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Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Advancement of Leona Matic: Prime

Vito and Khuweka split the group in half, and teleported everyone back to the Prototype. Kallias tried to hand the goggles over to Leona, but she figured it would be best to keep all their ingredients separate, for now. She possessed the Compass of Disturbance, and Kivi was in charge of the Book of Hogarth, because Hogarth herself didn’t want nothing to do with it. Vitalie kept the Incorruptible Astrolabe in her bag, Hogarth had the Rothko Torch, Khuweka kept the Jayde Spyglass, and now Kallias could hold onto the HG Goggles. Once everyone was inside, Leona interfaced her tattoo with the machine once more, and started up the engines.
“How long will it take to get there?” Kivi asked, increasing her volume with every word, as the engines grew louder and louder. “Some of us won’t live forever!”
“We’re here,” Khuweka said, interpreting the screens. It was one thing to speak Maramon conversationally. Reading the script, and understanding the monitor outputs, were entirely different skills, so they still needed her to operate this thing.
“Really? Wow,” Vitalie said. “Why did the last one take months?”
“The Composite Universe, and Universe Prime are quantum entangled with one another,” Khuweka began to explain. “As far as hyperdimensional relativity goes, they’re right next to each other. When the original Prototype exploration crew found what we call the biverse, they decided to stay away from both of them. Most human civilizations die out before growing too technologically advanced to become a threat to us. The residents of the biverse are exceedingly more powerful than anything you’ve ever seen. The only reason we were safe in the Composite was because that world, at that time, was largely abandoned. When we step out to Earth here, there’s no telling what we’ll find. Tread lightly, I will probably go invisible.”
“This is Earth, though,” Hogarth asked.
“Yes,” Khuweka said. “Though it is a very different than your own, much is the same. Technology, for instance, has advanced at about the same rate, according to a strikingly similar arbitrary calendar.”
“What year is it right now?” Leona asked as she was looking at a very underdeveloped village a couple hundred meters from their position.
“Sixteen-ninety-nine,” Khuweka answered, looking at the monitor again. She turned away from it, but did a double-take. “Oh, sorry. Negative sixteen-ninety-nine; about seventeen hundred years before the common area, and the birth of some random guy named Jesus.”
Though she was strictly atheist, Leona’s husband was born and raised Catholic. Fortunately, Mateo didn’t exist in the timestream, and no one else here seemed to be offended by Khuweka’s remark. The way Leona understood it, disparate universes were completely unrelated entities, and quite unlike alternate realities. Even Earths that began with the same start values would have developed under radically different conditions, resulting in not a single individual from one having an alternate version in another. Still, there seemed to be some exceptions to this rule, in some cases; apparently people whose lives so profoundly impacted history. Donald Trump, Adolf Hitler, and Jesus of Mary and Joseph, appeared to exist in multiple branes, which they shouldn’t, suggesting some level of quantum entanglement that permeated the bulkverse. What about these few people led to multiple versions of them having been born? Then again, human beings themselves ought to be extremely rare in their familiar form, due to minor differences in the environment in which life evolved. Perhaps these constants were simply quirky extensions of whatever principle allowed humans to be so unrealistically pervasive.
“There’s someone at the door,” Kivi pointed out as she was looking at the view monitor. Her comment was quickly followed by a knock on that very door.
Vito set down his drink, and walked over to the entrance with a strut. “I will protect you from harm,” he said, embracing his immense power. “Can I help you?” he asked, out of sight of either the camera, and blocked by the antechamber.
“Step aside,” came a reply.
Leona recognized that voice. She ran over, and tackled Missy Atterberry as she tried to round the corner. “Oh my God, you’re here. It’s been so long!”
Missy hugged her back, but with only one arm. The other was missing.
“What happened?” Leona asked.
“Occupational hazard,” Missy replied after Leona finally let her go. “I’m the one what caused the Crossover to explode. My arm didn’t survive.”
“I can build you a prosthetic,” Hogarth said. “Hell, you come with us back to our universe, I could regrow your limb.”
