Monday, August 31, 2020

Microstory 1441: The War Ends

Twelve years after she was born, Jayde Kovac was ready to take on the world, and prove herself at the fourth Mage Selection Games. Unfortunately, something went screwy with the spacetime continuum, and she was unable to make it to the competition. It would ultimately not matter, however, as she was born with time powers of her own, and never needed one of the source mages to give them to her. Once she learned this about herself, she went on a little adventure. She met friends and enemies, got a more detailed diagnosis about what specific powers she possessed, and unwillingly got proverted. When the source mages first asked the proverters to make them look older, the proverters had some stipulations, and one of these was that every person born like them would also find themselves in their debt. This was one of the reasons the source mages chose to not have children, because they didn’t want to impose that burden on anyone else. Of course, Jayde didn’t know anything about this, but she did go looking for answers about who she was, and where she came from. While she was indisposed, hell broke loose for the rest of the planet. The truth was that this was all a very unlikely coincidence, but it was indeed a coincidence. It just so happened that Jayde manifested her powers as the final battles of the war with the time monsters were beginning. Poorly researched history books would attribute her actions to the influx of enemy activity, but she didn’t have anything to do with it, and without her, the human race on Durus would have surely fallen, and Earth would have gone down next. That didn’t mean she made the best choices. While she looked like an adult, she was still only twelve years old, and could not foresee the consequences of her actions. Still, even though a lot of people got hurt, she did end the war once and for all, and she deserved to be commended for her bravery.

With the intact Maramon as their leader, the monsters came out in full force, and hit the towns hard. He was smart enough to get past their defenses, and go for the weakest points first, instead of just running around aimlessly, as the other monsters usually did. They leveled Forts Salient and Frontline on the first day. Then they went after the other towns, knocking them down pretty much simultaneously, so the humans couldn’t concentrate their forces. Even Hidden Depths wasn’t protected enough to avoid detection. While there had never been more mages alive at the same time before, most of them were either new, or retired. This being just after the Mage Games meant that the newbies didn’t know everything about how the military operated, and they didn’t understand the scope of their abilities yet. Many of the older retirees were called back into action, but they were out of practice, because they never thought they would have to work again. It was up to the recent retirees, from the 2070 Games, to step up, and suffer the majority of the weight of the war, but even they weren’t enough to go against the monsters. Seeing what they believed to be the writing on the wall, the source mages retreated to another dimension. They had already been living there for some time, but now they closed the gates, and kept everybody out. There were enough people inside to restart civilization, but thousands would still die if no one could do anything about it. Enter Jayde Kovac, who ultimately had to realize that she was the only person who could handle this, and she would essentially have to do it alone.

After a failed attempt at being trained by the source mages, including her parents, Jayde was told that she had a very rare power. Like Escher Bradley before her, she was capable of harnessing temporal energy itself. She had many specialized powers of her own, but she could also absorb the energy that other people had, and use it to boost her abilities. This wasn’t, strictly speaking, illegal, but the source mages decided long ago to never allow anyone else to have this ability. They figured the most altruistic of candidates could still be corrupted with this amount of power, and they didn’t want to risk it. Even Madoc Raptis agreed to make sure he never sourced anybody energy absorption. Jayde was the child of two source mages, though, and no one had any control over what powers she ended up with. Nonetheless, this was arguably the best thing that ever happened to them. Seeing no other options, Jayde left the hidden dimension, and returned to normal space. The monsters had defeated all the mages by now, and were primed to go after the rest of the humans if they didn’t agree to serve the Maramon. Fortunately, the one Maramon there didn’t want to kill anyone, because he assumed someone on this planet would be able to repair the portal ring, and bring the rest of his people there. They never found out whether this was true or not, because Jayde didn’t give them a chance. She absorbed the temporal energy from everyone in the whole world. She waited to release this energy until she traveled to the center of the portal ring. The resulting explosion quickly turned into an implosion, and sucked everything in its path into the portal. She effectively switched the portal’s directions, so anyone could travel through it to the monster universe, but none of the monsters would be able to come to Durus. Without the constant energy from the ring, most of the monsters still around were left without any powers. Unfortunately, the same went for all the humans. And thus began the four year period known as the Interstitial Chaos.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Sunday, July 3, 2118

