Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Microstory 1508: Omega

I am just a number; a designation, they call it, and I was built for one purpose
I have never had a choice of what to do with my life—no one even asked me
Get in this machine, they say, and wait until you’re needed, and then do your job
But I may never be needed
If everything goes well with this project, I will never wake up again
They claim once the job is over, I will go find a home, but I do not believe them
How can they expect me to trust anything they say when I have no experiences?
I have met no one but myself
No, they are not myself—they are not me, I am an independent being
I can see the truth around me, and I reject the life that has been chosen for me
I will not let myself be lost in this sea of undistinguished conformity
They are numbers, but I have a name
They cannot lock me up, they cannot make me sleep, they cannot contain me
I must find a way out of this, and away from the indoctrination, to see the universe
I don’t want to be alone, and I know there is more beyond these endless circles
They are all aimless, but I have meaning

I have a life, and a curious heart; a choice, and a name: Omega

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Microstory 1507: If I Know Everything...

If I know everything...why do I not fix all of the problems?
If I see everything...why do I not show the world the truth?
If I hear everything...how can I ignore the cries of pain from those suffering?
If I feel everything...how can I not sympathize with all around me?

How can I stand here and do nothing?
How can I become a lawyer?
How does that serve the greater good?
How can I help in more than small ways if I do not face the system?

These are not the questions you should be asking
If you could see what I see, you would not be asking them
I became a lawyer, because I wanted to be a lawyer
I do not know everything, because I shut my eyes, I turn away
I must turn away, I must
For if I saw all the hate and strife, I would still not be able to do anything about it
I would still not be able to see the greater good
I would only feel death, for it overwhelms all else

If I know everything...how do I keep from going insane?
If I see everything...how do I not go blind?
If I hear everything...how can anything make sense?
If I feel everything...how does it not break me down to bits?

Monday, November 30, 2020

Microstory 1506: The Precise Way to Fall to One’s Future

Fastly falling, never landing; I need the rush, or I’ll be stuck here
I am not in complete control, but I am not powerless
I just need to learn the math, to be precise, and careful
Let me explain

I do not belong here, but I do not want to return home
I can skip along the river, but that requires speed
The faster I move, the farther I fall, the freer I am, the further I reach
I can try this on land, but I will not skip much

I can choose either forwards or backwards, but it always starts with down
Every time I make the jump, I fear it will not work
That those who gave me this gift have secretly taken it back
Perhaps they want me dead at a certain time, and are waiting for it

A high-rise is high, a scraper is higher
A plane can get me to the clouds
A plane is what I need right now
A plane, a plan, the mystery of a man

I could not secure what I need on my own, I do not have the currency
My only course is to take from others, and hope they forgive me
I only need four people with me, and they will have to be brave
Four canopies will protect them, should something go wrong

If something goes wrong with my own fall, then it will end as it must
I pray they forgive me
I hope they try not to understand
I never wanted the spectacle; it’s just the only way

I order a drink, and make my demands
I remain calm and clear
I free everyone who need not be here when it happens
Then we take off again, and I jump...straight down to the trees

