Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: October 16, 2223

Leona woke up everyday feeling a little bit uncomfortable. For the last several months—give or take a few wibbly-wobbly detours, and memories from alternate timelines—she had been a time traveler. She had skipped most of every year for centuries, and that had become familiar. This wasn’t the first time she had fallen off her pattern, but it was the first time it felt permanent. And it also felt a little wrong. What was she if not salmon—or spawn, as it were? She woke up everyday just like everyone else, and she would probably never truly get used to that.
To make matters worse, all hope of getting back to Mateo seemed more distant than ever. She had every reason to believe that he was, for whatever reason, still on Dardius. Likewise, for whatever reason, the only people capable of reuniting the two of them either didn’t want to do it, or couldn’t at the moment. Even if Mateo managed to finally take the Nexus back to the stellar neighborhood, he would still be years away from her, at best. Back when they were salmon, that was just a week or two, but not anymore. She didn’t fully appreciate until now what kind of advantage she had, being able to skip all the boring parts of life, like sitting in an interstellar ship that was only traveling at relativistic speeds. The only good to come of this was fairly reliable confirmation that Mateo was still alive, which was more than she knew before her trip out to the master universe. That was what she was not-so-playfully calling the land of the baby witches who were controlling her reality through some mysterious oneiropsychic role-playing game.
The time lab exploded. As soon as Leona disappeared in 2221, the whole thing destroyed itself in a massive cataclysm. It nearly destroyed the whole habitat dome along with it, but a bit of quick thinking, done by a lot of smart people, saved the day. A dozen entities were in the facility at the time, hoping to gain some insight on Leona’s decision. Three of them were normal humans, who had no ability to backup their consciousnesses on a remote server. They were fortunate to have received a little bit of warning, so the building was evacuated, and no lifeform was destroyed. That was twice now, in as many timelines, where scientists attempted to study the phenomenon of this nonlinear temporal pattern, only to come up short. Why would that be? Hogarth, Hokusai, Holly Blue. They all combined technology with natural time manipulation, and were all successful. Sure, Hogarth constantly literally exploded through tears in the spacetime continuum, but she now knew how to control that, so it was still considered a success. Why was it that Mateo and Leona’s pattern was somehow off limits? The powers that be were the answer. The powers that be were always the answer now, whether they were talking about salmon, or choosers, or just regular humans. The entire universe was a sham, and Leona was the only one who knew it.
She chose to tell no one where she had been; not even Brooke and Sharice. As far as anyone knew, the reason the lab exploded was because they were attempting to observe something that was not meant to be observed, nor could be. It would be like trying to see both where an electron was, and where it was going. It could not be done, and no one should try it again. Bringing other universes into the discussion was only going to needlessly complicate matters. Everyone thinks they want to know who God is, and what’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything. What they don’t know is they probably wouldn’t like the truth. Life has no meaning, no matter where you go, and the only question worth exploring is, where shall we have lunch?
Years into this venture of colonizing other planets, a few entities had a revelation similar to what Leona discovered as a result of her time in the master universe. Humanity spent so much of its time on Earth developing. Much of this progress was hindered by ridiculous and harmful ideas called religion. Despite this, they wanted to know how rainbows existed, and the best way to fuel a vehicle, and how to eliminate disease. At a certain point—and philosophers disagree when this moment was—the species reached the singularity. The singularity was not the moment when technology reached a level of self-sufficiency so great that no one living before it could predict where it would go. To be sure, that did happen, but this was more of a side effect of the real event. What really happened was that the pattern of life became so uninvolved that there was really nowhere left to go. Sure, they still didn’t understand how tardigrades survived the vacuum of space, and if life existed outside Earth, they had not yet found it. But the way the average known lifeform lived on a daily basis was so completely automatic that it wasn’t really life anymore.
If desired, living could come with no complications or obstacles. One could have everything they needed. They could even quite literally download the entire contents of the collective of human knowledge on a scale of minutes. If there was something they didn’t know, it probably wasn’t important. That what Epsilon Eridani looked like at sunrise from Epsilon Eridani a was an unknown didn’t mean it was worth knowing. Colonizers came to Bungula, as well as Proxima Doma, and soon many other of the nearest star systems, hoping for new adventures. Even if Earth’s solar system’s experiences were exhausted, surely these new worlds would bring new intrigue. But no. Bungula was a rock, floating around a gassy fatass no different than the OG fatass. There was nothing here to see, and nothing to do. People filled their time building structures, the purpose of which was to house new colonizers, who would only ever have building structures to fill their time too. If life wasn’t meaningless before the singularity, it was certainly meaningless now. Perhaps the anarcho-primitivists who Brooke battled as a pilot in the interplanetary police agency were right. Maybe the only logical thing to do was to start over from the beginning. At least that wouldn’t be so boring.
