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Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: October 13, 2220

Welp, things were pretty much all fixed up in the Colony Site Alpha dome on Bungula when Leona returned to the timeline in 2220. There was no air filtration system for her to repair, nor any cataclysmic aftermath for her to suffer through. There was no threat from a powerful choosing one, or a friend from the past come to save the day from future danger. There was just Leona, and her two friends, Brooke and Sharice. There were no missions from the powers that be, or challenge to overcome. The last time things were like this for Leona was probably when she was safe in the Great Pyramid of Giza, living with The Escapologist. Technically she was hiding from the wrath of The Cleanser at the time, but only passively, for they never had reason to believe he had any idea where they were. She also experienced nearly three weeks of downtime after returning to Earth on the Warren in the late 22nd century, though she also had memories of fighting the Arianation in a corrupted reality, so that didn’t really count.
All evidence suggested that the commandeers on the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were on their way to Gatewood, which was exactly where they were meant to go. The only problem was Leona didn’t know how Mateo would find them when they showed up. She needed to warn him somehow, and if The Gravedigger was refusing to let her meet up with him using Dardius as a waypoint, then she would need to find another way.
“How did you get back to Earth when you were on Dardius all those years ago?” Brooke asked. “You didn’t take the Nexus, right?”
“No,” Leona said. “We used it a few times before that, but it went completely inert, and no one knew why. The Dardieti must have figured out how to reactivate it later.”
“So, how did you do it?” Sharice asked.
“We used The Trotter. He can jump between planets.”
“So, he can do it again?” Sharice suggested.
“I wouldn’t know how to contact him,” Leona said. “He just happened to be on-world at the time. I doubt we would be so lucky this time. He’s big into travel, and there’s not a lot for him to see on Bungula right now.”
A pigeon suddenly appeared out of nowhere, and landed gracefully on the table. It started cooing, and looking around for food.
“I think that’s a time pigeon,” Leona guessed.
“Read the note,” Brooke said, pointing at its little leg.
Leona removed the slip of paper, and unrolled it. “Take a picture,” she read out loud. “What the hell does that mean?”
The pigeon pecked at her hand. When she pulled away, it flew up and kept pecking.
“Stahp!” she cried.
It shook its other leg in her face.
“Okay, okay. Gah!” She replaced the note that was apparently meant for someone else, and removed the other. “Use The Caster. Well, how is that any better? The Caster isn’t here either. Can’t I just send a note with you?” Leona asked the bird.
In response, the pigeon flew off, and disappeared, once more into the breach.
“I guess that’s a no,” Sharice noted. “Who’s the Caster?”
“She’s a telepath who put us in touch with the Trotter. He was on Dardius at the time, but miles and miles away, and we didn’t have phones.”
“You may be able to contact her,” Brooke said. “If she’s telepathic, you might be able to send her a message with your own thoughts.”
“She would have to be able to reach the stars, which seems fairly unlikely,” Leona lamented. “And I would have to somehow be able to send out a message, which is even more unlikely.”
“Worth a shot, isn’t it?” Sharice said. “The worst that happens is you get a psychic nosebleed.”
“I suppose that’s true,” Leona conceded.
Leona didn’t think it would be as easy as simply having the thought to reach out to The Caster, but she didn’t think it would take the whole day. Actually, it only took about half the day, but it wasn’t like there was anything else she needed to do, and there was no harm in meditating.
After several hours sitting on a blanket in an empty corner of the dome, she heard a voice that was not her own. “Hello? New psychic link, who dis?
“Leona Matic,” Leona answered.
How did you get this number?
“We, uhh, met? On Tribulation Island? Back in 2159?”
That was sixty years ago,” the other woman complained. “I wasn’t born yet. Just how old do you think I am?
“I’m sorry, I just...I can’t see you, so I have no idea. I was trying to get ahold of The Caster.”
That’s me, the one and only. You were probably speaking with my grandmother, though. She was the one and only back then.
“So, why are you freakin’ out, if there’s a reasonable explanation?” A bit rude, but Leona was still having trouble filtering her thoughts. Her brain wasn’t used to thinking out loud like this.
I guess that’s fair,” the new Caster said. “And you don’t have to yell, by the way! I’m right here.
“No, you’re not. I’m on Bungula.”
You’re in a jungle?
“I’m in the Alpha Centauri star system,” Leona clarified. “Where are you?”
Why you wanna know? You writin’ a book?
“No, I’m just wanting to speak with the Trotter. I need to get back to my husband via Dardius, and I don’t know anyone else who can jump to other planets.”
Oh, and you think I know Maqsud, because we’re both A-rabs?
“Holy crap, don’t get defensive. Your grandmother is the one who introduced us.”
Oh. Well...” she paused for a moment. “I actually do know him. Give me a moment to connect you two. I think he’s in Triangulum, or something.
“That would be great, thank you.”
Get off my back! I said I would do it!” Perhaps even she had trouble with her filter, or she just didn’t care what people thought of her.
Leona waited in the silence, but had the acute feeling that she was still psychically connected to the Caster. Pity there was no muzak playing while she was on hold.
Finally, she returned. “I’m not a miracle worker, so I can let you two communicate, but I have to stay on the line. I recommend you don’t spread any gossip about me.
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Leona said.
Thank you, Miss Karimi,” came Maqsud’s voice.
“Mister Al-Amin. I was hoping you could transport me to Dardius.”
Uhh, right now?
“Yes, if you’re not too busy?”
I’m researching dark matter in three-one-oh-nine.
“That’s on the other side of the local group,” Leona realized. Millions of lightyears away.
It is, yes.
“Do you know when you’re gonna be around this area next?”
Well, I’m scheduled to visit Varkas Reflex in twenty-five years. Will that do?
Not really,” Leona said. Who knows what will have changed about their situation in the next twenty-five days.
If you can get to the wolf,” Maqsud began, “I can make a detour. Otherwise, you’ll have to find another ride, because I’m planning a century-long project observing stellar formation in the Baby Boom galaxy.
“Wow.” That would be an impressive endeavor. It would also be taking place in the very deep past, which meant it was entirely possible for him to be where she needed him to be, when she needed him to be there, but she didn’t want to argue. If she had twenty-five realtime years to wait to get to Mateo, she might as well just leave on a regular ship, and travel to Gatewood using sublight. “I may see you there. Thank you for your time.”
No problem,” Maqsud replied. “Hanging up now.
So am I,” the Caster said.
“No, wait,” Leona stopped her. “Could you connect me to one more person?”
Is this other person really frickin far as well? That really drains me of my energy.
“Mateo Matic is orbiting Barnard’s star. It’s only six and a half lightyears from where I am.”
She sighed. “Fine. Give me a second.
A few minutes later, she got back on the line. “There is no Mateo Matic anywhere in the vicinity of Barnard’s Star.
“There’s not? Well, where the hell is he?”

