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Sunday, September 17, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 22, 2413

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Mateo and Leona stayed with Karla for the rest of the day, as did the rest of the family. For the last several generations, it was important to make sure that another womb-bearing child was born to the bloodline to maintain Mateo and Saffira’s child. Nothing inherent about this unprecedented situation prevented them from birthing only anatomical boys, so the family tree was quite large, and consisted mostly of men. In this case, Karla was an only child, but she could easily have been the only daughter of many. But this was not their only concern. It takes two to tango, and while partnership was generally a shared agreement, the Niemans occasionally had to take steps to avoid the premature end to the family lineage. Arranged marriage was a contentious term, but it was sometimes necessary in order to ensure the future of the baby. Though it would have been extremely unlikely for Karla to not be the one to ultimately birth Romana, there was a remote chance that she too would have to pass on the responsibility. To make that even possible, she needed a mate.
A young man by the name of Silenus Koolen was chosen to play this role. The two of them did not hate each other. By all accounts, they got along just fine, but there was no spark between them. There was no love. There was also very little pressure to make any sort of relationship work, because again, there was nearly no chance of their coupling being at all necessary. They never married, and did not have a child together, and now that Romana was here in the world, it was clearly no longer necessary. Still, he made one appearance to show his support for Karla, and reportedly continued to do so on a daily basis until the day of birth. This occurred at 12:01 central time, just after Mateo and the others returned to the timestream. The Matics were in the room where it happened, assisting with water, towels, and words of encouragement.
It was an extremely busy day, April 22, 2413. No one really knew exactly what was going to happen to Romana once she was born. Was Team Matic going to take her away? Would they never see her again for the rest of their lives? Everyone took their turns holding her, in case they would never get another chance. Traditionally, this was too much for one baby, and the doctors were not happy with this decision, but Neimans were a tough clan, and little Romana handled it with grace. But tomorrow, she will be monitored appropriately for the entire day. There was still so little they knew about her medical condition. What toll would daily time travel take on such a tiny, fragile body? In the meantime, the world government stepped in. They had spent the year remodeling the roof of the LIR Towers. It was built exclusively for Mateo and his people, but had undergone changes over the last two centuries. One of the towers was in full use, but the other stood empty, waiting for Mateo’s return.
The top floor of Lincoln Tower was still a penthouse, but was upgraded and kept up to date since the last time the Matics were here. The skybridge in between the towers was the biggest difference, having been adjusted to allow the docking of the Dante. Anyone in the penthouse could be evacuated in a matter of minutes, assuming they didn’t just teleport up there on their own. There were several units, depending on the viable size of Mateo’s team, a nursery for the young one, and other amenities. Below that, there was a restaurant, an indoor park and arboretum, and a library. These were all private, and for the center levels, there was pretty much nothing. Below that, however, was a military base, and a law enforcement station. There were other police and military buildings in the surrounding area. It was said that this was the most protected structure in the world, and that was probably true. Romana Saffira would be safe here, assuming that this was what the family wanted.
“So we’re moving to Darius permanently?” Angela asked. They were in the penthouse now, only a few hours before midnight, to get a look around at where they might live.
Leona scratched her chin. “Is there any reason why we shouldn’t?”
“I have to be wherever my daughter is,” Mateo declared. “I don’t want her to be raised without me, like the others were. So it’s up to Karla. Karla, I will go where you want to be.”
“This is a nice-ass place,” Karla admitted. “There’s even already a place for me to...sit down.” She just gave birth. They really shouldn’t have to worry about this right now, but she was the one who was going to be living here for an extended period of time. Everyone else would be gone.
Marie helped her get down to the couch, and spread out to a comfortable position. “I don’t see why we should leave. What else is there? The way I see it, we deal with one emergency call at a time, so if we receive another, we’ll have to put it off, because we’re still in the middle of this one.”
Leona laughed. “We’ll technically be in the middle of it for the next seven thousand realtime years.”
While Mateo believed that this was Karla’s decision, Dardius was the obvious best choice. Besides the tribulations and expiations on Tribulation Island, this world had been pretty good to them. Well, there was a war, but that was so long ago. This was only not the most peaceful planet they had been to when not accounting for its population. It was ten times better than Earth easily, and comparably advanced. It was clearly a great place to raise a child, yet that was no one else’s problem. “This is...this is a me thing,” he reiterated. “And a Karla thing. I love you guys, but really, if something else comes up, I don’t want you to stay just for me.”
