Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: November 6, 2244

Before Leona disappeared from the timestream, they went back down to Hokusai’s lab, and read newcomer Pribadium Delgado into yet another situation. It was quite a bit to expect someone to take in all at once, but if she was feeling overwhelmed by it, she sure wasn’t showing it. Fortunately, she wasn’t all that familiar with Leona, so even before they explained to her that the other Leona was from the future, her brain just assumed they were twins. Leona had met a lot of smart people as she sped through the timeline. Hokusai, Hogarth, Holly Blue were just a few of the latest. Brooke and Sharice weren’t exactly humans, so interacting with them was kind of like talking to a computer. Even taking them into account, Pribadium, as an organic, might have been the most intelligent person she had ever met. She had hyperthymesia, and an eidetic memory. She was hyperobservant, critically thoughtful, and had excellent pattern recognition skills. If you rolled the smartest people from fiction, like Mycroft Holmes, Shawn Spencer, and Brian Finch into a ball, Pribadium would be smarter than whatever abomination oozed out of that ball.
She immediately understood the concept of dimensional gravity, which was a good thing, because they now needed her to figure out how to turn the reframe engine into a true time machine. The roller coaster facility could wait. Time was of the essence here, and even with their minds combined, there was not enough. Midnight central hit, and sent both Leonas to 2244. When they returned, the full-fledged anti-gravity generators were completely finished, and already supporting the Varkana resort. They were still beautifying the facilities, and working through the regulatory hurdles, so they would not open until 2247. Plus, visitors did not even want to start the long journey across the interstellar void until they were sure there was something to see when they got here.
“Did you see that?”
“See what?” Present!Leona asked. They had just this very moment returned to the timestream.
Future!Leona didn’t know what she was talking about either.
“I’m talking to Eight Point Seven,” Pribadium clarified.
“I don’t know what you mean,” Eight Point Seven said.
“Recalibrate your visual sensors, or rather your memories of them. Focus on temporal progression on the magnitude of milliseconds.”
Eight Point Seven tilted her head inquisitively, but seemed to be complying with the suggestion. “Holy shit.”
“So, I was right?” Pribadium asked for confirmation. “I could sense it, but I’m mostly human, so my perception is still limited.”
“Four milliseconds,” Eight Point Seven confirmed.
“What happened?” Present!Leona questioned. “Did she disappear before I did?”
“After,” Pribadium answered. She started pacing around the room. “That’s interesting. “Tell me, what time was it when you fell back in time?”
Future!Leona looked sideways at her alternate self.
“I know, you’re worried about creating a paradox. We’ll wipe her memory. Just tell me a number.”
“Fourteen-oh-nine, central standard.”
“What time was it when she arrived?”
“Twelve-twenty-seven,” Eight Point Seven replied.
“Hmm...” Pribadium went back into her own head. “That’s a much bigger discrepancy, yet you didn’t follow it.” She directed her attention to Future!Leona. “If that had any impact on your time jump, you would have done it an hour and forty-two minutes before her. So that’s not what happened. You gained some time in your life, which is interesting. Though, that could all be reversed when we figure out how to send you back.” She began to pace again. “So why did you not jump at the exact same time?”
Everyone else just waited patiently.
“Who’s Mateo?” Pribadium asked.
“My husband,” both Leonas answered simultaneously. They had already been over this, and Pribadium doesn’t forget things, so she was just asking to get her audience on the same logic path.
“He’s offworld right now,” Pribadium asked rhetorically. “Do you have any footage of one of their supposed simultaneous time jumps?”
“No,” Present!Leona said. “No such footage exists.”
“That’s not entirely true,” Eight Point Seven corrected.
Eight Point Seven almost looks ashamed. “When my predecessors were trying to figure out who you were, they requested information from Proxima Doma, which apparently did create such a recording. Eight Point Three evidently asked them to delete it, and I’m the only other one with a copy, but I can’t be a hundred percent certain that they complied.”
The Leonas frowned. Hopefully that wouldn’t come back to bite them in the ass.
“Let’s call it luck,” Pribadium suggested. “Can we see it?”
Eight Point Seven simulated a deep breath, then activated a hologram. “Apparently, the Proxima Domanians heard Mateo’s outburst when he was...upset about some terrible news.” She was talking about when Leona had to tell him that their unborn children miscarried, and Mateo trashed the room they were in. “They sent a microdrone to investigate, and it ended up filming this.” She pushed the proverbial play button, so they could watch Mateo and Leona lying in bed, then disappearing at the same time.
“Analysis,” Pribadium prompted.
“Exact same time,” Eight Point Seven said. “I calibrated for nanoseconds. They left the timestream at the exact same time. We have to assume they always do so. What would cause two parallel versions of Leona to be slightly out of sync?”
“Does this matter?” Loa had been pretty quiet until now. She could not help them in any way, but she was a friend. Sanaa was testing the roller coaster at the moment, but was almost certainly spying on them remotely, which made it weird that she hadn’t jumped into the conversation yet.
I’m trying to respect your boundaries, Sanaa said psychically.
No one else was reacting to it, so this was a private telepathic conversation.
