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Angels and Wormholes

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"That's a big shower." Cassia leaned in the door to the Muramasa's bathroom.

"It's gotta fit Razz." Wojtek stood in the hall, leading Cassia through a tour of the ship. "That reminds me, if you're gonna use it, make sure you check the settings. Those jets'll rip right through your skin if it's set wrong."

"Thanks for the tip." Cassia closed the door. She stood in the hall with Wojtek and Nigel at her side.

Wojtek continued down the hall. "We got the main entrance to the maintenance deck there -" he motioned to another door "- we got equipment supply here -" pointing across the hall "- Your room'll be there. We've got a couple cots in storage." Wojtek turned and smiled. "I would've decorated, but I didn't know we'd be having guests."

"We'll manage." Cassia opened the door and peered into the empty, featureless room. "You weren't kidding."

"It's a spare room, for now." Wojtek continued the few paces to the end of the hall and motioned to the rear door. "And here we have something that you probl'y don't see on a lot of ships: our very own chop-shop." He hit the door and it slid open. Inside was a medical room, surgical table in the center, computer at the side, equipment placed haphazardly around and hanging from ceiling hooks. The lizard Chaicauhtli sat on the edge of the surgical table, his legs hanging over the side.

Cutter sat in front of his computer. He swiveled with the sound of the opening door. "Hey, 'Tek. Guess these are the clients?" He stood up and extended his hand. Cassia shook it. "Cassia," she introduced herself."

"Cutter."

"The chip out?" Wojtek asked.

"It's out," Cutter answered.

"How does it feel to be a free man?" Wojtek looked at Chaicauhtli.

Chaicauhtli hopped off the table and landed softly on his reptilian feet. "This has all been very hectic. I haven't had much time to reflect on what it was like to be a slave."

"Slave is a bit harsh, isn't it?" Wojtek scrunched his eyebrows.

"Slave, prisoner, captive," Chaicauhtli hissed. "Take your pick."

"Involuntary assistant." Wojtek smiled. "Temporary involuntary assistant."

"Call it what you like. But to really answer you, I still feel trapped." Chaicauhtli held his clawed hand to his own chest. "I will feel free when I am back on Blue Sky."

"I blame you for this." Wojtek pointed accusatorily at Cutter.

"I seem to remember I was doing you a favour." Cutter shot back. "This was your idea, not mine. And it worked, didn't it?"

"Relax, I'm just joking with you. Any idea how it happened?"

"As a matter of fact -" Cutter sat back down on his computer "- I think I have a theory. Take a look." He motioned to the screen.

Wojtek and Chaicauhtli walked up behind Cutter, peering past his shoulders at the computer. Nigel and Cassia followed behind. The four of them clustered around the back of Cutter's chair, where he sat facing the screen.

"There were no problems with the stasis." Cutter's screen displayed a neural map, and next to it, a large text display '99.9% NEURAL STASIS'. "His native cellular growth was almost completely inhibited for the operation. Well within normal limits."

"So how did he form so many new memories?" Wojtek leaned on Cutter's chair. "And lose his old ones?"

Chaicauhtli peered from Wojtek to Cutter's screen.

"Not with neurons." Cutter smiled. "But take a look at this." He clicked a button and motioned to the computer monitor, which now showed a torrent of data. Chemical formulae flickered across the screen. "Scans showed a bunch of chemical chains and protein strands in his brain. First I thought they were just some kind of physiological by-product or something, but now I'm pretty sure it's a chemically encoded information system." Cutter lifted his chin towards the chemical formulae displayed on the monitor. "Those are his memories. When I was running the simulations and the training programs his cellular structures were in stasis, but they were still pumping out those chemicals."

"I didn't think you could store memories with chemicals," Nigel interjected.

"Why not? DNA is an information storage system, and that's just a chemical."

"You ever seen anything like this?" Wojtek looked down to Cutter.

"Depends what you mean. I've seen naturally occuring non-cellular cognition. I've seen artificial chemical computers. I've read about DNA being used to store encrypted messages. I've built hybrid cellular-electrical systems. Exhibit A." Cutter pointed to Wojtek's head. "I guess you could say I've seen enough that I can figure out how this works."

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