Maite had entered her pod with the hope of getting some rest and taking her mind off of de Lancre and his obvious attempts to get into her good graces. She found it hard, however, to truly relax without the familiar comfort of a blanket that she could pull over her head. Simply standing in this mechanical tube, no matter how refreshed she felt when she woke up, wasn’t the same. And she always woke up with a strange itching sensation all over her body.
The tube would normally emit some kind of gentle mist that had the effect of making her drowsy. Before the mist came, Maite canceled the tube’s sleep routine and stepped out into her room. Lights at her feet came on automatically, lighting her way. Lights also appeared in front of her, almost like the beam of a flashlight, but followered her gaze as she looked around. She shook her head, momentarily causing the lights to shake violently across the wall before they equilibrated. She sighed. Sometimes, she thought, technology makes things more difficult, not less.
She opened her door and stepped outside. While she was technically de Lancre’s prisoner, he knew she had no where to go so didn’t confine her to her room. She stepped through the dining room and out to the balcony. While the city was nearly unrecognizable from her own version of Bilbao, she still found comfort in gazing over the wonderous skyline. She even recognized some of the mountains in the distance. She gave herself a small hug as she thought about her ama and aita back at home. Though she missed them, she knew she would see them again. The bubble had to pop some time, didn’t it? It couldn’t last forever. Even if it was centuries after she died, if anyone found that zatia and popped the bubble, she would return to her own time.
She cursed de Lancre for not popping the bubble of this timeline. She didn’t even care if he collected the zatia for himself and got its power. Keeping these bubbles going when he had the power to pop them, to end the disruption to all of these lives, how could he be so damn selfish?
Maite looked down at the ground below her. Even though it was the middle of the night, she could see people moving between buildings and hanging out in the street, almost as many people as there were during the daytime. She wondered if any of them ever slept. With the tube, maybe the human body didn’t need to sleep so much. And she suspected it also helped clear away toxins from alcohol so there were little after effects of drinking too much. The future had become one long gau pasa.
Watching the people, almost like ants from her view, Maite realized that these people had lives too. Yes, they were part of this bubble and, because of that, they weren’t living the lives they were intended to live, but they were still living their lives. Who was she, or de Lancre, or Marina, to pop their existance away? Was there no other way of collecting the zatiak and preventing de Lancre from becoming so powerful than to end the trajectories of so many lives?
But, at the same time, all of these people had parallel lives, in the main timeline, that they were also living. At what point did they become a different enough person that they deserved to live their own lives? What about babies and children that were born in this bubble? Maybe they never existed in the regular timeline. What about them?
Maite shivered, not so much from the cold but from the unsettling thoughts that clouded her mind. She really wished Kepa were here to hold her. He’d have something clever to say to put her mind at ease. Feeling defeated, Maite wandered back to her room and welcomed the numbing mist that enveloped her.
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