Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: November 23, 2261

A couple months ago, Hogarth and Hilde decided to use the Nexus replica to visit the planet of Dardius, and prepare for the living memorial services. They were met with suspicion and reluctance, as no one there knew who they were. They had no choice but to return to Glisnia, and retrieve the only two people on the planet who could help the situation. It didn’t matter that Vitalie no longer possessed her memories, or that she technically had never set foot on the distant world. She was a respected friend of the planet’s owners, as was Étude. This left Pribadium alone with her thoughts, and according to Pribadium, that was usually when she invented things. While Holly Blue was a choosing one with the ability to intuitively build technology that exploited loopholes in spacetime, Pribadium was smart enough to come up with such things on her own. Hogarth and Hokusai had proven themselves capable of doing it on their own as well, through science and hard work, but there was one ingredient they were never able to do without. They required a special part called the cylicone. It was present in all temporal objects, in some capacity. No one truly understood how it worked, but as long as it was integrated properly, it always did. More importantly, whatever the object was, it wouldn’t work without the cylicone. Until now.
Pribadium built a teleportation machine. These weren’t too terribly uncommon, of course. The people of Durus used them in their everyday lives, and Kolby Morse carried a gun that could banish his targets to Beaver Haven Rehabilitation Center. But again, they all required the cylicone, and were all based on people with abilities. What Pribadium accomplished was astonishing not only because she had come up with the idea, and executed it to completion, within a matter of weeks, but also because it was done through science alone. It didn’t attach itself to natural tears in the spacetime continuum. It didn’t adapt a chooser’s ability to teleport. It was a genuine invention, which they came to learn could have terrible consequences.
“What’s the big deal?” Mateo asked.
“Okay,” Étude began. “You’ve heard of the internet.”
“No,” Mateo joked in deadpan.
Étude ignored the snark. “There are bad corners of the internet, where bad people do bad things. They may be hard to get to, but they’re all part of the same network. Everyone uses the same network; same cables, and signals, and whatnot. If you want a separate one, then you’re kind of limited to a single building’s closed intranet. What Pribadium did was build a separate network. A new one. It’s small; it’s like an intranet now, but it could potentially be scaled up, and that could change everything. I honestly can’t tell you what that means.”
“Well, what does it change?” Cassidy questioned. “Isn’t the end result the same?”
Leona shook her head. “It could even the playing field,” she said cryptically.
“Why can only some people travel through nonlinear time?” Leona posed.
“I don’t know, why?” Mateo asked right back.
“I don’t know,” Leona echoed. “We call the people who can’t do it humans, or regular humans. They get sick, and they may even die. It could be a genetic thing; it could even be environmental, but the powers that be appear to have limitations of their own. They can’t just call anyone they want to duty. If they could, they would probably stick to people they know will do their bidding, and won’t question orders.”
No one responds.
“Look at it this way,” Leona continued. “Let’s imagine that time travelers didn’t exist. No choosers, no powers, no salmon, no chosen ones, no spawn. You can’t be born with powers, and you can’t be put on a pattern. Before you found out about all this, that was the world you thought you were living in. That was normal. But what was also normal was scientific advancement. No one here is old enough to remember a time before cell phones existed, but some of us were close. They didn’t exist, and then they did, and then they got better, and now we’re so far beyond the form factor that holding a little rectangle in your hand seems laughable to people living in the 23rd century.”
“What’s your point?” Pribadium asked. She had been impressively quiet while she tried to figure out whether everyone was upset with her for what she had created.
Now Leona focused her attention directly on her. “You invented time travel, Pribadium. You had been exposed to some of the concepts, but not a lot, and none of it had anything to do with teleportation. I mean, you just figured this out. Regular humans can now do what we do. No apparent side effects, no downsides. That’s, quite frankly, dangerous. It’s bad enough that some people can do the things they can, but if we just let that get out into the world—nay, the galaxy—then what does the timeline look like?”
“I didn’t invent time travel,” Pribadium defended. “You can’t go backwards, and change history. You can just jump to the other side of the world, at the farthest.”
Leona smiled. “The people who invented the cell phone couldn’t use it to access their emails, if they even had email accounts by then. This is a step, and we can’t be sure it’s a good one.”
“Are you telling me to destroy this?” Pribadium asked.
