Monday, February 13, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Year 112,398

Abigail Genifer Siskin Pryce. Daughter of Tamerlane Pryce and Genifer Siskin. In at least one timeline in the main sequence, Tamerlane found Genifer by some means—be it by people database, or somehow by happenstance—and procreated with her. Theirs was an unusual arrangement, the particulars of which are known only to them. She wanted a child. He wanted a child who he could nickname Abiogenesis. Genifer raised Abigail throughout most of her childhood, but was forced to leave her one day to protect the universe from Tamerlane’s megalomania. She abandoned her. She sacrificed her. It was for the greater good, and at least one version of Abigail turned out all right, but it was no less tragic.
Abigail has a destiny beyond the boundaries of this universe, so it’s unclear where in the timeline this one originates. Bhulan didn’t want to ask for fear of disrupting the proper order of events, so she helps Abigail out of the time machine, provides her with clothing, and shows her where she can sleep. Bhulan wakes up Asier so she’s not the only well-adjusted and vetted resident of the Constant. Danica and Mateo still have not returned. Tamerlane is wary of Abigail, for she is not his daughter, and she is smart enough to understand that. This is not helping his recovery from his mental breakdown, though, as he sees her as the representation of yet another mistake that his alternate self made. After two weeks, Abigail agrees to go into stasis herself, so that her once-father can pull himself together. He manages to do so, and after a few months, they all end up back in their own separate pods. Bhulan, Tamerlane, and Asier come out every once in a while, but they leave Abigail in for ten thousand years, under a similar arrangement to the one they had with Mateo.
Now it has been 50,000 years since Danica disappeared, which marks the end of the waiting period. When Team Triple Threat—as Tamerlane liked to call them—were first starting out over a 100,000 years ago, they divvied up responsibilities, and agreed upon a hierarchy. Danica was at the top, with Bhulan as her number two. Anyone who came after Tamerlane would be ordered according to how trustworthy they seemed to the originals. So far, they’ve shown up in a reasonable order, making Danica’s father, Asier number four, and her cousin, Mateo number five. But none of them is allowed control over the most important object in the Constant, which is the Omega Gyroscope.
Danica placed a timer on it, like a dead man’s switch. If she ever lost contact with it for a duration of 50,000 years, possession over it would automatically switch to the next in the line, which is currently Bhulan. The responsibility falls to her now, to protect it, and curate the timeline. This should not be a problem; they all agreed to the parameters a very long time ago, and they were incredibly detailed, so she is not worried about making any bad decisions. She’s worried about what happens if she ever disappears for too long, because she’s not sure if she can trust Tamerlane anymore, and she’s honestly unclear as to what happens if something should happen to him. She doesn’t know if Asier was ever formally placed into the line of succession.
“No,” Asier answers, having evidently already discussed this with his daughter. “If Dani ever disappeared, and you disappeared, and Tamerlane disappeared, the Gyroscope would go on autopilot until the true number four showed up, which could be soon thereafter, or in billions of years.”
“Who is it?”
“That I can’t answer. I believe, now that the Gyroscope belongs to you, that you can find out who it is destined to be.”
Bhulan sighs, and looks at the thing. Then she looks at her watch. “If it’s been programmed to make the switch down to the minute, then we have about a minute to go, based on when Danica disappeared through the time machine.”
Asier nods. “Are you ready? Is something going to happen, or do you know?”
“Danica felt a power when she laid in the initial psychic instructions, and she believed I would feel the same, though to be fair, she didn’t think this would ever happen. I mean, 50,000 freaking years. Who would have thought that any of us would be gone for that long? It’s unsafe to be in stasis all that time, and there’s nowhere else to go in the universe! Plus, she’s immortal...” Bhulan shuddered as she felt a chill crawling all over her body. The Omega Gyroscope always glows, but now it’s especially bright. “Oh my God.” It feels like the glow is inside of her. Power is an understatement.
Asier grimaces. He and Bhulan aren’t related, but they’ve known each other for thousands of years, this certainly seems wrong, and makes him uncomfortable. It looks too pleasurable. “Should I leave.”
“No, no, it’s okay. It’s over. Now I’m back to being myself, except it’s like I have this extra body part. I can feel it, always there. Not pressure, nor pain, but a weight. It hangs from my whole body, like an extra layer of skin.”
“Is it...talking to you?”
“No, it’s not conscious. It’s my new skin, and I’m its new brain. I have to tell it what to do.”
“Surely there’s information encoded in it,” Asier figures.
“Yeah, I think I can interface with it.”
“Maybe you should lie down first.”
“Yeah, okay, thanks.”
He helps her onto the couch, and then steps back, ready to break her out of her trance, or mop up a psychic nosebleed, or help with whatever is about to go down.
Bhulan closes her eyes, and focuses on the Gyroscope; on listening to what it has to say, if anything. After around twenty seconds, she feels herself slipping off of the couch, and into a pool of water. She floats around a little before landing at the bottom. Only now does she open her eyes. Glowing curved beams are flying over her head, and underneath the transparent floor. They look familiar until she realizes that, d’uh, she’s in a giant gyroscope, and those moving curves are the gimbals. A silhouette forms before her, out of the glow. It’s not long before she recognizes the figure as Danica, but it’s not really her, it’s just a 3D recording, but not even that, because all of this is just in Bhulan’s head.
“Yay, Bhulan!” Danica cries, hanging onto the spin axis like it’s a stripper pole. Okay, so she may be more of an uploaded consciousness, and less of a recording.
“Are you real?”
“I’m as close as you’re gonna get, because if you’re here, the real me is probably dead. Ask me anything.”
“What is the airspeed velocity of the unladen swallow?”
“That’s an easy one. Eleven meters per second. What do you really wanna know?”
“Who is fourth in line for succession of the Omega Gyroscope, after Pryce?”
“That’s even easier,” Ghost!Danica says with a wide smile. “It’s Leona Matic.”

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