Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: November 3, 2241

It took some doing, but Sanaa did manage to warm up, and open up, a little to Leona. Leona did the same to her as well. They had more in common than they realized. Their hostilities towards each other, especially on Sanaa’s part, didn’t make a whole lot of sense to begin with. As it turned out, she struggled with meeting people who genuinely wanted to be her friend, and didn’t just want to use her powers. Lots of choosers were called upon to do jobs for others, but that was different, at least in her mind. For someone else, it was more of a skill that others valued. For Sanaa, she was really just the middlewoman, who people only spoke to so they could connect with those they actually liked. It was unclear whether people were turned off by her because of her attitude, or if she developed a bad attitude because she felt underappreciated. Regardless, she wasn’t an unpleasant person on the other side of her protective emotional walls, and Leona was getting to know that.
She spent the rest of 2240 in the waters. The great thing about the technology was that the most skeptical and reluctant individual will still adapt surprisingly quickly. And they required no body modification in order to thrive in it. Some random guy from the nineteenth century would be able to dive into one of these tanks, and spend an indefinite amount of time there with no problem breathing. It was quite peaceful in the water, except when she was being bombarded with questions. The colonists somehow got wind that she was partially responsible for the construction of their habitats just before they arrived. Of course Eight Point Seven did most of the work, while she wasn’t in the timestream, but they still considered her to be a worthy celebrity. Unfortunately, they wanted to communicate with her using the sign language they developed, which was designed to be used inside heavier water resistance, and slight visual impairment. That was really the only thing that would hinder the hypothetical nineteenth century man from thriving. His eyes would never truly adjust to the way light bent in the underwater.
Leona was a highly intelligent person, with knowledge from three separate timelines, but even she wasn’t capable of learning the sign language within a day. Despite her seeming misanthropy, Sanaa had picked it up already, and was able to interpret for her when the colonists wanted to talk. This solidified their bond, because now Sanaa didn’t feel so alone and overlooked. They were having so much fun getting to know each other that Leona didn’t realize midnight central was approaching. Even if she had, she probably wouldn’t have thought to break the surface for her time jump. There was no reason to believe anything strange would happen to the environment as a result of her sudden disappearance, or her sudden reappearance a year later. When she tried to exit the tank at that point, the waters followed her out. Her gravity regulator was malfunctioning, which acted to envelop her in her own little aquatic atmosphere that she couldn’t shake. It was kind of cool, but a little annoying.
“Can you modify my gravity field remotely?” Leona asked.
Hokusai was fiddling with her tablet, trying to solve the problem. “It’s having trouble connecting. Like, it will connect, but it won’t let me do anything.”
“And you’re sure you can’t open up the panel on my leg?”
“The water has already damaged your systems enough. It’ll make it even worse if we open the floodgates. That could render your legs completely inoperable, and because of your pattern, it could be virtually impossible to build new ones for you. You weren’t on your pattern when you got these ones here, right?”
“Yeah,” Leona answered sadly.
“Your body needs time to adjust, and time is something  you have far less of than most people.”
Leona tried to use her hand to scrape the water from her face again, and from her legs, even knowing it wouldn’t work. Despite the fact that the planet itself should have been exerting a greater amount of attraction than her artificial gravity legs, it was like trying to scoop the water from a bucket with strainer. “What if I got back in the tank, and then got out some other way? What if I got dressed, or I dunno, started to dance?”
“I don’t think we’re gonna find a home remedy for this. Just give me a minute. If I can only connect for one second, that will be enough to deactivate your regulator.”
Loa came in and walked up. “How do you feel. Can you breathe?”
“Well, I’m not technically breathing, since that’s what my lungs are for, but yes, I feel fine. I just don’t want to feel like this forever.” She redirected her attention back to Hokusai. “Heat?”
“Cold. Maybe we could freeze it, and chip it off?”
“That would kill you. Just let me figure this out.”
“It’s not going to connect,” Leona tried to tell her. “It’s broken. You’re going to have to open up the panel, and switch it off manually.”
“No, I told you I can’t do that.”
“I’ll do it myself,” Leona decided. She knelt down to access the panel.
“Stop right there, young lady!”
She complied, secretly relieved that Hokusai stopped her. “If I wait until my next time jump, will that fix it?”
“It’s possible, though not likely. If I’m to understand your history correctly, you and Mateo once made a time jump while you were in a tent?”
“Yeah, it was weird. If we’re standing in a room, we don’t take it with us through time, but I guess the powers that be interpret tents like they do clothing.”
“How would they interpret a magical water blanket?”
“Good point.”
“How about you try sending an electrical pulse through the water; disrupt its tension?”
“Where did you get your degree?”
“In two thousand and twenty-four,” Leona replied.
“Now, that’s a good point.”
