Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: August 6, 2152

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Arcadia forced them to stay in the constructed reality, as she called it, for the rest of the day. Though her plans had already been foiled by Dar’cy’s heroic sacrifice, Arcadia didn’t want to risk making things worse by opening the dimensional doorway until she absolutely had to. Lincoln spent this time consoling, and sometimes just sitting with, Marcy, who had just lost her daughter. This left Mateo alone with his thoughts, which was not a good thing since Dar’cy was just one more in a long line of people who had given themselves up for his sake. Why? Why was it that so many people were purposefully letting themselves be taken by something horrific for no other reason than to protect him? More to the point, why had he never been given the chance to do something like that for someone else? Or had he, and he just missed it? Or worst, maybe he hadn’t simply missed it, but ignored it out of selfishness. Perhaps every time he thought he survived because the powers that be wanted to preserve their property, it was really just his own self-serving instinct. My God, he thought to himself, am I a bad person?
Darko and Kivi were waiting for them on August 6, 2152, having already spent a year dealing with what had happened to Dar’cy. After they were done eating breakfast in the morning, Arcadia teleported in and immediately started talking. “All right, well I had more plans with Alt!Mateo, which you so royally screwed up. Fortunately for you, I’ve had some time to cool off, so you—” She stopped herself.
“What?” Mateo asked, scared. “What are you planning to do? What is our—my punishment.”
“No, it...what is that?” she asked.
“What is what?” Darko asked right back. Marcy blamed Mateo for what had happened to her daughter, but Darko only blamed Arcadia. He was secretly proud that his daughter was like him, and had every confidence that she would find her way back. What they really needed was to see Horace again so he could tell them if he had any recollection of her back in the original 2036 when he killed Alt!Mateo. Man, this was so confusing.
“She’s not supposed to be here,” Arcadia stated.
“Who? Kivi?” It was Mateo’s turn again to ask a question.
“Yes, Kivi. You went back to 1945 in Gilbert’s body and altered history. Your daughter never existed.”
“What do you mean, my daughter? Kivi is not my daughter,” Mateo said.
Arcadia stared at him. “She’s not? Then who is she?”
“Wull,” he stammered. “She’s Kivi. You brought her to the island with all my friends years ago. No one else knew who she was, though. No one except for Lincoln, but he says he can’t tell us.”
Arcadia pinched the bridge of her nose like she had in the constructed reality. “You’re telling me she’s some new version of Kivi. Dear God, time really wants her to exist, in any capacity. She laughed. “This girl just keeps coming back...like herpes. You’re herpes, Kivi.”
“Screw you!” Kivi spat back. She had never been afraid of her.
“Arcadia, dear,” Mateo said condescendingly, “you’re losing it.”
“I think you’re right. I think I’m literally losing my powers. I don’t understand why I don’t remember this version of Kivi. My memories shouldn’t have been overwritten. I’m ripple proof.”
Lincoln snickered out of familiarity.
Arcadia turned her attention to him. “What’s so funny, Lincoln Logs?”
He turned and planted a passionate on Kivi’s lips, which made sense seeing as they had formed a relationship way back in 2118. “We met in law school,” he revealed once he was done with her face. We’ve known each other for a hundred a thirty-three years.” Had he been holding a microphone, he would have dropped it.
Now the pieces were starting to come together, but only for Arcadia, because Mateo didn’t really know what was going on. “That’s why you made Serif, not as a gift for Mateo, but because you wanted your girlfriend back. Ya know, sometimes your ability to see ever freaking reality all at once is a pain.”
“Good,” Kivi said simply.
“Whatever,” Arcadia said, spitting out her sour grapes. “It doesn’t bother me, and I know it won’t last. For as much as time wants her to exist, it also wants her not to. It will find a way to destroy her again to make room for some different version of her. Mark my words. Besides, it doesn’t change what’s happened. Real!Mateo, you successfully won the race. Yes, technically Dar’cy cheated, but it wasn’t by your hand, and I can do nothing about it now. You’re not done yet, though. That was only the first part. As I was trying to say, it’s time for the second part.
“You’re lucky,” she continued. “I had some pretty brutal plans for you moving forward, but this development has given me a new idea. I think it’s a little unfair that Lincoln gets to keep all that power to himself. Now, you all know that I’m immensely powerful. But I’m not omnipotent, and I do have my limitations. What I need is Lincoln’s brain.”
