Half of a Plan
rating: +38+x

As Eugene Thacker stood and watched the fire roar, many thoughts crossed his mind. His first thought was a vindication that he did the right thing, that no longer would Marshall, Carter and Dark commit such atrocities against people again. His second thought was how this could almost be a painting, seeing the flames lick the night sky, the rising ashes mixing with the twinkling stars. His third thought was that his briefcase seemed a bit lighter than normal, and as such he was worried that he may have missed a few things when he cleaned out his desk.

His final thought he said aloud.

"Oh my God… I just blew up an MCD Facility…" he said, terrified of his own words as he said them.

Eugene clutched at his stomach, threatening to throw up then and there in anxiety. His breaths became labored and raspy, and he could already taste the bile starting to form up. He didn't want to be a criminal, he wanted to be a good person, and he just blew up an entire bloody building. His pre-vomit foreplay was interrupted by the sounds of sirens.

Eugene ran. His suit jacket flapped in the wind, his designer shoes echoed in the open air with every step, and he could feel the cold air whipping against his moisturized face, making his eyes water. He, as any recent arsonist may assume, believed that headhunters or special agents or demons would be sent after him. One doesn't just DO a thing like that to Marshall, Carter and Dark.

He thought he had planned out everything about that fire, what parts of the cloning machine to jam up so it would be totally destroyed, when to do it so nobody would be caught in the fire, how to do it so the machine couldn't be rebuilt. It all went off without a hitch, and he was even able to send those memos to Mr. Carter to let him know that poor little Eugene was the cause of the whole thing. He wanted to rub it in their faces. In hindsight, that was probably his worst idea so far.

Eugene didn't know how long or how far he ran, but eventually he stopped in a dingy alley that no self-respecting suit would ever explore out of fear of dirtying it. The fire was no longer in his view, so he took that as a sign of mercy and sat down for a breather. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to do everything to get the thoughts of his inevitable punishment out of his head.

"Bloody fucking hell," Eugene heaved out, "Why the fuck did I do that?"

He paused, thinking about an answer to his own questions.

"Because it was the right thing to do. It had to be. What they were doing was wrong." he reasoned aloud.

Another pause, "They'll find you, they'll find a way to get rid of your money so you'll have nowhere to go, no way to get anywhere."

Eugene gritted his teeth and pulled at his hair. He had left everything behind when he made that fire, there was nothing left for him anywhere. As he started to hyperventilate, his briefcase clattered to the ground next to him. He flinched at the sound, looking down at it. It was a relief to him to see that his briefcase was not, in fact, an assassin.

An idea came across his head to actually check if his assumptions were right, if he left anything behind in that fire. He needed to know how fucked he really was, after all. Eugene reached out a shaky hand to the clasp and flicked it open, paranoid that Mr. Carter had already thought a million steps ahead and booby trapped it. It sprung open unceremoniously, revealing a moderately-sized stack of papers that he took from his office.

After taking the time to look through each of them, to his relief, he found that everything that he wanted to take was there. The last physical copy of the blueprints for the machine, memos to and from Mr. Carter, anything that could potentially lead to people learning how to make or find clones he made certain was either destroyed in that fire or right there in his briefcase.

Anything that could lead people to finding clones…

Eugene rifled through once more until he found what he was looking for: a record of sales. Every single clone sale from the beginning. Names, addresses, amount of product sold. While the means of production may have been ceased, he just had the idea to go a little bit further. He knew he couldn't go for the big boys like the Factory or Wondertainment, after all he already made one powerful enemy. Individual sales, however…

"Hell," Eugene resigned, "I've got one foot in the grave, might as well dive into the coffin."

Scanning through the sheet, he tried to find an address that was relatively nearby, somewhere that he could walk so he wouldn't leave a trail anywhere. There was a country house a couple of kilometers away, but it was the closest place he could find on the list. The Thoroughwood Estate. Product Sold: 4 units.

Eugene clicked his briefcase closed, brushed off his pants and started walking.

To those who knew Eugene, he was not the type to lie to people. Even when he knew he would get in trouble, he would almost always say the truth. Or at least, if not the truth, what was on his mind about something. If one were to tell a person who knew Eugene personally that he was about to pretend to be an inspector on behalf of Marshall, Carter and Dark in order to infiltrate a billionaire's country home, they would think you were crazy.

"God, am I really doing this? Is this worth it?" Eugene whispered to himself, "No, you're committed, come on, don't get cold feet now."