Missy shook her head. “Not possible. The most advanced scientists in the biverse have attempted. There’s a neurological block between my brain, and the nerve-endings. A lot of people experience something called phantom limb, which causes them to feel pain from appendages they’ve lost. I have the opposite condition, where my brain is indissolubly aware that my arm is no longer there. I can’t even trick it. I’ve survived, though.”
“I’m so sorry,” Leona said.
“No,” Khuweka said. “I’m sorry. I’m the one what did this to you. You wouldn’t have been in the machine had I not dropped the canister of Serif nanites.”
Missy smiled lovingly. “That was millennia ago, I’m totally over it. I’m a doctor now. I can diagnose absolutely any illness.”
“How did you know we were coming?” Leona asked her. “You couldn’t have just happened to be living in the area?”
“I planned my travels accordingly,” Missy explained. “A friend of mine predicted your arrival. If he’s not busy, you may meet him. Come. It’ll be easier to turn this thing invisible if you’re already outside of it.”
“You knew you could turn things invisible?” Khuweka asked Missy.
Missy laughed as she ushered everyone out, one by one. “Of course. I just diagnosed my own time powers.”
“Damn, I should have thought of that,” Khuweka said.
“You’ve spent your whole life as an immortal,” Vito said comfortingly. “You probably never had reason to wonder how your body works, because it never breaks down.”
Once everyone was outside, Missy turned the Prototype invisible, and synced up her teleportation coordinates with Vito and Khuweka, so they could all jump at once.

Leona looked around with wonder. They were standing in the middle of a bustling city. There weren’t any skyscrapers, but there were streets, and electricity. “I thought this was the second millennium BCE. Did you jump us through time?”
“No,” Missy said. “This island was founded by aliens from a different universe, just like us. They call it...Atlantis.”
“Atlantis?” Vitalie asked. “I’ve heard of that from other choosers. The powers that be supposedly live here.”
“It’s a different Atlantis,” Hogarth tried to explain. “Remember?”
Missy laughed again as she walked up to a door, and rang the bell. “No, it’s not. There is only one Atlantis in the whole bulkverse.”
A man opened the door before anyone could ask Missy what the actual hell she was even bloody talking about.
“Meino, these are the ones you foretold would come; my friends from my homeverse.”
Meino looked them over, not with suspicion, but curiosity. “Have the council responded to your requisition?”
“They’ve not,” Missy responded. “I was hoping you could put in a good word.”
“They’re not just going to hand a weapon of mass destruction over to a bunch of random travelers.”
“Yes,” Missy agreed, “they’re travelers...from the universe of origin, which means it belongs to them more than anyone.”
“That doesn’t mean it belongs to them,” Meino said. “Now, if they had some sort of family claim to the artifact, I might be able to convince the council. Otherwise, I doubt my words would hold much sway.”
“We have a family claim,” Hogarth said. When everyone looked at her, she lowered her head in embarrassment. “My wife is the mother-in-law of the lighter’s original owner, Lubomir Resnik.”
“L.R.,” Meino said as he stared at Hogarth. “It’s engraved on the bottom of it. The museum always suspected it was a personal item.”
“It was a gift from a mage who fancied him,” Hogarth continued. “Rumor has it they were having an affair, but that was never confirmed. He had the power to form a mental map of everyone on the planet, and communicate with them telepathically. Well, it was more like hypnotism.”
“That makes sense, based on what the muster lighter can do. Very well, I will call in as many favors as I need to make this happen for you.”
“Thank you, Meino,” Missy said. “You are a good witch.”
“Yeah, yeah,” he said nonchalantly as he stepped out of his house, and let the door close behind him. He then jumped up, and flew away like superhero.”
“What kind of time power lets you fly?” Kivi asked, eyes wider then a dinner plate.
“He doesn’t have a time power,” Missy said. “I just said it, he’s a witch. He has telekinesis.”
While the group waited for word on whether they would be allowed to take the Muster Lighter out of this universe, they had a beachview picnic. Those most concerned with how the powers that be maintained control over salmon pressed Missy for details on the matter. Leona, specifically, wanted to request audience with them, assuming this council of leaders were the ones responsible. Missy was clear that the council had nothing to do with it, and in fact, could do nothing to stop it. What was happening to Leona and the other salmon in their universe would not come to pass in this universe for many, many years. There was simply nothing they could do at the moment to affect any change. It was out of the question for them to somehow jump forward in time, and do something about it then, because that could prevent Leona from getting Mateo back. She resolved to come back later, hopefully further in the timeline of Universe Prime.
