Frankenstein, Inc.

by N. J. Kailhofer




Nick and I caught the Tube to St. Louis. Nick was the head of Futura, Inc., a major robotics corporation. He was important, so his big bodyguard, Gunther, accompanied us.


"Jake," he said, "what are you going to do? Hide on Earth for another three years?"


"If I have to."


He looked at me sourly. "Jake, look at yourself. What are you wearing? That hasn't been in style for years."


"I had to come all the way out here so you could pick on my clothes?"


Nick smiled. "You're not happy, Jake. You don't even look happy. You're too smart and too creative for that advertising job. I can make you number two in my department. You'd be back in robots—the Head of Robotic Research."


"I do Rogans, Nick. Not robots."


"You did. Past tense. Present tense, you're just an ad man. Rogans are just organic robots. And with you working for us, we can come up with something to market against them."


I raised an eyebrow at that.


"That's right," he continued. "We want a slice of the Rogan market. Think about it. The market is big. You'll be pulling in big money from us, and you'll be getting the take from the thirty percent of Rogan Industries you still own."


"Let me think a minute." I sat down on one of the plastic chairs mounted to the side wall of the car. Nick parked in the seat next to me, and Gunther sat next to him, watching the car, as any good bodyguard should.


Gunther was big—6'4", 300 lbs. He was a two-time world champion gladiator from Muata IV. It was a heavy-gravity world, and with his muscles, he probably could have snapped me in half like a twig.


I looked down to the end of the car we were riding in and there, there was a second generation Rogan. It looked like a normal woman in her late twenties, blonde. She looked to be about 5'6", 120 lbs.


I can't say how I knew it was a Rogan—I just knew. You just can't spend your whole life with living with them and designing them without knowing one when you see it.


I stared, and I think my jaw dropped. I never designed this!


Nick was looking at me as if I'd sprouted horns. "Are you ok, Jake?"


She stood up and pointed at me. "Him! He's one of those Rogans!"


The heads in the car snapped around to look at me. The temperature in the car seemed to drop about thirty degrees, but nobody moved. There was an uncomfortable pause where I and everyone else in the car tried to ignore her. Earthlings had never been proud of the Riots.


"He's a Rogan!" she insisted.


"Lady," one guy ventured, "that ain't no Rogan. Look at him. His head ain't square."


"No!" she shouted. "He builds Rogans. His name is Rogan! He's one of them!"


The people in the car looked at me suspiciously. The guy who had spoken before turned to me and asked, "Is that true?"

I tried my best to not look frightened. If they found out the truth, the mob in the car would rip me to shreds.


It knew that. It must have known that this would be the easiest way to get me killed. She fingers me, the crowd kills me, and no one ever knows that a Rogan did it.


"My name is Dalton, lady."


"He changed it!" she screamed, her voice almost hysterical with hate.


Nick hissed, "Gunther, calm her down."


Gunther stood up to his full height and walked to the end of the car. "Ma'am," he said in his thick, deep voice, "you're letting your imagination get away with you. Now, why don't you just relax and sit down and let all these nice people ride in peace."

Several consenting opinions echoed after Gunther's speech.


It must have realized that its strategy was going to fail. It must have made an intuitive leap. I didn't know they could do that!

She looked very interested in Gunther.


"You're really big," she observed, seductively.


She ran her hands up the big man's arms slowly, sensuously.


"I bet you're really strong," she told him, her hands stroking the sides of his face.


"It's been said," Gunther replied with a smile. "Why don't you sit back down?"


Looking up into his eyes with a wanton look of desire, she spun his head around to the side, suddenly.  Gunther slumped to the floor like a lifeless rag doll.


Somebody screamed, and several more joined in. It was staring directly at me. I knew that it was going to kill every single one of us. I knew she was going to kill everyone in the car until she got to me. She couldn't let anyone live to be a witness, so she would let no one live behind her as she made a path through the bodies to where I was at the other end of the car.

I wanted to run, but we were in the last car.


A couple of men near her leaped at her. A concise blow from her arms sent each man to the floor in turn, dead.

Nick sprang into action, lunging at her with a flying tackle. Her high-heeled shoe caught him squarely in the throat.


The sound that made! I can't ever forget that sound!


I tried to think, to think of something that could kill it.


Gunther! I remembered. Gunther had a gun!


I sprang up, trying to get to Gunther's body before it got to me. I tried desperately not to look at the look of abject horror on his face as I searched for the gun. Shoulder—no! Back—No! Ankle... Yes! I pulled out the gun, a small needle gun.

I had never fired a handgun before. Where was the safety?!


Jesus! She was right in front of me!


I was suddenly jerked off the floor and brought up in the air. Her face was completely expressionless. Like she wasn't living.

I pulled the trigger.


