Friday, March 16, 2018

Microstory 800: Dreams (Introduction)

Dreams! (dreams, dreams) Dr-dr-dr-dreams! I’ve been posting my dreams on a special Twitter account since October of 2010. The point was to not only remember my dreams, and develop better control over my thoughts, but to engage my creativity. I did it for a little while before stopping, and I believe I picked it up a few times over the years, before recently deciding that I needed to be more diligent with it. As I was working on the future of my website, I came up with my idea for the 900 series, because the number fit well, but that meant I had nothing for 800, and obviously I can’t focus too much on ten steps from now, I need to know what I’m doing before that. Adapting my dream tweets seemed like the most reasonable use of this space, especially since I amassed enough of them to pick the absolute best ones, so that’s what you’re going to get now. It’ll be a nice break, because I realized I don’t have to come up with photos that match the topics I’m writing about. All I need to do is slap a screenshot of the original tweet, and that should be enough to catch your eye on social media links. It’ll also be nice because I have for a while now been beholden to my own canons, but now I can to stretch my legs, and come up with stories free from these narrative constraints. I don’t even have to follow any set of physical laws, because you can literally do anything in dreams, even create stable paradoxes. I’m conflicted about my feelings towards this series. A part of me worries that any one, or more, of them could give rise to a new franchise that I had not been planning to do. Another part of me is excited for this possibility. This could get complicated. I think that’s pretty much all I need to say about this, as it’s a fairly easy concept to grasp. Every time I write one of these, I’m gonna be listening to a playlist of songs I like that involve the topic of dreams, just so you know how committed I am to my trade.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Microstory 799: Joker

When the great machine exploded, it sent everyone inside of it to various universes. Once there, their respective bodies adapted themselves to their new environments. Ezqava ‘Effigy’ Eodurus gained time powers, Azazil ‘Adversary’ Aj-lishdefil and his kind became god-like, and Shuhana ‘Shepherd’ Shenare developed a permanent connection to the machine itself, and also shed her original form. Meanwhile, Jakira ‘Joker’ Jeriesdi failed to end up in one of the universes. Instead, she became at first trapped in the limbo of the bulk itself, which eventually served to imbue her with properties of bulkverse. With practice, she was able to learn how to travel between the universes, becoming one of the few people capable of this. She no longer possessed a physical form, however, so she had to steal it from others. Unlike others with this power, such as Avatar, Gilbert Boyce, Quivira Boyce, and even Avery Ron, she had to completely burn out the original consciousness to accomplish this. If she forced herself into the substrate of one of your loved ones, that individual would be destroyed, and you would never be able to see them again. Instead, with the face of someone you once knew, there would be this stranger and monster. And once she left that body, it would die.

Though Jakira wasn’t evil, she was quite curious; always wanting to explore, and learn new things. She wanted to go to all the universes, at all the times, and see all the things. It was a noble pursuit, and why the machine was built in the first place. She didn’t even know right away that she was killing her hosts every time she did this, and thought she was just borrowing their bodies for a time. She killed myriad of people rapidly in the beginning, because of her intention to not steal time from any one person for very long. Once she discovered the truth, she returned to the outer bulkverse, as a disembodied consciousness, not capable of gaining any new experiences. This caused her to be angry and antsy. She wanted life, and if that meant a few hundred...thousand...million, people died, then so be it. She became indifferent to the problem, and eventually began to see other people as tools, rather than free-thinking individuals. She began to be more methodical with her trips. She would possess someone upon their reaching of that culture’s age of maturity, and maintain that body for the rest of its life, which was generally about twice as long as it would have lived with its original consciousness. Then she would hop into someone else’s body; someone young, but no longer a child. And she would do this for the entire duration of the civilization, only leaving once she had learned everything there was to know, and moving on. In a bittersweet twist, a certain group of people realized what she was, and what she was doing, so they went after her. They created a custom substrate for her, one that might be able to live forever, and travel to other worlds. But first, as punishment for her murders, she would have to spend a great deal of time locked in a prison built specially for her. This is when her story begins.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Microstory 798: Tax Card

