Thursday, May 23, 2019

Microstory 1109: Dardan Lusha

Horace Reaver was a salmon, born with the pattern of going back to his younger body, and living every day a second time. At first, he didn’t realize other people weren’t like him. He called the first time he experienced a day the practice, and assumed everyone around him went through the same thing. One day, he accidentally killed his friend, Dardan Lusha on the playground. This didn’t bother him much, because he knew he would be able to prevent it from happening after the day reset to its beginning, as it always had. This was when he first learned normal people were not like him at all, and did not perceive time the same way. Dardan lived through that day, totally unawares of what had happened before, and went on to continue living long after that, but his relationship with his only friend was forever changed. While the trauma was completely erased from Dardan’s memories, Horace could remember vividly, and could not get past the fact that he was alone. Dardan would always remind him of that, and he just couldn’t have it, so he purposefully cut ties with him. Though Reaver would go on to become quite the prolific killer, there was no reason to suspect he felt any animosity towards Dardan. In all likelihood, he had all but completely forgotten about the incident. Still, Reaver’s daughter, Meliora didn’t want to take any chances. When Dardan was a young adult, she took him off Earth, and made him the first tenant of Sanctuary, which she built on a planet that would eventually come to be known as Dardius. Then the timeline changed. A traveler went back, and altered history enough to create a new reality, and a new Dardan. She came to realize that this would never stop happening. She couldn’t just rescue people who had been negatively affected by time, then leave their alternates to their own devices. Some people, in these new realities, will have escaped their terrible fates, and that was fine, but someone at constant risk, like Dardan, would have to be saved no matter what. Over the years, she continued to save him from the potential of her father’s wrath. Every once in awhile, a new Dardan will take up residence on the planet named for him. The most recent one was elected Agriculture Administrator, and was responsible for feeding billions of people, including the world’s enemies. And no one beyond Meliora knew why he had been saved, not even Dardan himself.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Microstory 1108: Meliora Rutherford Delaney-Reaver

Meliora Rutherford Delaney-Reaver was born in a different reality. Most people with time powers, really only have one specialty. This specialty may come with necessary secondary powers, or they may have multiple applications, but they’re usually all related. Someone who can travel back and forth in time often also has the ability to jump through space as well, but this is because space and time aren’t as separate as most people perceive. They won’t also be able to create pocket dimensions, though, because that’s an entirely different set of skills. There are indeed a handful of choosing ones out there who can manipulate time in multiple ways, however not all are created equal. Holly Blue, for instance, can invent different kinds of time-based technology. The Apprentice can quite literally learn other people’s powers, though he’ll lose any he doesn’t utilize often or recent enough, just like when a normal person’s brain loses neural connections. Of course, The Cleanser possessed the body of an entity known as The Mass, which was originally designed to maintain a balance in the timeline, and exhibited several characteristics in order to accomplish this. Meliora was special in that she natural came with a host of powers, and there’s never been a satisfactory explanation as to why. Her birth father, Horace Reaver was a salmon, who lived each day twice. He had no control over his pattern, and though there was only one person in histories like him, he wasn’t particularly remarkable. Her mother, Leona Delaney was spawn, and depending which reality you’re talking about, she was imbued with different patterns, but nothing astonishing either. Shortly after Meliora’s third birthday, Reaver was arrested for killing the man who killed his wife—along with a dozen or so innocent bystanders. She was subsequently sent to live in foster care, with a man named Lincoln Rutherford, who already had one adopted son.

A few months before she turned six, Meliora realized what she could do, when she found herself accidentally twenty years in the past, and she wouldn’t return to her date of egress until experiencing twenty years of life, but not all in order. She continued to jump around time, practicing her skills, and exploring history. The original plan was to go back to before her mother died, and stop it from happening, but she realized it was her birth father who needed to make a change for his own life. So she went back to the exact date she first left, and confronted him in his prison cell. Unbeknownst to the two men, her foster father was a guard, and happened to be stationed just outside his door at the time. When she sent Reaver back to his own younger body, Lincoln went through as well, and started making his own changes to the timeline. What Meliora discovered, though, was that no matter what she did, history could never reach a state of good. Every change came with an unforeseen cost, and any attempt to correct these new problems simply resulted in new costs. But through all these years, she realized the people who suffered the most were the normal humans, who often had no clue what was going on. So she became determined to find a place where all those negatively affected by other temporal manipulators could find peace and safety. She recruited the help of a spawn named Gilbert Boyce, who happened to have ownership of a planet millions of light years away that was shocking similar to Earth. It was here that she built The Sanctuary. It started with a single hotel, but grew from there, until the world became home to billions of people, many of which didn’t even know she existed.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Microstory 1107: Judy Schmidt

There was nothing particularly special about Judy Schmidt. She grew up with a normal family, in a normal town, and ended up with a normal job in marketing. She was raised as an atheist, and after careful study of the world’s religions when she was older, decided she still was. She wasn’t superstitious, and she didn’t believe in anything that hadn’t been officially recorded in history. She believed in dinosaurs and meteorites, but not ghosts, and definitely not time travelers. After a few years of working for the company, she finally felt comfortable with her career status. She wasn’t interested in doing the same job, for the same rate of pay, forever, but she wasn’t overly ambitious either. She was ready to hold steady for awhile, and maybe focus a little more on her personal life. Her friends had been wanting to set her up on a blind date, so she agreed. She and Rebecca started off slow. First they had coffee, then lunch, then dinner, and then they had a date that took place in two locations. This occurred over the course of a month, and it seemed to be going so well, that they both decided they wanted to take the next step. On the first night that Rebecca stayed over, she disappeared...literally. They were sitting up in bed, just talking, and in the blink of an eye, she was gone, right in the middle of her sentence. A frightened Judy immediately called poison control, thinking she had ingested something bad, but there was nothing they could do for her if she didn’t specifically remembering taking something. They directed her to urgent care, where the doctors and nurses were unable to find anything wrong with her. There was no sign she had been given a hallucinogen, or anything else. There wasn’t even any alcohol in her system. She finally had to surrender to the odd, but still plausible, possibility that she fell asleep, and by the time she woke up, Rebecca had simply left. Sure, her recollection of what the clock read didn’t account for this, and sure, Rebecca wasn’t picking up her phone, but that didn’t mean she was magic. But she was, sort of. Two days later, Judy was getting ready for work when Rebecca suddenly returned. She was wearing different clothes, and covered in mud. As it turned out, she had just spent the entire time in 2011, providing aid for families displaced by the Sidoarjo mud flow in Indonesia. Judy had a hard time believing it, but couldn’t deny the fact that she never did receive a more reasonable explanation for Rebecca’s disappearance. Three days later, it happened again. This time, she was only gone for about eight hours, and returned apparently from the same time and place as before. This continued to happen every day. She was sent off to work, as if it were any other job, except it was taking place over thirty years in the past. She tried to break up with Judy, but Judy wouldn’t accept it. Though this was all new to her, Judy could tell that her relationship with Rebecca was real, and it would be unfair to the both of them if she just ignored their potential. So she stayed, ultimately forever, and she never regretted it.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Microstory 1106: Xearea Voss

