Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Advancement of Leona Matic: Composite

“What happened?” Kivi asked.
“The Nawvo happened,” Savitri answered.
Khuweka groaned, and looked disgusted.
“Who is Nawvo?” Leona asked of her.
“A fundamentalist, and quite violent, faction of the Maramon,” Khuweka explained. “For the most part, Maramon revere their human gods. They have their own ways of showing this, and those ways aren’t always healthy, but the Nawvo take it to a whole different level. They believe in complete annihilation of the human species, so we can ascend to a higher power. I don’t know that much about them, but not even Effigy wanted them to make their way to your universe.”
“Well, they made their way to this one,” Savitri said. “They wiped out what few humans were left after a massive internal conflict, which some believed was secretly instigated by the Nawvo.”
Vitalie lowered her head, and looked around defensively. “Where are they now? If they won the war, they must still be around.”
Savitri shook her head. “They’re dead too. A small group of people showed up and killed them all right back. When I say small I mean no more than the number of people in your group. They came in a machine not unlike this one.” She jerked her head at the prototype behind her.
“That thing is one of a kind,” Khuweka said. “If they were using it to travel to other universes, then we will one day relinquish control of it to them.”
Savitri locked eyes with Vito. “Not all of you will relinquish control.”
Vito didn’t act surprised, and seemed know it was best to not be told anything further about his future.
Hogarth stepped forward. “We’re here looking for a special pair of goggles.”
Savitri nodded her head before Hogarth could go into detail. “I know the ones. One of the elite team of Maramon-killers wore them. His name was Smith.”
“So he’s not here?” Leona guessed.
“Oh, he is,” Savitri replied. “He was their only casualty. I can take you to where they buried him.”
“Wait,” Kallias stopped her. “You’re telling me Smith fought a war on the good side?”
“Yes,” she said, “but don’t worry. You don’t have to alter your perception of him. He died as big of an egotistical megalomaniac as he always was. But the only reason he was ever able to amass power over others was because he hated Maramon so much. He was a bad enemy to have. Thousands of Nawvo could attest to that.”
“There weren’t thousands of Nawvo on the Crossover when it went critical,” Khuweka pointed out. “Hell, I don’t think there were thousands of them total.”
“That may be,” Savitri agreed, “but you can breed, right? This all occurred over the course of centuries.”
“I need to see his body,” Kallias said. Now Leona remembered both he and Hogarth had terrible run-ins with a man back on a very early Durus. She had only forgotten this man’s name because Smith was so generic and forgettable. “I need to make sure.”
“I would love to confirm this too,” Hogarth said, “but he is not why we’re here. We’re just looking for the goggles.”
“They are one and the same,” Savitri said. “I said he wore them, but that’s not entirely accurate. They basically replaced his eyes. You’ll have to cut them off his face.”
“I think I can handle that,” Kallias said. “I gave him those goggles. Now it’s time I take them back.”
Most of them needed to eat something before transporting to the site of the final battle between Maramon invaders who had become stranded in this universe, and a ragtag team of warriors who were fighting to protect humans all over the multiverse. Savitri refused to reveal any more of their names, but did seem to believe most of them would be recognizable. Instead, she spoke of her own story. She was with Missy, Dar’cy, Khuweka, Vito, and dozens of others who had gone to Ansutah in search of a way to end their time powers. She personally had no interest in losing her powers, but had instead stumbled upon The Abyss during a sudden time storm decades prior to its very creation. It was her stillborn son who removed everyone’s powers, but for her, that was millennia ago. She originally had the ability to enhance the strength or intensity of other people’s powers, but had ultimately absorbed many others at the same time Khuweka and Vito had. Unlike them, she was in The Crossover when it went critical, and scattered all passengers and crew members through the bulkverse.
Curtis was the one who donated his ability to teleport to everybody affected by the Serif-nanite incident. He was born with a limitation which made it so he always needed to see where he was going. He could teleport to the other side of a prairie, but not a mountain. This limitation was eliminated when combined with Savitri’s enhancement powers, however. This meant that she, Khuweka, and Vito were now all capable of teleporting anywhere on the planet instantaneously. This was a handy bonus since it was unlikely that they would find a working vehicle, and it would have taken weeks to walk. After dinner, they left, and found themselves standing on the edge of a town the natives once called Bellevue, which had served as the unofficial capital of the whole world. From there, they only had to walk about a kilometer to the entrance of a cemetery.