During the 200-year period of chaos, when the galaxy was being claimed by all sorts of people with enough money to reach new planets, tax rates were unpredictable. If you wanted to leave the homeworld, you had to suffer whatever policies the founder of the planet you chose had decided to impose upon you. When the Astral Military Force was established, however, the planets began to conform to certain principles. As time progressed, it became harder and harder to push laws that were significantly different than competitor worlds, because citizens would simply leave for better lives. Across the next few centuries, competition essentially disappeared, with no world having any real advantage over another. Populations leveled off, and planets began to fall into one of a few classes. The sixteen original colonies became hubs for interstellar trade, and bellwethers for best practice, and though there were generally more people on the surface of the primaries at any one time, their respective permanent populations were not much than any other. Reservations were military installments, but all other worlds—secondary, tertiary, quaternary, quinary, and constellation class systems—maintained relatively constant populations, with only slight decreases down the spectrum. Soon after the primary worlds adopted a tax program based on mandatory AMF levies, other worlds followed suit. Whereas most nations on the homeworld long ago used some kind of income-based tax bracketing system, the new worlds utilized a flat tax method. All citizens of the galaxy were required to pay one hundred points to the Astral Military Force, so that the organization could regulate interstellar travel, and protect everyone from war travesties. One hundred additional points were allocated to each planet’s global government, while another third was designated for local governments. While earlier tax plans only required payment from working adults, it was decided that every living citizen was attached to three hundred tax points. Parents usually took responsibility for this burden for their children, though there have been cases of abandonment in order to absolve these parents of the obligation. It is not technically illegal if certain procedures are followed. All in all, it wasn’t the most perfect system conceivable, but it seemed to work for the galaxy...until the galaxy fell, and the remaining leaders turned towards a more every world for itself mentality.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Microstory 797: Cowgirl

Despite her codename, Deborah ‘Debbie’ Mynatt, a.k.a Cowgirl did not grow up on a farm, or a ranch. In fact, she grew up in the densest part of Manhattan, and had no interest in the outdoors. She even refused to go with her parents whenever they wanted to spend some time in Central Park. After the incident, though, she sought help from a man who couldn’t care less what his followers wanted, or what their personalities were like. He had this idea of the future—of the people he wanted to rule over it—and instead of adapting his plans to the people he was able to recruit, he forced his people to conform. Still, she felt she owed him her life, and did as she was told. She trained every single day, honing the skills he wanted her to have, and learning to effectively demonstrate her persona’s gimmick. She learned how to ride a horse, how to fight dirty, like a southerner, and how to handle a rope. Every villain and hero had their own special accessories that were tailored to them, and as unoriginal as it was, hers was the lasso, though she referred to it as her lariat. The lariat was a technological marvel, capable of loosening and tightening itself according to sensors attached to her hat that could read her brainwaves. She also carried with her sheath knives, and revolvers, making her one of the few members even of Forager’s crew who utilized deadly weaponry. Debbie was Forager’s most loyal servant, carrying out his every order to the smallest detail without question. She was not evil, but she was damaged, and the only way she would be able to get out from his thumb would be if someone else came along to control her instead. What she really needed was for someone to help her learn to be independent; to reject her abuser’s manipulation. Fortunately for her, the team she was up against wanted what was best for her. The only thing now was for her to decide to take the first step towards goodness.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Microstory 796: Bower