Xearea Voss was one of the last Saviors of Earth. No one knows how the powers that be who control the system of salmon choose who will be the next Savior, but it doesn’t appear to be random. A lot of people in the world of salmon and choosing ones are capable of teleporting, but the Savior is in a class of their own. They can’t control when or where they jump, or where they land. Once they arrive, they have an innate sense of what they’re meant to do, and they almost never fail. Some believe that a Savior is detoured to a pocket dimension after each egress, and given mission parameters by someone, then sent off to the new location without conscious memories, but no real evidence suggests this. Their minds are probably encoded with subliminal instructions, using a psychic connection of which they are not fully cognizant. Unlike most Saviors, Xearea was aware of her destiny before it came to pass. Her older brother, Camden was salmon as well, whose pattern regularly pushed him back in time exactly one hundred years. He wasn’t given a specific job while there, but he ended up being recruited by a secret task force composed of competing intelligence agencies from a handful of allied nations. Xearea had always believed she would one day be called to action as well, though she assumed she would begin working with Camden. It wasn’t until a mysterious enemy from her future came back to kill her that she learned she was something else. When he and a group of his men attacked her when she was a child, a group of other men showed up to protect her. They continued to do so for the next few years, until it was time for her to begin her work as Savior.

Several years into her new life, Xearea was tasked with protecting a political leader from an assassination attempt on the steps of a park in the middle of the city. This sort of mission was usually handled by a salmon known as The Kingmaker, but for some reason, she was chosen instead. Perhaps they believed the leader would respond better to an unassuming teenage girl. This leader was well-liked by most, but hated by a select few, who believed humans should be the only intelligent species on Earth. This far into the future, the world was now home to a plethora of others, like androids, transhumans, and genetically engineered so-called designer babies. He was an advocate for the rights of these others, and not anywhere near alone in his beliefs, but his assassins considered him to by the linchpin in the movement towards equality. It wasn’t really a movement anymore, though, since they had long been accepted into society. The assassins were not convinced things couldn’t be changed. Most of a Savior’s saves cannot be undone, but this was an unusual case. A choosing one whose name remains unimportant was the man responsible for the attempt at the leader’s life. Time travelers altered history all the time, but they didn’t purposefully meddle too much in human affairs, because they just didn’t care all that much. He kept trying to go back into the past, and providing back up to himself on those park steps, but Xearea defeated him in every reality. No matter how many versions of him he sent after her, he just couldn’t win. So he decided to go back further, and kill her before she ever had the chance to stop him. We all know how that turned out, though. Xearea wouldn’t die until many years later, at the age of 79.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: October 25, 2232

