Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Advancement of Leona Matic: Prototype

Leona looked behind her to make sure that Khuweka wasn’t gesturing towards someone else. There was no one else there, so she must have been gesturing towards her. Everyone was waiting for her to get this machine going, but she had no idea. “Why would I know how to work this thing? Just because I’m smart and educated, doesn’t mean I’m qualified to operate a machine that travels to other universes.”
“Well, not you specifically,” Khuweka said, “but that compass should do the trick.”
Leona looked down at her tattoo. It wasn’t moving or glowing, like it usually did when it wanted to tell her something. “How would I interface this thing with the controls?”
A gentle alarm began ringing from one of the terminals. Khuweka leaned forward and peered at the screen. “I can’t say for sure. All I know is you’re meant to get us out of here, which you should do quickly, because they’re coming.”
Leona started to wave her arm over the console, even pressing her skin against the smoother parts, but nothing worked. “Maybe you need to rethink your source, because I don’t think my compass can do what you say.”
“I was told you would have everything you needed,” Khuweka said cryptically. “They’re getting uncomfortably close.”
“Oh wait,” Vitalie said excitedly. “Hogarth needed a flashlight to check under the panels, and we noticed something strange.” She took out the Rothko Torch and shined it on Leona’s tattoo. The compass began spinning around and swirling. The light reflected off her arm, and scattered about the command center in all sorts of colors. More of the system awakened, and an engine of some kind started powering up.
“What are we looking for next?” Hogarth asked loudly through the noise. “Think about that, and if Khuweka is right, the compass will tell the machine! Even though that sounds insane!”
Leona did as she was told, and started thinking about the HG Goggles. She didn’t know exactly what they looked like, but their original owner, Hokusai Gimura once described them as steampunk. The engine noises subsided into a steadier and more tolerable volume, but never ceased.
A man walked in from the other room, wearing a t-shirt and shorts. He was scratching his mussed up hair on the back of his head, yawning, and blinking at the lights. “What’s going on here?” He looked around at them after his eyes were finished adjusting. “Most of you are human.”
“Hi, I’m Kivi. Who are you?”
“Bulgari?” Leona asked.
“Yeah, heard of me?”
“Yes,” Vitalie said. “You died in pocket four. You were trying to help Serif and little Adamina get back to the ship.”
Vito yawned some more and walked over to a corner. “You were terribly misinformed. I can turn invisible.” He pushed some buttons and revealed what looked suspiciously like a coffee pot. “Anybody want anything? It kind of tastes like tea and urine, but it wakes ya up.”
“I think we’re good,” said the other man, whose name Leona still hadn’t learned.
“I would love some,” Khuweka said graciously. “It doesn’t taste like that to me.”
“Have you been here the whole time?” Vitalie questioned.
“Not the whole time. Missy, Dar’cy, and the rest of the people who wanted to have their powers removed went back in time, and showed up not long after the universe was created. We lived in secret for awhile. Or I should say that they lived in secret. I lived in super secret, because I was invisible.”
“So it doesn’t work?” Leona asked. “They keep their powers.”
“No, it worked,” he replied as he was pouring Khuweka a cup of the Maramon tea. “A few of them wanted their powers back, though. The rumor was Eden Island would allow them to do it, so that’s where they went. I followed them in secret, as per usual.”
“That’s impossible,” Khuweka said. “I was on the island when that group showed up. You were not there, and you could not have been invisible, because the thing that took people’s powers was inescapable. It affected everyone in the whole world, except for Serif, because she wasn’t there.”
“It affected me too,” Vito said, taking a sip. “It was different for me, though. I was in a state of invisibility at the time, and it was in that state that I remained. I needed my powers back if I wanted people to see me, which is why I went with them.”
“Where are they now, the ones who wanted their powers back?” Leona asked him.
He lifted his cup towards Khuweka. “She can fill in the rest.”
Khuweka hesitated, but knew she needed to explain herself. “Like I said, I was there, because Serif asked me to be. She gave me a sample of her healing nanites, which I was intending to supply to your friends. Something went wrong, and everyone there, including me, ended up with all of the powers. I can teleport like Curtis, disintegrate like Lucius, thread objects like Dar’cy, diagnose powers like Avidan, create time bubbles like Missy, and slip time like...uhh...never mind.” She was referring to the older Dubravka, who little Dubra here had yet to become, so it was best to leave her out of the story. “They’re also immortal, like I always was.” She glared at Vito. “As far as I know, though, I can’t turn invisible.”