Mateo was sitting in a darkened room, at the head of a long table, full of military officers, governmental officials, and other important people. They were treating him like their leader, even though he had no clue what was going on, and had just lost a year of time. While he was gone, the Vice Patronus was in charge, which made Mateo wonder why they hadn’t just appointed him in the first place. Maybe it wasn’t possible to institute this dramatic shift in governmental oversight unless Mateo was the one at the top, regardless of how impractical that was. The VP was the real person in power here, but no one was going to accept that if he didn’t technically answer to someone the whole world believed in, which Mateo had to accept was always going to be him.
In the year 2199, a man whose name was unimportant attempted to murder a man named Mikilos Sparacello. He was saved by The Last Savior of Earth, Étude Einarsson, in what was advertised as her very last save before retirement. The killer was easily caught by human authorities, but that didn’t mean Mikilos was safe. As one of the most infamous figures of history, he unwittingly became a sort of white whale for some of the more violent temporal manipulators. There was this theory that Étude would protect him for his entire life, which inspired them to try to best her. The hunt for Mikilos got to be so terrible that Dardius decided Earth was no longer a safe place for him. Since they felt time travelers were responsible for his becoming a target, he was approved for relocation to the sister world. He was temporarily appointed Vice Patronus, and acting Patronus, over the whole planet, but came to be so well-liked by the people, that he remained in the role. Mateo really was only there for ceremonial reasons.
The two sides of the war were not exactly in the middle of a formal ceasefire, but the fighting had come to a temporary standstill. Upon Vice Patronus Sparacello’s orders, an entire continent, roughly the size of Australia, was evacuated. It was a perfect homebase for the Freemarketeers, because there were never a lot of people there in the first place, it wasn’t too far from Tribulation Island, which was where their reinforcements were arriving, and it would hopefully placate them for a period. The Dardieti needed a more permanent solution, though. They were currently discussing their options, and were interested in Mateo’s thoughts.
He was frozen in place, scared to say anything, but this was making everyone uncomfortable, so he had to say something. “I don’t understand how the timeline works.”
“You save people from the past, right?”
“And the present, yes,” VP Sparacello, who requested Mateo call him Mikilos, said.
“Have you missed any relocations because of this war?” Mateo asked.
“Uh, technically no,” Foreign Policy Advisor Abdulrashid answered. “The war itself is making immigration tenuous. We can take anyone from any moment in time, but in order to protect the stability of our society, we have to introduce them at very specific times. We’ve discussed this before.”
“Quite right,” Mateo remembered. He didn’t actually forget, but this all needed to be said out loud for him to express his idea. “How has the pattern been? Have you been introducing a lot of immigrants lately, or has it slowed down in recent years?”
“It has slowed down,” Transportation Administrator Moss acknowledged. “The Earthans just don’t need our help that much anymore.”
“So, do you really need the Muster Beacon back? Could we argue that its time is over anyway?” Mateo offered.
“That’s possible,” Moss agreed, “but our biggest problem with the beacon is how the Freemarketeers are using it.”
Mateo nodded, but was stopped before speaking more.
“He means to say we should destroy it,” Mikilos responded in his place.
The crowd looked amongst each other and whispered.
“Scorched earth policy,” Moss said, nodding. “I don’t love it, but if we can’t take control of the island, that may be our best option.”
“There could still be innocent Vespiarians on that island,” someone Mateo didn’t know said. She looked like a general, or something. “We’ve not confirmed whether their quantum replications are coming through too.”
“That’s true,” Ramses recognized. “So, let’s discuss this more. Let’s come up with a plan to take the Muster Twins back...and let’s come up with a contingency if we can’t.”

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