Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 19, 2073 (continued)

“Get out of the car,” Darko ordered.
“What just happened?” Mateo asked in a panic.
“Leave the car now and ask questions later,” Darko said authoritatively.
They slipped out of their respective doors and slinked over to hide behind a large pile of boxes and random parts they couldn’t identify. They were back in the warehouse where they were first sent off on their Transporter tribulation. The car was not a burning pile of wreckage, nor were the three of them dead. Mateo didn’t quite know how many times he was sure he was going to die, but he was starting to think he would be better of counting the times they lived.
“Leona,” Darko went on, “hack into the car’s cameras and erase the last two minutes of footage.”
Leona only tapped a few  buttons on her computer.
“That was quick,” Mateo said, impressed.
“I had already written that function into the program.”
“Quiet now,” Darko said in a loud whisper.
They watched as their own past selves were apported into the warehouse right next to the car. Darko had threaded them through the car, back in time to just before they started the tribulation. It was a bizarre experience, watching his past self open the door for Leona’s past self so she didn’t have to look up from her computer. Mateo had been to the past before, and seen his first jump through time in the graveyard decades ago, but that felt more like a movie. Seeing himself just a few hours ago somehow felt more real, like an out-of-body experience.
The older version of Leona was still typing on her computer, but more quietly, as their past selves drove off. “There are no cameras in the warehouse, at least none that I can find.”
“Good,” Darko said with relief. “We have to go.”
“Why did we not think to do this before?” Leona asked while they were escaping the warehouse, “to escape Makarion?”
“It is not as simple as that,” Darko explained as the three of them walked down the streets on the edge of town, keeping their heads on swivels. “The powers that be do not appreciate when choosers disrupt salmon patterns. I was only able to take you back a day because it didn’t break your pattern; it just delayed it.”
“What about when you took us back to 2014?” Mateo asked.
“I was able to thread you back to 2014 because, from the security guard’s hat’s perspective, 2014 was only earlier that day. I didn’t know I would be using that loophole when I asked you for the hat in the first place.”
“The original Rogue manipulated our pattern all the time,” Mateo pointed out, “especially mine.”
Darko nodded his head, clearly expecting this line of questioning. “He had his own loopholes to exploit, and he was far more powerful than I could ever be. With me, you can either go back over the day you’re already on, or quickly skip to the next one.”
“One day would be all we need, though,” Leona said. “That doesn’t explain why we didn’t try this before. Makarion’s not looking for us because he thinks we’re driving in the car, completing his tribulation...because we are. The other us, that is.”
“Makarion has someone working above him,” Darko said. “I suspected there was someone else, and he confirmed his subservience to this mysterious unknown party after you got back from the dancing tribulation. I think it’s how he knows so much about all of us.”
“So?” Mateo asked. “Go on...”
“So we don’t know who this person is, or what they can do,” Darko said. “They could be watching us right now, like the Cleanser does. We’re not out of the woods yet. We can try to get away, hoping Makarion thinks we’re dead by day’s end, but that’s predicated on the idea that no one else knows we’re here.”
“We have to hope he doesn’t look too hard at the wreckage too,” Mateo said. “There aren’t any bodies in there.”
“This is true,” Darko agreed.
“All we have is hope anyway,” Leona said.
They had turned onto a dirt road that looked like it went on for miles, away from civilization. Rather, it went on for kilometers. Mateo jumped a little and stopped, “our death bracelets.” He looked at his own wrist to find the death bracelet was apparently off. There were no working indicator lights. “Hm. Let me guess, going back in time deactivated them because they interfered with their past selves? Some kind of entropic cascade failure...or something?”
Leona laughed. “Nope. That’s what I was doing on my computer while we were driving; figuring out how to dismantle the bracelets. It’s a good thing I did, because Makarion would otherwise have six bracelets to track, and would know what’s happened. When we get to a safe place, I’ll start working on removing them completely, just in case.”
“Where might a safe place be?” Darko was still not sure they would get out of this.
Leona went over scenarios in her head. “If you jump us forward exactly a year and a day, it doesn’t break our pattern, right? I mean, if the Rogue was able to keep Mateo in a time bubble across a single day, then surely you could use the same method, but  in reverse.”
“You mean speed up your pattern? I’ve mentioned that I can.” Darko thought about this. “Why would we do that?”
“Best case scenario is that Makarion thinks we’re dead in 2073,” Leona started to go over it. “If he suspects you did something, then he either thinks we’re in the past, or the future.”
“That’s a wide range of possibilities,” Mateo noted. “He would always be looking for us.”
“I’m focusing on the ‘wide range of possibilities’ part,” Leona said. “I think that’s too much for him. Yes, this other chooser he’s working with may be powerful enough to find us, but let’s ignore that, because worrying about him or her does us no good. If we just worry about Makarion, he can’t find us in the past, because we could be anywhere in the world by the time we catch up to his timestream.”
“I am so confused,” Mateo said helplessly.
“The details don’t matter. All we can do is try to get away. The only question is how many years you want me to skip.”
“I hear 2078 is beautiful this time of year,” Leona said confidently.

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