The timeline, when it came to the universe of Ansutah, was hard to follow. One thing Mateo was told was that its timestream flowed completely separately than that of their own. If, for instance, Mateo were to go back in time and change history, so that the events on The Warren that led to Ansutah’s creation never happened, it wouldn’t matter; Ansutah would still exist. Its existence was totally independent, and no amount of time travel could stop it. But on its own, the rules of time travel continued to apply. When Leona traveled to Ansutah many years ago, she ended up there in some point in its history, but when Serif came here just a few years ago, it was at some point earlier. This meant that Serif’s reunion with Leona, which had already happened from Leona’s perspective, had yet to come to pass from Serif’s perspective. There was no way she could escape that universe if she ever wanted that moment to occur, which she did. Though it was physically possible to alter history, and was done all the time, when dealing with other universe, it was best to let things play out as you knew them to. It was even more dangerous than time travel across a single spacetime continuum, because it added an extra dimension of unpredictable outcomes. At least this was how Weaver explained it when Mateo demanded she reopen the universe bridge, so he could get Serif back.
“I can’t do it anyway,” Weaver said. “All the instrumentation is over there. There’s no bridge to open. It had to be created, and I have no means of doing duplicating it.”
“It was done before, so it can be done again.”
“Not by me,” she argued. “You saw me in there. We barely escaped with our lives, because I had no idea what I was doing. It’s beyond me. You asking me to do that would be like me asking you to design and build a spaceship.”
“Given enough time, I could build a spaceship.”
“Maybe...because there are manuals, and other ways of gaining the education. There’s no universe bridge-building expert to learn from over here. They don’t exist either. I’m sorry, Mateo. She’s gone. She was always going to be gone.”
Mateo didn’t want to surrender to that, but he knew he had to. “Where are we?”
Weaver started tapping on her wrist screen. “Cylinder Four. It’ll take a few hours to get back to Cylinder One.”
“I don’t even know how close we are to midnight. Will I make it in time?”
“I’m not sure you have to worry. It’s 2232. You skipped over your last jump. You may not get another one until the end of the day.”
They made contact with the rest of the group, and proceeded to the transport station, where a ferry was ready to take them to the primary centrifugal cylinder. Cassidy was waiting for them at the airlock when they arrived.
“How bad is it?” Mateo questioned her.
“It’s fine,” she replied. “The Maramon have been living with extremely restricted movement, but there’s no talk of an uprising, or anything like that. No one is mad at us for what we did. You protected us from any more Maramon coming through, so they’re choosing to be positive.”
“Did you tell them about my plan for The Margerie?” Weaver asked her.
“I did. They’re waiting to use it.”
“Waiting for what? Us?”
Cassidy laughed a little accidentally. “No, Kestral and Ishida have been upgrading its systems. They want it to move at point-nine-c.”
“Do they know where its going?” Weaver asked.
“Do you know where it should go?” Mateo asked her.
“Until Project Topdown takes off, our dataset is limited. I have two ideas. It all depends on how far from human civilization you want them to go. Wherever they end up, I assume they’ll want to make their star system a no-fly zone.”
“What’s Topdown?” Mateo asked Cassidy privately as they were heading towards the command center.
She shrugged.
Mateo and Weaver watched the Gatewood welcome video on their way. Apparently, it was only the first in a series designed by Ramses and Goswin to help ease the human refugees into their new lives in a new universe. This approach was reportedly working.
Once they arrived, Kestral tried to say something to them, but Weaver immediately spoke to the computer. “Please run program Weaver Two-H.”
The presentation screen drew up of the solar system.
She stepped through the program as she explained what she was thinking. “Psi Draconis Bc. It’s slightly more massive than Earth, and orbits a star slightly more massive, and slightly hotter, than Sol. It’s companioned by other planets, particularly a gas giant slightly more massive than Jupiter, which would have assisted Bc’s development into a rocky world. Bc is not tidally locked with its parent star, and is believed to hold both a suitable atmosphere, and magnetosphere. Scientists have been studying it extremely closely since the early 23rd century, and believe it to be well habitable. It’s seventy-five light years from Earth, so we’re at less risk of running into them again. I know you’re worried about that. I’m not going to apologize for what I did. Trapping them with their enemies would have been wrong, and you, frankly, had no right to do it. I had to act, and I’m glad I did. The Margerie is perfect for the journey. There are just the right number of people, and if you’ve upgraded propulsion, they won’t have to remain in stasis for too terribly long.” She finally took a breath.
Captain McBride looked at the screen for a moment. “Okay. We can plot a course, but there’s a problem.”
“What’s that?” Weaver asked.
Ishida stepped forward. “We can stock the Margerie with only enough resources to last the Maramon about twenty-five years, assuming they don’t try to procreate while they’re en route.”
“I just said, they can stay in stasis,” Weaver reminded.
“No, they can’t,” Ishida explained. “The stasis pods don’t work. We’ve been trying to fix them this whole time, with Maramon volunteers. You proposed the Margerie was sent here by someone with knowledge of the future, for the Maramon, but we’re not sure that’s the case. We don’t know why they’re larger, but they are most definitely designed for human biology. The Maramon can’t stay asleep. The longest anyone’s made it was nine days, and that was because she was a child, and not as strong to resist. But her body eventually did overcome, and break out.”
Greer stood up. “I didn’t know about this.”
“You’re not a scientist,” Kestral said to her. “There was nothing you could do.”
“Yes, there is,” Greer contended. “Atterberry pods.”
“What? No,” Kestral said dismissively. “We’re not doing that.”
“Why not?” Mateo asked.
“Because she would have to be on the ship, to make sure they remain in working order. You would have to go with them, Miss Thorpe.”
“I recognize that,” Greer said.
“What are Atterberry pods?” Cassidy asked Mateo in a whisper.
“She gets her power from a woman named Missy Atterberry, who once used her abilities to create her own stasis pods. They trap you in a time bubble, so they don’t have to freeze you, or put you to sleep, or anything. You step in, and suddenly, it’s years later, or longer.”
“Oh.” Cassidy looked worried.
“It’s okay,” Mateo said to her. “No one is going to suggest you absorb Greer’s power, and do it yourself. Even if you were somehow more expendable, we don’t know if people’s powers wear out, and fade away for you. She’s the only one who can do it, if anyone does it.”
“Listen here,” Greer began. “I grew up in their world. I fought against the Maramon...in my own way. What these people did; betraying their own kind, for humans, which are undeniably inferior to them, is nothing short of amazing. If I can do anything to help them find a new home, then I have to. I want to.”
“You would have to stay awake for seventy-five years,” Weaver said, shaking her head. “You couldn’t use a bubble yourself, or a regular stasis pod, even for just a little bit. Nah, it would never work.”
Ramses jumped in, “it could work...if you have this.” He walked over to the wall, removed a panel, and revealed a secret safe. He opened it, and retrieved a small vial from what was obviously a freezer.
“What is that?” Kestral questioned.
“Blood of Newt. It can transfer powers from one to another.”
“So, you want to take the job on yourself?” Kestral asked him, not thinking he would say yes.
“Actually, I think I should go, yes.”
“I can do this,” Greer said.
“You would have to,” Ramses agreed. “You’re the only one with the power. If Cassidy were to do it instead, she could run out of Greer juice after too long. And this blood doesn’t just transfer powers to anyone. It only transfers them to offspring. You can do the job for awhile, and then when you get tired of it, you can pass it on to your child.”
“So, why would you need to go?” Ishida interrogated. “Are you just trying to get in her pants?”
“I should go, because she shouldn’t have to be alone. It’s 2232. She can be artificially inseminated. Of course...you would have to agree to that,” he said directly to Greer. “It’s not something you can just say yes to immediately. In fact, I forbid you to answer today. Whatever your decision, I respect it. Personally, I have no problem with the Maramon just staying here. I don’t know why we have to get rid of them.”
“We’re not getting rid of anyone,” Kestral announced. “True, enough of the human refugees don’t feel comfortable with them here, but the Maramon want to leave too. They want a home. We can find a suitable planet that’s twenty-five light years away, but if Greer and Ramses decide they want to help them get farther, I won’t stand in the way.”
“Think about it, Greer,” Ramses said in a woke voice. “Then we’ll talk. Then we’ll think about it more, and then we’ll talk again.”
After a beat, Kestral spoke again, “all right, well, in the meantime, Ishida, Weaver, and I will search for alternatives. If you choose to take this on, Miss Thorpe, and Mister Abdulrashid, you better be sure. There’s no turning back. You will either die on that ship, or on whatever planet it lands on.”
“I understand,” Greer said.
Ramses just nodded.
After the meeting broke, Mateo pulled him aside. “My man, are you leaving me?”
Ramses looked over at Greer, who was staring back from the other side of the room, blushing. The plan wasn’t to have them make a baby together, but if they went ahead with it, they would be raising it together, and that wasn’t something to be taken lightly. “It’s up to her. But...if we choose a closer planet, someone still has to go. We can’t have them just flying off wherever.”
“If they decide to kill you,” Mateo began, “they can fly off to wherever anyway. This is not a safe mission.”
“Are any of them safe?” Ramses volleyed.
“When we met, you were just a guy who was there. You hadn’t known Leona very long, and I didn’t know her friends, who hadn’t known you for super long either. When you followed us to Dardius, you were still..just a guy. I didn’t know we would become friends, or how close would be. I can’t just let you disappear from my life.”
He laughed, “oh, but you can disappear from mine?” He was being more playful than mean, but he had a good point. Mateo was rarely available to help him through all those little obstacles life threw at him. The reality was that Mateo could never be that good of a friend to anyone but Leona. Maybe he would never be there for her again either.
“This is just sudden. It’s not going to take over a year for you and Greer to decide. After midnight central hits, if you end up leaving, I’ll never see you again.”
“Don’t be so sure of that. We’ll be moving at just under lightspeed. You may randomly show up, having reached us going faster than light.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Mateo knew that was a bit of a longshot. He and Leona often found themselves in far away places, but for the most part, it took them as long as humanly possible to get around. This was going to be a one-way trip, and today was all they had.
“Well, anyway,” Ramses started, “if this is it, we should make the most of it. How about a game of Vector in Velox Park? Humans versus Maramon. It’s the only open space they’re allowed to be in.”
“All right, sure,” Mateo agreed. “I don’t know how we can win, though.”
Ramses scoffed lightheartedly. “Nah, man, we never win.”
Come the next year, Mateo returned to the timestream in a Ramsesless Gatewood.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Proxima Doma: Egress (Part IX)