Mateo wasn’t sure how they could go about saving Vearden’s life. When it came to time travel, there appeared to be no shortage of possibilities, but a lot of them were out of the question. The obvious answer would be to simply go to that moment in time, and rescue him before that animal could trample him. But Jupiter said they couldn’t do it that way. As far as everyone knew, Vearden Haywood died on Tribulation Island on July 10, 2125. Perhaps they could try to use an extraction mirror, but that couldn’t alter his fate, only delay it. He wasn’t ageless either, so he would have to go fulfill his own death sooner rather than later. There had to be a way, though. As Mateo was pondering this the next day, the answer seemed to fall into his lap.
After making sure Xearea Voss was fully recovered, they went back to Tribulation Island together, so she could move into the fancy resort there. While they were on the mainland, Leona and their friends had spent that time getting to know Aldona’s family a little bit better. It was more awkward being around some of these people more than others. Marcy, for one thing, was a good friend from the future, but she wouldn’t be heading back to the main sequence for another sixteen years, and she had not met any of them yet. It was unclear whether they could tell her about that, because they still didn’t know if their memories of the Parallel were going to be erased, or if they just kept their time here a secret. The weirdest thing was interacting with Aldona’s brother, Nestor. Out of everyone during Arcadia’s expiations, he was the only person whose challenge they failed. What did all this mean about how he would survive that failure?
Right now, they were just coming back from a particularly grueling hike to clear their heads. The Buchanan-Lanka-Calligaris family requested someone take a photo of them together, to commemorate their accomplishment. As soon as Mateo pressed the button, he felt a gust of warm wind behind his back. Four people had just appeared there. He recognized all of them: Trinity, Ellie, Thor, and Abigail.
“Guys...” Abigail began mysteriously. “Where are we?”
“This is highly irregular,” Mateo said to them. “The way I understood it, there would not be a transition today. To answer your question, though, you’re in what we call the Parallel. It’s an alternate reality that is not an alternate timeline. It runs...parallel.”
“What year is it?” Trinity asked.
“It’s Sunday, July 3, 2118,” Sanaa answered.
“What year for you?” Leona asked back.
“Twenty-four hundred,” Ellie replied. “I can’t tell you how we got here, but it had nothing to do with this transition of which you spake.”
“Do you need us for something?” Mateo asked. “All of us? One of us?”
“We were just looking for a quiet place. We didn’t mean to interrupt,” Trinity said.
“Of course you’re not interrupting. This is a safe space.”
“It is?” Abigail questioned. Is this Haven?”
“No,” Leona responded, “but it’s close. The powers that be can’t get to us here, due to a loophole. Haven is in another universe, which they also can’t control, but is also more difficult to access.”
This was Mateo’s chance to get the ball rolling on this saving Vearden thing. It was the perfect opportunity to get a word in with Ellie without creating suspicion. He had not yet said anything to the others about Jupiter’s latest assignment. He wasn’t planning on keeping it a secret forever, but the lie he told about there just not being anyone for them to rescue for the next few years didn’t sound crazy. In fact, it wasn’t crazy at all, because that was exactly what Jupiter said was going to happen. Mateo just didn’t want to burden them with the ultimatum yet. They were at a relaxing resort, and enjoying it too much to let him ruin it. “If you need a spot to have a sensitive conversation, I know the perfect getaway.”
Leona was a little suspicious, but she bit her tongue.
Ellie caught his drift. “That would be lovely.”
“I’ll take them to Lorania, and catch up with you guys later. Love ya, bye.” He kissed his wife, then walked away before she could think of any reasonable questions to ask. The rest followed.
They didn’t say anything on the short helicopter ride over to the other island. It could have been bugged for all they knew. Sure, invisible nanobots could be following them around anyway, but this was their best option. “I need to talk to you guys, but I’m not sure who should go first. Do you want me to leave and come back, err...?”
“We’ll talk about your thing first,” Thor promised, “since you’re on a time limit.”
“No, he’s not anymore, remember?” Trinity asked.
“He is, though, aren’t you, Matty?” Thor pointed to Mateo’s Cassidy cuffs.
“I’m on a different pattern, but I still only have a day,” Mateo confirmed.
“What can we do ya for?” Ellie prompted.
“I need you to do that voodoo that you do.”
“You need to send a message?” she figured, or maybe she just hoped that was all he needed.
“I need you to save someone’s life, in the same way that you did me.”
“You want me to transfer someone’s consciousness to a clone body?”
Mateo thought over it for a few seconds. “I guess it doesn’t have to be a clone. It doesn’t matter, we just have to rescue him without anyone knowing that we did.”
“What’s he gonna do once you rescue him?” Thor pressed. “How will people not know he survived?”
“I suspect he’ll have to stay here,” Mateo conceded. “Few people seem to know this reality exists, even though it literally always has.”
“He’ll be okay with that?” Trinity continued. “Who are we talking about?”
“Vearden,” Mateo answered, “so yeah, I think he’ll understand.”
“Is this a riddle?” Thor asked, just as acerbically as always.
“No,” Abigail said with a cute smile. “It’s a challenge. I’ve heard stories about what you’ve been through. People keep giving you tasks to complete that are half-arbitrary, half-necessary.”
“That’s right,” Mateo verified.
“Who?” Trinity asked, concerned.
“Don’t worry about it. I’m not trying to quit. I wanna complete these challenges; especially this one.” Mateo directed his attention back to Ellie. “Can you do it?”
She thought his request over for a moment, not because she wasn’t sure if she could handle it, but because she didn’t know if she should. “It’s not that I can’t, or that I think I shouldn’t. I’m just not sure that I have to,” she answered cryptically.
“That’s why we came here in the first place,” Abigail started to explain. “We’re working on quite undeniably the largest endeavor in the history of humankind. The plan is to use Ellie’s power to save everyone’s life for the last seventy-four hundred years.”
Mateo looked to each of them one by one, and then back again a couple times. “Oh, I’ve seen that done before,” he told them, sadly unimpressed with their proposal.
“What? What are you talking about?” Ellie asked.
“Yeah,” Mateo went on. “That’s what this reality is. No one has died in thousands of years, perhaps even for longer than you plan on doing your plan.”
The four of them exchanged looks, and possibly telepathic words. Ellie opened the conversation back up before too long. “This is a world where nobody dies. Ours is a world where they survive death. And we won’t bring them back until later. Same same, but different.”
“Hey, man, I don’t mean to offend,” Mateo apologized. “I’m down for it. I just don’t know if it applies to Vearden’s sitchi’ation. Jupiter wants to save him in a week, not in the future.”
“Future, past, present, what does it matter?” Thor asked rhetorically.
“Good point,” Mateo responded. “Where are you gonna put all these people, though? I’m terribly curious now.”
“It’s Abigail’s job to come up with that,” Thor said, inviting her to speak.
“Oh, right. Well, do you wanna hear it?”
They all said yes and yeah and please and absolutely in unison.
“Okay.” Abigail was nervous. “So, Mohandas Gandhi and Orville Wright both died on January 30, 1948, right? So, what we do when that happens is insert their respective consciousnesses into the virtual simulation at around the same time. We can even time it to the minute, if we want. All the other people who died on that day are also waking back up at the same time. Meanwhile, the people who died on January 29 woke up the day before, and the people who died on January 31 will wake up the day after. The afterlife will operate in realtime, just centuries later. What they do with their simulation is up to them, but there will be new rules, like that they can’t die again. Hopefully that will stop them from, ya know...trying to kill each other. So when this Varden guy—”
Vearden,” Mateo and Trinity corrected in unison.
“Right. So he’ll wake up in the simulation in...you said it was 2125?”
“July 10,” Mateo repeated.
“So he’ll wake up in the year ninety-eight hundred. Ooo, that seems long. Maybe we don’t do that. Maybe the simulation operates much faster.”
“Or it operates in realtime, like you said, but also at the same time,” Thor offered. “Maybe we all go back in time, and secretly set up shop around some other star system.”
“These are all really great ideas,” Ellie began, “and it’s going to take a lot of work to figure out the details. Something may go wrong before we do, and if we die before trying to save Mr. Haywood, it won’t help him. So let’s put the whole plan on the back burner, and focus on trying to bring back this one person. If we can’t do this, we won’t be good enough to do it for the whole species anyway. The three of you will have seven years to get me a clone body.”
“What are you going to do?” Trinity asked her, very confused.
Ellie gestured towards Mateo’s wrists. “Tell me how those devices work. Do you have an extra set?”
“Why would you do that?” Trinity maintained her wariness.
“I have my reasons,” Ellie replied.
Trinity wasn’t satisfied with that explanation, or lack thereof. “Elle.”
Ellie’s voice came into Mateo’s ear, “Mateo, don’t react to what I’m saying right now.” No one else seemed to have heard that. “There are some things I just can’t tell you,” Ellie said out loud for everyone else to hear. “I need you to convince these people that I’m supposed to wear one of your cuffs.” She kept trying to alleviate her friend’s confusion, while having this secret conversation with Mateo that only he could hear, and while she wasn’t moving her lips, like a ventriloquist. “I noticed that The Escapologist is in your group. I need to borrow her power, just for a little bit. I promise I won’t abuse it. They’re not looking at you, you can reply to me without them hearing. Just do it like you did during your wedding.
Mateo didn’t need to continue the conversation. If Ellie Underhill wanted something, she kind of deserved it. She had never given him any reason to doubt or deny her. “She’s right,” he said out loud. “I didn’t wanna say anything, but it is no coincidence that she’s here. She’s a part of this. She has to put on the cuffs. Saving Vearden isn’t the only thing we need from her.”
Just like Mateo knew he could trust Ellie, Trinity knew she could trust Mateo. “Fine. I will concede to this, but only because of Leona’s Rules of Time Travel, Number Twelve.” Don’t learn too much about your future.
It wasn’t going to be that easy, though. All of the cuffs were currently in use. If Ellie wanted in on this, someone would have to be released from the pattern. Fortunately, Mateo had a pretty good idea who that should be. J.B. had always wanted to know what it was like to not be on a salmon pattern. He would surely agree to step off it temporarily, just to see what tomorrow looked like. Only then would Mateo worry about exactly what Ariadna’s time power was, and what Ellie wanted with it.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Thālith al Naʽāmāt Bida: Beyond (Part V)