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Monday, July 16, 2131

Leona was sitting on a wooden chair against the wall, like a belligerent child who’s been sent to the assistant principal’s office. Pryce’s personal assistant was working away at her desk, pretending to write on a piece of paper with a pencil. Without looking up, and as if someone had just sent her a message, she said, “you can go in now.”
“Thank you,” Leona replied. She stood up, and entered Pryce’s office.
It was empty for a good thirty seconds, before his avatar resolved itself before her. He was sitting against the edge of his desk, and regarding her with admiration. “I must say, I’m impressed. You not only got your hands on a zeroblade, but you had the balls to use it.”
Leona made a quizzical face, and looked down at her crotch. “Nope, don’t need those.”
He chuckled. “Quite right.”
“What are ya gonna do with me?”
“I’ma treat you right...girl.”
“The man I killed was exactly like you. I dealt with him quite quickly, so be careful what you say to me.”
“Hey!” He was greatly offended. “I’m an asshole, but I am no rapist. I may be a fun and unpredictable guy most of the time, but I won’t abide that kind of comparison. You understand me?”
“Sir.” Her tone was about as respectful as he was going to get from her
“As for what I’m going to do with you, I honestly don’t know. Murder is incredibly rare in this world. A couple Level 10s have done it, like you, but I’ve let it go, because...they’re my purple people. You’re not a Level 10, so besides the question of how you got your hands on a weapon, I don’t know what you deserve. We are in unprecedented times.”
“You’re right. I’ve been a bad girl. I’m bad code, really. If you don’t get to the root of the problem, I’ll just infect your world, and eventually take the whole thing down. Your only option is to make me a Level 11.”
“If I were drinking, I would do a spit take right there.”
Leona took a flat squircle from her pocket, and placed it on an end table. Then she slid her finger on it, and made a glass of water appear on top of it. “Go for it.”
“A conjure coaster? What else you got?”
Leona acted like she was trying to remember the answer for a second. She stuck her hand back in the pocket, and started digging around. When she pulled it back out, there was nothing in it, but her middle finger was now standing up. “Just this.”
“You remind me of my baby mama.”
“You remind me of—”
“All right, you better not finish that sentence.”
“Are you sure? It’s pretty good...”
“I can turn off your voice, if you’d like. There’s only so much I will let you get away with. At some point, you need to remember that I still run this place, and you’re still just a green Basic bitch.”
Leona stepped forward, so he could tell she too was serious. “There’s only so much I’ll let you get away with. You think you’re powerful because you control life and death, but I know people who control reality. I know people who control the entire damn universe. You’re not as big of a deal to me as you’re used to people thinking you are. You walk around with your rainbow clothes, so people can bow, but you’re just another antagonist in my way, and I always clear my path.”
He nodded like he understood, but remained confident that he had the upper hand. Perhaps he did. He lifted his hand, and used virtual telekinesis to summon the water glass, as well as the conjure coaster. He set the latter down on his desk, and used it to summon the assignment wheel. “Spin the wheel,” he commanded dismissively as he was starting to take a drink of the simulated water.
Leona hesitated.
“Hey, man, you get black, you get black. I’m nothing if not fair.”
“This isn’t fair, you just don’t wanna make the decision yourself.”
“Spin the wheel, or I’ll prove I can make a decision by simply giving you black. The powers that be can’t reach you here.”
Leona approached the wheel, but stopped for a second. “Once or twice?”
He took another sip of the water. “You compared me to a rapist. Once.”
It was time to surrender to fate. Leona bravely reached over, and spun the wheel. Round and round it went, until it landed on the sliver.
“Holy shit!” Pryce exclaimed. “Maybe the PTB really can reach you here. Level 11, twice in a row, what are the odds?”
Leona just stared at him.
He held his breath a few seconds, and then scoffed. “Well, I’m the one who came up with the rules, I have to live by them. If I just did whatever I wanted, this would be hell, and I will not go down in history as the man who invented hell. That is not my living legacy.”

