Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 23, 2047

Harrison was not fired. In fact, he was called back in to work more closely with Ulinthra and Dave. They were two of the very few people who still worked for her. Before leaving, he performed some procedure to essentially read Mateo’s mind and produce a visualization of his memory of the man who Reaver killed in the other timeline. No one else had seen him before, and they had no idea what his motivations might be. He had appeared out of nowhere, so he was either a salmon or a choosing one. His first run-in with Mateo could very well not happen for the next hundred, or thousand years. There was no way to know, but Leona was clear to not prejudge him during that meeting. If Mateo already held anger towards the man before he had done anything wrong, from the man’s perspective, then that anger could actually ultimately be the cause of his violence.
Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Never be surprised, but never assume you already have the whole story. Keep track of everything you do, and everyone you meet. Avoid alternate versions of yourself. Treat everyone you meet with respect, as they may unexpectedly return. And do not relinquish control of your own life. These were the rules that Leona spent the rest of 2046 coming up with. She left room for more.
Upon returning to the timestream, Leona realized that they could use the same technology Harrison had with the mysterious knife-wielder, along with predictive aging software, to create clear composites of Aura and Samsonite’s daughter. Assuming she aged at a standard rate, and was not ageless like the two of them, Theo, and Danica, they were able to come up with thirteen pictures. Each one represented how Aquila would look at different ages since, if they ever encountered her, she could be of any age at the time. The first two were real photographs, but ages 7 through 102 were generated.
Once the program was complete, Mateo came in to find that Leona had already begun studying them to see if they had met her before. “Oh my God,” she said as she placed her hand over her mouth in shock.
Mateo skipped to Picture Six to find out what was so surprising. He stared at it for what felt like hours. “This is my sister. This is her? We’re sure about it?”
Leona looked over to him. “Yes. Weren’t you two...?”
Mateo stumbled out of the cabin and threw up. He had not eaten much, but all of it came out, along with painfully stinging stomach acid.
His mother came over to comfort him. “Are you okay? What happened? Is the program finished?”
“I know your daught—” he tried to say before spitting up more. “I know my sist—oh my God!”
“Who is she?”
“She doesn’t go by Aquila anymore.”
“What’s her name?”
“After you disappeared, a family moved into the Landau house. And I mean it was immediately after. Looking back, the timing is suspicious.”
“She was your neighbor? Tell me. Who was she?”
“Frida. Her name was Frida, and we dated for a time.”
Aura didn’t throw up, but she turned away from him, like she wanted to. “Is this true, Leona? Is the program right? Could there have been a mistake?”
“The technology isn’t perfect,” Leona explained from the doorway. “Under normal circumstances, we couldn’t trust it to be right, but Pictures Six and Seven look too much like her for it not to be right. We already know that the powers that be like to throw us together in this unlikely string of six degrees. It is almost certainly her.”
Mateo heaved again, but was completely empty, so it just damaged his throat more.
“Did you two ever...” Aura tried to ask, “take it to the next level?”
“Dear God no,” Mateo quickly replied. “I don’t know what I would do with myself if we had. But we kissed, and I don’t even like Star Wars!”
“How long did the relationship continue after the first kiss?” Leona asked.
“It ended there.”
“Makes sense. I think you can dissolve all feelings of guilt over this. You’re half-siblings, time travelers, and neither one of you knew.”
“We don’t know she didn’t know,” Mateo pointed out.
“Don’t talk about my daughter like that,” Aura nearly yelled.
“I’m just saying...that we should go back to Kansas and speak with her. It grosses me out, but now that we know where she is, we have no choice, do we?”
They flew to Topeka.

“I haven’t seen her in years,” Frida’s husband, Jai said truthfully. Mateo and Leona were sitting in his livingroom. The other three chose to remain at the aircraft, so as not to overwhelm him. “She has been declared dead. How are you still alive, and still young?” He was in his sixties, but looked younger than sixty-year-olds did in Mateo’s time.
This gave him an idea, and he was pretty proud of himself for having come up with it, especially with so little time to prepare. “The anti-aging treatments you undergo; we were beta testers for earlier programs. We won’t look forever young, but we’re young for now.”
He lifted his chin to decide whether he believed this or not, and was still suspicious, but let it go. “Well, I’m sorry I can’t help you. She disappeared in 2021.” That was odd. It was the last time Mateo had seen her before running off to Colorado. He hadn’t so much as asked after her since then.
“Did she disappear without a trace?” Leona asked.
“No,” he answered. “She acted like she knew exactly where she was going. She just didn’t tell me where.”
“So she didn’t literally disappear before your eyes?” Mateo pressed
He was taken aback by this. “No, why the hell would she do that? What do you people want?”
“We’re sorry to bother you,” Leona stepped back in, hoping to save the conversation. “But any information you could provide would help us. We have...a different perspective than any police or private detective would have had at the time. It must be painful to relive this, but if you could go over it one more time, it could mean the difference between finding the truth, and never knowing. We may be able to get you answers.”
He breathed in deeply. “It’s been long enough. It doesn’t hurt anymore, but I won’t have to tell you. I can just give you the information.” He walked over to his desk and took out a small flash drive that was laid haphazardly in a drawer. He plugged it into his computer and closed his eyes. After a couple of minutes, he removed the storage device and handed it to Leona. “All my memories of the events surrounding Frida’s disappearance are on here.”
“Thank you, Mr. Quelen. We will let you know if we find anything. It may take a few years.”
“I would appreciate it.”
After leaving the house, Mateo took the storage device and examined it. “What did he do? There wasn’t even a keyboard.”
“He interfaced with the computer using the nanites in his brain, transferring whole memories onto this with only his thoughts.”
“Nanites. Like Mirage.”
“Like Mirage, yes.”
“Should we get nanites too?”
“If you want. I do not know if they can travel through time, though. She couldn’t. The powers may want us to essentially remain how we were when we started this journey.”
“Speaking of non-sequiturs,” Mateo said, “we have some time while we’re heading back to our family...”
“Oh, I forgot to tell you how Reaver convinced me to break him out of prison.”
“I’m sorry.”
“No, there’s been a lot going on. I didn’t want to push the subject.”
“It’s fine. I just totally forgot. Those words he said, Dougnanimous Brintantalus. That was a time travel protocol.”
“What’s that?”
“If I ever go back in the past and am forced to interact with a younger version of myself, I say those words to that younger me, and she knows to trust me. They are intentionally nonsensical so that no one would ever say them out of context. And I came up with them after seeing Back to the Future, long before actually knowing that time travel was real.”
“Why would Reaver have those words?”
“I don’t know, but no one is supposed to have them. I didn’t tell you, not because I didn’t trust you, but because they only work if I’m the only one who knows them. The fact that he knew them proves that I gave them to him. He couldn’t have gotten them any other way. I just wish I had access to that timeline, to find out why I would go to such great lengths.”
“Maybe you didn’t give them up. We just saw that people can now read minds, and transfer memories.”
“Yes, using certain machines. He wouldn’t have been able to do it without my knowing it. Maybe in the future it could be done passively, but not now. And certainly not in 2042.”
Mateo thought this over, and injected as much logic into the situation as possible. “But we’re talking about time travel. By its very nature, it’s not susceptible to the day’s technological progress. Maybe Reaver himself didn’t get those words. Someone five-thousand years from now, with that day’s technology could have read your thoughts, and sent them back. Five-thousand years. For us, that’s”
“Less than fourteen years,” she said, and then she thought through it herself. “You’re right. Time travel protocols aren’t perfect. They’re close as I can get.”
“Come on,” Mateo said, dropping the subject. “We should get back to the plane before 2048.”

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