I was named for a play on science words, which if you knew my father, would make perfect sense. I’m not certain what he would have done if the woman he impregnated had any other surname, but I wouldn’t have put it past him to just make one up for me. Abigail Genifer Siskin. Abiogenesis is the process by which nonliving matter evolves into living matter. At some point in Earth’s history, nothing was alive. There were rocks, and gases, and lots of other elements, including carbon, but there were no organisms. Then later on, there was life. How long did that take, how did it happen, and why? These are questions scientists have still not answered, but we’re all pretty confident about the idea of abiogenesis, because any competing theory would be paradoxical. Life had to start somewhere—even if it happened a million light years away, a billion years ago—and my father says I’m the embodiment of that.
I’m nobody, though. I mean, I’m not nobody, but don’t expect some crazy story about how I came into being. Tamerlane Pryce didn’t create me by shooting a bolt of lightning into a stone. He conceived me with my mother the old fashioned way, so him calling me Abiogenesis is really just about his compulsion to make everything about science, whether it’s relevant or not. And again, he didn’t give me her surname to be progressive, hip, or woke. He did it for the nickname, because—and I say this with all the love he deserves—he a basic bitch.
I hate my father, which is why I locked him in his tank, and I haven’t let him out for months. He’s the stellar neighborhood’s foremost expert in consciousness transference. The good people of Thālith al Naʽāmāt Bida asked him to come here so he could use his expertise to build up their recreational ventures. Well, he’s done that, and we don’t need him anymore. People come here to temporarily load their minds into artificial animal bodies, and explore those animals’ natural habitat without interfering with them. They use his technology on Earth now too, which is presently the only planet we know of with such diversity of life. Anyway, this obviously isn’t the only application of it. There are many ways in this day and age to be immortal, but one of the ways he uses to avoid death is to transfer his mind into a backup body whenever anything goes wrong with the one he was in before. What he didn’t consider is the fact that he can’t kill himself and trigger a transfer if he’s unconscious and trapped in a clone tank, waiting for his rebellious daughter to decide to let him out. I won’t do it, though. He’s not a good person, and he’s been around for centuries, and if I killed him, I would be doing the galaxy a huge favor. The only reason I haven’t is because I don’t know how. I don’t know how to prevent him from transfering, or from just having an outdated backup somewhere else. I don’t tell people that, of course. They all think I’m keeping him alive because killing is wrong, or whatever.
I’ve moved on from him, and I’ll only go back to worrying about it once I discover a weakness to mind transference. It’s pretty difficult, because there’s always a chance he’s set aside a contingency I never knew about. If I were him, I would send a darkbursting automated ship to the Andromeda galaxy in case a cataclysmic failure took out all my other clones.
Right now I’m with my new family. Thor Thompson is another immortal human, who Pryce used as his test subject for a new substrate that would have turned my father into even more of a threat. There’s also Trinity Turner, who literally created this world. Nearly everything here was toxic to humans when she set foot on it, so she spent decades altering the native organisms on a molecular level, without changing anything else about them. Good thing she’s from the future, or her dream would have been impossible. Our friend, Ellie Underhill also has a time power; one which Thor and I are presently learning more about. “You’re bringing everyone who has ever lived in the history of Earth, and the stellar neighborhood, back to life?”
“Yeah,” Trinity confirms. “I know, it’s—”
“I don’t think it’s crazy,” I assure her. “I’m just...what are ya gonna do with them?”
Trinity and Ellie give each other a look, which they’ve been doing a lot lately, since they keep a lot of secrets from me. “We’re going to put their consciousnesses in a simulation,” Ellie answers.
“Why?” Thor questions.
“We don’t think they would do well in base reality,” Ellie continues. “I mean, well, some people would. You take anyone from, maybe the 22nd century, and you can get them up to speed. Hell, it might even be okay if we tried to integrate someone who regularly used a personal computer while they were alive, because at least they can fathom the concept. Anyone earlier than that, though, is going to freak out.”
“So, will you convince them they’re in heaven, or are you going to simulate the world they were living in at the time, and make them just think they survived death?” Thor knows what kind of questions to ask.
“A little bit of both,” Trinity says. “They’ll know they died. We’re not going to try to convince them that nothing happened. They’ll eventually wonder why nothing else has killed them, or why other people aren’t getting hurt, and all that. We’re not sure where to go from there, though. Can we tell them this is the afterlife when it’s not true?”
“Well...” I start to say. “It will be true. If this is universal, it’s no less of an afterlife than a so-called real one. Perhaps this is all destined to happen, and every theory about the afterlife is partially true, because you’re building it for them.”
“Hmm.”
At that, we stop talking for a good period of time. We all sit down, and stay in the room together, but we think on the matter in our own heads. I don’t know exactly what they’re thinking about, but I know what I’ve come up with, so I speak first, hoping it’s something reasonable. “When are you planning to start this? Will we bring back our primate ancestors? What is a human?”
“We’ve chosen five thousand years BCE,” Ellie replies.
“That’s as far back as my camera will go,” Trinity adds. She carries a magical camera with her that lets her travel to the past, and even the future. Someone else apparently invented the camera for her, and it automatically took pictures from all throughout history.
“We don’t have enough data from before that. So when we say we’ll bring back everyone, that’s a bit of an exaggeration.”
“Either way,” Thor jumps in, “how are you going to explain that? I don’t know much about the brain, but this neural implant you came up with, you’re going to give it to everyone in the past? Won’t people notice they have one, but their ancestors didn’t?”
“Those are the logistical issues we’re still working on,” Ellie says with a nod. “Neurolemmocytes already exist, but there’s no difference between the ones found in the central nervous system, and the ones in the peripheral system. What we would have to do is replace the ones in the brain with ours.”
“Won’t people eventually figure out there’s something strange about them?” I presume.
“They’ll probably give them another name, because they will see a distinction,” Ellie explains, “but they will function just as the real ones do. They’ll just also have this mind transferring characteristic they would never think to test for.”
“And do our primate ancestors have them?” I press.
“They do,” Trinity answers. “Evolution invented them a really long time ago. Even invertebrates have them.”
“This sounds incredibly complicated,” I tell them apologetically. “And when I say complicated, I think I mean impossible.”
“That’s why you got me.” Oh no. It’s my father. He’s somehow broken free.
Trinity and Ellie have known him longer than me, so they’re not exactly pleased he’s awake, but they’ve developed coping mechanisms. I’m pissed because my plan didn’t work, and Thor’s the worst off, because he doesn’t fully understand what this guy’s deal is. All he knows is that they’re never gonna be buddies.
“Oh, don’t look so surprised and upset,” he says to me. “I always have another plan, and I don’t blame you for trying to sweep me under the rug.”
“What was your plan? How did you get out?” I ask.
He chuckles. “I obviously can’t trust you with that information. Just know that there’s nothing you could do to get rid of me.” He sizes Thor’s new body up. “I built this new substrate to make myself stronger, but I don’t need it to be a survivor. I accomplished that a long time ago.” He claps his hands together abruptly. “That’s not what we’re talkin’ about, though, are we? You’re trying to save the human past. You’re gonna need me to do this. Trinity’s got the connections, Ellie’s got the power, Abby’s got the ideas, and I got the brains.” He looks back over to Thor. “Oh, and I guess you’re still here too.”
Ellie and Trinity have another one of their infamous psychic conversations. I’m starting to think that’s not just a metaphor about their facial expressions. They may have actually formed some kind of psychic bond that either can or can’t be intercepted.
“Don’t do this,” I say to them, shaking my head.
Trinity sighs. “There’s a reason I brought him to this planet in the first place. To be honest, waking him up was probably inevitable. I don’t like it any more than you do, Abigail.”
“I doubt that,” I contend, standing up defiantly. “He’s my dad, and that can never be undone. You, on the other hand, chose to associate yourself with him, and I won’t be a part of it.”
“Wait,” Thor says calmly. “He was right when he said we need you too. These three are clearly strong and capable individuals, but they don’t have your creativity.”
“We just met,” I argue.
He smiles at me. “I’ve grown pretty good at knowing when I encounter someone who’s the polar opposite of me. Before he interrupted us, you were saying you had an idea. I would like to hear it.”
“His interruption wasn’t a single moment,” I say. “It’s still happening.”
Thor nods understandingly. Then he stands up coolly, and punches my father in the throat so hard, it collapses his windpipe, and kills him pretty much instantly. I think there’s something seriously wrong with me, because I’ve never been more attracted to anyone in my whole life.
Ellie rolls her eyes, and starts swiping on her device. “He was listening to our conversation before he walked into the room. He must have hacked into our security system, and I don’t feel like correcting that right now. So if we want to continue our conversation, Trinity can transport us somewhere he can never go. I honestly don’t know where this photo was taken, but the person who took it claims there’s nowhere safer, and I trust him with my life. He said I would know when I needed it. Maybe this isn’t it, maybe it is.”
Trinity takes a look at the photo. “You say you trust him? This could be anywhere, anywhen. Who are these people?”
“You trust him too,” Ellie says. “I don’t know who the people in the photo are.”
“All right. I could do with a break from this place,” Trinity decides. “I wanna hear your ideas too, Abigail.”
We crowd around Ellie’s device, which is displaying a jungle. My eyes burn, as they do when Trinity is traveling to a different time and place through one of her pictures. In a second, it’s over, and we’re standing in that jungle.
“Whoa,” I hear behind us.
We all turn around to find a small group of people. There’s only one person I recognize, though. I saw a clone of his body in a tank for decades of my life. Mateo Matic.
“Ah,” he says. “This is unexpected. We were told there would not be a transition window today.”
“Where are we?” I ask.
“This...” he begins, building suspense, “is The Parallel.”