All better now, Tertius returned the dome to normal. He erased everyone’s memories of the last few days, and prevented them from realizing there was still an impossibly giant, anachronistic tower in the middle of their universe. Ambassador Lauritz asked Vitalie and Étude to leave. It wasn’t anything they did, but she decided she didn’t want there to be a Caretaker in their midst. People were going to get hurt, and they were going to die, but that was part of life. She didn’t want anyone interfering with what she considered to be a profound truth. The whole reason they came here was to avoid the conveniences of modern life. Sure, what the two of them could do wasn’t tech; it was seemingly natural, but that didn’t mean it belonged in that world. The Oblivios needed to live their lives as they would have on Earth centuries ago.
They weren’t really needed in any of the other Doma domes either. Despite being light years away from the heart of civilization, technology here was approaching comparability. They were in constant quantum communication with Earth. The best scientists from both worlds were always talking to each other, and sharing data. If one advanced, the other did too. This was a second Earth; the only difference being the inhospitability of its surface. But even that was going to change in the future. It would seem that the Caretaker program was over. It probably wasn’t the shortest tenure, including all Saviors throughout the timeline, but it certainly wasn’t the longest. Hopefully the other Vitalie was living a more impactful life on Dardius. This was the price of anonymity, though. Even if she had done this here for the next hundred years, she would never be remembered for her contributions. It was always going to end like this. She just hadn’t realized how much that would bother her.
So the two of them just started living normal lives. They thought about leaving, and maybe catching up with Leona and Mateo, but ultimately decided against it. Neither of them knew this was where they would end up, having been born so far away, but Proxima Doma felt right now. Étude started working in construction. She didn’t use her powers to build things, but it seemed like a natural fit, and it kept her busy. Vitalie still didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life after the program ended a few years ago. She was well into adulthood, but in a universe of virtual immortals, that didn’t matter much. So she did what most people in her position do; she went to school, and tried to figure it all out. She was presently focusing most on astronomy and physics, having been inspired by one of her idols, Leona Matic.
It wasn’t like they were completely banned from the Oblivio dome, so they would regularly take the tram to the top, and visit with Tertius and Kavita. They were having their weekly brunch with them when they suddenly felt an overpowering warmth. The air around them vibrated, like it had an electrical charge. The walls cracked, the lights flickered, and the floor turned to dirt. After it was over, Vitalie felt the worst nausea ever. She keeled over, and tried to throw up, but nothing would come out. She just kept heaving, but it wasn’t doing her any good. It felt like death. She looked up to see Étude tearing off all her sweat-covered clothes. She didn’t feel any nausea, but she was burning up, like someone had turned the whole room into an oven. Kavita was gathering the clothes up in desperation, and holding them tight to her body. She was a shivering blue popsicle. Only Tertius seemed unaffected by it. The alarm was blaring, indicating a problem with the life support systems. These weren’t the symptoms of exposure, but if life support was given the opportunity to shut down entirely, things would only get worse. He thought quickly, and rushed over to open the safe, to retrieve the immortality water. He dove down to Étude first. “Drink this.”
Étude hadn’t really thought much about becoming a true immortal, but if ever there was a time to consider it quickly, it was when she was literally dying. She took two big gulps of the first bottle, but Tertius stopped her from drinking any more.
“Pass it down the line!” he ordered.
Once Étude passed Catalyst to Vitalie, she took a drink from Existence, then Youth, then Longevity, and so on, until she had reached Activator. Vitalie did the same, as did Kavita. In only a few moments, where there was one immortal, there were now four.
“Seal up this room, Étude,” Tertius commanded.
Étude called upon her power, and filled in all the cracks. Somehow, the top of the tower must have been removed from its place of safety inside of the dome, and became exposed to the harsh environment outside. There weren’t any viewports, though, and the monitoring systems weren’t working, so there was no way to get answers yet.
“We have to find out what’s going on outside,” Kavita said. “Vitalie, you can fix the computers?”
“Me? Why would I be able to do that?”
“Aren’t you studying that?” she questioned.
“No. I’m studying space and physics, I’m not particularly good at it, and I’m still early in my education. I don’t know how these things work.”
“Well, you know more than I do; I grew up plowing fields.”
“I’ll take a look at them,” Tertius said. “I’m no computer scientist, but I installed them myself. There’s one vacuum suit in here. Étude, maybe you could teleport out there, and assess the damage.”
“Of course,” Étude agreed. “Vita, help me get that thing on.”
After Étude was fully fitted with the spacesuit, she jumped to the roof of the tower, where she was immediately met by Vitalie, who was using her own power to connect to her psychically.
“The dome is gone,” Vitalie pointed out. Not only was this level no longer on top of the tower, but the whole tower was gone, as was everything else they would have been able to recognize. All they could see were dirt and space rocks.
“Or we’re gone,” Étude said. “We could have been apported anywhere else.”
“Well, we’re still in dark tide, apparently,” Vitalie said. Proxima Doma was tidally locked with its parent star, which meant one side of the planet was in permanent darkness, while the other permanently in daytime. Each one was completely inhospitable to life, even while inside a protective dome. The best place to survive was where these two sides met, though safer still on the darker edge of that. As they were orbiting a flare star, solar radiation was especially nasty. The domes were placed all over the surface, though as a collective, they were starting to form a ring, so as to remain in the safest areas. This was especially important for the Oblivio dome, as they were not equipped with redundancies, like self-contained emergency bunkers, or escape vehicles.
“We have to get those systems back up,” Étude said, shaking her head. We have to know where we are, so I can get us back to where we need to be. Whatever it was that tore us apart probably didn’t stop there. The whole dome could have been exposed.”
Vitalie could hear something from her body. “Get back inside. He has something.”
“We have power,” Tertius announced after Étude teleported herself back to the room, and removed her helmet. “The computers just needed to be rebooted, though the outside cameras appear to have been damaged. Unfortunately, I have even worse news. It can’t connect to the satellite.”
“You can’t fix it?” Kavita questioned.
He breathed in deeply. “It doesn’t need to be fixed. When I said that it couldn’t connect, I really meant that the satellite isn’t there. Or rather, no satellite is up there. This world is pristine...untouched by man.”
“We went into the past,” Étude lamented.
“That’s what you would think, but...”
“But what?”
“The first thing the computer does when it’s turned on is try to establish a connection with the network. The second thing it does is determine some reference of time. The network itself would provide it with that information, but since it didn’t have that, it resorted to calculating stellar drift. We’re still on Proxima Doma, according to all data out there, but it’s...different.”
“Different how?” Vitalie asked.
“We could be in the past. We could be so far in the past that humans haven’t modeled stellar drift information from this far back. Or it’s somewhere else, and we just don’t have the data.”
“Okay, well...” Vitalie began. “How far back would we have to go to have no sense of time?”
He continued to hesitate and stall.
“Mister Valerius, we don’t have time for niceties,” Kavita told him. “Say what you need to say.”
“This would have to be hundreds of millions of years ago, at the most recent. It could be longer. We know where the stars were pretty far back in time, especially as choosers, which have extra information that I included in my databanks when I set this tower up. We don’t know that far back, though. The fact that the computer can’t calculate an exact date means that we’re the only humans in the entire universe right now.”
Just then, there was a knock on the door.
“You were saying...” Vitalie teased.
“That can’t possibly be a human out there,” he warned.
“We can’t answer it either way,” Kavita reminded them. “There’s no airlock.”
“Étude, could you...?”
“Put my helmet back on?” she guessed. “Sure.”
She teleported outside once more, but was careful not to let whoever it was out there see that she could do that. They rounded the corner to find what appeared to be a normal man standing at the door. He wasn’t wearing a suit, or any form of protection.
Oh, hello, he mouthed. He didn’t seem to need to be able to breathe, but unlike the kind of bullshit you might find in a Superman movie, you can’t talk without air, or some other medium, no matter how invulnerable you are.
Who are you? Étude used sign language, hoping this impossible person somehow knew the language.
My name is Gavix Henderson, he signed perfectly. Do you folks need some help?
How are you surviving? They did need some help, but Étude couldn’t help but ask the question.
I can survive literally anything, he replied. If you will allow me to beam you to my ship, I’ll explain everything. Do you have any wounded?
No wounded, but we should indeed talk.
This is going to look weird, but I assure you, I’m communicating with my crew. He started drumming on his thighs, like he was in an air instrument band.
A blue light overcame Étude, and she disappeared. Vitalie then found herself in Gavix’ apparent ship, back in her own body. She stood back up. Several crew members were standing around, smiling warmly. They were all carrying something on their backs, with a liquid being sent to little gills on their necks.
Welcome to the...Besananta, did one of them say?
“I can hear just fine,” Étude said. “I used to be mute, so I know sign language.”
We can’t speak, the crew member explained.
“I can.” Gavix was here now. “These are the byrqoz. They evolved as water-dwellers, so no vocal cords. “Where are you four from?”
“Proxima Doma,” Étude answered. “Forgive us, but...what year is it?”
He was taken aback by this. “Hmm. I dunno. We don’t really worry about the measurement of time. There aren’t any humans in this universe, except the ones I created, which I know for a fact aren’t anywhere near here. I specifically avoided seeding life in the Lactean galaxy. So, tell me...where are you from?”

