Saturday, February 10, 2018

Void: The Expanse (Part VI)

Saga and Andromeda were no longer living in their mobile home, and not just because it was destroyed in a hate crime fire. Andromeda could have easily reconstituted it, had they wanted to. They no longer had a need to move around the planet, though, and instead decided that it was time to settle down and plant roots. Hokusai and Loa weren’t living with them either, and were in fact in the middle of an uncomfortable separation, brought about by the strain of Loa’s father’s sudden heart attack, and death. With the help of a new mage child, Camden was beginning to remember his life before being affected by the memory grenade. Unfortunately, he was starting to feel a little abandoned by Saga, because he now remembered them being much closer on Earth than they were now. She was trying to patch things up, and rectify that for the future.
The memory retriever was not the only full chooser that started demonstrating time powers. The running theory was that the close call with Earth gave Durus a sort of recharge in temporal power, which was paving way to a new era. Camden drew upon an analogy of Star Wars, which Saga had seen herself, but hadn’t really made the connection that Jedi keep existing, and being destroyed, with interim periods where people don’t believe they ever existed. Presently, they were trying to push for new language, to distinguish these new empowered people from those that came before. They did not want to use the universal convention of choosing one due to a sense of pride for their isolation. They wanted to come up with something new, and policy-makers were sifting through those proposals. As banal as it might seem, this was the most exciting and useful thing they could be doing at the moment. Months after the first democratic vote since the Deathspring, people started noticing what kind of mistakes they had made by allowing some of the old guard to maintain their control over the planet. An emergency election—which still took several more months to get underway—was put in place to drain the swamp, as it were.
After a couple more months of growing pains, things were finally where they needed to be. Local officials were taking care of the day-to-day regulation of the disparate cities. The high-level social servants had time to vote on trivial matters, such as what to call the new mages, because the world was currently waiting for a vote on the new constitution, which was first drafted by a group of officials before they were even elected. Their dedication to bettering the state was why most of them were ultimately elected into office.
On a personal note, Andromeda and Saga were living happily in a small cottage in a city that was about as far from the capital as was possible at the moment. Though she had quit her position as a city-builder last year, Andromeda ended up generating the pipes that ran from Watershed to Yalshire, so they themselves would be comfortable. Seeing this as the most important component of any city, the government begged her to at least continue doing this for them. She agreed, but only as long as there was no more efficient way to do it. Recent evidence suggested an infant in New Springfield would grow up to have the power to create new watershed regions, and possibly even lakes and rivers, which would halt their reliance on the original, and allow them to spread further throughout the wild thicket. Only time would tell whether this was the reality, or not. Her parents refused to allow their child to be proverted into an older age. Morick quit his relatively cushy position as Capital Security Advisor to protect New Springfield, though it was the worst kept secret that he was really there to protect the child from anyone looking to exploit her potential.
At the moment, Saga was trying to ask Andromeda to marry her, but she was not making it easy.
“Well, it’s just that I was going to ask you.”
“I guess I beat ya to it, so what’s the problem?” Saga questioned.
“I had this whole thing planned,” Andromeda claimed.
“What whole thing?”
“I was going to ask Loa to broadcast it.”
“Broadcast it to whom?”
“Everyone on Durus! Why would we do that?”
“To prove our love to each other.”
“I don’t need the rest of the world being in on my love for my girlfriend. That’s a very private matter.”
“Hokusai was telling me about...what did she call them? Promposals?”
“No, just regular proposals. Promposals were inspired by the original; hormonal teenagers convinced they needed to ask each other to dances in increasingly elaborate ways. They believed, without these stunts, their conviction wasn’t real.”
“So marriage proposals are elaborate, but dance proposals aren’t. I think what you’re missing is that this is a marriage proposal, so why shouldn’t I broadcast it?”
“I was explaining how people did it on Earth in my time. I wasn’t endorsing that behavior.”
“She said something about a jumbotron.”
“Yeah, Loa is the jumbotron, but I would never want that, like I said.”
“What about a flash mob?”
“Those are cool, but...not for that. They should be used to surprise people who aren’t part of the plan, and bring some joy into their lives; not to propose.”
“Because proposals are meant to be private,” Andromeda remembered.
“Then what’s he doing here?”
Saga looked over at Camden, who froze, like a rabbit who’s been caught making a sandwich, in the middle of making a sandwich. “Oh, him? He’s family.”
“Well, then let me call my mother.” Andromeda pretended to take out her phone, which didn’t exist, because they had never been invented on this planet.
Saga pretended to stop her, “no, that’s okay.” She directed her attention towards Camden, who had restarted his sandwich. “Cammy, honey? Could you take that to your bed?”
“You want me to eat in bed?”
“Yeah, why not?”
“Because that’s insane. I don’t want ants in my bedroom.”
My bedroom,” Andromeda corrected. Their situation was not unlike a couple letting their deadbeat adult son stay with them while he got back on his feet.
“Cammy, honey? There aren’t any ants on this planet,” Saga said.
“Then space ants, gah! You can’t offer to put me up until my place is finished, and then make all these rules,” he complained.
“That’s exactly what we can do. A world without rules is anarchy.”
“Doesn’t sound so bad,” they imagined him muttering as he juggled his fixin’s, and headed down the hallway.
“Now,” Saga said with a sigh. “Where were we?”
“You were trying to propose to me in the least elaborate way possible.”
“Oh, right.” Saga smiled wryly. “About that...”
She tilted her head coyly. “I called in a few favors.” She stood up and offered her hand to Andromeda. “Come with me.”
As soon as Andromeda took Saga’s hand in hers, and stood up, they teleported to a magical dimension, overlooking the southern thickets of Durus.
Andromeda looked around. They were literally on top of the world, near the equator, to be exact...or rather, where it would be if they had a sun. “You got us here with favors?”
“Oh, this is nothing.” Saga gazed into the aether, and rolled her finger in a circular motion, from her stomach forward. The planet below them started moving. Of course it was already moving, but what Saga had done was request someone slow time for them in a temporal bubble. This allowed them to witness the planetary rotation in what appeared to them as real-time.
Andromeda watched in awe. She had come from a world of magic and mystery, but also of suffering and dullness. Though she had seen the Deathspring with her own eyes but a few years ago, this was still an inspiring sight. The world began to roll towards them faster and faster with each passing second, until reaching a maximum legible speed.
“Look there,” Saga suggested.
Before them were lines of light, emanating from the ground. As the light came towards them, they were able to see that the lines were joined into a word. It was WILL. A few hundred meters later, they saw the word YOU. It was followed by MARRY, ME, ANDROMEDA, and finally, a question mark.
“How did you do this?” Andromeda asked. “Who can do this?”
“Typical Andromeda, answering a question with another question.”
“Never mind,” she said. “Yes. This was amazing. YES, I’ll marry you!”
They kissed. Then, still with her now fiancée’s lips pressed to hers, Saga said, “and now for the grand finale. I had to pay an arm and a leg for this. Look up.” She snapped her fingers.
“What am I seeing here?” Every star in the sky was brightening, shining all across the expanse, dimming only to make room for another.
“Every star that can be seen from this vantage point is going supernova. It’s basically what happens when a star dies. Loa is using all of her power to transmit thousands of moments in the future, throughout billions of years. It’s just for us, no one else can see this.”
“Yes,” Andromeda said.
“Yes, what?”
“Yes, I’ll marry you.”
“You’ve already said yes.”
Andromeda continued to watch the brilliant lightshow for a few beats. “Yes, again.”

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