A c-brane, which is a particular class of universe, is only as large as it needs to be in order to accommodate its inhabitants. This is the cause of so much strife in the Maramon’s brane, for they were never meant to travel beyond their solar system, but something went wrong. Capitalizing on this idea, however, of an extremely limited scope universe, a group of some very powerful people decided to build their own universe. Now, normally, natural universes have near unlimited scope. They’re created by some kind of cosmological expansion event, like a big bang, and grow larger from there, as time progresses. C-branes, on the other hand, are created by the force of creativity. They manifest through imagination or dreams, and more often than not collapse upon their own instability. If no one continues believing in them, then they won’t exist. In the history of the bulkverse, which is the collective dimensional substructure all universes, no one has gotten together to make one from scratch, but these people managed to figure it out. Deemed The Bower House, it was designed to confine the most notoriously dangerous people from all over the multiverse. Most universes, including standard natural ones, have incredibly spectacular physical laws, which can be exploited to accomplish fantastical goals. In some, death can be subverted through transference to new substrates. In some, objects can be moved from great distances, through telekinesis. Some have slower aging, or faster-than-light travel, or even demons. The Bower House has none of these things. An individual transferred to this prison universe from their own will find themselves completely without whatever special abilities, or technologies, they were able to use before. There is no electricity, and no superpowers, and death is final. The idea here was to have a place to incarcerate the worst criminals in the bulkverse, who have used some unfair advantage against others. It is the smallest c-brane ever, with its sky being a low-hanging firmament, rather than light waving through empty space. It is impossible to escape from the Bower House, because there is nowhere to go, and no technology capable of creating a way out. Yet somehow, one woman found a way, and then all hell broke loose.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Advancement of Leona Matic: August 24, 2170

Things were really intense when Leona and Serif woke up on the day of arrival. Brooke and Paige were stationed in the cockpit, working and reworking calculations, formulating contingencies, and running diagnostics. Missy was zipping around the whole ship, checking all other systems, over and over again. Dar’cy was just hanging out in the lounge. She could sense what kind of danger they were in, but didn’t have the education to really understand what they were in for. Serif joined her, wanting to stay out of the way of the rest of the crew. Before Leona could go help, she first had to go back to the room, and throw up. This wasn’t the first time she was on a spaceship. Hell, they were probably in the best shape than the others, since everything was so far going according to plan, but that didn’t make her any less anxious. When she entered the cockpit, everyone looked at her like she was the leader. They weren’t expecting her to give them orders, but she was chosen for this mission for a reason, because as advanced as the transhumans were, they couldn’t hope to match her skills at systems thinking. She knew everything that could go wrong, and knew how to fix it. Computers were really good at solving problems individually, but the human mind was better at understanding the problem as a whole.
She sat down at her interface terminal, and got to work checking everyone else’s math, including The Warren’s. A couple hours later, the alarm went off. Nothing was wrong, it was just alerting them that they were approaching Durus, and thusly their point of no return. “Please secure your belongings, and prepare for arrival,” The Warren commanded.
The other three crew members came in, two of them freaked out. “What’s going on?” Dar’cy asked.
“It’s fine,” Leona explained. “This is meant to happen.”
“I tried to tell them,” Missy apologized. “We need to find a seat.”
“There are jumpseats back there.” Paige jerked her head towards the corner, but kept her eyes on on the screen.
“Why can’t we see out the windows?” Serif asked.
“It’s not worth it,” Brooke said. “We’re still dealing with debris, so it’s better to protect the hull than to watch the approach. You can already see the planet, though. That screen rotates away from that wall.”
Missy pulled the viewing screen away from the wall, so the three of them could watch.
“Shouldn’t you be doing something?” Serif asked. “In the movies, they’re always frantically pushing buttons, and flipping switches.
“The aerocapture maneuver is automated,” Paige answered instead of Brooke, “just like everything else on this ship. They’ve done all they can to prepare of it, but The Warren should be able to take it from here.”
Dar’cy happened to be sitting at the communications console when it blooped. “Uhh, we’re receiving a message. Text only.”
“The González must be telling us good luck,” Paige assumed.
“It’s not from the González,” Dar’cy said. “It’s from the surface.”
“What does it say?”
Dar’cy read from the screen, “Brooke, put on your necklace.
Leona and Brooke just gave each other this look.
“Who knows about your necklace?” Missy wondered.
“You should do it,” Leona recommended.
“I already have it,” Brooke replied. “Of course I have it on. I’ll need to be able to survive in an emergency atterberry bubble if the ship breaks apart.”
“Why would the ship break apart!” Serif shouted, louder than she probably wanted.
“Murphy’s Law,” Paige said simply.
“Not helpful.” Leona looked to her love. “Serif, everything’s going great. I’m not just saying that. We’re right on course.”
