Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Advancement of Leona Matic: October 5, 2212

Leona found herself floating around the exit bay of The Vosa. She could feel a deep tingling throughout her whole body, and the saliva on her tongue boiling away. Other debris was floating around her, and she could hear nothing. Life was tearing itself away from Leona’s body, and there was nothing she could do about it. She was about to lose consciousness when a gust of what felt like wind forced her against the back wall. Then the wind receded, and pulled her through the exit.
A person was helping her up, and catching her own breath. Leona was still in pretty bad shape, so it sounded like this other person said something like, “he aft two bet who adopter.”
Then she finally passed out.

Later, Leona woke up in a hospital bed, but it didn’t look like she was in a hospital room, or at least not one she recognized. This looked more like a fancy executive suite that rich people demanded when they needed medical treatment. A woman rushed into the room to check on her condition. It took Leona a moment to wake all the way up, but then realized it was Danica Matic. She was Mateo’s cousin, who had been working in a special location underground in Kansas called The Constant for billions of years. “What happened?” Leona asked. “How did I get here?”
“I can answer the second question, but I was hoping you would fill me in on the first,” Danica said. “Saga opened a door, and found you dying in what she assumed was a spaceship. The pressure change sucked you into a broom closet, and when she opened it to get back to your friends, she came out here. She went to get you some towels, but never came back. My assumption is that she opened another portal.”
“How long have I been out? What year is it?”
“October 5, 2212. You’ve only been out a couple of hours. We have pretty good medicine down here.”
“The royal we. I still live here alone.”
Leona struggled to sit up. “I suppose you’ll need me to leave, since I wasn’t really invited.”
“Nonsense,” Danica said. “You’re family. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for the wedding. I’m not allowed to leave.”
“You remember that? You remember Mateo?”
“I remember everything. Literally. My mind cannot be corrupted.”
Leona looked around the room, paranoid. “My stuff. Did my stuff come through? I had very important objects with me!”
“It’s okay, they did. Your bag was over your back.” She handed Leona the page from the Book of Hogarth that had the instructions for how to put the ingredients together. “I made this for you.”
“You made...” Leona was confused. “You mean you assembled all the objects?”
Danica smiled triumphantly. “Yep. I don’t have a lot of things to do. Again, always alone.”
“Did it work? Is he back?”
“I didn’t turn it on,” Danica said, almost offended. “The instructions don’t say what it does, so that’s your job.”
“I thought you knew everything.”
“Not everything, everything.”
“Okay, cool. I’ll do it now.” She tried to get out of bed, but Danica stopped her.
“Hold on, I need you to stay for now. I called a specialist, who should be arriving shortly. I could treat your vacuum exposure, but I need”
“To what?”
“I will explain myself.” Dr. Mallory Hammer was standing in the doorway. “After the examination.”
“What’s going on?” Leona asked. “Why the hell is she here?”
“You should go,” Mallory solemnly said to Danica.
“I’ll be in my office,” Danica promised. “Shout if you need anything.”
Mallory sanitized her hands, and fitted herself with sterile gloves. Then she started out by feeling Leona’s lymph nodes and thyroid.
“What aren’t you two telling me?” Leona asked.
“Patience,” Mallory answered calmly. “Trust the process.”
Leona kept quiet while Mallory continued. She ran vitals, took some samples, and used futuristic equipment to test for whatever. Finally, she pulled her stethoscope out of her ears, and draped it over her shoulders. “You have been through a significant trauma.”
“You survived.”
“I see that...”
“Unfortunately, you were the only one. Everyone else on that ship was killed. It was sabotaged by someone named...” She consulted her notes. “Hargesen.”
“The cargomaster.”
“We still don’t know why he did it.”
“Holly Blue is dead?”
“She wasn’t on the ship. We’ve no clue where, or when, she is.”
“Why did Danica need you to be the one to tell me this.”
Mallory took a deep breath, trying to remain gentle. “Leona, you were the only survivor.”
“You’ve said that.”
“Including your children.”
“The pressure change was just too much for their little developing bodies. I’m sorry.”
“No,” Leona said in denial. “They can’t be dead.”
“I’m sorry,” Mallory repeated. “I should have...” She hesitated. “I kept trying to get back to you, but no one would take me. And anyone willing was blocked by something. Somebody didn’t want me examining you. I don’t know if that was related to this.”
“You don’t understand, they can’t be dead.”
“I know this is hard to hear, but—”
“You’re not getting it, I remember him.”
“Remember who?”
“Mateo. My husband. I only remember him, because these are his babies.” She rubbed her belly. “If they’re gone, my memory of him should too.”
Mallory shook her head. “Maybe the memories can’t be undone. Maybe it takes awhile to fade. I wouldn’t mind discussing this more with you, over the course of—”
“I’m not one of your case studies!” Leona argued.
“No, of course not. I apologize.”
“Even if my memories aren’t proof enough, my kids have to be born. They have a future; a destiny. They’ve already impacted the timeline, because they’re time travelers!”
Danica ran back into the room. “That’s enough, Hammer.”
