Sunday, May 1, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Boltzmann Brane

The men continued to struggle against each other. Mateo and the team’s visions started coming back to them until it was clear enough for them to see that most of them didn’t recognize the fighters. Mateo did. One was part of Lucius’ group in the universe where he got his soul back. The other only looked familiar, but he couldn’t place him. He did get the feeling that he wasn’t a good guy, though.
“Listen, I know we don’t know each other yet,” Lucius said, sort of contradicting himself, “but could you help us get this guy out the airlock?”
“It’s not an airlock,” his friend said. Man, what was his name?
“Uhhhhh...okay,” Mateo said. He looked like a fifteen-year-old, but Ramses built his body to be stronger than the average person, so he didn’t find it too difficult to help.
“Are you freakin’ serious?” the bad man cried. “Stop, you son of a bitch! Get me—no! Argh!” The other dude was right. It wasn’t an airlock. They didn’t place him in another room, and then close the doors between them before opening a set of outer doors. They just threw him directly into the void. He was caught in some kind of current, and pulled away before he could grasp onto anything.
Lucius’ friend shut the door again. “Thanks, Mateo.”
“How do I know him?”
The friend sighed, and thought about it for a moment. “Oh, you were there. Yeah, when Cain and I were sent off on our respective missions, you were in the room.”
Mateo tilted his lizard brain.
“On Gatewood,” he continued. “When you were trying to get the Ansutahan humans safely across the threshold?”
“Oh, yeah!” Mateo said, remembering. “Oh...yeah.”
“Don’t worry,” Lucius comforted, “this one is good now...we think.”
“It’s complicated,” the other guy—Abel; his name was Abel—said.
“What also must be complicated,” Lucius began, “is how you remember any of this when you’re barely out of diapers. This all happened when you were adults.”
“We are adults,” Leona explained. “We just had to move into younger bodies.”
Lucius nodded. “I see. Well, you wanna come back to the other room, and meet with the rest of us, or...?”
“I’m afraid he doesn’t have time for that,” came a voice from behind the team. It was someone they hadn’t seen in a very long time, and never knew all that well. Back when Arcadia Preston was forcing Mateo and Leona to plan their wedding before they were ready, many of their guests arrived via The Crossover. It was a special machine that could travel between universes, and it was larger than anyone knew. It even included a hotel, which this man here was apparently responsible for. They just called him Bell.
“Bell,” Leona said.
“Yes, that’s me. Have we met?”
“Maybe not yet for you.”
“Okay,” Bell said. “Well, like I was saying—”
“Before you explain,” Mateo began, “could you tell us your real name? I feel weird not knowing it.”
“It’s Apothem Sarkisyan,” he answered.
“Sarkisyan. Are you related to a Dodeka?” Leona asked.
“She’s my sister.”
“Running hotels must run in the family.”
“It really doesn’t,” Apothem said bluntly. “Anyway, Lucius..Abel, thank you. You can go now.”
“What do you want with them?” Lucius asked, worried about his friends.
“I assure you that I will take great care of them. They are all on the guestlist.”
“The guestlist for what?” Lucius pressed.
“Come on,” Abel urges, taking Lucius by the upper arm. “It’s fine. It’s not nefarious. It is a great honor. I still don’t know if I’m on the list.”
“Don’t tell anyone else we’re here,” Apothem warned.
“Of course not,” Abel replied as they were stepping away.
“The guestlist for what?” Angela echoed.
“You have been selected to witness the birth of a Boltzmann Brane.”
“Are you serious?” Ramses questioned with great interest. “They’re real?”
“This one is,” Apothem confirmed.
“Wait, where’s Medavorken?” Olimpia asked.
“He’s on his own path,” Apothem claimed. “Follow me.” He led them down the corridors, into what Mateo recognized as a black box theatre. Except instead of a stage, the couple hundred or so seats were angled towards a large window to the equilibrium space outside. “ The Stage,” he said proudly.
“So this is a show?” Olimpia asked.
“The greatest show this side of the bulkverse,” Apothem said.
“Did you bring us here?” Leona asked.
“No, but I knew you were coming, because like I said, you’re on the list. And as our first guests, you shall have the privilege of the first row.”
“When does it begin?” Marie asked.
Apothem stood up straighter, and looked at her. Then he looked over at Angela. “Which one of you is Angela Walton?”
Mateo interrupted before Marie could point to her alternate self. “They both are.”
Apothem pulled at an embellishment on his uniform sleeve, which revealed a scroll of e-paper. He studied it for a moment. “One name, one person...” He looked up to the group, and added, “one ticket.”
“One of them can have mine,” Mateo volunteered.
“You don’t have to do that,” Marie said with unwarranted shame. “I’m the temporal intruder. I’ll recuse myself.”
“No,” Mateo insisted. “I don’t know what this is we’re supposed to see, but I’m sure I’ll get little out of it.”
“It’s the spontaneous emergence of an ordered intelligence in the vastness of infinite spacetime due to random fluctuations in a balanced thermodynamic state,” Ramses explained poorly.
“It’s a person who just suddenly exists due to the crazy amounts of time that have passed, rather than as the result of some logical series of causal events,” Leona translated, though even that was a little much. “But he doesn’t mean a Botlzmann brain as in B-R-A-I-N, do you? You mean B-R-A-N-E, which isn’t a person, but a universe?”
“It’s both,” Apothem disclosed.
“Hot damn,” Ramses said, which didn’t sound like him at all.
