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Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: October 9, 2216

Mateo and Leona learned from Serif that it had been centuries since the universe of Ansutah was created by the fourth pocket dimension on the interstellar ship, The Warren. For her, however, it had only been a few years. It was after The Crossover was invented, utilized to explore the bulkverse, and ultimately destroyed. It was before, however, the time that Leona went to Ansutah with all those people looking to get rid of their time powers. Since that had not yet happened from Serif’s viewpoint, there was no way for her to stay with them permanently. At some point, she would have to return to the monster world, and continue her own life with her daughter. There was just no way to save her. She knew this, but she was determined to save all the other humans there, by whatever means necessary. Apparently, they were the descendants of those who sought to be free from their powers, and had been transported back to the early days of the universe.
Unfortunately, the brilliant Leona quickly did the math on their plans to evacuate the billions of people in Ansutah. It would take a couple decades to get them all out through the little ceiling entrance magically attached to grave chamber four on The Ocasio-Cortez. And that was assuming those people literally ran up the rickety wooden ladder, and out of the vessel constantly, so they could funnel hundreds in a minute, which was probably also impossible. It would take many decades at the most realistic projections, and even then, there was nowhere for them to go. Bungula was not presently hospitable to life, and wouldn’t be for the next few centuries, assuming its colonizers decide to terraform the planet at all. The domes were not designed to fit quite that many people.
“What made you think this was going to work?” Leona asked. She was feeling overwhelmed by the situation, and was unable to just be happy to see Serif again.
“The scientist built the bridge, and apparently didn’t consider the logistics of the endeavor,” Serif defended. “I didn’t ask for this, but we have to find a way to escape. Ever since the Crossover was destroyed, and its remnants scattered throughout the bulkverse, the Maramon have grown more and more restless. As the human population grew, an entire continent was needed to be set aside for them. Religious superstitions have kept the Maramon from exploring the area, but like any sufficiently advanced civilization, those superstitions are waning. They want to see what’s over here, and if they discover an entire planet’s worth of humans have been hoarding resources, they’re not going to be happy. This will start a war.
“Why did he build a bridge, instead of another machine?” Leona questioned. “That could completely eliminate the time sensitivity. Every time the Crossover leaves a universe, it can spend as much time as it wants away, and always return one second after it left.”
“I understand that,” Serif said. “Sadly, he still felt he needed to ultimately honor his promise to his colleagues. He killed himself as soon as the bridge was finished. He didn’t even test it out first. There might be a way to move the exit somewhere else, but I would have no clue how to do that. Time itself wants the refugees to come through here. Something thinks this is our best option.”
“Time is not a conscious individual,” Leona argued. “The bridge exited out here, because this is where we are. It was seeking to bring you back to us.”
“If time isn’t conscious, how could it be seeking anything?”
“You know what I mean, like magnets. The three of us are entangled on a quantum level.”
Serif wasn’t buying it entirely, but it didn’t matter. Leona was right. There was no way to get everyone to safety using their only current option. The bridge was all but useless to them, and that wasn’t going to change, even when they landed on Bungula next year. They needed a creative solution.