“I would like to stay. I need to be here a year from now, so I can see how the time jump effects her body.”
“Go home, Hammer,” Danica ordered, “before I make you.”
An understanding Mallory stood back up, and left the room. By the time Danica made her way back over to the bed, Leona was already bawling her eyes out. She took her cousin into a hug, and held her there forever.
She must have cried herself to sleep, because she woke up again hours later. Danica was sitting in a chair next to her. “I’m fine,” Leona told her when she tried to help. “I need to get up and move around.”
“I’ll make you something. You need energy.”
“That would be lovely.”
She followed Danica out of the room at a much slower pace. Danica was already rounding the corner to another room when Leona made it to the main living area. A crazy contraption was erected on top of a table. Every ingredient that Leona spent the last two years gathering was there in some fashion. They were held together by auxiliary parts, ending at a wall where Danica had taped the LIR map.
Leona went over to the beginning of what ultimately looked like a Rube Goldberg machine. The first object was the Incorruptible Astrolabe. Though it was designed to correct corruptions to reality, it was evidently not strong enough to do it on its own. Leona reached up and instinctively spun it with her finger. It started spinning, and didn’t stop, even after it should have lost momentum. The Rothko Torch attached to it flickered as they spun faster and faster, until the light was at full power. It shone though the Jayde Spyglass, and out towards the open cosmic sextant, which magically split the light into two beams. Each beam passed through one of the eyepieces from the HG Goggles, which bent the beams back together. The energy passed through the flame of  the Muster Lighter, and shot straight to the LIR Map on the wall. After a moment, a circle had been burnt on the map. The object machine then stopped on its own, letting the astrolabe and flashlight slow naturally.
The Escher Knob, sitting loosely at the end of the table, began to vibrate and glow. Leona tapped it with one finger to make sure it wasn’t hot, which it wasn’t. When she picked it up, it tried to reach the wall, like a magnet. Leona reached over, and let the knob attach itself to the map right at the burn mark, which was the exact same size.
“Did it work?” Danica was standing in the doorway again, holding a sandwich plate, and a glass of chocolate milk.
“I don’t know,” Leona said. Frightened and nervous, she slowly reached up to the knob again, and took hold of it. She pulled it away from the wall. The map came all the way out, at the end of what turned out to be a large drawer. Leona peeked over, and found a body resting inside of it. It looked like a morgue drawer, but deep inside, the walls looked more like a the padding of a casket. “Mateo!”
Danica set the food down, and ran over to help. Together, they pulled him out of the drawer, and laid him on the couch. Leona checked for a pulse, but found nothing. His skin was cold, and very dirty. She tried to perform CPR while Danica ran off to get the defibrillator, but nothing worked. Mateo was back, but he was dead.
“Did I not set it up correctly? Are we missing a piece?”
“I don’t think so.” Leona got the feeling that, if she didn’t find a way to bring him back to life quickly, he would be gone forever. She pulled Hogarth’s instructions out of her gown, and looked them over. No, Danica assembled them all exactly according to specifications. Then she remembered one of the last things Hogarth said to her. She flipped the page over. It was still blank at first, but then ink spontaneously started appearing. Place Insulator of Life on chest. “Oh my God, you’re right. We didn’t get everything. The Insulator of Life wasn’t on our original list.”
“I know where that is; Alpha Centauri C.”
“Proxima?” Leona questioned. “Brooke and Sharice were headed that direction. Of course! Bungula is inhospitable to life. Something called the Insulator of Life could, well...insulate their lives!” She panicked. “He’ll probably start decomposing. I’ll never get there in time.”
“Yes, you will.” Danica went back over to the contraption, and pulled the cosmic sextant off of it. “Hey Thistle, show me the southern hemisphere sky.” The floor disappeared, and revealed the night sky below them. Danica adjusted the sextant where she wanted it, and found the right place on the floor screen. “Come on.”
Leona got up, and gladly accepted the sextant from her cousin.
“Wait here. I’ll give you a care package.” She ran out, and came back a few minutes later with Leona’s bag, and a gurney. She placed a small black object against Leona’s chest, and it stayed there on its own. The two of them pulled Mateo up onto the gurney. “Point the sextant at that point of light right there.”
Leona did as instructed, and waited.
“Safe travels. I love you.”
The map of the sky suddenly zoomed in at a very fast rate, all the way until she could see the ground below her. When Leona looked up, she realized she was on the ground, and The Constant was gone, as was the sextant. This was Proxima Doma, the primary planet in the Proxima Centauri system. The black objects on their chests were emanating a forcefield to protect them from the vacuum, which was something she could have used to prevent her miscarriage. She had lost them, but she wasn’t going to lose her husband. She took the Compass of Disturbance out of her bag, and found her bearing. Then she took hold of Mateo’s gurney, and started running. Then she kept running, until it was 2213.

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