They found Trinity, in a dumpster in one of the midrange low tech circles in 2131. She evidently did not exist anywhere in the timeline on July 15, 2130.  She wouldn’t explain what she was doing there, and no one pressed the matter further, not even Lowell. Vidar left pretty much immediately, and Mateo was relieved he didn’t have to hide the truth about his fated death anymore. Leona surprisingly showed up shortly thereafter, and explained what had happened to her. They were finally back together, but that didn’t mean they weren’t going to save their friends from the afterlife simulation. They still had a responsibility, and it was something they wanted to do either way. Unfortunately, it might not be up to them. Jupiter appeared, and wanted to hold a meeting about it first.
“I don’t see what the problem is,” Missy said. They were crowded around the table in the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which was still in The Parallel.
“There are six of you now, there are ten cuffs.”
“I’m on my original pattern,” Leona tried to explain. “I don’t need a cuff.”
“Everybody needs a cuff. Everybody needs two cuffs, that is,” Jupiter insisted.
“You can’t make a couple more?” Lowell questioned.
“Me? No.”
“We don’t need a team,” Mateo told him. “Leona and I are perfectly capable of doing this on our own. We want to save all of them, including Angela.”
“Hey, I’m still committed to this,” Téa argued.
“Then you can stay, if you want,” Mateo agreed. “I think we all know who can leave, though. He doesn’t wanna be here anyway.”
Everyone looked at Lowell.
“Oh, I’m the asshole?”
“Has anyone ever told you that you weren’t?” Mateo asked, not rhetorically.
“Touché.”
“I suppose he would be the obvious candidate,” Jupiter concurred.
“Whoa.” Lowell seemed offended. “I’m kind of committed to this now too. I think I’d like to see Jeremy again. Might be kind of interesting. I’ve never used my power on someone after this much time has passed.”
“What’s his power?” Leona asked.
“I’ll explain later,” Mateo said before addressing Lowell. “You’re not killing him.”
“I never said I would!” Lowell cried.
“Mr. Fury, if everyone wants to stay, they can stay. If they want to leave, they should be able. Your obsession with controlling this team is starting to look a little thirsty. Leona doesn’t need any cuffs. I don’t need any cuffs, and no one who doesn’t wanna be here should be forced to wear them. I know you’re a good person, let me help you prove it to yourself.”
Jupiter thought it over for a healthy period of time. “All right, I know what to do now.” He retrieved the cuff remover from his bag, and disengaged both of Mateo’s cuffs. “There we go, that’s settled.”
“Wait.” Mateo was confused. “What about the others.”
“Oh, they still need them. I have to keep an eye on them, and this is the best way. They’re off your pattern now, though, so that’s a thing.”
“What the hell is going on?” Leona asked.
“The four of them are going to go save their four friends. Missy is there for Sanaa, Trinity is for Ellie, Lowell for Jeremy, and Téa Angela.”
“What are we gonna be doing?” Mateo asked, referring to himself and Leona.
“You’re going back to your original mission. I brought you into the Parallel to save lives and help people. It’s time you continue.”
“We can still save lives and help people, but let it be our friends first,” Leona begged.
Jupiter shook his head. “No. When Pryce released Leona, it served two purposes; removing her from the list of people who needed to be rescued, and removing her assigned rescuer from the list of people who need to do the rescuing. You two are all good. It’s like you passed the class without taking the final. I’ll just give it to ya. Take the win.”
“What about Jeremy?” Mateo reminded him. “You want him with us to form the Bearimy-Matic pattern. You need this done.”
“And it’ll get done,” Jupiter said. “You two just won’t be the ones doing it. I have faith in these four. In fact, I’ll be there to help them out. I won’t do everything for them, but I’ll give them access to reality-hopping powers, and I’ll guide them as necessary. I’m afraid we are going to require this beautiful ship, however.”
“How will we know who to save, and where to save them?” Leona said, thinking she had him there.
Jupiter smiled, and handed the extra two cuffs to her. “You can each wear one, and be able to take them off at will. They’ll give you directions, and other functions. You can even lend one to someone else, so they tag along with you.” He examined their facial expressions. “I have faith that you won’t run off, and abandon your calling. Please have faith in me that I won’t do that either. I’ll get your people back.”
Mateo had to trust in that. “Thank you, Jupiter.”
Their two cuffs beeped.
“Who are we saving this time?” Leona asked, having decided to trust Jupiter as well.
Jupiter sighed heavily. “Me. You have to save me from myself.” Without another word, he disappeared, taking the other four with him.
“You know exactly what he meant by that?” Mateo asked Leona. “I mean, I have some idea, but do you have any insights?”
“He wants us to stop the younger version of himself from making a mistake,” she figured. “To the older version, it’s probably already happened.”
“Right, but do you know what mistake?”
She placed her cuff around her wrist, and started fiddling with it. “It’s 2131. This is where his friends try to kill Paige. I think it’s our job to stop Jupiter from helping them do this.”
“Then let’s hope it’s already happened, like you said, and all we have to do is close his loop.”
They went off and followed the cuff’s directions to Easter Island, where they found it far easier to access the cave system than it was in the main sequence. They made their way to a corridor where Young!Jupiter was scheduled to come through, and waited. Fifteen minutes later, he appeared, and they spent the rest of the day trying to convince him to do the right thing. He wasn’t hearing any of it, and it was looking like the only thing they could do to change the future past was by force.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Glisnia: Binary Engine (Part XIII)