Mateo, Leona, and Serif returned to the timeline a year later, and found the Ansutah situation to be no different than before. To keep Ramses safe, they decided they needed to lock the opening to grave chamber four. There was a lot of diversity in a group of eleven billion, which meant there would be plenty of irrational people who might try to escape through the bridge, even one that led to a ship designed for six to twelve people.
The upside was that there were two new members of their group. Ramses was able to extract Brooke and Sharice Prieto from the Insulator of Life, and upload their consciousnesses to new android substrates. And bonus, one of them seemed to have an idea of what to do with the Ansutahan humans.
“What about Gatewood?” Sharice suggested.
“What is Gatewood?” Mateo asked her.
“Orbiting Barnard’s Star, Gatewood is a collection of planetesimals, dwarf planets, asteroids, and comets about six and a half light years from here. Since there aren’t any planets, it wasn’t a good candidate for colonization. Still, people had dreams of reaching nearly all of the closest stars, and so a project was started in order to capitalize on the plethora of materials that can be found there. They would live in centrifugal cylinders instead.”
“What is that?” Mateo asked, feeling as much the idiot as ever. Serif didn’t seem to recognize the term either, though.
Sharice went on, “they’re basically giant space stations that rotate so fast, they simulate gravity on the inner surface. You might have seen the movie Interstellar. The people at the end lived in one.”
“Well, the project was scrapped, but there was some sort of communication breakdown. All evidence suggests the automated factories in the system continued to build these cylinders on their own, waiting for colony ships that will never come.”
“Is there enough room for eleven billion people?” Leona asked.
“Theoretically. The basic designs are based on 21st century personal space requirements. People need less room now, and there’s no reason you couldn’t expand later, as needed.”
“What about Project Stargate?” Brooke asked.
“And what is that?” Mateo asked yet again.
“Like Sharice said,” Brooke began, “Gatewood is full of stuff. Most of it didn’t coalesce into larger celestial bodies, but this stuff is very useful for building things. It’s called Gatewood, because it’s also the home of the largest vonearthan endeavor in the entire history of our species.”
“It’s a rumor,” Sharice argued.
“I think I can guess, based on the name,” Leona said, “but just so I’m sure, what is this rumor?”
Sharice decided to answer. “The vonearthans are presently concerned with the colonization of the stellar neighborhood. We have settlements—or planned settlements—on Proxima Doma, here on Bungula, Varkas Reflex, Thālith al Naʽāmāt Bida, and Glisnia, with a few other places in the early exploratory stages. Project Stargate would expand those plans by hundreds of billions. Every single star in the whole galaxy would be reached, over the course of the next tens of thousands of years. It’s an absurd idea, and it’s not real. It couldn’t be.”
“But if it is real, then Gatewood would be the perfect staging ground for it,” Brooke reminded her.
“It would be, if it were real, but it’s not.”
“Would they be building the galaxy vessels right now? If it were real, that is,” Leona added.
Sharice shook her head. “Maybe, maybe not. The people who came up with it projected a 2250 departure date, only because they wanted to travel as close to the speed of light as possible, and that’s when futurists think we’ll get there. They hadn’t figured out how long it would take to construct the damn thing. The smallest independent unit was called a seed plate. It’s about a meter wide, and three centimeters thick, and would have been responsible for installing quantum messengers, and other structures, in seven to twenty-eight solar systems. Look, Gatewood is perfect for the refugees. The cylinders are waiting for them there, no one else wants them, and there aren’t any goddamn Stargate automators swallowing up resources.”
“Well, we have to come up with some solution in the next few years,” Serif noted. “My people are on the brink of war with the Maramon. Our universe is not big enough for all of us. Something’s gotta give. I’m willing to risk Gatewood, if Bungula is not a viable option.”
“Even if you got everyone there,” Brooke complained, “it will still take forever to evacuate them. The bridge is still attached to this wee little bunk thing in the floor.”
“Grave chamber,” Ramses corrected.
“That’s an easy solution too,” Sharice said. “We just need the Muster Beacon.”
“The lighter that I used to bring Mateo back from nonexistence?” Leona questioned. She had gotten it from another universe, and though it was a powerful temporal object, there was no way it was strong enough to take on eleven billion people.”
Sharice smirked. “Every invention you’ve ever come across has had a more advanced counterpart, right? The Jayde Spyglass is an easier-to-use version of the Cosmic Sextant. The Escher Card is the sequel to the Escher Knob. Even the Crossover started out as a tiny Prototype. The Muster Lighter too has another version. The Beacon is much larger, and has a much greater capacity.”
“How much greater are we talking?” Leona asked.
“A handful of rounds could pull everyone from the other universe, into Gatewood. It’ll take longer to transfer it from cylinder to cylinder than it will to summon everyone from Ansutah.”
“Just what the hell are we talking about?” Serif was feeling left out.
“Special fire,” Leona said to her. “It somehow apports massive numbers of people, from wherever they are, to a single location. It’s like a bug zapper for people, that doesn’t kill the people.”
“And we have this object?” Serif tried to clarify.
“That’s another thing,” Brooke said. “If it does indeed exist, which we don’t know for sure, we don’t know where it is.”
“The Weaver told me where it was,” Sharice said, but she didn’t act particularly excited about it.
“Oh, yeah? Where?”
Sharice pretended to clear her throat. “Dardius.”
“That’s millions of light years away,” Brooke shouted. “If we could travel those distances, we could just take the refugees to Dardius itself.”
“There’s not enough room there either,” Sharice fought back.
“Still in another galaxy, young lady.”
“You promised not to call me that anymore.”
“There’s a way to get to Dardius,” Ramses jumped in.
“Is that right?” Leona asked him in disbelief.
Ramses took a deep breath. Then he looked between Mateo, and one of the other bunks. “There’s a reason Étude wanted the ship to be designed like this, and why she wanted us to call these grave chambers.”
“Why?” Serif had no clue.
Ramses looked back to Mateo. “Accent on the grave part.”
Mateo didn’t know what he was driving at either.
Ramses rolled his eyes. Then he reached down and slid back one of the doors in the floor. “ was a closed grave,” he condescended. “’s an open grave.”
Oh. But would that work?

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