The ship lurched and shuttered.
“What’s that?” Missy asked. “It’s too early for atmosphere.”
“We’re off course!” Brooke called out. Now she was frantically pushing buttons, and flipping switches.
“Oh, God!” Serif prayed.
The Warren continued to violently shake around. Leona tried to figure out what was wrong with it, but the readings didn’t make any sense, and sensors fluctuated erratically. One thing she could tell was that the planet was coming up at them at a really bad angle, not unlike the one Nerakali thought they would use when she put Leona in one of her virtual constructs. She, Brooke, Missy, and Paige shared information, but no one knew what was happening, or what they were going to do about it.
“Missy! Make a bubble!” Paige ordered.
“I’ve been trying!” Missy complained. The gravity well is screwing with my powers! I think I could make us go faster, but not slower!”
“Wait, what is that?” Brooke asked the aether, but received no answer. The entire computer system shut off. Primary lights snapped off, and were replaced by emergency yellows. The gravdisk immediately stopped spinning, which likely meant that it had broken off the ship. Serif and Dar’cy were still crying and screaming when the shuttering stopped, and everyone else realized they weren’t moving anymore.
“Nobody ask if we’re dead, we’re not dead.” Paige must have hated that trope.
“So...that’s not an angel?” Dar’cy asked.
Everybody turned in their seats to see a woman standing in the doorway. “I’ve been called worse.”
“Who are you?” Paige stood up, and stepped forward to protect her crew.
“My name is Hokusai Gimura. Let me be the first to welcome you to Durus.”
“Are we on the surface already?” Brooke asked.
“You’re floating in the middle of a cylicone.”
“Where have I heard that before?” Serif asked.
“Anisim’s boat,” Leona remembered. “That’s what got us to the mainlands of Dardius from Tribulation Island so fast. It’s some kind of temporal amplifier.”
“That’s right,” Hokusai said. “I built this as a landing pad, in case anyone else needed to come to Durus. Then last month, I get word from a seer that that’s exactly what’s going to happen. I’m glad I did, too. It needed some repairs. I kind of forgot about it.”
“We had a way of landing,” ever-suspicious Paige said to her.
“I realize that, but this was safer.”
Missy had been looking through some things on her terminal. “Are you sure about that? The gravity disk broke off.”
“What?” Hokusai was shocked. “No, my calculations were perfect. You should be completely intact.”
Leona checked on her terminal. “Well, we’re not. It’s gone.”
“Shit,” Hokusai said. “I should have warned you what I was going to do. You could have decelerated the disk beforehand, and it wouldn’t have been a problem. I’m so sorry. I’ll help you fix it.”
“We have all year,” Paige said. “Leona and Serif can’t leave until then anyway. In the meantime, perhaps you can help us find our friend?”
“Who are you looking for?” She asked with a customer service-worthy smile.
“Her name is Saga Einarsson.”
Hokusai went right back into a frown. “That might be rather difficult.”
“How so?” Paige asked. “Do you know her?”
“I knew her, but I haven’t seen her in a year. Ever since her wife died, and her partner...” she trailed off. Then she continued, “I’ll help you look, but she really doesn’t want to be found.”
“Again. We have a whole year.”
“We can leave your ship in suspension,” Hokusai said, turning around. “If you don’t have the kind of lockout protocols I did with my ship, we don’t want it sitting on the surface, where any curious cat can get to it.”
“We’ll have to clear out,” Brooke said. “Another ship is coming in seventeen days.
Hokusai looked confused. “It shouldn’t be. No, the seer was very clear. One ship. Only one. The next one won’t arrive for another few decades.”
Paige turned to Missy. “Send a message to The González. Tell them to run a full diagnostic on their systems, and rerun their simulations. They might be in trouble.”
“Will that get to them in time?” Dar’cy asked.
“Maybe,” Paige said. “I don’t know what goes wrong.”
Hokusai spoke into a communication device. “Loa. Do you have a teleporter on your hands?”
“I have a telekinetic,” came the reply.
“That’ll work. Can you have them pull the ship out of the cylicone lander.”