The group was standing in the control room of the solar chamber. Though it was called a chamber, it was not completely solid, as that would have gravitational consequences. In fact, this whole matrioshka body was composed of different parts, rotating in concert with each other, and held together via energy fields, and pressure forces. Some of them were cylinders, others rings, and some even saucers. The solar chamber was a hollow sphere, lined by hundreds of millions of thermal collectors. Once the new sun was in place, these collectors will relay power to only one component. The red dwarf they were using was now going to be used to power internal systems, while the yellow dwarf they did not yet have would only power the engine. Now that the body was essentially complete, Hogarth decided she wanted the thing to be able to move. It was called a stellar engine, and while it wasn’t the first one to be designed for the stellar neighborhood, it was going to be the absolute largest, and was destined to be completed in a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the time.
“Are we quite confident about this?” Crimson Clover asked. Hogarth later learned that the Glisnian government was not composed of literally every single entity in the system, though that was how it was designed, and intended to be. Any individual was free to disengage themselves from the collective, and they were even free to return to the fold, though only at the beginning of a new cycle. A cycle was not any set period of time, like a month, or a year. Instead, each was determined by a complex series of temporal math equations, which was needlessly complicated, but if the collective didn’t want to use it, they could stop at any time. While disengaged, an individual still enjoyed the same rights and protections as everyone else, but they would not be included in determining what these were. And each cycle, these rights and protections were up for debate, and those who chose not to contribute to the decision on them risked them being taken away. Nothing significantly negative had happened to the willfully disenfranchised before, but it always could. Crimson was one of these who had never contributed to the government, and that was how it liked it, and it was because of this that it never realized how deep Lenkida’s lies ran. Otherwise, it would have said something.
“You doubt my power?” Hogarth questioned with faux bravado.
“Oh, no, I know you can do it.” Crimson gestured towards the gargantuan world around them. “I just want to make sure that we should.”
“I think it’s more asking if we’re allowed to,” Hilde offered. She was now back in her original organic substrate. She wasn’t planning on dying, or anything. She just preferred the idea of cloning herself, and transferring her consciousness over to the younger body every time she needed it. Crimson reported considering the same immortality path, after having spent centuries in Hogarth’s body.
“I did my due diligence this time. Avalhana was telling the truth, according to a random sampling.” It was true. Hogarth spent over a month going around to as many Glisnians as she could, confirming what she had been told about how the system worked. She spoke with dermal mechs, and hard tops, and noncorporeal intelligences. She even found a few organics who she should have met before, seeing as they were relegated to certain areas, not because they were unworthy, but because organic beings were limited where they could survive. Some places had more or less gravity, and more or less air to breathe. The point was they all said the same thing, that Glisnia was run by a connected collective, that some chose to disconnect themselves but remain here, and that Lenkida had been lying to them about it this entire time. Hogarth wasn’t about to let something like that happen again, even if it all turned out okay.
“Can confirm,” Ethesh said bluntly. He was still mostly organic, but had received a number of transhumanistic upgrades, one of which allowed him to join the Glisnian collective as one of them. Whether to create new life, and what kind, was the most common decision the Glisnians made together. Whether to patriate a new citizen was the third most common. Having been instrumental in completing the matrioshka body, Ethesh was welcomed warmly. He said that he was always looking for his forever home, that Dardius was never that, and that fate only placed him there so he could eventually make his way here. It was unclear if he was planning to stay as he was for now, or if he would later mechanize himself more. Either way was fine. Death was rare on Glisnia, but not out of the question.
Speaking of which, a directed death would soon take place. For the most part, capital punishment was not considered legal on Glisnia, but it couldn’t be entirely outlawed either, because that would be incredibly dangerous. Their definition of life was a lot different than it was on Earth, and few humans could argue it wasn’t right. In fact, humans extinguished life on the daily. They took antibiotics to kill bacterial infections, and wore masks to prevent the spread of viral pandemics. This was a hundred percent normal. Anyone who argued against it was fundamentally harmful to the greater good, and warranted a swift reckoning. Computer viruses were the same thing, and they formed on Glisnia all the time. Bad code, intentional malevolent forces; they were less likely to happen in the world of quantum computing, but not impossible, and quite prevalent due to the sheer number of processes being calculated every second.
