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James BeauSeigneur

In His Image James

The first book in the Christ Clone series, 1997

This novel is a work of historic fiction. Many of the events described in Chapters One and Two of the novel actually occurred and have been reported in numerous nonfiction works and publications. The author has endeavored to portray those events accurately and has used the names of the actual participants, those being, in order of appearance: John Jackson, Eric Jumper, Tom D'Muhala, Father Peter Rinaldi, Don Devan, Ray Rogers, John Heller, Rudy Dichtl, Monsignor Cottino, Roger Gilbert, Marty Gilbert, Sam Pellicori, and Allan Adler.

Other well-known and widely-reported historic events and public personalities are also referenced, but only those events which have been widely-reported by reliable nonfiction sources should be assumed to, be true; all others should be assumed to be the product of the author's imagination. Additionally, the names of several 'public persons,' institutions and organizations such as the Catholic Church, the United Nations and numerous world governments are incorporated into this work. References to events involving any such persons, institutions, organizations, or governments following the publication date of the first printing of this book are entirely the product of the author's imagination.

With the exceptions noted above, all other names, characters, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual events, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author or the publisher.

'Are these the shadows of things that will be, or are they the shadows of things that may be?'

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Chapter 1

The Right Place at the Right Time

September 27,1978 – Knoxville, Tennessee

Decker Hawthorne

He typed out the letters of his name and his hands paused on the keys. Quickly his eyes scanned the editorial for one last reassurance that he hadn't misspelled something, or that he couldn't say something just a little more convincingly, or perhaps improve the sentence structure. Finally he decided it would have to do. The deadline had passed, the newspaper was waiting to be put to bed, and Decker had a plane to catch.

As he left the offices of the Knoxville Enterprise, he stopped to straighten the hand-lettered placard that hung outside the door. It was a weekly paper, small by most standards, but it was growing. Decker had started the paper with a short supply of money and an abundance of naivete, and it was still a struggle to survive financially. The upside was that with Decker's aggressive style, the Enterprise frequently scooped the two local dailys, including once with a story of national significance. Decker had always been an overachiever who wasn't afraid to take chances, and while he lost more often than he won, he liked to believe he had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Right now he was supposed to be at the airport, but he wasn't.

'You're going to miss your plane,' called Elizabeth, Decker's wife.

'I'm coming,' he called back. 'Start the car.'

'It's already running. I know you too well.'

They made it to the gate with three minutes to spare but Decker didn't want to waste one second sitting on the plane when he could spend it with Elizabeth. After only three months of marriage, he wasn't looking forward to being away from his bride for two weeks, but finally he had to board the plane or be left behind.

As the plane left the runway, Decker looked out over the city of Alcoa on the southern outskirts of Knoxville. Below, he could pick out his small house on the edge of one of Alcoa's parks. The steadily receding sight recalled disquieting emotions. Decker had spent most of his life traveling. As a boy it was with his family, moving from one army post to another. After that he had spent a year and a half hitch-hiking across the United States and Canada; then four years in the army, two in Vietnam. Partly he felt cheated: he had never really had a home. But partly he felt blessed. Decker hated leaving, but he loved going.

Decker's flight arrived late into New York and he had to run to make his connecting flight to Milan, Italy. Nearing the gate he looked for a familiar face but saw none. In fact, at first glance, there was no one at the gate at all. Decker looked out the window. There was the plane, but at that instant he heard the jet engines begin to whine. Thundering down the red carpeted incline of the jetway, he almost collided with a ticket agent.

'I've got to get on that plane!' he told the woman, as he put on the sweetest 'help me' look he could muster.

'You have your passport?' she asked.

'Right here,' Decker answered, handing it to her along with his ticket.

'What about your luggage?'

'This is it,' he answered, holding up an overstaffed and somewhat oversized carry-on bag.

The plane had not actually moved yet, so after notifying the pilot, it was an easy task to move the jetway back into place. After a quick but heartfelt 'thank you,' Decker boarded the plane and headed to his seat. Now he saw a sea of friendly and familiar faces. On his right was John Jackson, the team's leader. A few seats back was Eric Jumper. Both were from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Jackson had his Ph.D. in physics and had worked extensively on lasers and particle beams. Jumper, also a Ph.D., was an engineer specializing in thermodynamics, aerodynamics, and heat exchange. In fact, almost everyone in this sea effaces had a Ph.D. of one sort or another. Altogether there were over forty scientists, technicians and support people. Though he knew most only by sight, many paused long enough from their conversations to offer a smile of welcome or to say they were glad he had not missed the flight.

Decker found his seat and sat down. There to greet him was Professor Harry Goodman, a sloppily dressed, short man with gray hair, reading glasses half-way down his nose, and thick bushy eyebrows that blazed helter- skelter across his brow and up onto his forehead like a brush fire. 'I was beginning to think you'd stood me up,' Professor Goodman said.

'I wouldn't have missed this for the world,' Decker answered. 'I just wanted to make a big entrance.'

Professor Goodman was Decker's link to the rest of the team. Goodman had taught biochemistry at the University of Tennessee when Decker was in pre-med. During his sophomore year Decker had worked as Goodman's research assistant. They had many conversations, and though Goodman was not the type to get very close to anyone, Decker felt they were friends. Later that same year, though, Goodman had grown very depressed about something which he refused to discuss. Through the rumor mill Decker discovered that Goodman was going to be refused tenure. Primarily this could be traced to his policy of 'do now, ask permission later,' which had gotten him into hot water with the dean on more than one occasion. The next semester Goodman took a position at U.C.L.A. and Decker had not seen him since.

Decker, for unrelated reasons, had changed his major from pre-med to journalism. He was still an avid reader of some of the better science journals, however. So it was that in July of 1978 Decker read an article in Science

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