Transference beginning. Download complete.
"I knew when Shaklyn 1 was planning to download. Now s/he's dead."
"It doesn't need a user to interact with it to function. Its units are fully-formed, self-learning cyber beings. Electronics, simulated characters. They populate the system. They think, they work, they eat."
"Shaklyn 1 will become one of them."
They are walking around experiencing the now. Their body stays here and holds the consciousness of the program link unit.
"You think one of them units crawled up an extension cord and killed them?"
They don't know the truth anymore. Either they did murder Shaklyn 1 and they can't remember, or they are being framed. The one clue they have is in that machine.
"We need help and I'm going to find it."
"I thought s/he was inside?"
"You shouldn't go blaming yourselves."
"How's s/he doing?" s/he asks, just because s/he is worried.
"Nothing different," Shaklyn 2 answers. "S/He's still out cold."
"Really? It's our fault."
"No one's blaming you," says Shaklyn 2. "Shaklyn 1 wouldn't."
S/He turns around again and walks back into the house with Shaklyn 2 following closely behind. S/He turns to the others and looks them straight in the eyes.
"I feel awful about all this," s/he says, sitting down and putting their head in their hands. "I feel like it's my fault."
"You saved them after Shaklyn 2 brought them back out."
"Look, I just wanted to tell you..." Am I really going to do this? "...thank you." There. I said it. No use backing down now, so I
continue, "You... you were so calm, and I needed that. We . . . I was panicking. If it weren't for you, we would be having Shaklyn 1's funeral right about now."
"I've been a jerk of a cousin to them, though," s/he says. "Their whole life they've been a jerk. The only time I actually treat them like family, or even a friend, is when their life is in danger."
"That's true," I say, "but it doesn't have to be true. Weather you accept it or not, thank you. I don't know what I would have done without you."
S/He turns to them and smiles. They smile back, but then they hear Shaklyn 1 's voice from inside the house.
They walk through the doorway, and cry out in unison, "Shaklyn 1! "
S/He's still unconscious, but maybe it is for the best. That way s/he doesn't feel any of the pain s/he's going through.
Shaklyn 2 wants to be inside, too, but s/he doesn't think s/he could handle it without breaking out into a sobbing fit again.
"I shouldn't be so worried and just plain old, genuinely scared, but I am. I am, and I hate it. This is all my fault."
"No, it's not," Charamaynne says. "I'm the one who planned the blasted trip in the first place."
"Actually, _I _was the one who suggested it. It's technically my fault."
"Well yeah, but we were the ones who asked Shaklyn 2 about it, " s/he says.
"It's our faults . "
"I'm the one who talked Shaklyn 1 into it."
"I shouldn't have pressed them. I should have just taken the fact that s/he didn't want to go, and left it at that, but no. I had to make them feel like s/he was forced to go. I... why didn't I just say 'Okay, you don't have to go if you don't want to'?"
they wait outside the Welcome Habitat, staring blankly at the ground with deadpan expressions.
Finally, Shaklyn 2 speaks up.
"What happened?" s/he asks.
S/He draws a breath and opens their mouth to answer, but no words come out.
It dawns on them that they really don't know exactly what happened after s/he went under.
"I... I don't know," s/he admits, rubbing their hands together for just a second. "You were dragged under ... and ... you were under for five minutes. But . . . I don't know what happened down under." They pause and choke back a sob.
"You don't have to go on if you don't want to," s/he says. "You could tell me later."
"I don't argue. I don't want to continue speaking although some part of me tells me I should. I know Shaklyn 2 is worried like one wouldn't imagine. _I'm _worried like one wouldn't imagine."
"S/He almost died," s/he says. "S/He wasn't breathing. It..." S/He shakes their head. "It was the lightning incident replayed a second time. I couldn't...! couldn't hardly move. s/he was so close to death."
"S/He'll surprise you. It's like s/he's playing cat and mouse with death. It ' s . . . I hate how s/he does it."
S/He nods. "Me too," s/he says. "I can't stand it."
s/he nearly cries with joy. They land on the plaza and are instantly surrounded by a crowd of life forms, demanding to know what happened. They gasp when they see Shaklyn 1, limp and unresponsive in their arms.
