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Cremation

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"Cremation. It's all about cremation," Harper said.

"But--"

Harper pointed his fingers at Beka. "Cremation. No buts. My body, my choice."

"Okay."

"Okay?"

"Okay. Bossy." Beka rubbed her temples. "Who gets your wardrobe?"

"Dylan. He needs a little spice."

"He needs to get out of those uniforms--"

"--and I'm just the man to do it!" Harper pumped his fists in the air.

Beka just ran her hands over her hair, looking at him.

"Beka, are--" Dylan came into the room and stopped dead. "Oh, God."

"Hey." Harper waved. His hologram rippled.

"Harper." Dylan's eyes flickered to the tarp-covered body in the corner.

"Yeah, it was the craziest thing. One minute I have the worst stomachache in the world and the next minute I'm some futuristic bodiless entity floating around Andromeda. Cool, huh?"

"I uploaded him," Andromeda said. Her hologram appeared next to Harper's.

"I didn't know you could do that."

"Neither did I."

Harper was looking at his own hands. "This is freaky. I'm seeing...everything. I must be tapped into your sensors, Andromeda."

"Yes."

"I can see everyone by their heat--hey, I can see your guts! You got a cute liver, Beka." He grinned, and then frowned. "Why is Tyr in the infirmary?"

Beka looked at Dylan. Dylan looked Harper in the eye. "One of the larvae took a chunk out of him before he could shoot it. He'll be fine."

"Gotcha. Hey, look, I bet I can--" His hologram suddenly shrank and merged with Andromeda's, so that he was a tiny version of himself, hanging onto her collar. "Groovy!" His voice was unchanged by his size.

Beka watched him find his feet and start sprinting all over Andromeda's body, oblivious to gravity. Dylan crossed his arms, looking stricken. Beka would lean against the wall, but there were scorch marks from Tyr's blaster all over it. Andromeda just looked annoyed by Harper's antics.

The door opened again. Rommie supported Tyr, whose left arm and leg were both bandaged.

"Tyr!" Harper's image detached from Andromeda's and grew to full size. "Thanks, buddy. You're a pal." Tyr stiffened as Harper hugged him. The edges of the hologram glowed where they intersected Tyr's body. "And now, if you guys don't mind, I am out of here. I want to see the whole ship like this."

The hologram blinked out. Andromeda rolled her eyes and followed.

Dylan's eyes were on the body in the corner, still jacked into the wall.

"What was that?" Tyr asked.

"Andromeda uploaded Harper. So he's--" Beka's voice caught. She swallowed and kept going. "Not dead."

"We're very lucky," Dylan said. He clasped his hands firmly behind his back. "Excuse me."

Tyr let go of Rommie and leaned against a chair as Dylan marched out of the room. "Andromeda, is there an unoccupied room of this size on the other side of the ship?"

Rommie frowned, consulting with Andromeda. "Yes."

Tyr handed her a box. "Take this there. The rest can be burned with Harper."

"All your stuff?" Beka asked.

"Grave goods. I was fond of him, you know." Tyr looked down at Harper's body, covered at his feet. His face was impassive.

"He's not dead. He's--in Andromeda."

Tyr lowered himself to the floor in fits and starts; he ended with his injured leg stuck out stiffly to the side. "Of course not," Tyr said. "The computer identified and uploaded every synapse, every memory, every twist of mind that made him who he was, and she did this despite having no medical knowledge of humans. She did this in the instant between her realization of his predicament and his death. She did this perfectly. And the transfer from the analogue brain to the digital circuits of the computer was flawless. He is Harper, and he's still alive."

Tyr bent down and kissed Harper's body on the forehead. Beka's vision blurred with sudden tears, and she bit the side of her hand, closing her eyes and her mouth against the sobs.

*