Thursday, July 14, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 11, 2398

They didn’t just jump into performing Marie’s abortion, or even in preparing for it. First of all, she needed more time to prepare herself emotionally, and there were things they needed to do in The Constant before they could be sure it was even safe to be down here at all. While she was resting, and Heath was tending to her needs, Leona and Angela spent time in the med bay, taking inventory of everything they had available to them. Mateo and Ramses went off to investigate the facility more thoroughly, with the former more concerned with understanding the power situation.
It isn’t until the next day that Ramses finally figures out how this place works. “It’s fascinating.”
“It looks like a long-ass tube,” Mateo notes as he’s staring at the diagram.
“It is,” Ramses confirms. “Do you remember when we first went to The Fourth Quadrant? Do you remember how they powered the city since they no longer had access to a real sun, or fossil fuels, or anything a normal planet has?”
“Yeah, they were these big temporal energy generators.”
Ramses nods. “Back then, that pocket reality was moving through time at a different rate than the main sequence. The incongruity generated minute amounts of power, which they harnessed, combined, and stored. This place does the same thing, but instead of using incongruent time, it just uses general relativity.”
“I don’t understand,” Mateo says honestly. “I know general relativity is about how time moves slower because of higher gravity, but I don’t understand the tube.”
Ramses points to the diagram as he’s explaining. “Right. Time moves slower at the bottom of this tube than it does at the top. It’s even more minute than it is for the people in the Fourth Quadrant—we’re talking a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a second—but it’s there. This asymmetry generates vibrations, which travel up the tube to become stored in extremely dense and long lasting batteries. Again, these are incredibly small perturbations, but they’re basically free, and they add up over time. I think tectonic shifts impart energy as well. Anyway, it takes billions of years for it to amount to anything useful so a normal civilization wouldn’t be able to reasonably use this method, but that’s perfect for something that mostly sits dormant.”
“Does this explain where Danica went?”
“It does not. This, the antimatter chamber, and the backup fusion drives, are running perfectly smoothly. In fact, since she hasn’t been here to use up lighting and life support, the batteries are at top capacity. If there’s a reason she abandoned this place, I haven’t found it.”
Mateo sighs. “This suggests that something happened to time powers after she arrived here. Maybe it occurred only a few hundred years ago, which is plenty of time for her to die of natural causes. If the asymmetric gravity tube doesn’t technically run on normal temporal energy, it wouldn’t have been affected, which is why it’s still going.”
“Now, we don’t know she’s dead. Don’t go jumping to conclusions.”
“Bottom line, it’s safe for us to be here, correct? More to the point, it’s safe for Marie and her procedure.”
“Yes, this place is safer than houses.” He kind of scoffs. “We should probably just live down here.”
“I think the others want to lead real lives, and contribute to society.”
“I don’t,” Ramses decides. “I can quit my job if everything we need is right here for the taking. It’s annoying anyway, I don’t like being in charge.”
“I get it. We should report to the others, and see if they need help with anything.”
They walk back up to the main floor to find everyone busy with their responsibilities, but Marie knows that it won’t last. This was a nice break, but they’re going to have to come back down from the clouds. They can’t all help her with her problem. None of them is a doctor. Not even Angela studied enough medicine to feel comfortable doing anything like this. Their only hope now is automated technology, which will require either Ramses or Leona to operate it. The question then becomes, who stays? “Oh, good, you’re back,” she begins. “Now I can speak my piece. I appreciate you all being here, but it’s neither necessary, nor smart, to continue as we are. Besides Mateo, you all have to get back to your regular jobs. I need someone to help me with this, but I don’t know who, and I don’t want to ask that of anyone.”
Leona and Ramses both step forward, and announce, “I’ll stay,” simultaneously.
“No,” Ramses argues. “I have a dumb job. You have an important job. You can’t just throw away working in the lab. We might need it one day. The only reason I wanted to work at the electronics store is because it was going to give me access to certain parts and equipment. But you work there too, and now we’ve found the Constant, we should be fine on technology. Marie, Mateo, and I will remain, and figure this out. The rest of you should go back. Angela, I know you’re going to contend that the library doesn’t need you, and that may be true, but you need to take Marie’s place at her job eventually. You may as well get on that.”
“I have no idea how to do her job,” Angela reminds him. “Does this place not have cloning tech, or an android plant?”
“No,” Leona answers simply.
“It looks like we all need more time,” Heath jumps in. “Fortunately, it’s time that my wife has.”
“The longer she waits, the harder the procedure will be for whoever needs to perform it,” Leona says.
“I know,” Heath replies, “but there’s a little time for us to make this a safe and believable transition.”
They continue to argue and try to work out the details. In the end, they agree on Ramses and Marie’s ideas. The two of them will return when the time is right. Mateo will be here for added support, because he’s of no use anywhere else. Until then, though, he and Heath will remain here for probably the entire time to work on the access shaft. The team was able to teleport down here at first, but the temporal energy could run out, or be rescinded by the Third Rail god at any point, so they need a decent alternative.

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