Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: November 29, 2267

Nerakali smiled when she saw that the Matics had agreed to stay on mission with her. They were ready to do what needed to be done, but that didn’t mean they didn’t have questions. “Where did you get these devices?”
“Where does anyone ever get any temporal objects?” Nerakali answered with a question. “Mostly from Holly Blue.”
“Holly Blue,” Leona posed, “or Weaver?” They were both technically the same person, but the former was native to this reality, while the latter came from an earlier one.
“I honestly do not know,” Nerakali said.
“But you know where they come from,” Mateo began, “because you called them Cassidy cuffs.”
“Yes, I know about Cassidy Long. Before you freak out, I have no ill will towards her. I’m the one who found her for her mother, Étude back in the day.”
“Oh, yeah,” Leona admitted. “You did mention that.”
“I don’t like that these things exist,” Mateo lamented. “I don’t like to think about what had to happen to her to make them exist.”
“Knowing both of them,” Nerakali said, “it was an agreement between the two of them. I can’t imagine she was hurt by it.”
“She was, at the very least, exposed by it,” Leona pointed out. “These things are dangerous. We’re trusting you with them, but what happens when the wrong people gain access to them?”
“That’s true of everything,” Nerakali said, “especially when you factor in time travel. If something can exist, it probably does eventually, which means it does always. If you’re going to keep going with the mission, that’s something you’re going to have to wrap your brains around. When we destroy the hundemarke, we’re not undoing all the bad it’s caused. Those are quite literally inevitable. All we can do is prevent its future use. Though, of course, what exactly does future use even mean in this context? It’s all very confusing, and I make no guarantees about the outcome.”
“We understand.”
They took a couple hours to admire their surroundings. This was Machu Picchu in the year 2266. According to records, the historical site was closed off to tourists over two hundred and thirty years ago. Fortunately, before that happened, highly advanced drones were dispatched to capture three-dimensional data of the entire area. Afterwards, a fourth-dimensional layer was added based on predictive modeling, which allowed audiences to witness what the hillside city would have looked like as it was being built, after construction was complete, and over the centuries, as it fell apart. These were all plugged into a virtual reality construct which tourists were then able to visit instead, without having to worry about damaging the site further with foot traffic. Just about every wonder of the world, and other important historical locations, were given this treatment. While the majority of cities and highways were demolished so that living accommodations could be consolidated on the surface of the Earth, truly important places, like this one, were either maintained and preserved, or left entirely alone.
Of course, they weren’t allowed to be there, but what was the point of being a time traveler if one couldn’t enjoy a few exemptions and privileges? They slept in a moderately sized tent that Nerakali had for them in her bag of holding, and woke up the next morning in 2267. They weren’t in Machu Picchu anymore, though. No, this was a very different place—just as wondrous, but on the other side of the world—The Great Wall of China. At least that was what Mateo guessed. They were standing next to a giant wall that looked like it went on forever. “Not that I’m not impressed, but...what are we doing here?”
“You guys wanted a vacation, right?”
“We don’t use that word,” Leona warned her. According to Nerakali, there was nothing they could do for the mission quite yet. The problem was, whenever they claimed they were on a day off of some kind, that was when some giant interruption came to attack them. What was it going to be this time?
“Oo, umm...I think I get it.” Nerakali thought about what she was going to say. “Okay, so this is research for our mission. We’re gonna be going all over the world to look for my mother. You have not had a whole lot of experience doing that. I mean, I know you’ve been to other planets and such, but this could still help. You need to see what things look like nowadays. What better way to do that than to go to famous historical places?” She showcased the wall with her hands. “This is called The Great Wall of China. Well, it’s one section of it. We’re going to be seeing the rest of it here in a minute.”
“I don’t remember the exact number,” Leona said, but that should take years. It’s thousands of kilometers long.”
“Yes,” Nerakali agreed. “Fortunately, someone has already walked it for us.” She approached the wall, and examined it to look for a particular stone, When she found it, pricked her finger with a needle, and rubbed a little bit of her blood on it. The stone was a little reddish, suggesting that others had previously done the same. The stone swung out, and revealed a secret compartment. Inside of it were several sets of booties, like a contractor would use to walk through a client’s clean home. “You know how Google hired people to drive, ride, boat, and hike all over the world, so others can enjoy their journey on the maps program?”
“Of course,” Leona said.
Mateo nodded.
Nerakali went on, “Well, we have our own version of that. His name is The Adventurer, and instead of just snapping photos, and stitching them together, he records a four-dimensional walkthrough of places like this. These booties let you walk thirteen thousand miles in his shoes in a matter of hours, but you have to actually go there; it doesn’t simply require an internet connection.”
“Oh, that’s amazing,” Mateo said as he was putting on his booties.
“You would think so,” Nerakali agreed, “but his hard work isn’t as appreciated in our world as it should be. He leaves these things for anyone with the right blood to access, but few take him up on his offer. I guess they just don’t see it as much of a gift.”
“Well,” Leona said, “we see it.”
And so, after breaking camp, they climbed up to the top of the wall, and slid along the whole twenty-one thousand kilometer structure, from one end to the other. For the sake of time, they programmed their booties to take them at maximum speed, which was around mach 3.4, so they were done with the whole thing in under six hours. They stopped at a few places to rest, and take in the view in realtime. Once they were finished with it, they jumped to other amazing places; ancient dig sites, pyramids, museums that were still standing, and whatnot. They packed multiple lifetimes worth of world travel into a single day. They were extremely exhausted from the experience, but profoundly grateful for it. As easy as it would be for other time travelers, what they did was probably pretty rare; maybe even unique, and that made it something special. Nerakali could just be playing the long game, and turn out to be evil, and working against them, but right now, Mateo and Leona would have to consider her a dear friend.
When it was over, they stopped in the middle of a forest to camp again. Nerakali said it was safer to be away from people. To put it another way, it would be easier to track them if they stayed under security cameras, and in front of witnesses. They couldn’t be sure no one was trying to stop them, even though they had no specific knowledge of any opposition. As far as they could tell, Savannah Preston had no clue that anyone was working against her, or that her own daughter would be a threat to her, but perhaps they were mistaken. Perhaps they just didn’t know what they were getting themselves into. They had their fun today, but it was time to circle the wagons, and remain vigilant. Danger could come from anywhere, and at anytime. They still felt pretty safe going to sleep, though. Nerakali set up temporal wards around them. They weren’t strong enough to keep attackers out completely, but they would hopefully slow them down, and give the three of them enough time to bug out. They slept soundly, and didn’t wake up until 2268 when one of these wards was triggered.

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