Sunday, May 10, 2020

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: February 10, 2212

Ramses Abdulrashid stepped out of the homeportal. Or, at least that was what he tried to do. Best guess, portals weren’t very good at exiting on moving objects, like this spaceship he was now back on. Though that didn’t explain how teleportation to a planet was possible. Everything in the universe was always moving around, so there had to be some way of navigating. This wasn’t important right now, though. He had to pull his face off the floor, and gather his bearings. This was The Sharice Davids, which exploded near Proxima Centauri over sixty years ago, or over two hundred years in the future, depending on the perspective. He managed to look up the corridor just in time to watch his younger self be teleported out of the danger zone. The bridge section of the ship was a safer place to be at the moment, but there was no way to reach it, and it wasn’t destined to last long anyway.
Future!Ramses ran up to Weaver and Goswin, who had been left stranded here when the teleporter who rescued his past self was unable to return for them. He knew for a fact that they were going to survive this ordeal, though, so there must have been some kind of way out of here. Weaver ignored him for a second so she could speak into comms. “Computer, initiate AU level burst mode, heading Proxima Doma.”
“Where did you come from?” Goswin asked.
“Sixty years in the future,” Ramses answered, “give or take five years.” He was a great engineer, but if he wanted to solve a math problem, he still needed some time to make the calculations, be it on paper, or in his head. Since the first time he experienced this date, he spent most of the time living through every second of the year. More recently, however, he was on his best friend’s pattern, so it was unclear exactly how much time had passed for him in total.
“Are you here to rescue us?” Weaver asked.
“I didn’t technically come here for that, but that must be our fate. I’m just not sure how.” Ramses looked around. There was nothing of note but walls and floors, so he was just biding time until his brain came up with something brilliant. It worked. “The Ubiña pocket.”
“How is that gonna help us?” Goswin questioned. Won’t it be destroyed once the rest of the ship falls apart completely?”
Weaver consulted her computing device. “I estimate that to be in five minutes, give or take five minutes.”
“I can jettison the pocket generator,” Ramses explained to Goswin. It’s based on a paramount’s temporal power, but it still needs physical tech to exist. All we need to do is protect that.”
They look to Weaver, who was far more experienced with this sort of thing. She looked up from her device. “Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s go.”
They ran down the corridors, heading for the pocket dimension area. The pockets were designed for recreation, to keep the crew entertained during long journeys, but they had never been used. Fortunately, they did go through rigorous testing, so there should be no reason they wouldn’t work.
“How hard will it be for you to reprogram the generator thingy so it can be jettisoned?” Goswin asked as they were running.
“I just need to command it to do so,” Ramses answered. “It’s already capable of it, in case this very thing happens.”
“Whose idea was that?” he asked.
“Holly Blue’s,” Weaver said, referring to her alternate self.
They rounded the corner, and came face to face with a Freemarketeer redshirt named Enata. He was bloody and half dead, and trying to hold a gun to them, but was unable to lift his arm high enough. Ramses reached out, and took the weapon out of the man’s hand. “You can either die here, or come with us. Honestly, I don’t care which.”
Enata looked like he was near tears. Then he closed his eyes, and waved them past. He followed them surprisingly quickly with his limp. He wanted to live, despite having been directly involved in this ship’s destruction. They made it to the Ubiña pocket room.
“Pocket four,” Weaver said to them. “Seems fitting.”
Enata ran into the entryway, and slammed his face against the wall.
“Give me a second to open it up,” Weaver said as Goswin was helping their enemy from the floor. She pressed a button, and activated the pocket dimension, revealing a microworld with a serene bit of land next to a circular escher creek. “Now you can go through.”
Goswin helped Enata in while Weaver stood there, waiting. “Go on in,” she said. “It’s like an old-timey security system. I have to program the jettison on a delay. This thing won’t work while we’re inside.”
“Yes, it will,” Ramses lied. “Let me see that.”
Just as she was handing him the device, Ramses lifted Enata’s gun, and pointed it at her. “Go.”
“What do you have against me?” she asked.
“What? No, I mean get in the pocket. Sorry, that wasn’t clear. I’m the one staying out here.”
“We just need to put it on a delay,” she argued. “It’s fine.”
“Sure, the generator will fly off into space, but going what direction? And who is going to rescue us? No one knows this is happening. Trust me, I’m from the future.”
“So, how are you going to save us?”
“I’m gonna shoot you.” That was not a lie.
The ship shook and shrieked. It was not going to last much longer. It was either now or never. Weaver sighed. “I’ll return to this moment, and save you too.”
Ramses smiled. “I’m sure you will.” That was a lie. He knew what Weaver would go on to do with her life. She would have never taken the time to come back here and return the favor. After everyone was safe inside the pocket dimension, he ejected the generator. He then went into the weapons menu, and selected the gun he was looking for. This was not a destructive weapon. It was designed to send a target on some desired vector. In this case, he was sending the generator on a course for Earth. At this distance, it would take them over six years to get there, but once it arrived, Weaver would detect atmosphere, and be able to free them from the pocket. It might not have been the best option, but it was the best Ramses could come up with on such short notice. He had seconds left. He raced through the computer system, activated the vector gun, and sent them on their way. Then he stood there alone, waiting to die.
