Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Advancement of Leona Matic: September 5, 2182

Serif and Adamina were running up the hill, almost at the exit, but the crowd of Maramon chasing after them was also nearly upon them. She pushed the girl through the exit, and ordered the woman to break the universe apart now. As she turned around, instinct took over. She took a deep breath and blew it out over the enraged Maramon. She sent her nanites all over the area, programming to fight her enemies off, instead of healing them. “Now!” she screamed.
The destroyer was trying her best, working as fast as she could. One Maramon got through before she was able to do her job and destroy the dimensional entrance. When she turned around, she saw the crowd dispersing. The sound of metal clanking against metal rang out through the vessel as it expanded. Rooms were expanding by the minute, and new rooms were being created, threatening to enlarge the ship to unsustainable proportions. All of the pocket dimensions appeared to be closed off again now. The ship just kept getting bigger, and Adamina acted like she couldn’t stop it.
Saga made her way through the crowd, which was becoming easier and easier, and approached the girl. “You can stop this,” Saga said.
“Don’t we need more room?” Adamina asked.
“Yes. But this is enough. You can stop now.”
“I don’t think I can.”
“You can. You’re powerful, and if you don’t try, we’re all dead. The ship won’t be able to fly anymore, and we’ll just be floating out here in the middle of space.”
Adamina had spent her whole life with this, being treated as a god, and knowing no other way of doing things. Reigning in her power seemed to sound like a grave insult of her character. She was still a child, though, and easily influenced by the grown-ups around her, which was what got them all into this mess in the first place. After pondering it for a few seconds, she nodded and closed her eyes. The clanking metal noticeably slowed down, but didn’t stop. “I can’t stop it totally,” she apologized. “It’s hard enough making it go this slow.”
“Okay, okay,” Saga comforted her. “Just take a deep breath, and try again.”
“No, you don’t understand,” Adamina squealed. “This is just who I am. I have to create space. It wouldn’t be any easier to stop than it would be to stop breathing.”
“Adamina, you can do it.”
“Can you stop breathing!”
“Sometimes,” said a woman who had finally come up from the crowd. She placed her hand on the girl’s shoulder, and spirited her away.
“Where did you send her?” Saga questioned.
“I...” the woman faltered.
Leona walked up, having just come out of pocket six. “Dubravka? What did you do?”
“I sent her to the future,” Dubravka replied.
“How far?” Saga was treating this like an interrogation.
“Whenever,” Dubravka shrugged. “I can bring her back when I want, and before you say anything, she’ll fall back if I were to die, so she won’t be stuck forever.” She scanned the floor of the room, suggestive of anyone and everyone. “I’m expecting a bunch of smart people to work on this problem in the meantime, and have a solution that allows that little girl to live a normal life...in a normal universe. For now, though, I think she should remain in the void outside of time.”
“Dubra, you can’t just tear people out of time.”
She sighed and shook her head, while holding her arms up to the walls of the ship, which were considerably farther away than they once were. “I won’t apologize for what I’ve done. She’s the problem, not me. So find a solution, or I’ll spend the rest of my life looking for immortality water, and you’ll never see her again.”
“What’s immortality water?” asked one of the random onlookers.
“I need to go check on the ship,” Leona said, knowing there was nothing else they could do. “Hopefully it hasn’t been too damaged.”
She walked into the cockpit to find Paige and Brooke staring through the viewports and a big blue marble.
“That’s Earth,” Leona declared.
“Mhmm,” Paige agreed.
“How did we already get to Earth?”
“Check your watch,” Brooke suggested. “It’s 2182.”
It was. “How? Did Dubra jump everybody to the future?”
“I don’t think so,” Paige said. “I think we were in a time bubble. The inside of the ship, but not the outside.” That would certainly explain why Leona was still around. She must have walked into the bubble after jumping back into the timestream while still in pocket six.
“Confirmed,” Brooke said. “I’ve been alone for the whole year. Nearly ran out of emergency rations. Thank God I’m superhuman.”
“Oh, Brooke,” Paige could only say.
“It’s fine,” Brooke said. “I was in hibernation most of the time. Ship ran smoothly, despite being several times larger than it was meant to be. We’re currently in standard orbit, awaiting authorization. They’re cautious about a ship that disappeared twenty years ago with no apparent destination, suddenly returning larger than before. I think we got a mole inside, though.”
Warren, this is Orbital Management. Are you there, Warren?” came a voice on the communications system.
Brooke sat up, and replied, “this is the Warren, go ahead.”
Paige pulled Leona aside while Brooke was doing her thing. “I need a full report on the state of this vessel, and everyone in it. Find Camden, assuming he made it through before the pockets closed back up, and get him to do a headcount. Get Hokusai running a full diagnostic. I need you to personally do a spot check. Figure out exactly how big we are, and take inventory of anything that didn’t exist before Adamina walked through that portal.”
