Saturday, June 16, 2018

Missy’s Mission: The Newt Normal (Part XI)

Missy did end up exploring her leadership skills, which she had not up until then considered part of her repertoire. She had spent a lot of time of her personal timeline running from The Cleanser, and traveling to other points in time and space. She met a lot of people along the way, but not large groups of people in need of guidance. Dar’cy would have been good at this, but she never really got over her feelings of guilt over the people she lost while jumping back to this time period. It was just one more in a series of terrible events that she felt responsible for, including the Secret Library debacle. Curtis and Lucius were no longer in any position to garner trust from these people, so the job fell squarely on Missy’s shoulders. She never denied her role, but she did make sure everyone was okay with it, and that no one else qualified was interested in it.
She kept the fate of Savitri and Avidan, and what they had to do with everyone on Eden Island, to herself. While the two of them seemed to have no interest in subverting their own destiny together, it was best to let their relationship develop organically. And develop it did. They started dating immediately, or insofar as it’s possible to date on a remote oceanic island on an alien planet where you’re the only two teenagers in the whole universe. Within months, they were ready to get married and start sleeping with each other, the latter of which they were wanting to wait for until they had completed the former, and had also reached the common Earthan age of majority. They decided to hold the wedding ceremony on Avidan’s birthday in 2184, or at least what passed for that date in this universe. No one had the technology to measure the duration of a year on this world, though it was suspected to be similar to that of Earth’s, and rumored to be exactly the same. Nor were there any choosers or salmon here with an innate sense of the passage of time, which was a not uncommon power elsewhere, but also not one that lended itself to the user having a desire to be rid of it.
The ceremony went off without a hitch, except for the one moment in the middle of Avidan’s vow of commitment when the Time Shriek rang out from the aether. Even that wasn’t much of a problem either, because everyone but the concordants showed signs of having heard it before. Seeing no one else bothered by it, they quickly relaxed, and returned to the situation at hand. There was dancing, and there was food, and there was joy. And according to the happy couple the next morning, there was also sex. Missy and Dar’cy had taken them in as their wards, though they were now fully moved into their new home. Everybody lived in huts erected at the entrances of various caves, some of which connected to each other by passageways. They were all quite clean, and clustered together in a community, giving rise to the theory that it was done by intelligent design. Normally, Missy would shoot down this possibility, but the universe had expanded by the semiconscious time power of a formidable choosing one, so that was a fairly reasonable explanation.
Less than a week later, the newlyweds were back in Missy and Dar’cy’s place for brunch, which was something they once did every day, but was set to diminish due to the need for some young adult independence. Avidan was sitting in front of his fruit, having eaten little of it, waiting impatiently with a wide grin.
“Do you have something to tell us?” Dar’cy asked him. Her mood had improved quite a bit recently, especially since the wedding, which had acted to lift everyone’s spirits. The conditions on the island were perfect; with gentle rain, instead of harsh storms, and no apparent disease. Still, the anxiety from not knowing when they would succeed in their mission weighed on the people, and the boredom of life with no struggle wasn’t always a blessing.
Somehow, Avidan’s grin grew even wider. He looked between the three of them, excited to finally speak his piece. His eyes finally settled on his wife. “Savitri! You’re pregnewt!”
“I am?” Savitri asked. “How do you know?”
“I sense it. I first felt the presence last night, but I wanted to wait until we were all together.”
“Savitri, Avidan, congratulations,” Missy shouted, and not just because the news signaled what one might treat as the penultimate leg to their extremely long journey.
“Yes,” Dar’cy agreed. “I’m so happy for you two. You will make excellent parents.”
“Should we tell everybody else?” Savitri asked.
Missy and Dar’cy looked at each other.
She wanted to approach this delicately, Missy she spoke slowly. “People tend to wait on the big announcement until the first trimester is over, which is about fourteen weeks.”
Avidan didn’t understand. “Why is that?”
Dar’cy continued the explanation, “a lot can happen during a pregnancy. A lot can go wrong, but the risk drops around that time.”
“So, they don’t want to jinx it?” Savitri asked.
“No,” Missy explained, “but people will ask you about the baby, and if you’ve lost it already, you won’t want to talk about it. It’s best to wait.”
“You seem pretty sure we’re gonna lose it,” Avidan argued.
“It’s not personal to you, it’s convention,” Dar’cy clarified. “No one wants to talk about things like this, but the conversations are necessary, because it does happen. We don’t have access to vitamins, or ultrasound equipment. We’ll have to do this the ol’ fashioned way, and that doesn’t always go well. If you’re going to do this—if you’re going to raise a child—you have to understand the dangers. Life isn’t perfect. I know you know this, we’re not telling you because we think you don’t get—we’re aware of what you’ve both been through. We have a maxim on Earth: hope for the best, plan for the worst. It means to be ready for the bad things to happen, while remaining optimistic that they won’t.”
