Juliana remembered walking from the barracks to the UpLoad Lab
under the early morning California sky, hand in hand with Vance. 
Towards futures of virtual immortality, mysterious and exotic 
futures, but so in love that they didn't care what happened 
next, as long as they could be together.

How long ago was that?  In a relative universe you have only 
your own perception to go by.  An hour ago?  Or an eternity?

"It's weird to think that all of this is over after today,"
Juliana said, "for us anyway."

"Oh, it'll be US out there, we/us just won't experience it."

"Oh, I wish we/us could go instead of our copies!  What an
adventure: colonists to the stars!"

"All that really matters is that I end up with you," Vance told
her, and squeezed her hand, "no matter where."

"Yeah, me too."  They stopped to kiss.  But not very long; they
were both scheduled for UpLoading today.  They hurried to the

Juliana and Vance had met at the beginning of Project Procyon 
and fallen in love.  He was handsome, she was beautiful, and why 
not?  they were among 60 of the brightest and best specimens of
mankind, selected for this project from thousands of applicants.

The Procyon Project had recruited and trained the 60 volunteers 
to colonize the 5th planet of the star Procyon, 11 light years 
away from Earth.  It appeared to be an earth-type world with 
water and oxygen atmosphere, tailor-made for humans.  The 
colonists would establish camps, cities; they would multiply and 
populate that empty world.  (If it was empty, no one really knew 
what was out there.)

And yet, it was not the 60 themselves who would travel to the
stars at all, but rather their UpLoaded data.  Everything
required to manufacture ReGen Copies of each volunteer would be
sent to the star Procyon with the Starship Zeus, a robot ship
with no living crew or passengers to endure the 57 years of
interstellar flight it would take to physically traverse 11 
light years of space.

And how bitter it would be for those colonists to discover upon
arrival that the planet was a hellhole where men could never
survive, or that it was populated with an indigenous race who
might be violently inhospitable to unwelcome aliens.  They would
have to go on--or turn back to Earth.

So rather than send a living crew across the vast span between
Earth and Procyon, an "artificial" crew of colonists was
automatically fabricated upon arrival, ReGen Copies, from 
digital personality UpLoads made back on Earth.  Physical bodies 
would be assembled by electroplasmic remote kinesis from vats 
of raw elemental materials; every molecule, every strand of DNA 
replicating the originals.  Their electroneural networks charged 
with data from the original volunteers, downloading into these 
new bodies intact all of the personalities, memories, emotions, 
training and skills of each of those people who had UpLoaded for 
this mission.  

That all sounded rather iffy, implausible even, but it worked.  
The 5 Rickies had been living proof of that, they were part of 
the project's training staff, to get the volunteers accustomed 
to the reality of ReGen Copies: the original Ricky himself was 
a top-trained soldier whom they had UpLoaded and duplicated 4 
times, an experiment of the procedure in military application, 
to see how effective a platoon of identical soldiers could be.  
One quickly got used to them, they weren't really odd at all, 
although they weren't like twins either, actually just One Guy 
repeated in 5 bodies.  Very popular with the girls, especially 
all 5 at once.  

The Rickies had also been examples of the consequences of 
experimenting with ReGen Copies--once you turned them on you 
couldn't just turn them off again without committing murder.  
They were real people.  In the case of the Rickies, early in 
the military top secret ReGen experimental days, there had been 
a Colonel who decided that too many Rickies was a security 
problem and ordered the copies "returned to the vats".  The 5 
Rickies proved just how effective a 5-man strike force could be, 
especially 5 expert soldiers who think alike.  They conquered 
the entire base, arrested the Colonel and his staff, and were 
exonerated for it.  A clear cut case of self-defense.

Therefore, the 60 volunteers of the Procyon Project knew exactly 
what their UpLoads could become, and now, after 2 years of 
training, they were to be UpLoaded today.

And after that...well, no one knew.  The volunteers had been
confined to the camp for the last year, incommunicado to the
outside world, training and testing for the isolation that real
colonists would experience.  No news from home good or bad, no
job offers, no invitations, nothing got through from outside the
camp, not even radio or television or overnet.  So they had no
clear picture of what their futures would be, which also was a
form of stress testing for potential colonists.  But now this
phase of the project was ending, the camp would (?) be closed,
some of them probably would be assigned to new projects, others
might have to go find jobs, nobody knew.

Juliana was almost sad to think that the 60 were splitting up
after today, she had become good friends with many of them, but
at least she had her boyfriend.  They would probably marry, have
kids, get jobs as scientists--she was a geologist, Vance was a
meteorologist--live happily ever after, etc.  Just not on 
Procyon 5, damn!

