Saturday, March 7, 2020

Dardius: Horace Reaver (Part X)

Horace Reaver was in prison. It wasn’t the first time being locked up, but he still had not gotten used to it. A bunch of stuff went down when an unhinged reality manipulator came to town, and started wreaking havoc on his and his people’s lives. Ace, as he was called at this time, and in this reality, submitted himself here somewhat voluntarily, in order to free a friend of theirs who never should have been here in the first place. It was under duress, though, so voluntary was probably the wrong word to use. He had so far been in here for six days, knowing full well that this didn’t mean his family was off schedule. They could get him out if they completed a mission for the prison, and their new partner advised them that it would take at least a week just to plan it. So he wasn’t worried, but he was already sick of it.
This place didn’t have yard time, cafeteria time, or anything. Prisoners remained in their cells permanently, because it was safer that way. Most of the inmates had special time powers, and The Warden said it wasn’t worth the risk to let anyone out for anything but medical or logistical reasons. Fortunately, each cell had access to its own pocket dimension, full of creature comforts, and wide open spaces. It wasn’t the same as being free, but it was better than a six-by-nine. To be clear, the six-by-nine regular cell did exist, and the pocket could be closed to punish prisoners for bad behavior, but according to a man named Tracker, that was rare, because prisoners knew there was no escape, and there wasn’t any point in causing trouble. Ace liked to spend time up in the front, outside of his pocket, because it allowed him to see outside the cell, into other people’s cells, and at the guards patrolling the area. It made him feel more trapped to be in a windowless room with low lighting, even if that room had a couch, bed, and entertainment. He ordered a lot of books. At the moment, he was sitting in his chair, reading one about bunnies, when he heard a commotion beyond his field of vision.
“Sir, please.” It was the Warden. Who could she possibly need to call sir with such deference? Was it possible there was someone even more powerful around here than her?
“You can’t stop me,” came a voice Ace didn’t recognize.
“How do you know that?” the Warden asked as they were just coming into view.
“I spoke with Meliora. She told me everything.” The two of them stopped at Ace’s cell. The man was smiling as deeply as the Warden was frowning. “Hello, old friend.”
“Do we know each other?” Ace asked.
“Mister Matic,” the Warden began, “those contingencies were designed to get you out of prison, if a mistake like that ever happened again. They were not meant for you to come in, and break someone else out.”
“I’m doing it anyway.” He reached up with both hands, and grasped the bars. While a lot of the security measures here were time power-based, it was still fitted with good ol’ fashioned cement blocks and thick metal gates. It looked like this kind stranger was preparing to rip them off with brute strength, which should have been impossible. Then again, time travel should have been impossible too, but that was quite clearly real.
“Wait,” the Warden said desperately. “If you do this, you effectively declare war on Beaver Haven.”
The man stopped to think about it for a moment, but less like he was considering changing his mind, and more like he was working out how he was going to combat this new threat. “Then I better make it count.” He tightened his grip on the bars, and pulled at them. They didn’t tear off like rice paper, but they did come completely off, leaving about a foot of space for Ace to slip through. Some of the other prisoners saw what happened, and began to make a ruckus. This drew more out, so that everyone could either see what was happening, or was close enough to hear others yelling updates.
“Are you going to stuff me back in there?” Ace asked the Warden once he was free.
She shook her head. “He’s made his choice. I can’t undo it any more than he can.”
“It’s not the last choice I’m gonna make,” the man said. He walked over to another cell, and tore the bars off of that one too.
A man named Curtis came out of it, and tipped his head cordially.
The man stepped one cell over, and did it a third time. “Oh,” he said when he saw Lucius just stand there. He pulled off two more bars, because Lucius was big as hell. That wasn’t it, though. Lucius still just stood there. “You can’t be put back in here. These people can’t move against me in that manner.”
“I deserve to be here,” Lucius replied in his low sexy voice. This guy was a god. If Ace weren’t with Serkan...
“No, you don’t,” the jailbreaker said. “You and Curtis have a destiny. I need you to take care of him.”
Lucius looked over at Curtis. Neither of them knew what he was talking about, but they trusted that the man was telling them the truth about their future together.
The Warden was extremely displeased. “Anyone else, Mister Matic?”
“Are Missy and Darko here?” Mr. Matic asked.
“Not in this reality,” the Warden answered, seemingly truthfully.
“Then my work is done here.” He pointed over to Curtis and Lucius. “You take them wherever they want to go. I’ll be taking Horace myself.
The Warden reluctantly looked up and over her glasses at a guard on the second level. She raised her hand, and gestured for him to come down, and presumably help transport the other two empardoned ones. Is empardoned a word? Well, it is now.
“Hey, Mateo,” Lucius called up to them as the mysterious savior and Ace were starting to leave. “I owe you a favor.”
Mateo smirked. “Nope. Now we’re even.” Time, right?
“Not that I’m not grateful,” Ace said as they were winding their way through the corridors. Guards were letting them through with no question. Who the hell was this guy, and why was everyone so afraid of him?
