Sunday, November 5, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 29, 2420

Generated by Google Workspace Labs text-to-image Duet AI software
“Hello,” Mateo replied. “Do you know someone named Venus Opsocor?”
“She’s a colleague of mine,” Senona answered. “Let me guess, she’s giving you trouble with the Nexus.”
“We’re trying to leave the galaxy that we’re stuck in, and return to the Milky Way. She wants us to go to a specific planet.”
“Do you want to hear my advice?”
“Do whatever she says?”
“Pretty much.”
Mateo nodded. “I was afraid you would say that.”
“I know who you are,” Senona went on. “I met your wife, who asked me for help with an issue you had, so I know that you know the drill. You get one wish. That wish can be to be sent somewhere other than wherever Venus wants you to be, but if I were you, I would not waste my one wish on that. I would pick something else.”
Here again is why Leona should not have picked him to do this. The only reason she did it was because she already received her wish, and would not get another. It was up to him to figure out how to resolve this whole situation, but their issue of only being able to go to Worlon from here was not the only one. They also needed to help Arcadia and her family get back to wherever they wanted to go, and the Flindekeldans might need help too. They prided themselves on being stuck here, but they never really were until about twenty years ago. They always had a way out, it was just somewhat difficult to accomplish. And they could have made it impossible for themselves, but they didn’t, so why not? Why the hypocrisy? And why wasn’t someone smarter here in his place, like Angela, Marie, or Ramses?
“Oh, I’ve seen this before,” Senona mused.
“You’ve seen what?”
“Some people come here alone, or if they’re not technically alone, they’re only responsible for themselves. They can choose whatever they want, and not worry about whether someone will get upset at them for not choosing something else. But a lot of people here will return home to expectations. One wish per traveler is a lot of pressure, so one thing I like to tell people like you is to try to think of something more general. Don’t ask me for a list of requests, and hope they’ll count as one thing when combined. Find a wish that helps everyone all at once. For instance, if all of your friends wished for a good meal, but they don’t like to eat the same thing, don’t list each one’s favorite foods; just ask me to give everyone whatever they want to eat. Simple. General. Doable. Obviously that’s a terribly pedestrian example, but I didn’t want to muddle your desire with something that is anywhere close to what you might be interested in.”
Simple, general, doable, Mateo thought to himself. That was good advice, but he still wished he were smart enough to translate it to his situation better. Ha, maybe he should just literally wish to be smarter. Nah, even if Senona were capable of that, it would be selfish, and meaningless. Think, think, think. What would be simple, general, and doable? He had a decent idea of what Senona could accomplish, and he also knew that they would ask for a final answer, rather than saddling him with whatever first came to mind, whether it was good or not.
“Okay,” Senona began, noticing how he was struggling with it. “Let’s switch gears. Let’s do the opposite of what I just told you. List the things that you need to accomplish, and I’ll see if I can figure out the wish from that.”
“Well, my team and I need to get to the Milky Way Galaxy so we can start helping people all over the Sixth Key with whatever they need. Arcadia and Vearden need to get their daughter back there too, but so they can keep her safe, and raise her right. The Flindekeldans, I believe, need access to a Nexus, but they don’t want it to be too easy to get to.”
“Hm.” Senona thought about it, or maybe they weren’t thinking at all. Maybe the came to the right answer right away. “Try this: I wish for everyone I care about to be wherever they truly wish to be.
“Oh. Will that work? I mean, Baby Cheyenne only lives for one day every year. They can’t stop it. I’m sure her parents would wish her to not be on that pattern.”
“Yeah, but we’re talking about space, not time. That would be a different wish.”
“Right. And how does that move the Nexus? It’s too far away where it is right now, but it’s not a person, so it doesn’t wish for anything.”
“I can talk to Venus about that. Let’s just call it a bonus. The one wish rule is not an inherent limitation. I could give you as many wishes as I want; I just don’t.”
“Because it would set an untenable precedent, I get it.” Mateo thought more on it, and echoed, “I wish for everyone I care about to be wherever they truly wish to be. that enough?”
“What more could you ask for?”
“Well, just because I don’t specifically care about someone, doesn’t mean I don’t want them to be happy.”
