Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bruce Willis saves the world

Scorpius brings him back the last time. In retrospect, S. has been doing a lot of that. John doesn't remember most of the details. Before leaving, D. says something about small mercies, or the Luxan equivalent.

    There are weeks in a vat and after that months in a Peacekeeper infirmary and after that he's lucid enough for S. to explain why his ashes aren't collecting dust in an urn on S.'s mantelpiece. There are flashes--some nights and some days too--of waking up naked and chilled in a big aquarium, drifting weightless in green gloop with a tube down his throat; snapshots of overwhelming panic and sedation and the absence of a voice to call for A. He died with the taste of his lover in his mouth. This wasn't how he pictured the afterlife.
John and A. were disintegrated by parties unknown in a nameless boat on an anonymous sea. Their shipmates witnessed their death, shocked with grief. One night C. woke up convinced that John was still alive. D. didn't question the comeback of her errant gift and the search began.

    After a mad and desperate weeken they went to S. who didn't make them beg. Within an arn they had identified the markings on the ship in M. They found a lot of labs, full of vats and scientists, equipment and consoles and vials. When S. recounts the O. unique approach to exobiology, her eyes light up with something like greed.

    "They do not need to retrieve live specimens for analysis." She sits on the edge of John's bed, hands joined on her knees primly, like a schoolgirl. "Neutralization is a safer and more efficient method to transport and store life forms for later study. I have known researchers who operate by miniaturization, but the O.' technology is much more advanced. They require but a sample of the individual's life code to recreate an undamaged, live specimen."

    I've seen that movie, John thinks in a safe, detached part of his brain. Bruce Willis saves the world, again.

    S. hasn't seen the movie and she doesn't know which part of John's brain she's talking to. "When you were found, you were dying. Perhaps the O. used a basal template when they reengineered your organism. Your body was breaking down on the cellular level. You should be thankful--that S. preserved a sample of your life code. Your D-N-A." Her lips wrap around the foreign acronym with delight, hiccupped syntax and all. "Gene therapy restored you to--health."

    The detached part of John counts fingers and toes. By then, he's stopped actively listening.

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