Callah struggled to maintain her failing biorhythms. It was a delicate, razor-wire dance to stay balanced between sentience and meat. Callah tried to keep her mind off of terms like “hematoma” and “catalytic cascading cell loss.” She instead began to set the world into the unintentional percussion of simple mechanics. She remembered terms like “Technomancy” and “run-task subdivision” and spilled the new data – like the blood she was trying not to think about – over her core of centering and mystical training.

A machine worked on the principle of Emergent Potential. Her mystic tutor related this to the human idea of a Hierarchy of Needs. A machine started at the ground. It devoted great amounts of resources into handling the simplest of things. There was a wild wisdom in that. A machine had the benefit of knowing the numeric extent of its total potential. More than that a machine could be unerringly told to focus that potential in a certain, limited direction and thus maximize the total output and efficiency of the potential. Machines created countless very simple or irrelevant run-task subdivisions to handle the things at the bottom of the Hierarchy; “stay on,” “remember how to move,” “Use these circuits to beep or talk,” “focus beam here.” When the bottom levels of the Hierarchy were all addressed the rest of the machine’s potential could be assigned to higher functions; “Ask them for ID,” “Research Descartes,” or “Root out infiltrators.”

Callah imagined herself working under this model. She realized that unlike a machine she had no idea how much potential she had in her to assign. How much would be too much? What if she ran out?

Callah’s eyes closed. Like the inner fluids mingling with her formerly elegant evening dress, she merged and splattered the new insight into her adept’s training. Focus. Let the mind handle the body and the body obey the mind. . .

One by one she let herself assume control of her wildly unstable vital signs. One by one she reviewed each moving part, assigned it potential, (or, as the old programmers used to call it, “scope”) and set it moving on its own. She reviewed each new rhythm for a few moments to make sure it would still keep pace before she moved to a new one. This way she created a bodybeat symphony; open/close, stretch/shrink, back/forth, over/under, one by one by one by one.

All this had taken about five minutes – after the white noise of adrenaline had worn off.

Callah moved on. The transient static of her basic rhythms became the backbeat bed for the more complex phrases. Soon she combined these and set sub-tasks to main-tasks and assigned potential became meta-potential that moved the greater phrases without using anything extra. It was in this way Callah was still moving, her incredible mind keeping every dying part of her in symphonic check. Step, gush, beat, move. . . step, gush, beat, move. . . step, gush, beat, move. . .

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