Part I: Childhood Creations
“Oh honey, junior high ain't nothing to worry about.” Diana told a concerned Chase. “You did fine last year. Oh, I'm so proud of you.”
“You're saying it's not going to be hard?” The worried child got his bag slung over his back. The bag had a baseball and bat on it; baseball was currently Chase's favourite sport.
“Honey, you'll be fine. Kick some ass!” Diana laughed, along with Chase joining in. He shrugged.
“Well... Okay, ma. I'll show 'em who the best student is!” Chase opened up the door to head outside. He didn't live very far away from the school, so he had roughly a ten minute walk if he wanted to take his time. The sun was beating down today, but not enough to throw Chase off of his feet.
“I can't believe how tall you are already!” Chase's mom was surprised. “You've grown so fast within the past year.
“Well... Whatever made me tall, that's pretty nice.” His voice cracked a little bit. Because of that, he cleared his throat, slightly embarrassed.
“You won't have that voice-cracking thing going on for much longer, sweetie.” Diana patted Chase's head. Relieved, he smiled back at her. Looking to the clock that was situated in the kitchen, he noticed he had about twenty minutes left before school started.
“Oh, you should probably head out now. It doesn't hurt to get there a little early.” Diana urged Chase to leave the home and out into the bright, sunny world.
“At least this school is closer than the other one that I had to go to.” Chase grabbed onto his backpack straps so he could carry it easier. He looked to his mom who seemed incredibly happy; her son was finally growing up, and maybe a bit too fast. Time may seem slow to Chase right now, but it's going to start speeding right up.
“I'll see you at lunch, hon.” Diana stepped out of the door, seeing her son off.
“Love ya, ma.” Chase waved to his mom as he headed down the street to the school which was but two blocks away. His jeans were dyed a deep blue, brand new for the school year. They would only fade as the year went on, however. They weren't high end.
Diana stepped back into her home after Chase was a good distance down the road. She could trust him; he had some taekwondo training for self defence, however.
Not long after Chase left, Diana's bright smile soon turned into a concerned frown. Sighing, she went into the living room. Money was really tight; she could barely afford anything for herself, let alone her very own son. Her part-time job was just barely getting them by. There had to be another way to get some extra money, but how? Chase couldn't get a real job yet, even though throughout the summer he did odd jobs around the neighbourhood for some extra cash for himself. He even split it with his mom, insisting that she have some too because “you're my mom, you took care of me and it sure as hell doesn't hurt if I help a little, too.”
“But, Chase, you earned this, not me.” Diana furrowed her eyebrows, looking to her son.
“You give me stuff I don't earn, so take this.” He grabbed a twenty from his pocket. “The last person I helped out gave me a heck of a lot more than that for the stuff I did.”
Diana sighed, smiling. “I can't say no.” She held her hand out, but instead, Chase gave her a hug.
“I love you, ma.” Chase hugged her tightly. Diana was just able to hug him back, since he was by now up to her collarbone in height. She was only five foot four, while he was approaching really quite fast on that. He's definitely going to exceed her height.
“Chase, you're so sweet, but...” Diana sighed. “Your odd jobs just ain't enough. We need more income... We've been threatened eviction several times.”
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“... Hey, lookit that ugly kid over there!” An older student yelled out. Chase was too busy walking into the schoolyard to notice that these words were getting directed towards him. The kid and his three other nasty-looking friends laughed away at Chase.
“Hey, deaf boy!” The taunting kid yelled to Chase, who then looked towards the bullies.
“Yeah, didn't you hear Jeffrey?!” Jeffrey's friend yelled to Chase.
“No..?” Chase stopped in front of the kids a good distance away. Chase sighed, realizing that “oh great, more douche bags for me to deal with this year, like last year was bad enough.”
“Kid, you are U-G-L-Y.” Jeffrey spelled out the word to Chase. “You hear me now? You're ugly!”
“Oh.” Chase started touching his face with both of his hands. He furrowed his eyebrows, looking like he was about to cry. What a horrible insult, he really hurt the poor kid.
“Yeah, cry it out, ugly boy.” Jeffrey and his friends starting laughing.