“Understood, Captain,” Leona said, then she ran off to complete her tasks.
One of the passengers saw Camden duck into a room that wasn’t there yesterday. When Leona went in, she found him there, carefully watching one of the Maramon like a good security guard. “Good, you’re here,” he said.
“What is this?”
“I need someone to find me restraints. I heard the ship’s bigger than before. Do you guys have a real brig now?”
“There’s one in another dimension,” Leona said. “After asking you to take roll call, I’m supposed to go off and answer questions like yours.”
“I assure you, Captain,” the Maramon said. “I mean you no harm. I considered it my duty to protect the primary god, but I can tell when I’m outnumbered. Even a warrior as formidable as I am not match for a centurion of secondaries.”
“How did you know my callsign?” Camden asked.
“Your what?”
“That’s enough bickering,” Leona commanded, turning around. “If he moves, shoot ‘im. I’ll see what I can do about permanent detainment.”
“I’m a woman,” the Maramon corrected.
“Apologies,” Leona said, leaving the room. She generally tried to be pretty sex positive, but it was hard to see this creature as a person; let alone someone who deserved any level of respect. Though that’s what a lot of people said to justify their poor treatment on other races, way back in the 21st century.
She found Hokusai with Loa, the latter of which agreed to take on Camden’s role as attendance-taker. Then she started walking all over the new ship, taking note of the current dimensions of the old rooms, and those of the new ones. There wasn’t any new furniture around, nor any new instruments. Everything that existed before was still around, and the only things new were the barebones of the ship. It seemed to be perfectly intact too, not having suffered any wounds or damage. The Ubiña pockets appeared to be stable on the other side of the barriers too. When she met back up with Loa, they learned of a few stragglers still trapped in them, but there was no reason to believe they were hurt. She then found Vitalie to confirm that they had survived just fine in the housing, though most of them weren’t entirely happy about having done so alone for a year. She could not reach into pocket four, though, even after receiving a sedative to help her focus on her astral self. Serif was still stuck in there, along with Esen and his fanatical religious loyalists. Leona had to resign herself to the fact that this more than likely meant her girlfriend was dead. How could she have survived that?
Brooke made up some story to tell Earth that was good enough to garner them access to the Panama Space Elevator, but Leona never found out what that was. She helped unload the passengers, but stayed on the ship with the rest of the crew. Loa, on the other hand, traveled down with the first group. It was hers and Hokusai’s intention to help the refugees transition to their new lives on Earth. Acclimating would be one of the hardest things for them to do, even for those who were from there, and had only landed on Durus because of the Deathspring. Hokusai needed to stay behind to figure out either how to get the dimensions open permanently, or execute a rapid rescue plan, and then just destroy them entirely. For this reason, along with the crew, Vitalie was still there, as well as the dimensional destroyer, whose name no one bothered remembering. Lastly, Ecrin and a small contingency of her security team was still around, believing the prisoners in pocket seven to be her responsibility.
Right now, everyone was standing or sitting around the lounge area, not sure where they were going to start. Even Paige was at a loss for words. Camden started to try to break the ice with a joke about the Maramon prisoner, but was stopped by the sudden appearance of a young boy.
“Who are you?” Paige demanded to know, tensing up in preparation for needing to protect her people.
“The Emissary.”
“Ah, shit.”
Saga stepped in front of her daughter. “You can’t have her.”
The Emissary took a beat. “No, she doesn’t belong to me, or even to the powers that be. She belongs to Earth.”
“Do you always show up when it’s time for a new Savior to be called upon, or it just because she’s the last one?”
“It’s because she has family who cares for her, and because she’s the last one, and because she will be retiring early. I cannot divulge when that is, but she will not be an old woman. You will be able to enjoy a life with her,” the Emissary promised. “You will just have to wait before it begins.”
“I want to spend time with her now,” Saga argued. “I want to raise her. We’ve already missed so much.”
“Nothing is perfect,” the Emissary responded. “But you have it better than many. I suggest you do not take that for granted. Étude will begin her responsibilities at the strike of midnight central. You have until then to say your goodbyes. I will start.” He paused for effect. “Goodbye.” He disappeared.
Paige glanced at her wrist out of habit, even though she had an innate sense of the passage of time, and never needed to read it somewhere. “Leona, the elevator will be coming back shortly. You should go with the next batch, so you’re not stuck on the station when midnight hits.”
“But the pockets, and Étude,” Leona respectfully protested.
“Say your goodbyes now, and don’t worry about the pockets. Hokusai opened them once, she can do it again.”
Leona sadly agreed, but waited until the last moment before walking out of the ship, and into the elevator. Her time on the Warren was finally over.

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