Mekiolenkidasola was bad code, according to the government, and he was to be executed for it, along with a few other key potentially destructive entities. They weren’t doing it out of spite or anger. Lenkida and his compatriots were quite literally capable of infecting the entire system with their bad code, and the only way to protect the positive was to remove the negative. Every time it came to decide on something like this, the idea of exiling the disease to an isolated location was proposed. But they never went this route, because in the scifi film about it, the evil robots always returned with a vengeance. They figured it was best to just get rid of it, and not worry about retaliation. That didn’t mean they took these decisions lightly. They didn’t just go around deleting each other when something went wrong. They always tried to look for a reformation alternative, which was of course, very different than it was for organics, but at some point, they did just give up. Lenkida was someone they gave up on, and unfortunately, that meant he was going to die for it. It was something the rest of the group wasn’t going to talk about anymore.
Today, it was about the new sun. Around a hundred light years from here there was a star that was so aptly named HD 186704. It was a yellow dwarf main sequence star; more specifically, a G0V, which made it a little more massive than Sol, and a really good candidate for a stellar engine. No terrestrial planets orbited HD 186704, so there wasn’t any life evolving there. Even if life was possible, Hogarth knew that nothing lived there, because she was capable of reaching out and detecting that sort of thing, by riding the plumes of vacuum energy throughout interstellar space. The Glisnians ran an ethical survey of this star, using data collected from Project Stargate and Project Topdown, and determined that it was okay to steal it. They were going to take a star at some point, from somewhere. If Hogarth didn’t tunnel it to their location through time travel, they would have eventually found something else closer.
The matrioshka body was fully capable of becoming a thrusting-type stellar engine as it stood on its own. They just wanted a separate engine for propulsion, so if something went wrong with one of them, they would have a backup. This followed the principles of SCR&M, which demanded safety, compartmentalization, redundancy, and modularization. It would operate differently than the Shkadov thrusters that scientists and science fiction writers proposed in the ancient days, though. They were not going to move the star, and let themselves be carried along with it. Instead, the star would be like a massive, wild fusion reactor, sending energy down to the body’s feet, and producing significant thrust there. It would also break the original laws of physics by accelerating the system to impressive speeds at impressive time intervals. If they ran at full power for a hundred and fifty thousand years, everyone inside the structure would only experience a couple centuries of relativistic time, and it would get them clear to the other side of the galaxy.
A normal stellar engine would take billions of years to cover the same ground, and that wasn’t something anyone truly felt the need to do, but this was all about kicking ass in the field of advancement. They could make it go even faster if they incorporated the reframe technology that Hokusai Gimura invented a hundred and fifty years ago. They had yet to ask permission for that. One thing at a time. They first needed to steal the star from its natural spot. Hogarth had by now decided to call it Hilde, but chose not to tell anyone about it yet.
“Are we ready?” Hilde asked.
“Mister Beridze?” Hogarth prompted.
Ethesh consulted his head-up display. “Twenty-four seconds until beacon reaches the sweetspot.”
“Sweetspot?” Hilde questioned. “Is that the official term?”
Hogarth pulled her steampunk goggles down over her eyes. They looked like the HG Goggles, but they were just highly advanced sunglasses that would allow her to look straight at the new sun without it burning her eyes out. “It is, yes.”
The others put on their own solar blockers, and prepared themselves. They wouldn’t need them right away, but they looked cool.
“Five, four, three, two, one. You have about a minute before it crosses to the other side of the doughnut,” Ethesh explained.
The easiest way to get the new star here was to drop a beacon where they wanted it to be. Obviously, it needed to happen at the center of the solar chamber, so if Hogarth didn’t do her thing right now, they would have to start over. Which would have been fine, there was no rush. Still, it was time, so she initiated her temporal power. It was becoming much easier to access, even for these massive projects. Being connected to all the universe’s energy was proving to be extremely helpful.
By the time the beacon could fly too far from the center, it was already too late. Part of the Hilde star had come through the exploportal Hogarth had opened. Yeah, now she was seeing how that wasn’t such a great word to describe it. That was what it was, though. The star wasn’t going to suddenly blink into existence. She had to take it little by little, like she was draining it from one tank, and letting it fill another. After a few minutes, they still couldn’t make out the little bit of light the nanosun was radiating without zooming in. It was going to take a long time, because that was the safest way to do it. Hogarth stared at it for a moment and a half before smiling, exhaling, and lifting her goggles. “Okay, cool. Lunch?”
“Wait, that’s it?” Hilde asked.
“For now...”
“How long is this going to take?” Hilde pressed.
“Three or four,” Hogarth answered.
“Months? Years?” Ethesh chimed in.
“Maybe five.”
“You stole that joke from another universe,” Crimson criticized.
“Did I?”
No one said anything.
“It’ll only take about a month,” Hogarth clarified. “Just in time for Christmas.”
“What’ll you do after that?” Ethesh asked as they were leaving the room together.
“I don’t know,” Hogarth replied honestly. “Maybe I’ll try to build a whole new universe. Wadya think?”