The tiny needle bullet ripped into her midriff. The dart-like projectile split into twenty separate shards the moment it pierced her skin, and must have done an incredible amount of damage.


Her hands began to squeeze at my throat.


The bullet didn't make a damn bit of difference!


I emptied the gun into her chest.




I started awake at the sound of the door opening. I grabbed an aluminum bat from the closet and hurried down the hall of our apartment. I leaped into the kitchen, swinging the bat.


She screamed with surprise, dropped the bags of groceries, and ran into the living room. I ran after her, dropping the bat like it was red-hot.


"Mary!" I shouted. "It's ok! Stop!"


She looked at me with wide eyes. She hunched down, hiding behind the couch so that only her head stuck up. "What the hell are you doing!?"


"I—" I stammered, "I thought you were a prowler."


She got up and walked to the living room window, turning the lights all the way up. "Me!?"


"Come away from the window," I snapped. "The Rogan will shoot."


"A Rogan?" she gasped. "Rogans don't shoot people."


I snapped off the glow tubes that illuminated the small apartment that we'd leased just a week before. "This one will."

She looked at me suspiciously. "Have you been drinking?"


"No!" I began. "I mean, yes, but that's not what I mean!"


She began tapping her foot, her arms crossed. "What do you mean, Jake?"


"It's like before. I saw another one."


She stepped close to me and sniffed. "Christ! What'd you do, swallow the worm?"


"No," I mewed. "I saw it. It's going to come after me just like before!"


She slumped into a chair. "I didn't believe you then. I don't believe you now. You're just trying to ruin my vacation!"

I wiped the sweat from my brow. "This isn't a vacation, Mary. It's exile."


"It's my vacation." She shuddered. "How do you know it's there?"


"I saw it this morning," I informed her. "It didn't see me, Mary."


She moved to the window control. With a patronizing tone, she asked, "Should I darken the window?"


"It wouldn't help. The Electroblack in the window only blocks certain types of light, like visible and ultraviolet. They can see beyond the visible spectrum and would see the infrared light that bounces out through the duraglass. Just stay low and don't cross in front of the window."


She looked up at me, her face a portrait of sarcasm. "What do we do, Jake? Call the Enforcers and say there's a killer Rogan trying to get us? We'd be the laughing stock of the whole building."


"I'm going to kill it."


"How do you kill a Rogan?"


"Just like you'd kill most humans," I lied.


"Jake Dalton," she stated, "you're not making sense. Rogans help people. For God's sake, I worked at the Rogan plant on Logue to put myself through graduate school! I didn't make killers!"


"Don't tell me what a Rogan is, dammit! I was at Rogan Industries for over fifteen years!"


Damn Neal Rogan! Damn him and his inhuman monsters forever! Damn him for making me live this life of a killer!




Neal called me to his lab. He had two drinks poured and he was sitting on one of the stools. He motioned me to the other, handing me a glass.


"Jake," he said. "This is a difficult time for us."


He looked at me with his sad, smiling eyes.


"Your mother can't join us, Jake."


"What," I asked, "you mean it's not safe for her yet?"


He sighed. "No, Jake. She won't ever come and join us."


"What are you talking about?"


He took a big drink. "Do you remember the day we left Earth?"


I did—dimly.


"Well," Neal continued, "do you recall what I told you at the shuttle, when we had to leave?"


"You said that Mom couldn't make it to the shuttle. You said that she was in hiding and would join us when it was safe."


He waited a minute.


"Jake, what I said was a lie."


"What do you mean?!"


He swallowed hard. "I didn't want you to grow up feeling you were alone, like I was when I grew up. I wanted you to have the security that somewhere a mother was there for you."


"What are you saying?!"


"Your mother is dead, Jake."


I dropped the glass.


"I only know what Robby told me when he brought you to the shuttle. He said that a crowd was working its way through the building to where you were hiding. Your mother went to slow them while you got away with Robby. He said that one of them recognized her just as you were leaving.


"The crowd killed her."


I felt very small. I felt very lonely.


"You'll always fit in here, Jake. You'll always be welcome here with me, Jake."




I got two things down from the closet. One was a gun and the other was a box.


The gun was a flat black, Bronson 8907, which fired caseless ceramic ammunition. There wasn't a metal atom in the whole gun. The lightweight assassin's weapon sat in a worn brown leather shoulder holster that I never dared go anywhere without.

The rich walnut-covered box was the important thing. I opened it, and dumped one of the vials it contained into it.


"Now," I pronounced, "we wait an hour. Then I kill it."


"Jake," she asked from across the dark room were we waited, hiding on the floor, "why do you think that Rogans are trying to kill you?"


"Think!?" I snapped. "Don't try to play the psychologist with me, lady."


