Story Archives

Story Archives
Use the calendars below to start from the very beginning:

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Advancement of Leona Matic: September 10, 2187

When Leona Matic first started helplessly jumping through time, one of her first thoughts was of her loved ones. If she couldn’t stop what was happening to her, she would lose them all in a matter of months, from her perspective. Her heart was filled with such dread knowing that she would one day blink, and someone she cared about would suddenly be gone. And that process would be repeated until they were all dead. Everyone would be dead by the time she had a hankering for Chinese food again. But that wasn’t what actually happened. Ever since her first jump, family and friends would die, not of a long life long-lived, but at her responsibility. She never had to watch any of them grow old without her, because every single time, through her action or inaction, they would be killed before that was possible. She tried to run away from them once, with Serif, hoping to just leave them out all of this. She should have stuck with that plan. She should have tried harder. If they had just gone off on their own, all these people would either still be alive, or passed in peace, including one Paige Turner Reaver-Demir.
Paige was at least a hundred and seventy-five years old at the time of her death, though the exact length was difficult to discern when attempting to account for the time travel variable. She stayed alive as long as she did by utilizing biomedical developments, as well as other technological advances. She had not been fully human for a long time when Ulinthra struck her down with what could be best described as a power overload. Many would count her age as a blessing. She surpassed the conventional human lifespan by a century, at least as measured by the time period of her birth, but Leona recognized that this made it worse. As terrible as it might sound, killing a mortal is not as bad as killing someone like Paige. If you were to end the life of a normal eighteen-year-old human, for instance, you would at most, be robbing that individual of maybe ninety more years—as erred on the the side of exaggeration. If you were to end the life of an eighteen-year-old immortal, on the other hand, you would be stealing eternity from them. Kill a four-thousand-year-old immortal, and you’re still taking eternity. Because we don’t punish murderers for taking the memories of a person’s experiences. We punish them for stealing the memories that their victims can now never make.
While Leona felt guilty for everyone who had lost their lives because of the decisions she had made, Paige belonged to a special category of dead people whose deaths were directly tied to her inefficacy. Leona was at fault, for how she had handled the Ulinthra situation, and no one would be capable of disabusing her of this assertion. Fortunately for her, no one was interested in disproving her. They didn’t outwardly blame her for it, but they didn’t sugar-coat it either. They just stayed there with her in solidarity, having already spent a year grieving for their loss during Leona’s interim year. And then, as if called to action by a great psychoemotional need, Vitalie Crawville suddenly showed back up to help, reportedly on break from the year-long bicentennial celebrations.
Though she didn’t have the time to get particularly close to her, something about Vitalie reminded her of Paige, and she couldn’t help but break down crying when she saw her face. Vitalie didn’t say a word, but held Leona close for as long as she needed it.
“How did you know to come?” Leona was finally able to ask through the last of her tears.
“I just kind of got this feeling; not that Paige had died, but that you needed me,” Vitalie answered. “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other anyway. We were due for a five-year reunion.”
“I’m just so tired of losing people. It would be one thing if I had a job to do, or some kind of calling, but I’m Camden is a secret agent, Saga starts revolutions on other planets, what do I do? Nothing. I just keep getting forced into these situations, and the only real goal in place for me is to get out of those situations.”
“That’s kind of how life is, though, isn’t it? Most of us don’t have what one may call a purpose. We just do the best we can to survive to the end of the day. Then we wake up and do it again.”
“I guess that’s true, but those people exercise control over their lives. I’m salmon.”
“Everyone has their limitations. A poor person can’t go to the best college, get the best job, and buy the best house, unless maybe they’re really smart. Maybe. A celebrity can’t scratch their ass at a grocery store without making headlines. And you can’t leave Panama until you defeat Arianrhod. That’s your calling. Right now it is, so answer it. When you’re done with the...conversation, as it were, hang up. Then answer the next call.”
“I can’t defeat her,” Leona complained. “She’s too powerful. Everything we try, she’s already seen, because we can never know whether we’re living through the first time she experienced this day, or the second.”
Vitalie sighed. “That’s true, it’s a crapshoot, but didn’t you do this before, in another timeline? Didn’t you stop a man with the same powers? What did you do then?”
“I garnered help from The Gravedigger, who’s so obviously hiding that he’s one of the most powerful choosers I’ve ever met; and I met someone who created an entire universe.”
“Well, let’s call the Gravedigger again.”
