Saturday, March 17, 2018

Void: One Who Lives (Part XI)

After the death of her wife, Andromeda, Saga felt a void in her life. The only way she could keep it from swallowing her up was to hide her daughter and herself away from everyone. Her baby was kept in the magical floating womb for the next several months, until birthing from it into a tub of water that Saga had the instinct to place underneath. On August 15, 2169, little Étude came in at six pounds and nine ounces. She looked a lot like her mother, despite sharing no genetic code with her. She looked a lot like Camden too, but almost nothing like Saga. Maybe this was just all in her imagination.
Speaking of Camden, the ordeal had left him in a coma. That device he forced Pereira to install on him was designed to interface with computing technology. That was really all they knew about it, except that it was likely from the future, having either been left here by a time traveler, or fallen into a spacetime anomaly. Upon inserting the memory stick Morick had given them into it, Camden downloaded all the information contained therein, of which there was quite a bit. It was a database of all residents on Durus; past, present, and future. The download itself might have left him fairly healthy, but in an attempt to save Andromeda’s life, he expedited the process by the scanning the information all at once. This allowed him to extract that woman from the future, who had the ability to create the artificial womb...somehow, but at the price of his consciousness. The doctors weren’t sure whether he would ever wake up, or if it would eventually kill him. For now at least, machines were keeping him alive, and Saga knew there was nothing more she could do for him.
She gathered minimal belongs, along with her daughter, and left town. Over the years, Saga and Andromeda had gathered a number of friends, who might have been best described as fans, or even followers. People expressed varying levels of gratitude for Andromeda’s service to them; native Durune, and Earthan refugees alike. Camden’s experience as a secret agent had caused him to encourage them to keep track of these people. When he was working for IAC, he and his partners kept a mental note of everyone they had met, all over the world. And since they trusted each other implicitly, they shared this information with each other. One time, Camden found himself alone and badly hurt in Kamchatka Oblast, Russia. He only needed to make his way to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, where he found an old and minor coal miner contact of his partner, Yadira’s. This man didn’t know Yadira well, and didn’t know Camden at all, but just hearing her name was enough for him to agree to provide Camden sanctuary. Without it, Camden might have died. He instead got himself patched up, and made his way home in a few days.
The moral of this story is that you never know who might help you...who you meet will be vital to your future. This is why it’s always important to garner respect from people around you. They don’t necessarily need to like you, but when you’re bloodied and starving in the middle of a foreign country, their memory of you needs to inspire them to help. This was how Saga was able to disappear from her old life, and escape to a new one. She knew that a baby born from a gestational bubble outside of her mother’s body would be coveted by others. Perhaps if she kept Étude away from prying eyes, she would also be keeping her out of the database Camden used. Fortunately, she remembered someone who could help. Annora Ubiña had the power to create psychically impenetrable pocket dimensions. These could not be very large, but they were free from pollution, had an endless supply of metawater, with each molecule originating from a different source, and a food invocator powered by temporal energy. Most importantly, there they were safe from anyone looking for them, using any means, for any reason. At least theoretically.
There was no telling how old Saga Einarsson was. She had spent decades in the past, and was then reverted to a younger age. Even beyond that, time travel being what it was, true duration spent was hard to pin down. During her travels, she met a number of people, some of whom possessed time powers. One such was Sanela Matic, who was Darko’s grandmother. She could travel anywhere in time, but only as an intangible observer. If she wanted to interact with the world at a different place and time, she needed some other traveler. Saga and Vearden opened a door for her once as a quick little favor. They didn’t get to know each other very well, but for some reason, Saga could sense when she was around, and using her power. It was just some kind of temporal fluke. Today, she was watching Étude in her crib, when she started experiencing that rare, but familiar, feeling.
“I can feel you there,” Saga said. She still couldn’t see anything, and it might not have even been Sanela at all, but it had to be something. “Sanela, are you around here somewhere?” She decided she wasn’t going to freak out, and just hope for the best. She tilted her head, because she could almost make out language. Yeah, two people were talking, but it was extremely muffled and quiet. Perhaps they were concerned with her, and what she was going to do without Andromeda. This was unwarranted. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to kill myself. Étude means far too much for me to do that. I’m all she has, so you can go.”
The feeling disappeared as Sanela apparently left. But then someone knocked on the door, which was unusual, because Annora usually just opened it unannounced when checking in on them. Saga opened it to find nothing on the other side but an endless grayish void. Out of it came Sanela.
“I thought it was you,” Saga said. “Come on in.”
“You called?” Sanela asked.
“I did not. What do you mean?”
She gasped. “Who is this precious person?”
“My daughter, Étude. What do you mean, I called?”
“She’s adorable.” She stared for a little while. “Oh, umm...I put a tag on your voice. I’ll come whenever you need me.”
“I didn’t say your name until you were already here.”
“I just got here. You opened the door for me.”
“No, you were standing over me, watching. I could tell.”
“That was not me,” Sanela said, sure of herself.
“Well...maybe it was a future version of you.”
She shook her head. “No. It wasn’t. That was someone else, Saga, watching from another dimension.”
“This is another dimension. They don’t really...mix well.”
“Well, I promise that it wasn’t me. I came because I felt you needed help.”
“I guess that’s true. My host is great, but we’re not that close. She knows what happened to us, but I can’t really talk with her about it.”
“What happened to you?”
“I met a woman. Andromeda.”
Oh, it was such a relief to unload all of her trauma, and have someone she trusted listen to her. It was no surprise that Sanela was such a good listener. After all, her whole situation was watching other people like they were characters in movies. She probably didn’t spend a whole lot of time speaking, but no doubt had an unrivaled understanding of the human experience. When Saga was nearing the end of the story, Étude started belting out her hunger cry, so Saga had to start nursing.
“I thought she wasn’t yours? I mean, I thought you were the egg donor, not the carrier.”
“I was, but I started lactating as soon as she was born.”
“Yeah, I guess I’ve heard of that. She needed you, so you provided.”
There was another knock on the door.
“Tell me that’s a past or future version of you.”
“Like I said,” Sanela reminded, “I would know. That’s not me either. I’ll open it for you, though.”
When she did, she saw Annora standing there, but she wasn’t alone. Dar’cy Matigaris was holding her arms uncomfortably behind her back, like she was a prisoner. Behind her was Hokusai and Loa, along with Missy, Paige, Serif, and Leona.
“Unhand her right now!” Saga ordered, Étude still oblivious, and happily attached to her breast.
Dar’cy did as she was told. “That’s fine. We don’t need her anymore. Do you have any idea how long we’ve been looking for you?”
“It’s time to go back to Earth.”

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