Saturday, March 18, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: January 13, 2399

The first thing that Leona did after Mateo, Ramses, and Alyssa departed for their mission was to look into the requirements for becoming a certified facilitatrix. She found a training program with good reviews, gathered all of the necessary literature, and spoke with a few professionals about starting the process. Leona is a very intelligent, experienced individual, who will have no problem completing the coursework, but in the midst of all this, she realized that even the limited training may be a waste of time. Can a Berarian mother name her child after a facilitatrix? This kind of information is not freely available online, so she has finally set up an appointment with a faith consultant.
Nearly every religion in this reality has them. They are usually members of the religion themselves, but not always. They do not serve as leaders within their respectives faiths, because it is only their responsibility to guide prospective converts. It’s part of the law that anyone wishing to convert should have all the facts they need to make an informed decision. A special subset of these faith experts specialize in children who have just reached the age of choice, and it is one of these that was the only one available at such short notice. They’ve met at a park, next to a lone bench. “Hello, I’m Rostam Gibson. You are Leona Delaney.”
“Umm...yes, I am.” She didn’t give a name when she called to set an appointment.
“Don’t worry, I heard about the bounty, but I have no interest in it. It’s not high lawful. And to let you know, everything we talk about here is completely confidential.”
“I appreciate that. What is high lawful?”
“High law refers to the moral and ethical standards to which we must all adhere, whether any given state, organization, or individual ascribes to them. Berarians believe that there is a right, and a wrong. We don’t think we know what that moral code is, or that anyone knows, but we’re certain that a just lifestyle exists, and is possible to attain in the future. That is what we are working towards.”
“I see.”
“You’re not a hopeful convert,” he deduces, “yet you came here for answers. Berar is one of the least complex faiths. We don’t ask weird things of our believers, like praying to a ghost once a week. A lot of what I do is helping people write school papers about us, but something tells me that you’re here for a different reason.”
“When you say this is confidential, does that extend to anything I tell you about someone else?”
“It doesn’t matter what, or who, you talk about, I can’t repeat it. It wouldn’t be high lawful.”
She smiles. “I have a friend. She’s pregnant.”
“I see where this is going. She doesn’t like her doctor’s name.”
“You’ve seen this before.”
He nods. “Yes. Some are...more devout than others. I told you that we don’t ask weird things of our believers, but the naming thing is kind of the one exception. I’m the only Rostam Gibson in the world, and it’s only because I’m Berarian, and my deliverer was from Iran. People ask me whether there is some kind of database, where they can search for a doctor with the name that they’re looking for. However, this goes against the spirit of the practice. You’re not supposed to choose the name. Fate is.”
“What does that have to do with high law?” Leona questions.
“It doesn’t, really. Our founder’s mother was on a sinking ship when she went into labor. She ended up on a lifeboat that was literally broken in half, and barely able to stay on the surface, with one man, and two coats. The water was freezing, and so was the air. He gave his own coat up to protect the baby that he had just delivered into this world. He died, and she named her son after him. This honor was just something that was important to our founder, so when he came up with his new religion, he chose to deliberately put it into the rules. It’s not entirely random and pointless, though. No, there is nothing immoral about not naming your child after its deliverer. What it does is serve as a small reminder that...some laws are immutable; the high laws. And some of them we just decide we’re going to follow, and that’s what makes a healthy society. Because the fact is, no law—high, or otherwise—matters if we don’t agree.”
“That’s why so many students write papers on us,” he begins. “They’re looking for answers, and not to speak ill of other faiths, but...our answers are better, because they make sense.”
“I bet they do. Even the baby naming one has a logic to it.”
He smiles mildly, and nods.
Leona takes a little bit of time to go back over the lie she made up to explain why Arcadia would feel compelled to name her baby Delaney. “We’re triplets; Arcadia, Nerakali, and me. We were separated at birth, and didn’t find each other until less than a year ago. I was raised by our birth parents, but Nerakali was raised by a now estranged uncle, and Arcadia by a family friend. That’s why she has a different last name. Our third sister died recently, and Arcadia wanted to honor her by naming her child Nerakali. Unfortunately, it’s a unique name, so when Arcadia learned that she had to give this honor to her baby’s deliverer—”
“Wait, when she found out?” Rostman echoes, confused. “Why would she not already know that?”
“I can’t explain why Berar is her religion of record, though not technically her religion.”
He’s suspicious, but it looks like he’s going to respect the confidentiality claim.
“When she found out this part, we made a plan to technically name the baby after my unmarried name, which is the same as Nerakali’s, but really be named after Nerakali herself. I was going to learn to become a facilitatrix, but...”
Now he’s smiling sadly.
“But that’s not going to work, is it? It doesn’t matter if I’m the one who facilitates the birth, it will always be a bad faith move.”
“Yes,” he says compassionately.
This sucks. Arcadia is going to be heartbroken, but she’ll be able to get through it. Trina McIver told them, Leona Delaney is alive. Or she was, anyway. Naming their child after her would have been a very nice gesture, but it’s not meant to be, and that’s okay. “Welp, just to be clear, if a masculine name has a feminine form, it’s okay to choose that one instead, right?”
“That’s all right, it doesn’t have to be exact,” he confirms. “If someone were to ask, she would just have to be able to explain that it’s a close linguistic variant.”
“I appreciate your guidance,” Leona says, standing up, “and your discretion.”
“Call me anytime.”

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