Avidan and Savitri both had difficult childhoods. Savitri’s home life when she was young was not the best, which made it almost a blessing when she accidentally helped create a portal to ancient Durus. She spent a great deal of time alone there before a friend came through, and even longer before their third friend showed up. Avidan was orphaned at too young of an age for him to remember his parents. He begged to be placed on The Warren, so he could find a better life on Earth. He almost didn’t make it, as he was only seven years old, but they let him on at the last second. They knew how important family was, and that they were always sitting on a precipice. They listened to Dar’cy and Missy’s words with respect, and took the advice to heart. When the hard conversation was over, though, they were able to celebrate with some shokalia root. It was the only rare food on the island, and on its own, tasted bitter and sour. When mixed with literally anything else, though, it would turn sweet and euphoric. Generally inedible leaves could be turned into a flavorful and nutritious salad base, just with a little shokalia water. Since there was so little of it available, it was carefully rationed, so that everyone could have some, some of the time.
A few weeks later, Missy volunteered to go back to the mainland to retrieve Serif, who was set to return to the timestream sometime in the next week or so, according to their best guess. She didn’t love wearing the teleporter hair hat, but somebody had to do it, and she was hoping to gather some intelligence on what the Maramon were up to. That was, after all, why Serif was back there when she jumped to the future last year. Dar’cy insisted on going with her, still feeling the need to proctect her partner.
Once they were gone, Lincoln Rutherford came up to Savitri and Avidan. “Your mothers have left already?”
“To get Serif, yes,” Avidan said. “Why?”
Lincoln sighed. “It’s time.”
“Time for what?”
“To close the loop,” Lincoln replied cryptically. He led them down the path, and into Curtis and Lucius’ hut.
“What are we doing here?” Savitri asked.
Lincoln ignored her. “Curtis? You have it?”
“I do,” Curtis said, seemingly conflicted about whatever it was they were going to do.
“You have what?” Lucius asked, sitting up from the table.
Curtis opened a dresser drawer, and took out a jar of sand.
Lucius was apprehensive. “Is that what I think it is?”
“It’s Serif’s day, so it’s time for you to fix this. We won’t get another chance.”
“I’m not letting this happen,” Lucius protested. “I won’t do it.”
“This has to happen,” Lincoln urged. “You have to do it.”
Lucius held firm. “No.”
“I can see the future, Lou. Why don’t you trust me with that?”
“I don’t know you,” Lucius said to him. “That you know something does not mean you are being honest about it.”
“What if I promise that everything turns out okay?”
“I wouldn’t believe you.”
“What is going on?” Savitri demanded to know.
“We have to fix the Wrench of Creation. Only you two can do it.” Lincoln indicated Savitri and Lucius.
“He can rebuild the things he’s destroyed?” Avidan inquired.
“With her help, yes,” Lincoln answered before directing his attention back to Lucius. “If you don’t do this, we’re all dead. You’re going to lose your powers in less than a year, whether you want that or not. If we don’t get this done, the Maramon will become a threat to the entire bulkverse.”
“Aren’t they already?” Lucius point out.
“Not like this. Stop being an asshole, Lucius, and do as I say! For once in your life in this timeline, do the right goddamn thing! Every single time we switch to a new reality, you do one good thing! Make this that one thing!”
Lucius looked like he was finally about to agree to what was being asked of him, but then they heard Missy’s voice shouting from what they were calling Town Square; the common space in the center of all the dwellings. “Everybody out! Serif’s back, but she doesn’t have much time! She has something to say!”
They all stepped out of the hut, as did everyone else in the community. Serif was standing in the middle, watching to make sure everyone was there. Once they were, she began, “everything seemed fine when I did recon last year, but I’ve been back in the timestream the whole day, and things have changed. They know you’re on Eden Island, and they’re coming. This place is no longer safe.”
“Where will we go?” someone in the audience asked.
“I can’t decide that,” Serif said, looking at her watch. “I’ve only got a minute left.”
The time is now,” Lincoln said to Lucius. “Curtis, please do the honors.”
Curtis threw the jar on the ground, spilling the sand, and remnants of the Wrench of Creation. Savitri placed her hand on Lucius’ muscular arm, while he raised his other one, and sent a beam of energy towards the mess. Tiny flashes of light burst from the pile, mirrored by teleportational exits that flashed several centimeters above. Pieces of the wrench coalesced, slowly at first, but ever faster. Before too long, the object began to take shape, until it was all finished, and a fully formed plastic wrench toy fell back to the ground. Lincoln reached down, cutting himself on the glass. He tossed it to Serif, who caught it on instinct, but still didn’t know why she needed it. Before she could ask what she was meant to do with it, her salmon power kicked in, and she disappeared.

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