Cassandra: Double trouble

Cassandra smacked painfully down onto the floor and convulsively heaved a deep
breath before doubling over, coughing uncontrollably.
"Well, this one seems better than the last" a low voice rumbled
Gulping the foetid tasting air, she glanced up at Mr. Butler
"Yeah, well; give her a moment..." a woman's voice muttered in response
Her cough subsiding into wheezing, shuddering gasps, she turned her head, thin
strings of drool hanging from her lips to glare over at her other self standing
on the other side of the small stateroom
"Smeg off" she managed
"Huh" Butler grunted "She's got your attitude"
Cass smiled and strolled across the room towards her
"How're you doing?" she crouched down in front of her and pulled out a heavily
modified Psi Scanner "Memories intact? When did it all go wrong? What was your
father's name?"
"Fuck off."
"Fuck off!"
"Good. What's the cube root of five thousand, four hundred and ninety eight?"
"Seventeen point six four nine four ...six-ish ...something or other"
Cass was quiet for a moment while she examined the Psi Scanner readout
"Yup. She'll do!" she finally announced and stood, turning to address Butler "Is
that other stasis chamber ready?"
"Yes, I ...disposed of the previous occupant"
"Great. Get this one stuck in there; can't have too many of me running around"
"Wait, wait, wait!" Cassandra struggled up from the floor "I know what you're
planning - I can help!"
"Yeah, right" Cass sneered "What you really mean is: 'You can help until such
time as it's convenient for you to either kill me, escape or do both'"
Cassandra scowled
"I don't blame you, to be honest" Cass continued matter-of-factly "I'd do the
same in your position"
"Smeg's sake" Cassandra muttered "If you're like this to me, it's no wonder
you've got..."
Cass watched the other woman's eyes roll up into the back of her head as her
legs buckled beneath her and she folded gracelessly down onto the floor, Mr.
Butler, standing behind her brandishing a gas injector, catching her as she fell
"Well done Mr. Butler" Cass tiredly rubbed her face with her hands "That's phase
one over and done with. Get her slapped in the stasis chamber, and as we've
arranged: if anything goes wrong with phase two you can retrieve her and we
carry on from there; either way the Fallen Madonna's yours"
Butler nodded curtly and smiled
"That'll do nicely" he rumbled
Watching Butler busy himself retrieving her duplicate from where she lay on the
floor, Cass reflected that she hadn't expected the man to be an art lover; but
then it seemed that Mr. Butler was a man of many surprises - speed reading
Proust the other day being only one of the others
"Fancy a drink after you're done?" Cass asked impulsively "As much fun as it is
in here, I could do with getting out..."
Straightening, with Cassandra draped over one shoulder, Butler raised his
"Just a drink" Cass reinforced "...or two. Maybe three; I don't get out much..."
Butler smiled thinly
"Sure" he rumbled, checking is watch "See you in Parrotts in forty five
As a precaution, they left some five minutes or so apart; Cass taking a
circuitous route in an opposite direction to the one Butler had taken, tracking
her way up through the decks towards the Promenade
It was good to be out, she reflected; it had been far too long since she had
been out of the cramped stateroom she had ensconced herself in while she worked
on her project, so a breath of fresh-ish air and a change of scene could only be
a good thing - she might even satisfy her curiosity and hear a few rumours about
what they had rendezvoused with the SCS Lamb Bhuna for
The overhead lights flickered and then went out
"What the smeg...?"
Cass turned, looking back down the deserted corridor, watching the lights behind
her flicker and die one by one
"If this is some cretinous halfwits idea of a joke" she began "I... ARGH"
Something hit her hard on the back of the head, making her vision swim
"Smeg" she moaned, taking an unsteady step before sinking to her knees "Wha...?"
Consciousness faded and she pitched over sideways

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