some family business, but I don't have any big plans right now outside of my performance art, playing music, being a wrestler. You should give being a wrestler a shot, you might like it. It's a nice outlet." He rubs his chin, thinking, then suddenly holds up a finger. "Demolition Debbie! Perfect wrestling name.”

Chess rolls her eyes at herself. “Right, wrestling, you mentioned.” She points a finger to herself. “Little drunk. Usually I remember things from five minutes ago.”

His question to her about Adel draws a shake of her head. “Don’t know that one, at least by name. I’ve only been in New York a couple of years, but I was in hiding for most of the first one, and in Japan and then California for another, so I guess I haven’t really been in New York for very long.”

She laughs, though it isn’t very funny, because she is a little drunk. “I don’t think wrestling’s my thing. I don’t really… I blow shit up. And in the war, if I couldn’t get close enough to blow shit up by hand, I used arrows to help me blow shit up. I’m that… what’s the thing in video games where you fight from a distance, not hand to hand?” She clearly hasn’t played video games much. “Whatever that is, I’m that.”

"An archer?" Magnes asks, and then groans, leaning down to rest his forehead literally on top of his mug. "We should go on a date on the basis of mutually similar suffering." he suddenly suggests. "I wasn't going to say that because asking seems kind of dumb, but after thinking about it a lot of times I feel like it no longer counts as an impulsive thought."

"Like, a super low pressure sort of thing. I'll make a pizza from scratch, trade stories, drink, watch the greatest movie of all time." He sits up, fingergunning at her. "That's right, Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course." he says before bursting out laughing.

“Yes but no, something else.” She snaps her fingers. “Ranged. That’s it. I don’t wrestle.

The next turn in the conversation is a dizzying one for Chess, and she cocks her head almost comically, as if she can’t quite comprehend what he’s saying.

“You thought about it a lot of times in the past… twenty minutes?” she wonders aloud, then finishes the rest of the drink she has in her hand. “You are sweet, and I’d say sure to pizza and Crocodile Hunter or whatever, but, uh, you just told me…”

She touches fingers as she goes through the list: “You’re biologically fourteen. You probably have my genetic father’s DNA in you. You have an adult daughter from the future. You have a young daughter. And a few steamer trunks full of baggage, it sounds like. Not that I don’t have my own.”

Wiping at the air as if to erase all of that from some imaginary chalkboard, Chess adds, “I don’t really date anyone nice enough to go on actual dates with, and you’re too nice to just sleep with, so I think I’m going to friend zone you out the gate, but don’t take it personally, yeah? In the long run, I promise you you’re better off for it and it’s one hundred percent my loss.”

She lifts her glass to clink against his mug. “I won’t say no to a friend though.”

"Whoa hold on, I'm temporally fourteen, not biologically. I'm only fourteen in the eyes of the universe itself." Magnes does listen to the rest of it though, crossing his arms as his mind calculates what part of that he should directly address.

What is the best possible counter…

He holds up a single finger and says, "I'm definitely an asshole, I'm a huge asshole. I collapsed the Empire State Building once. Which, out of context, sounds pretty bad. But it was full of alternate universe Nazis… okay but still I'm like the worst most bad person."

Pausing, he immediately adds, "Your dad hates me. Is that not the most sexy thing you ever heard?"

But then he laughs, and offers her his hand. "Friends is fine. I'm not the type to get mad at rejection. A bit thirsty, but not mad."

Chess stares at him as he makes his counterarguments, then laughs, covering her face for a moment. “Ugh. I don’t even know where that asshole is right now. I don’t think all his clones are gone, but he hasn’t come to check on me or sent me a birthday card with five dollars in it since Detroit, so.”

She lifts her shoulder, reaching for her glass but finding it empty. “I should not have more,” Chess says, mostly to herself.

His hand is taken in a firm handshake. “As for being an asshole or not, you seem like the type of person who wants, like, commitment, and I am barely functioning as a human being right now. And if you’re telling me you’re an asshole so I’ll be okay with sleeping with you and nothing else, last time — okay, not last time, the time before last time — I did that, the guy tried to tell me he was in love with me within a month. So. Friends. No benefits.”

"I won't lie, if we sleep with each other I will definitely tell you I love you. I mean, it's science really. It took less than half an hour for me to want a date, and I'm not really quick to want a date these days. Meaning basically never. So, yeah, I think this is all pretty predictable." Magnes nods, his tone fairly reasonable as he leans back in the stool in a bit of an unnatural manner that suggests he should probably be falling off by now.

"Just friends is fine. I mean, I'm a take it slow type these days, I've kind of been avoiding relationships and dating period. I mostly asked you because, well, one you're ridiculously hot, and two, I think this is the quickest I've ever related to someone in some substantial way. So I had to go for it, throw caution to the wind, you know." He shrugs slightly. "I like to pretend like I'm an independent dad who is perfectly fine and doesn't need anything else, but I guess deep down I do want more.

"Which is not to say that I don't definitely and possibly even desperately want to sleep with you literally right now in this bar, but you're right, I probably do want commitment. What kind of weird adult have I become." He scrunches up his nose at the current state of his adulthood. "I've also probably had far too much to drink. Guess I'm not flying home tonight."

“Ugh, don’t be that guy,” Chess says, rolling her eyes. “Sex does not equal love. I don’t care what endorphins and shit are messing up your brain. Don’t say it on a first date. Probably not until at least a month or two in. Unless she says it first. Then you can, but only if you also love her when your pants are up.”

This is prime advice, courtesy of Jack Daniels.

“And, uh, thanks, but now that we’re forging forward with the magic of friendship, that’s the last time you can say you want to have sex with me, unless I tell you first. Because friends without benefits don’t say these things to each other, yeah?” Chess says, pulling a wallet out of her pocket and fishing out a couple of bills.

She also pulls out a card with a phone number on it. “My name is Chess, by the way,” she says, offering him the card.

"I didn't mean right after, I at least know better than that. I mean, now I do. But yeah, don't worry about it, I've already made so many really dumb mistakes that I manage to seem like a functional male at this point." Magnes takes her card, flipping it over in his fingers after sitting up straight. "Nice to meet you, Chess. I'll still make you a pizza, a platonic pizza. So, I guess cheese with chicken and broccoli maybe, and no sausage or pepperoni."

He nods firmly as he forms how to make a correctly platonic pizza in his mind.

The card, taken and glanced at, is slid into her wallet and the wallet slid into her jeans pocket. “If you put broccoli on my pizza, I will literally blow the pizza up and the friendship will be over. That’s a threat and a promise, pal.”

She rises, giving a nod of final thanks to the bartender for attending to her many needs, then looks back to Magnes. “Platonic pizza would be olives, feta, maybe some spinach. Plato was Greek, see? And yes, I get the omission of sausage. No need to explain.” She flashes a smile, as she pulls out her phone to summon an Uber. She heads toward the door, then glances over her shoulder.

“Don’t fly drunk. I’ve been to Japan. I’ve seen the havoc you can wreak.”

His reputation precedes him.

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