Saturday, February 29, 2020

Dardius: Mateo Matic (Part IX)

No, it wasn’t Cassidy in the background. Mateo was seeing Meliora Rutherford, whom he had only met a couple times; once in an alternate reality. They didn’t look anything alike, but the former was the person he was expecting to be here. He had always wondered why it was that Gilbert Boyce owned this planet, rather than her. She was in charge of the only inhabited building on it back when this all began, so why did her power not spread as the population did? After he hugged everyone in the room who was there for his memorial already, he decided to be brave, and pull Meliora aside, so he could speak with her about this. Seeing her here, and realizing why it was that all these people were coming together, gave him an idea.
“I thought this day might come,” Meliora said.
“You did?” he asked. “So you know what I’m going to say.”
“I have no idea,” she admitted. “But you and I have not spoken in quite a long time, from both of our respective perspectives, so we were probably due. Ask me anything.”
“Why did Boyce own this planet, and not you? I mean, didn’t you basically run it, and weren’t you the one who named it”
“Oh, we’re talkin’ about that? Okay. Well, it’s really complicated, but the gist of it is that I don’t want it. Maqsud owed Boyce a favor, and that favor came in the form of a star system. Boyce owed me a favor, but it was a much smaller one, so that favor came in the form of being able to use this planet for my needs. I wanted a place where Earthans could feel safe and comfortable. Right down to the surface gravity, they needed to feel like they were still on the same world. Keep in mind that this agreement was discussed and finalized when The Rogue was possessing the body of Baudin, and one other person. Neither one of them was evil, like The Apprentice, so he was far more congenial at the time. Anyway, I was responsible for The Sanctuary, and Boyce was not allowed to interfere, but he did maintain control over the rest of the planet. Or rather, he maintained theoretical control. He never had any ideas of what he could do with it, so when a few of my guests wanted to go out camping, for instance, we didn’t run into any problems.
“Around the time that Boyce first died, and ownership transferred to you, the people I was rescuing from Earth were multiplying beyond the Sanctuary’s boundaries. I took a risk, and expanded without permission, because I assumed you wouldn’t have a problem with it.”
“Of course not,” Mateo confirmed.
“Good. So, I started using more and more land, but I realized my people no longer needed me. They procured their own way of extracting those in need from the timeline, and of figuring out precisely who those people were. Recognizing that I would probably only be a hindrance to this new civilization’s development, I determined the best thing for me to do was leave.”
“Where did you go? Or when?”
“It’s a little bit of both. I began to travel to other universes.”
“Ah, I see.”
“I never know where I’m going, or what I will find when I arrive, because I have no means of navigating the bulkverse. That’s why I can’t own this planet. I can always return to a brane that I’ve been to, but I can’t guarantee where in the timeline I’ll be, or even if I’ll be in the latest timeline,” she said with airquotes. “So now I have a question for you, are you asking out of curiosity, or are you trying to pass it off to me?”
“Do you think I should...pass it off, that is?”
Meliora stood there for a moment. “Probably. I can’t take it, though. I’m a bulk traveler and that’s the way I like it. After this is over, I will be leaving again. If you would like someone to take Dardius off your hands, I can help you do that. It’s a good time for it, because even though you’re obviously alive, you have died, and that’s sort of when ownership transference happens.”
“Right. The problem is you are exactly who I had in mind. I don’t know of anyone else. Do you?”
Mateo’s memorial was quite literally a global event. The only people not paying attention to it were in emergency situations, like those at the hospital. Even they had the ceremony on in the background, though. There wasn’t enough room for everyone to watch in one place, however, so only a select few tens of thousands of people were afforded tickets to the stadium. Other stadiums held their own events, though they were self-regulated, and unofficial. Even the people in the main stadium didn’t have the best view, because there was a much smaller crowd on the grounds, full of only people who knew Mateo personally. Though the event would not begin for another few hours, Meliora decided to transport the living Mateo there, so he could catch a sneak preview. She slowed time down to a crawl so they could get a good look from another dimension.
“I don’t know how all these people get here,” Meliora began as they were staring at the group. “I dispatched some of my most trusted allies to assist in the endeavor, because the powers that be are not involved this time, like they were with your final showdown with The Cleanser in the Colosseum. I was also unable to recruit Glaston for this, because your wedding with Leona nearly killed him.”
“Who’s that guy?” Mateo was pointing to a mysterious man who they did indeed encounter at the wedding.
“He’s from the future. Don’t worry about it. Are you listening to me?”
“Yes, of course.”
Meliora went on, “not everyone here would be up to the task of owning a planet.”
“How hard could it be? I did almost nothing as owner. I only became Patronus later, and that didn’t last very long, and it never truly had to happen at all.”
“It is a psycho-emotional strain, Mateo. You’ve always been too busy to feel it, especially since for a good chunk of the time, you didn’t even know how many people lived here. All these people do. The new owner would know from the start that billions of people will know their name. They’ll likely feel the obligation to live here, because they’ll have the option, whereas you and Leona never did. They will spend their days in the public eye, not possessing any real power, but being asked for help anyway. Mateo, if you choose someone to take this world from you—which, by the way, you don’t actually have to—you will be simultaneously giving them an enormous gift, and a massive burden.”
“Do I have to give it to anyone at all?” Mateo hoped. “Can I not just relinquish my rights, or something?”
“Normally, yes. But with this particular world, with this many people, who all believe in you, no. They’re comfortable with having an owner, kind of like how it took over two centuries for the United Kingdom to abolish the royal family, and transition completely to a real democratic republic.”
“Wull, if I try to give Dardius to someone else, do the people have to approve of that person?”
“Well, they will, because you do. I know that seems like I’m not answering the question, but it’s true. They will accept anyone. You could hand it off to Adolf Hitler, Francisco Franco, and Donald Trump, and they’ll smile, because they’ll trust you had your reasons.”
“I don’t think I’m going to go that route. I want to choose someone who’s up for the job. Please don’t be neutral on this. If you have a good choice in mind, I want to hear it.”
“I have to be neutral, because I’m too powerful to let people listen to me too much. I do know someone who should be involved in this decision, though. I’ll take you back to the recent past, just before Leona arrives.”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea.”
Mateo returned to the Sanctuary hotel, and had an hour-long talk with his wife about what they were going to do with this planet. They generated a list of their most responsible friends, and pared it down. In the end, the three-generational Einarsson family proved themselves to be the most logical choice. Any help they needed they could secure from their various friends and allies, and as the owner of a whole planet, Cassidy would be forever protected from anyone who would do her harm. The trick would be convincing them to agree to it in the first place. He didn’t really know if the three of them had to agree to this, because Gilbert never gave him a choice, but he was determined to not force the issue if they didn’t consent. That wasn’t Mateo’s responsibility, though. Leona would have to take care of that herself while he was off doing something else. There were two people who were vital to the services, but Meliora’s people were struggling with finding a way to retrieve them. One in particular would not come easily, mostly because he had no idea who Mateo was.
Ramses was difficult to get to, because of when and where he was. Horace Reaver, on the other hand, was difficult because they evidently couldn’t choose just any version of him in any time period. The Horace living in 2027 was the one who needed to see the events that would be unfolding today, for temporal reasons that Mateo wasn’t capable of understanding. He just had to trust that Meliora knew what she was talking about when she explained this to him. This would be a lot easier if he had managed to retain Nerakali’s brain blending power, but it was still possible without it. His best chance at success would be to appeal to Horace’s better nature, and make sure he suppressed his dark tendencies.

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