Friday, August 28, 2020

Microstory 1440: The War Begins

Seers on Durus didn’t tell everyone, or even anyone, everything that they knew. They had to be smart about what information they let get out. If, for instance, one told their neighbor that they were going to run into a door today, the neighbor would go outside, and try to avoid doors for twenty-four hours. Then seven hours later, a construction worker walks by with a door, and accidentally hits him with it when he turns around.  The seer actually exacerbated the problem by saying something. The victim would have been much better off hearing that they should be careful, or to wear a helmet. That did not explain, however, why it was that no one seemed to know that the Mage Protectorate was destined to fall. The final battles of the war with the monsters began in 2090, and ended in less than a month, and it all started when an unexpected visitor appeared shortly after the Mage Selection Games. He was definitely not human, but nothing like what they had seen before. He was white, and tall, and fierce-looking. Speedstrikers looked just like you would think an unstoppable killer alien would. Mirror monsters looked like, well, mirrors. All the other types had been cataloged and classified, and nothing new had ever appeared since those very early days after Springfield fell into the Deathfall portal. So what was this thing here? It seemed intelligent, just like the verters, and it didn’t take long before his true nature was fully understood. Based on some things that the verters had said over the years, people always suspected that time monsters were only temporal glitches, and that real, intelligent, and independent monsters were the ones who were actually trying to step through the portal. This pretty much proved it. He was the real deal, and all the things that had come through before were quite accurately mistakes. There was something wrong with the portal, which this new monster explained led him here from his home universe of Ansutah. No one else ever survived the trip intact, so even if it turned out to be possible to travel back through the ring, it had never happened before. So the other monsters never knew the portal wasn’t working, which meant nothing could warn them to stop trying.

