Saturday, October 17, 2020

Glisnia: The Shorter List (Part VII)

Porter decided to find Jupiter Rosa, as opposed to Jupiter Fury, even though they were alternate versions of the same person. When he was a child, he discovered his ability to call upon quantum duplicates of himself. Each was from an alternate reality, which was only slightly different than the first. These other worlds only lasted for fractions of a second before collapsing to make way for the reality that was meant to win out, but when accounting for time travel, those few microseconds were enough. Before Jupiter understood what he was doing, there was no telling which Jupiter was the real one. Only one of them truly belonged to this reality, while the other was a visitor, and could be reabsorbed into the primary by a process called quantum assimilation. By the time they figured out which of them was this primary, each Jupiter believed himself to be it. And so the primary decided to let the other live on as his own person. As the years flew by, neither of them could remember which was which anyway. Both of them were good, but Jupiter Rosa was better, because he rejected the influence of their friends, and went on to make his own decisions.
Saxon Parker was another person with alternate versions of himself, though by different means, and so many more. He was part of a massive exploration project, which sought to establish a settlement in every single star system in the entire galaxy. It was called Project Stargate, and though the ships he and his team built were automated, their overseers wanted them to carry a human touch. So Saxon cloned himself well over a million times, so each could keep watch over one of the modular ships. In order to protect causality, Porter was forced to look for Saxon after he underwent this project. She found this to be extremely difficult, and didn’t realize her mistake until after it was made. As it turned out, one of Saxon’s clones developed independent thoughts, and rejected his destiny. He asked to stay where he was, which forced Saxon to take his place. Porter didn’t know this, and accidentally retrieved the clone, instead of the original. He called himself Omega Parker, and he would have to do.
The third member of Katica’s shorter list was a man named Lihtren Uluru. He was born out of a companion endeavor for Project Stargate called Operation Starseed. While the former was designed to allow exploration, communication, and even travel to the Milky Way stars, the latter was created to seed life. Lihtren was born on a planet over sixty thousand light years from Earth and Glisnia, which meant it wouldn’t happen for at least as many years from now, if the timeline hadn’t been altered enough to prevent it. He unjustifiably traveled to Earth, unwillingly went back in time, and unwittingly became immortal. Though he was not as heavily involved in time traveler affairs, and had not gotten himself mixed up with interstellar expansion, his opinion mattered, and Katica figured he would be on her side.
The last member of this new list was a woman called Viana Černý. A long time ago, the world governments began to change. Several of them adopted a new form of democracy with a stronger sense of checks and balances. The state was run by two separate leaders. Each was advised by a separate board of experts, and following this advice, made decisions together, with the guidance of a mediator. Upon coming to some kind of consensus on a given matter, they sent directives to their administrators, which were just as respectively experienced and educated as the advisors, except they were in charge of carrying out the decisions, rather than merely discussing them. The interesting thing about this form of government was that it was scalable. The leaders answered to a population representative congress. One person represented 240 people, while the Senator oversaw 328 of these groups, for a total of 78,720. Larger groups combined with other groups, and reported to higher ranks. And this process could be repeated as needed, like proto-planetary dust coalescing around a star, until the whole world was unified. Whereas before, each nation state had its own government, they were now governed by a single body. Viana was an important member of this whole world government.
She was the Futurology Administrator, and one of the most important singular voices when it came to the interstellar expansion. She helped decide which star system the Earthans would explore, where they would go first, and how they would get there. Because of how much respect she earned around the stellar neighborhood, exoplanet colonists sent her regular updates, even though they were not obliged to. When very few people were made aware of the strange goingson that happened on a new world, she was one of those people. So it was no surprise that she consolidated all of this information, and eventually realized that time travel must exist. She wasn’t meant to know about all that, but once she discovered it, no one could take it away from her. Viana was an intelligent and responsible person, who could be trusted with the truth. She didn’t reveal what she now knew to the neighborhood at large, or even one other person. Katica Petrić felt this integrity entitled her to a spot on The Shorter List, and the right to help come to a decision regarding what kind of technology Glisnia was allowed to have. Katica didn’t think everyone here had earned that.
