Saturday, March 21, 2020

Dardius: Everest Conway (Part XII)

“Thank you for coming to the memorial service for the late but present, Mateo Matic. Wow, it’s a beautiful day here in Sutvindr, isn’t it? My name is Everest Conway, and this is not my story. Most of you probably don’t know me. I became friends with the Matics later on in the timeline, when there are fewer salmon and choosers around. I’ve come back into the past, though, on a sort of tour, I guess you could call it. I wanted to see where my best friend came from, and what he’s been through. Some of the time, I’m out in the open. I was physically present at the wedding, and I even got The Arborist to take me to Mateo’s original timeline, so I could witness the moment he first jumps onto his pattern. And of course, I’m here now, and you can see me. Other times, however, I’m watching from an observation dimension, or simply peering into the past, and have no way of interacting with people. Don’t worry, I did this with full consent from both of them. Neither of them understand who it is I am, since we’ve not yet met, but they agreed to let me deliver Mateo’s eulogy today, because they trust that I’m telling the truth. A few of you have been able to verify my sincerity through past experiences, and I appreciate that.
“I first met Mateo and Leona Matic in the year...uhh...well, let’s just call it 2630. This was well after they found themselves trapped in The Parallel...and The Third Rail. It’s after they deal with Raihan, and after their journey through The Goldilocks Corridor. It’s after their encounter with Savepoint, and after Earth gets knocked around by Project Tipping Point. But enough about me. We’re all here to talk about everyone’s favorite salmon. All of you know by now that he dies at some point in the timestream, but you may not have the whole story. I’ll explain exactly what happened to him, how he’s alive to be here with us today, and why it technically can’t be a permanent solution.
“On November 13, 2251, Leona Matic met a man named Briar de Vries, on a planet called Thālith al Naʽāmāt Bida, which orbits a star called Tau Ceti. It’s several light years from Earth, and it’s completely habitable, but you probably haven’t been there. At one point, Briar was the only permanent human on this world, and it made him a little...unstable. He wasn’t crazy, and he didn’t want to hurt anyone, but he was susceptible to manipulation, and that’s precisely what happened. Mateo made a mistake. Leona forgave him for it without much trouble, but Briar felt compelled to protect her from her husband just the same. Unfortunately, a very powerful time traveler, who shall not be named, knew all too well how fragile Briar was, and how dangerous he could become. This individual gave Briar the hundemarke, and with it, the means to kill Mateo.
“There is no one on this planet right now that isn’t either a time traveler, or aware that nonlinear time is a thing. So, even if you don’t understand the physics of changing the past—which, let’s be honest, most of us don’t—you have some idea how it works. Anything that has happened in the past can be changed by someone with the necessary tools to go back, and alter course...that is, unless they’re going up against the hundemarke. The hundemarke can create a moment in time that cannot be changed. No matter what else you change prior to this moment, everything within it will occur exactly as it did in any new reality you create. Under normal circumstances, if you were to kill John Smith, then John’s daughter, Jane could go back in time, and kill you before you can do that. Then your daughter can go back and kill Jane before she can do that. But then Jane’s son can go back and kill your daughter. This may never end, as vengeful children continue to go back and change history, each new reality supplanting the last, and causing it to collapse. It won’t stop until someone, I suppose, arbitrarily breaks the cycle, and just lets the current timeline continue. But even in this scenario, these two families aren’t the only time travelers, so these kinds of changes are occurring all the time, and there are infinite variables to account for. The hundemarke takes away all those variables—all those options. Mateo was killed, and that cannot be undone.
“Now, you may be asking yourself, ‘Everest’—I’m not sure why you’re calling yourself by my name, but whatever—you ask, ‘Everest, if Mateo’s death can’t be undone, then how is he here today? I see him right over there.’ Point to Mateo. Oh wait, that was meant to be an instruction for my eyes only. There he is; Mateo Matic, alive and...well, alive. So how is he here? That’s a bit of a mystery at this point, so I won’t give you any details, but the explanation is that someone used another object to bring him here. It’s called the Extraction Mirror, and though it has many potential applications, it’s most famous for being able to pull someone from the brink of death, and let them live out their lives, probably in some other time period. The catch is that their death is inevitable. They will have to go back at some point, and finally experience that final moment. Theoretically, they could go back and prevent their own death to avoid this fate, but if they could do that, they probably don’t need an extraction mirror at all, because they always need help anyway. Of course, the hundemarke negates all this, though, so for Mateo, he will one day have to accept what’s already happened to him.
“This is all very sad, I can practically smell your frowns. But imagine what it’s like to be hundemarked like Mateo, or Nerakali Preston. They know what’s coming, but they keep going. They keep improving themselves, and making things better for others. And that’s incredibly admirable. So I don’t want us to talk about Mateo’s death anymore. I want to move on to his life. I wish I could tell you some stories about him that I experienced first hand, but he’s not yet been through any of that, so I can’t muddy the timeline. I can tell you, however, that he never loses that effortless benevolence and compassion he has now. You all know this about him, whether you like it or not. If you’ve ever gone up against him, chances are you’re on the wrong side. Good intentions or no, Mateo is generally the one who knows what’s right, and when he doesn’t, he listens to people who do.
“Mateo knows that he’s not perfect, and that he doesn’t always know what’s best, which is exactly what makes him one of the best of us. He’s willing to listen to people, even those considered to be his enemies. He recognizes and appreciates that most people just want to be understood, and that prejudgment only ever leads to antagonism. I want all of you to remember this lesson the next time you see him, because it may be more pertinent than you realize. He doesn’t always make the best choices, but he doesn’t do anything without a reason, and he deserves the benefit of the doubt.
“Like I said, I am not at liberty to share stories about Mateo’s future. I’m risking enough just by being here. I’m confident, though, that when I return to my time period, Mateo and Leona will have accepted me graciously, just as they did in the last timeline. Since it was more or less my job to discuss how Mateo’s life ended, it will be other people’s responsibility to fill you in on who he was when he was first alive. The eulogy is over, but there is plenty more to talk about, so if you had other plans for today, you may want to cancel them, or...what was that word Mateo taught me? The acronym. DVR. That’s it. You could DVR this, and watch it later.
“You will be hearing from a few other people today, and we may open it up to others, if that’s what makes sense. Obviously, Leona will be saying a few words. We’ve also scheduled time for Mateo’s current best friend, Ramses Abdulrashid. Use your time wisely, Rames. I’ll be taking your spot soon. Wink. Oh, wait, that was another instruction. I was supposed to just wink. Let’s see, Mateo’s frenemy, Horace Reaver has some time, as does Gilbert Boyce, though I’m not sure when he’s from. Once-brother, Darko Matic is in here somewhere. So yeah, it looks like you’re in for a good service. Either way, my eleven minutes are up, so it is my honor to introduce you to two very special guests. All the way from an alternate timeline, please join me in giving a warm welcome to Mateo and Leona’s once-children, Franka and Séarlas Matic.”

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