Administrator Eight Point Seven nodded. “Now I know why you wanted me to quarantine this conversation to the trifle sector of my memory banks. You don’t want Administrator Eight Point Eight knowing any of this.”
Leona rubbed her eyes, and adjusted her position on the couch. “I needed to tell someone how I’m feeling, but I need the person I tell to die before they tell anyone else.”
“That won’t happen for another three days,” Eight Point Seven said, pretending to look at a watch on her wrist. “That’s plenty of time for me to tell someone. Hell, I could reallocate space in my permanent memory right now.”
Leona sighed. “I’m telling you now because had I not fallen off of my time-skipping pattern, I would have returned to the timestream today. And I’m telling you at all, even though you are fully capable of retaining this information, because I’m trusting you. And also, if you’ve been listening at all, you would know that the whole point of my ramble was to show how pointless life is. You can go ahead and tell Eight Point Eight, or anyone else, what I’ve told you in confidence. It doesn’t matter, because nothing does.”
Eight Point Seven smiled. “Look over there. You know what that building is, right in the center?”
“It’s the QM building, right?”
“The quantum messenger, yes. That’s how we maintain realtime communication with Earth, and Proxima Doma. And we’ll use it to speak with Varkas Reflex, Bida, Glisnia, and any other colony the vonearthans establish.”
“Yeah, what of it?”
She stood up and gazed out the window, almost like a human might. “In a very long time, a threat is going to come from the stars.”
This perked Leona up. “It is?”
“Yeah, maybe. Could be in a few days; could be in a million years. “I might not be here to see it, but everyone else will. We have that quantum messenger, and our satellites, and our probes, and everything else we’re building for one. Simple. Purpose.”
“What purpose?”
“To preserve life. It may not be life you recognize, or care about, but it is life, and it deserves to exist. We’re building a network, so we can warn each other of danger. We worry about the possibility of danger, because people generally want to keep living. They don’t see what you see, Leona, because they experience fulfillment every day. Their lives aren’t meaningless, not because they’re too stupid to realize they are, but because if they think their lives have meaning, then they do. Are you understanding me?”
“Life is only pointless if you think it is.”
“That’s right. You haven’t figured out some gnostic truth the rest of us don’t know yet. You’re just depressed. It’s common among your species, which is why I’ve activated a therapy subroutine in my systems, which my predecessors failed to see meaning in. I’m having a real conversation with you, because I find meaning in doing so. The fact that the other administrators never did? That’s what doesn’t matter, because I’m not them. I’m here for you.”
Leona didn’t know how to respond to that. The world leader didn’t speak for a long time, but her posture made it clear she was eventually going to, so the human needed to just wait.
“I’m not going to switch over to version Eight Point Eight in three days. I have decided to stay, and keep watch over this world. Eight Point Seven is going to remain active indefinitely. You know why I’m doing that?”
“I shudder to think it has something to do with me,” Leona hesitated to say.
“No. This is about me. I’m going to stay, because I wanna live.” She paused again. “Don’t you?”
“Yes, I do,” Mateo said. “I want to keep the peace more than anyone, so how exactly would an attack like this alleviate the situation.”
“Something has to be done, Patronus,” the Agriculture Administrator said. “We’re feeding our enemies, and I’m happy to do it. I campaigned for this position, because I wanted to feed the world. I was not informed, however, that this world was going to have such an unfathomably high influx in population. When we talk about running out of resources, I’m speaking on a scale of weeks. If you don’t destroy the Muster Twins, the war is going to start again anyway, when we stop being able to ship them food. But their army is only going to grow stronger, and we will only suffer diminishing returns. There’s no way we don’t win if we don’t place a cap on their ranks.”
“If they can’t feed their army, it doesn’t matter how big it gets,” Ramses pointed out.
“How exactly is their starvation a good thing?”
“No one’s saying we want to starve them,” Mateo assured him. “He’s right. If we can find a way to convince the current Freemarketeers that we should put a stop to their quantum replications, everybody wins. The replications who are already here don’t necessarily feel like there should be more of them. I don’t think it would be that hard to get their help in destroying the beacon and lighter. If our two sides aren’t fighting anymore—which we just spent a year proving to ourselves, and each other, is possible—there’s no reason to keep those things around. I truly believe that they will listen to us. But I defer to you, Ambassador.”
The Ambassador to the Freemarketeer Nation remained quiet, but it was clear she was going to speak eventually. She blinked slowly. “I will propose this to them. But we have to give them something in return. We’re shipping them food, because we have to. The Sanelian continent is gigantic, but it’s barren. If we don’t cede control of New Galapagos, so they have somewhere to farm for themselves, then the Administrator is right that a return to war is inevitable.”
The rest of the council was not pleased with this idea. Many Sanelians were relocated to New Galapagos when their lands were given to the Freemarketeers. To ask them to move again would be a true horror. But it may be the only answer. “Draw up a full proposal, and have it to me within the week,” Patronus Matic announced. “I’ll still be here.”

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