Savitri held Kivi back as she tried to step through.
“What is it?” Kivi asked her.
“You are the one with spontaneous reemergence, right?” Savitri asked.
“I suppose you could call it that,” Leona said. “There are many different versions of her, all over time and space in our universe.”
Savitri nodded. “It may be dangerous for her to go in. The rest of you should be fine, but it could kill her.”
“Why would it do that?” Finally something that Khuweka didn’t know.
“There’s a power dampening field around this place. Smith’s team wanted to protect his body the best way they could. You walk in here, you won’t be able to turn invisible, or create a time bubble, or anything.” She gestured to Kivi again. “This one could very well just stop existing.”
“I’m the only one who needs to go in,” Kallias said, “and I don’t have any powers.”
“No one should go in who doesn’t have to,” Khuweka suggested. “You will be alone, Detective.”
“I’m not a detective anymore,” he said as he stepped forward.
“I’ll go too,” Hogarth offered. “You may have given him his goggles, but I made him who he was.” As soon as she tried to cross the threshold, she was thrown back by an invisible explosion, and disappeared into it.
“Oh, God,” Vitalie remarked. “That happens with her sometimes.”
“True,” Leona said, “but we are not in our universe. Where is she going to be when she returns?”
Everyone looked to either Khuweka, or Savitri, or both, but neither of them had any clue. “If she comes back to this universe, I shall be here to greet her,” Savitri said.
“You’re not coming back with us?” Khuweka questioned.
Savitri shook her head. “This has been my home for a hell of a lot longer than it hasn’t. I don’t want to leave.”
“But you’re all alone,” Young!Dubra reminded her.
“I won’t be alone forever, little one,” Savitri told her with a smile as she leaned down to her level. “Not everyone was on-world when it ended. They’ll be back one day. This is not the first time something has tried to destroy this planet, and it won’t be the last.”
Kallias refused to allow anyone to cross the threshold with him. He dug Smith’s grave himself, then extracted what he could of the goggles from the corpse. He would later report it as the most disgusting thing he had ever done, and expressed his relief that no one else had to be there. As he was walking back from the grave, he pointed behind the group at someone walking towards them. As the figure drew nearer, they realized it was none other than Hogarth Pudeyonavic. She must not have exploded too far.
She stood before them, panting and weak. “I am so positively glad that I got the date right.”
“Where have you been?”
“The past,” Hogarth replied. “Centuries ago.”
“Oh my God,” Leona said. “I’m so sorry. How did you find your way back to us?”
“I met some lovely survivors of the fall of civilization. I didn’t tell them much about their future, but they still agreed to place me in a secret stasis chamber, and programmed it to open today. I should have told come out yesterday, though; to give me more time.”
“Don’t ever do anything like that to me again,” Kallias said.
“I’ll try,” Uncle Bran. After all that time on the Prototype, telling each other their stories, at no point were these two clear on the depth of their relationship. Leona didn’t get the sense that they were blood-related, or even that he was her uncle through marriage. Yet they were clearly closer than either of them had let on, and Leona couldn’t figure out why they were being so quiet about it.
“Well, if that’s it,” Savitri began, “I guess it’s time for you to go.”
“You can still come with us,” Khuweka said, motioning for encouragement from the crowd, which she easily received.
“I’m not staying so I don’t intrude. I’m staying because I want to. When you’ve lived as long as we have, centuries of peace and quiet are a nice break. Wouldn’t you say?”
“Cheers to that,” Vito agreed.
“We may run into Avidan,” Khuweka said to Savitri. “You never know.”
Savitri bit her bottom lip, and smiled only with her eyes. “Actually, I do know. Go get ‘im, slugger.”
“Go on, git!” Savitri said to the rest of the group. “I’m in the middle of a long game of Polygon with myself.” She spread her arms wide, and bowed to them, then she disappeared.
“My tattoo is doing something,” Leona said. She pulled her sleeve back. Numbers began appearing from the center, and floating off in random directions, before fading away. “Two, three, five, seven, eleven...”
“They’re all prime numbers,” Hogarth noted.
“Oh, I know where we’re going,” Khuweka said.
“Where?” Kivi asked eagerly.
“Universe Prime. The Superintendent lives there.”

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