“So…” began Maite, her cortado in hand as she looked across the small table at Kepa. They had met at the Herriko Taberna and found a spot outside on the plaza, far enough from the rest of the patrons so that they wouldn’t be overheard. “What now?”
Kepa looked nervously into his own cup, the swirls of brown espresso mixing with the creamy milk. For a moment, he hoped that if he stared hard enough at his coffee, he might find answers. But, nothing came. He sighed.
“All I know for sure,” he said, looking across at Maite, sweat upon his brow, “is that I want to be with you. Beyond that, I have no idea.”
Maite smiled at him. “That’s enough for me.”
“Do you know where you will go to school?” asked Kepa.
“I’m thinking Donostia. They have a good physics program there. What do you say? Do you want to move to Donostia with me?”
Surprisingly, given how close the city was, Kepa had only visited a handful of times in his life. He remembered the beaches, and the multitude of people in their swimsuits. He remembered the Parte Vieja and the rows upon rows of bars with the most wonderful pintxos. He wasn’t used to such a big city, but what he remembered was overall positive.
“I think I could do that,” he said. “I’d need to visit ama often…”
“As would I, visit my parents I mean,” interjected Maite.
Kepa smiled. “Ok then. Let’s do it.”
“What about the zatiak?” asked Maite.
“What do you mean?” asked Kepa.
“I mean, do we try to search them out, or do we just let things happen haphazardly like we’ve been doing?”
“You want a more systematic approach, I assume?”
“Well,” began Maite, “if we are going to make any real progress, I just think we need some kind of plan.”
“How are we supposed to do that? We don’t know anything about where, or when, the zatiak ended up.”
“No,” said Maite with a mischievous grin, “but I know have this supercomputer in my head to help us figure it out, to look for any patterns.”
As she spoke, Maite felt a grumbling in the back of her head. She almost thought that Garuna snorted mockingly at her. But then it settled down.
“Can you control it like that?” asked Kepa. “Will it do what you want it to?”
Maite shrugged. “I don’t know, but there is only one way to know.” For no real reason, she sat up a little straighter. Her voice became a little more formal. “Garuna,” she said in a somewhat demanding tone, “will you help us find the zatiak?”
“Is that how you talk to it?” asked Kepa. “Out loud like that?”
Maite giggled as she shook her head. “No, I can talk to it in my head, but I wanted you to hear at least one side of the conversation.”
Maite felt Garuna rumble again. “Why?” was all it asked.
Looking at Kepa with her shoulders hunched a bit and in her regular voice, almost a whisper, Maite said “It asked why.” Again sitting up, she replied “Because, we need to prevent de Lancre from collecting them.”
“Why?” came the reply in her mind.
Maite sighed. “It asked why again. I swear, it’s like talking to a toddler. Ahem,” began Maite, again reverting to her formal mode before Kepa interrupted.
“Can it hear me, if I’m speaking?”
“Yes,” replied Garuna in Maite’s head.
“Yes,” Maite whispered back to Kepa.
“Well, then,” continued Kepa, “if de Lancre recovers the majority of the zatiak, he will gain untold power and reshape the world into his own twisted vision. You came from the future, you know our history. Does it ever turn out well when any one person can shape things at that scale, much less one who has bad intentions like de Lancre?”
There was silence. Eventually, Maite heard an “Ez” echo in her head.
Maite, looking at Kepa, shook her head.
“Exactly,” replied Kepa. “We can’t allow a madman like de Lancre have free reign over the rest of humanity. Who knows what he will do, but I would guess he reshapes his own time to reflect his deepest desires, and that will ripple throughout the timeline.”
“But,” repeated Maite as Garuna spoke in her head, “it would simply be a bubble, which could eventually be burst.”
Kepa shrugged. “Maybe, but if he has that much power…” Kepa looked deep into Maite’s eyes, trying to find Garuna in there somewhere, “maybe he could make the bubble permanent, and pop the rest of the timeline.”
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