“That’s fair.”
Senona smirked. “So...”
“I wish for everyone in the entire universe to be wherever they truly wish to be.”
Their smirk widened into a full smile. “Final answer?”
Mateo thought on it just a little bit longer, then he nodded. “If you can do it, then answer.”
“That’s a good one. It’s a big ask, but yes, I can do it. Might take me about a year.” They winked at him.
“Thanks for this, and for helping me get there.”
“You got there on your own. You should stop selling yourself short. You’re not the sharpest tool in the shed, but a hammer isn’t meant to be sharp, yet it’s just as useful as a carving knife, isn’t it?”
“I guess so.”
Senona nodded. “That console over there can conjure just about anything from the bulkverse. It’s also a sequence terminal. Just press the symbol for zero again, and it will return you to your last location whenever you’re ready.”
“Thanks again, Senona.”
“No problem.”
As they were walking back towards the rowboat, Mateo could hear something move on it. “Is someone else there?” he questioned.
Senona turned back but said nothing. “No,” came a familiar voice from the dark.
“Holly Blue?” Mateo asked.
Another pause. “No.”
Mateo laughed. “It’s okay. I won’t tell anyone.”
One more delay in the response. “Thanks.”
He could hear them whispering to each other as they rowed into the shadows.
Mateo went over to the console that was sticking out from the platform. It looked just like the same old dialing pad from any Nexus control room, except that there was a speaker at the bottom. “ egg,” he requested in a funny voice.
A tray slid out from the front like a CD drive in a computer tower. One hard-boiled egg materialized on it. He cracked it and ate it slowly. “Okay. A dozen eggs.”
A carton of eggs materialized on the tray.
“Cool. Let’s try something else. A dozen secure subcutaneous transmitters that allow instant communication across vast distances, including alternate realities, and parallel universes, which can neither be detected, nor unwillfully surgically removed.”
A box appeared on the tray. Mateo opened it to find twelve discs and implanting instructions on a piece of electronic paper affixed to the inside of the lid. “Yes. These will do. No more secret emotion codes. He was never gonna be able to learn every letter anyway. This made much more sense. Not quite telepathy, but they should still be able to hear each other, even at a whisper. Ramses became so obsessed with coming up with a purely organic remedy to their weak original bodies that he didn’t think of something as simple as this.
Mateo thought about asking for other tech, but this was probably enough. He didn’t want to be greedy, especially since he already wished for all but world peace. So he pushed the two buttons, and returned to the Nexus building on Flindekeldan II. All of his friends were waiting there, sitting on the steps, the floor, and the wraparound ramp that led to the control room. “Hey, kids.”
“You’re back,” Leona exclaimed. She had been sitting in the control room. “You wished for Arcadia, Vearden, and Cheyenne to go to Dardius, and to place Flindekeldan II in orbit around the same host star as Flindekeldan I?”
“Did I?” Yeah, Dardius was a good place for them. They would be safe there.
“Did you?” Olimpia pressed.
“Was that wrong?” He couldn’t speak for these people, per se, but he had a decent idea of what they wanted, even if they refused to admit it. They didn’t want a way out, but they also did, or they would have sealed up the original emergency exit long, long ago. This seemed like a good compromise. It was hard to reach, but not impossible. You had to work for it, which meant you had to want it. For anyone who truly wanted to stay on this planet, all they had to do was ignore the other copy of the planet that was orbiting on the other side of the sun, which they should never be able to see anyway.
“Well, it’s just that they don’t have ships of their own. They’ll never make it here.”
“What do you think I’ve been doing for the last two days?” Ramses asked. “They’ll keep the Dante as an emergency shuttle. We don’t need it anymore. Let’s call it a gift.”
“This is a gift too, to you.” Mateo presented the box of communicators.
Ramses took it. “Oh. These were a good idea. Yeah, thanks.”
“I thought you were going to wish for Venus to let us go somewhere other than Worlon,” Leona said, almost scolding him.
“I’ve been thinking about that,” Mateo explained. “We should go. There’s a reason that she wants us to. I’m willing to trust her. She’s done a lot for us.”

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