Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Advancement of Leona Matic: Ansutah

The humans were being carted out the portal crater in chains by Maramon guardsmen. Missy and Dar’cy were being escorted separately in a different direction, and the crowd was quickly dispersing. A white monster hopped over to the five of them, and took Leona forcefully by the shoulders. “Jiva paol dafa laidi kesto!” he shouted to his friends.
“Jida gar pepaol!” another shouted back, before addressing someone next to him. “Dwesi jilarl.”
The one who already had Leona checked something that looked suspiciously like a watch on his wrist. “Kret!”
The third Maramon jogged over, and prepared to take Leona off the first one’s hands, who appeared to be in a hurry to get somewhere else. Suddenly, this other random Maramon teleported between them. She held her hand up, and tore the jogger into millions of pieces, just like a certain choosing one named Lucius could do. Everyone who had witnessed this was too much in shock to do anything about it, except for the one who had captured Leona. He let go, and went over to attack the molecular teleporter. Before he could reach her, she disappeared again, and reappeared right behind him. She kicked him in the back of the head, and let him fall to the ground. The rest of her people dropped out of their trance, and prepared their own attack. The good Maramon lifted both hands, and trapped them in a temporal bubble, before turning to face the humans. “Which one of you is the engineer?” she asked.
They all couldn’t help but turn their heads toward Hogarth.
“You need to get to the prototype,” the Maramon ordered, handing her a slip of paper. “Here are the directions. It should have plenty of power, but it may require some repairs, and we need all the time we can spare. You’ll need one assistant at least, but you can’t take Leona or Dubravka. I need them both.”
“Not that we’re not grateful for whatever it is you just did for us,” Leona began, “but who exactly are you?”
The Maramon looked from one to another, to another. “It was my understanding you would know of me. I’m Khuweka. Khuweka Kadrioza? Also known as Keynote? I thought you came looking for me.”
“We came looking for someone else,” Vitalie corrected.
“Well, yeah,” Khuweka said. “I meant that I’m the one who can take you to Serif. I thought you knew that. Okay, that makes things more complicated. I would really love it if you just trusted me.”
“Why would we do that?” Dubra asked.
“Because I pledged my loyalty to your mother years ago. Don’t you already know this? Something’s wrong, your memory isn’t intact.”
“Who’s your mother?” Kivi asked Dubra.
Dubravka ignored Kivi, and spoke to Khuweka, “if you’re telling the truth, then you know what to say to prove it to me.”
“Yes,” Khuweka said. She cleared her throat. “Your father was a great man...but now he’s nothing.”
Dubra sighed. “She’s telling the truth. Do whatever she says.”
“What?” Hogarth questioned.
“Just do it,” Leona told her, trust Dubra’s judgment.
“Both of you go too,” Dubra said to Vitalie and Kivi. “If we’re headed where I think we are, Leona and I should go alone.”
“Where is it that we’re going?” Leona asked after the other three went off to find this prototype Khuweka mentioned.
“You need to be there with the other humans,” Khuweka replied. “Serif should already be on her way.”
“What will you be doing?” Dubra asked her.
“I’ll be helping Missy, Dar’cy, and Kallias.”
Leona pointed behind them. “They were taken that way.”
“I know,” Khuweka said, nodding. “But before I go, you need to understand something. Not everything is going to work out as you wanted, but it will turn out okay.”
“What does that mean?”
Khuweka stopped walking, but ushered them onwards. “The guards in there are gonna underestimate the humans, because they don’t know any better. The best way to get out...is to get in first.” She teleported away.
“What did she mean by that?” Dubra asked Leona.
“It means we have to get caught,” Leona said with a slight growl. “How many times am I going to be locked up?”
“Is that the setup to a joke?”
“Who is your mother?” Leona asked her. “Who is your father? Who is that Maramon, and how do you know we can trust her? Why did you come with us?”
“A long time ago, a clever girl came up with a list of rules for time travel,” Dubra began. “Until the reality where she did that, time travel was chaotic. Choosers jumped around, doing whatever they wanted, making any changes they saw fit, sometimes at the expense of their own kind. Leona, your rules marked a dramatic shift in the way people like us live our lives, and I’m not sure you’ve seen enough to appreciate the impact you’ve made.”
“What does that have to do with anything? I didn’t come up with the rules on my own. I’ve read and seen a lot of time travel stories, and their problems always come about when they don’t respect these rules.”
“It has to do with everything,” Dubra said as they were nearing what was an apparent white monster police station. “I knew more about you than I let on when we first met, because that was not the first time I met you. I’ve already met Khuweka as well, and the only reason I questioned her was because I’m racist, and I can’t tell these creatures apart. But now I know it’s her, and I know what we have to do. The rules you devised matter, because everything you’ve done—everything I’ve done—has led us to this moment, and later, it will lead us to the next moment.” Some Maramon guards noticed their arrival, and were taking defensive positions. “I promise this will all make sense, starting in a few minutes.”
The guards aggressively dragged them through the building, and into the holding cells. Dozens of other humans were there, confused but still hopeful. They were there to be rid of their special time powers, for various reasons, but none of them had any idea how that would actually happen. Leona wished them well, and hoped whatever it was they were looking for, it wouldn’t affect her and her friends, at least not until she found Mateo.