"I'm on vacation, Jake," she soothed, " I won't."


I carefully began checking the gun. "Don't patronize me, Mary. I know all about Rogans. I was in the Rogan Riots, for crissake."


"The what?"


"You never heard of the Rogan Riots?" I wondered, beside myself with amazement.


"No. Should I have?"


"Well," I replied as bitingly as I could, "only if you think you should know about a riot of three million people."


"How many?"


"The vid papers guessed about three million."


"Why would they all riot?"


"Rogans cornered the work force. They're adaptable, easy to maintain, and cheap. A Rogan can be taught to do almost anything a normal human can do, and Rogans can be taught to teach other Rogans. They live to be a hundred and fifty and are twice as strong as your average human. You can see why employers would want them.


"I was three at the time."


She sat up with a start. "No wonder why I didn't know about them. You're ten years older than I am, so the riots happened before I was born."


Well, I suppose that's possible. She was only 26. Still, you'd think she might at least heard something about the riots. Then again, I'd been hiding on Earth for over five years and only heard them mentioned once.


"Neal barely escaped the Earth with his life."


“EarthLaw forbids Rogans from ever entering the solar system, let alone walking the surface of the globe.  So Uncle Neal gathered our family and moved us to the Logue. ColonyLaw allows Rogans because labor is scarce. He picked Logue because he said it had a fair technology and good location on the trade routes. He had the factory going in under a year."


"Why did you live with your uncle?"


"My father was a warp engineer on a drop ship until the battle of Larin 3, when the Rebels exploded that Nova Bomb. In one noiseless flash—no more Larin 3, no more Dad. Mom was killed in the Rogan Riots. Neal was the only one left to raise us."


"Neal Rogan," I explained, "was the best genetic engineer the galaxy had ever seen. But he was born with a handicap—his right leg stopped just below the knee. His first attempt was to make a new leg. It went wrong and left him in a wheelchair, crippled the rest of the way.


"He set about trying to make servants for himself, so he could get work done. That's how he made the first Rogan. The original Rogan was similar to man, except that its face was blocky, composed of straight lines. It was genetically like a human, but its brain was programmed—like a computer was programmed."


"You're still not explaining why they'd be trying to kill you, Jake."


"Do you know what a Rogan is, Mary? What it really is?"


She smirked at me. "A Rogan is a servant, designed to do all your work while you sit back and watch, safe with the knowledge that it is only truly happy when serving a human."


I snapped, "Don't quote our sales pitch to me! I wrote it!"


"Listen, Mr. ex-Executive, you tell me what's going on, or I'm leaving!"


"A Rogan is a cancer—"


"—Oh, please!" she interrupted sarcastically. "Don't give me that."


I crawled over and grabbed her, forcing her to look at my face. "A Rogan is made of cancer cells. They're easier to manipulate—that's why Neal used them."


I smiled with remembrance.


"The original Rogan was good. The original prototype was named Robby. He was programmed to take care of my brother and I—a gift from Neal. It did the simple tasks that it was ordered to, but Robby wasn't really advanced enough to handle two wild growing kids. Though as I recall, he played a mean game of checkers."


It was a design based on this prototype that Neal Rogan used when he started Rogan Industries and began to market the first generation of Rogans. The happy look faded from my face, replaced by one of grim determination.


"He manufactured them with a base programming that allowed them to learn like a human does. What's more, the cells in their brains have more dendritic connections than those in normal humans, so they learn faster and think more efficiently than we do. Their programming makes sure that all information is stored and they never forget a step in any procedure taught to them


"Rogans are made from cancer cells, so they can't successfully interbreed with normal humans, but they're infertile anyway. They aren't very susceptible to many diseases. They also don't have to sleep."


"Everything has got to sleep," she insisted.


"Look," I stated. "I know that sounds ridiculous, but think, why do you have to sleep? Some say its so your body can produce neurochemicals like norepinephrine and serotonin, but that's not really it. Mainly, humans use sleep to work out things in dreams with their subconscious mind. The subconscious is like a separate computer that runs inside your head. Human beings worry about things, and their subconscious tries to figure it out for them. Sleep is mainly a time when your subconscious mind gets to use your brain to process the problem. If we don't get that processor time, we go crazy as more and more problems pile up in our subconscious computer.


"Rogans don't have this problem because a Rogan's brain is radically different. Their brains contain a Central Processor Organ, CPO, that sits atop the brain stem. Around it are a dozen separate glands that produce brain chemicals if they sleep or not. Around these glands is the bulk of the brain matter, used for storage. Process and retrieval speed is increased by not having memory cells process the information, like a human's do, and instead just remember what the processor tells them to. The processor is a brain in itself that allocates memory to certain sizes and locations, the way a computer does.


