Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 24, 2078

After murdering Leona’s father, Frank Delaney, The Cleanser inspected the point on the ground where Darko died. He waved his hands over it with his eyes closed, as if checking to see if his body was still there, but invisible. Mateo worried that he could somehow track his family, but the Cleanser seemed to think not. He just responded to Mateo’s thought, like a mind reader, “the Rogue is too smart for me to catch up with him. He’ll keep teleporting to a new location, running several meters away, and then teleporting out again. He’ll do this dozens of time, and each time he does, the number of possibilities will branch out exponentially, especially since he’ll leave your family somewhere safe and then walk back in his own tracks to form dummy trails. Your people are safe...” He stood up and tried to lower his heart rate. “...for now.” Then he disappeared.
“Are they safe?” Mateo asked of Makarion who had teleported them both back to the island from the Cast Away tribulation.
“They are as safe as anyone can be in a world with men like the Cleanser,” Makarion replied. “I think it’s best if I don’t tell you where. For now.”
“I agree. This is about me. If I can keep them out of it, we might get out of this yet.”
“I wanted to thank you for saving them. I just wish you had shown your true colors earlier.”
“That would have ruined the Cleanser’s game, and my contract with him.”
“What’s changed? Did you sign a new contract? What are the stipulations?”
“They’re mostly what he said during his big speech.” Makarion hesitated to continue. “But there’s one line item I was unable to remove.”
“What’s that?”
He was afraid to answer.
“Makarion. Tell me. I need to know. No more lies.”
“I cannot promise I won’t continue to lie to you. For instance, it’s not my place to tell you why the Cleanser was so upset with Darko’s death. Whatever you’re thinking it is,” he said, “it’s probably right. Their connection would not be a shocking reveal like when Reaver told you he and Leona were married in an alternate timeline.”
“What can you tell me?” Mateo pressed, setting aside his theory that Darko would turn out to be the Cleanser’s father, son, uncle, nephew, ancestor, or descendant. Or even somehow himself.
“The Cleanser wants Leona dead, and will break all time traveling rules to make that happen. He would be happy with destroying time if it means she pays for what she did.” He hesitated again, but was able to continue, “the only way I could keep him at bay was to promise you would kill at least one person for each of the next tribulations.”
Mateo shifted in his lounge chair. He had killed before, but that had been a desperate heat-of-the-moment call. It was in no way premeditated. These would be different because of the anxiety that comes from the anticipation of the kill. Mateo didn’t want to kill anyone, but couldn’t let his reservations get in the way of taking care of his family. Protecting Leona was the only reason he would do such a thing again, even if it meant she would never look at him again. “If that’s the cost...then very well. As long as it isn’t someone else I love.”
“The Cleanser is aware of how pointless it would be for you to choose between Leona and someone else you know. Besides, he did the sadistic choice tribulation yesterday, and he does not like to repeat himself.”
They sat in silence for a few moments. Mateo every once in awhile looked over at the stargate sitting down the beach, wondering exactly what it was doing there. Makarion must have been using it as some kind of portal for things too difficult to move via simple apportation. “As all this was beginning, the Cleanser warned me that the Rogue was going to be my worst enemy yet. He acted like he could be an ally for me, or even a friend. As it turns out, I formed an alliance with a Rogue against him instead.”
Mateo could see Makarion shake his head subtly. “It’s not as ironic as you would think. If you truly understood what was going on, it would make perfect sense.”
“Is there anything else you can tell me?” Mateo asked, but then added, “like maybe why he referred to you as Boyce?”
“No one else heard that,” Makarion said as he was taking a sip of his bourbon. “Don’t tell them, whenever you see them again. It would not be your place.”
“I understand. I assume you’re his son. The math checks out...I think. He would have been what, in his forties when he had you?”
He laughed. “Unlike the Cleanser’s relationship with Darko, my connection to Gilbert Boyce is rather complicated. It’s not something I wish to get into right now.”
Mateo looked back to the forest. “As you wish. I just find it odd that we all seem to be connected. We completely unpredictably landed on the moon with our enemy’s employee’s brother. Both of them turned out to be temporary allies of ours. Everyone in my family is a salmon. I don’t even know what my cousin, Danica is. You know Gilbert Boyce, the Cleanser knows Darko, Kyle worked for Reaver, my neighbor turned out to be my sister. Am I missing anything?”
“Saga and Vearden became the respective parents of Sam and your mother after they died and were reincarnated,” Makarion answered without missing a beat.
What? That he did not know. “Why didn’t anyone ever tell me that?”
“Must have slipped their minds,” he said casually.
“Maybe we should make a rule that says we need to find out who everyone is related to.”
He snickered as a hint of the old Makarion broke through the non-confrontational demeanor. “Do you really want all that information? You might not like it.”
“What do you know?”
“I dunno,” he said before mumbling some other things under his breath.
“You teased me with it,” Mateo said, “so just pay up.”
“You remember how upset you were about having kissed your sister?”
Yeah, that was a dark time in his life. His mother stopped talking to him for a period after that, and their relationship had yet to be totally repaired after it. Of course Mateo didn’t know who she was at the time, but if he could go back in time and stop himself from going on the date, he would. Oh, wait...
“Well I’m sorry to inform you that you’re technically related to Leona.”
“WHAT!? In what way?” That can’t be right. He had done so much more with Leona than with Frida. They were in love. There was no way they could be related.
“I said technically. I don’t know why, but for some reason, they didn’t tell you.” It looked like he was counting in his head. “Let’s see if I get this right, Edward—one the names used by the man you know as Theo—had a bit of a thing with your mother, Lauren’s great great great grandmother. Yeah, I think that’s the right number of greats.
Again, what? “What?”
“And then, ya know, he jumped forward in time, aged, died, and came back as Leona’s little brother.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You want me to write it down?”
“No, I understand the timeline and reincarnation, and all that.” Mateo claimed. “I just don’t know how Leona and I would be related.
He worked it out in his head again. “I think that makes her your great great great great aunt. But again, only technically.”
Mateo’s head was about to explode. The family tree was more complicated than anything anyone had ever heard of. Before all this, Leona and Mateo could never have met, because she would be dead long before he was born. It was only possible with time travel and reincarnation. It would eventually be possible with the oncoming immortality of the world, but it still wasn’t the same. No, Mateo and Leona were decidedly not related. There was too much separating them. The parents of a reincarnated salmon are but surrogates. He certainly wasn’t going to feel bad about this; not after all they had been through together.
“I’ve seen this sort of thing before in fiction. My name, Makarion comes out of a fictional universe, as I’ve told you. In that same universe, there’s another character who is the great great great grandmother of someone with the ability to separate his soul and send it across time and space to be born as different people. These multiple versions of the original are considered both a collective, and individuals, including one who was in a relationship with an alternate timeline version of the ancestor character I told you about.”
Mateo just stared at him blankly. “Could we stop talking about this?”
“Of course, I wouldn’t want your brain to turn to mush.”
“Maybe instead we could discuss my impending death at the next tribulation? Maybe you could tell me what movie I’ll be in?”
“I have a backup idea if the original falls through. Right now, I’m trying to get my builders back. Assuming they return in time, then you’ll be playing the lead role in a movie that doesn’t even exist.”
“How’s that? Was it created in an alternate timeline?”
“No, it was planned but never made, especially since different people involved had different ideas for the script. I assume they would have called it Gladiator II.”

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