“Wait, man, this ain't my face!” Chase shrugged. “I'm sorry, but I think I stole your face. You can have it back.” Chase smirked, walking past the baffled bullies. There was still time to burn, since Chase got to school in about six minutes. He walked around the playground, where there wasn't actually much. Nobody really used it, since everybody claimed to be “too cool” for playgrounds now. But, alas, there was a lone kid on the swing set. Chase took this as an opportunity to make a new friend, since all his other friends went to the high-end schools. He and his mom simply couldn't afford to go, so this dumpy place was his best bet. Chase decided that he may as well make the best of everything.
“Hey.” Chase took his bag off, setting it down in the gravel.
“Um... hello...” The kid was extremely shy. He looked to the ground. “Who are you?”
“Chase.” He sat down in the swings next to this new kid. “Are you new here?”
“No, second year.” He swung slowly. “You're the new one...” The kid swung slowly, feeling awkward that someone actually reached out to him for once.
“Oh, I see.” Chase leaned back on the set, wrapping his legs around the chains that held the seat up.
“I saw you talk those meanies off over there.” The kid mumbled, just barely enough for Chase to hear.
“Yeah, yeah I did. They tried calling me ugly.” Chase snickered a little, amused at them.
“They do that to me all the time... and to us other lonely people.” The kid sounded like he was really down from life.
“Y'know, they're not worth your time.” Chase told the kid, righting himself on the swing. “Anyways... What's your name?”
“M-my name?” The kid looked to Chase with his hazel eyes. They finally had eye contact, which was something the kid was definitely not used to. “Um... My name's Anton.”
Chase smiled, nodding his head. “Wicked sweet name, man.”
“Thanks. I like your name.” Anton looked back to the ground. “Do you like running?”
“I like baseball, it involves running.” Chase shrugged. “Why?”
“Your name is Chase, I was going to say that would be pretty funny.” Anton let out a small laugh, looking to Chase.
“Huh, I never thought about that one!” Chase let out a big laugh, thinking that Anton's observation was pretty funny. “So, um, do you-”
Before Chase could say anything, the first bell went off for school to start.
“Oh, we gotta go, we can hang out later here... Right?” Anton got off of the swing, looking to Chase. He was much shorter than Chase was.
“Of course.” Chase went to grab his bag out of the gravel. “I was just about to ask that.”
They smiled at each other, walking inside the school together. Because they were in different grades, they couldn't be in the same class, but they definitely had the same breaks, of course. That would be the only time they would be able to hang out with each other.
☣ ☣ ☣
“... Well, here we are.” Mario walked to the front entrance of the Gray Gravel Company building. “The incubation room is located in the second basement, only accessible via me or Mr. Mann himself, signora. I myself and Mr. Mann very much so appreciate that if things come to the worst, you will be able to care for the clone in this operation.”
“It's my pleasure, Mario.” The woman bowed her head. As they entered the company, they were greeted with a large room that extended way up to what seemed to be the sky. Ahead, there was a counter with an older woman, who was the secretary of the company. It seemed as if she was at least seventy years old, too old to still be doing this kind of job. But, Gray was going to be Gray. Nobody could change that old man's mind.
“This way, Donatella.” Mario told the woman.
“Oh, please, you can call me Donna.” She laughed. “Donatella takes far too long to say.”
“Ah, so be it.” Mario chuckled a little. They headed to a library-type room, which had a bookcase in it. Of course, Donna figured that this headed down to the secret room where the experiment was taking place.
“Cheesy, is this not?” Donna mentioned the bookcase as Mario removed a certain book on “How to Be a Bad Guy.”
“Oh, signora, nobody reads up on how to be bad.” Mario laughed, not getting that the bookcase was the cheesy thing. The bookcase started to twist around, revealing a hidden elevator. They stepped in as the bookcase reverted back to it's original self.
“I would have thought that there would have been some finger print activated switch.” Donna crossed her arms, bringing out a cigarette.
“May I ask you to wait until we are done in the chamber?” Mario noticed as she tried to bring her zippo up to light the cig.
“Pardon me... I can wait.” She put the zippo and cig away.
“Thank you, we don't want to blow up the highly oxygenated atmosphere of the room.” Mario told her. “It simulates a hypobaric chamber.”