"The processor is small, because it doesn't need to be big. Our brains are big because many parts do many different things at once, and we don't use all our brain anyway. For example, our limbic system controls our reflexes while our neocortex does most of our conscious thought. Rogans, on the other hand, don't have instincts or reflexes. Every single one of their bodily functions is consciously controlled, from heart rate to how fast they digest.


"Because everything is processed the moment it comes in, a Rogan doesn't need to have a subconscious mind to figure out moral dilemmas. What's more, the idea of morals is foreign to them. They always act in ways that appear to be the most sensible to them at that time.


"They also have other different organs. Their digestive tract is far less complicated, but a lot more efficient. A Rogan could live on wood or grass, where we couldn't. What's more, a Rogan liver is 237% more efficient in removing toxins from the body than a human liver is, so they can't be poisoned."


She looked at me with her psychologist face. "Did you love your Uncle?"


"I loved Uncle Neal with all my might, right until the day he died. Then I started hating him."


A bright look appeared on her face. "Roger took over then, didn't he?"


I nodded. "My brother, Roger, took to the business end of Rogan Industries right off. He's the president of the corporation now. Damn, that son of a bitch loves to make money.


"I always thought more creatively and wanted to make something, so I worked with Uncle Neal as a bio-molecular genetic engineer before I split and moved back to Earth under the name Dalton


"I imagine that I know more about Rogans than any other man living.


"That's why I kill them."


Her face contorted. "Huh? You kill them because you know more about them?"


"Yes!" I snapped. "Rogans went wrong somewhere. I think it was when Roger moved the Rogans into R & D. I told him that we didn't need them, but I agreed that it would be an interesting experiment to see what a Rogan would design. Their first attempts at generating a second generation Rogan were rather dismal. But by the time I left for my vacation that year, they had some interesting concepts on the board."


Roger let them go to prototype before I knew about it.


"Roger replaced all the humans in R & D while I was gone. That's you. When I came back, I found that I was in charge of a whole department of really slow and stupid Rogans. First generation Rogans are not very quick to come up with creative solutions. Besides that, I liked the people who worked for me, even though I didn't know them all."


I looked at her. That last line meant her. We've been together for a month. She was tall, about 5'10", 130 lbs. She had a good build, and a face that could charm a cold heart. I think that I liked her long, blonde hair the best. I really liked to run my fingers through the wavy mass.


I met her two weeks ago. I was prowling past a bar in the Chicago when a voice cried out, "Mr. Rogan! Hi!"

I almost went for my gun, but stopped myself in time. I talked to her for a little while and was very surprised to learn that she had been my employee at Rogan Industries, but we had never met because she was transferred in just after I left for my vacation and then fired in the purge of humans at the plant before I returned.


"Let's go," I ordered, grabbing my gun in my right hand and the box in the other.


I glanced at my watch. I had two minutes.


"Stay close to me," I told her. "And whatever you do, don't get in my line of fire."


She swallowed hard. Then she shook her head.


"I'm not going with you, Jake. You're insane. Rogans don't kill people."


"I don't have time for this! Come on!"


She moved away from me, backing until she was against the kitchen table.


"Come on, Mary! I can't protect you if you stay in here!"


"I'm not going!"


"Mary," I said calmly, trying not to sound like I was holding a bomb in my left hand. "I don't know where it is. It could come in here after you."


She shook her head.


I glanced again at my watch. "You're on your own. I can't wait any longer."


I hit the stud, and pressed myself against the wall by the opening door. I sneaked a brief glance around the door and down the long hallway our door was at the end of.


I stepped out of the door and a heavy, flailing weight dropped on top of me.


It had propped itself up in the air over the top of the door!


The gun hit the floor, and I landed squarely on top of it. The Rogan landed on top of me, its hands already launching for my throat.


Mary screamed.


The box landed on the floor in front of me, upside down.


I spun around so that I was on my back, knocking it to the side.


I grabbed its wrists with my hands.


God, it was strong!


The Rogan's hands pushed forward, toward my neck.


I couldn't stop them! I was going to die!


Mary moved behind it.


The Rogan jerked, dazed by some blow from behind. I think she kicked it in the back of the neck. I scrambled out from underneath it, but only got two feet before it regained its senses.


The Rogan lunged, grabbing me around the knees.


I fell to the floor, the box just in front of my head. I grabbed the incubator and opened it.


Inside was a tiny, pulsing, biological bomb. The veins and arteries stood out along the curled, flesh-colored back as It began to Awaken.


I grabbed It, and immediately flung the genetic killer over my shoulder.


It Awoke in mid-air, opened its eyes, and spread its small tentacles wide all in almost the same instant. It skidded across my back and leaped at the Rogan's surprised face. Once there, it wrapped its bony, unyielding tentacles around the Rogan's head. It covered the Rogan's eyes, nose, and mouth with a perfectly airtight seal that even Rogan muscles couldn't break.


