Chapter 13

If we do make it home somehow, thought Janica, what are we going to tell Mom? Because she'll know. When I visit Mom's, we're going to want to sleep in Megan's bed... Janica corrected herself, remembering that Megan must have moved out of the house decades ago -- so weird to think how much time has gone by! -- but when we visit Mom, Janica's thoughts continued, we'll want to share a bed. And Mom will know.

She ordered herself to worry about that later.

She looked around them. She kissed Megan one more time, and said, "Really, though, if we don't find some water, we'll get pretty cranky in a hurry."

They untangled themselves from each other, and both stood. Janica frowned. "The ground around here is sloped down that way," she pointed to her left. "If there are any creeks or rivers, they should be down there."

After following the slope for several minutes, they found themselves at the edge of the grove of trees, where it gave onto an open meadow. Farther down, the ground became rocky, and a small stream was visible following a meandering path through the rocks.

Janica bit her lip. "Out in the open."

Megan nodded. "I'm not seeing any men from here, but I wouldn't count on it being safe. We'd better go get a quick drink and come back here. We might find something safer later."

Janica pointed. "Let's get down to right there, that boulder we could get behind while we drink."


"Of course."

Megan grinned at Janica. "Make love after we get some water?"

Janica laughed quietly and kissed Megan again. "After we get water and some better shelter. Ready?"

Megan took a deep breath, took Janica's hand and gave it a squeeze, then released it and took off at a dead run, angling left after twenty yards or so. Janica trailed her, following a different path but staying close.

Halfway to the stream, Janica whipped her head around when the whizzing sound from yesterday was repeated, and turned back in time to see Megan hit the ground, the back of her head bright red. She screamed, "Mig!!" and ran straight for her, dropping to her knees beside her.

Everything seemed unreal. Her heart pounding, her stomach sick at the amount of blood coming from Megan's head, Janica rolled Megan onto her back, ready to give CPR. She sensed no movement from Megan, no breathing. She felt the side of Megan's neck, slippery with blood, and couldn't find a pulse. Her eyes streamed with tears, and she could only repeat, "Mig, Mig, Mig..."

She felt a blow just above her left breast, that knocked her onto her back. She tried to get up, but couldn't move from the pain. Couldn't breathe. Everything faded.

*   *   *   *   *

Artemis, the god of the hunt, knelt by the two bodies, a half-dozen men forming a semicircle behind him, looking on. "Both dead." He looked at a small screen he held in his hand, tapped it a few times with his finger. "Telemetry says it was Ares' bullet that got the new clone..."

A short man, holding an antique rifle pointed at the sky, said, "We knew that much."

Artemis glared at him. "Just making it official. You got the other clone, Demeter. Several shots were near simultaneous, but telemetry tracks the kill shot to your gun."

Demeter pumped his fist. "Yes!" He looked at the rest. "Barbecue at my place tonight."

Several of the others clapped him on the shoulder. One turned to Ares. "How do you manage to hit moving targets with that thing?" He gestured at the rifle.

Ares shrugged. "Practice." As the god of war and battle, he considered it his job to hone his skills with every weapon known. He looked down at the blonde-haired clone, the one with the new face. "I'll keep this one." He always ate his kills himself.

One of the men beside him said, "Ares, you'd share her if she was Earth-born meat, right?"

Demeter defended Ares. "Come on, that's a moot point. There hasn't been any Earth-born meat available for the last six years. And it's not likely we'll get any more."

The man shrugged. "Just wondered."

Artemis straightened up, his knees cracking. "We'll have the porters carry them back to Olympus." He looked around. "Shit, where are they?"

Demeter pointed down to the stream. "Getting a drink."

Artemis whistled for the porters' attention and summoned them.

*   *   *   *   *

Jamis, the owner, stood in the front doorway of the Girlimal Emporium, pleased at the size of the waiting crowd. "Open for business, folks. Just took delivery on the new face..."

A man at the front of the crowd interrupted him. "You got them in all forms? I'm looking for a new horse. Could use a new cow too."

Jamis grinned. "Got some of everything. I can take orders if I run out, and new stock can be in in a few days. Olympus says they're turning them out fast."

Another man stood fascinated in front of the display windows, looking at the new model of dolly. The dolly, a pretty girl with light blonde girl and that new face everyone was waiting for, smiled at him in a seductive way and rubbed her mound while thrusting her hips towards him provocatively. He said to Jamis, "Got to get me one of these."

Jamis nodded. "Let's come inside and do the paperwork. Dolly takes a couple of weeks, you know. And you'll need to provide some images of yourself, and a DNA sample, so they can do the imprinting."

The man nodded. "It's funny, she looks a little similar to the gold-haired one. Not the same, but similar in some way."

Jamis nodded again. Maybe that's the reason, he thought. When he'd first seen the new face, he'd had a sharp deja vu feeling, as if he'd seen it before, though he didn't know how that could be possible. Maybe it was the similarity to the standard gold-haired model, but that didn't seem sufficient. It was as if he had seen this exact face somewhere before, but he couldn't for the life of him think where it could have been or how it might have happened.

He shrugged, flashed a general smile at the crowd and backed into his store. "Well, come in, come in, everybody! Let's see what everybody wants."

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