chapter 2

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chapter 2

The part of her that was the heal programmer considered the situation calmly. This was a young man wearing a Pendika programmer tunic. He was whole. He did not appear to be sick. His hair was straight and tousled around his head, colored like a fresh rose, one of the sure signs of a special kind of fire programmer, the kind with the gifts needed to be the Crimson Master. She bent down and placed a hand over the young man’s chest. As the hand glowed without warmth, she confirmed that the Cold Sleep program was activated. 

The part of her that was Beika panicked. This was Melancho. She found him. But she never wanted to see him like this. What made him do this? Would he have done this if she found him earlier, if she caught up to him? 

The Cold Sleep program. All programmers knew it, as it was one of the special programs for the lifecodes. But heal programmers knew it best. It was the program activated as an act of mercy to those who were headed to death anyway, the incurably sick, the non-salvageable unconscious. It was also the program resorted to by the desperate and despondent, those who wanted to turn away from life. Her friend had activated that, on himself. 

She was not sure she was skilled enough to deactivate it. She was not sure if she would be calm enough to do it. Maybe it was too late. Maybe even if she tried, she would not be able to reverse it. 

“T-t-timeline! M-manifest the timeline for this person, M-Marceau!” she managed to say. 

Marceau gasped as well, as she came closer to the light. “The loner firespark. So it’s really him. I mean, I read the timelines, but…” 

“Timeline, Marceau! Timeline!” Beika cried. 

Marceau placed a hand over the person on the ground. Her eyes were closed for a long moment. 

“Marceau, what?” 

The futuretell opened her eyes and shook her head. “The timelines disappear.” 

“No!” 

Marceau looked at Beika, keeping her gaze away from the ground. “If you plan to do something, do it. Now.” 

With trembling hands, Beika fumbled at her satchel and felt for her programming book. She fished out one book and thumbed through the pages. “End-of-life program…end-of-life program,” she spoke as she turned pages, as if her calling to them would make the search easier. She stopped at the page near the end of the book. “Cold Sleep. Here.” 

She re-memorized the needed program encodes. She would make no mistakes with this. She had one chance at this. She took a deep breath. She took one final look at the face. He did not look peaceful in sleep. He still looked so weary. She placed one hand over the chest and one hand over the forehead. Both hands warmed and glowed. Now or never. 

“Encode. Cold Sleep deactivate.” 

She watched as lifecode lines illuminated through her friend’s arms and legs, his head and his torso. The major lines illuminated through the rest of the body. The deactivate program spread. The lines faded as they completed the program. 

She placed both hands over his heart. Her hands brightened the chest area and the major lifecode lines once more.  “Encode. Reanimate. Activate. Authorization by Beika of northwest.” 

The heartbeat grew even as the encoding proceeded. He began to breathe in and out, at first slow and shallow, then more deeply, and more regular. Color returned to his pallid face. The fingers in his hands stretched out. 

Beika felt the tears streaming down her cheeks, but she could not wipe them away. She had to concentrate. She had to keep her hands over him, until the process was complete. But he was coming back.

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