Saturday, February 6, 2016

Overwritten: Trust (Part VI)

Presumably because of my ultimate failure to kill Mateo back in 2023, and more recently because his family kidnapping did not go well, Reaver began to lose faith in me. He still seemed to have no idea that I was working against him, but he did gradually tease me from his life. I remained in the employ of Reaver Enterprises, but in a more general position, working as a security officer with all the other grunts. In the year 2034, we’re in one his newest facilities, the purpose of which has never been clear, and was likely irrelevant. It was built over the ruins of a house that had been just completely wrecked by some sort of artificial intelligence malfunction. Immediately upon Mateo’s return to the timestream, I realize the AI malfunction had something to do with him, and the facility was built for the sole purpose of keeping him contained.
At the moment, alarms are going off around the building, and I’m leading a team of two other security guards, neither of whom I trust. For a while, things are going all right. We’re just wandering the hallways, no idea where we’re going, and only one of us knows why. But then the target of our pursuit shows up. He’s with two other security guards. I don’t know them very well and, of course, do not trust them either. “Status?” I ask as part of protocol. I still carry weight in the department, and am respected by all.
“We’re showing this newbie the ropes,” one of the guards says as he’s motioning to Mateo.
Mateo lifts his hand and tips the brim of his hat down as a greeting, but does not speak. That’s smart of him. It’s harder to tell when someone’s being deceptive if they don’t say anything.
I’m not sure what to do. If they’re loyal to Reaver, once they find out their “newbie’s” true identity, they’ll turn him in for sure. Then again, I do not recall any new conscriptions. Assuming these two do not know what they have in their hands, then Mateo is a very good liar, and I have a responsibility to play along. But if they do know him, and they’re helping him, then I should secretly assist. This can go one of two ways. I can order them to station themselves in an area of the building I know there to be fewer obstacles, or I can order them into the lion’s den and hope they go against these orders. It all depends on their relationship to Mateo, and they’re impression of me. I trust my instincts and remain in character, ordering them to the basement. They stand there awkwardly after accepting their new assignments, so I usher my team through the doorway, allowing Mateo’s team to make the right decision.
Not long afterwards, though, things get complicated. Reaver gets back on the intercom. “That’s it! I’m calling in the cavalry. Boys, this is who we’re looking for!” My heart sinks as Mateo’s face appears on the walls. Now everyone knows who we’re looking for. What’s worse is that my team knows that we just encountered him. But there’s nothing I can do about that. Now that the entire building knows what they’re doing, I have to get back to Mateo and protect him personally. It’s my only choice. Reaver continues, “bring him to me and I will write you a blank check!”
As we reenter the stairs, my team tries to head down, but I start to go up. “What are you doing?” one of them asks.
“I have to go this way,” I say. Maybe they’ll shake it off and let me go.
“You told him to go down, remember?”
“You go ahead,” I order my team. “I’m gonna check up here in case they ignored my orders.”
“That makes sense,” the other one says. “If he’s trying to get away from us, then he’ll make a point of subverting orders.” These guys are too smart for my own good. I won’t be able to get away from them, so together we rush upstairs.
Both luckily and unluckily, we do find Mateo and his possible accomplices again. I block their path, still not sure how I should proceed. Who are these two? Are they trying to help Mateo too? Or are they on their way to Reaver right now?
One of the guards in this other team holds up some kind of cannon. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“What are you doing?” I ask, weapon pointed where they would expect it to be. “Why is Reaver so interested in him?” I’m still trying to get a feel for whose side they’re on.
“Stop us and you’ll never find out,” Number One answered.
I shake my head in disbelief, still needing to hold onto my cover. “That sounds like the opposite of the truth.”
All of the sudden, some random guy appears from one door while a girl comes out of the door on the opposite wall. They each force one member of my team through the other one’s door. It’s like they knew this was going to happen, and were waiting for them. “What the hell?” Curious, I reopen one of the doors to find the room empty. More time travelers. Awesome. Or awful. I lower my weapon towards the floor, so I can gauge the remaining guards’ reaction. And then I see it in their eyes. They’re not trying to bring Mateo in. They are trying to help. I still don’t know why, or who they are. But I know I can trust them.
Before I can reveal my true intentions to them, a man comes out of nowhere down the hall. But he’s not actually in the hallway. It’s some kind of mashup of the real environment and another place. Outside. I guess I might call it a portal. “Excuse me?” he asks. “Have you ever been to Stonehenge?”
This is my chance. This guy seems different than Kyle, or Reaver, or even those two mysterious door-walkers. He is in some kind of position of authority. I have half a moment to make a choice. Either I continue to help Mateo, or I take what might be my one opportunity to get some answers. Mateo seems to be in good hands with his friends, so I leave them to it, and walk towards the strange man who has the ability to form a teleporting bridge to Stonehenge.

He, almost lovingly, sets his hand on my shoulder and smiles. The walls of the building melt away, and all that’s left is Stonehenge. He opens his mouth to begin his speech, but then he sees something in me. He crooks his neck. “Who the hell are you?”
“I am Lincoln Rutherford,” I reply honestly.
“Are you a salmon, or are you a choosing one?”
Dowhatnow? “Neither. Both. What are those things?”
“I can sense that you’ve been separated from the timestream, but you’re not on my list. What happened?”
“I was in an alternate timeline,” I explain, “with Horace Reaver. Someone snuck into his prison cell and pushed him backwards in time. I was just caught in the crossfire, I guess.”
He lifts his chin but keeps his eyes on me. “I’ve not heard such a thing. An accidental salmon. When was this?”
“Four years from now,” I say, “and eighteen years ago.”
“Interesting, tell me everything.”
For some reason, I feel that I can trust this man with my story. And so I do just what he asks and go over my entire life’s story. I tell him what I remember from the other timeline, and also what has already been overwritten. I explain the blog, what I believe to be my job to stop Horace Reaver from causing further harm. I bring up Brian and Kyle and Duke, the train, the other train, Mateo’s family who Reaver kidnapped, the door-walkers; everything. This guy just pulls the information out of me. Brian knows everything, and I’ve discussed some of this with others, but only to a low degree. It’s nice to get all of this out to a second person, and possibly gain some perspective.
After I’m done, he again says, “interesting.”
“What happens now?
“Horace Reaver is becoming a problem for us. We are preparing a response to his actions.”
“Just now? He’s been screwing with the timeline for years now. How could you let it go this far?”
“Oh, they don’t really care about the timeline. Everything can be corrected, one way or another. It’s not hard for the people I work for.”
“You’re not the time police, or something?”
“Oh, heavens no.” He laughs. “I don’t know exactly what the choosing ones are, but they’re not that.”
“We estimate twenty-five years before Mateo finally apprehends Mister Reaver and brings him to justice.”
“That’s over three weeks in Mateo-time. You don’t really think it’ll take him that long, do you?”
“Why not?”
“He’s smarter than you give him credit for. And now that he has Leona, he’ll be unstoppable.”
“That may be true, but either way, we’ll need your help. Reaver isn’t our only problem.”
“Tell me what to do.”
“You’ll be in your element. We’re building a security team, and we would like you to be in charge of it, as Head Guard.”

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