“It won’t work this time. There was a warrant out for his arrest, and that’s not the case here.”
“What did he do to get into trouble that Ulinthra isn’t doing. If taking over the world doesn’t get the powers that be to step in, then I don’t know what does.”
“It’s complicated,” Leona said. “Way I understand it, Beaver Haven isn’t just a prison for people with temporal powers who are also criminals, or even the ones who use their powers for bad things. It’s just for people whose actions threaten the security of the rest of us. As far as the powers are concerned, Ulinthra can do whatever she wants, as long as she doesn’t expose us.”
“Then let’s do that,” Vitalie suggested vaguely.
“Do what? Expose us?”
“Get her to expose us.”
“How would we do that?”
Vitalie shrugged. “Dunno, but there’s gotta be a way.”
“I think if you tried something like that,” Brooke said from the doorway, “you would just end up getting yourselves locked up.” She walked into the room. “We’re in mixed company.”
A stranger in a uniform walked in behind her, followed by a hover sled, on top of which was some kind of chamber. “Where do you want this?” he asked.
“Just in the corner, over there,” Brooke directed him.
“What is that?” Leona asked, grateful that she had finished crying before Brooke returned.
“It’s my stasis pod. If I don’t get into this by midnight central, I die.”
“What?” Leona scrambled up from her seat. “Die from what?”
“I don’t know what it is, but Ulinthra infected me with something. This pod is scheduled to close at the end of every day I’m awake, and will keep me alive for a year, until I wake up and do it all again.”
“What are you talking about? What did I miss?”
“Vitalie, you should go,” Brooke said to her, “lest you be caught up in this.”
“It is too late,” Ulinthra said, walking in from one of the bedrooms, like a creeper.
“What is this about? I demand answers,” Leona said angrily.
“A few months after Paige’s death,” Ulinthra began to explain, “Brooke and Ecrin tried to go after me. They succeeded the first time around, but then time reset for me, and I did better on the next go. My problem was not that they tried—it was actually impressively courageous of them, if not bonker balls—it’s that you weren’t there. You and I have a history; several histories, actually. In only one of them do we get along. Even when you were married to Horace Reaver, we were rather cold with each other. As much as I remember about these things, I couldn’t tell you why we almost never have a good relationship, but I can tell you why we were friends in one of the realities.”
“Get to the point already.” Leona rolled her eyes.
“We were friends,” Ulinthra continued after she was so rudely interrupted, “because in that timeline, I gave you the greatest give I have.”
“And what was that? Your suicide?”
“Morbid much? No, it was my powers.”
“I made you like me. Permanently.”
“Why would I have wanted that?”
“You were bored. You were just a human then, but I gave you a way to have fun. Together we wreaked more havoc on this planet than a giant groundhog on amphetamines, and when midnight hit, we’d go back in time and relax.”
“I don’t believe you. In no reality am I anything like you.”
“Well, I guess I can’t ever prove it to you, except to say...dougnanimous brintantalus.”
“We’ve established that my secret time password has never been a secret.”
“True, but I want you to start thinking about whether it’s possible that I’m being totally honest. You can do it while you’re on the table.”
“On what table?”
Ulinthra smirked, and motioned towards Brooke’s stasis chamber. “I had that built, because Brooke is pristinely ungifted, and I have not been able to find a way around that, even by using her umbilical cord pendant. Sorry about that again, Brooke.”
Brooke was showing her blankface.
Ulinthra went back to facing Leona. “I destroyed it while I was studying it. I didn’t do it on purpose, though. We all make mistakes.”
“You can go back in time and erase all your mistakes.”
Ulinthra pretended like this hadn’t occurred to her, but purposely in an unconvincing way. “I could have done that, couldn’t I? Damn.”
“You still haven’t gotten to the point.”
“Right, Ulinthra said. “Ecrin and now this young woman here, whoever she is, will be permanently placed on your temporal pattern.”
“Vitalie, go, now,” Leona ordered immediately.
“You think I didn’t know you’d say that?” She looked over at Vitalie, who was making no attempt to escape. “You won’t make it down the hall if you run.”
“I gathered,” Vitalie said.
“Good. I need your bone marrow,” Ulinthra said to Leona. “Blood can work, but it’s unreliable, and short-lived. I need the marrow to make Ecrin’s and Vitalie’s bodies generate your salmon juice on an ongoing basis.”
“You don’t even feel a little bit bad about killing Paige,” Leona pointed out.
“That was a non sequitur, and no, I suppose I don’t. To paraphrase Captain Malcolm Reynolds, someone ever kills you, you kill ‘em right back. Paige saw me threaten you with a knife on a security camera on your day a year ago. What I didn’t realize is that removing her life extension upgrades would reactivate her spawn power. That was my bad, and I paid for it with my life. Needless to say, Paige needed to die, so that I could be saved. Now go take a sonic shower. I want you clean so you don’t pass on some disease.”
“Should I even bother pleading for you to reconsider, or for you to at least give me one day to mourn?”
“You can mourn tomorrow with everybody else, but no one cares about your feelings. Now go. You can fight me on it next year when it no longer matters.”

No comments :

Post a Comment