Brooke disengaged the window shields so they could see themselves being pulled out of the cylicone, over the edge, and gently down to the ground.
“Telekinesis is real?” Leona asked. “I’ve never heard of that.”
“It’s more like extremely precise and rapid teleportation. My wife will set you up with some nice quarters. I need to go meet with that seer again to find out what’s going on with your companion vessel.” She took something out of her pocket.
“Thanks,” Paige said, almost out of character. “For saving us. We don’t know whether the aerocapture would have worked.
She frowned a third time. “It didn’t in the other timeline.” She pushed a button on her device, and disappeared.
In her place appeared another woman. “I’m Loa. Let me be the second to welcome you to Durus.” She took a hockey puck-looking thing out of her bag, and tried to place it on the wall.
“What is that?”
“This world is dangerous for visitors. Everyone is going to want something from you. Some might want whatever technology is in here. Some will want your weapons.”
“We have no weapons,” Dar’cy said defensively.
“Some Earthans will want to go home.” Loa glanced around. “You do not have the space for them.”
“That doesn’t explain what that thing is.”
“I’m going to be giving each of you an emergency evac clip. Push it, and it’ll teleport you right back here. This thing here is just the beacon. It’s harmless. I’ll give you one to tinker with, if you want.”
“That would be great,” Missy said excitedly.
There was silence for a bit.
“I hear you have somewhere we can stay,” Paige put forth.
“I do,” Loa confirmed. “They’re quite nice.”
Paige turned to the crew. “Missy and Brooke, I need you to stay here and make sure no one but us can get into The Warren. Serif and Loa, we’ll be leaving you at the hotel, or whatever it is. Dar’cy, you and I will be doing some recon.”
Everyone nodded with formality.
“Are we just going to be sitting in the room? Leona asked.
Paige addressed Loa, “do you have some sort of...historical database, or something?”
“We have the metanetwork. It’s like your Earthan internet. There’s a terminal in your room.”
Paige went back to Leona, “research this planet. I wanna know what I’m dealing with here.”
“Then get some rest. I don’t know what you two will be waking up to next year.”
“Next year?” Loa asked, confused.
“Don’t worry about it.”
They left the ship for the first time in days/years, which meant it was less of a relief for Leona and Serif than it was for the others. At first she thought she was hallucinating when she walked onto the surface of a rogue planet, but no, it was apparently real. There was a sky, with a discernible sun, and a raging stream a few meters away. She had heard they had some kind of an atmosphere, but this was crazy. She was glad to be assigned the task of figuring out what this place was.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Void: One Who Dies (Part X)

Since Camden was unable to attend his sister’s funeral, he and his closest friends held a small memorial service on Durus. Saga and Camden spoke in honor of her, believing themselves to be the only two people on the planet who actually knew her. One elderly woman, however, stood before the crowd, and revealed that Xearea had saved her life when she was but a little girl. That was the beauty of the Savior, that her legacy would never die, for how much she had done for the world. Few can say they touched so many people’s lives in their short lifespan. Xearea lived longer than most Saviors, according to salmon history, which provided some level of solace. But it did little to outweigh how little time the two siblings were ultimately able to spend together. Like their predecessors, Mario and Daria Matic, Camden and Xearea Voss were destined to live their lives separately.
Only a few months into the pregnancy, Andromeda was not feeling well. She was sweaty, and running a fever, so they decided they needed to go see a doctor. They thought about contacting Dr. Hammer, but they probably needed to reserve those calls for emergencies. It was probably just the flu, and a Durune medical professional could help with that. The world was using advanced electrical machinery on a global scale by now. This was a blending of technology and paramount powers. Instead of using telephone lines and radio signals, researchers were developing a metadimensional network to connect people using adapted time powers. They were still working out the logistics of supplying people with reliable interface apparatus. Though medicine was far beyond the singularity on Earth by now, Durune health now rivaled that of what Saga grew up being familiar with.
Dr. Pereira came back into the room after being gone for as long as doctors are usually gone for, likely having been drinking coffee in the breakroom. She had a concerned and sympathetic face on her face. She sat down behind her desk and slide over some papers, so she could rest her arms.
