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 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 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 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.

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