Saturday, September 28, 2019

Source Variant: Dandavo Dali Dali (Part II)

Right now, Saga!Three is on vacation for an indefinite amount of time. Also right now—but in a different universe entirely—Vearden!Two is trying to heal from his injuries. Like his alternate reality counterpart, Vearden was operating The Crossover, but from the machine’s perspective, at a much earlier time. After some crazy adventures, he recently found himself in a universe called the Composite, fighting against a magnetokinetic named Arkan. He was badly hurt, and a teleporter named Zektene attempted to take him to a hospital, but they weren’t able to stay there long. What they didn’t realize was that one of their other enemies, Cain possessed a powerful object capable of blasting them across the multiverse. They weren’t anywhere near him when he set off this device, but that didn’t matter. They were both unwillingly pulled from the hospital, and delivered back to Vearden’s home universe. Fortunately for him, Saga!Three is an experienced medical professional.
She’s just spent the last however many years of her life as Doctor Baxter Sarka’s nurse. He’s a salmon, dispatched by the powers that be to treat other salmon throughout time and space. While she had no obligation to help, she chose to do so, because she felt like it was her personal calling. She’s grateful for the field education she received along the way, because now she needs it more than ever, because she’s the closest thing to a doctor Vearden!Two has at the moment. She starts working right away. None of them has any clue where they are, but there are plenty of medical supplies nearby. She starts barking orders at Zektene, who retrieves exactly what she asks for without question, and helps to the best of her ability. Fifteen minutes later, Saga!Three has done about as much as she can do for him.
“This is Vearden Haywood?” Saga!Three asks.
“Yes, have you heard of him?” Zektene answers and asks.
Saga!Three looks back at him. He’s barely conscious. “We were another life.”
Zektene doesn’t understand.
“Or so they tell me. I have no recollection of it. It was in a different timeline.”
Now Zektene understands. “Where are we?”
“It looks like some kind of laboratory, though everything is really big. Look at this table. I would need a high-chair to sit here.”
“Yeah, this looks very alien to me. All these objects are somehow both recognizable, but still familiar. Are we in a different universe?”
Saga!Three doesn’t know what she means by that. “Do you mean reality?”
Vearden!Two clears his throat, and tries to move.
Saga!Three rushes back over, and holds him in place. “Lie still.”
“I’m home,” Vearden!Two notes. He can barely open his eyes, but he can see enough to know that his best friend, Saga is here. “How did I get home?”
“I don’t know,” Zektene tries to explain. “One minute, I’m teleporting you to a hospital. The next, I see an explosion of colors, and then we’re just suddenly here.”
“I don’t think I can get you back,” Vearden!Two laments. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine,” Zektene says. “I didn’t have anyone back there. I was a girl out of my own time anyway.”
After Saga!Three makes sure that Vearden!Two can start healing on his own, she introduces herself to her new friend, and they decide they need to get a good look around. She didn’t come here on purpose either, and that is a mystery waiting to be solved.
While there are tons of instruments and other tools in the lab, there aren’t any actual chemicals or specimens. It’s like this place was created for a specific purpose, but has not been put to use yet. It’s the cleanest room Saga!Three has ever been in before, so either it’s vacuum sealed, or someone is maintaining it for this hypothetical future use. There’s no evidence that anyone else has ever been here before, though. While they’re examining everything, the door on the opposite wall is calling to her, like every answer they could want is just on the other side. Zektene seems to be feeling the same way about it, so they prepare to defend themselves against a mysterious enemy and open it.
They’re in a much, much larger room now. Stasis pods line the walls in two rows, illuminated only by the light from the lab. Zektene feels the wall behind them, and quickly finds the switch. Yeah, it’s even larger than they realized. There could be two hundred pods in here, but upon a closer look, they see that they’re not housing humans. Monster is perhaps the best word to use, even though their instinct for violence is not yet known.
“Gondilak,” Vearden!Two says. “They’re called Gondilak.”
“Vearden,” Saga!Three complains. “You shouldn’t be up.”
“I’m fine,” he argues. “It was getting really uncomfortable in that position. It feels good to move around a bit. I promise not to run any marathons until at least tomorrow,” he jokes.
“How do you know what the aliens are?” Zektene asks. “I feel like I’ve seen them before, but they don’t look quite right, and that word doesn’t seem right either.”
Vearden!Two slowly steps forward, leaning against objects to maintain balance. “I’ve met them before. The first time I traveled through a door, they were there...” he nods his head towards Saga!Three, “attacking the other version of you.”
