Saturday, January 27, 2018

Void: Andromeda (Part IV)

The powers that be must have been keeping an eye on Saga from their secret ivory tower, because she was once again unable to open a door back in time. She wanted to return Morick and the couple to their own time, but whenever she opened a door, it led only to the other side. They read through the histories of their world, and were horrified by some things that had happened. Their home really went down the drain while they were gone, starting on the very day of their departure. Though their absence could not be to blame for the dark turn of events that followed, perhaps they could have been there to help prevent, or at least make things better. The couple was most concerned with their daughter, and knew that the stories of her twisted dealings and mistakes were nothing more than lies. Unfortunately, nowhere in the books did it speak of the three of them, which meant it was unlikely they would ever get back. They would just have to build lives for themselves here, where things were finally starting to get better, and hope that their child’s life was better than the books claimed it was.
Speaking of building, Andromeda was becoming quite the hero for her skills in the Earthan refugee camp, using her new powers to expand it into a grand city. Long ago, when the first Springfielders arrived through the town portal, a healthy fraction of them were pregnant. These children—though they would not have become choosing ones had they been born to Earth—were imprinted with their powers from having been in various crucial stages of their development when their mothers were transported to Durus. They grew up quickly, and became known as the source mages, for they had the ability to bequest time powers to anyone who proved worthy enough to wield them. They established a competition, with winners serving in an order of town protectors. One of the rules for becoming a town mage was that you were not allowed to have children. They actually employed special meta-mages to make sure this rule was followed by literally preventing conception from taking hold.
When Sadie and Jörm’s daughter started upending the system, and the Durune monsters took their opportunity to take over, the sterility mandate could no longer be enforced. After the monsters were pushed back, survivors on Durus had to restart their civilization, almost completely without time powers, for those that had them, lost them in the war. What they didn’t realize at the time, though, was that their genes had already been irreversibly altered when they were turned into choosers in the first place, which meant these were traits that could be passed down the generations. Because their descendants never displayed near the same intensity or power of their predecessors, they were known as mage remnants. They didn’t reserve their powers to protect the towns, since that was now being done with technology. They just used them for fun, or they sold them to people looking to accomplish various tasks, legal or otherwise. Andromeda was different. She was a full-fledged choosing one; probably the first one in this century, on this planet, as long as you didn’t count an alien named Effigy.
Having been raised by a decent mother, Andromeda decided to use her powers to do the most good. Seeing the suffering of the Earthan peoples, who were forcibly removed from their homes, and had no choice but to come here, she dedicated her time to helping them. As Morick pointed out, she was a builder, much like The Constructor, Baudin, who Saga knew from Tribulation Island. She could summon building materials from other times and places, sometimes in the form of fully living trees. She could then arrange them into proper configuration, as well as manipulate the speed of time, to build vast architecture in a matter of days. In only a few short months, the refugees had become the wealthy ones, leaving the rest of the world struggling to rebuild their infrastructure in real time, following the devastation of the syzygy durusquakes. The irony of the tables having been turned on them was lost on no one. Right now, the provisional government was seeking help from someone they insisted on calling Queen Andromeda. After a full year of watching her help the Earthans, they were only now recognizing her as their greatest asset; one they should not have taken for granted.
Morick, having retained his mage powers from another time, stood at her right flank as her primary bodyguard. Camden, whose episodic memories never returned, flanked her on the left, as another guard. Fortunately, he never lost his muscle memory, so he could still rely on his training as a field agent. Saga sat at Andromeda’s side for moral support, while Durune government officials pleaded their case.
“Your Highness—”
“Eh,” Andromeda interrupted. “That’s not what you should call me. If you are obliged to an honorific, then what did I say it should be?”
He hesitated, but acquiesced. “Your Badass,” he began. Andromeda thought this term up, thinking the Durune would be too uncomfortable to actually use it, and just revert to her proper name. It didn’t work, but honestly, she much enjoyed the new title, so ultimately just went with it. “We implore you to help. Our city is falling apart faster than we can repair it. It was created many years ago, using the last drops of power The Last Mages could muster. To be truthful, we don’t know what we’re doing.”
“I believe there were those who came to this world from Earth with construction experience,” Andromeda replied.
He was trying to figure out whether this was a question. “Yes,” he guessed.
“You could have used them. Had you treated them as human, with dignity, they could have helped you.”
“Surely someone with wisdom such as yours can understand our reluctance to rely on anyone but ourselves,” Provisor Drumpf replied.
“What was that again?” Andromeda asked aside.
“Negging,” Saga answered her.
“Negging,” Andromeda repeated. “Did you just neg me?”
“Your Hi—Your Badass, I would never. afraid not know what that means, but I promise, I meant no disrespect.”
Andromeda was silent, but in a way that made it clear no one was to speak until she was ready for them to. “The city was depositioned at the end of the 21st century, by Earthan years. The disparate towns were all brought together into one, so that we could collectively protect a shorter border, against the monsters who remained after the war. While populations in other worlds rise, ours falls. There was plenty of room in the city when the Earthans arrived, yet you rejected them. You were uneager to help, completely ignoring the high probability that they would help you in return. You held meetings, attended exclusively by loyal followers, and spouted hate speech against the immigrants. You spun a story, giving the impression that the majority of Durune were against providing any aid to our new friends. And when it came time to vote, you suppressed those who would oppose you, making it seem like half the city was against humanitarian efforts. And we are humans, by the way. We may not be from the same worlds, but we are the same. And now your approval rating is the lowest it’s been since we transitioned from source mage rule, to the republic. I wonder why that is. Is it possible that this is your last grasp at saving a dying approach to societal policy? Do your backwards views on the role of women remain in your hearts, but in a new form? You call me queen, and grovel at my feet, yet you still do not respect me. You still consider me inferior. Though you are all new officials, you are still all men, just as it has been since the republican reformation.
“It is time for a new reformation. The provisional government has outstayed its welcome. If you want help—from me, or any Earthan—you must step down, and make way for a rightly elected administration. I can rebuild your city...but not in your name.”
Provisor Drumpf breathed deeply through his mouth, and out loudly through his nose. “I will not be doing that. Nor will any of my comrades. This is our planet. We took it, because no one else had the balls to do it! We took it, because the people let us! We took it, because they want us here...because they need us...because they’re too stupid to do it without us! We will make it great again; even better than your shithole city, and we will do it without your help!”
Andromeda finally revealed her smirk. “We shall see about that.” She nodded to a young woman in the corner who the Durune bureaucrats didn’t even notice was standing there. “Cut.”
The provisor looked over to the girl, slowly recognizing her as as the infamous Loa. Her father was a mage remnant with the ability to remotely view anywhere else in the universe, like a window through space. She recently discovered she possessed a similar power, but hers was much stronger. She could broadcast an event to massive numbers of people, just by witnessing it herself. They asked her to televise the entire meeting to all of Durus.
“Frell me,” the provisor said, having learned the word from Andromeda, who was first taught it by Saga.
“Would you like to go out with me sometime?” Saga asked. She had been trying to rally the courage to ask her, and couldn’t help but blurt it out now. Seeing Andromeda take charge of the situation, and engineer such great change in the world, was just too much. The love was real.
Andromeda kept smiling at the provisor, and what she had done to him, as she nodded her head excitedly. “I sure would. Let’s have dinner tonight.”

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