The country house of a Mr. Filmore Thoroughwood was significantly larger than any house that he'd ever been in. Even his mentor, Mr. Weissman, knew when enough was enough; this felt like someone took five houses and glued them all next to each other. Eugene didn't need to be a genius to tell that the guy who lived in this place was the kind of person to buy slaves. As he approached the front gate, he buzzed the callbox to let Mr. Thoroughwood know he had company.

There was a crackle before a very tired voice came through the speaker, "Hello? It's seven in the morning, who's trying to sell me something?"

Eugene didn't need to be reminded how early it was, considering he didn't get any sleep at all last night.

"I-I'm actually from Marshall, Carter and Dark," Eugene said with wavering confidence.

There was a pause before the voice came through again, "Didn't know that MC&D did traveling salesmen. Who are you?"

"I'm not a salesman. I'm here to inspect your Weissman Model Assistance Clones," Eugene said.

"Something wrong with them?" the voice asked.

"We've gotten reports that a few of the clones are prone to…" Eugene paused, trying to think of some urgent problem that would get his attention, "…Dissolving."

Another silence between Eugene and the voice. Eugene swallowed hard and tried to ignore the gurgling sound rising from his stomach. Suddenly vomiting would probably be a good indicator of his dishonesty.

"Well, I don't want a clone to suddenly become goo when my knob's jammed in it," the voice said, "I'll get a guard to escort you in."

Eugene sighed a sigh of relief, thankful that his ruse was enough to get past this guy. Maybe he got lucky and found someone who just wasn't good at sensing one's motives, because his ability to bluff was certainly below average.

Eugene stood still and smiled as a guard dressed in a well-pressed navy blue suit approached, taking disciplined steps across the gravel pathway to the gate. He looked a lot thinner for a guard than what Eugene had expected, but his face was hard and intimidating enough to not make Eugene question it.

As Eugene was lead towards the house, he took a note of how well-kept the lawn was. There wasn't exactly a lot of brush sculptures or lawn ornaments decorating everything, but the grass itself seemed so perfectly trimmed it was practically a flat plane. He was impressed by this, though in his heart he knew that he probably shouldn't be impressed by anyone who willingly buys four slaves.

The guard left Eugene's side as they made it to the front door, which was then opened by a short, light-skinned man with a toned figure and wet, black hair. What struck Eugene the most about him was that he wasn't wearing anything but a towel, wrapped loosely around his waist. What's more, what was being barely covered up was teased with sizable bulge. Eugene coughed and looked away, not wanting to stare.

"Oh, don't be so bashful, son," the man said, "Everyone's got a dick. Shouldn't be afraid to look at one from time to time."

"Uh, ha, yes, that's uh," Eugene gulped, "That's very true."

"Filmore Thoroughwood," the man said, extending a hand.

"Eu-Eugene Thacker," Eugene said in reply, extending a much more shaky hand.

Mr. Thoroughwood took Eugene's hand a shook it hard, laughing a bit in amusement.

"Might wanna work on that handshake a bit, eh, son?" Mr. Thoroughwood said.

"Son?" Eugene asked incredulously, "You don't look that much older than I am."

"Yeah, yeah" Mr. Thoroughwood said, waving a dismissive hand, "Just a thing I do to people I'm friendly with. Come on in, I'll show you around."

Eugene took the offer to look at the house rather than at Mr. Thoroughwood's body, which was threatening to expose itself with every passing step. Eugene didn't really like the overly-modern style that Mr. Thoroughwood was going for with his estate, what with the overuse of brass and the pastel everywhere. Plus, there was enough pretentious anart on the walls that this place might as well be a museum. He stopped for a moment to look at a painting, trying to figure out if it was a duck or an egg beater. All he could really make out about it was that it was colored something he couldn't comprehend.

"Servant's Quarters are upstairs," Mr. Thoroughwood said, "Follow me so you don't get lost, I know it's a big house."

"Thank you," Eugene said, "I'm just trying to make sure that Marshall, Carter and Dark's customers are all satisfied!"

"As you should, as you should."

Mr. Thoroughwood looked behind him at Eugene, waiting for him to make eye contact. When Eugene finally noticed, he flinched a little, worried how long he'd been looking back. Mr. Thoroughwood once again chuckled, pleased at how easy it was to mess with Eugene. Eugene just smiled and laughed nervously in return, trying to keep his cool. He was not being cool.

As they walked up the stairs, Mr. Thoroughwood continued to talk, "I noticed your suit was a bit dusty there, son. Had a bit of a spill on your way here?"

