Part 12: An Emu is literally beside himself.
“No seriously. I had to alter the course of evolution in the galaxy, and then I had to alter the history so that this mammal,” The talking emu gestured at Prince Phillip with a disgusted look, “was the rightful Prince of the Galaxy.” The talking emu, who called himself Hagrid, looked at their Hagrid like he was waiting for some sort of reply.
“Yes, of course we’re the same person. Don’t let the top hat confuse you.”
“I’m not sure about confusing but it’s really adorable,” Sophia tried not to giggle. It hadn’t been that long that her greatest wish was to go to a good university to become an engineer. Since she woke the Prince and headed out on this adventure, people had been trying to blow her up, a lot, she’d been attacked by a shapeshifter and negotiated with a sentient moon. A talking emu was just the last straw; the tiny bowtie and top hat combined with the deep BBC voice was too much. She burst into giggles.
“Hagrid, who is this wretched mammal you dragged with you?”
“Wark, Wark WAARRRK!” Hagrid, the regular one, screeched.
“Fine Fine. Keep your pet, if you like. As long as they don’t get in my way.”
The regular Hagrid looked like he was going to dive at the new one, but Phil put his hand to block him. Saying, “Sir. You can insult me all you like, but Sophia is the best of us. She’s kind, gentle, strong, resourceful, beautiful, and implausibly intelligent.”
A shudder passed through the speaking Hagrid and somehow the tiny top hat didn’t fall off. “Disgusting. I’ll never get used to seeing your kind speaking. Thankfully it won’t be long… Come along me.”
The emu turned around and walked out of the small hanger. Hagrid followed him and the others followed Hagrid.
Walking out of the hanger was a huge shock. The place had looked massive from the outside, but inside it was vertigo inducing. The entire database was shaped like the inside of an egg; a large oblong sphere with nothing but massive structures on its surface. Each looked vaguely like a circuit board or other computer insides. In the center of the galaxy-sized egg was a small yellow dwarf sun.
The buildings were connected by a lattice of steel rope bridges that must have worked as both circuits and a way for the creators to move around.
“This wasn’t built by humans,” Sophia observed, and the top hat wearing emu snorted derisively. She didn’t wait for Phil to say anything and explained, “The door controls are at foot level and all the control panels I can see are made to be operated with a head or beak.”
“You’re not as dumb as you look. This is the Database of Ageless Kings, built by my ancestors as a way of making sure Emus would always rule the universe.”
“How?” Phil asked with a smirk and furrow that Sophia knew was his confused expression.
“How was it built? Or how does it work?” The emu asked but didn’t let anyone answer before he continued, “It took a hundred generations and the brightest minds. It works by quantum entanglement, manipulating the atoms in the core of our galaxy.
“You see, the matter in the centre of our galaxy is under such a strong gravitational field that they work almost completely out of time. That means their entanglement is with the atoms that created the universe and by subtly altering those bonds you can re-write the universe and reality as we know it.
“Unfortunately, the calculations are such that even an emu can’t make the changes without the help of the greatest supercomputer in all of existence.” He finished his monologue as they entered what was obviously a giant control room.
“Wark?” Hagrid said, and Sophia was seriously starting to wonder how smart he really was and who had been taking care of whom.
“Yes. I do need you. You see, when the Ageless Kings built the Database, they added a safeguard to prevent the royal family from destroying the universe with their greed. In order to make any minor changes, you need to sacrifice a part of yourself. If you want to make a large change you must sacrifice yourself.
“At first, I used clones of myself, but turns out they cause the calculations to be slightly off and I haven’t been able to get the universe quite right. That’s when I came to the conclusion that I needed myself.” He sat in an emu-sized chair and reclined. A keyboard appeared at his feet and he started to type something. “You see I needed a version of myself that wasn’t intelligent, that wouldn’t challenge me. It really wasn’t easy getting you here.”
Sophia watched him type and smiled. “Is Phil still considered of royal blood for the Database? Can he make the changes?” She could read the screen and the keyboard. It might have been designed by emus, but it was written in the royal language. The same one she’d been learning since she found the ship. She assumed it was a way of making sure that every royal, no matter the alterations to the universe, could use the Database.
“Absolutely, but he’d have the same cost as I would and I can’t just sacrifice him. It must be me.” He wasn’t concentrating on her, he was concentrating on his typing.
Making a sign to Phil and hoping he understood that she wanted a distraction, she walked to the front of the chair and sat down. She put her arms at the same level as the keyboard.
Phil remembered he had the stun gun and shot the wall. The explosion was flashy and loud but didn’t do any damage.
“Fool! What are you doing?” The fake Hagrid demanded. The real Hagrid took the cue somehow and started running around like a panicked emu.
While he was distracted, Sophia used the keyboard, upside down, and altered his code. She hoped he would be too arrogant to double check his work.
“What are you going to do with us?” She asked loudly and the other two stopped flouncing around like fools.
“You’re so unimportant that I don’t care. Goodbye me and thank you.” He hit a few more keys and then hit the enter key hard.
The lights flickered and a voice said, “Major galactic calibration in progress. Please stand by. Sacrifice accepted. Are you sure about your decision?”
The top hat wearing emu smirked, creepy on an emu, and said, “YES!” and then started to cackle.
“Sacrifice accepted. May the Ageless Kings look after your soul.”
The fake Hagrid disappeared in the middle of his evil laugh.
“What did you do?” Phil asked in awe.
“I switched the target of the sacrifice and nullified all his code. I also made the universe a tiny bit less obsessed with blowing things up.” She said it without looking at Phil. Looking at him would make the next part of what she had to do much more painful.
The disembodied voice of the Database counted down, “Calibration in five, four, three, two, one.” The calibration would have no effect on them so she ignored it and continued to work.
She played with the constants of the universe to make tiny changes. The first was making sure his family hadn’t died and that his sister hadn’t been trying to kill everyone. Second she made sure that Little Sister got her wish; an upgrade and a manual. Last, she made sure that emus wouldn’t be stuck in Northern Ontario.
The changes might result in her never existing and would certainly result in them never meeting. They weren’t big enough to hurt Phil. It would cost him a little blood and that’s it.
“I’m sorry,” she said standing and hugging Phil.
“Minor recalibration accepted. Calibration in Five.”
“Ouch,” Phil said as the sacrifice was taken, “What did you do?” His eyes were wide in panic.
“I’m sorry. You deserve to be happy with your family and your world.”
“But what about you?”
“I love you, Phil.”
“I love you, too!” he replied and kissed her. Their kiss caused every part of her body to tingle with pleasure and she both forgot about the timer and her sadness. If she had to fade out of existence, it might as well be kissing the man she loved.
The kiss continued and nothing happened. Eventually they came up for air and looked around. “Did it work?” she asked herself aloud. A few moments with the keyboard told her that everything had changed the way she wanted it.
“Sophia. The Database is shielded. You’re not going to change if you’re in here. How else would that emu still exist?”
He was right and she couldn’t help but smile. “Your family is alive and so am I.”
Tears streamed down his face and he said, “Since you just wrote yourself out of existence and we’ve sort of got a thing going, how do you feel about moving in together?”
“The ship would fall apart without me.” She replied and kissed him again.
“Wark!” Hagrid bobbed up and down excitedly.
“You okay with my pet emu?” she asked.
“Absolutely. He’s the most important bird in the universe.”
If you enjoyed this year’s serial story why not check out those from past years?