“So, what are they doing in stasis pods?” Saga!Three asks. “Are we on a ship?”
Vearden!Two shrugs.
“Maybe we could ask this guy?” Zektene has moved over to one of the other pods. As the other two approach, they see that there’s a perfectly normal human inside of it.
“That’s really weird,” Vearden!Two says. “The last time I checked, the Gondilak weren’t capable of space flight, and they weren’t too keen on humans. I guess maybe they wouldn’t have been able to achieve it unless they shed their racist ideas. I wonder where the Orothsew are.”
Zektene moves to the other side of the pod to see the man from another angle. “What are the Orothsew?”
She must have accidentally activated something, because just then, the human’s pod starts making noises. Its interface monitor lights up with a language they don’t know, and the pod starts to open. “Treda Kestolin Hibesof,” says the automated voice from the computer. “Human presence detected,” it appears to translate to English. It’s a little anticlimactic as they watch the man wake up from suspended animation. It’s not like in the movies where they can jump right out and get to work. It’s a long and drawn out process where fluids are reintroduced to his system, and also spilled onto the floor under him. While it’s happening, Saga!Three redresses one of Vearden’s wounds, and Zektene looks around some more to see if she can find a window.
Finally, the man is awake, and aware of his surroundings. When he sees their faces, his eyes tear up, and then he starts crying. “Oh my God, it’s been so long. Are you really here?”
“We are, yes,” Saga!Three says. She places a comforting hand on his. “What is this place?”
The man looks up and down at the other pods. “Oh, they actually went through with it. Why did they put me here?”
“First off,” Vearden!Two says. “What’s your name?
“Ramses,” he answers as he’s struggling out of his pod. “Ramses Abdulrashid. Do you know what year it is?”
They all three shake their heads.
“Ramses,” Saga!Three presses. “What did they go through with? What is this?”
“Dandavo Dali Dali,” he replies cryptically.
“Is that a band, errrr...?”
“It best translates to Project New Beginning.”
“What does that mean?”
Onda means new and ondali means beginning, so they do this weird reduplication rule when they put them together.”
“I don’t mean, what does it literally mean,” Saga!Three tries to clarify. “I mean, what is the project for?”
“It’s kind of the Maramon version of Project Starseed.”
“What did you just say?” Vearden!Two questions, horrified.
“That’s it!” Zektene exclaims. “They’re not called Gondilak. They’re Maramon! But they look a little different.”
Ramses practically crawls over to get a good look at one of the other pod people. He thinks over what he sees. “So, they were right. They thought this might happen.” He stands up straighter to realign his spine.
“I don’t care about this,” Vearden!Two bemoans. “If these are, like, evolved from the Maramon, then we have to destroy them.”
“I’ve promised to keep them alive,” Ramses contends. He prepares to tell them a story. “If you’ve heard of the Maramon, then you know how bad they are. What you don’t know is that there was one good group amongst them. These dissenting voices were imprisoned by society, but ultimately rescued by me and my friends. They wanted a homeworld of their own, so I helped them go out on a ship and find it. Almost two centuries after arriving on Kolob, the new civilization was getting worried about experiencing the same problem they did in their original universe. You see, they don’t die; or at least, it’s hard to kill them, and they won’t die of age-related diseases. So their population just keeps growing. Back in Ansutah, they came up with some nasty ways of combating the population crisis, but the Kolobians thought of something different.
“They decided to stop having regular children, but they didn’t mean they didn’t have the drive to create life. That life just needed to be different than they were. They needed to be mortal. Unfortunately, some scientists worked on that a long time ago, and couldn’t figure it out. A mortal Maramon just could not be engineered using the resources that were available to them. Fortunately, things were different in this universe, because they had access to so many new resources. They started scouring the nearest stars, looking for a planet that could give them what they needed. If I’m right about where we are, then I think they may have found it. I’ve been in stasis for who knows how long, so I can’t be sure, but these others may be the genesis of a new species. They should be able to carry on the good-natured Maramon tradition, but also be able to die.”
“So, they’re not really Maramon,” Zektene works through. “They just come from them. They probably dont even know that.”
“Yes,” Ramses confirms. “They’re based on Maramon DNA, but also on whatever they’re feeding them on the planet we’re on right now. The scientists had a term for that. I can’t recall what it was in their language, but I remember the translation. They called it...the source variant.

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