Cassie: Part 1

I hadn’t originally planned to write a story from Cassie’s perspective yet, but I had the idea, and I’ve been wanting to get certain facts about her origin out for a while now. The main story hasn’t allowed it though. Fortunately, these short stories are a good way of going about that. Thus, this is a decent segue into the next major storyline or two.

Waiting rooms are boring. It doesn’t matter whose waiting room. Even top secret, government owned laboratories that exist solely to study metahumans still make me want to scream after half an hour.

Especially when they manage to stock the same seven month old copies of People as my dentist.

It had to be a conspiracy.

So that’s where I was. In a waiting room. The one for studying metahumans. Not my dentist’s.

Mom was upstairs a couple levels talking with her boss—which served her right because instead of going home after vacation in Aruba, she’d taken us to Washington D.C. I’d told her how I’d regenerated a huge chunk of my thigh, and she’d told someone at work, and they’d told her they wanted a sample.

And that’s how I happened to be sitting in a room in Langley, Virginia in a building that didn’t officially belong to the CIA, checking out an ancient copy of People, and realizing I knew someone mentioned inside.

A seventeen year old actress they’d interviewed mentioned Alex, the son of the superhero Preserver, as a “fun person” she’d met since moving to L.A. I thought that was interesting since I knew he was dating Brooke, someone totally not that actress. Except… I checked the date. They hadn’t started dating until months later.

So right, I’m calculating the date to find out if someone I barely knew was cheating on his girlfriend (and he wasn’t). Alex was Nick’s friend anyway. I’d only met him once.

God. I was so bored.

I dropped the magazine on the table next to a copy of Newsweek that was just as old.

The nurse opened the door, and called out “Cassie Kowalski?” as if I hadn’t been the only person sitting in the room for the past half hour.

I said, “She left, like twenty minutes ago.”

The nurse said, “Uh…”

“Kidding,” I said. “That’s me.”

I stood up, and that’s when Mom stepped through the entrance.

“Mom, they just called me,” I said.

“Then don’t keep them waiting.”

Meanwhile the nurse flicked her eyes between the two of us, shook her head, and stepped back into the hall, still holding the office door open for us.

I guessed the meaning of the nurse’s look. Mom and I don’t look anything alike. It’s not just clothes or personal style. That’s different too. Mom always looks professional—think dark suits. I wear a lot of jeans and hoodies. She’d done her makeup. I almost never do.

Even if we’d worn the same clothes, we still wouldn’t have looked like we were related.

I’m blond, light skinned, and stand four inches taller than she does. She’s got black hair, and her complexion’s a couple shades darker. If that weren’t enough, I’m skinny with muscles that are just shy of embarrassingly noticeable, and Mom’s got curves.

The nurse led us back into the office area which was busier than I’d have expected. We passed two conference rooms that were full of people in suits, and a room full of doctors, nurses, computers and a lot of medical equipment.

She led us into an examination room and I took a seat on the exam table. Mom sat in the chair. It was a cold room, all white walls and linoleum—like it was designed by robots or something.

The doctor stepped inside. He was kind of cute in a clean cut, and nerdy with glasses sort of way. Or if you really go for men in white lab coats.

“I’m Dr. Wilson, and I’m going to take two samples today. The first will be of the regenerated muscle tissue. Secondly, I’ll be taking a sample of the regenerated bone. If you could point out the affected area, please…”

“The ‘affected area’ is right here.” I made a big circle on my thigh below my shorts. I’d been so dumb. If the guy with the laser had been smarter, or luckier, he could have killed me for real.

“Ordinarily I’d give you an anesthetic, but due to your nature, I don’t have anything that would last long enough.”

My nature—by which he meant I regenerated freakishly quickly.

“It can’t be worse than getting shot.”

He opened a drawer next to the exam table and pulled out two big needles.

“Wait… What’s with poking me twice anyway?”

“Well…” He looked over at Mom. She didn’t say anything. “Given your origin, we want to track any changes.”

By which he meant, “Given that you’re your father’s clone except with some major gene splices (like not being a guy, for example), we’d like to make sure you haven’t turned into a doomsday device.”

30 thoughts on “Cassie: Part 1”

  1. wow i had no idea about this. i mean i remember at the beginning of the story it said a little bit about her getting enhanced superpowers at a secret government facility but i didnt know that the conspiracy was bigger than i had imagined. and doomsday device???????

  2. I’d guess the doomsday device thingy is related to the accelerated cell division required for regeneration going haywire… perhaps something like an organic equivalent of the basic nanobot grey goo scenario.