Vito smirked. “Are you sure? Have ever tried?”
She didn’t answer.
He continued, “you knew what the other people’s powers were, so it was easy for you to replicate them. You didn’t know about me, so it never occurred to you.”
“I guess I could try now.”
“Stop,” Leona nearly shouted. “You were telling us what happened to our friends.”
“Right,” Khuweka said innocently. “Sorry. From what we gathered, hey were sent to other universes.”
“From what you gathered? What does that mean?”
“You know that big circle of Maramon you found yourself in when you first arrived in Ansutah?” Khuweka prompted.
“They were attempting to travel to your universe, through a portal created by a woman named Ezqava Eodurus. You may know her as Effigy.”
“Yes,” Hogarth recalled. “I do know her.”
Khuweka continued, “Some good people, including Hogarth here, corrupted that portal. That’s what created those monsters on Durus. Whenever any of my people tried to cross over, they came out wrong on the other side. But it was their only hope, because very few of us knew that the prototype Crossover was still somewhere in Ansutah, and even few knew where exactly. Apparently Vito’s been sleeping in it.”
“Guilty,” Vito confirmed.
“How did Vearden, and all those other humans get their hands on the real Crossover?” Leona asked.
“There was a technical error when we all accidentally slipped time to the future, to a time when Maramon still had control of the machine. What we believe happened was it expelled everyone inside of it throughout the bulkverse, seemingly randomly, before the machine itself was lost in one of them. Effigy presumably landed in your universe, and was trying to call for reinforcements. And now we’re here, in the prototype, trying to travel to one of these universes.”
“Are we going to run into one of our friends then?” Leona asked her.
“I assume they’re as immortal as me, so it’s possible, but we would have to land sometime after they did, and the chances of us happening upon one of those universes are pretty slim. We just don’t have the data.”
Leona sighed. This was a lot of information, and she didn’t feel like much of it was useful. It was better when they could hope Missy and Dar’cy had completed their mission, but now there was so much more to worry about.
“This is all amazing to know,” the other man said. “I do have some business back in my home universe, so how long will it be until we get there?”
Khuweka pressed some buttons, and looked at the monitor again. “There’s no telling how long it will be until we get back, because I don’t know what these kids are trying to find. It will be another eight months or so until we arrive at our destination.”
“That won’t work,” Leona complained. “I’m going to disappear in a few hours. Where will I return?”
Khuweka tilted her chin. “I don’t think you’re going anywhere. You’re one of those salmon, right?”
The white monster almost laughed. “Yeah, I don’t think the gods who control you can reach you here. You should be good.”
She turned out to be right about that. The eight of them spent as many months in the Crossover prototype together. It was equipped with a quantum food replicator, and just enough living quarters for each of them. Leona asked why her baby was apparently not growing the whole time, but Khuweka had no certain answer for this. Though metabolism persisted throughout the journey, the bulkverse itself didn’t follow the same rules of time, so maybe all aging was halted. The Prototype also had tons of original entertainment, but all of it was from Ansutah, and thusly all in the Maramon language, which ultimately led them to learning it in a conversational capacity. Khuweka learned how to turn things invisible, while Dubra learned everything she would have in a school setting had she not been sheltered by her mother for her whole life. They learned all about each other too. The other man’s name was Kallias Bran. He seemed to not be salmon, nor choosing one, nor chosen one, nor spawn, yet he had a lot of experience with this life. When it was all over, Khuweka led them out of the machine, and breathed in the fresh air over a cemetery. It was chillingly quiet. “Welcome to whatever it is they call this universe.”
A voice came from above, “most people don’t name their universes, because they think theirs is the only one.” The woman gracefully hopped off the roof of the prototype, and landed on the ground with no problem. “People here are different. We call it the Composite Universe. You came to this world at a bad time, though.”
“Why is that, Savitri?” Khuweka asked, apparently having already met this mysterious young woman.
“Everyone’s dead.”

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