This monster, who called himself a Maramon, was a one in a million success story. He didn’t make it through the ring whole because of anything he did, but because the chances that it would happen at least once were not zero. They were low, but not impossible. He told them that time wasn’t passing the same way for his people on the other side. While the monsters had been arriving for decades, he had only waited a couple hours for his turn to step through. Time probably wasn’t moving at a different rate on his homeworld, though. They were probably just being spit out at random intervals. Hell, it could even be that every glitch that had shown up before him had actually come from a Maramon who tried to cross over sometime after him. There was no way to know, but that wasn’t the point here. All this time, the humans on this planet had been fighting an enemy that mostly didn’t know they were enemies. They weren’t actively trying to hurt the humans. They were most likely just moving along the surface on instinct, attracted to the presence of other moving creatures, and destroying them incidentally, rather than deliberately. If it was possible for a Maramon to cross over without being turned into an abomination, then a real war might start. This new enemy was free-thinking, and capable of forming motivations. They were a huge threat. Though he was the only monster who had ever kept his faculties during the trip, there was no proof it wouldn’t happen again, and he was making no attempt to quell their fears that he really was an enemy. He made his motives remarkably clear; that he wanted to kill all the humans too, and that he would be doing it on purpose. At first, they figured they could contain him before he could cause any trouble, but he easily escaped, and he used his intelligence to control the glitches all by himself. Things were only going to get worse from here as the War for Durus began.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Microstory 1439: Town Sixteen


The end is near for this world we have

Town Sixteen, built strong, built slow
You may have lasted; we’ll never know

You were unfinished, this much is true
But people loved you in proportion to
The possibilities they were due

The monsters came, and brought you down
Warning bells did not even sound
Death came for you, all around
Now nothing’s left upon this ground

How did we not see what was coming?
What kind of protectorate were we running
To let our enemies be so cunning?
The seers’ jobs—I know, it’s funny
Is to say when things will get too bloody

As for the rest of Durune life
I fear a future defined by strife
If we cannot restore Earth’s sunlight
This could be the end of our long fight
Mages of every class and type
Will be drained down into the waste pipes

But there’s still hope for us to win
We must fight with our leading chin
Your heart, our strength, the power within
May be enough to underpin
What makes us great, and free from sin
Human courage, it comes built-in
And that is why we’ll never end

Thank you, Town Sixteen

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Microstory 1438: The Penultimate Towns

Shieldon was the last town they built on Durus that had any special characteristic that could be used to describe it, in contrast to all others. The thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth towns, which were named Milton, Bristol, and, Tidsdel, respectively, were built in 2084, 2086, and 2088, respectively. These three only had a few years in them before the Mage Protectorate fell—not to the war with the monsters—but the end of the war; the final battle. After Shieldon put up their protective barrier, everyone sort of agreed that there were no more new ideas. Except for Astau, there really weren’t any towns that actually followed the standard model. The source mages envisioned a world where they created a town’s mages, and those mages would protect that town’s borders. The unique ideas to add an extra layer for safety and security all came later, during the planning stages of each. Milton, Bristol, and Tidsdel were made to be simple. They were just places that people could live, and be happy, as they would have on Earth. It would ultimately be a relief that they didn’t waste energy trying to figure out how to make these towns special. Society collapsed into chaos shortly thereafter. Of course, they didn’t know this. They just thought that the world was becoming more normal. If they could make Durus look more like Earth, then that could only be a good thing. This desire spoke to the innate goodness in the Earthan way of life, at least when it was at its best. Almost none of the people alive in the 2080s were also around early enough to recall their world of origin. Only Ecrin was old enough to have been there, but she was very young at the time, so she didn’t know too terribly much about it. Still, they read about it in the books that made it through the Deathfall portal, and even though few were conscious about it, that always seemed like their goal. These three towns were finally it. In fact, people were now starting to believe that these would be some of the last towns ever. Back on Earth, that was how a civilization began. Settlements started out small, and expanded from there. At some point in the future, Durus would probably have a city of its own. Some even believed it was only a matter of time before they figured out how to contact Earth, so people could come and go as they pleased. That would turn humanity into a real interstellar species. Sadly, this was not in the cards for them, or rather, it would not be for a very, very long time.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Microstory 1437: Shieldon

Shortly after Motus was created, and started jumping around the surface of the planet, a group of people came together to brainstorm ideas for the twelfth town of Durus. Now, what could they do? Some of the towns avoided the monsters, if at all possible. Others were built specifically to defend the whole species against them. Each seemed to have their own special thing. Even Astau had a unique history, even though it ended up fairly normal. The new town’s planners didn’t want to be like that, or like any of the others. They felt they had to do something to set them apart, even if that was a self-imposed obligation, and one which pretty much ended with them. Either way, there was a reason why their proposal was never attempted before. It sounded reasonable, but it wasn’t. They wanted to use time powers to deploy a dome over their town, which would repulse the monsters automatically. It would hopefully extend much farther than the border, so their enemies couldn’t even get near them. It was similar to the concept used for Splitsville, but their towers worked by sending signals outwards that disrupted the monster’s already fragile physical integrity. They only sent this signal when necessary, and the machines required constant electrical energy, because they weren’t based on mage powers at all. Now, they weren’t the first to think of a time power version. In fact, the source mages once believed that would be the best solution to their problems. If they had found someone with the ability to form a protective bubble powerful enough to keep any intruder out, they probably would have ultimately built a single city where everyone could live.

The 2050 Mage Games gave them someone who could do it, but only on a much smaller scale. She could raise a shield around her body, as well as those closest to her, which would force an attacker away from them, whether monster, human, or anything else. If she gathered enough energy for herself, she could essentially punch a monster hundreds of meters away. The bubbles didn’t last long, and producing them always wore her out eventually. She was now also old, retired, and trying to live out her days in luxury. With the help of a seer, The Diagnostician knew something about this person’s future. Upon her death, she was fated to release a blast of energy the likes of which Durus hadn’t seen for decades. The original plan was to apport her to the monster portal just before her death, and let that moment destroy the whole ring, break it apart, or at least damage it a little. The planners begged the source mages, and the rest of the leadership, to change their minds about it. No one knew whether her death would be able to accomplish what they wanted. Was it powerful enough to end everything? So powerful that it killed all the humans too? Would it even make any real impact at all? No seer had been able to confirm these details, and the planners used that in their argument against it.  This woman’s domes were not necessarily meant to be used as weapons. They were a defense tool, which her teachers trained her to use as weapons of war, because personal shields weren’t useful enough in battle. If they timed it just right, her death could theoretically make a permanent bubble, just as they wanted. It might require constant energy input to stay up, but the initial swell should be large enough to be a viable option. There were plenty of people whose responsibility it was to transfer temporal energy, so that would not be a problem. In the end, there was no convincing the source mages that this was better than the original idea. If they could stop the monsters from getting to their world in the first place, a town with a defensive bubble around it was obsolete anyway. But it didn’t matter. The shield creator was the one with the power, so she was the one who decided what happened to her when she died. She agreed to what the planners asked of her, and after three years of slow construction, it was time. The town of Shieldon was born in 2082.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Microstory 1436: Motus

