((Disclaimer: The writing within the “Memories” series is 100% headcanon. While I try to write within the boundaries of lore, much of this is pure speculation, and completely just character exploration.))
“No!” Clio’s voice was more resounding and adamant than Amon had ever heard before.
He knew this conversation was going to be difficult. He just didn’t know how right he’d be.
“Clio,” Amon said calmly, trying to maintain his composure, since she was not. “Be reasonable.”
“I’d be reasonable if you were asking a reasonable thing!” she threw her hands up, almost losing her balance in doing so.
“We both knew this was coming.” He reached out to catch her on reflex.
Clio shoved his hands away. “You’re not using my tech for something like this!”
That caused him to lower his brows, the first hint of frustration Amon had showed so far. “Your tech? You seem to have forgotten that I’ve had a hand in all of this, too!”
Her face was flushed and it was obvious she was having trouble breathing due to the intensity of her emotion. But she didn’t back down. “If you intend to test this on people clones, then I withdraw my part of the contribution!”
“Clio! They’re not people!” He made the motion that mimed pulling his hair out. “We’ve talked about this over and over and over.”
“There has to be some other way.”
“You’re not making a bit of sense!” Amon didn’t often use his stature to intimidate or talk down to anyone, especially Clio. But right now, he stood quite tall, rigid and looming in his frustration. “We’re fully funded and approved to move forward. They’re waiting for real results from real biologically-based clones before sending it for safety approval.”
She turned away from him, more angry than anything else. She seemed unable to find the words to continue her side of the argument, so Amon just pressed on.
“If we don’t provide what our funding has supported, this is our names in the scientific community that we’re shaming!”
Now Clio had fuel for the fire. She looked back up at him with a note of finality, “I’d rather take the shame than stoop to inhumane practices, Amon.”
“But…” He shook his head in disbelief. “’Tis nothing inhumane about testing on clones! Now, if these were real people…”
“They’re living things!” she snapped.
“They don’t feel anything.”
“You don’t know what they feel. You just see them as some tool to use.”
“Because ’tis what they are!” Amon jabbed to the desk with one finger to accent each word.
“How can you think that way?” That’s when Clio reached down and picked up Branch A. The clone-dog whined a bit, ears folded back, looking between the two. It was obvious the creature sensed the tension between its two caretakers. “Look at him.”
Amon cursed himself for having chosen to keep the thing. For all outward-facing purposes, Branch A looked and acted like a real dog. But it wasn’t. And now, after spending so much time with it, Clio had it even more ingrained in her that clones could give and receive affection.
“Clio,” Amon shook his head. “We made him self-aware. Without that, he’d be just–”
“Stop it!” She held Branch A closer to her chest, struggling to maintain the dog’s weight in her arms while balancing without her cane. Then she began to cry softly.
Amon’s frustration and anger melted on the spot. That was one thing he couldn’t abide by.
“Hey…” his voice was soft as he reached a hand towards her.
Clio rejected his motion, and under the weight of dog and sorrow, she toppled back onto the cluttered couch. There, she just sobbed into Branch A’s fur as the clone-dog licked her arm and whined.
Amon watched her in misery, not knowing what to do or say to make things better. He didn’t agree with her. He did think of clones as a tool. But that was because it was true.
To see them as anything more was to project worthless emotion into the scientific process. Thinking like that would only delay and hinder the growth of progress.
Why couldn’t she see that?
Why could she care for a fake-dog and people-clones that would never really care for her in return?
After all they’d built together, all that they’d shared… would she really back out of it all based on this one, tiny, insignificant thing?
Amon tried hard not to be angry. Not to let his pride do the talking. But right now, she was just a sniveling mess on the couch and he was the one who held the voice of true reason.
“Listen,” he tried a different approach. “We don’t have to make this choice tonight. Just think about it and tomorrow–”
“I’ve already made my choice, Amon,” Clio peered at him with wet eyes through soft red hair.
“There’s nothing I can say that–”
He grit his teeth, feeling a rush of anger pulse through him.
For a moment, the aether swirled around him, a tantalizing power. Energy that responded to his frustration, waiting for his command. But, instead of calling on the flame that threatened to spill out of him, he slammed his palm on the table, causing the whole thing to rattle.
Clio and Branch A both jumped, staring at him. Then, she tensed and slowly got to her feet, a bit shaky. She’d never looked at him like that before.
What did she see in his face?
He didn’t know. He didn’t know if he wanted to know.
“I’m going to go now,” she told him.
Those words sunk like a weight in Amon’s stomach. He had crossed some invisible line, and there was no taking it back. Instantly he regretted it. Every bit of it.
“Wait, we can work through this,” hovered on his lips.
“I… I think I need some time apart,” Clio turned away from him, faint tears still in her eyes.
Then, she took the clone-dog and left.