“The tickets are transferable,” Apothem went on, “but there are no plus ones, no extra seats, no double bookings, no waitlist. We invited a certain number of people, and since time doesn’t matter here, we don’t worry about whether everyone can make it. Every one of the two hundred and sixteen guests will make it, and they’ll arrive sometime in the next hour, from our perspective. The six of you will have to work it out amongst yourselves, but there is no loophole.”
“They can have my seat.” It was Gavix Henderson, an immortal from another universe who was present, not only at Mateo and Leona’s wedding, but also their engagement party a year prior.
“Sir, you don’t have to do that,” Apothem said.
“You and I both know that this event is not a rarity,” Gavix said to him. “It’s just easier for the humanoid mind to comprehend this particular instance in three dimensions. I’ve seen it before, and I’m sure I’ll see it again.”
“Very well,” Apothem acquiesces. “You may exit.”
“Thank you for this,” Mateo calls up to Gavix, embarrassed for having let him get so far before he remembered.
“Yes, thank you,” Marie echoed, since it was she who would be taking the seat.
“Just invite me to that fancy weddin’ o’ yours,” he returned, not turning around.
“We saw you there,” Leona said.
“Nah, not that one.” He rounded the corner without another word.
It was hard to describe what it was Marie would have missed. No, literally, it was hard to describe. It wasn’t exactly an explosion, which was how scientists back home had always described the big bang. But was this even the same thing, or entirely different? Mateo was at one end of their group, sitting right next to a clearly intelligent and knowledgeable individual, who explained a little more about what they were witnessing. Like stars and planets coming together particle by particle, chunk by chunk, and collapsing into their gravitational forces, something called bulk energy was becoming so hot and dense that it was transforming itself into solid matter. So it was less of an explosion, and more an implosion, though he said that this made perfect sense, because the explosion would be seen as such from inside the universe in question. But from out here, all that energy and matter had to come from what we would consider a low entropy state. This was evidently the greatest mystery in his field of brane cosmology. In a given universe, entropy increases, so why does it happen in the reverse in the outer bulkverse? Why does it operate so differently from the metacelestial objects that it creates? And why, from their puny human eyes, does each one look like a knife?
Well, Mateo had trouble following the man’s lecture, but it was still fun, and made a lot of sense while he was saying it. The team was grateful for having been around to witness such a thing. Apparently, like Gavix said, branes form like this all the time. His own did at some point, as did everyone else’s, but dimensionally speaking, they were all like partial eclipses, while this was a full eclipse, as seen from their position in the greater cosmos. After it was sufficiently over, the crowd began to stand, and move over towards the refreshments, where they could get to know one another.
There didn’t seem to be anything they all had in common. Some were scientists too, but others were just regular people. Some of them already knew about these other branes before today, but some hadn’t heard of any of it. Why and how they were chosen was another mystery their new friend couldn’t explain. The team itself was pretty special, but only within the context of their own pocket of that bulkverse. Out here, they were small fish in an infinite ocean.
“I don’t know of anyone in my universe who could help ya with that,” said an older gentleman by the desserts. He had a thick southern accent, and didn’t look anyone in the eye. This wasn’t out of a superiority complex, but more like his eyes would wander around, and he would forget where exactly he was meant to be directing his words. “I tell you, maybe that genie over there could help ya. Her special thing is she refused to grant anybody any wishes on her world, which is why the rest of the genie council, or whatever, sort of exiled her.”
“Why would she help us if her defining characteristic is that she doesn’t help people?” Leona reasoned.
The old man chuckled with delight. “Yeah, I guess yer right ‘bout that.” He took another swig from his flask. “I’m such a dumbass sometimes. By the way, drinkin’s legal on my planet. I feel I hafta say that, cuz some people think it’s weird.”
“It’s legal in ours,” Mateo said.
“Oh.” He widened his eyes, and presented the flask.
“No, thank you.”
“Aright.” He shrugged his cheeks as if to say your loss.
“Well, it was nice meeting you,” Angela said to him, gracefully stepping away. The others followed like magnets. “Seemed too eager to give children alcohol,” she said once they were out of earshot.
“We told him we weren’t as young as we look,” Olimpia reminded her.
“I know, but a normal person would still hesitate to believe it, let alone act on it.”
“What is normal?” asked a woman they hadn’t noticed before. It was Thack Natalie Collins of voldisilaverse.
“Miss Collins,” Mateo said. “It’s nice to meet you in person.”
“Likewise.” She shook everyone’s hands.
“Wait, you put us on the list, didn’t you?” Mateo guessed.
Thack sighed. “It was either this, or have you join the Newtonian Expats on their adventures. I wanted to give you a break. I know you reconnect with them in the future.”
“If you know all you know,” Leona began, “then you must know both of someone who can get us back home, and provert us to more appropriate ages.”
“Yes to the second one, but no to the first. We all came here through Westfall.”
“What’s that?” Olimpia asked her.
“Basically...we don’t know how we got here,” Thack said cryptically. “It’s a special feature of the Crossover. It just happens. You walk through a door, and you’re in a different universe, and most of the time, you don’t even realize it. You just end up going back home, and living under the belief that everyone you met on the otherwise simply lives on the same world as you. Of course we only went halfway, and made a stop here.”
“Sounds trippy,” Marie decided.
“The point is it’s not. You don’t notice unless you knew enough about brane cosmology before. Anyway, this is my friend.” She reached over without looking, and ushered a young woman into the huddle. “She’s not technically a proverter, but she can accomplish the same thing in her own way. Just tell her how old you wanna be.”
“Hi, I’m Xolta McCord.”
Leona frowned at her with rage. “We’ve met.”

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