“Um... how high are the O-two levels?” Donna sounded a little concerned. “Wouldn't static electricity be risky?”
“That's why there's a room after this elevator that de-staticizes our bodies. Compared to the normal twenty or so percent, it's at least fifty. It keeps the clone healthy.” Mario stepped out of the elevator that just opened. He grabbed some thin rubber gloves that were designed to fit well. He handed a smaller pair to Donna, who followed behind him.
“You're ready to see this, right?” Mario looked to Donna, then to the door again, which finally lead to the room where the clone was situated.
“Yes. I am ready.” Donna was anxious to see this. For the first time in life, she would see the flesh and blood of someone who currently lives out somewhere else in the world, but... Yet, they were here at the same time. It was like identical twins, but different ages. A mere three year difference.
“Vedere!” Mario opened the door to the chamber. Donna looked straight ahead, looking into the room which had a young child in fetal position inside of an oversized cylindrical tank. She was shocked; she did not understand anything that was going on here. All she wondered was “why?”
“For the first nine months, we had him carried inside of a volunteer human.” Mario started to explain the background of this child. “After I retrieved the DNA sample, I felt that... Everything would change. This being is only meant for one task, and that is highly classified.”
“So it's classified because this is illegal altogether?” Donna asked in curiosity.
“You're not angry or upset?” Mario seemed surprised.
“Of course not. I'm very curious... Tell me more.” Donna approached the tank, staring at the child with her bright, gray-green eyes.
“Umm... After he was birthed, we took him from there. The carrier of him has sadly gone since then because of the stress upon her during the birthing process.” Mario continued on. “But, under Mr. Mann's orders, we were instructed to bring him back here, put him under a coma for fourteen-and-a-half years so he could develop the way Gray wanted him to. For nine years now, he has been floating in this very tank, developing.”
Donna observed the child. She noticed that there was a tube down his throat, which was connected to the bottom of the tank. From there, a pipe lead up to a filter so that the child could get clean air. Furthermore, endless wires seemed to be connected to his head coming from the top of the tank. There was also a waste tube that was connected to the child as well.
“The breathing tube doubles as a feeding tube as well.” Mario told her. “Notice how there's two different sections to the tubing?”
“Ah... Yes, yes I do.” Donna was in awe. “Why does Gray not want to raise this child himself?”
“He claims he does not 'have the time.'” Mario mocked Gray. “Besides, the way this is set up is quite clever. We feed him double the nutrients of the average human child in hopes that he becomes much more stronger than the average human. Notice how he's not just skin and bones, but also muscle, too. Barely any body fat, he looks far older than nine.”
“He looks like he's at least twelve, but... I thought you had to work out to gain muscle. Does he have steroids being fed to him or something?” Donna was confused.
“Not with this guy.” Mario defended. “The smarter guys, the doctor-lab guys that is, altered very certain parts of his DNA, plus the extra nutrients contribute to the muscle. We want to avoid steroids, which could corrupt this clone. We're taking extra precautions, Donna. You could say he's naturally like that.”
“Naturally? Huh. That's quite the contradiction, signore.” Donna shook her head. “You also keep calling him 'child', you haven't bothered with a name?”
“Oh... No, no we have not.” Mario realized that the child in the tank couldn't go nameless, especially after his time was up incubating. “Gray just wants to call him 'Gift' because he's only got one sole purpose. He's done with him after that purpose has been fulfilled.”
“We can't call him 'the project' or 'Project Gift', 'the Child', whatever you have been calling him.” Donna got to the tank, touching it. It felt warm, almost as if she were touching someone else. What she did not notice was the child's eyes open a slight bit. She looked to Mario, hinting to something.
“You... You want to name him?” Mario seemed quite unsure about that.
“If he 'fails,' I'll name him what I'm going to name him anyways.” Donna approached Mario. “Pass this on to Gray; his name will be Donatello. Simple as that.”
“That's just the masculine version of your name.” Mario tried to retort, but that did not go over well.”
“It suits him perfectly.” Donna looked to Mario with a smile, then back to the newly named Child... Donatello. They both locked eyes with each other, but Donna did not care that he saw her. It was so unlikely he would remember this event or any other events.