Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: October 18, 2225

Sharice Prieto was holding her hands over Leona’s eyes, and guiding her down the hallway. Leona’s best guess was that this was her half-birthday celebration, though that was at the beginning of this month, so maybe not that. Perhaps Brooke and Sharice had gotten a taste of parties, and now wanted to throw one whenever, and didn’t feel like they needed a reason. Or maybe this was a completely unrelated surprise that wasn’t a party at all. When finally Sharice removed her hands, Leona found herself standing face to face with some woman she didn’t know, and that woman did not look happy. “Hello,” she said simply.
“Whatever,” the other woman replied.
“I’m Leona Matic.”
“I know who you are.” Now after saying a few extra words, Leona realized she recognized the voice. It was the current incarnation of The Caster, a.k.a. Sanaa Karimi.
“I thought you were on Earth.”
Sanaa scowled at Sharice, and then at Brooke, who was standing unfazed in the corner. “I was, before I was kidnapped.”
“Oh, don’t be so dramatic,” Brooke argued with her. “You agreed to come here.”
“I was coerced,” Sanaa snapped back.
“Could someone please tell me what’s happening?” Leona requested.
Brooke stepped forward from her corner. “Miss Karimi is capable of communicating telepathically with anyone in the observable universe.”
Allegedly,” Sanaa corrected.
“True,” Brooke conceded. “Her scope has not been fully tested. But we do know of some limits. She can speak with anyone as long as she’s given a really good idea of where it is they are. The fewer other people there are in the area, the better, which means to contact anyone on Earth, she needs pretty precise coordinates.”
“Unless...” Sharice prompted.
“Unless,” Brooke echoed, “she finds a special connection to that person. She could know them personally, or be within arm’s length of someone who does. The stronger the personal connection, the better.”
“You can find Mateo?” Leona hoped.
“I might be able to, as long as you love him enough.” She expressed faux disconfidence in that being the case.
“Oh, I do.”
“Then I will seek him out,” Sanaa said reluctantly. “Since I’m already on this...where the f— am I again?” She self-censored.
“Jungula? That’s a stupid name.”
They didn’t bother correcting her. They just let her close her eyes, and concentrate on gathering her qi, or whatever it was she needed. Before too long, she sighed, frustrated. “There’s bad energy in here. I need meditate first. Could you do that? Could you give me that?”
“Of course, madam,” Brooke said rudely.
The three of them left the room so the Caster could do her thing.
“How did you get her here?” Leona started questioning them.
“I reached out to an old contact of mine using the quantum messenger,” Brooke said. “He put us in touch with someone who could build a single-occupancy ship for her.”
“That was only five years ago,” Leona pointed out. “And five years ago, we could really only go point-eight-c.”
“The humans can only go point-eight-c,” Sharice acknowledged. “Still, salmon and choosers regularly travel at faster-than-light speeds on their own, and Hokusai Gimura now knows how to build a lightspeed engine.”
“Oh, wow.” She wasn’t impressed that Hokusai could build a lightspeed ship, because that was a well-known fact. What impressed her was her friends’ dedication to helping her find her long-lost husband. This was so much better than a half-birthday party.
“She actually based the design on the same one she used to get to Durus when she went looking for her daughter,” Brooke added.
“We arranged for Sana to arrive the day before you returned to the timestream,” Sharice went on, “but that’s no longer relevant.
“Still,” Brooke said, “we kept her a secret until today, just for the nostalgia.”
“Remember when you used to only exist one day every year?”
“No, I don’t recall that,” Leona joked.
“All right, I’m ready!” they could hear Sanaa call out to them. “So, come back in already! Geeze!” She didn’t sound very naturally unpleasant, but it was more like she just wanted people to hate her.
They returned to the other room, and Leona let Sanaa rest her hands on Leona.
“Okay, think of the person you’re trying to contact.” She started getting a little too comfortable with Leona, but the latter didn’t know how much of it was necessary, so she let it happen. “Think about his face; the shape of his jawline, color of his eyes. The feel of his hair. Think about the sound of his voice when he’s angry with you, his posture when he’s watching his favorite movie. Think about his smell when he only wants one thing from you, and he’ll do anything to get just one. Taste. Of—”
“That’s enough,” Brooke stopped her. “Make the connection, or you’re gonna find out why some choosers choose to lose their time powers to become transhumans.”
The Caster backed up a little, but bit her lower lip, and kept her bedroom eyes on. “Everything I said may have been a little inappropriate, but it can’t hurt, so go ahead and hold onto those dirty thoughts.”
Leona wasn’t as uncomfortable as someone else in her position might have been, so she did continue to picture everything about Mateo she could remember.
Sanaa lifted her hands, and massaged Leona’s earlobes. “Focus,” she said in a breathy voice. “Leave your body behind, and go to...” Then it clicked. “Dardius.”
