Saturday, October 10, 2020

Glisnia: Otter Eyes (Part VI)

Once the plenum was over, it was time for Hokusai to go see Hilde. Her relationship with her daughter was not bad, but they did have kind of a bizarre way of interacting with each other, and it all came down to a book. Back before either of them knew anything about time travel, and related phenomena, Hokusai read Hilde a book. They actually read it together, switching off at each chapter break, to teach the young one how, and to do something as a family. It was just the two of them, moving from city to city. Hilde’s biological father was in prison; one of the too few examples where a rapist was actually punished for what they did. Besides the whole rape thing, he was the kind of asshole who didn’t care about his family, which turned out to be a blessing. He could have just as easily been obsessed with forming a twisted relationship of his own with his daughter. There was no reason to believe, when he got out, he would ever pursue them, but the whole experience messed with Hokusai’s head, and her trust in people. And she never felt safe in one place for very long.
She kept her own name, but gave Hilde a different surname, so they could lie to the new people they met, and claim that the imaginary Bob Unger was a great guy, who died too young. Hilde grew up knowing the truth about her origins—Hokusai never lied to her—but this dynamic was what ultimately gave them their untraditional relationship. Well, it wasn’t the only thing that did that. After all, there were only twelve years separating them. When people said they thought the two of them were sisters, it wasn’t just a pick-up line; they legitimately presumed this to be the case, and they were forgiven for this. Hokusai knew she was too young to be a mother, but she loved her child, had the money to support her, assistance from an aunt early on, and the capacity to care for her. It only ended when the portal that Hogarth accidentally created sent the entire town of Springfield, Kansas to another planet, sweeping Hilde along with it, and leaving Hokusai behind.
The two of them were eventually reunited, but only after some time without each other, and because of a lot of time travel. By then, Hilde was her own person, with a daughter of her own, and that was when the struck a deal. The book they read together those many years ago was about a family who stumbled upon the fountain of youth, and found themselves unable to die. The members of this family didn’t stick together throughout the centuries. They went their separate ways for decades at a time, always with a plan to come back at a certain place, at a certain time. Little Hilde was fascinated by this concept, so much so that she based her whole life around the possibility of becoming immortal, so a few decades to her felt like taking a short trip to the store. When her mother returned, that was what she asked for. They weren’t actually immortal yet, but they were both time travelers, which gave them all of time and space to explore. Hokusai respected Hilde’s wishes, and eventually grew used to the life. Though they were criss-crossing the timeline, they both lived in a time period where immortality was indeed possible, and they had both taken steps to make this happen. But Hilde had just essentially taken the last step by digitizing her consciousness, and this was the first Hokusai was hearing of it.
“But you’re okay.” It might have been a question, but probably more of a hope.
“Yes, mom. I’m okay.”
Hokusai nodded understandingly, but awkwardly. “Are you eating all right?” Okay, it was a really good sign that she was joking.
Hilde tried to hold back a laugh, but couldn’t. “Yes, they give me all the gear lubricant and solar conversion I need.”
Hokusai nodded again, but more comfortably now. “I’m pleased you look the same. I’ve always loved your face, Otter Eyes.”
“Ya know, I never got that reference, but now I do. Except now I don’t get how you knew the reference. That show didn’t come out until I was eighteen.”
“It’s not a reference,” Hokusai explained. “I made it up. I have no idea how the writers got a hold of it. Perhaps one sat next to us in a cafe, and heard me use it.
Hilde was suspicious. There weren’t a whole lot of coincidences once you’ve learned about time travel, and that show was about time travel. Still, she shook it off, and moved on. “I hear you’ve made a lot of progress on Varkas Reflex. You’re inventing a lot of things.”
