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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 4, 2399

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The attack is happening today. Parallel!Ramses, and his layers of bureaucracy, can no longer hold off the bloodthirsty military force. Fortunately, it was not a total waste of time. The fleet heading towards the Third Rail is much smaller than they originally wanted. There are a lot of people in favor of this act of aggression, but so many more that are not. The general public, for instance, which has no use for the weapons that Aldona and Alyssa stole, is in complete opposition to it. Still, it can’t be stopped. All they can do is hope that Kyra Torosia is indeed capable of transitioning the entire planet to the Fourth Quadrant. It’s an insane proposition, but then again, the Reconvergence itself is an even harder pill to swallow.
She’s all ready to go. She needs to be at a place of immense power in order to make the transition smoothly, and The Great Pyramid of Giza qualifies. It may not hold the same significance as it does in the main sequence, but it still focuses temporal energy. Bulk travel is not so different from regular space travel. That’s how Kyra has to do it. She’s going to pull the world out of the universe for a few seconds, and then put it right back, but instead of returning it to where it is, she’ll just choose a different parallel reality. She’ll even be able to bring all satellites along with them, including the moon, Luna. The rest of the planets will be staying where they are.
“What about an interplanetary ship?” Leona asks at the eleventh hour. How could she have forgotten about the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Marie, Angela, Angela’s doctor, and the kids are still on their way. They’re slated to return tomorrow. Kyra has to bring them in at the same time.
“Well, how far away are they right now?”
Leona looks at her watch, but it’s not like she can pinpoint the arrival to the minute. While maximum reframe speeds places a vessel at 99.9999% the speed of light, there are still minor fluctuations that produce a margin of error of several hours. “About 170 AU at the moment. They won’t be here any earlier than tomorrow.”
Kyra shakes her head. “Can’t do it. If I knew exactly where it was, I could bring it through with us, but the location of something that small will be impossible for me to just randomly intuit, even though that’s not too far away. Now, you want another planet that’s 170 light years away, we can talk. But a tiny little ship? I’m sorry.”
“We have to wait then,” Leona says even though she knows that’s not possible.
Kyra shakes her head again, and frowns at her.
“No, we can’t lose them. Not after all this. We’ve been through so much to save Marie’s life, and protect Cedar.” That is not an acceptable sacrifice. The AOC is not likely in too much danger of being detected by the attack drones, but Angela and Marie still can’t be left behind. They’ll probably have to abandon ship. That’s okay, they’ll revert to an older copy.
“Wait, Cedar is with them?” Kyra questions.
“Yeah, you didn’t know that?”
“We were specifically not told his location,” she explains. “Leona, he’s the Sixth Key, which is the most important one. If one of the other keys couldn’t do it, only the reality they were responsible for would be lost, but without Cedar, they’ll all be lost. Why didn’t you tell me that sooner?”
“You just said you were specifically not told where he was,” Leona aruges.
“Okay.” Kyra thinks. “Can’t you just go get them? Use your little device thingy. Jump to another reality, then jump back here, but on that ship.”
“I don’t know if I can do that. I don’t have a lot of experience with this thing, and there are limitations to consider.” She holds up her transition device, which Mateo thinks should be called the Helm of Reality.
“Yeah, I know,” Kyra acknowledges, “ has to be done. Like I said, we need him. So if you can only save one—”
“That’s not the problem. “The ship is moving at near light speed. That’s always tricky for time travel, teleportation, and the like. I can transition everyone on the ship all at once, but I have to hit the bullseye first.”
Kyra nods. “Please try. They could be here any minute.”
“Bridget!” Leona calls out.
Bridget Morton and her father were in another chamber of the pyramid, enjoying the rare gift they’ve been given. They come back in now. “Is everything okay?”
“You have the communicator?” Leona asks.
“Right here.” Bridget holds it up.
“Stay with Kyra, and keep in touch with the others. I have something else to do.”
“Understood,” Senator Morton replies. “We’ll protect her as if she were our own Key.” He’s taking his responsibilities quite seriously. The way he figures it, if this works, he’ll be revered as a hero forever. A few dozen people are involved in saving the lives of quadrillions of people. That’s gotta amount to multiple historical text books on each member alone, if not more.
Leona takes the tip off of the dial, and places it on spoke pointing to the Third Rail. Then she turns it to the main sequence to find her husband trying to teach Labhrás how to play RPS-101 Plus.
She takes him into a warm embrace, and plants a kiss on his lips. “I love you.”
“Were I you,” he replies.
“No. Say the real words.”
“I love you,” he amends.
“See you on the other side.” She gives him another peck, then makes her jump back to the Third Rail, but this time aiming for a spaceship traveling at supersublightspeed. She’s no longer protected by Ramses’ transhumanistic upgrades. If she misses, she’ll be in the middle of the black, and will probably pass out and die before she even has the chance to jump to safety.
Leona opens her eyes. She is floating in the black. She can’t even see any stars. She doesn’t feel like she’s dying, though. One thing about Alyssa’s illusion powers is that it has numerous applications. She doesn’t have to make herself look like another person, or like there’s a tiger in the room. Light is light, and light illuminates. She begins to glow like a bioluminescent organism, increasing brightness until she can see something other than herself. It’s the metal of a wall. This room alone is too big for this to be the AOC, though. She’s jumped to the wrong place, but at least she’s not dead.
The sound of a door opening comes from behind her, but she’s finding it difficult to turn around to see who’s opened it in zero gravity. The light from the hallway shines through first, and when she does get turned, all she sees is a silhouette. That silhouette walks towards her, ominous and quiet. “How do you keep showing up here?”
“Who is that?” Leona asks. The voice sounds familiar to her.