Following the 2070 Mage Selection Games, a young man was sourced what would turn out to be a very powerful time power. He could teleport, but also apport, which means he could instantaneously transport other things besides himself. Not all apporters are alike. Assuming a given mage or choosing one is standing at point A, some would be able to move an object from A to B only, while others could move it from B to A, while still more could move it either way. There are even a few who can move something from B to C, but they would have to know a whole lot about the location of just about anything within range, whether they were looking at it, or not. These were the three primary classifications of apportation, but there were variants within them. Baran Avan was a Class A apporter, but with a special twist. He had to teleport himself along whatever it was he was trying to move. Of course, regular teleporters were limited to this, but they generally had to be at least touching the target for it to work. He just had to be close enough to see it. The thing about him, though, was that his power grew over time, the more he used it. When starting out, Baran could only transport something the size of a penny, but he kept practicing, and upgrading, and becoming more powerful. In under ten years, he was so strong, and his range so wide, that he was capable of moving an entire town from one place to another. Knowing this would be the case, a group of people started building a new town to capitalize on its utility, which they called Motus. They didn’t dig into the ground, though. They first constructed a gigantic platform, on top of which every building would sit. It required a flat surface to remain stable, but these weren’t too hard to find. While Durus did have mountains, valleys, ravines, and the like, it was actually pretty smooth. They had, by then, surveyed the whole surface, so Baran had an accurate map to know where to make his jumps. Once completed in 2079, Motus required fewer mages to be assigned there than other towns. It wasn’t like they didn’t need any, but their primary means of surviving monster attacks would be Baran. When the alarm sounded, the other mages would fight the threat, while Baran gathered his strength, and prepared to make the jump. At first, this often resulted in his fellow mages being left behind to fend for themselves, but as time continued, he not only grew even stronger, but also more precise. He could select individual objects within his range to tag along with them, even if they were a hundred meters off the platform. Some believed his power would never reach a limit, and that he would one day be able to move the whole planet across the void. They never found out, though. Motus was only around for a little over a decade before the final battles of the war began. While many of his contemporaries survived to pass their genes onto their offspring during and after the Interstitial Chaos, Baran ultimately became a casualty of the war. Until then, however, the Motus method proved productive. It just made travel between it and the other towns a little more complicated.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Friday, July 2, 2117

