Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 13, 2037

Click here for the 2015 table of contents.

Thank God Leona’s mind processed information at the speed of light. With only seconds to think, she switched on both of their jet packs. Though they were not designed to operate within the atmosphere, they did the job in a pinch. Their descent was slowed enough to keep them from splattering onto the ground below. The problem was that they also weren’t designed to work in tandem like that. Had they had enough time, and had Mateo been born smarter, they could have done it on their own, but since Leona was pulling all the weight, she wasn’t able to exercise full control over their movements. The jets propelled them over and back up and down and all around, like a rebellious firehose. She was finally able to keep them pointed towards the water long enough to stave off their death for one more second. She switched off the jets and they fell, only to begin sinking into the depths.
Feeling the need to contribute something to the effort, Mateo tore off their spacesuits and pulled them back to the surface of the...lake. It was definitely a lake. And that tree looked familiar. Yes. It was Sherwood Lake. They were back in Topeka. As he was crawling up the beach, he saw a pair of legs run past him. A set of arms that belonged with the legs reached down and helped Leona to her feet. Her own legs were shaking, and she was having trouble standing up. He had always seen her as the strong one in the relationship, but this showed that she had been just as traumatized by the event as he had.
“Thanks, dad,” she said.
Mr. Delaney began to help her take more pieces of her suit off while his wife ran down and wrapped a towel around her. “I have her. Check on the boy.”
“No, I’m fine,” Mateo insisted. “Just a little out of breath.”
“I have a towel for you too,” she said.
“My mother? Samsonite?”
“Oh, yeah. We need to call them.” She took out her device and stepped to the side.
“What happened to them?” Leona asked of her father.
“They both lost consciousness in the water,” Mr. Delaney explained. “Don’t worry, they’ve alive, and suffered no brain damage. But the old fisherman who pulled them into his boat couldn’t remember exactly where he had found them, so we separated to look for you.”
“They’re on their way,” Leona’s stepmother said.
“Call Theo too.”
“Oh, right.” She went back to her phone.
“I don’t know how much you know,” Mateo said, accepting a bottle of water. “But there was an android woman who saved us.”
Mr. Delaney nodded, indicating that Mateo didn’t need to continue his question. “Her nanites are in the water, but they apparently lost their...cohesion or something. They tell us that she would be, for all intents and purposes, dead. I’m sorry.”
Mateo nodded understandingly. “Figures.” He looked to Leona. “How did Mirage pretend that she jumped with us?”
“I was thinking about that,” Leona replied. “She wouldn’t have been able to turn invisible, but she could have separated her nanites quick enough to make it look like she was disappearing.”
“That’s unfortunate.”

They engaged in the latest of their long line of reunions. Leona noted how much larger Theo had grown since she last saw him. Normally, that would be a cliché, but it was relevant in this case due to the time difference. He was now 18 years old, and indeed taller than his older sister. Mateo’s mother and Samsonite, on the other hand, had not changed a bit. They were as young as they had been when he first caught back up with her seven years ago. Advances in medicine in cosmetics might have accounted for such a thing, but Samsonite posited a mathematical factor. Because of Mateo’s cousin, Danica, they already knew that the powers that be were capable of immortality. And Aura and Samsonite were on a specific timeslip pattern, broken only to allow them to switch from jumping backwards to jumping forwards. According to that pattern they, along with Theo, were due to remain within the present timestream for another 300 years. They assumed the last two centuries would be finished up by their corpses, but their feelings of vitality now suggested otherwise. Theo called it their gift for following the rules for so long. Samsonite was curious to find out the truth about it. Aura was suspicious.
They drove a car that was registered to a friend of a friend of a friend, so that they were far enough removed from the prying eyes of Reaver. Paper money was still a thing that existed in some circles. It was so rare that it was relatively easy to trace, but only if you knew where you were looking. Mateo’s and Leona’s family had spent the last year turning themselves into ghosts by converting their cash to other currencies, buying innocuous goods at random places, and bartering in rural areas. They moved to the most remote place they could find in the middle of Wyoming.
While Reaver had lost control of his own company and was currently awaiting trial for his latest blunder with the exploding space probe, he was still a threat. As much trouble as he was in, he surely had friends on the inside of the outside, and they were a risk to Mateo and anyone close to him. It made him want to run away again, but this time actually do it right. Leona seemed to sense this and convinced him otherwise. She explained to him in no uncertain terms that every major attempt at his life had occurred while Mateo was isolated from his family, or only with Leona. They were all better off sticking together, even if it meant Leona’s father and stepmother had to destroy their old lives. None of this was their fault, and he should have been more careful about keeping them out of it. It was actually surprising how safe they had been throughout the years. It was only recently that they were really in danger. Though, Leona was right. Reaver wasn’t interested in hurting his family and friends, if only to get to him. Mateo seemed to be Reaver’s one and only purpose.
“But see, that’s the thing,” Leona said of this after finding some privacy in their very own cabin in the woods. “You first encountered Reaver more than a thousand years in the future. He had already been dealing with you, but you hadn’t even met him yet from your perspective.”
“Right,” Mateo said, prompting her to go on.
“In fact, every time we’ve encountered him thus far, he was already pissed off with you.”
“Yeah, I still don’t know why.”
“He hasn’t even bothered to tell you. We’re already pretty sure that you and I and any other salmon are capable of altering the timeline. That’s probably what we’re doing here. Either he’s a complete moron, or there’s some reason why he hasn’t so much as attempted to ask you for help with changing whatever has been done to him.”
“That’s true. I don’t know what I did, and he has to know that. There must be some reason he’s keeping his past-slash-my future from me.”
“And what’s his pattern? Is it random? Does he have control over it? If so, why doesn’t he jump out of jail? Is he a rogue member of the power that be? Or worse,” she started, “is he not rogue?”
“These are all brilliant questions.”
“We have to ask them,” Leona said, straight-faced.
“Yeah,” Mateo chuckled. “Wait, what?”
She drew closer and lowered her voice, even though the nearest people were in a separate cabin. “Maybe you were right about running away.” She weathered a brainstorm in her own head. “He’s not going to stop. He can’t. And we can’t stop him. He might not be convicted of any crime. He may retake his company. He might even be able to teleport out of jail. Hell, he could go back in time and kill your mother before you’re born.”
“What are you saying, Leona?” Mateo asked.
“We have to take the fight to him. We have to get our answers, and barring any sudden conversations with the puppeteers of all this bullshit, we have to get those answers from him.”
“We could contact the Delegator.”
“How?”
“Danica?”
“We’re not allowed in the Constant. Not even Theo can get back in. I think we’ve been put on the naughty list.”
“This sounds reckless.”
She kissed him with both the passion of a new relationship, and the ease of an old marriage. “We’re time travelers. The world could plan for an asteroid heading towards us, but we would be falling down the crater tomorrow. Reckless sounds like a casual stroll in the park to me at this point.”
Mateo yawned. “Let’s talk about it next year. We can’t do anything today. Like you said, we could jump to our death tomorrow, and none of this would even matter.”
To spite their exhaustion, Mateo and Leona finally consummated their twenty-year relationship that night. Click here for the next installment...

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