  3. I swear Jim, if you keep hitting me with these wham cliffhangers, I’m gonna come down to Michigan, and find you at your home, and give you one hell of a congratulations.

    But seriously, Cassie is…what now???

  4. *holds up a mirror, breathing heavily* Cassie…you are your father!

    Kinda makes you wonder about her mother then…I mean, it sounds like they got no genes at all from the mom, so she’s been raising her husband’s gender-swapped clone all these years.

  5. Wow several thoughts on this one I’ll just go in order if y’all don’t mind.
    1) I’d like to be a fly on the wall when that conspiracy is busted wide open. (Also I really wish I could have put “that” in italics.)
    2)Mmmm curves.
    3)WhhAAAAAaaaaaat? (@being fathers clone)
    4)Lastly because I’m a smart ass… how does one gene splice the DNA of a self regenerating organism? Wouldn’t it just fix itself?

    Just curious Jim. You know I love ya; :p or at least you do now.

  6. Think about it. She can regenerate her cells fast enough to make viruses look as slow to grow as redwood trees. You really don’t want someone with that kind of superpower to suddenly develop any cellular regeneration malfunctions or compatibility with viruses. Can you imagine cancer that can grow perpetually out of a single discarded skin cell to cover a city or a mutated disease with an incubation period of thirty seconds?

  7. About regeneration fixing DNA alterations… The DNA is what contains the data that tells how the body should be, so unless the regeneration runs on magic a genetic change will propagate itself automatically.
    And if you make the change in a single cell (such as the zygote), there’s only one set of the genes present, so the old form will not overrun the new.

  8. thanks Mazzon for clearing that up for me! I know i love science fiction but i sometimes have to have those wait what moments in terms of science terms

  9. Holy CRISPY crap Batman, Cassie’s a clone???????????

    I did NOT see that coming at all.

    And yeah, that’s got to be weird for her “mom” — and for her as a person. What’s it like to wake up and know that your cells are just copies of someone else?

  10. Eh, being a clone’s not really a big thing, I think. She’s got a normal mother (by today’s standards of normal, which include in vitro fertilizations, surrogate wombs, etc.) and her dad died before she was born. Lots of people look ‘just like’ their parents, she just looks a bit more like him than others.

    And the CDC would absolutely [i]love[/i] if a supervirus only had an incubation of 30 seconds. Means that, at most, one floor of a building would be affected, and no-one else would be harmed. Now a disease with multiple vectors, and a multi-year incubation? That would be terrifying, because by then it would have already spread to most of the known world.

  11. Everyone: (With regards to Cassie’s origin) The conversation’s still not done. There’s more to come there. The funny thing is that some parts have been hinted at, but just not connected to each other… This story connects them.

    The funny thing is that Nick knows. There just hasn’t been any reason to explain it in story. There have been several times that I’ve thought about having him mention it, but it would have been distracting from the main action, so I cut it, or didn’t write it.

    Regarding splicing regenerating cells: What Mazzon said. He beat me to it.

  12. Doesn’t that mean though that ppl with regeneration can have cancer just fine? And if that’s true, then how did all those regenerating immortal types from Prime’s army survive for so long?

  13. PS:
    Incubation period 30 seconds for a virus might seem good… until you realize that even the common cold would be lethal if it grew/regenerated orders of magnitude faster than the body’s defense systems could cope with – and it’s airborne. And a regenerating virus could pretty much survive in the environment indefinitely as it would regenerate damage to itself.

    The apocalypse would be like those zombie movies where turning to a zombie takes one bite and a minute or so for the “virus” to work – only you could be infected by just sitting around a place where a zombie walked through a month back.

  14. Belial, one problem is that if the virus couldn’t survive for very long outside a host body, then quickly overwhelming hosts can lead to it dying out if all the ones in an area are dead. That doesn’t often stop them anyway, but it’s why viruses work better if they wait to show symptoms.

    Also, as for regeneration and cancer…well, two things. 1. Deadpool. He entered the Weapon X program because he had cancer. His healing factor prevents it from killing him, but keeps it around and lets it grow all over the place in some wierd constant struggle that accounts for him being pretty ugly.

    There’s also the question of souls. I don’t believe in all that mess, but in hero worlds it is often a factor as there religion does work. In fact, in a comic book world, the idea that the world was created by some higher being that is outside the laws of their universe is correct. Now, if something just instantly made a copy of someone, one would have to wonder if the copy could be said to have a soul. If not, what does that mean?

    The issue might work just the same way with slower clones, who may develop in a womb or in a tubbe (see: Qubert Farnsworth). So far we don’t see whatever a lack of a soul would supposedly do to Cassie to tell whether it’s true or not, but she seems to be a good person.