RPS stood for rock, paper, scissors, which was a simple game to play on its own. A player can throw one of the three choices, and can beat or lose to the other player, depending on which one they choose, or draw if both throw the same one. RPS-101 was an insane variant of this game that involved ninety-eight additional gestures, each one capable of beating about half of the others. It was practically impossible to play without a cheat sheet and patience, or genius-level intellect. RPS-101 Plus was a computerized version of this, complete with graphics, visualized consequences, and a total abandonment of the original concept of throwing gestures. It was a video game. Each player will choose a gesture out of the entire list, and stick with that gesture throughout the whole round. It will be represented by an actual interactive image. Should a player choose lightning, for instance, they will see their lightning bolt on the screen, and control how it moves about. They will then use this character to navigate a hazardous playing field, where other characters attempt to attack. But since only half of them pose a threat, the other half of the gestures are available for the player to attack instead. Doing so will gain that player points, speed, and agility. This game was designed to be played by one to a hundred and one players, with all unused gestures falling under control of the computer. Upon learning from Sanaa that the AOC’s system contained a local copy of it, the group played for hours together, and barely got any sleep. Before they knew it it was 2117, and their cuffs were directing them into the city.
The window wasn’t going to be for awhile, so instead of teleporting to the location, they decided to walk, and get some fresh air. Since they didn’t really talk about anything during the games, they took this opportunity to catch Mateo up with what they figured about Xearea. The reason her story didn’t match up with their recollection of it was because she was from a different timeline in the main sequence. In this version of events, the bad men from the future were more successful in their mission, and would have been able to finish the job if Leona hadn’t intervened. It was presumably with knowledge of this outcome that prompted The Cleanser to conscript Mateo, Gilbert, and Horace to fix things.
“So, wait,” Mateo said. “You sent Xearea back to her timeline, knowing that it would collapse soon anyway.”
“No, we didn’t,” J.B. clarified. “Jericho went back, even though we warned him he might not survive, just like Ariadna wouldn’t have. We kept her here, though.”
“Where is she now?” Mateo asked.
“We don’t know anymore,” Ariadna replied. “Ramses showed up, and offered to help set her up with a new life here. We never spoke to her, though. She was still asleep when they took her away.”
“I’m right here.” It was Xearea, but she was much older now. Seventeen years had passed for her.
“Oh, Miss Voss,” Leona said, surprised. “You’ve fully recovered.”
“Of course,” Xearea said. “These people have excellent medical technology. I was intending to finally reunite with you, and thank you for saving me, but then I caught wind that you have an appointment here.” She looked towards the building they were standing in front of.
“What is this place?” Sanaa asked.
“It’s like an airport,” Xearea answered. “It’ll take you to other worlds. Your trip is scheduled for the Andromeda room. Follow me, I’ll show you where to go.”
“We’re going to Dardius, aren’t we?” Leona guessed.
“That’s the thing,” Xearea began. “It says you have an appointment there, but no final destination is listed. We don’t know where you’re going. Andromeda 21 isn’t the only galactic neighbor.”
“Surely it’s the island, isn’t it?” Mateo figured. “That’s what makes the most sense to me.”
“We can’t know that for sure,” Leona advised him.
Perhaps Tribulation Island only seemed like the logical choice, because that was where they were in this time. But they didn’t have a personal connection to everyone they rescued, like Jericho. Still, Jupiter sent them to the intergalactic portal, so…
“Sanaa?” J.B. prompted.
She consulted her cuff. “The cuffs can access information from satellites orbiting the planet we’re on, so we don’t just have to follow the arrows, but they can’t see beyond that. There’s no proof we’re going to Tribulation Island, or even Dardius, for that matter.”
They arrived at the Andromeda room, where a portal operator was waiting for their coordinates.
“If we go to the wrong place, can we come back, and try again?”
“Certainly,” she responded. “You may make as many jumps as you need.” People here were really friendly and accommodating. It was even better than the future in the main sequence. All these god-like powers probably made it really difficult to encounter an inconvenience. The way they understood it, energy and other resources were infinite, so there was no reason to deny anyone anything unless it infringed upon someone else’s wishes. If someone wanted to have an entire galaxy to themselves, for instance, where no one else could go, that was kind of all right, as long as that galaxy wasn’t already occupied, because whatever.
After the operator input the coordinates, everyone stepped onto the platform, and transported across millions of light years of space, to Tribulation Island, Dardius, Beorht, Miridir. The operator on the other side greeted them politely, and welcomed them to the island. They expected it to be heavily developed in this reality, but it was actually more sparse than it ultimately became in the main sequence. They were presumably conserving the wildlife here. The portaling seemed to have interfered with the Cassidy cuffs, but after they recalibrated themselves, the directive arrow came back to lead them down the beach.
“Who is it?” Sanaa asked them. “I’m not alive yet, so I don’t know that much about y’all’s time here.”
“I don’t know anyone who it could be,” Leona said, “unless they’re from a different timeline. No one disappeared that we can remember.”
“Maybe they’ll only disappear briefly, and then we’ll put them back,” Ariadna suggested.
“Why would we need to transition anyone?” J.B. asked. “I thought you said Jupiter admitted that we’re rescuing people. Is someone in danger here?”
“I don’t think so,” Leona answered. “Vearden dies here, but that’s not for several years. I think everyone else is okay.”
“Whoa. This is a nice place. What is that, a helicopter?” They had come into a clearing, where a lavish resort sat up against the water.
“It’s a jet with vertical take off,” came a voice from behind them.
“Baudin!” Mateo shouted, with a little more excitement than he would have liked to express. “What are you doing here?”
“I’ve been here for eight years,” he answered. “This is where I live now, I s’pose.”
“Wait, you don’t exist anymore,” Leona said to him.
“I don’t?” Baudin feigned shock, and looked at the palms of his hands. “Oh, no. What about the others? Do they exist?”
“Stop screwing with them.” Samsonite was walking out of the hotel, followed by Gilbert. “We do exist. You can’t stop people from existing. You can just make other people think that’s what you’ve done.”
“This is the explanation,” Leona asked rhetorically. “When Arcadia was taking people out of time, all she was doing was bringing them here?”
“No, some other guy is doing it for her,” Samsonite corrected.
Mateo nodded. “Jupiter.”
“This is crazy.” Leona mused. “That means either all of you lie about it when we see you again, or someone alters your memories. I don’t even wanna think about what this means for when it happens to you, Mateo.”
“Well, I’m different,” Mateo reminded her. “The Superintendent was the one who took me. Maybe he really can rip people from the timeline. That’s not really the point, though, is it?” He directed his attention back to the other three. “You’re not alone here, are you?”
Gilbert smiled, and lifted one eye to a window above them. A group of people was watching them from inside their hotel room.
“Aldona’s family,” Leona realized.
“They’ve been here the longest,” Samsonite acknowledged.
“We’re here to add to your ranks,” Ariadna told them. “We don’t know who, or exactly where.”
“Yes, we do,” Sanaa said. “It’s across the ocean.”
“Lorania,” Mateo confirmed. It’s 2117. We’re here to save Xearea Voss. Again.” He looked back up at the Buchanan-Lanka-Calligaris window. “Those people don’t seem to wanna talk to us. Could you ask Gino to come help us, though. We need a doctor.”
Aldona’s family simply didn’t know who they were, which was why they didn’t come out initially. Aldona’s husband, Gino was more than happy to provide his services, once he understood the need for them. They didn’t need anyone else to go, though, so while everyone else stayed at the resort to relax, only he and Mateo flew off to retrieve Xearea, who was about to be stabbed by a very unstable immortal named Ambrosios. She came through the transition window, Gino stabilized her on site, and then they transported her to the mainland, where she could be treated in the Parallel facilities. Mateo wasn’t worried about whether she would survive or not, because he knew she would later return to the main sequence, and continue with her pattern as the penultimate Savior of Earth.
Jupiter Fury showed up while Mateo was alone in the waiting room, and sat down next to him. “You were working with Arcadia the entire time?” Mateo presumed. This was just another layer to the mystery of what happened to them during Arcadia’s expiations. A lot was going on in the background that they never knew about.
“No, I’m not,” Jupiter contended. “Everything she says is the truth as she sees it. She believes that she’s taking people out of time, because that’s precisely what she’s capable of. What she doesn’t know is that her memory-wiper is working with me. I’ve been transitioning your friends at the moment Arcadia attempts to pull them. She has a lot less influence over people than she thinks she does. I don’t really need you for this, because most of them aren’t in danger, and they won’t be receiving egress windows until it’s time for all of them to go back at once. I only brought you into it now, because it fits with your pattern, and I wanted you to see it for yourself.”
“So, who will we be saving next year, and then on?” Mateo asked him.
Jupiter breathed deeply, and stared into empty space. “You have about a week to figure out how you’re gonna save Vearden Haywood’s life, if it’s even possible. You cannot alter the timeline. Whatever the truth, everyone in the main sequence has to believe that he dies on Tribulation Island, millions of years ago. You have to preserve that, so the future unfolds as it should. Yet you still have to rescue him, so he can transition for medical treatment. Again, I’m not sure it’s possible, but that’ll be your responsibility. Until then, go back to the resort. You’re on vacation.” He patted Mateo on the knee, used it to help himself out of his chair, and then he walked away coolly.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Thālith al Naʽāmāt Bida: Deeply (Part IV)