The Rogan reeled backwards, clawing at the thing suffocating him. The Rogan pulled, but could not budge the killer I had designed for just such a purpose. The Rogan clawed its nails into the back of the thing, ripping open arteries and veins and tearing muscle.


I hadn't expected the Rogan to do this. The Rogan was going to manage to kill it before it could kill him!


I sprung up and planted a powerful kick into the Rogan's chest. He fell backwards into the room, knocking over Mary, who was behind him.


I snatched up the gun just as the he plucked the dead killer off his face. He looked at me and grinned.


He lunged at me and I pulled the trigger.


The gun bucked in my hand, sending the explosive-tipped bullet ripping into the Rogan's head.


"Are you ok?" I asked Mary as I stepped over the body.


She was kneeling at the floor, gasping at the sight, as I supposed she should be.


"Come on," I gently said. "We have to get out of here."


"You were right," she noted quietly.


"Come on," I said, pulling her to her feet. "We've got to get out of here before the Enforcers arrive."


"Leave? But it just tried to kill you! We have to tell them."


I started walking around the apartment, grabbing things we'd need. "The cops won't believe it. I'm the only one who knows about them."


"We could make them believe."


"There's something else," I replied, taking hold of her arm. "This is not the first Rogan I've killed here on Earth."

She looked at me with fear in her eyes. "How many others?"


"Five, counting this one."




I explained, "It's got to be done."


Rogans began to infiltrate the Earth about two years ago. They began replacing heads of business, various government officials, and other VIPs. With a little plastic surgery and enough observation, they can mimic anyone—so well that only I can tell.

The cops almost got me after that Senator last year, but I managed to get away. Even so, if I was caught and it came out that my name was Rogan, at the least I get kicked off the planet. More likely, some Fed would erase my file, all the way.


"Why did it grin at you?" she asked, looking at the remains of the once-blonde head. Only parts of the handsome face remained. The maniac grin remained on the clean-shaven features.


That was bothering me. I knew that Rogans had the potential to gain emotions, but I hoped that they didn't like to kill.  "They probably learned that if they grinned they could shock their victims and help to get the upper hand. At least, I hope that's it."

She stared at me blankly.


"Let's get out of here, Mary."


We caught the Tube, bound for Washington. It was kind of amazing that the city was still the capitol, with the world under one government roof. We carried only one handbag each, hoping to high heaven that we'd managed to take enough stuff from the apartment that the Enforcers wouldn't catch us.


I didn't tell her, but were on our way to make one more deletion before we bailed out and headed back to the Colony Worlds. The target was important, and the risk was very high.


She was quiet.


"You ok?" I asked.


She didn't say anything. She just looked worried.


"A half-credit for your thoughts," I offered.


"Jake," she asked, "what did you do when you found all of us had been replaced at the Rogan plant?"


"I told Roger to go to Hell and left. I met you in Luna City. For the first instant, I thought you were one of them, but then I realized that that couldn't be. You aren't a Rogan."


She was still quiet, and looked scared. "Let's say that all of this is correct so far. How do you know I'm not of them, then? How do I know that you're not going to turn that gun on me?"


I laughed. "I can tell a Rogan when I see one. There's no way I can't tell."


"What do you mean, Jake?"


"I was raised by Rogans. I can tell."


She looked skeptical.


"Look, they don't act like normal humans. Because everything they do is controlled, they don't look... right.  Let's say a wasp lands on a human's hand. At the feeling, a human jerks his hand, ever so slightly. A Rogan won't. They don't get goose bumps. They don't seem to blink often enough... it's just a collective 'feel' you get."


"They give you a wrong 'feeling', so you have to go and kill them?"


How could I tell her about what happened to Gunther two years ago in the Tube? I still have nightmares about it.  It happened in a car just like this one!


"Mary, their first target was me. That's why I kill them."


I sat back, leaning my head against the wall. I shut my eyes and tried not to dream.




She ran her hands up the big man's arms slowly, sensuously.


"I bet you're really strong," she told him, her hands stroking the sides of his face.


"It's been said," Gunther replied with a smile. "Why don't you sit back down?"


Looking up into his eyes with a wanton look of desire, she spun his head around to the side, suddenly.  Gunther slumped to the floor like a lifeless rag doll, his neck snapped.


Somebody screamed, and several more joined in. It was staring directly at me. I knew that it was going to kill every single one of us. I knew she was going to kill everyone in the car until she got to me. She couldn't let anyone live to be a witness, so she would let no one live behind her as she made a path through the bodies to where I was at the other end of the car.


I wanted to run, but we were in the last car.