I can’t talk to Eight Point Seven, because she isn’t human. I don’t care about Loa’s thoughts. I don’t understand half the things Hokusai thinks about, and Pribadium’s brain is moving too fast for me to even tease one single thought. I can’t hear the other Leona either.
“What?” Leona accidentally asked out loud. “What do you mean, you can’t hear Future!Leona?”
I dunno, Sanaa answered. She’s inaccessible. Some people are like that. With Pribadium, it’s like watching a car race on fast forward, but there are those who can block me completely. Some even aren’t doing it on purpose; they’ve just built walls around their minds that I can’t penetrate. I tend to not even try, because I assume I don’t want to see what’s on the other side.
I didn’t know about any of this, Leona said, in her mind only. There’s no reason for Future!Me to be able to block your telepathy. I just...I wouldn’t do that. Unless...unless she’s keeping something from us, and knows you’re the only one with the power to detect it.
“What is it, Leona?” Hokusai asked, concerned. “What are you and Sanaa talking about?” She had gotten pretty good at knowing when they were in the middle of a conversation.
Present!Leona didn’t have time to answer Hokusai’s question. She was trying to work through it in her head. Something was wrong here.
I know what you’re thinking, Sanaa said. It’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Present!Leona narrowed her eyes, and stared into those of her supposed alternate self. She didnt recognize the person staring back at her. Very erroneous. If her assumption was wrong, then no big deal; Future!Leona would be fine. But if she was right... “Who the fuck are you?”
“Leona,” Eight Point Seven scolded.
“No,” so-called Future!Leona said dismissively. “She’s right.” She jazzed her hands in front of her face, until pulling them apart, and revealing a different person. It was Arcadia Preston.
This made Pribadium step back. “Oh my God!”
The enemy held out her hand. “Hi. It’s nice to meet you. I’m Arcadia.”
“Don’t shake her hand,” Eight Point Seven warned Pribadium.
“Circuit Breaker,” Arcadia called Eight Point Seven. “You wound me.”
“What the hell are you doing here?” the only real Leona demanded to know. “Where are you in the timeline?”
“Exactly a hundred years ago,” Arcadia answered. “Well...a hundred years and about three months.”
Leona closed her eyes. She didn’t even have to do the math. “My wedding.”
“That’s right,” Arcadia said, her intense anger growing with each passing second. “It was a lovely service. You were there...twice!”
“What in the hell are you talking about?” Leona questioned.
“Oh, don’t act like you don’t know. You latched onto Sanaa’s invitation. Apparently, you finally become friends in this future, so when her letter comes in, you just..hold on tight! That was not for you, Dudley Dursley!”
“That never happened,” Leona argued.
Sanaa walked through the door, having finally come here in person. “She’s right. I haven’t gotten any invitation.”
Arcadia looked between Leona and Sanaa a couple times, then grimaced with embarrassment. “You’re not lying, are you?”
She grimaced again. “I guess I got my dates wrong. doesn’t matter. You’re gonna, and I didn’t authorize it.”
Leona widened her eyes, shocked at the insolence. “I don’t care! If I want to go back in time, and revisit my own wedding as an audience member, that’s exactly what I’m going to do! You’re a time traveler, and a pretty smart cookie; I think you always knew that your hold on me and my friends wasn’t going to last forever. The forty-plus years you were jacking with my reality might have been the most important of your life, but for me, it was Tuesday.”
“Fine,” Arcadia said. “I guess I’ll see you later.”
“Wait,” Leona stopped her from disappearing. “I’m going to see you again, whenever Sanaa’s invitation comes in. You, on the other hand, have seen the last of me. This is it, baby. If I ever see you again, wearing anybody’s face, I’m going to kill you.” She stepped forward, and got all up in Arcadia’s grill. “And if you think I can’t find a way to do it, just ask Ulinthra.”
“Who’s Ulinthra?” Arcadia asked sincerely.
“Exactly,” Leona whispered in a threatening tone.
“Very well,” Arcadia said, trying desperately to hide her legit fear. “We’ll call this; you..dealing with me—having your busy schedule interrupted—your punishment. So, I won’t punish you further. I have to make another stop anyway.”
“Don’t you do it,” Leona warned. “Don’t you dare.”
Arcadia cupped her hand over her mouth, and mimicked the sound of bad phone reception. Krsch-krsch—you’re breaking up—krsch!” And with that, she disappeared.
“Goddammit,” Leona lamented, shaking her head.
“Where did she go?” Pribadium asked.
Leona sighed. “She’s going to wherever Mateo is, so she can punish him instead. And I am helpless to stop it.”
“She’s probably going to punish him after you see him again at your wedding,” Loa suggested. “So you can warn him.”
“What makes you think he’ll be there too?” Pribadium asked.
“That’s how she operates,” Leona explained. “She doesn’t punish people for things they haven’t done yet. They have to understand why it is she’s upset with them. I’m going to see Mateo again, and probably soon. I can’t imagine she was off on her calculations by more than a few years.”
“I’ll go check the mail,” Sanaa joked, “and get myself a nice dress.”

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