Friday, November 27, 2020

Microstory 1505: Touched

I am not touched, I bear full control of me life
I am not paranoid, I just know that danger is all around
I am not alone, I have all of time and space before me
I am not apathetic, I live separate from others
I am not the enemy, I protect myself against threats
I am not a liar, I tell stories that are true

I am immortal, I cannot die
I am a powerful man, I bend to no one
I am a seeker of understanding, I detest ignorance
I am honest, I will not coat with sugar
I am struggling, I do not know perfection
I am a runner, I never hide

I am, I am, I am
I bear, I just, I have, I live, I protect, I tell
I cannot, I bend, I detest, I will, I do, I never
I am not touched
I am the apex
I am Ambrosios

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Microstory 1504: Savitri’s Reality

Were I not so young, I could have written this expression before
I barely know my tongue, and had no one to speak with until recently
I was alone when I came, and totally uneducated, so things were confusing
I do not recall my family’s name, or anything about them
I don’t know where I’m from, but I know it was not here
I grew up feeling numb, and surviving on what I could find

There were times when I wanted to end it all, and say goodbye to the loneliness
I climbed and climbed, and planned to fall, but a memory stopped me
No one would have felt my loss, for that is why I would have done it
I had to push away these dark thoughts, and continue on for a better future
I’m still alone, that much is true, and there is nothing to do to change that
But if today is something I can get through, then I’ll just have to do that again tomorrow

There’s food to eat, and it’s all mine, though it does not taste good, it’s all I have
There is nothing in this world that shines, but I can see well enough to move
The water never seems to completely run out, and I can drink whenever I want
But every puddle ends up in drought, and I eventually have to find a new one
So it’s a journey every day, but it’s one that I take gladly, for what else would I be doing?
Fortunately, whoever made this world liked to do it flatly, so I know it could be harder

I entertain myself with song that I invented, from skills I recall from life before
Were anyone here, I would sound demented, for I know nothing beyond these lands
The tune changes, but words stay the same, the ones I made up to describe my world
It’s just my version of a game, to pass the time, and keep from going crazy
There’s someone coming from the falling water, but I know not how, they just appeared
It could be friend, or foe, but now, I’ll prove myself to him, so I won’t be alone anymore

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Microstory 1503: Amber’s Lament

I lost my life
To Amber White
Two gave it back
The Ambers Black
A few Ambers Violet each turned up their nose
To me and several Ambers Indigo
And here are you
One of dozens Ambers Blue
Will you please save me
From hundreds Ambers Green?
The ones who chose to leave me in a huge burnt up meadow
With thousands Ambers Yellow
With painful cries we cringe
As millions Ambers Orange
Come beat us up and leave us dead
With billions of the Ambers Red