"Shaklyn 1," one breathes. S/He rushes forward and takes Shaklyn 1 from them and s/he instantly races off to the Welcome Habitat. S/He dismounts Shaklyn 1. When the others burst through the door, they see s/he had already laid Shaklyn 1 down on one of the sick beds and was by their side. Shaklyn 2 grasps their hand. S/He steps forward and starts undoing the bandage.
Shaklyn 1 screams, and s/he starts crying again. S/He can't help it. S/He can't stand seeing them in pain.
S/He hears them shouting to other villagers to step away and that it doesn't concern them. S/He is trying to calm them down, but s/he screams again, and then goes limp. Out cold.
"WHAT HAPPENED!?" s/he shouts, putting one hand on Shaklyn 1's forehead. S/He doesn't answer. S/He motions them out with their hands, and they listen, although they definitely don't want to.
S/He tries again, and nothing. Just when they are sure they are too late, Shaklyn 1 starts coughing. S/He turns over and coughs before flipping onto their back again.
They all sigh with relief. S/He's not dead. But then they notice something wrong. A crimson liquid seeping through their chest ...
S/He shouts, "Get some gauze! Quick!"
Shaklyn 1 tries to sit up.
"Don't _move !" s/he orders.
"I'm frozen in my position. I can't even speak."
S/He returns just an instant later carrying gauze.
S/He turns to them and hisses, "Are you gonna help me or NOT!?"
"I'm so shocked on what just happened."
They shake their head to knock themselves out of their daze and rush forward. They grip Shaklyn 1 under their arms and lift them half-way. S/He screams as they wrap the gauze around their chest. S/He cries silently, wishing there was something s/he could do.
"We have to get them back to the Welcome Habitat!"
"I'll take them! I volunteer. I can elevate!"
but it is short lived. S/He is pulled off by something s/he is not sure.
"Shaklyn 1!" s/he screams, racing over to the side. S/He looks down into the water. Nothing. Nothing at all. S/He is just about to jump in. S/He still tries to jump, but Shaklyn 2 holds them back.
"If Shaklyn 2 can't save them, neither can you!" s/he exclaims angrily, but s/he can hear the worry behind their voice. Shaklyn 2 is their cousin, after all. Not only that, but they're friends. "No use giving Shaklyn 2 two people to save!"
S/He knows they are right, but part of them wishes they are wrong. S/He wants to go in there and save Shaklyn 1. S/He wants to. But s/he knows Shaklyn 2 is the best choice, so s/he leaves it to them.
They wait in silence for five minutes. _Five. Whole. Minutes_. S/He expects them to resurface at any time. S/He expects them to both be alright. But five minutes. It would take a miracle.
Then, their heart leaps to their throat when s/he sees Shaklyn 1 resurface, pulling the limp body of their rider with them. They all scream in shock and race over.
"Shaklyn 1!" s/he shouts. Then s/he realizes something terrifying. "S/He's not breathing ! "
S/He pushess them out of the way and folds their hands over Shaklyn 1's chest. S/He feels tears run down their face as s/he pushes down, following a rhythm.
"Do something!" s/he shouts.
and elevates into the sky above TrES-2b, a pitch black planet. It absorbs 99% of the incident light.
"We'll meet you there!" they call out just barely loud enough for them to hear them. S/He holds Shaklyn 2 a little tighter as Shaklyn 2 elevates as fast as s/he possibly can. Tears run down their face, and they can't stop them. S/He tries, and s/he fails.
"A-as-tr .. id, " they hear Shaklyn 2 whisper. S/He looks down to see. S/He opens their eyes a crack. It breaks them though, and s/he shakes their head.
"Don't speak, please," s/he begs. "I am worried it could make it worse, if that is even possible. Also, it makes me cry harder when you speak."
S/He sobs, trying to keep them silent, but Shaklyn 2 hears them.
"What ..._happened_? " s/he asks in a broken voice. "Who-s ... ' urt? "
S/He doesn't know what happened.
"Shaklyn 2," s/he breathes, trying to keep their tears at bay long enough to reassure them.
"We'll be home soon, okay? I promise."
S/He closes their eyes and leans against them heavily, but s/he can tell s/he's not sleeping or unconscious, because their breathing is uneven. S/He pushes Shaklyn 2 to go faster, but s/he's already at their top speed, which is actually a lot faster than s/he is used to.