Friday, May 17, 2019

Microstory 1105: Wayne Crawford

Long before Wayne Crawford was born, the wedding industry was a dying one. It wasn’t that people weren’t getting married, but it had transformed. First of all, same-sex marriage eventually, and finally, became ubiquitous worldwide. What few people who had a problem with it were expected to keep their mouths shut. Group marriages also became common, but they were built on equality, and love, rather than child rape, indoctrination, and coercion, like a certain religion known for polygamy. The biggest change, however, was in the world’s attitude towards the institution itself, and its beginning. Weddings were still performed, though they were lower key than before. They mostly involved partying and dancing, with little emphasis on decorations and traditions. Some even opted to have no wedding at all, and there was much less stigma attached to this decision than in prior decades. Couples and grouples started realizing that the point of a wedding is to get married, and the point of getting married is to be married. Marriage is a dynamic; not an event. Once the majority of people recognized that, ceremony lost its value. Still, the planet had not suffered from mass amnesia. Some liked to do things the old fashioned way, just for their historical and artistic value. A big wedding was no longer obligatory, nor a burden, but something some people did for fun. Since money wasn’t a thing anymore, it didn’t put a strain on resources either. Wayne Crawford, and his husband-to-be, Raphael Neville were two of those people. They decided they wanted to have a real wedding ceremony, with a full audience, an authorized officiant, and all the little frills and arbitrary features. Some aspects of the traditional wedding were removed. Nobody was giving anybody away, like property, and nobody was wearing virginal white. Unfortunately, it would seem that their special day would be ruined regardless of how they chose to handle it. On May 19, 2161, the rogue planet of Durus made an uncomfortably close pass by Earth. This caused a number of earthquakes, fires, and other disasters, the likes of which the planet hadn’t seen since safety and redundancy took a front seat in the car of life. It also had the unfortunate side effect of plucking people off the surface of both worlds, and pulling them up to the other one. People with temporal abilities and patterns, such as choosing ones and salmon, were at particularly high risk of this, but the majority of refugees were standard humans. Which ones were taken, and which ones were left alone, seemed to be largely unpredictable. You would only possibly be safe indoors, though not even that was a guarantee. Raphael was sadly chosen to be thrown up to Durus, but Wayne did not accept that. The idea was, after the end of the ceremony, they would ride off the cliff together on a two person jet platform to start their new lives, so it was all ready to go for them. Wayne didn’t understand what was happening when Raphael started essentially falling up in the air, but he wasn’t going to waste time studying the phenomenon. He jumped onto the platform, and zoomed up to save the love of his life. He was moving at a pretty good clip, but Raphael was moving much faster. Luckily, aircraft were at fairly high risk of being caught up in what would later be called the Deathspring, so just by sending himself so high up in the air, Wayne ended up being taken to Durus as well, whereas he wouldn’t have, had he stayed put. It would take over twenty years, but Wayne finally did manage to rescue Raphael, and return them both to Earth, and they did so...with a daughter.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Microstory 1104: Hall Voss