Inside the Lab several of their friends were either waiting for
their turn in the UpLoad booths, or had just finished.  Project 
Leader Darwin  was there, calling out names for UpLoading. 

Juliana waved to Wenda, her best friend, who was naked and 
surrounded by men.  Actually most of them were either naked or 
wearing a white towel, since you had to be naked for the 
UpLoading.  And the 60 had become quite casual about nudity by 
now anyway, not to mention sex in general, after all, everyone 
was young and beautiful and horny.

But today they all seemed to be flaunting it a bit more than
usual, knowing that their familiar world was ending: after the
UpLoading, they were free to go out of the camp, back to family,
friends, lovers, jobs, travel plans; where there might be no 
more of this kind of familiarity. 

Juliana and Vance also stripped down to towels and joined their
friends, who were in animate discussion about the philosophical 
nature of ReGen Copies, as Todo and Calvin sort of rubbed up 
against naked Wenda.  The guys had their towels on.

" Budda said, attachment is the primary source of 
suffering, so of course they don't want us to form nonproductive 
attachments to things here on Earth during our training," Todo 
was saying.

"As if we could have!" Calvin scoffed, "we've been living in 
this monastary for the last year, like bloody monks!

"Monks?  Hey, thanks a lot--if you were celibate, where was I?"
Wenda said petulantly.  Wenda had been notoriously promiscuous 
this last year, as had so many others. 

"Well, okay...heh heh..tantric monks," Calvin admitted.

"Well, you certainly look nice and flirtatious," Vance 
complimented Wenda.  Juliana was aware that Vance was 
intrigued by her reputation, whereas Juliana had been so 
boringly faithful to him.
"I'm just so nervous!" Wenda complained, as if that explained 
her naked posturing.  Maybe it did.

"Of the UpLoading?" Juliana asked, "But we've done it so many

"But those were just back-ups. practice runs, this is IT: 
IMMORTALITY; the one that counts--they one they're sending 
to the stars!"

"Just too bad it's not the real US they send," Juliana moped.

"I don't know about that," Calvin said, "I think I prefer that 
they send MY copy.  It could be pretty scary out there!"

"And there's a distinct possibility that they might not even 
EnAct the copies at all if that planet isn't good enough.  
Then you'd be glad it wasn't us they sent," Vance mentioned.

"Or maybe our copies will be so miserable missing these good old 
days that they'll wish they'd never gone," Wenda added.

"You people are all so negative," Juliana said, only half 

"Just wait till you meet our COPIES!" Todo joked.  And got a 

Project Commander Darwin and one of the Rickies came over to 
them.  They were making the rounds to all the UpLoadees, giving 
a last handshake and a pat on the back for two years of 
cooperation and good work before the group split up and everyone 
went their separate ways.  

Old Man Darwin had obviously caught Todo's remark.  "I wish we 
could, you our copies," he said, "a shame it's never 
supposed to happen."

"Hey--it can happen, believe me," said the one Ricky, "but I 
don't really recommend it for everyone."

"Well, you 5 Rickies were an early experiment, before there were 
any specific ReGen Copy laws.  Phoenix could do anything they 
wanted back then, as long as no one believed it could be 

"Too bad about that," Ricky said, giving Juliana a wink, "I'd 
like to meet the 5 Julianas, myself."  He always flirted with 
her whenever possible.  Or at least one of them did--pretty 
hard to tell them apart.  Maybe all 5 flirted.

Juliana was flattered, the Lieutenant Ricardo Guerreros were 
such beautiful masculine men...but Vance was standing right 
beside her, so she only nodded back.

"Only 5?" Vance challenged, "why think small?  Make one for 
everyone!  There's theoretically no limit to how many copies 
they could make of her."  

"But there is a limit to how many copies they MAY make according 
to our contract with Phoenix Processes International:" 
interjected the Old Man, always the instructor, "60 copies each 
on Procyon 5, the first generation of colonists, and no more 
after that...okay, some emergency replacements if necessary.  
NONE on Earth, that's forbidden and illegal."

Rick shrugged, gave the commander a cynical grin, "You never 
know, laws change.  And Phoenix IS keeping back-ups here on 
Earth, right, sir?"

"Only until the Procyon 5 colony becomes established, then 
Phoenix is required to erase all UpLoad data."

"Erase US?" Calvin whined, "Hey, isn't that murder?  
Sort of?"

"Ooo, yes," Wenda agreed, "we're supposed to be IMMORTAL now!"

"I dunno," Rick said, seriously this time, "but I'll be relieved 
when they erase MY UpLoad data file: there's probably still some 
war-crazy general somewhere out there who dreams of drafting up 
his own personal army of 50,000 Rickies."

