Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 7, 2061

When they woke up the next day, Leona had some questions. “Why did you not tell me about The Cleanser before? How often have you spoken to him?”
“Just a couple of times. I don’t know why I didn’t tell you,” Mateo replied honestly. “We just got done with Reaver, and I guess I didn’t want to burden you with the next thing.”
“We’re in this together,” Leona said before amending, “at least, we’re supposed to be.”
“I know that.” And so Mateo told her about everything; his meetings with the Cleanser, him witnessing her and Prince Darko’s private conversation, and a few things from his past he figured he’d get off his chest. In the end, it was comforting to let her all the way in. She was right. They were a team, and they needed to be honest with each other.
She shifted the subject a bit after that was all done. “Is The Rogue interested in acting out the tribulation period from the bible?”
“Might could be. I don’t know.”
“Well, what’s meant to happen during this period? What are the tribulations?”
“I don’t know.”
“How can you not know?”
“Well, Catholics don’t really believe in the tribulation period. Not really. And I’m not exactly a scholar on the matter.”
“They don’t? You’re not?”
“Yeah, there are different interpretations of the text. Some believe what you read in those books, or see in those movies. But those are dramatic interpretations. Those are glamorized. Things are a lot more simple in the original book. People don’t generally realize quite how much humans supplement the Word with their own personal beliefs. There is not as much detail as you would think, and so people sort of make things up to fill in the gaps; try to make it more clear.”
“What do you believe?”
“Just like with most people, my personal beliefs are just that, mine. I don’t follow every single thing the Church does, and I don’t listen to everything the Pope says. He’s a leader, not a god. And he’s definitely not God. Personally, I try to ignore anything the bible says is going to happen, and focus more on what it says happened. I treat the book as an historical record with flourishes. These stories were written before the computer was invented.”
“What does the computer have to do with anything?”
“I just mean that it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen when you can’t so much as fathom future development. They didn’t say anything about the computer being invented, much less vehicles or electricity; not even almost, not even a little. I find it hard to believe they knew what will happen when Christ returns, if he ever does.”
“So there are parts of the bible you just straight up don’t believe?”
“Yes, of course. There are tons of examples, and I would have more if I had chosen to dedicate myself to studying it. But the major problems I have with it are, like I said, when it tries to predict the future with so little understanding of it.”
Leona nodded her head consistently while she was processing. “Well, what might that mean for the Rogue’s intentions?”
“If he has plans to act out the coming of Christ, then I suppose he’ll have to reveal his power to the whole world, which I doubt the other powers that be would allow.”
“I mean just in terms of what he does to us. The tribulations.”
“If he wants to act out the tribulations, he’ll have very little to go on. The text is vague and brief on that matter. It tells us what life is going to be like for seven years, but it doesn’t go into specifics, and you have to gather this information from a number of different places. There’s no single scripture that just lays it all out for you.”
“I think we may be overthinking this whole thing.”
“How so?” she asked.
“I would assume his use of the word tribulation was more general. It probably has nothing to do with the bible. I think he just means we’re gonna suffer.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right,” she conceded. “I guess I was just hoping we would have a road map for where this was going. So we could plan accordingly.”
“I doubt the man would be so obvious, even if he were borrowing concepts.”
“I appreciate the vote of confidence,” The Rogue interrupted.
“Um...” Mateo replied with a scowl. “This is a private conversation. We would appreciate you waiting your turn.” He swept his fingers through the air, palm down so as to incautiously send him away.
The Rogue laughed. “I like you, kid. You show me no respect. I don’t get that from other people.”
“I know what you are,” Mateo lied.
“I know your secret, what you’re trying to keep from us. I know why you’re doing all this. I know where you come from.”
The Rogue was notably distressed by this, but only for a second. He was determined to keep his guard up.
Mateo was hoping to glean some information from him by pretending to already have it. But instead, all he learned was that there was something to be learned. And if there was anything he learned since falling into his pattern, it was that the truth always comes out.
“You’re lying,” The Rogue said, but was unsure.
“You’re right,” Mateo replied. “But I know someone who does know what you are. I just need some time.”
“Well,” he said. “You have today, at least. That’s what I’ve decided. Every other day will be a tribulation, and you get breaks in between.”
“That’s so generous of you,” Leona said sarcastically. “What happened to Prince Darko?”
He was annoyed. “It was not my intention to show you what The Cleanser did, but I could not control that. I can, however, control what you know from this point on. I shall not explain Prince Darko except to say that he lied about his pattern. It would seem that lying runs in the family.”
“So he really is my brother, though?” That wasn’t much, but it was something to remember.
“Each tribulation will come with a reward,” the Rogue went on, “besides the not dying part.”
“A reward?” Leona asked. “Like being able to survive multi-day spacecraft trip?”
“Like a pizza party, or something,” the Rogue corrected. “I don’t know, I’ve not thought much about it. I doubt you survive this next one.”
“How can you not know how it turns out?” she pressed.
“What do you mean?”
“You’re a time traveler, and one who is not bound by a pattern. Can you not just skip ahead and see whether we survive or not?”
“Leona,” Mateo warned, “don’t poke the bear.”
“I could do that, yes,” the Rogue said. “But I much prefer to be careful.”
“Careful of what? Disrupting the spacetime continuum?”
“No. Careful of spoilers,” he answered in a British accent, which was another pop culture reference. This man liked his movies and TV shows. That was important, because they might be able to use it against him in the future. If only there was a way to communicate with Leona without anyone knowing. They could never be sure if they were being spied on from another dimension. What was that about virtual telepathy?

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