“Lights to twenty-four percent. Gravity to Earth gradual.” The lights turn on, revealing it to be Danica Matic’s face. Leona is hovering over the pool, which has been drained, possibly in an attempt to prevent more people from suddenly appearing in the Constant, as if that were the cause. She walks along the edge of the empty pool, towards the ladder, while Leona heads for it from below. “How did you make yourself glow?”
“Do you really not know that?” Leona asks her.
“I really don’t.”
“I’m stealing light from other sources, possibly the bulb in the hallway.”
“The hallway lights don’t use bulbs.”
Leona climbs up the ladder. “Yeah, like that’s the issue right now.” She takes a breath. “Where are my friends?”
“The master sitting room, as per usual.”
“Are they safe, healthy, and happy?”
“They’re safe and healthy.”
“Are you gonna let me see them, or are you gonna shove me into a stasis pod?”
“No more stasis pods. The Reconvergence will be here in another year.”
“You got that wrong,” Leona contends. “It’s in a matter of days.”
“It’s not,” Danica claims. “It’s the Reality Wars that are starting. The Parallel is preparing for the first battle. We’re on our way back to protect our asset.”
“You mean the Omega Gyroscope. That’s all you care about?” Leona asks.
Danica sighs. “I’ve learned a lot since we last saw each other. I was...wrong in how I handled this whole situation. Well, I shouldn’t use that word. I’ll just say that I made some mistakes. Emphasis on the some part.”
Leona nods. “Well, you seem to be slightly misinformed in this regard as well. The Parallel is not preparing for the attack. They’re almost here. They’re coming today.”
Danica narrows her eyes. “That’s not supposed to happen. My seer was quite specific about the date.”
“Your seer’s information is outdated.”
“Son of a mother—!” Danica takes Leona by the arms, and teleports them both to the sitting room. The whole gang’s here, including Angela, Marie, and the kids.
“Leona!” Marie exclaims.
“Help me with these!” Danica demands. She starts to pull the books off the shelves, and set them on the tables.
Leona starts to remove some as well.
“We don’t understand what happened,” Angela says to Leona. “Danica found us right after Mateo and Ramses dropped off Cedar. I’ve been awake this whole time. I’ve peed out all the immortality waters. I...” She looks back at her alternate self. “I don’t know why Marie is still alive.”
“I don’t either.” Leona continues to remove the books, and replace them backwards so they can open the secret room behind the bookcase. “But if she’s still alive, then there’s still time. I had Alyssa procure the rest of the waters you need.”
Danica, still swapping books, gives Leona an odd look. What does she know about this situation? They can’t talk about it right now. The books are in place. Danica activates the lamp, but it doesn’t do anything. “What’s wrong with this?”
Leona scans the books to make sure they’re all facing backwards.
“Cedar,” Danica begins, “when did you take that book off the shelf?”
“A few minutes ago,” he answers.
She kind of scoffs, but isn’t too upset. She goes over to retrieve it. “The case doesn’t have to be full, but if you’ve removed one too recently, it thinks it should be part of the code.” She puts the book in place, and activates the lamp again. Now the shelves swivel, and carry Leona and Danica into the other room. She does something in the dark, and swivels the bookcase halfway back, so people can walk freely back and forth, and also turns on the light. She walks over to the opposite corner, and slides and taps a special code on the wall, which looks totally unremarkable. This engages all sorts of controls that appear out of the walls, floor, and ceiling. This looks like the bridge of a spaceship now. That’s probably what it is. “How long before the Parallelers get here exactly?” she asks as she begins to work on her computer.
“I don’t know. Inter-reality communication is difficult. Someone else is using the one for the Third Rail, so I can’t call and ask the other Ramses for another update.”
Danica keeps working. “Well, I was going to return to Danica Lake, but I don’t have time to aim. We just have to get there, don’t we?” After a few seconds, she stops, and looks directly at Leona. “Don’t we?” she repeats.
“Uh, yeah. If we don’t get Cedar Duvall back to Earth, everyone in five realities is going to die. The time for secrecy is over. Everyone knows about time powers now.”
“Everyone?” Danica asks, going back to the computer.
“Pretty much. Some of the other islands in the Fourth Quadrant may still be in the dark, but once they see a second Earth in the night sky, it’s going to become impossible to deny that people like us exist.”
Danica sighs again. “Everyone find a seat, and brace. It’s about to get rough.”
As everyone is getting strapped in, she asks Leona for help confirming the calculations. Leona peers at them. “What color is the Constant, from the outside?”
“I’s black. The hull is black metallic alloy-polycarbonate composite. Tamerlane knows more about it than I do. Why?”
A Dark Citadel will fall from the heavens, and make its mark in the Center of World Power. The Watchers who come out of it will change the world forever, and the people shall know the Life of God,” Leona recites. “Dalton was right.”
“Oh, that asshole?” Danica triple checks her work, then sits down herself. “I hope you don’t pay him too much mind. He loves the attention. Sit down Leona.”
“I was right too. We’re going to Kansas.”
“Sit down, Leona.” Danica reiterates.
“I need a radio.”
Danica reaches over, and pulls a small device out of its dock. “Safety first.”
“Okay, fine.” She sits down next to Danica, and accepts the communicator. Danica wasn’t lying. Even though the jump only last a few seconds, it feels like a roller coaster, and their bodies are still reeling from the ordeal minutes afterwards. Leona has trouble setting the frequency, her vision blurry, and her head in a daze. She manages to find it, though, and make the call. “Kyra, come in. Are you there, Kyra? It’s Leona.”
Go ahead,” Kyra responds.
“Everyone’s back on Earth. Go. Go now.”
Transitioning now.
Danica pulls a view of space on the screen. Dozens of drones have appeared next to Jupiter, with more likely off screen. “I hope this doesn’t take too long. They’re here.”
The room fills with technicolors.

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