Juliana suddenly remembered one of the 5 Rickies telling her how 
you can't even tell if you're a copy or the original.  You get a 
bit buzzed out by the UpLoading process and when you clear your're somewhere else later on, except that you aren't 
the same you any more, even though you thought you were.  
Seamless transition, they called it.

Commander Darwin and Lt Guerrero nodded goodbye to them and 
moved on to the next cluster of colonial volunteers.  Juliana 
had to force herself not to watch Ricky's butt and felt a wee 
pang of regret for an experience she'd missed out on: the famous 

She noticed Wenda looking rather smug.  Wenda had missed out on 
very few experiences.

"Whoops, it's my turn!" Vance noticed, "wish me luck."

"Bon voyage!" Wendy and Juliana called and waved, as if actually
sending him off to somewhere.

Juliana watched her boyfriend go to the UpLoad booth, slipping
off his towel and standing naked on the pedestal.  A technician
attached electrodes at several points on Vance's head and body,
then closed the glass door of the booth. 

The technician calibrated the instruments for Vance's size and
weight, field polarity, then said aloud, "System is go. 
Commencing data scan."

Static electricity flooded the booth, all of Vance's hair
suddenly stood out straight on end, his head shot back, arms 
came floating up and he stood trembling.  Then a ring of 
intense white light scanned slowly down his body from head to 

Meanwhile another booth opened up and a naked man stepped out,
having just finished UpLoading.  Juliana recognized Bud, and
waved to him.  

Calvin's name was called and he went off to a booth.  Todo was 
next.  Juliana and Wenda waited for their names to be called.

Bud came over to the girls, wrapping himself in a towel.  He was
a nice guy who had flirted with Juliana at the beginning of the
project, until he saw that she had settled for Vance, but she 
had been flattered anyway and they had become casual friends.

"Well, that's that," he said, "I'm immortal now: the best part 
of me is packaged and processed for posterity, ready to be shot 
out to the stars.  Hope I have fun out there."

"Yes, me too," Juliana agreed, "I hope we all do."

"Yeah," Wenda agreed, "considering that we really are being made 
more or less immortal, the least we can ask is that it's fun."

"So Juliana, what are you going to do after this?" Bud asked 

"Who knows?  The world outside could have ended a year ago.  Or
just started.  Ask me next week."

"You'd think they'd let us immortals know if we have job offers 
waiting," Wenda bitched.

"Naw, it's quite understandable," Calvin insisted, "they want to
keep us focused on the Procyon mission until we're UpLoaded. 
Can't have our ReGen Copies--who think they're US--regretting 
the job they missed out on back in California while they're 
squatting in a plastic hut on some planet where it never stops 

"Well, I have a feeling that Procyon 5 will be even better than
California--hell, even better than this camp!" Juliana 

"Now THAT's the kind of positive attitude we want in our
colonists," Bud went into an act, "hey, let's get this lady
UpLoaded right now, before she changes her mind!"

Right on cue, the technician called Julianne's name.  It was her

She walked to the designated booth, past Vance's booth, where he
was just finished UpLoading.  Their eyes met. 

She smiled lovingly and doffed her towel with a little flair
just for him, pirouetting naked past him.  But he was obviously 
still groggy, confused, seemed to be looking beyond her.  
Juliana looked back and saw Wenda there.  Then she was inside 
the booth.

The technician attached the electrodes.  She noticed that he
fumbled slightly over her body in the process, seemed to be 
breathing on her, but wasn't sure if it was because he was 
lecherous or simply rattled by her nudity--after all, he wasn't 
one of the 60, nor was he young and beautiful.  He was tall and 
gaunt, stoop shouldered, a huge hawk nose, a face that looked 
older than he probably was.  She didn't know him, didn't really 
want to, nor did he say anything to her. She got a spooky feeling, 
he reminded her of Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's Monster.  But 
then he was gone and the booth door was closed.

Maybe I've been locked away with the same 60 people too long,
Juliana thought, anyone else seems out of synch.  I'm sure Boris 
Karloff was actually a very nice man.  Oh well, everything 
changes after this UpLoad, and it's about time.

She watched the technician repeat the procedures for the 
UpLoading, then he turned to her and gave a little smile through 
the glass, a thumbs up, and she saw his lips form the words 
"system is go..."

The electric tingle was intense, but not painful, her long brown 
hair zapped straight and stiff, a blinding light descended like 
a halo, her body became rigid from the voltage coursing through 
her arms. lifting as the muscles contracted and then all her 
senses drowned out in an overwhelming buzzzzzzz...