Lots of people with special temporal powers or patterns are given nicknames, based either on what they could do, or what they did with what they could do. Hall Voss possessed two nicknames, however. He was both The Navigator, and The Collector, but there was a good reason for that. There were actually two of him. He was just a regular ol’ time traveler, who generally operated across a single timeline, but he also had a penchant for history, and decided to do something about all those artifacts that were lost to history, for one reason or another. He would jump up and down the timestream, rescuing objects with important historical value—from fires, and looting, and other disasters—and donate them to a time museum, which was run by The Historian. Something he learned along the way was that one of his grandsons, and one of his granddaughters, were destined to become notable temporal manipulators as well. Camden was The Centurion, who lived around the turn of the 22nd century, but worked for an intelligence cooperative at the turn of the 21st century. His sister, Xearea was one of the last Saviors of Earth, which was a special class of teleporter, who zipped all over the globe, saving lives. Unfortunately, simply having discovered this truth about his family’s future was enough to prevent it from coming to pass. Xearea was erased from the future, and Camden from both the future, and the past. Such is oft the price of time travel. He had to fix this. So he went back in time, and met up with his younger self. He sought the aid of a choosing one with the power to manipulate people’s memories, who used this gift to place a permanent block on the younger Hall’s mind. He would not be able to learn anything about the future or past that could, in knowing, prevent it from actually happening. This set the timeline right once more, and restored the lives of his grandchildren, but it came at its own price. This older version of Hall was stuck in a separate reality, and could never return, even if he wanted to. So now there are two. The ignorant version—the one that will one day have children—is so ignorant, that he does not even recognize his alternate self. As The Collector, he works with The Navigator all the time, but interprets his face as someone entirely different. If someone were to try and convince him that he has a double, he will never be able to see it, since his mind has been permanently blind to it. But this is all okay, because together, they save history on a regular basis.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Microstory 1103: Thor Thompson

On the first day of fall in 2026, Thor Thompson made the one-way trip with his family to Mars. Thor spent his whole life training for this mission, long before his parents had any reason to suspect they would be chosen as some of the first pioneers to the red planet. Both of them were highly valued scientists, who would be vital to early endeavors for permanent settlement. His father owned a private undersea habitat manufacturing contractor, which allowed astronauts to train for long-term missions in a simulated environment. He was chosen to build the first of these habitats on the surface of Mars, based on his extensive knowledge of construction for extremely harsh environments. His mother was literally a rocket scientist, who helped design the first true passenger shuttle, and several models beyond. Previous shuttles were capable of accommodating a handful of highly training space explorers, but hers could hold dozens of individuals, not all of which would necessarily possess the skills to operate the craft itself. The first airplanes were designed only for pilots, but an industry grew from that, and now, very few people on any commercial airliner have any clue how the machines work, and would not be able to fly in an emergency situation. This was her dream for spaceflight, and her passion for a future of ubiquitous access is why, out of everyone else working the problem, she was also chosen as a settler. Initial plans for colonization called for elite scientists, and it’s true that these people were vital, but exclusivity went against the purpose of outward human expansion. If this was going to work, Martians needed to be composed of families. It needed...to include children. That’s where Thor ‘Too Young’ Thompson came in. He was given his nickname when he was much younger, because he would frequently attempt to participate in things that were beyond his years. He tried to buy tickets for rated R movies, and ride amusement park rides best enjoyed by adults. He tried to run the City Frenzy race when he was only nine years old, and he never hung out with children his own age. At the time, he was the youngest chosen for Mars, but he wasn’t accepted merely because his parents were desired. The company could have found comparable experts without children, but they stuck with the Thompsons, because Thor had long ago proven himself to be extremely skilled and capable in his own right. He would go on to run that City Frenzy once he was old enough, and finally win it in the summer before departure. If there was any question he would survive on a hostile new world, there wasn’t anymore. He would grow up to become a valued member of the Martian society, and contribute greatly to its blossoming as a self-sustaining civilization. He would do this with the help of a new friend from the shuttle, who was a few years older than him, Gaius Parker.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Microstory 1102: Keuhla Derricks

Years ago, and not at all, there was a large city called Springfield, Kansas. Many people with temporal powers lived here, alongside naturally occurring temporal anomalies, and other strange phenomena. It was here that reality broke, causing parts of the city to be ripped from time itself, as well as from the memories of everyone who should have known these parts existed. Little by little, block by block, over the course of years, Springfield shrank, until only a small town remained. A woman was born there who was seeking access to the distant world the other parts of town had fallen to, though she did not know the whole truth at the time. Her machine sent the rest of Springfield there all at once, ahead of schedule. But this was a blessing, for had she done nothing, these remaining parts would have been destroyed in the journey, like all the others. However, there were a few special places from earlier disappearances that survived the trip without her help. The Springfield Library was one of them. It was a massive repository of information; larger than it appeared to be at first, or even second, glance. No, not every book that had ever been written, or would be written, was on its shelves. But every truth, every fact, every historical event, was notated somewhere here. All libraries lack some information, for they are only so large, but this place did not. It is unknown where the building itself originated. Historical records indicate that it was built in the 19th century, and maintained and modernized ever since. There’s no reason to believe it was created by someone with powers. It seems its completeness occurred later, through some other process. But that doesn’t mean it could do everything on its own. It still needed a librarian. It needed...The Librarian. She herself was born with special gifts; hyperthymesia, eidetic memory, plain ol’ agelessness. She was not entirely immortal, though, and would one day be killed, given the right circumstances. She drew her power from Springfield Library, and that power could be taken away. If it did, another would have to take her place, which is where The Sublibrarian program comes into play. Keuhla Derricks wasn’t the first assigned to the position. She was merely the last in a long bloodline of Sublibrarians, and the one alive at the time when the job needed backfill. Her life before this was fairly unremarkable. She was born on Durus, which was the name of the planet where Springfield ended up falling to. She worked as a regular librarian, at a regular library, and did not make waves. She was not an inherently uninteresting person. It was simply her responsibility to maintain a low profile, and be ready to assume her duties as full Librarian, in such an event of her predecessor’s death. In this way, she lived her life perfectly. The time did eventually come that she was called to act, but the incident that caused the original Librarian’s death, always severely diminished the Library’s own power. Some knowledge has been lost forever, which makes Keuhla’s new job harder than it ever was.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Microstory 1101: Lihtren Uluru