Meino contacted them about an hour later, and informed them the council was still considering their request, but would need to hear a plea from the family. When Hogarth stood up to go with him, she exploded.
“That seems like something the powers that be would do,” Kivi noted. “Why does she keep disappearing, if they don’t have control over us anymore?”
“She’s not salmon,” Kallias answered her. “Nor was she born a choosing one. She’s hypothesized that she was infected with temporal energy when the machine that she built exploded. Though the explosions seem random, she believes time is aware of itself, and is reacting to something in the timestream. We’ll probably never know what triggers them, if anything.”
“If she can’t speak,” Meino said, “the council will need someone to speak on her behalf. Or you can come back later, it doesn’t matter to them. No one else is asking for the muster lighter. Could you do it?” he asked of Kallias.
“I will,” Leona said. “The lighter may belong to her by way of family, but I’m the one who’s here to use it. I should explain to them why.”
“Very well,” Meino said. “One of your friends can teleport you, or I can let you fly.”
“Oo, fly,” Kivi said excitedly. “My mama always said, if someone asks you if you want to fly, always say yes.”
“She always said that?” Vitalie questioned. “She ever said that?”
“I wouldn’t mind the experience,” Leona said to Meino.
After becoming a time traveler, Leona saw and did a lot of things. She met famous historical figures, battled super powerful villains, and even died a few times. Nothing could compare to the feeling of flying through the open air. Her only regret was how small the island was, though it seemed like Meino was taking the long way around to give her more time. They flew onto the balcony of the top floor of a highrise, and walked right into the council room. A group of people were carrying on with their own conversations, and only passively acknowledged their arrival. They were an eclectic bunch. One of them was drinking what was either a bloody mary, or just blood. It did look like she had fangs, and her eyes were a vibrant shade of violet, so Leona was inclined to assume she was a vampire.
Once they were finished, the council leader spoke, “is this the relative of the original owner?”
“I am not,” Leona replied. “She is indisposed.”
“She’s lost somewhere else in time,” Meino clarified when the council leader looked to him.
Leona continued, “She was here to help me, however. I require the muster lighter in order to bring my husband bank from nonexistence.”
The council looked amongst each other. “How do you remember him if he no longer exists?” one of them asked her.
Leona rubbed her belly deliberately. “I’ve felt the evidence.”
They nodded, understanding her situation better than she would have expected. “We accept this change,” the leader said. “I am Council Leader Erica Phoenix. How will you use the artifact to retrieve your husband? How does it have this power?”
“It alone does not seem to,” Leona said. “My source indicates it will be working in tandem with several other objects, each with their own power. This source is designed to give information piecemeal, so I couldn’t tell you exactly how it will work, if at all.”
“The lighter is a powerful tool, but also profoundly dangerous. We believe it’s already been reverse engineered for nefarious purposes. Our inhouse seers do not see good things happening with this technology. Their visions, however, cannot reach beyond the biverse. How can we be assured of your good intentions?”
Leona took stock of what she had learned since arriving here. Meino was a witch with telekinesis, that woman was almost certainly a vampire, and the wolf at the end of the table was demonstrating active listening skills. People who could see the future were mentioned on multiple occasions, and technology this island utilized was far beyond anything that should exist in this time period. The leader’s name reminded Leona of an entity she once met named Monster, who referred to itself as a phoenix. She took a stab in the dark, and guessed there were lots of other wonders she had not had the pleasure of encountering. “I would be happy to submit to a telepath, or an empath.”
The council members looked at each other again. Maybe they were all telepaths, and never needed to say anything out loud. “We have decided to trust you. Besides, my great great grandchild vouches for you.” She stood up, prompting the others to do the same. “I’m afraid we must dispense with ceremony, however, as we have run out of time.” She pulled a lighter out of her pocket, and tossed it over to Leona. “Safe travels. It is my understanding you’ll be dealing with the bladapods next. Good luck with that.”

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