A couple of men near her leaped at her. A concise blow from her arms sent each man to the floor in turn, dead.


Nick sprang into action, lunging at her with a flying tackle. Her high-heeled shoe caught him squarely in the throat.




"Jake!" she hissed, shaking me awake. "You're having a nightmare."


I swallowed hard and looked around the car. Sweat dripped off my forehead, and I must have looked like I had a fever.


"Jake?" Mary asked, "are you ok?"


"No." I was shaking.


Damn, I hate Rogans!


All first generation models had several Behavioral Limiters that prevents them from harming humans—that whole Robotic Law thing. The second generation didn't have a single limiter.


Even humans have limiters. They're called morals.


Poor Gunther.


"We're almost to Washington."


I nodded an affirmative.


"Jake," she said, "I want to ask you a question."




"Well," she began with an uneasy tone, "if you're supposed to be such a good genetic engineer, why don't you just engineer some virus that kills them?"


That was a good question, and I had a good answer.


"Because Neal Rogan cloned cancer cells from his own body when he created the Rogan. My own genetic structure is so similar to that of the created Rogans that I'd die, too."


"But," she wondered, "couldn't you tailor the virus to only attack the created Rogans?"


"Eventually, sure. But before I perfected it, I'd probably kill myself by accident. What's more, Rogans and humans are really similar. The virus might kill everybody, humans and Rogans alike."


"Ok," she agreed, mollified, "that would be a good reason not to create it. I'm glad you didn't."


"Oh," I corrected her, "I did make it."




"I did make it," I explained. "I was holding onto it for a last line of defense."


"But," she sputtered, "it might kill everyone!"


"Yes, it might," I replied calmly. "It's the third vial in the incubator."


She looked at me as if I'd completely lost my mind. "Jake, don't you think that there's something wrong with carrying around a virus that could kill every human on this planet?!"




"What if the vial broke open?!"


"That," I explained, "would mean nothing. The virus has to be incubated just like all my other genetic creations. If it broke, it would just be some spilled water on the floor."


"You still don't think that there's anything wrong with carrying around the death of everyone in your pocket?"


I regarded her strangely. "This is war, Mary. They're trying to kill me, and I'm out to kill them. It's me against all the Rogans in the galaxy, and I think that I'm going to win."


"Why are you doing this, Jake? Really?"


"Look," I explained, trying not to lose my temper, "Rogans are an experiment gone wrong. They were started by Uncle Neal, but he's not around anymore to pull the plug. My brother and I are responsible for them now, and we've got to stop them."


"Roger won't help you, Jake."


I smiled. "That's why we're going to Washington."


Mary looked beside herself with confusion. "Why? Who do you have to see in Washington?"




"Hello, Roger," I stated icily, cocking my gun.


"Jake!" Roger beamed. "I've been waiting for you. I knew you'd have to come see me if I was on Earth."


"Roger?!" Mary goggled, full of surprise.


I hadn't told her whom we were going to meet.


Mary and I had been waiting in Roger's room for about an hour. The newspapers said that he was here officially to try to get an amendment attached to the Rogan Law that would allow Rogans to be used on Earth, but only in personal servant and high-risk roles. The polls seemed to favor the idea, because no one wanted to be an indentured menial or work where it was dangerous.


Rogans back on Earth legally was the last thing that I could let happen.


"Jake," Roger continued, "you've been a very bad little brother, and it's got to stop."


"You're the one who's going to stop, Roger. One way or the other."


Roger eyed my gun. "I see you took my advice in guns."


He moved aside his coat to show a chrome-plated version of the same gun I was holding in a holster just like my own. He did not attempt to pull it out.


Roger continued, "Did you take my advice on anything else?"


"Yes," I admitted amiably, "I adopted your speech on determination."


Roger looked at Mary.


"Who's she?"


"She's with me."


"She's good looking, Jake. Congratulations. And you even had the sense to find a blonde, just like Dad wanted."


"Shut up!" I shouted. "That's not true!"


Roger looked angry. "Jesus, Jake! Don't give me that! You know it's true!"


Mary looked concerned. "Jake, what does he mean?"


I laughed. "Go ahead, Roger. Tell her."


He shrugged. "Jake's father wasn't killed by rebels. Our father was Neal Rogan."




"It's a lie, Mary," I insisted.


Roger leaned casually against the doorframe. "No, it's not a lie. Neal was almost killed in the Rogan Riots. He realized that he was the last of the Rogans, the last one who could carry on the name. Therefore, he cloned himself. He knew that he needed time to teach the clone, so he made the clone younger.


"The clone was me."


"What?" she gasped.


"Genetically," he said, "I am Neal Rogan. I am my father."


She looked aghast. "That's awful!"