Lihtren Uluru was born on a planet called Haliavi, which was roughly 63,100 light years away from Earth. Because almost all intelligent life in the galaxy ultimately derives from Earth, this occurred around 70,000 years later than present-day. By then, over half of the Milky Way had been explored, and much of it seeded with new life. This life was largely unaware of its origins, but Lihtren was always a curious fellow. He was able to get his hands on some of the technology that first arrived at his homeworld, from a solar system staging area near Earth, several thousand years ago. It was there that he accessed a database of knowledge from the origin planet, and it is from there that he began a journey. He put himself in a stasis pod on a maximum sublightspeed interstellar spacecraft designed for a crew of a dozen, but he did so alone. He programmed his pod to wake him only once a year—from the ship’s perspective—so he could check on its systems, or if something went wrong. 63,100 years later, he was finally at his destination, on an Earth that no longer harbored advanced life. Over the ages, much had changed about this old world. It hadn’t been abandoned because it was no longer capable of sustaining life, but because his ancestors had simply moved on. The geography had changed as well, but there was at least one constant. A formation called Uluru, which was also known as Ayers Rock, remained standing, just as it was 126,000 years ago. He thought coming here would explain who he was, and what he should do with his life, but he discovered it to be mostly irrelevant. The fact that he shared a name with this surface feature appeared to be entirely a coincidence. He didn’t even speak the same language as the people who named it so long ago. Still, it wasn’t like he could return home. Everyone he ever knew was either long dead, or dramatically transformed by biotechnological upgrades. It wasn’t any more home for him than this place was. And so he became determined to live the rest of his life on top of Uluru. Alone. Fate seemed to have other plans. Through means unknown to him, he ended up traveling hundreds of thousands of years into the past. A woman met him there, who assured him she had nothing to do with his timeslip, but that she knew he would be coming. She provided him with food and drink, and then she walked away, never to be seen again. Lihtren later realized she had given him immortality water, which allowed him to continue living on his rock forever. He found himself in charge of the entire area, and used it to moderate duels for people with other special temporal abilities, who had personal issues against each other. A lot of people know his name, but few know where he comes from. Some of the more curious—or the more prone to studying history—have attempted to pinpoint his origins, not so as to alter them, but just to know. Yet he has never been found. The version of him in the timeline that exists now will not be born for tens of thousands of years. However, it is not only possible, but likely, that enough of the timeline has been changed by now to have eliminated this other potential version from ever existing at all. Lihtren Uluru, a.k.a The Peacemaker, is almost certainly one of a kind.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: October 24, 2231