    And, who knows, maybe it could just mean that, like in the Buffyverse, souls don’t actually mean a damn thing. Look at Spike. Became a good person, fell in love, had feelings all without a soul. Was good enough to go and get his soul back…which didn’t really change who he was. On the flip side, Angel, who once tried to commit the same actions as he did when soulless because, thanks to a drug, he was kinda tricked into feeling like he’d found perfect bliss and that his soul was gone.

    So don’t worry, you’re perfectly fine without a soul. Just initial here, here, and here, and I’ll deliver that thing you were hoping to cut a deal for.

  15. I kind of don’t buy that Nick would know Cassie’s a clone and not mention it in all this time as the narrator — Nick’s a geek. A SCIENCE geek. He’d be interested in the process, the machinery and techniques used, and he’d have a lot of questions. Cassie might have to threaten to break his thumb to shut him up about it until he gets that phase out of his system.

    I think it would be weird to grow up thinking you’re like any other kid and then one day your guardian sits you down tells you that they’re not really your mom and you’re cloned from a dead guy. Especially when you’re a girl. Do clones have belly buttons? I mean, they never had an umbilical cord. Even your fingerprints might be weird, because to some extent they’re formed by the womb fluids, right?

    Some theologians argue that no one starts out with a soul, that it’s something earned through prayer, struggle and hardship and faith, according to Lisa Simpson anyway. That would apply to Spike and to clones who wanted to find faith, I think.

    1. Gavin: It’s a question of context. Nick’s known almost as long as he’s known Cassie, long enough that it seems less weird to him–which doesn’t mean he hasn’t asked about it. It just means I haven’t shown it in the story.

      It’s too weird a thing for the readers for me not to give people time to absorb it and to connect it to a few things.

  16. Just because she’s a clone doesn’t necessarily mean she didn’t have an umbilical cord or that her mother didn’t give birth to her.

    Once you create the clone embryo in your test tube, you face the problem of where to grow it. Sure, they may have some expensive scifi monster-growing tubes for that as seen in movies, but on the other hand you can just implant it in a womb, and it’ll grow on it’s own. That’s the system that’s known to work and how they do it now.

  17. I didn’t see her being a clone coming. I suspected that the goldstein process that gave Cassie and her dad there powers does not work for everyone.That would explain why the CIA used a topsecret super soldier procedure on a high school girl.
    Anvildude and Gavin: You know her dad died four years before Nick’s grandfarther did. So she had to be 12 or 13 when it happened.Nick talk about it a little in Chapter One: Villanins and Vigilantes.

  18. Lol! I hear you Bill. I had to read Mazzon’s post three times or more before I fully understood what he was saying. 🙂

  19. @Anvildude.
    I actually did that in a Con RPG once.
    Those pesky humans stole Earth from us and moved it, so having found it a few thousand years later, the first thing I did on entering Earth’s atmosphere was to start a wide dispersion virus attack.

    Highly infections, no more symptoms that the common code until 5 years down the track when everyone suddenly started dying of cancer.

    Of course, it helped that we had engineered the humans in the first place.
    Guaranteed “win” in the long term, even if I failed my primary mission.

  20. on having a soul: i totally think that souls are real, but since there is no evidence whatsoever for them being biological but a part of the essence then of course to the extent that a clone has these three: emotion will intelligence, then they have a soul. now i do believe that a person’s soul has an ultimate destiny i just dont think it is a physical thing. did i blow your minds with my metaphysical speak?

  21. Captain mystic: You’ll blow my mind when you stand behind that metaphysics speech by convincing a someone who just lost a baby that it’s not so bad since it didn’t have a soul yet.

  22. I can more easily buy that Nick’s known for years — that makes more sense. I think I assumed that it was since this summer or something.

    If someone tried to say something that horrible to a parent, Mazzon, I’m pretty sure such a person wouldn’t have a soul themselves. Granted, Catholic history shows a really weird attitude about souls, baptism, babies and made up places like Purgatory, but that’s not all of Christianity and it’s certainly not in the Bible at all.

  23. Mazzon/GS/Captain Mystic: I suspect there’s no belief system that can’t be used in an incredibly insensitive way if someone is commenting thoughtlessly.

  24. I just wanted to emphasize that I said “Catholic history” because a lot of that’s in the past, just like the “witches” burnt in Salem, executions at the stake, inquisitions, and slavery. I think most modern people wish the best for others.

    I just wanted to clarify because my family background is Catholic, a lot of my friends are Catholic, and in my experience they’re all good people.

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