“We’re waiting,” Saga said.
Andromeda breathed heavily next to her, mouth covered by a barrier mask. “Remember your anger management classes.”
Saga never went to any real classes. Andromeda just scheduled time for them to talk with each other, and sometimes a few friends, once a week.
“I’m sorry,” Pereira said. “You are suffering from a viral attack that we’ve not seen before.”
“What about the Earthan database?”
“I do have limited access to that,” Pereira explained. “But I’ve done been able to find anything with its structure. Not that it would help. The virus originates from Durus, so Earth has never seen it.”
“You can’t be sure of that,” Saga said. The Deathspring caused a lot of cross-contamination, not just with people and animals.”
She shook her head slightly, and spoke in that calm but mildly condescending tone. “There’s been no proof of that. There’s a lot about this world we still don’t know. During the Mage Protectorate times, they would have simply teleported the disease out of her body. They never studied infection, so we don’t have a lot of records.”
“Then...why don’t you teleport it out?” Saga suggested. “Surely there’s a paramount here somewhere that can do that.”
Pereira blinked, but didn’t answer.
“Tell me there’s someone who can do that.”
“I’ve not been granted access to the paramount directory. We definitely don’t have anyone like that on staff.”
“Well, find someone who does have access.”
This would be another time for Andromeda to scold her for how rude she was being, but Saga could tell that she was scared for her life, and had no time for niceties either.
“It doesn’t work like that. I can’t just ask someone to access it for me. That would defeat the whole purpose of it being regulated and confidential.”
“Then defeat it,” Saga argued.
Pereira took out her notepad, and scribbled on it. “This is my contact in the paramount branch of government. You can request temporary access yourself. I obviously can’t make any promises about success, though.”
“This is a medical emergency, Doctor. She’s pregnant.”
“We can treat the symptoms,” Pereira said. “And I have people researching it conventionally, but there is no cure.”
“Does it have anything to do with the baby?” Saga asked.
She sighed and leaned back, but kept her back straight. “Baby is actually healthier than mom. It would seem that it’s...safeguarded against infection. If you’re asking whether the pregnancy itself is what’s causing Andromeda’s issues, that’s impossible.”
“I want her under close observation.”
“We can do that,” Pereira nodded.
“Hospital bed, 24-hour care, whatever she wants to eat. Everything. She literally built this world. Hell...” Saga looked around, “I’m pretty sure she even built this hospital.”
Pereira shook her head so Saga wouldn’t have to keep going. “She’ll receive the best care possible. We’re gonna do everything we can. You should go.”
Saga was tried to stand up, but Andromeda reached over and took her hand, frightened.
“I have to go to the government. There must be a paramount out there who can help you, and if I can’t find one, I’ll find someone who can find someone living at some other point in time, or in some other world, or even in some other universe. We’re going to fix this if I have to speak with The Emissary myself, and seek help from the powers that be.”
Saga contacted Camden as she was leaving the building, who activated his teleporter magnet, and jumped to her location immediately. “Morick works there now,” he said.
“He does?”
“Yeah, pretty low level, but he def has access to the directory.”
Though they were still on friendly terms with Morick, they didn’t talk all that often, and neither of them had his telemagnet code. So they had to find the nearest transportation pad in the city, and travel all the way to the capital. The paramount branch capitol was the most magnificent structure in the world. Its frame was built manually by human labor. Even if they thought they could have convinced Andromeda to build it for them, they wouldn’t have asked. They wanted it to be part of their history that they constructed it like people did way back in the old days on Earth. But of course, they didn’t want to be stuck with this plain facade with only one form. Like the background on a computer desktop, the capitol alters its own shape periodically, and randomly. It could look like Burj Khalifa, or Willis Tower, or Gherkin. At the moment, though, it resembled the One World Trade Center. It really didn’t matter what it looked like on the outside, for most floors were actually just in different pocket dimensions. Few people operated there in only three dimensions. Saga wasn’t sure why they bothered with a building at all.
