A quiet buzzing sound surrounded Negaduck, penetrating him to the very core
of his being. He knew there was light, but he could not see it. He knew there
was pain, but he could not feel it. He knew he was afraid, but he felt only
courage. That was the most terrifying thing of all.
He could not tell how much time passed. Everything was all swirled together in a sensation unlike anything he had ever felt before. It was the greatest thing he had ever felt, but at the same time it was far worse than a thousand lifetimes of torture. He could not understand it, he could not stop it. He could only wait.
Then it was over. The light above his head clicked on, illuminating the two buttons. Negaduck clumsily reached for the button to open the door. He stumbled out of the machine, dazed. He wanted to run a thousand miles, but he was afraid that if he moved he would fall unconscious.
A quiet, peculiarly feminine voice brought him back to the world of the living. "Are you all right?"
Negaduck tried to answer, but he found that his mouth would not move the way he ordered it too. He slurred something that was meant to be words, but sounded like helpless groaning. His helplessness frustrated and infuriated him. He couldn't stand being powerless, especially in the company of a female. His anger worked to his advantage, lending him strength.
"Wwwhhaaatt… hhh… aaaappennnd?" he managed after a few tries. His eyes were still too blurred for him to see clearly. The soft, sweet voice returned, this time accompanied by a second high-pitched giggling sound.
"You were in that cloning machine. You tried to clone yourself."
Negaduck felt something marvelously cool and wet poured down his throat.
Water. And over his head. More. Yes, things were coming clearer now. Clearer…
There was not one, but two products of the machine. Both were female.
They were ducks, sure enough, but they were unlike any ducks Negaduck had known to walk the streets of St. Canard. Their feathers were of the softest blue. The one who had made him drink water had a head of bushy feathers not entirely unlike Bushroot's hair, only pulled back. From the middle of her forehead, five white lightning bolt stripes branched out and grew to make five white streaks, plus one straight line of white leading from her silver beak to her forehead. She wore a long white lab coat and a tight suit of black with a light bulb pictured clearly on the chest.
The second duck was smaller. Her feathers grew as bushy as her sister clone's, but they stuck out over her face. She had three lightning bolt stripes. One in the center that began at her beak and ended at the base of the back of her head, and two others that began there and curled around her head like a Grecian half-crown made of olive leaves. She wore a long black skirt that flowed like a waterfall, and what amounted to a black bikini top.
She batted her eyes and grinned at Negaduck.
"So, sweets, it looks like we're one and the same," she murmured. "How about we… test that theory?" She put her arms around Negaduck's neck. He pulled away, utterly confused.
"What in the name of Pete happened?? How did I become… you? Who ARE you????"
The lightbulb-toting duck hopped onto a table and sat there. "Well, when you were messing about with all those switches, a couple things happened. First, you set the thing to make two clones. Second, you told the program to mix the last clone's traits with yours. Third, you also disconnected some of the gene magnets, leaving room for the computer to improvise."
"So what you're saying," Negaduck growled, "Is that you two are the children of me and… Megavolt?!"
"That's right, daddykins," said the smaller sister. "We're all yours!"
Still trying to absorb the fact that he had just apparently become the father of Megavolt's children, Negaduck asked the only question that seemed logical at the time. "So… uh… do you two have names or what?"
"Yes and no," the lightbulb girl answered. "We know our names, but you can change them. We know names that would be given to us by one of the parents."
"Okay… So… what are they?"
The lightbulb girl pointed to her sister. "That's Quanta, and I'm Ampera. We know these names because we have inherited part of the minds of both you and our other father."
"Great. One big happy family, eh?"
Quanta twirled around and rested her chin on Negaduck's shoulder. "That's right! Time for us to settle down and have some quality family time," she giggled. "Isn't that right, Ampera?"
Ampera crossed her arms. "It's lovely for you to talk that way, but what about Megavolt? And where is the other clone?"
Quanta smiled coyly. "You can go find Megavolt, dear sister, but I doubt there will be enough room for his darling little clone too. Besides, isn't he a bit young for you?"
Ampera took the time to stare daggers at her sister before returning her attention to Negaduck. "What happened to the clone?"
"You mean Coulomb? He's off in a rage running amuck somewhere."
"Then we have to find him."
"Why? I think I might just rather stick around here for a while…"
Negaduck threw Quanta a little half-smile.
"Because we'll all be up to our shoulders in bad broccoli if we don't."
Negaduck shrugged. "Have it your way. I personally couldn't care one way or another. As far as I'm concerned, Sparky and Sparky Jr. can go on a liberate-the-giraffes campaign until Kingdom Come."
"If I remember correctly, Megavolt has a peculiar fondness for liberating the Zoo's critters. He usually picks giraffes. I guess it's because their horns look like lightbulbs or something." Negaduck was only paying half of his attention to the conversation with Ampera. The rest of his mind, and everything else, was in the process of becoming the sole property of Quanta.
Ampera sighed. Obviously these two were going to be no help whatsoever.
And so, without the slightest idea where she was going, what she was looking for, or even exactly why she was bothering, she set off in the direction of the Zoo. Or she thought it was the direction of the Zoo. With her muddled memories, it could be the way to Zanzibar for all she knew.
Chapter 5: Here A Clone, There A Clone