Kasumi sat in the room in Stronghold that the Champions had assigned to her, staring at her reflection in her collapsible Vibranium shield. The one that had been massed produced, like she had been, as a weapon meant to further the aims of evil. But she had chosen to defy that fate and was thus a major part of the reason why her maker's plans had been foiled and the world saved.
After the dust had started to settle, she had been offered a place with the Champions, which she had accepted, but now she was wondering if it was really the place for her. Most of the heroes trusted her completely, and she even had a few friends she outside the Champions like Captain America Mari and Captain Maria and her team, but a few of the Stingray Industries employees, especially the ones that had lost friends or family in Chimera's attack on Stronghold gave her the stink eye when they thought she couldn't tell.
Of course, they were forgetting that she was a super soldier and could all but actually feel the weight of their disapproving stares on her back, and hear the whispers with ease. Although she couldn't really blame them, given what her "sisters" had done, those thoughts had just brought up more angst about having killed those other Kasumi clones.
They had been mentally conditioned to overcome the natural inclination for goodness that at least some of them had inherited from their "mother", a conditioning that Kasumi had never received, having essentially been sent on a test run and only kept around after that as a bodyguard for one of the individuals behind her and the other clones.
If things had been just a little different, she might be dead and another Kasumi clone, outwardly identical to her in every way, might be in this room, staring at her own shield right now.
“Hey, Kasumi?” Hikari said, knocking on the open frame of the door to the room the clone had been assigned. “Are you in here?” Hearing no reply, she poked her head in and saw the redheaded super soldier sitting somberly on her bed.
“What is it Hikari?” Kasumi said, barely lifting her head as her fellow heroine walked in and sat down next to her.
You know, you're not the first to struggle with this kind of thing," Hikari said to the crimson haired clone, who looked up to the Martian with a look that expressed surprise that she had been able to know what she was feeling without actually using her telepathy, which she would have noticed due to her uploaded training.
“Besides the actual clones and other artificial beings that end up on the Line, sometimes a Fiction can have an identity crisis from all the alts of them running around, "the senior Champion replied. "I had a feeling this might happen, so I had this printed up”.
"What is it," the clone asked, taking the piece of paper from the Martian Champion. Taking a look, she saw that it was a card for something called "Clones Confidential".
“I heard about it when I was at Iron Haven. It;s a support group for people who are, as the tropes put it, suffering from the ‘cloning blues’,” Hikari explained. “I recommended it to Super Rei after I got back from there, and she swears that it helped her deal with some of some of her own insecurities.”
Kasumi, a little surprised that she hadn’t known that her fellow Champion was also a clone, despite having talked to the Kryptonian several times in the past few days, looked down at the card again. “Are you sure this can help?”
“It should at least get you started,” the pigtailed hero said, giving her shoulder a quick squeeze as she got up. “They’ve got a website you can check out if you want to know more, and Rei can take you with her to the next meeting if you’re up to it.”Having said that, she flew out of Kasumi’s room, leaving the ninja thoughtfully staring at the card she had given her, thinking carefully about her next move.
After a minute, her mind was made up, and she went over to her spartan desk, booted up the company laptop she had also been given, and typed in the web address that was listed on the card, carefully reading and rereading the page that came up as a result.
Almost a week later, Kasumi was standing with Super Rei, both in plainclothes, in a lobby in a town that Kasumi had never even heard of, waiting for Kasumi’s first Clones Confidential meeting to start, the super ninja soldier mentally going over the information that she had learned from the site, combined with information from other sources.
The group had been founded by an alternate of Brianna Diggers, who, having been created by accident as a sort of hybrid clone of her sisters Brittany and Gina in an attempt to keep a bad luck curse from killing them, had had a bit of a tough time adjusting and finding her own individual identity, especially since she had inherited Britanny's feelings for Prince Srypp, and knew she couldn't have him.
After arriving on the Core Timeline, she had noticed how the "Cloning Blues" trope tended to show up a lot in Fictions that were clones, other beings with unconventional origins, and even some arrivals to Coreline who had some trouble adjusting to the fact that there were potentially dozens of versions of themselves running around. Wanting to help these individuals, she used the money she gets from the family company to found a support group for these individuals, so they don't have to go through it alone, and can assert their own identity in a healthy manner.
When the hour struck, the two heroes entered the room, the rest of the group, having been informed in advance that Kasumi was going to be there, was already waiting for them. "This is our newest member," the group leader, a clonetrooper, said. "Everybody introduce yourselves!"
"Hello Kasumi," the group said as a whole before coming up to greet her more personally, several giving Rei a few quick hellos. Kasumi felt a smile crawling up her face, and knew right then that she was going to like it there.