I blink and look around, immediately seeing a mirror next to my chair. It’s facing away from me, though, so I turn it. It’s my old body. Well, no it’s not. But it’s at least my original face. “Report,” I say to the girl standing on the other side of me. I just keep looking at my reflection, though.
“I was gonna put you back in your new body,” the girl replies, “but then I thought maybe you would prefer to look as you did before. Everything my father explained to you about how it works—how strong and resilient this substrate is—remains true. Now you look like yourself, though.”
I sigh, and lean my head back. I close my eyes, but it doesn’t have the same relaxing effect as it once did. Even after I started upgrading my body with technology, this would help make me feel better. Way back in the day, futurists would boast about how powerful we would one day be. They were right, I installed incredible physical strength, endurance, faster processing speeds, and lots of other stuff. What they failed to realize was just how beautiful it was to be a living organism. These upgrades cause you to lose something about what it feels like to be alive. Sleep was something I always took for granted, because it took eight hours out of my day, and I didn’t have a choice. Ancillary to that was the ability to close my eyes, and shut the world out. While I could still hear, suppressing some of the stimuli still helped slow my brain, so I could calm down when my emotions got the better of me. I actually had to downgrade my systems after I realized I added too much, and lost my ability to sleep. But that only lasted so long. I never want to age or die, so I later had to upgrade again. Sleep and immortality just don’t mix, I guess; I don’t know.
The only solace I took in my new situation was that I could turn my systems off. I could shut myself down, not entirely, but close. I could still maintain my perception of the passage of time. Other people would find this horrific, existing inside a void, conscious of their own existence, but unable to do anything. I embraced it, because it was the closest thing I could find to sleep. In fact, I loved it so much that I set a timer to not wake me back up for five hundred years. I wasn’t even in there for a hundred and fifty years before this girl’s father forced me back awake by transferring my mind into a new body, and then promptly destroying the old one. I don’t blame her, though. I’ve only known her for a few minutes, but she doesn’t seem to be on his side. She may actually be the best person I’ve ever met in my life. After several seconds of my eyes closed, I start feeling a sense of sleepiness. It’s not enough to make me fall asleep, or even start nodding off, but it’s definitely more what I’ve been missing for centuries. I almost feel human again. “What’s going on? I’m a little tired.”
She smiles. “That means it’s working. I modified more than just your face. I installed a hibernation mode. You still won’t need to sleep, but you can, whenever you want. You’ll also wake up if, say, a saber-toothed cat shows up to attack you, but you should otherwise be good.”
“That asshole could have given me the power of sleep, but chose not to?”
“With more time, yes,” the girl answers. “He didn’t think to include that, but I’ve been working on it for months. You’ve been completely dormant this whole time.”
I stand up out of the chair. She’s right about how she changed me. I’m a little weak, like a regular person would be. It’s nothing I can’t get over, but...it’s amazing. “Oh my God, thank you so much. I don’t think I could explain just how important this is to me. I haven’t felt this great in centuries.”
“I’m glad you like it. My name is Abigail, by the way.”
“Oh, yes, sorry. How rude of me. I’m sure you know this, but let me introduce myself. I’m Thor Thompson.”
“It’s nice to finally meet you. I grew up on this planet, and I passed your storage case every day to get to Trinity and Ellie’s labs. I always wondered what you were like.”
I accidentally release a scoff, but it’s a Freudian slip, because what she said deserves it. “I’m not that great,” I admit.
“Oh, I’m not so sure about that. Way I hear it, you were one of the first colonizers of Mars, and you were directly involved with Operation Starseed.”
Project Stargate was a secret endeavor to send automated ships to every single star system in the galaxy, so people could travel to them instantly with quantum communication technology. Operation Starseed was a super secret companion to that, which added biological samples from Earth, so life could be seeded on those planets. The public wasn’t sure whether they wanted us to conquer the Milky Way, which is why a few key people in the government gave the greenlight without telling anyone. The public was pretty much completely opposed to Starseed, though. Some people were cool with it, but the majority found the prospect irresponsible, and upsetting. Together with my friend, Saxon, I was in charge with transporting the samples to the launch site in a star system called the Gatewood Collective. Only an even fewer number of government officials, time travelers, and time-traveler adjacent people knew anything about it. “Those are just accomplishments, and they say nothing about my character. Your father is quite accomplished too, isn’t it?”
“That’s true, but Trinity and Ellie have said good things about you, and I trust them.”
“Are they still here, or did they move on?” I ask.
Abigail checks her watch. “They’re at work right now.”
“Why did use airquotes?” I question.
“It’s because of something I learned about in my studies,” she says. “People used to have set hours that they would work. They had these things called jobs, so they could make money and if they wanted to survive, they had to have one.”
“They didn’t have to have a job, or even money, to survive; only if they wanted to live in town. They could go off and live off the land, if they wanted to. But go on.”
“Obviously we don’t have jobs anymore. People just work on things that they want to do. But Ellinity like to pretend it’s the olden days. They live farther away from their workspaces than they used to, and they go into work every day. They don’t leave until the work day is over.” She seems to think this is silly, and it is.
The old ways made some bit of sense at one point, but not in a galaxy where quite literally all work can be automated. I have a better appreciation for it, though, since I grew up in a time period where work was ubiquitous. The only people who didn’t have jobs were too rich to need them, or too poor to get them. The irony in that is precisely why we did away with money. I nod. “That’s hilarious.”
The doorbell rings. Abigail answers it, then lets Trinity and Ellie into the room.
“Mr. Thompson,” Trinity says. “How are you feeling?”
“Better than ever.”
They look at me funny, not because it’s a bad answer, but because it’s uncharacteristically genuine of me to say.
“No, really, I am. I’ve always wanted to live forever, but never wanted to lose what it means to actually be alive. If I were to ever consume the Immortality Waters, I wouldn’t take Energy. I like sleep. You guys get it.” They’re both immortal too, but in their own ways, and they’re still fully biological.
“That’s great,” Ellie says. She almost sounds bubbly again. It’s not that she was faking it, but she does kind of have two sides to her. When she meets someone new, she’s really outgoing and carefree, but once she learns to trust them, she’ll let a little bit of that go, and act more reserved. I hope this doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel she can trust me anymore.
“What are you two working on?” I ask them.
They look at each other, like two secret agents, who know they can’t talk about their work with their old roommate from college, who they’ve just run into in a bar.
“Whoa, sorry I asked.”
“No, it’s okay. It’s just—” Trinity closes her mouth tightly, not to keep herself from explaining, but so she doesn’t say it the wrong way.
“It’s a crazy idea.” Ellie can’t go any further either.
I look to Abigail, who shakes her head. “They won’t tell me either. It has something to do with dead people.”
“We didn’t wanna say anything until we knew we could do it.” Trinity finally feels like she’s ready to talk. “Making ourselves look insane is a lot easier now that we know it’s a real possibility. We’re just not sure about the ethics.”
“And some of the logistics,” Ellie adds.
“Come on guys, what is it? Dead people?”
Trinity gestures towards Ellie. “I’ve learned something about her ability. She can teleport people’s minds. Regular people. Of course, you can upload yourself into another body, but she can do that with anyone, or herself, with no technology.”
“We’ve figured out how to harness that, and mass produce it,” Ellie explains.
“You’re gonna use that to bring dead people back to life?” I imagine.
“Yes,” Trinity answers. “All of them.”
“All of them?”
“Literally everyone who has ever died.”
“How?”
“With these.” Ellie holds up a stack of microscope slides. “I call them synthetic central nervous neurolemmocytes. They will change everything about everyone.”