“Why did I break you out?” Mateo presumed. “You and I have had a complicated multi-timeline relationship, but I need to make sure you understand who you are.”
“I don’t understand.”
“One day, someone is going to come to you, and restore your memories. You will remember how much you hated me, and the terrible things you did to express that hate. I got you out of there, and I’m taking you to see something important, not so that you’ll remember how good of friends we are, but so that you’ll remember how good of a person you are.”
“Huh?” They opened the exit, and started to walk away from the secret prison. Ace chose to not look back. That was in his past, and he needed to get back to his family, and move forward. Mateo opened the back door of a car, and ushered Ace in. “Dave?”
“I’m not meant to be a literal chauffeur,” the driver said as Mateo was getting in as well. “That’s just a nickname.”
“Meliora agreed to help me get to either 2027, or 3413. I chose to come here, so you could help me with both missions. And you’re gonna do it, because this is your boss’ father. He’s your grandboss.”
The Chauffeur rolled his eyes, and restarted the car. “That’s not a thing.”
“You know Meliora?” Ace asked.
“Not super well, but yes,” Mateo confirmed.
“And you know me too?”
“From other realities, and the future in this reality, yes.”
“But you’ve seen my darkness.” Ace didn’t know it had anything to do with alternate timelines, but there were some things about himself that he couldn’t explain. He sometimes experienced...outbursts of violence that didn’t make any sense. They didn’t feel like him, but at the same time, they felt more like him than anything else. This all scared him a great deal, and if this Mateo guy could save him from that, he was willing to try just about anything.
Dave drove them to a hospital, and waited in the parking lot while Mateo took Ace up to a room. It was empty, but lived in, and the bathroom door was closed. They heard a flush, and a hoarse voice Ace thought he recognized. “Can I get some help here?”
“Stay here,” Mateo instructed. He slipped into the bathroom to help, and came out two minutes later with Jesimula Utkin.
“Thank you,” she said graciously. “Ace! What are you doin’ here, man?”
“Uhh...I’m here to see you.”
“Oh, that’s cool. I’m on drugs.”
“It sounds like it. Are you okay?”
“Oh, I’m great! I’m on this new diet, and just lost three ounces in a few hours!”
“Her kidney,” Mateo clarified as he was helping Jesi back into bed. “She just donated her kidney.”
Jesi placed her hand to the side of her mouth. “It was anonymous,” she told him in a loud whisper.
“I don’t understand,” Ace repeated. “Who did you give it to? Or was the recipient anonymous too?”
“The hospital thinks she was,” Mateo began to explain, “but we know who it was.”
“Yes,” Jesi agreed. “Leona Mulaney.”
“Delaney,” Mateo corrected.
“Right. Delaney Mulvaney,” Jesi said.
“She saved Leona’s life?” Ace asked. “She’s my daughter’s friend.”
“She’s my future wife,” Mateo said. “I mean that literally. I couldn’t give her my own kidney in this reality, so Jesi stepped up. How can you prevent her from adapting your time power, though?” he asked Jesi.
“I don’t have any powers anymore,” Jesi explained. “I assimilated myself into my alternate, and used her body as primary. I’m just a normal forty-five year old now.”
“You don’t look forty-five,” Ace pointed out.
“I still got friends,” Jesi argued. “Damn, man!”
“I’m sorry.”
“Forgiven. No, you’re threegiven, because I’m still a little mad.”
“Jesi, your light’s on,” Mateo informed her.
Jesi smiled, and lifted a little button. “Cool.” She started pressing it over and over again, still smiling dumbly at it.
“Don’t worry,” Mateo said. “It won’t give her more pain medication than she’s allowed to have.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“You did this,” Mateo said as Jesi was falling asleep. “You saved Leona’s life, because you didn’t give up on Jesi. You helped her become a better person, and I’m trying to keep you the same way. When someone comes to blend your memories with those of your alternates, focus hard on this moment. You’ve done a lot of good in your life, even in the other timelines. But let this memory be your anchor. I was told to come here to take you to my funeral. Don’t ask how that works, it’s complicated. The point is that I’m not going to do that. If you make it to the service, then great, I have a job for you. But I can’t let you do that job if you don’t remember everything about what we’ve been through together. So after they blend your brain—and once you’re ready—come to Dardius in the year 2263. Can you do this for me? I don’t know when it will be for you, but I want you to be prepared for it.”
“I can do that. I don’t really get what’s going on, but I will do my best.”
Mateo smiled softly, and placed a hand on Ace’s shoulder. “I know you will.” He took him into a warm hug. “I gotta get to Stonehenge, but be careful. I hear this Omega Gyroscope thing is a real threat to the universe.” And with that, he left.
Not two seconds later, someone else came into the room, and for a moment, Ace couldn’t believe it. Then he recalled Serkan’s advice to act like ya been there, and contained his confusion. It was another Horace Reaver.
Future!Horace reached into his shirt, and retrieved the hundemarke; a special object capable of creating moments in time that cannot be changed via temporal manipulation. He handed it to Present!Horace.
“What am I meant to do with this?” Present!Horace questioned.
Jesi woke up, but just long enough to cry, “throw it in the portal!”
Future!Horace shook his head no. “She’s talking about something else.” Then he just walked out of the room without another word.

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