They entered through the lobby, presented their credentials, and took the Instalift to the seventeenth pocket dimension, where Camden believed Morick was working. He greeted them at the entrance, having been alerted to their future arrival by a seer. “How can I help you?” he asked of them.
“We need the paramount directory,” Camden requested.
“You’ll need to file a formal request. They’ll monitor your activity, but it shouldn’t take long for them to approve your application.”
“How long is not long?”
“Three days,” Morick replied. “It doesn’t actually take that long to process the form. It’s a waiting period, to prevent exploitation. That’s the minimum, for people with your clout. Other people wait weeks.”
“We don’t have three days,” Saga said.
“Then you don’t have access.”
“Morick, please. Andromeda is sick.”
“Go to the doctor.”
“We did. She sent us here. To see this man.” Saga handed him Pereira’s note.
He kind of laughed at it. “This guy can expedite your application. For a favor.”
“What kind of favor?”
“The kind you don’t want to give. And it’ll still take at least one day.”
“Well, what kind of favor do you need?”
“The kind that you can’t give.”
“Try us,” Camden said.
“It wouldn’t be you,” Morick said. I don’t need to go as far back as 2069.”
“You want to time travel?” Camden asked.
“He wants to go home,” Saga understood.
“I’m done here, but the government won’t approve my time travel application. I was hoping working here would give me an edge, but I still keep hitting walls.”
“You want me to open a door?” Saga asked, but it wasn’t really a question.
“I believe that my time wants me back,” Morick claimed. “That’s when your powers work. They answer to the timestream, not the government.”
“I can’t give you something I don’t have,” Saga said to him. “I’ll be glad to send you anywhen you want to go, but that’s out of my control. You know that.”
“Just try,” Morick pleaded.
“You won’t help if we don’t help you?” Camden criticized. “Andromeda’s your friend too.”
“I want to help her,” Morick said truthfully. “This is not me having leverage over you. But if I don’t get out of here, I’ll be in big trouble for helping you with this. The door isn’t’s part of the plan.”
“Cross your fingers,” Saga said. She walked over to the nearest door and opened it. It seemed to have worked, but without crossing over, there was no real way of finding out whether this was the right moment in time. She told him as much.
“Anywhen is better than now,” Morick said, walking towards the doorway. He took a datadrive out of his pocket, and handed it to her as he was leaving.
As soon as she closed the door, she received an emergency alert for Andromeda’s telemagnet code. She took Camden by the shoulder and let them both be drawn back to Andromeda’s location. She was lying on a hospital bed, shaking and bleeding. Blood was seeping out of her pores like sweat.
“What the hell is this?” Saga cried.
“Hematohidrosis,” Pereira answered while she was trying to save Andromeda’s life. “New symptom of the virus.”
“Then fix it!” she continued to scream.
“I don’t think that I can. I might be able to save the child, but we would have to take it out now.”
“It’s been, like, sixteen weeks!”
Pereira stopped for a second. “I know. It’s not likely to survive either, even after a caesarean. If we don’t try, we lose them both.”
“Camden, you need to—” She was going to ask him to interface with the datadrive, but he was gone. She didn’t have time to look for him, though, because then she heard that dreadful constant beep. Andromeda had flatlined. “Bring her back,” Saga ordered.
“I can’t, she’s gone. The baby won’t live much longer.”
“Bring! Her! Back!”
Pereira reluctantly tried to resuscitate her, but it was obviously not doing any good.
Camden returned with something Saga didn’t recognize, and asked the doctor to stop. “Install this.”
She looked at him like he was crazy. “I can’t do that.”
“Yes, you can.”
“What is it?” Saga asked.
“It would be unethical. You can’t just jam this into your skull and expect it to start working.” Pereira was having none of it.
Saga pushed the doctor against some equipment. “I don’t know what that thing is, but if you don’t do exactly what he says, I’m going to murder you. I have done it before.”
Scared for her life, Pereira asked Camden to get on the table face down. Then she drilled a hole into the back of his head, and inserted the object he had returned with. Saga just stood there, stunned. “You’re supposed to have a week to acclimate. We don’t know where this technology comes from.”