They sat in the cell for a little while before a ruckus erupted, and started coming closer to the cells. Lucius, the one most famous for the ability to teleport objects and people on the molecular level, appeared from around the corner. He used his power to destroy the cell bars. Curtis came up from behind him to help usher people out, but he wasn’t doing it alone.
“Missy,” Leona said.
“Whoa, what are you doing here?”
“I came to get Serif back,” Leona said.
“What happened?”
“She was in Ansutah when it separated from the Warren.”
“Dowhatnow?”
“Not here.” She didn’t need all the other people to hear what they were talking about. They stepped into one of the cells. She proceeded to tell Missy the story of their return trip on the Warren; how two people in the fourth pocket dimension caused it to grow large enough to be its own universe, which was where they were right now. She didn’t tell her everything, though. She didn’t bother talking about the corrupted reality with Ulinthra, because it wasn’t relevant. “Oh forgive me. This is Dubravka...uhh. I don’t know your last name,” Leona realized.
“It’s Matic.”
Leona laughed. “Wait, really? Are we related?”
“Leona, your name isn’t really Matic. I don’t understand why you went by it, even when you couldn’t remember Mateo.”
“Ya know, I don’t really know either.” It was an interesting question, which Leona never thought to try to answer. “So you’re related to him?”
“He’s my father,” Dubra said.
“What? I’m not your mother, am I? Are you from a different reality?”
I’m her mother,” came a voice from around the corner. Serif appeared, holding the hand of a young girl. “Yes. Adult!Dubra, meet Young!Dubra. Young!Dubra, this is what you grow up to be.”
“I suppose I could do worse,” a sassy Young!Dubra said.
“Mom, I thought I was coming here to change the past,” Adult!Dubra said to Serif. “But I’m just closing my loop!”
“I don’t want you to change the past,” Serif said. She was many years older than before, having aged across thousands of real-time years since Leona saw her.
“I do!” Adult!Dubra cried.
“This is your home,” Serif argued.
“My home sucks,” both versions of Dubravka screamed simultaneously.
Missy leaned towards Leona. “If these two get too close to each other, is this building gonna blow up, and turn the leaves red?”
“What? No,” Leona replied, but it was a fair question.
Serif handed her younger daughter’s hand to Leona. “You need to go with Mother Leona now. She’ll take you to our universe...eventually. Miss Atterberry, you need to get out there to the meeting with all the other people who want their powers to be removed. Dubravka, go with her,” she said to her adult daughter.
“Why would I do that?” Adult!Dubra asked.
“Stick with her, and you’ll end up exactly where you’re meant to be. I promise you won’t spend much more time in this universe. Don’t get separated from Missy and Dar’cy, though. Remember to pull Adamina back into the timestream before you leave.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot about that,” Adult!Dubra said. Then she started tearing up, and hugging her mother tightly.
Missy and the older Dubravka left to continue on their own paths.
“I guess that means you remember Mateo,” Serif asked Leona.
“I remember everything.”
“You weren’t quite in love with me until Mateo was erased from the timeline.”
“Like I said, I remember everything, including my real relationship with you, and I still love you. Now that you’re here, we can get him back together.”
Serif sighed. “I’m afraid I will not fit on the prototype.”
“We’ll make room,” Leona said, now suspecting this prototype was a machine capable of taking them back home, like The Crossover.
“I don’t mean that literally. I’m vital to this universe, and I can’t leave until they can start traveling to other planets.”
“How’s that?”
“Half the population exists for a third of the day, and the other half exists during the third third. What you see here is just a skeleton crew in the middle third. I’m the one who keeps that powered. If I don’t show up every year to charge the magical batteries, overpopulation will restart the war.”
“I can do that too. I can charge the batteries.”
“That’s not better, Leona. That’s just different. I’m staying. You’re going. And you’re taking my daughter with you. Promise me you’ll keep her safe.”
“Will I ever see you again?”
“Careful.” Khuweka walked into the cell with a kind smile. “Spoilers.” She addressed Serif, “I shall take care of them both.”
All of them,” Serif said.
Khuweka bowed her head. “Of course.” She pulled a metal object out of her back pocket. “I found the Jayde Spyglass in the museum.”
Leona pulled her sleeve back, and checked her compass tattoo. “Oh, that’s what I’m here for. I totally forgot about that.”
Khuweka opened her arms like she was getting ready for a big hug. “Come on. I’ll transport us right into the Crossover prototype.”
“Let’s just have a few minutes to say goodbye,” Leona requested.
Serif shook her head. “Just because most of the Maramon don’t exist right now, doesn’t mean it’s safe. You need to go. I love you.”
“I love you.”
After Young!Dubra gave her mother one last hug, she and Leona went over to Khuweka, who wrapped them in her arms, and teleported them away.
They were inside what looked like a spaceship bridge. Hogarth was there, along with Kivi and Vitalie. A man she didn’t recognize was with them.
“Is it ready?” the good white monster asked.
Hogarth nodded. “It is. I don’t know how to navigate this thing, though.”
“That’s okay,” Khuweka said, looking at Leona. “She does.”

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