She could feel her mind being torn from its home in her brain, and traveling at superluminal speeds. Through the galaxy, into the void, and across another galaxy; Andromeda XXI. To a planet with suspiciously similar specifications as Earth, right down to approximate land mass ratio, and speed of continental drift. Her mind floated in the air awhile, before falling down towards a region known as Sutvindr, where they found one Mateo Matic. He was addressing a crowd of hundreds in an outdoor auditorium. They were all very happy to be there.
“Whoa,” Mateo said.
“Sir, are you okay?” a woman in a suit and sunglasses at his flank asked him with concern.
“Leona, is that you?” Mateo asked.
The crowd fell dead silent, and exchanged looks.
Mateo, yes, it’s me.
“We’re talking telepathically,” he said.
That’s right. You don’t have to say it out loud.
“It’s pretty hard for me to do that,” he explained.
Why did you not go through the Nexus?
“A lot has changed since you left. Listen, are you and Serif okay? Did you make it to Gatewood, or are you on your way?”
Leona sighed. “Serif should be on her way, but we are not in communication. I’m still on Bungula.
“If I were to leave Dardius right now, how long would it be before I could see you again?” Mateo asked her.
The crowd was listening intently to the one side of the conversation they could hear. Who were these people?
Rigil Kentaurus is about six-point-four-eight-nine light years from Barnard’s Star. I believe I have access to lightspeed technology now, so. Ya know. Six-point-four-eight-nine years.
“Are you experiencing realtime, like me? That’s a long time to wait now.”
It is, yes. Can you leave now?
Mateo didn’t answer for a moment. He then lifted his head back up, and looked to the crowd. “Wadya guys think? Are you ready for a new Patronus?”
What is a Patronus?
“I’ll explain later,” he mumbled out the corner of his mouth.
“ that Leona on the phone right now?” asked some random guy.
“The telepathy-phone, yes,” Mateo confirmed.
“Tell her we love her!” cried out another random fan, prompting everyone to cheer. The woman in the suit, along with the other suits standing next to him, tensed up, and took defensive positions.
“She can hear you!” Mateo announced.
The crowd cheered even louder.
“Are you, like, their leader?”
“For now,” Mateo whispered as he was waving and smiling at his people.
Suddenly, a gargantuan jumbo screen appeared in the sky, like something out of The Hunger Games franchise. “You have no idea how true that is,” said a man on the screen. His face was obscured by darkness. “Your reign is over.
Mateo’s guards tried to pull him off stage, but he held his hand up. “Wait.”
I’m not going to hurt you,” promised the man on the screen. “I’m just going to clip your wings. You were chosen to experience time at a particular rate, and your lizard buddy has corrupted that.” He stepped out of frame, and revealed a man tied to a chair, with a bag over his head. Another obscured individual had a gun trained on him. The first man returned, but in the background, so he could pull the hood from their hostage.
Who is that?” Leona asked.
“Newt,” Mateo answered. “He’s who took us off our pattern.”
The hostage-taker went on. “Now, we have no personal qualms with this man. But he is an ally of our enemy. Your Patronus is meant to live for only one day a year, and in the time he’s been around when he wasn’t meant to be, he has...domesticated us. We were a superior race, and he destroyed our advantage.
“You agreed to that!” Mateo argued.
I agreed to nothing!” He calmed himself down after the outburst. “We are not angry that the Dardieti did not welcome us with open arms. Nor do we believe that this world is somehow our birthright. We are, however, going to take it anyway. We do not believe in this peace; we believe in winning. The was is going to begin again, and it starts with neutering your leader. He can’t help you if he doesn’t exist.” He looked over at his accomplice. “Do it,” he ordered.
“Shut it down! Now!” Mateo’s main bodyguard ordered her wrist.
Theoretically, just before the gun went off that killed Newt, the screen blinked away. Too concerned with his safety to follow his orders, his bodyguards finally dragged him offstage, and down a maze of hallways.
“Missus Matic, I do apologize to cut your call short, but we’re going to have to sever your connection. It’s a matter of global security. Give me the visor,” she ordered one of her team members.
Wait,” Leona pleaded. Were I you!
“Were I you,” Mateo said back.
The last thing Leona’ saw through Mateo’s eyes was a device that resembled a throwing disc, in the midst of being placed over her husband’s head. This broke the connection, and sent her mind back to its body. The force of being kicked out was powerful enough to send her backwards to the floor. Sharice caught her in plenty of time, while Brooke did the same for Sanaa.
“What happened?” Sharice asked. “Did you find him?”
Leona got back to her feet and massaged her temples. “I’m going to need the ship that brought Miss Karimi here. I absolutely must get to Gatewood as soon as possible.”
“Not with my ship, you’re not,” Sanaa contended. “I’m taking it back to Earth. The deal was I come here, and make a call for you, then I get to go back home.”
Leona weighed her options. “That’ll work too,” she determined. “I can go anywhere in the universe from Earth.”
“Well, you’re gonna have to be able to leave today, because that’s when I’m going.”
“You can wait a week for us to retrofit the vessel for a second occupant,” Brooke said to her.
“She doesn’t have a week,” Sanaa said, “and I don’t have a year. She’s just been put back on her original salmon pattern.”

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