The Switch

Damien | 30/10/2011

An offer. A dangerous offer.

I should have known better, but I'm a sucker for adrenaline, and these things are usually over-hyped anyway. In my experience, the danger level of a mission is usually ramped up a few points from where it should really be by some pansy in an office who is worried about ensuring the buck doesn't stop with the boot pointing at his or her ass if things go to shit.

In their view it's far better to over-estimate danger than under-estimate it. This is why the American military has a decades old policy of shoot first, identify the target later, for example.

So even though I was warned in advance that the mission was dangerous, I wasn't really all that concerned. I'd been doing this job long enough to know that as long as I kept my wits about me and didn't do anything stupid there was little chance of my cover being blown, and it was well known in the circles in which I operated that there was nobody as good as me at separating real life from the mission at hand.

That's why I get paid so much for doing what I do.

It was only after I had accepted the mission, been paid the deposit, and got the file on my target that I started to think I may have bitten off more than I could chew.

Because I was the target.

Well, not me exactly, as that just wouldn't make sense. But the original me.

I'm guessing by now that you're a little confused, and I completely understand, as I would be too if I were in your shoes. So I'll try to explain it to you real quick.

I am a clone. Now, I know what your going to say. We are nowhere near developing that kind of technology yet. But think about this logically. The best technology always starts with the military and works its way downwards in a trickle.

Now, if scientists at a university were able to clone a sheep 15 years ago, how long do you think the military have been able to do it for?

And those guys don't mess around with ethical issues and stuff. They just go ahead and do what they want as they know their Top Secret clearance will cover them if things go wrong. Which they often do.

Anyway, that's enough science for now. I need to get on with the tale while I still can.

For the last 30 years every American President has had his DNA taken immediately after his Inauguration Ceremony. Ostensibly this is so in the case of something happening to him (such as Air Force One being shot down, for example), it will be possible to identify his remains no matter how little of them there may be left.

But that's not the only reason for taking the DNA. For each President, 6 clones are created. These are basically used as decoys with things like visits to dangerous areas such as war zones. So when you see the President standing there with the troops in Basra, that's not actually him. It's one of his clones.

We used to use lookalikes for this kind of mission, but as time went on and the media became more and more intrusive it became much more difficult to fool them. And so clones started to be used. Like me.

The President, for the record, actually still thinks it's just lookalikes, but this is because he doesn't need to know about stuff like this. He is only the President after all, it's not like he really does anything important these days.

Which is where we were apparently having a problem. Because the current President seemed to be under the impression that he was actually in charge of things. This is something that the Administration goes through with every new President, but usually they realise after a few months that they are just a puppet for the real decision makers.

This guy though, or me, as I could also look at it, had been in power for three years now and was still fighting every step of the way. And now he had gone one step to far and had threatened to expose the truth.

So he had to go.

The problem was, you can't just go around shooting the President of the United States of America. Well, not anymore anyway. So there had to be a more subtle solution. Which is where I came in. I had to somehow find a way to get between the real President and his Secret Service escort somewhere, kill him, take his place, and arrange for the body to be disposed of later.

This was not going to be an easy task, and it was clear from the outset that one of us was going to die.

Before that though I had to go through a rigourous training schedule.The President had known his team for a long time, and so I would have to learn everything about them that he knew before I could try and take him out.

This involved an intensive, month long crash course in all things Presidential. Briefings he had attended, personel files on every single person working in the White House, and plenty of people working else where. For 16 hours a day I crammed information into my skull so that I could seemlessly take over from him should the mission prove successful.

Eventually I was deemed as ready to go, so all we had to do now was find a window of opportunity to make the switch.

For another month we tailed him everywhere he went, just waiting for that one moment, once chance, to sneak in there and replace the President of the United States of America with one of his clones. But he was too well guarded. His security detail was too good, as well they might be. These guys are the best in the world at what they do, and it showed.

Finally though, a window of opportunity presented itself.

His church confessional booth.

He went once a month to the same place he had always gone. Never at the same time of the month, of course, as there was no way his Secret Service detail would allow a routine like that. But he always went into the stall and stayed there for 20 minutes.

After three years there was a lot of complacency around this ritual, and other than a cursory glance to make sure that the confessional booth wasn't rigged with explosives and didn't have an assassin lurking inside, the President was generally left to his own devices while he was in there.

So we rigged the box with a fast acting, odourless gas. All we needed was to knock him out for 20 seconds. Of course, the priest also got a dose, as we couldn't have him sitting there watching the President pass out, get taken out of the back of the booth, and then replaced. It just wouldn't be right.

A 20 second snooze though would just leave the poor guy thinking he had nodded off for a second and he would be too embarrassed to say anything.

There was no room in the back of the booth for anyone but me, so once the gas was released I opened up the secret panel we had put in there earlier in the week and dragged the unconcious President through the gap before climbing in to replace him. I just had time to close the panel before I heard the priest starting to wake up and began talking to him, hopeful that he wouldn't notice the change.

We had done it. The switch had been made. The danger was over for everyone else in the team. And probably for the President too by now. I spent a moment composing myself before exiting the confessional booth and beginning my role as the President of the United States of America.

The first thing I was going to do was slowly cut down on my confessional visits. It was the one place where my security was weak, and I had to ensure I wasn't vulnerable to the risk of being replaced myself if I was to continue my Creators work in his honour.

After all, I knew for a fact that there were five more clones just like me out there, and I doubted that the others would have the guts to fight the Administration like I planned too now that I was free and out in the open.

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