“You want his brain, you can’t have it,” Kivi argued.
“I don’t mean literally. If all I needed was his actual brain, I would just pick up the camp machete, and take it. What I need is what’s inside. Rather, I need it on the outside. He has a map to all of time and space, but he doesn’t ever really use it. I would, so you people are going to make that a thing.”
“You want us to draw a map?” Darko asked.
“Obviously this isn’t going to be as simple as a regular map, but yes,” Arcadia confirmed.
Lincoln was shaking his head. “You guys, we can’t let her have that. The reason I don’t use it is because it’s dangerous as fuh. No one deserves this power, not even me. I’m just stuck with it.”
“I’m not asking,” Arcadia said.
“Okay, okay, okay,” Mateo interrupted the argument before it could escalate. “Suppose we agree to this—which I’m not saying I am, or even that I have that right—what makes you think we can accomplish such a thing?”
“The Weaver once tried to build a map of time and space, but she didn’t have all the ingredients. She was missing the data. All you’ll need to do is figure out how to get it from that man’s head, and onto this.” She held out her hand and apported a rolled up sheet of paper into it.”
“Oh, is that all?” Darko asked rhetorically and sarcastically.
“That’s all.” Arcadia handed Mateo the baseline map. “You have two days.”
As soon as she disappeared from the beach, a greenish three-story building appeared in her place with a sign reading Leona Laboratories. If anyone could figure out how to translate superhuman brainwaves into something that can be read on paper, it would be Leona. Her not being here was exactly why Arcadia chose this time to force this upon them. It was a fitting expiation that matched her knowledge and abilities.
Most everybody just sort of looked at each other, knowing they would have to enter the mysterious lab eventually. Marcy, however, went over to sit in the group shelter. No one expected her to help, least of all Mateo. She had a telepathic exchange with Darko, who did want to help, but was clearly forbidden. And so Mateo, Lincoln, and Kivi opened the door and walked in.
It was brighter than he expected it to be. He knew that researchers had to work in the light so they could see what they were doing, but he still had this image of a dark and foreboding room where a mad scientist creates something, or makes a brilliant discovery. There was nothing in the room except for a few tables, and also a woman he didn’t recognize. Um...hello,” he said tentatively.
“Hi,” she said, not showing whether she was happy to be there, or upset. “My name is Porter. I’ve been asked to provide you with anything you need.”
Anything?” Kivi asked, intrigued.
Anything,” Porter began, “within reason. Paintbrushes, scrap paper, soft drink.”
“I would like a ginger ale,” Kivi requested.
“What brand?”
“Reed’s.”
Porter waved her hand at the nearest table, presenting Kivi with her drink. Kivi stepped over and took a sip. “That hits the spot. Did you make this, or steal it?”
“Little bit of both. I steal things from microrealities just before they collapse. By the time anyone misses it, they don’t exist anymore.”
“Heh,” Kivi said. “Been there.”
“Can I get you anything else?”
“A map of time and space?”
“Anything but that,” she said politely.
Mateo set the baseline map on the table and rolled it out. “We could use a few paperweights.”
Porter snapped her fingers at each of the four corners of the map, leaving behind little glass animal figurines heavy enough to hold the paper down. “What else?”
Mateo sighed. “I don’t know. What else could we use? We don’t know how to do this. This is dumb.”
“Linc,” Kivi said. “Thoughts? How would we go about this?”
Lincoln sighed as well. “As much as I know, I know nothing of this. I can see physics papers that geniuses have written, and I can see events that have yet to unfold, but I can’t understand either of them. I’m still just a man.”
“Arcadia mentioned the Weaver,” Mateo remembered. “She was already working on this.”
“So...we need her notes?” Kivi asked.
“Those won’t do us any good. That won’t change how dumb we are. No offense.”
They weren’t offended at all.
“No, we need the Weaver herself. Porter, would you be able to...?”
Before he was able to finish the awkward request, Porter smiled and stepped to the side, revealing a second woman behind her.
She was smiling kindly as well. “I hear you could use some help. I’d be happy to lend my services.” Click here for the next installment...

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