Saturday, January 18, 2020

Dardius: Ramses Abdulrashid (Part III)

Ramses Abdulrashid. Engineer. Former capitalist. Awarded most improved. Man of the people. Deputy Delegator. Exile. Rescue. Sacrificial lamb. Survivor. This was his life in a nutshell. He started out as a capitalist, and member of a movement called the Freemarketeers, who he would come to categorize as terrorists. He was grateful for having been pulled from that life, and nowadays, wishes to have nothing to do with it. A lot of people put in a lot of effort to cure him of his bad thoughts, and he didn’t want to live in fear of relapsing. So he filled his life with other stresses, and made sure he didn’t have too much time to reflect on the past.
At the moment, he was chillin’ in a laboratory thousands of years in the future. A lot had happened that led him here, but the short story was that he was placed in stasis so he could one day wake up and take care of the little monster babies who were created to live on this planet. He was here with a few other people.
“Vearden!” one of them named Saga called out.
“Where are you?” another asked. Her name was Zektene.
“Have you seen Vearden?” Saga asked Ramses.
“I’ve been napping, sorry,” he replied.
“Let’s check the other section,” Zektene suggested. The man they were looking for was very badly injured. He had had some time to recover, but something might have gone wrong.
As the ladies were heading towards the hatch, Ramses got himself off the couch slowly, and tried to follow them. They didn’t realize this, so they closed the door behind them. He opened it not a second after, though, and discovered the room on the other side to be completely empty. “Hello?” he called out. “Saga? Zektene?” he asked. Then he added, “Vearden?”
There was no response. Both Vearden and Saga were known for stepping through doors, and ending up traveling through time and space. That must have been what happened to Vearden earlier, and now the other two. Hopefully they were safe, if not all together and safe. Ramses turned around, and went back through the door. He breathed in deep, preparing himself for a life of solitude on an alien planet. This was his next chap—
Just then, he thought he heard someone choking behind him. He turned around again, and saw a movie projected on the wall. There was no projector, though. Ramses’ best friend, Mateo Matic was strangling someone in...was that Stonehenge? “He’s over there,” the man being choked struggled to say.
“That doesn’t look much like a portal,” Mateo argued, looking towards Ramses. “More like a window. Fix it.”
“Let me go,” the man begged, “and I will.”
Mateo let the man go. Then the movie turned three dimensional, and it did appear as if they would be able to cross from one side to the other.
“Mateo?” Ramses questioned.
He stuck his hand over the threshold. “Come on, friend. We’re back together again.”
Ramses took Mateo’s hand, and crossed over.
“The Delegator, this is Ramses Abdulrashid. Ramses, this is the asshole whose life I had to threaten to bring you back to us.”
The Delegator was still massaging his neck. “He’s not supposed to be here.”
“And you’re not supposed to be a jerk!” Mateo argued. “I guess life’s funny that way. Now I don’t want to hear any lip out of you. I just want you to tell me which one is ours. And I swear to the flying spaghetti monster, if you send us through the wrong archway, I’ll find my own way back here, and you’ll regret ever taking this job in middle management.”
“I understand,” the Delegator said. He pointed to one of the Stonehenge archways. “It’s that one over there. No tricks. It will take you back to Dardius.”
Ramses held back when Mateo tried to lead him towards the other portal. “Dardius?”
“Yes,” Mateo said.
“I can’t go back there.”
“Yes, you can.”
“Why?” Ramses asked. “Is it in the past...before I was exiled?”
“That exilement was bullshit, and it’s time to remedy that.” He tried to lead him that way again.
“No, I can’t go.”
“You have to,” the Delegator said, “or he’ll blame me for it.”
“Why should I go there? Why now? Did the Freemarketeers change their minds?”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Tell me what you’re not telling me!” Ramses demanded.
“I’m dead!” Mateo shouted back. “I need you back on Dardius, because that’s where my funeral is. Or my memorial service; or something. There’s no way I’m doing it without you.”
“I don’t understand,” Ramses said. “I mean, I know you’re all time travelers, so it’s possible for you to die, but still be alive to deal with it, but why? Why don’t you just travel through time, and prevent it from happening?”
“My killer used the hundemarke. It can’t be undone. What happened, happened, and it can’t happen any other way.”
Ramses didn’t know what to say for a moment. “I’m sorry.”
“Me too,” Mateo said. “But they saved me with an extraction mirror, so I can live just as long as I would have anyway. Death ain’t nothin’ but a thang in our world.”
“I’m still sorry,” he repeated.
“I know, but it really is okay. Dardius wants to do this whole ceremony. Leona and I just want to get it over with. But we can’t do that until you’re there.”
Ramses didn’t know if he could do it. He agreed to never return. It didn’t matter how much time passed, or how many things changed; that was a promise he didn’t want to break. Still, this was his best friend they were talking about. How could he not be there? It would be disrespectful.
“The world isn’t as it was,” Mateo began to explain. “Both you and I left nearly forty years ago. The Freemarketeers have been pretty well integrated into society. I mean, it’ll never be perfect, so long as the first generation is still there. You have millions of people who all look exactly alike, which is freaky, but other than that, things should be fine. Besides, I’m about to hand the whole planet off to a new set of owners, so they’ll be rid of us completely, if they just give us this one day.”
“Why are you selling the planet?” Ramses asked.
“I’m not selling it,” Mateo said. “I’m giving it to a family that will take good care of it. Believe me, I tried to just relinquish all rights, but they won’t let me. Someone has to take ownership of it, because that’s part of the foundation for their whole society. Don’t ask me to explain it further. I think it’s weird too.”
“Yeah,” Ramses said. “Well, that’s the thing. Because of how weird the Dardieti are about it, I’m not sure if they’ll let you just give it away. I think they’re going to want you to get something for it in return. It doesn’t have to be the gross domestic product of every nation combined, or anything, but it can’t just be two chickens and a goat either. It has to mean something; to you, and the new owner. They’ll have to make a sacrifice of some kind, I’m almost sure of it.”
“Well, what do you have in mind?”
“I’m certain we could come up with something reasonable, but I would have to know who you’re selling to, of course.”
“Okay.” Mateo tried yet again to pull him through the Stonehenge portal.
“We may not want to go straight there, though. If this place can go anywhere in time and space, it could come in handy.”
“Oh, no,” the Delegator hesitated. “I’m not your personal taxi driver. You asked for one portal to come here, one more to get your friend, and a third to get back. I’m not giving you any more. I don’t care where you go now, but wherever it is, you’re staying there. At least, I won’t be the one to let you go gallivanting all over time and space.”
Mateo let go of Ramses’ hand, and approached the Delegator menacingly. “I’m sorry. Perhaps you’ve not heard, but I’m dead, so my hearing isn’t great. What did you say? It was something about helping us with anything and everything we needed.”
Wow, this was a different Mateo than the one Ramses knew all those years ago. They got everything they needed.

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