Everything seemed to have worked out great for the human Ansutahan refugees. At least, for most of them. By the time everyone on Comron was evacuated through the universe bridge, some of the Maramon warriors who were near the border of the temporal bubble when it was established were able to break through. There were a few casualties, but this was not an unexpected development, so they were quickly contained. Once everyone was through who could get through, two military contingencies of volunteers were called into action. First, a defense force maintained an extremely strong presence around the entrance of the bridge, to prevent any Maramon from crossing over. A rescue force was sent out to retrieve as many human prisoners of war as possible, if not all of them. Technology was fairly advanced at this point in the universe’s history, so there were indeed means of gathering intelligence, but it could never be perfect. It was impossible to know if everyone was saved.
On the day of Mateo and Serif’s return to the timestream, one last mission was dispatched before the universe bridge would be closed forever. They returned with an unusual group. Some of the people they rescued were human, but some were Maramon. The rescue team was seeking guidance from the small group in charge of Gatewood, as opposed to the Ansutahan human leadership, which didn’t really hold that much power on the cylinders. They convened in an instructional room in the library on Eden Island, not far from the bridge. Kestral and Ishida were the ones in charge here, since they were primarily responsible for the Gatewood cylinders. Ramses and Goswin had devised the initial system of government. They couldn’t just rely on what the Ansutahan humans had made, because this was an entirely new environment, of which they knew nothing. Greer and Weaver were part of the discussion as well, in a more limited capacity. Serif was there as a highly respected individual, whose minimal exposure to the timestream was the only thing keeping her from being elected King of the World. Mateo and Cassidy were invited as a courtesy, but were expected to stay quiet.
One point five hundred Maramon—as Ram liked to call it—sat in the auditorium seats, awaiting judgment. Kestral stood at the podium and studied their faces while they waited for her to speak. “My name is Kestral McBride,” she announced to the crowd. “Who speaks for the Maramon?”
They all looked to one man, sitting in the front row center. They weren’t called white monsters for nothing. Their skin was a powdery white, but his was noticeably darker. He somewhat reluctantly stood up, and approached the stage. “I am Brahim Beytilsedivm. I’m also known as Begetter. I can speak for the group...for now.”
“Why were you imprisoned by the other Maramon?” Kestral asked him.
“We are human sympathizers,” he explained. “We’ve always known what humans really are; that you are not gods, nor enemies. We did not agree with our people’s attempts at taking over other universes, and tried to stop them.”
“Forgive me,” Kestral began, “but there are billions of Maramon on this planet, yet one a hundred and fifty dissenters? It’s hard to believe there are any, but even harder to believe there are so few.”
Brahim cleared his throat and leaned in to the microphone. “There are a hundred and fifty of us...left alive. Across time, there have been millions of active opposing voices. Many more opposed in silence.”
Kestral thought about what he just said. “Do you expect to integrate into the society we’re building here?”
Brahim took a beat. “We expect nothing. We believe that everything we’ve done in the name of humans has gotten you here. We protected the last applied brane cosmologist, so that he could build the bridge that saved you. What you do with us is your choice. If you would like to keen us back in Ansutah, we are prepared to accept that without contention.”
Kestral thought some more, and this time, for a long time. “I need a list. Give me the name of everyone in this room. First, last, and any woxa.” Woxa in Maramon was best translated to nickname. It was given to a Maramon upon being raised to a special social class called the notables. Basically, one had to be famous, or have contributed greatly on a personal level to historical developments in the universe. They were always English words, always alliterative with their natural names, and not necessarily positive, or positive in everyone’s eyes. “I also need to know what they did to get locked up,” she continued. “Do not lie.”
The outcast Maramon stayed in the classroom to compile the requested information, while most of the Gatewooders retreated to the attached office to discuss options further. Greer and Weaver stayed back to supervise the Maramon. Mateo and Cassidy decided there was nothing they could do. Before they left, though, he heard Ishida say something about someone named Margerie.
About an hour later, Weaver knocked on Cassidy’s door. Cassidy had been given a place to sleep in the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but the ship was presently the most dangerous place on the cylinder, so everyone was staying in other units. “I could use your help,” Weaver said.
“With what?” he asked as they were following her up to the train platform.
“They’ve decided what they’re doing with the Maramon,” Weaver answered.
“They’re not keeping them in that awful world, are they?” Cassidy asked.
“No,” Weaver promised, “but they can’t come here either. No matter how woke the few of us are, they’ll make the refugees feel uncomfortably.”
“They’re also refugees,” Mateo pointed out.
“I know,” Weaver agreed, “and they’ll have to remain that way for a little bit longer.”
“We’re exiling them, aren’t we?” Mateo guessed.
“We’re giving them a home,” Weaver reasoned. “That home just happens to be...far from here.”
“I can’t endorse that, nor help with it.”
“No one’s asking you to,” Weaver assured him. “We know we can’t send them back to the mainland of Ansutah, and all intel about humans left in that universe has dried up. It’s time to close the bridge, and it’s a two-person job.”
“There are three of us,” Mateo said. “Which two do you mean?”
“It’s a three-person job, actually. We need a lookout, and maybe a little muscle.”
“You’re lying,” Mateo realized. “Why are you lying?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“What did they really decide in that meeting?” Cassidy questioned.
Weaver sighed. “They are keeping them there. It didn’t take them long to decide that, even before they Begetter gave him his list.”
“What did the list say?”
“There are a lot of violent people in that auditorium. They had to be. Some call them terrorists, but they were revolutionaries, and they shouldn’t be punished for that.”
“Who’s Margerie?” Mateo asked her. “Can she help?”
“That’s not a person; it’s a colony ship,” Cassidy told him. “The way Kestral and Ishida told it, it just showed up in the system one day, as if it were trying to deliver colonists to Gatewood. It was empty, though.”
Weaver continued the explanation, “the weird thing about it is the dimensions. It’s larger than most colony ships, which are all designed about the same. Even the individual sleeping-slash-escape pods are bigger. They’re big enough for Maramon. I very much believe it was sent here for the Maramon.”
“Who would do that?” Mateo wondered.
“I don’t know, but I know what it’s like to be in a world where I don’t belong. The Dardieti felt it necessary to save me anyway, and I’m here to pay it forward. Will you help me with that, or not?”
“Of course,” Mateo pledged.
Cassidy just nodded.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen when the Gatewooders learn the bridge can’t be reopened, but every human, and every outcast Maramon, is coming over here for good.”
“How are you going to get everyone back to this side of the bridge, including all those soldiers?” Mateo asked.
“Same way they got here before, with the Muster Lighter. One of you is going to have to light up in Velox Park. It’s not too far away, but far enough that no one will be able to rush back and undo my work before it’s complete.”
“I can do that,” Cassidy volunteered. “You need him to protect you from anyone who doesn’t want you to do what you’re about to do.”
“Thank you.”
Cassidy shook her head. “No, thank you. You helped me understand what I am, and gave me purpose. I can become a genius just by shaking your hand.”
Weaver smiled.
No one was guarding the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which served as the exit point for the universe bridge. They stole the Muster Lighter from the safe on the bottom level of the ship, and sent Cassidy on her way. Then they snuck into the other universe, and into the control room. Mateo kept his head on a swivel, while Weaver did whatever it was she was doing on the command console. Just after she determined she was ready, they got the call from Cassidy that she was in place.
“All right. I’ve set the parameters,” Weaver spoke into her communication device. “It’s programmed to take every human and Maramon on Eden Island, except for Mateo and me. Flick the lighter on my count. Three..two..one..now!”
Nothing happened from their perspective. A few second later, Cassidy came back on comms, “they’re here. They’re confused.
“Okay, teleport back to your room,” Weaver ordered. “We’ll be there in a second.”
“I’m afraid not.” A Maramon they didn’t know cooly walked into the room, along with a handful of other humans, of varying ages.
“How did you survive the Muster Lighter?” Weaver asked.
“By the grace of the primary gods,” the Maramon said. “We happened to be close enough to the two of you. Otherwise, everything would have been ruined. Get in place,” he ordered the humans.
They assembled into a single-file line in front of the stairs to the bridge.
“What are you doing?”
“It has nothing to do with you,” he said. “We just need to borrow this right quick. You can destroy it when we’re done.”
“I’m not gonna let you through that bridge,” Mateo argued.
He scoffed, and effortlessly knocked Mateo to his ass. He then pushed Weaver out of the way, so he could insert some kind of device into a port on the console.
“What are you doing? Stop!” Weaver cried.
The Maramon pushed a button. The image of the AOC on the other side of the bridge shuttered, and changed. It was now showing what appeared to be a mountaintop. “Cain, go!” After the guy name Cain ran through, the Maramon pushed the button again. City streets this time. “Abel, go!” Abel left, and the scene changed to a rooftop. “Seth, go!” A boat. “Luluwa, go!” The forest. “Awan, go!” A laboratory, maybe. “Azura, go!” A cave, “Lilith, go!”
Bang!
The Maramon fell over, blood leaking from the wound in his head. Serif was the one holding the gun. “Weaver! Get us back to our universe.”
Weaver was just staring at the Maramon’s body.
“Weaver! Now!”
She snapped out of it, and started desperately pushing buttons. “I...I...I don’t know how to work this thing now!” The scene kept changing to what were presumably various other universes, until Weaver seemed to figure something out. She was now switching them to other points in time and space in their own universe. Mateo recognized some of the other people.
Young versions of Horace and Paige made one appearance. “Protect this thing!” he shouted at them. Then he threw some small object at them, but before it made it through the bridge, the scene changed once more.
Leona was in another. “Mateo!”
“Leona!” He ran up to get her, but the scene changed again.
“Get her back!” He screamed at Weaver.
“I can’t,” Weaver said.
“Get her back!”
“The system is overloading,” she warned them. “We need to get out of here.”
“Open anywhere,” Serif ordered her. “Stabilize the bridge long enough to get through, and then just go!”
“What about you?”
“Go!”
Weaver did what she was told. They ran through as fast as they could. Before Mateo could look back to see what happened to Serif, the bridge was closed, theoretically forever.