Hogarth was disallowed from participating in the meeting, which of course, pissed her off. She was the one the Glisnians asked for this, and she wasn’t even part of it anymore? That was total bullshit. She had called the first meeting, and it was a good meeting, and it should be honored. The Shortlist wasn’t something they just came up with one day while they were all hanging around together. It took a lot of time and effort to organize. Hogarth couldn’t help but worry that this new group had no hope of reaching a legitimate decision. Holly Blue was allowed to be in the room where it happened, which made this even more frustrating. Though she accepted the real decision, she would surely fight against it now that she had a second opportunity to do so, and that wasn’t fair. There was no one on the Shorter List which Hogarth felt would be on her side, and fight for her position. Right now, she was sitting in the hallway with Jupiter. “Why are you here?”
“They didn’t tell you? They want me to use my magical powers for an alternative solution to your resource shortage.”
“What can you do?”
“Well, I can access other—”
“No,” Hogarth interrupted, “I know what you can do, but why would that help us?”
“As I was saying,” Jupiter continued, “I can access alternate realities, and retrieve alternate versions of people and objects. Evidently, Katica believes this power can be scaled up for your purposes.”
Hogarth stared at him blankly for a moment. “She wants to steal resources from alternate realities?”
“Alternate uninhabited realities,” Jupiter clarified. “Think about it, if Holly Blue can adapt my power to a machine that siphons materials from an infinite supply of alternate Glisnias, then they will never run out of anything they need.”
“Is that possible?’
Jupiter smiled, and turned to face the opposite wall. “Unequivocally no. I don’t care how powerful I get, or how much of a boost Holly Blue can muster, it won’t be enough. The realities I access are really close to ours. One might be, for instance, exactly like this one, except with one less mosquito. I cannot, sadly, reach far enough into the multiverse to find one which doesn’t have any people in it, and even if I could, you couldn’t siphon enough resources out of it to justify the amount of energy you put into the trying. It’s like fusion power in my time period, the 21st century. Sure, it works, but it takes more energy to run the machine than the machine produces for you.” He indicates the universe around them. “Obviously, people in the future eventually figure out positive fusion energy.” He shook his head. “They won’t ever figure altreal siphoning, though. It can’t be done. So I suppose it’s less like fusion, and more like plugging a surge protector into itself.”
“Holly Blue’s alternate, Weaver invented what she calls a perpetual motion engine, using time technology,” Hogarth argued.
“Well, I don’t know anything about that. Like I said, I’m from the 21st century. Though I doubt that’s really what’s happening. I’m sure it’s a lot more complex than that.”
Hogarth turned to face the wall as well. “Yeah, it is. But if she could do it—if she could figure out altreal siphoning—I won’t fight against it. It would be a lot better than what I proposed.”
“If I’m being honest,” Jupiter began, “I don’t much care for Holly Blue. These future people, they...they don’t know what it’s like. You and I, we’re just a couple of jabronis from Springfield, Kansas.”
“You’re from Springfield?” she questioned.
He turned back to face her. “Of course! All the Springfield Nine are. That’s why we’re called that.”
“Oh, yeah.”
“Miss Pudeyonavic, if we weren’t time travelers, I would be three years older than you.”
“It’s Madam Pudeyonavic. I’m married.”
“Why isn’t it Missus?”
“Because Hilde and I didn’t change our names. Madam is what you use for a married woman who still uses her birth name.”
“Who came up with that rule?”
“The Superintendent, I think.”
Lihtren stuck his head out of the door. “Mr. Rosa, we’re ready for you.”
“Not without my associate,” Jupiter contended.
“Who is your associate?”
Jupiter stood up, and offered his hand to Hogarth. “Madam Pudeyonavic.”
Lihtren looked over his shoulder, back into the room, but didn’t say anything to the people in there. “I cannot guarantee this will not be contested. We don’t really have protocols and procedures laid out.”
“Clearly,” Hogarth grumbled.
The two of them stepped into the room, and Jupiter’s decision to include her was indeed contested. There was nothing Katica could do about it, however, since the other three members had no problem with it, and Jupiter was holding all the cards. Hogarth was grateful to have met him. It only took four hundred years.
“We believe, Mr. Rosa, that we can convince you to help us,” Katica began.
“I understand your plan,” Jupiter replied, “and I’m here to tell ya that it ain’t gon’ happen. I’m not powerful enough, you’re not powerful enough. It won’t work.”
“We thought you would say that,” Holly Blue said. “Which is why we brought in some extra help.” She held up what looked like a garage door opener. When she clicked it, Crimson Clover appeared, and it wasn’t alone.
“Hi,” said the stranger. “My name is Ambrose.”
“Ambrosios?” Hogarth questioned. “The mad immortal.”
“No, just Ambrose,” the man corrected. “Ambrose Richardson.”
“He’s a power booster, like Savitri,” Holly Blue revealed proudly.
“I met him during my travels,” Crimson explained.
“Does this change your mind?” Katica asked Jupiter.
Jupiter thought about the offer for a moment. “I’ll consider it, but only if it works; only if he can boost my power enough.”
“That’s fair,” Katica agreed.
“And only if Hogarth is in charge.”
That was less fair. But awesome.

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