Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: June 21, 2398

Marie and Mateo are sitting across from each other in the two non-cubby seats while Ramses continues to do his work. They came here yesterday early morning, pretty much immediately after their run-in with Winona Honeycutt and her merry band of mercenaries. They were able to do this, because Ramses has been a lot more busy than they realized. He was able to rig up a make-shift temporal engine that can process what he calls temporal hydroxide; the apparent scientific name for water infused with temporal energy. He secured a few samples of the Death water, then injected the rest into this special new engine, which spirited them out of Türkiye airspace, and into the Atacama desert. Apparently, Body water could be found here, but only on February 9, 1972. This was just before a massive storm hit the area, delivering rainfall after a reported 400 years of drought. It’s one of the easier immortality waters to get to, but the absolute most difficult to pinpoint. If you can find water originating anywhere in a five kilometer radius, it should work, but it has to be enough, so good luck.
They’re obviously not here to look for Body water, which still no one knows the purpose of. They just needed a safe, remote place to work. They had one teleportation jump to use, and this place was on Ramses’ mind. He slept last night, but woke up bright and early to get back to the grind. He needs to be one hundred percent that this is going to do what they need it to. Unfortunately, that’s impossible, because they can’t exactly run it through human trials. Marie is okay with this. She knows that she’s taking a huge risk just by being here, and a bigger one by trying it. “Can you stop that?”
“Stop what?” Mateo asks.
“You’re bouncing your leg. Not only can I hear it, but I can feel it in my seat. This floor isn’t perfectly sturdy.”
“Sorry, I’m just nervous.”
“Why are you nervous? This is happening to me.”
“Yes, and I love you.”
She smiles. “Do you remember when we met?”
“Yeah, I was dead and fine with it, which surprised you, and all the other dead people you were in charge of orienting.”
“I could tell that you were special. Other people ended up in the afterlife to no surprise of their own. They had been given the privilege of time to accept it. But you weren’t just all right, you acted like you knew what was going to happen.”
“I didn’t. The afterlife simulation was a really well-kept secret, even amongst my people.”
She shrugs. “I guess you were just used to weird stuff.”
He nods. “Yeah.”
Ramses comes up from his little lab, which is mainly meant as an engineering section for the vehicle, but it’s the best space for his needs. “You left your phone when you came to check on me. Leona sent another coded message.”
Mateo glances at his watch. “Oh, crap, I was supposed to initiate.” He takes it, sees that she and Angela are still okay, then sends one back, letting her know that they’re fine too. They’ve been dealing with some scifi shit as well, but it’s not enough to warrant the away team’s return home, or their bug-out protocol.
“Are we ready?” Marie asks Ramses.
He grimaces just a little.
Are we?” she asks again.
I’m ready. Now it’s up to you.”
“Oh, great, it’s my responsibility again.”
“It always has been.”
“I know.”
“There is no time limit,” Ramses says. “You can wait as long as you need, or back out until I literally press the button.”
Marie sighs. “I don’t have infinite time. At some point, this cluster of cells is going to become a person, and it will become immoral to abort it.”
He nods. “I understand.” He looks around. “Um...if you still want this, I recommend we go to the cockpit. You should be lying down, and while the cubby seats recline, it would be better with more space.”
“That’s fine,” she says. “Let’s just not call it that. How about...the bridge?” After Ramses goes back downstairs to grab the machine, the two of them slow-walk up to the front. He goes in first, and Marie stops at the steps. She looks back at Mateo. “Are you coming?”
“Do you want me to?”
“I do,” she answers.
There are three steps down to the bridge, in between the pilot and co-pilot seats. Mateo sits on the first step, and holds Marie’s hand. After he places the target electrodes on either side of Marie’s belly, Ramses sits in the other seat, and calibrates his little machine. He does so carefully, so as to give her more time to cancel her request, but also to make sure it’s set up correctly. They only have one chance at this, and there is no guarantee that it will work. The fact is that she might die. Ramses Abdulrashid is an extremely intelligent and accomplished engineer, but he’s not a doctor. If something goes wrong, the first aid kit sitting open on the console might be their only hope. She’s consented a million times, but they’ve come down to the wire. In a matter of seconds, they will be at the point of no return.
He decides to give her one more opportunity. “Are you sure you want to go through with this?”
“I want this to happen,” Marie says quite formally. “I want an abortion.”
Ramses places his hand over the button. “I don’t know what it’s going to feel like physically, and I certainly don’t know what it’ll be like emotionally. It might be...jarring, like getting the wind knocked out of you. But we’re both here for you.”
“Okay,” she says, readjusting her position ever so slightly. “Do it.” She squeezes Mateo’s hand tighter.
“In five, four, three, two, one, mark.” He pushes the button.
Marie jolts and shudders.
“Are you okay?” Mateo asks.
She holds up her free hand. “I’m fine.” Her voice is tight, suggesting that she’s feeling a tightness too. “It’s just...oh, it’s cold. It’s really cold.”
“Is that normal?” Mateo asks Ramses.
“I don’t know,” he replies honestly, just as concerned and helpless.
Marie begins to do some measured breathing exercises, and relaxes as they go on. She exhales one last time, just as water is dripping onto the floor. She starts to cry.

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