Friday, November 4, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: September 1, 2398

Leona and Zacarias exchange a look. This is not what they expected to happen, but they didn’t really have any expectations in the first place. They didn’t have time, because neither of them knew that the first possible address on the dialer would work. Come to think of it, though, it makes a little bit of sense. If this person is in charge of the Nexus network, then it’s only natural that reaching them means pressing zero. After all, in Leona’s universe, that’s how you contact the switchboard operator.
“I can see that you’re confused,” Senona says. “That’s okay. If you have never experienced space travel, it can be a bit of a trip.”
“Wait,” Leona stops, “space travel? Are we still in salmonverse?”
Senona tilts their head, the confused one now. “No, I was just trying to simplify things. You’re cognizant of other universes?”
“I’ve been to several,” Leona answers like it ain’t no thang.
They’re moderately impressed. Zacarias, on the other hand, is quite impressed, and still confused. “You can grant any wish?”
“Yes, two of them. But don’t worry, you don’t have to agree upon them. You can choose two for the both of you, or one each. It’s up to you.”
“Anything?” Zacarias presses.
“Anything within my power,” Senona clarifies.
“How do we know what is in your power?” Leona asks.
They laugh. “Why don’t you ask me what you want, and I’ll tell you whether I can do it. Don’t worry, it can take as long as it takes. I’m not a genie, I’m not going to try to trick you into wording it the wrong way. We’ll work together to figure it out.”
Leona looks to Zacarias to start. “We don’t know each other well, so we’ll ask for separate things. You can go first.”
“I would like to end all war and wanting in the world,” he decides confidently.
Senona smiles. “As would I. Unfortunately, that is not within my power. This is more of a single act thing. I could probably lift your civilization up, but it would require too much time, and though I am immortal, I have other interests.”
Zacarias looks away to think about it. He feels like the steward of his whole planet. “Hold on, if I tell others—”
“One wish per traveler per Nexus,” Senona interrupts. “If you want another one, you will have to come to me from elsewhere.”
Zacarias nods. He was asking for clarity, not to be greedy with a loophole. He clearly wants to help people, and has no plans to ask for a zillion dollars in space cash.
“We can come back to it if you want a few days to consider your options.” Senona steps over to the dialing terminal. “In the meantime, if you’re hungry or thirsty, we can summon literally anything. I love a certain sandwich from Adamsverse.
“I’m ready,” Leona announces. She’s been thinking about her own options the entire time. There are so many things she could ask for. She could transport her and her friends to the main sequence. She could undo any mistake from the future, or the past. She could remove the powers that be and Superintendent from the equation. She doesn’t know if Senona could wield any control over such things, but all of them potentially leave her husband with his midan curse. Had they come here before the timonite, or in a timeline where it simply never happened, it wouldn’t be a problem. Then again, the only reason she went to Antarctica was to help him, and the butterfly wings that carried her led to this moment with Coronel Zacarias. Had they shown up under different circumstances, would he have come to the conclusion that they could try to contact this operator? This is a boon for them. Now that they know this place exists, when they get to another Nexus, they could ask for more things. Or perhaps that’s unethical. Is that really what this place is for? Or does Senona want to teach the a lesson of some kind? What does their title, Intentioner even really mean?
Senona smirks. “I can see that you’re struggling. It’s okay if you changed your mind about what you were gonna ask. This really is not a trick. My associates have their own lives and responsibilities, leaving me with nothing to do, so I decided to stay on Origin, and help people. The address you dialed is too poetic to not go somewhere special. Any rando planet would be anticlimactic. Still, not many think to try.”
“Do all possible addresses go somewhere?”
Senona narrows their eyes. “That’s a hard question to answer. As you know now, if you didn’t know before, they are technically capable of interversal travel, but they’re not really designed that way. They’re meant for local brane travel. If you have already experienced interversal travel yourself, then you probably already know that each universe has its own spacetime. So is every single possible permutation used up? Yes, at some point in time, because the bulk is the true definition of eternity. We will one day run out of numbers, but I haven’t even seen that happen in my personal timeline, so I couldn’t tell you what that day looks like. The fact is that most universes will never even hear of the Nexus network.”
“I’ve been to a reality where they built their own Nexa. How does one get on the network if one didn’t create it oneself? How do they have an address of their own?”
Senona nods. “If you build your own to satisfactory specifications, a new address will automatically be assigned to it. Most of the time, when your Nexus doesn’t work, it’s because one or more of these specifications have been corrupted, be it self-made, or one of ours. We did it that way so that people can’t modify them into weapons, or something else that we did not intend. To be the fairest, it’s an all or nothing deal, so even if the corruption was accidental or unintentional, it needs to be fixed before it’ll work again.”
“I wish for a detailed manual of these specifications, written in my native language,” Coronel Zacarias declares, jumping back in. “Yeah, that makes sense, right? If we can always fix it ourselves, we can use it as it should be used.”
“Is that your final answer?” Senona asks.
Zacarias thinks on it a little more. “Yes.”
Senona presses a button on the terminal, and releases a small device. “The manual is now accessible on your primary Nexus computer, but you will need this to copy it.” They prepare to hand it off, but wait. “You must recognize that this does not entitle you to travel to any particular place. You are still limited to your local network.”
“Understood.” Zacarias smiles proudly.
“And you?” they ask Leona. “Are you ready? No pressure, I literally don’t age.”
She takes in a deep breath, and lets it out slowly. “My husband, Mateo Matic, is cursed to banish any object he touches with his hands to an unknown location. I wish for him to be able to control when he does that, and when he doesn’t, and also to control where he sends things.”
Senona looks like they’re debating the request in their head. “Let me make a call.”

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