"Yeah, I uh… my car broke down. Had to walk a ways to get here on time," Eugene said.

"Get here on time?" Mr. Thoroughwood asked, "Considering I had no idea you were coming I don't exactly know why you'd need to be on time for anything."

Eugene's internal monologue was a mix of screaming and cursing. He heard another gurgle build up in his stomach. He was blowing it, he knew he was. He knew that this guy was just playing with him so he could just report him to Mr. Carter and get some reward money for him. Fuck, he hadn't even thought about how fast word could travel about him. Why did he use his real name for this? He was fucked, he was-

"Just fucking with you," Mr. Thoroughwood said through the silence, "I figure you've got a busy day, need to hit a lot of houses, don't you?"

Eugene once again gave a smile, glad that he gave him a cover story, "Yes! Exactly, lots of clones to need to check on, you know? Lots of sales! You know, MC&D, we're all about sales!"

For a person who worked under a senior member of Marshall, Carter, and Dark for 4 years, he sure doesn't exactly sound like a person who worked there. Fortunately for Eugene, he seemed to be the only one who thought that at this point in time.

Eventually, they made their way to the only door in the house Eugene has seen that had a sign on it. "Servant's Quarters". Eugene wasn't exactly Sherlock, but he figured that this is the room that they had to go to.

"Let's open her up so you can get your inspection on, hm?" Mr. Thoroughwood said, opening the door.

"Yes, why don't we-" Eugene was interrupted by what he could only describe as one of the most pungent smells he'd ever experienced.

As the door to the Servant's Quarters opened up, a musk so thick and hot invaded Eugene's nose that he swore that he could feel his mustache curling. It smelled like hormones, alcohol and expensive perfume in there, and the pitch darkness wasn't doing any favors for what he imagined it looked like.

"Sir, is that you? Are you in need of assistance?" a voice from inside said.

"It's earlier than usual, you must be in dire need," another voice said.

"Is that a new companion? Does he need assistance too?" two voices said together.

"Jesus Christ…" Eugene managed to get out through the coughs.

"Now now, pets, I'm not looking for 'assistance' right now," Mr. Thoroughwood said, "Nor is my new friend here. Good old Eugene here's just going to give you all an inspection, isn't that right?"

Eugene looked at Mr. Thoroughwood and gave a watery-eyed smile and nod.

"Good lad. Now go on, inspect them."

Eugene took a deep gulp of air and walked into the room, feeling around for a light switch. His search efforts were in vain as the lights were suddenly turned on without his help. One of the clones, one of the gender-transitioned ones, was holding onto the cord for the one light bulb in this room.

Eugene looked around at the dingy room that the clones were being kept in. Compared to the rest of this chic, modern house, this looked like an abandoned shack. The room itself was the size of a broom closet, the wallpaper was peeling off, revealing rotted wood siding. The floors had all sorts of mystery stains on them. There weren't even any beds!

In front of him were the four clones. All of them stood stock still. All of them stood completely naked. Seeing this sight in front of him, seeing so many people that looked like his mentor in such a way, felt like an invasion of privacy to Eugene. Then again, Eugene himself was kind of doing an invasion of privacy by trying to infiltrate and steal these clones, so was he really one to judge?

Eventually, he realized that he actually recognized one of the clones, or rather two of them. A pair of the clones were joined at the hip, and their left and right arm were fused together, forming a doughnut of flesh between them. They were one of the first defects that came out of Weissman's machine. God… if this is where they've been, that means they'd have gone through this kind of thing for almost a year…

Eugene heard the sound of a gun cocking and felt the muzzle of a pistol push hard against his neck. Eugene shakily raised his hands above his head, letting his briefcase clatter to the ground. The clones looked scared. Eugene hoped that they were scared for him.

"Wh-where did you keep that gun?" Eugene asked.

"Oh, you flatter me for thinking my bulge was actually that big, son," Mr. Thoroughwood said, "Now, tell me who you really are and maybe I won't kill you."

"I-I really am Eugene Thacker, and I worked for Marshall, Carter and Dark," Eugene spat out as fast as possible.

"You 'worked' for them?"

"I blew up one of their facilities, the one that made the Weissman clones!"

"Oh, well isn't that rich…" Mr. Thoroughwood purred, "I'm sure there's a pretty bounty on that head of yours. I guess I really shouldn't kill you after all, should I?"

"No, please, don't turn me in! I don't want to go back! Do you know what they'll do to me?"

"Hm…" Mr. Thoroughwood paused, "You know, you're right. I won't kill you, and I won't turn you in."