The hull opened up through the floor, sending him flying towards his death. It was a spectacular sight, he couldn’t help but think. But then something strange happened. The hole started sealing itself back up, and he started drifting back down to his feet. Had Weaver done it? Had she made it to Earth, invented a thing or two, and somehow returned to the past to save him? The hull stitched itself all the way back together, the fires died down, the exposed wires retied themselves, and tucked back out of sight behind the wall panels. At first, he figured time must be reversing, but Weaver, Goswin, and Enata never came back out of the pocket entrance, walking backwards. No, this wasn’t the reversal of time, but of entropy. In minutes, everything was exactly as it was meant to be, except the crew was still gone, as was the part of the ship that was designed to control this thing. Who had done this, and why? Surely it had nothing to do with him.
The only thing he could think to do was head for the auxiliary control room. Three people were already in there, looking over the consoles. They seemed surprised at his arrival.
“Mister Abdulrashid,” one of them said. He consulted a computing device on his wrist. “The timeline is intact. Did we miss something from the historical accounts?”
“Report,” Ramses said bluntly.
“Hold on, we’re trying to figure this out.”
“Report!” he shouted.
The leader sighed. “You first.”
“This is my ship,” Ramses said. “I mean, sort of. I’m a member of the crew, and you’re invaders. So, I’ll say it one more time, and then that’s it. Report.”
“All right, calm down. We were just taken aback. According to records, you escaped the destruction of The Sharice Davids, and continued back and forth throughout the timestream. This is Antitropy. He’s the one what put your ship back together. Over here we have Antiparticle. And I’m Antichron.”
“Why are you here?” Ramses asked.
“We are at war in our time,” Antichron answered. “We need a warship.”
“I can’t let you have it,” Ramses said plainly.
“Why not?”
“Well, I don’t know who you are. You could be the bad guys. Maybe you’re fighting against my friends.”
He seemed amused by the idea. “Your friends do not live in our time.”
“If we never reach your time period,” Ramses began, “then you must be from pretty far in the future, and if you’re from that far in the future, do you really need a decommissioned-then-retrofitted 22nd century warship?”
“That’s precisely why we need it,” Antichron explained. “It’s called intentional obsolescence. It’s not vulnerable to the kinds of attacks we’ll be going up against. This vessel is perfect. It was lost on this day, and its wreckage never recovered. All we have to do is simply remove it, and take it to the future.”
“Like Jack Harkness, or Pria Lavesque?”
The three of them looked at each other for answers. “We do not appreciate the references. We truly are from too far in the future.”
“Cool,” Ramses said dismissively. “Well, I’m not gonna let you commandeer this ship. If you really are from the deep future, then I don’t care much who wins your war. So, I’m going to take this ship back, and you can go do whatever you want without it.”
They seem amused again. “It’s cute how you think you can do anything to stop us. You’re just a human.”
“I’m a human who’s watched a lot of old TV and movies, unlike you.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“It means I’ve seen Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” This was a tricky gambit, but it was the only thing that was going to get him out of this situation. He took one step back, and placed his hand on a panel on the wall. It started heating up a little, and after a few seconds, verified his identity. The panel fell to the floor, revealing a wall safe. He punched in the code, and removed a special weapon. What this weapon did, he didn’t really know, but it was obvious how to work it. He pointed it at the three invaders, and shot them. The blast placed them in some kind of stasis cocoon. That was great and all, but what was he gonna do now? Oh, well there was this lever inside the safe as well. He wondered what that did. There was more than one way to find out, but there was only one best way. He reached in, and pulled it down.
Energy surged through the walls. It was so powerful that he couldn’t hold onto the lever anymore. Once it reached critical mass, the invaders disappeared. But no, they didn’t go anywhere. It was the ship that had moved, leaving them behind. Ramses walked over to the navigation controls, and watched the readings change. The ship just kept jumping through both space and time, in no particular order. It would only spend a few seconds in any one point before moving on to the next. Then he saw it. March 21, 2014. That was the exact date he needed to get to. He rushed back over the lever, and slammed it up. He wasn’t going to be able to hold on forever, though. The lever wanted to go back down on its own, and resume its programming. He had to get out of here immediately, or he could wind up in the cretaceous period. “Computer! Emergency evac! Authorization Bachelor-Vociferous-Plaintiff-Marathon-two-one-two-four!” The slick time-jumping program was something he would have to go back in time and secretly install himself. The emergency evac protocol, however, was built into the ship long ago.
Confirmed, the computer replied in Sharice Prieto’s voice. Brace for atmospheric dissonance.
Suddenly, he was standing outside the ship, on the ground. It disappeared on its own, continuing on its journey to wherever and whenever. He dropped to his knees and caught his breath. Atmospheric dissonance was no joke. It shouldn’t be this bad, though. The ship was calibrated for Earth-like climate. Someone came up to him, and injected something into his neck. He immediately felt better. “Thank you,” he said as he was standing up. “I think.”
It was an old woman. “Acclimatization solution.”
He was indeed feeling better. “Where are we?”
“Thālith al Naʽāmāt Bida, March 4, 2923.”
“Twenty-nine-twenty-three!” Ramses exclaimed. “Oh my God, I’m way off.” The time-jumping program must have switched moments by the time he reached the lever again.
“Nope,” she disagreed confidently. “You’re right on time. Just step into this cave, and walk towards the other end at a steady pace. You’ll need to make your own way back to Kansas, though.”
“Oh. Well. Who are you?”
“Let’s just say...if you read the book of my life, it would be a real page turner.”

“Paige Turner,” Mateo said.
“Yep, that’s what she said,” Ramses replied. He had just told his friends of his harrowing adventure.
“No, that was Paige Turner. That’s her name.”
“Oh, that was her? You described her a little younger.”
“You were nine hundred years from now,” Leona explained.
“Oh yeah, I guess so. Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing. What have you guys been up to?”
They looked at each other, and over at what Ramses assumed was the invisible projection of Mateo’s psychic stowaway, Arcadia. “Scheming.”

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