“Yes. Hogarth didn’t come to the quorums for that stuff, so we weren’t able to catch up. That is a long time ago. I wonder what it looks like at this point in the future.”
“We could find out, as long as you don’t intend to return to the past.”
“We left Loa there, and some other friends,” Hokusai said. “We’ll only be staying for the next eleven years, though.” She would only have to live for that amount of time more before she would rendezvous with Hilde at the Gatewood Collective, where they would stick together for a while, until restarting the separation cycle.
“Oh yeah, you’re with one of the Petrićs, right? Katrina?”
“Katica,” Hokusai corrected. “Yes, she’s been regulating time technology as a representative for the humans.”
“She should be here,” Hilde suggested.
“She can’t. She can’t travel through nonlinear time. It’s like a time affliction, I guess.”
“Ah, I see.”
“That’s my cue.” A woman had come into the room. Hogarth and Hilde didn’t know who she was, but Hokusai did.
“Katica?” She was surprised. “How is this possible?”
“I came here the long way around,” Katica answered. “Well...the medium way. I’m here to object.”
“Object to what?” Hogarth questioned.
“Your little time-siphoning technology,” Katica said. “I cannot allow you to build it without doing my due diligence.”
“The matter is settled,” Hogarth tried to explain. “The meeting is over.”
“I demand representation,” Katica insisted.
“That’s not how this works,” Hogarth volleyed.
“Piglet,” Hilde jumped in. “Be respectful.”
“She’s not part of The Shortlist.”
“Neither am I, but my opinion has mattered in the past. You should hear her out.”
“The plenum is gone,” Hogarth reminded her. “Pribadium, your mother, Holly Blue, and I are the only ones left.”
“I’m here too,” said Ramses.
Everyone jumped. “Oh my God, you are still here.”
“That’s still only five; not enough for a quorum. I’m not even sure if we can reverse a prior decision without reconvening the entire list. Even if I were to allow this outrage at all. The Glisnians are counting on us.”
“I’m not letting you destroy perfectly good stars and orbitals,” Katica argued. “The rest of the galaxy is counting on me.”
“I don’t know what you want me to do. Everyone qualified to make this decision did so. We do not take it lightly, and we are taking every precaution to ensure the safety of the vonearthans, and any Starseed descendants. I assure you there is nothing we have neither considered, nor won’t consider by the time it becomes a problem.”
Katica nodded. “Right. Your shortlist. I have a shorter one.” She removed a card from her back pocket, and slapped it on the table.
Hogarth and Hokusai scooted closer together to look over it. Ramses glided over to look over their shoulders. “Jupiter’s on here twice.”
“There are two Jupiters. We may need one of them, but I don’t know which one to trust. They’re not really on the list. We would just call them if what I propose is accepted.”
“Thor or Saxon?”
“Yes,” Katica confirmed. “Either one will do; whichever you can get. Someone needs to represent Project Stargate.”
“Kestral and Ishida sufficed for that earlier,” Hogarth put forth.
“I want more voices!” Katica’s own voice grew louder with every word. “These are the people who have the galaxy’s best interests at heart; not just the scientists.”
“We understand that,” Hokusai said, “which is why our mediator is never a scientist.”
“That’s not good enough,” Katica contended. “Are you going to play ball, or not? Because if you don’t, I might have to take matters into my own hands. You’re not the only ones with resources and power, and you’re not the only ones worried about consequences.”
“Are you threatening us?” Now Hogarth was getting upset.
“We’ll do it. Holly Blue was standing in the doorway. “Porter is still here, waiting to send the Varkans back home. I’m sure she’ll help us gather this new list.”
Hogarth sighed. Holly Blue was indeed in charge now, but she wasn’t happy. They had just spent hours hashing all this out, and it could all be undone by this bogus new list. “This can’t possibly be the Viana Černý.”
“The very same,” Katica verified.
“Who deveiled her? Or do you plan on doing it yourself now? Beaver Haven might have something to say about that, even this far in the future.”
“She’s pretty smart. She figured it out. The story of how we met is actually rather funny; us realizing we both carried the same secret.”
There was a brief silence. “Fine,” Hogarth acquiesced. “We’ll do it again.”

No comments :

Post a Comment