While it was true that Leona’s education and experience as a physicist and a science fiction buff combined allowed her to understand future technology to a higher degree than most, it only took her so far. She tried to keep up on modern advancements, but there were only so many hours in the day, and she just didn’t know how everything worked. She either understood the creative concepts based on her breadth of film knowledge, or the mechanics from her master’s degree, but if Hokusai tried to ask her for help with the new reframe engine, she would be all but useless.
“Where did Sanaa swim off to?” Loa asked. Perhaps she was merely trying to get Leona’s mind off her predicament.
“I dunno,” Leona answered. “Probably living her best life.”
“I’m right here,” Sanaa called up from the other side of Hokusai’s lab.
“What are you doing out of the water?” Loa asked her with deep concern. She ran over to help her carry this giant machine. It had wheels, but it sounded like they needed some lubricant. Tubing was dragging behind it.
“I’m fine,” Sanaa answered, though she was grateful for the help. “The gravity in this room is at one-point-four-g, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” Hokusai confirmed. “I need it higher than Earth gravity for some of my experiments, “but you had to walk clear across the dome, and it’s much higher out there.”
“Hashtag worth it,” Sanaa said. Once she was right in front of Leona, she lifted one of the tubes, and pointed it directly at her. Then she switched on the machine, and everybody watched as it sucked all the water from Leona’s skin.
“A wet-vac?” Hokusai asked after the deed was done.
“Yes,” Sanaa said. “I have demonstrated their weakness may be found from a less sophisticated approach. You are no longer capable of such thinking.” This was a near direct quote from an episode of the ancient series, Stargate SG-1. She was a good person.
“Thank you so much,” Leona said. “You’re right, we did not think of that.”
Hokusai sat Leona down in the nearest chair, and examined her leg. “Remaining droplets are continuing to stick to your skin. This is fascinating. You’re like a little planet, with your own gravity.”
“Are you calling me fat?” Leona joked.
“She’s not a planet,” Sanaa said. “She’s a star.”
Leona smiled. They were friends now. Who knew?
“I have a mini-tank over there.” Hokusai jerked her head in its general direction, but kept her eyes on Leona’s leg as she opened the access panel. “Get yourself right, and we’ll talk. I took a break from my reframe engine to build you something. It’s not a perfect solution, and you may hate it, but it’s an option for anytime you want to get out of the water.”
“What is it?” Sanaa asked, though her own weight was already getting to her. It was a miracle she managed to walk across the dome on land, lugging that huge thing behind her. Even though gravity here was a significant improvement, her time in the tank had lessened her ability to withstand even this high of gravity. It wasn’t the weight so much as it was the distribution.
“You’ll see,” Hokusai said, still working. “Loa can you help her?”
Shortly after Loa helped Sanaa into her tank to rest, Hokusai was finished repairing Leona’s gravity regulator. “Okay. You’ll be able to get back into the water, if you need to, or want to. Prolonged exposure, however, is not ideal. Obviously these are meant to be waterproof, but it’s not worth the possibility of a recurrence. We seem to have learned a little bit about your time jumps, which may make you feel worse about them.”
“I’m the kind of person who wants to know, even if it’s terrible.”
“I would need to study it more, but based on yours and Eight Point Seven’s accounts of earlier attempts, I doubt it would be safe to do so. It would appear that time doesn’t so much as open up for you as it opens you. My hypothesis is that microfissures form all over your body at midnight, allowing temporal energy itself to flood your system. In this case, it’s how the water seeped in as well. How these heal afterwards, I can’t say, but seeing as you’ve never heard any of this before, they don’t seem to be hurting you. Now, if you felt pain every time it happened—”
“I don’t technically feel pain, but Mateo and I both get real tired. We’ve gotten used to it, and the more sleep we’ve had, the better, but I still feel it every time.”
Hokusai tilted her head in thought. “Hmm. When your skin cracks open, perhaps you suffer a temporary oxygen loss, which drastically diminishes your energy. This could bad, incidental, or quite necessary. We’ve always framed your pattern as jumping forwards in time, but maybe time jumps aren’t possible, or aren’t possible for you. You could be placed in suspended animation in another dimension that doesn’t support diatomic oxygen. These are all just guesses, of course. I have no real idea what happens to you or Mateo when you disappear. I don’t even know if you and Mateo experience the same thing, or if your body relies on a workaround, since you weren’t born this way; you were made. Hogarth Pudeyonavic would understand it better. I’m more of a space girl.”
“Oh, you know Hogarth? Did I know that you knew her?”
“I don’t know.”
Loa walked back up. “She’s sleeping. Let’s wait to give it to her until tomorrow.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” Hokusai agreed. “I wouldn’t hate taking one last look at the power source.”
“No, I’m up!” Sanaa exclaimed through her mouthpiece.
“Why do you keep hearing us from so far away!” Hokusai shouted.
“Hello!” Sanaa shouted back. “Psychic?”
Hokusai went over to a half-door next to Sanaa’s tank, and pulled out something that looked like a fancy wheelchair. “I don’t know if you would prefer swimming to lying down, but if you ever wanna be dry, this will help. It’s a gravity regulator, but like I said, it’s not perfect. You have to be at a pretty steep incline to distribute your weight effectively, but one thing it has going for it is that it doesn’t require a medical procedure, so it shouldn’t interfere with your powers.”
Sanaa pressed both palms, and her face against the glass—I mean, polycarbonate window. “I love it.”

No comments :

Post a Comment