Eugene shakily sighed in relief.

"I have a much better plan for you, actually," Mr. Thoroughwood said, taking aim at Eugene's left arm.

The clones all yelped as the muzzle flashed. Instantly, Eugene's arm was crushed. He bawled in pain and grabbed at his shoulder. He didn't dare look at what was left, because he was certain it was a grisly sight. Mr. Thoroughwood chuckled behind him.

"Bloody hell you look pitiful. Go on son, take a look at your arm there. Tell me what you see," he said, grabbing a handful of Eugene's curly hair and forcefully turning his head.

To Eugene's surprise, his arm was still there. Still fully intact, still perfectly fine. There wasn't even a gunshot wound. Despite that, he could still vividly remember his arm being destroyed, the bones cracking, the nerves fraying leaving it paralyzed. He looked at his perfectly healthy arm in shock and terror.

"Th-that's a…" Eugene stammered out, "226-BPD?"

Mr. Thoroughwood gave an amused smile, "Oh you know this gun, do you? I had this one custom made. A Walther P88, known for superb accuracy. The perfect hunting pistol. Also happens to be good for making servants submit."

Mr. Thoroughwood pointed the gun at Eugene's other arm, "And I sure am going to have a good time making you submit, son."

As Mr. Thoroughwood was about to fire, the world seemed to slow down in Eugene's mind. Through the combination of the cloud of sex in the air, the feeling of pain in his arm and the taste of bile in his mouth, his brain was effectively non-functional. He couldn't think, he was way over his head in this place. He had been overthinking everything after he set that fire, and this is where it got him, in a room that smelled like warm garbage with a gun trained at him. Despite the shitty situation he was in, he realized that he needed to stop trying to think about everything that was going to happen and just do what he thought felt right. He thought with his gut. In one big burst of adrenaline, he took action.

Eugene suddenly swung his arm backwards and elbowed Mr. Thoroughwood in the face, making a satisfying crack as he struck his nose. When his gun clattered to the ground, Eugene whipped around and grabbed it, taking aim at Mr. Thoroughwood's head. He fired, and as he expected, no bullet came out. Despite that, Mr. Thoroughwood shrieked in pain, clutching at his eye as he writhed on the ground. Eugene kept firing, over and over at him until finally the screaming stopped.

Eugene dropped the gun and stood up shakily, looking down at Mr. Thoroughwood's body. He could still see him breathing. Mr. Thoroughwood's eyes were bulging open, bloodshot and terrified. Eugene knew he didn't kill him, but… what did he do to him? What was going on in his head? Was he in a coma? Was he paralyzed? What had Eugene's life become? He was a thug, an arsonist, a criminal, and if this was where his life was going to lead…

Eugene threw up over Mr. Thoroughwood's face.

"What… what did you do?" one of the clones asked, "Why did you do that?"

Eugene said nothing, just breathing heavily as he let drool drip down his lips.

"Is he… dead?" another clone asked.

"Are you going to take us now?" the conjoined clones asked.

"No to b-" Eugene interrupted himself with a burp, "To both."

Silence between the five.

"Then what's going to happen now?" they asked.

Eugene took a deep breath and turned towards the four of them. He tried to muster up any vestiges of confidence he could, so they too could have a bit of confidence as well.

"I'm going to get you all someplace safe. Someplace that isn't here," Eugene said, "You won't have to assist anyone anymore, you'll all be free."

The clones looked down at Mr. Thoroughwood and then back at Eugene.

"What about Sir?" one asked.

"I…" Eugene looked down at Mr. Thoroughwood as well.

He couldn't just leave him there to die. Mr. Thoroughwood was a monster, but Eugene didn't want to be a murderer. He couldn't call a hospital, because then that would alert the guards outside that something had happened, and then he'd be dead, and probably the clones too. Eugene threw up again, covering his dress shirt in yellow bile.

"Maybe you should relax," one of the clones said, walking forward, "We can help you relax, if you'd like? We can take care of you."

"No! Please, god, no," Eugene said backing away, "You don't need to do anything that you don't want to, you don't need to take care of me just because you were made for that. You can be so much more than what you are used for!"

The clones stood in awe for a moment, and then, one by one, gave a smile to Eugene. Eugene coughed and smiled back. It was a moment of tenderness that Eugene appreciated after everything that he'd gone through. Maybe this could work out after all?

"Alright, we'll go with you. Where are we going?" they asked.

At that moment, Eugene realized that he should never come up with a plan ever again.

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