“You’re my husband,” Leona insisted.
“You’re my best friend,” Ramses said for himself.
“You’re like a brother,” Angela said.
“Or a cousin, at worst,” Marie added, smirking.
“Hold on,” Olimpia began, “there’s not much left. “Boyfriend?” She was now speaking normally. They were never able to retrieve the Cassidy cuff that suppressed her power, but Dardieti scientists already had something for her. It didn’t stop her voice from echoing into the future, but it muted the sound, which was good enough for practical use.
Constance stepped forward. “And to me, you are like also a baby.” She patted him on the head. “There, there, you little dum-dum baby.”
Mateo smiled. “Okay. Are you okay with this...suddenly even bigger family?”
“Yes, yes, very good, thank you.” Karla immediately dozed off, one hand placed gently upon little Saffira’s chest, who was sleeping soundly in her bassinet.
There was a knock at the door. They all looked over to make sure it had not awoken mother and baby. The knock was tempered, suggesting that the knocker was cognizant and cautious. Still, Leona teleported over there to make sure it didn’t happen again. She opened it to find an old friend.
Saga Einarsson frowned at her kindly, and started to tear up. She reached out to hug her estranged friend. “I didn’t think I’d cry. I didn’t even promise myself I wouldn’t. It didn’t cross my mind.”
Leona was crying too. “I’ve missed you.” Now she could see that Vearden, Étude, and Cassidy were also in the antechamber. She started to cry even harder. These were the four owners of the entire planet. Well, Vearden didn’t technically own it, but he was a de facto co-owner, and the citizens treated him as such. The three true owners inherited it from Mateo, who wasn’t around enough to make much of a difference. They were apparently hands-on here, operating separately from the government, but working with it in the capitol building of Rutherford Tower, which was right next door. Vearden, on the other hand, was an elected official, serving as the current Mediator. He didn’t make the decisions, but he supervised the two who did.
Constance carefully carried Karla into the private hospital room down the hall that was designed specifically for her, while Olimpia wheeled Romana in with her. A nurse and a doctor were meant to be stationed here at all times, but there was evidently a mix-up in scheduling, so Constance took on the responsibility. She sure had the knowledge.
Meanwhile, the old friends reconnected with each other, and made introductions to the ones who had not yet met each other. Out of the four, Cassidy was the only official former member of Team Matic, but the other three were just as important. There was a lot of catching up to do until midnight hit in a few hours. “Please tell me you’re not here to report a problem,” Mateo said, feeling anxious about it now that the pleasantries were done, and the conversation was in a bit of a lull.
“We came here for two reasons,” Étude began.” She indicated the group before saying, “for this...and for this.” She pulled a half-full vial of red fluid from her pocket. It looked a little like blood, but if that was what it was, other things were mixed in with it to alter the color.
“That was once mine,” Cassidy said.
Mateo stared at the vial. “Oh.” Cassidy could absorb other people’s time powers, patterns, and afflictions. She was pursued by time travelers while under Mateo’s protection, but that didn’t always work out, and they never did figure out who specifically was behind all that.
“This is temporary,” Étude went on, “but we can make a concoction that is permanent. We have provided the Nieman family with counseling since they arrived on Dardius. One of these people has always been personal and private. Their conversations were just as privileged as one would expect out of a civilized society. The other reported back to us, and this was completely above board. The mothers consented to it, and they said whatever they wanted to this person, leaving out whatever they wanted to keep to themselves. Karla has gone through this as well, and based on their relatively limited interactions with her, it has become apparent to us that...” She trailed off to look back in the direction of the hospital room. “Karla will suffer from profound postpartum depression if that baby is taken from her. She has asked us to place her on your pattern to prevent this from happening. We can’t take blood from an infant for such a procedure. It would be illegal, unethical, and unnecessary. We are here to ask one of you to donate blood to finish the serum. Who’s up for it?”
All six of them held out their arms, and pulled their sleeves up, if necessary.

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