“Why did you build it?”
She shrugged. “I was just trying to get to the Nexus easier and faster. I didn’t give it much thought. I wasn’t trying to change the galaxy,” she said with airquotes.
“You can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” Étude cautioned.
“Why do people say that?” Cassidy asked. “Yes, you can. It happened, like, every episode of the show that was dedicated to a man and his genie slave girl.”
“It’s just an expression,” Étude clarified. “The lesson holds. You’ve done something that can’t be undone.”
“Hmm,” Vitalie began, “well, that’s not true, is it?”
Étude scoffed. “We’re not going back in time to prevent the invention of time travel. If we’re gonna base all our decisions on movies and TV, then when has that plan ever worked?”
“We just have to keep quiet about it,” Mateo suggested. “Hardly anyone else lives here, and the nearest colony is miles and miles away, on the other side of a mountain range. We’re not telling anyone about the Nexus either, right?”
For some reason, that made everything really awkward.
“It’s not like we don’t trust each other with this information, right?” He pressed.
Still awkward.
“I’m so stupid, I’ll forget about this in a week. I know I can trust Leona. Cassidy can trust her mother, and vice versa. Étude trusts Vitalie. Hogarth and Hilde trusts each other. Leona can trust both Hogar—”
“Me,” Pribadium interrupted his rant. “They’re worried about what I’ll do next. If I don’t tell anyone about this, I could still do it again, or something like it. I’m the flight risk.”
“We don’t think that,” Leona said with a shake of her head.
“It’s okay,” Pribadium lied. “I don’t belong in this group. I fell into this, and I understand that.”
“We all fell into this,” Cassidy tried to comfort her. “I spent most of my life oblivious, until someone sent me to the future. Hogarth exploded herself accidentally. Vitalie jumped through a hatch, after being rediscovered in another universe without her memories. My mom is really the only one here who was born into this life.”
“It’s true,” Étude agreed. “No one thinks you don’t belong here. We’re just worried. Holly Blue regrets a lot of the things she invented.”
“Lord knows I do too,” Hogarth chimed in.
Hilde finally decided to speak. “Has anyone considered the possibility that this is a good thing? Maybe we humans deserve this? Maybe this technology can put an end to the powers that be’s...power.” She tilted her head at the odd grammar, but moved on. “Maybe the choosing ones won’t feel so special anymore, and thusly, not so violent and annoying.”
Even though Mateo was salmon, he had always been bothered by the us versus them mentality. Even calling people without powers or patterns humans seemed so, well...racist. He never let go of his original identity. He always preferred to treat everything he had gone through, and had yet to go through, as the conditions of his life, rather than the nature of his self. All of this was what he did, not who he was at his core. It was less about being a time traveler, and more about being a person who traveled through time. So he felt for Hilde’s position, and couldn’t say that he disagreed with her on this issue. Maybe everyone else was blowing it out of proportion, and things would only become bad if the people in this room remained so nervous about it.
“Let’s set this aside, and focus on Mateo’s funeral,” Vitalie mediated, knowing that if the conversation were to continue, things could get pretty heated; worse than they were on the ultimately detoured way to Dardius last year.
“Oh, yeah, we’re not doing that today,” Étude explained. “You really need to pay attention when we go off and do things, and talk to people.”
“I’m just gonna forget it anyway,” Vitalie argued. Well yeah, in a half century.
“The Dardieti government is dealing with some internal matters right now that make holding a global memorial service too complicated. They intend to hold off on the news. As sad as it is, the event could unite the peoples, but only if they handle with care.”
“How long do they wanna wait?” Leona asked.
“For you?” Étude asked rhetorically. “Three days. Estimate.”
“Whatever,” Leona said. Mateo thought she was taking this too lightly, and was probably underestimating how traumatic the experience would be for her, even though he was as of yet, still alive. He couldn’t say that to her, though. This was her journey, and he would support her during any emotional crisis that did or didn’t come her way.
“Well, that’s good,” Pribadium said. “I have some other ideas I’m working on, and to prevent anyone from freaking out about them, I need Hogarth to help me with them.”
“What are they?” Hogarth asked, concerned but curious.
For whatever reason, Pribadium looked over at Cassidy. “I was thinking we could do something to help her.” Help her how?

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