Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: 2074, 2075, and 2076

Click here for the 2016 table of contents.

Darko threaded all three of them through the future timestream of a tree in the middle of the woods. Very little had changed from their surroundings, but they did look different. “Okay,” Mateo said. “So this is 2074.”
“Yes, it is.”
“Are we going to use the same tree to get to 2075?”
“We’re not,” Leona explained. “We have to mix it up, so Makarion can’t find us.”
“Like running in serpentine.”
Darko laughed. “That’s a funny analogy, but I’ll allow it.”
“Well, if we’re staying here for some time, where are we going to go?”
“Give me a minute,” Leona said as she was working her magic on her device. After almost an hour, she seemed to have a plan. “You’re gonna call me crazy, so if we could please just take the train to Gabon without any questions, that would be lovely.”
“I don’t have any questions about why we’re going there,” Mateo said. “I mean, I do, but I won’t ask them. The only questions I have are where is Gabon, and how do we get there?”
“We take the train,” Leona answered. “Obviously, we don’t have to sit there through the whole thing. It’s over eight thousand kilometers away, but Darko can skip us through the whole thing. They built a coastal hyperloop train down parts of Europe and Africa.”
“Where does that begin?” Darko asked.
“We really just need to get to the border of France and Spain.”
Darko clapped his hands together, as if in preparation for a magical spell. “All right, I’m trusting you to get us to where we need to go.”
Leona did further research and found a way for Darko to thread them to Cerbère, France through a public bus. From there, they snuck into the hyperloop track without a ticket. Before anyone could catch them, they had jumped all the way to the end of the course, several hours in the future. There was no indication that anyone had any idea where they were, or even that they were still alive. They desperately wanted to contact their family to let them know that they were safe, but they needed to maintain plausible deniability.
“All right, I’ve never had more fun not riding a train,” Mateo said. “Where to next?”
Leona smiled, almost sinisterly, and looked towards the sky. “Up. But we can’t do it for another year.”

Darko found a random vehicle to thread them all the way to 2075. From there, Leona created for them new identities so that they could rent their own car and travel to something called the Space Elevator. A giant metallic structure towered above them. It rose up so high that Mateo lost it to the clouds. If the name meant anything, then it was high enough to reach space itself. He didn’t do the best in science class, but he did remember learning that at no point does the atmosphere end where outer space begins. The air gradually becomes thinner, eventually succumbing to the vacuum.
“The top of the Space Elevator exists in orbit at about 36,000 kilometers above the surface of the Earth,” Leona said, like a high school teacher. “It’s used to transport cargo out of the atmosphere so that it can be taken to other locations, like Luna or Mars, without having to waste so much fuel propelling a ship off the ground.”
“Why would we go all the way up there?” Mateo asked. “I understand that Makarion wouldn’t likely look for us there, but we would also be stuck in space. Then what?”
“We’re not going to remain in orbit,” Leona said. “What we need is on Mars.”
“And what might that be?”
“Safe haven.”
“We’re moving to Mars?”
“For a period of time, yes. For everyone else it’ll be decades, but for us, only a few weeks. By then, this will all hopefully have blown over.”
“That sounds like wishful thinking,” Darko said.
“I don’t want to be away from my family for that long,” Mateo complained. “Do you?”
“I do not,” Leona admitted, “but this is the only way to keep them safe.”
Mateo wasn’t so sure. “Is it, though?”
“You agreed to not ask any questions.”
“I wouldn’t have agreed to that had I known what the answers would be.”
Leona began a line of questioning. “Do you want to get away from Makarion?”
“Yes.”
“Do you want to protect our family?”
“Yes.”
“Do you trust me?”
He could not answer that at this time.
“Do you trust me?” Leona repeated.
Still no answer.
“I guess that means no.”
“Leona, this is...you have to admit that this is a strange plan, even for us. You can’t just go off to Mars. Barely anyone lives there at this point in history, I would imagine. They would surely notice a few stowaways.”
“We will have protection.”
“From whom?” Mateo was skeptical. “Why can’t you just tell us?”
“I have my reasons. Are you with me, or not?”
Mateo only sighed.
“Mateo!”
“Yes, I’m with you. We’ll go to Mars...and see what happens.”
They never actually reached the space elevator itself. Instead, they snuck into a small facility on the edge of campus. Leona was consulting her computer while she was looking for a bit of cargo in particular. Once she found what she was looking for, she asked Darko to use it to take them to 2076.
“Are you sure about this?” Darko asked. “My body has certain instincts that prevent me from threading an object to a moment in time when it happens to be at the bottom of an ocean, or even inside a cupboard, but I’ve never gone into space. If the ship explodes or something in the meantime, we could end up in the vacuum. Or maybe this piece of equipment is just going to be placed out in the open. There’s no way for me to be certain it’s safe.”
“I know what it is,” Leona said, still displeased with their distrust of her. “It’ll be inside the base, I promise. And the ship’s not going to explode. Besides, something tells me you’re not the kind of person who avoids risky behavior.”
Darko smiled. “No, I guess I’m not.”

In a split second, they were on Mars in 2076. At least, that’s where they assumed they were. There were no windows in the closet they found themselves in. There were, however, clothes there for them to put on so that they could blend in. That was lucky, just like when Mateo ended up in Reaver’s facility back in 2034. Upon leaving the closet, they discovered themselves to be in an underground part of the base. “We’re going to need to get to a different tower to find our room,” Leona said, looking through data on her device. “There’s a tunnel, though, so it shouldn’t be too hard.”
“What exactly is in this room?” Darko asked as they were moving through the tunnel. “And enough of the no questions thing. We deserve to know.”
“A friend,” she said bluntly.
“A friend?” Mateo scrunched up his face in confusion. “All the way out here? Who do we know on Mars in 2076?”
“We don’t know anyone in 2076,” Leona corrected. “He won’t show up until 2077.”
Mateo crooked his neck, recalling past events. “Do I know this person?”
“I believe you do,” Leona confirmed. “Though you were a little preoccupied with a pretty girl at the time.”
No. Really? He was pretty sure he knew what guy Leona was thinking of. “Are you talking about Mirage?”
Leona laughed. “I am indeed.”
“So that means...?” Mateo began, now more sure his guess was right.
She answered his unfinished question, “yep.”
Now Darko was the only one confused. “Who the hell are we talking about?”
Leona hacked into the door console and entered the room she wanted. It was empty, but there was clearly someone living there at the time. “We don’t know when the current resident will be back. So you better find something to thread us to our final destination.”
Darko walked over to a lamp in the corner and waited for the two of them to place their hands on his shoulder. “I hope you can trust this guy.”
“We’ve chosen to trust you,” Leona said, despite what we know of your personal future.”
It was unclear whether the man they met upon arriving in 2077 was going to be an ally, because he did not look happy to see them. “Not you two again,” Commander Julius Parker said to them. Click here for the next installment...

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