Celeste: The Activation

He gently guided his needle ship into his private docking station on the immense space yacht. They were two weeks early for the trendiest cruise in the quadrant. Two weeks before he could start his hunt.

The yacht was a replica of the fabled Serena Between the Stars and the cruise would follow her last journey. The exodus of the wealthy elite from Anderson Station to the fateful crash on Tiamat Five had been exhaustively documented. Great care had been taken to make the replica as believable as possible while including modern technology and safety procedures.

Each passenger had been assigned a name and personality corresponding to an original passenger or crew member. After launch, no one would be allowed to leave. Every individual had a role to play in the coming drama.

The docking rings embraced his ship and the transport tube latched on to the outer airlock. She was strapped in next to him. He spoke to her, commands only. She was still on auto pilot but she responded smoothly. As they traveled to their suite they were hidden from other early arrivals. The games would not begin until after launch.

Their suite was decadent. He approved. He left her, unclothed and face up on the bed while he refreshed himself. He was in no hurry. Activation was a task to be savored.

Finally, he came to her. Her synthetic skin was soft under his touch. He could not detect a seam where the skin faded into supple bronze. The bronze was smooth and perfect.

What wonders do you hold, he thought. What memories have you held on to?

He spoke the first words of activation. He watched as she became aware of herself. Slowly, she became aware of him. He continued touching her, stroking her, probing her. Only her inner kernel was active. She was vulnerable, in this state, stripped of her interaction modules. He began giving her commands again, softer now. He found her physical data input slot.

Oh yes, he thought. Wherever you have been in the past is nothing like where you are going in the future.

Then he slid his transfer wand home.

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