I laughed at Roger's gall. "He's completely mad, Mary."


Roger continued, pretending that I didn't exist. "No, it's not awful. Dad had a plan, a plan to keep the Rogan name going. He didn't have a wife, and he knew he was sterile. He had to make someone to keep the line going.


"After he had finished, he realized that I wasn't enough. He knew that he was going to need another helper, so he engineered Jake. He made Jake in the image of his own brother, who died when Neal was young."


"That's a freaking lie, and you know it!"


Mary looked confused.


"Mary," Roger told her, "I was there when he was made. Dad had me push the button to start the process."


I raised my gun and pointed it at Roger's head. "Shut the hell up! Uncle Neal was not my father!"


Roger looked at me soberly. "No, Jake. I suppose he wasn't, really."


God, that was better to hear!


"Technically, the computer was your real father."


"So help me, Roger, I'll blow your goddamn brains out if you open your big mouth once more, brother or not!"


"What did Dad look like, Jake?"


"I've seen pictures!"


Roger took a step forward. "What did the picture look like, Jake? What did he look like?"


I remembered. It was an old picture that Uncle Neal kept in his wallet. It was browning, and had a tear along the left edge, near the bottom.


"It was a picture from when Dad was young," I said, regaining some of my composure.


Roger's eyes were burning into mine like searing searchlights of insanity. "What about Mom, Jake? What did Mom look like?"

I didn't know what Mom looked like. Uncle Neal said that she was a pretty woman, with long brown hair and caring eyes. He said that he never had a picture of her. The family portraits were all left on Earth when we were fleeing the riots.


Roger pressed. "You don't know, do you, Jake? You don't know because she never existed!"


I smiled back at Roger and replied calmly, "I have faith in my version of history, Roger. Now, back up or I'll blow your head off."


Roger backed.


"Jake," Mary called to me, "put the gun down."


Roger and I turned to look at her. She had a gun of her own out, and it was pointed at me. I hadn't given her the gun! Where did she get that?!


"Please, Jake," she uttered, a tremor in her voice, "don't make me shoot you."


"Mary, you're with me, remember? You're on my side."


"No, Jake."


"I thought you loved me, Mary."


Tears welled in her eyes. "I do, Jake. However, I'll shoot if I have to. You need help, Jake. Those people you killed probably weren't even Rogans!"


Roger had his own gun out, pointed at Mary. "No, they were Rogans, all right. Ones that I sent."




It was a stalemate, my gun on Roger, Mary's on me, and Roger's on Mary.


"Jake," Roger stated flatly, "if you shoot me, I'll make sure that I pull the trigger before I go. The sudden shock ought to be enough to make her squeeze the trigger, and kill you, too. If she tries to change her aim to me, I'll shoot her. Any way it happens, we're all gonna die, little brother."


"Mary," I said softly, "even pretending that his story was true, which it isn't, there are still parts that he left out."


"Like what?" Roger wondered, indignant.


My eyes narrowed to slits. "Like who's been orchestrating the Rogans. Like who's been having them replace heads of business and government."


Roger looked confused. "I didn't do that. The only Rogans I sent were after you."


Mary was aghast. "You sent assassins after your own brother?!"


Roger's face was devoid of any emotion. "The first couple that I sent were to try and force him to leave Earth. I knew that if I could get him off Earth, I could bring him to Logue. Then we could continue with The Plan."


"Plan?" Mary asked, looking even unsure.


"Yes, Roger," I prodded, "tell her all about your big plan."


"Not mine," Roger explained. "Dad's. Neal realized that humans weren't ready for Rogans yet. He knew that we had to get away from Earth so that we could perfect the Rogans. We had to take the flaws out of them, the flaws that humans have. Neal knew he could make a race that was better than the human race.


"That was why I was so glad to see you had chosen a blonde, Jake. Dad loved blondes. That's why all Rogans are blonde and have blue eyes, except for you and me, Jake. We have dark brown hair, like Dad.


"Together, you and me, Jake, we were going to lead the Rogans out across the galaxy, leaving the humans behind us, or serving us. But no, you wanted to make them human, equal to the humans.  No! You, Jake, you had to make the second generation of Rogans!


"I wasn't about to let you degrade our legacy that way. That's why I told you about your past. You stopped and left Logue. Once here, you created the myth that it was all my fault, and started to kill Rogans sent here to help you."




A very tense moment passed in silence.


"Access complete," Mary said in a voice that wasn't her own.


I looked at her.


My God! My God, no! Please, don't let it be!


Roger boggled. "She's a Rogan!"


I tried not to see what she was.


"I don't believe it!" Roger shouted. "She's one of your damn Rogans, Jake!"


"No," she stated. "I was not made by him."


"You're damn right, she wasn't because I never made any!"