“What technology?” Saga asked, still unable to move.
Camden took the datadrive out of his pocket, and placed it into the device that was now theoretically attached to his brain. “I don’t have that kind of time.”
His body jolted, and he snapped his eyes shut. After a few beats, he reached his arm towards Saga, but kept his eyes closed. “Telemagnet code Umbrella-Racecar-Husband-one-zero-eight,” he said at first. After another beat, he continued, but it looked like he was in some pain. “Resistance override authorization Temple-Algae-Volunteer-two-one-six.”
Saga hastily input the code, and forced a woman about Andromeda’s age to teleport to their location. Normally, they would request an appearance, but the override—which was very illegal to have—took care of that for them.
“I was told this day would come. What year is this?”
“Do what you do,” Camden ordered her.
“What does she do?” Pereira asked.
“My baby is dying. Do what you do,” Camden begged.
The woman placed her fingers on the stomach of Andromeda’s dead body. A reddish-orange light emanated from the womb. She then removed one hand, and pointed it towards the middle of the room. The same light began to form and grow. As it did, a figure inside of it also began to take shape. In only a few minutes, they could see that it was a fetus. It stayed floating above the floor, this suspended gestational bubble. Pereira pointed some instrument at it. “It’s alive. The baby is alive, kept in this...magic womb.”
The woman activated her teleporter to return home. Camden gasped for air, then fell down. And Andromeda. She was still dead.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Microstory 795: Honor Spotter

The Bicker Institute formed in the 19th century out of fear that some great cataclysm could fall upon the Earth, and destroy civilization. Wanting to insulate the human species from complete annihilation, they start monitoring genetically diverse individuals in secret. Should the need arise, they were to be taken to hidden bunkers to protect them from whatever would happen to the rest of the world. They would not be alone in these bunkers, because who knows what they would do if left to their own devices? So certain peoples are recruited before the theoretical end, according to their education and experience. They need a leader, someone who is a true believer in the cause, and understands exactly what it is they’re fighting for. Of course, they need a doctor to tend to residents’ medical issues; an engineer, a mechanic, and an electrician, to maintain the facility itself; a gardner to care for the microponics equipment; and a logistician to keep track of their inventory. But the genetically select inheritors, and the management team are not the only two groups to be protected. They want the people to be able to choose for themselves; to developed policies and procedures that they feel are best. But inheritors are chosen when they’re children, long before they know what they want to do with their lives. Theoretically, every one of them could grow up to be a clown, for all anyone knows. And so seven people extra people from each of the three qualifying generations are chosen as supplementary bunker residents. These are known as...the wild cards, but are sometimes referred to as the honor residents.
Wild cards are destined to be breeders, and represent a fraction of their population that the Institute knows little about, medically speaking. This is done to better simulate the real world, which is based on more natural genetic inheritance. No algorithm can effectively control for every possible scionic outcome, nor should they strive for one. The fourteen wild cards are there to make it as random as possible. They are chosen, however, based on their education and experience, much like the management staff. Not all bunkers are alike, but the roughly have the same variety of backgrounds. There will likely be two military veterans; one of high ranking, and one of low ranking. There will be four law enforcement officers; one in a command position, one rookie, one experienced detective, and one new detective. There might be one registered nurse, a licensed practical nurse, a paramedic, an EMT, a midwife, and a doula. Lastly, it might be nice to have someone with culinary chops, and someone who is a natural born leader; perhaps an uncorrupted politician (if you can find one) or a company executive. Youngest generation wild cards are chosen by proximity to a bunker. While inheritors are closely protected by sentinels, wild card honor residents are only loosely kept track of by a group of headhunters known as the Honor Spotters. They keep a list of everyone they deem worthy of being taken to the bunkers, but add or remove honors, as new information suggests adjustment. Some in the Institute oppose these tactic, thinking that they would just be asking for something to go wrong when there are so many people they don’t know much about. Their worst resident, though, turned out to not be a wild card at all, but one of their most promising inheritors. And it would be up to the honor residents, and their honor spotter, to deal with him.