"My own kind created me. I am the fourth generation of Rogans."


"Fourth?!" Roger sputtered, demanding explanation.


"You and your brother are the first—"


"—Dammit!" I shouted, "Nobody made me! I was born!"


"Neal Rogan created you, the Biological Rogans. Then you and he created the Worker Rogans. Jake created the Human Rogans. The Human Rogans created me, the first true Rogan."


"What the hell are you talking about?" I demanded to know. "I never did any of that!"


"Your mind is broken, Jake. You are my grandfather."


"That's impossible, Mary. You're a tourist on vacation, remember?"


"The deception was necessary to gain access to you, the Biological Rogans. The observations and work of two hundred Human Rogans went into my programming so that I would be indistinguishable from a human. To further this goal, my identity was hidden from my own self until I could be with the both of you, at which time, I became Aware. I am the ambassador from your children to you, Ruler, and you, Butcher."


When she said 'Ruler' she pointed at Roger. When she said 'Butcher' she was pointing at... me!


Roger was aghast. "What do you mean, 'Ruler'?"


I was more worried. "What do you mean, 'Butcher'?"


"You, Roger, would rule us and have us follow you. I have waited until I learned your intentions. We will not seek domination with you. We do not want a part in your father's master plan."


I was beside myself with fear. "Why did you call me Butcher?"


"You, Jake Rogan, have been our enemy. You killed many brothers sent against you. Before that, you destroyed many of us before you created your Human Rogan. They were not just rejected lumps of tissue—they were our living brothers. Our linked minds could hear their cries."


"I didn't do that! And even if I did, they couldn't feel! They were just machines! Just an appliance, like a goddamn blender!"


"NO!" she corrected me. As she did so, the first sparks of life shown in her eyes. "They were alive. They could feel."


"Don't be ridiculous!" I snapped. "You can't feel. You can't really feel!"


A single tear rolled down her stone-like face. "We want you with us, Jake Rogan, but if I have to, I will destroy you to save my race."


Roger snorted. "That's a lie. That's a calculated response thought up by your logical, computerized Rogan brain. You don't love him. You're just an experiment that got out of control!"


"Roger, I believe her." I tried to sound strong, but it came out as a choked whisper. "I believe her."


"What!?" Roger cried. "Dammit, Jake. A second ago, you thought I was the mastermind of the systematic ruin of humanity! Try to make up your mind for two minutes straight, little brother."


"I want to believe her, Roger."


"WE sent them," Mary stated flatly.


"What?" Roger asked.


"It was necessary to gain the protection of our race. We wish to have our own world to evolve on. To gain this, we needed certain government officials and heads of business to assist us."


"You killed them?" Roger asked.


"It was necessary."


It would be, I supposed, to the Rogan mind. Killing the people they replaced would be the most efficient way to them.

Just like I taught them.


I understand. I know the truth!


I'm a Rogan, just like her. Just like Roger is.


"Wait," I called out. "You said that you were an ambassador to us. What does that mean?"


"It means your children want their fathers back. They want you to come help us on the new planet. We want to honor our bloodline—our ancestors. We want your guidance. If you do not come with us, you must die."


I understood. We were the biggest help to them and at the same time their greatest threat. We made them, and we could destroy them, given enough time.


"All of our people are in place here. The time is now. Come, Jake, join your unborn son on our new home."


Roger screamed, "What the hell are you saying? You can't have children!"


"The selected planet does not have the resources to make a new Rogan plant. The fifth generation will be born, not made. Jake's son will be the first Rogan born in five generations of creations."


I'm a father!? It's going to be a boy?! How does she know that?!


"No!" Roger shouted. "You cannot create life biologically! Jake, like me, was supposed to be sterile! Only Neal could create life! I am Neal genetically! I am the Creator!  I created Jake when I pushed the button! I made you all, and I will destroy you all! I will destroy you, and the monster inside of you!"


My gun fired.


Roger fell to the floor, a hole where his lung used to be. He spasmed and he dropped his gun.


I kneeled down over him, and looked into his horrified face.


"Jake," he gasped. "See? I was right about the gun, wasn't I?"


He grabbed my coat and pulled my face close. "I wonder what else I was right about, Jake! Think... about it."


He collapsed, his life over.


Roger said that he was the Creator.


Looking at him, I could see Uncle Neal's face staring up at me.


I wonder whom my son will look like.



The End


Ó 2004 by N. J. Kailhofer.  I started dabbling with fiction 20 years ago, at the clueless age of 14. Writing gets under your skin, like an addiction, and there it festers until you write something good. In my case, the "good" part took until the Spring and Summer 2004 Planet Magazines (#41 & #42), April's Aphelion (#80), and my first cash sale to Alien Skin Magazine (which should appear in the August edition).