Sunday, March 1, 2020

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: December 5, 2273

When Mateo was at his own memorial, a lot of things happened. None of it was bad—except for maybe that time he nearly choked The Delegator to death, so he could get Ramses back from the future—but it was important. When you gather that many people from all over time and space, they’re bound to exchange information about what they’ve been dealing with, and it gave him some insight into what was required of him. The occurrence he was most concerned with right now was when Newt Clemens appeared, and gave Horace Reaver the hundemarke, which was what they had been searching for this whole time. Horace didn’t talk a whole lot about it, and maybe he didn’t know too much himself, but Mateo felt very strongly that his moment in 2027 was when the hundemarke would be finally destroyed. That was why Meliora wanted Mateo to retrieve him from the timeline at that point, rather than some other time period. That had to be the truth, but unfortunately it came with side effects.
The timeline had to be honored, and thinking on it now, he realized there was probably a very immutable reason for that. Horace did indeed take the hundemarke back to 2027, and he did indeed give it to Bhulan, and she did indeed take it into some kind of magical fire, sacrifice herself, and end the object’s reign terror once and for all. If this was what happened, it could not be changed, and Mateo wouldn’t have been able to keep Bhulan here in the present day investigation if he wanted to. The problem now was figuring out what they were going to do without this powerful person’s involvement. What was the world going to look like without her in it? Of course, she still existed, and Nerakali still knew that, but what he couldn’t allow her to do was realize how helpful she could be for them in this situation. Even if he managed to erase hers and Leona’s memories, and make sure history never repeated itself, so they never came up with the idea to find her in the first place, that left a big hole in their investigation. Because she wasn’t just going to help them find the hundemarke itself. They also needed to find the person using it, and they still had no apparent means of doing that.
Things were awkward after Mateo woke them up from having forced them into unconsciousness. While Nerakali was stewing, because they never figured out how to get her out of her stupor, Leona questioned how it was they got to Kansas City. The last thing she remembered, they were back at Machu Picchu, and had no plans to come here. He played dumb, claiming he didn’t remember either, but also had to play it down, so it wouldn’t become this big mystery they had to solve. He didn’t want them thinking someone was controlling them from a distance, because that would distract from their mission. Both of them were suspicious of the situation, but not him, though neither of them seemed too interested in scrutinizing further.
When the next year rolled around, he continued to have no idea how they were going to move forward, so the only thing he could do was try to fix the most pressing issue. Nerakali’s life had just been turned upside down, and if he couldn’t help her by suggesting Bhulan, he would have to do it some other way. They were staying in visitors’ quarters in the KC arcology, which gave them access to the internet. While Nerakali was having a depression nap, and Leona was just having a regular nap, Mateo got online, and searched for special events. He wanted to find something light and breezy, but he found it difficult to navigate the 23rd century computer system. By the time he finally found what he was looking for, enough time had passed for napping, so he woke the other two up, and presented them with his plan.
“Star Trek?” Nerakali questioned.
“The Motion Picture,” Mateo clarified.
“That movie’s three hundred years old,” Leona pointed out.
“Yes, but it’s 2273, which serves as the setting for the film.”
“So, the Earthans are holding a special immersion room event.”
“Immersion room?” Nerakali began. “Why don’t they just do it in VR?”
“Because Star Trek didn’t have VR,” Mateo tried to explain. They’re doing it holodeck-style.”
“I guess the show wasn’t that accurate then,” she volleyed.
“Either way, they didn’t have holodecks in the franchise yet,” Leona added.
“Grr.” He held up the information panel on his e-paper. “Look, you get to play members of the crew. It’ll be fun.”
Leona scoffed. “What are we gonna do next year? Logan’s Run?”
Mateo swiped left on his paper, which revealed another flyer. “Yes, that’s next year! An event called The 100: Sanctum begins in eight years. Apparently, they’ve just been doing this sort of thing for decades.”
Nerakali reached out, and took the page from him. She then dramatically tossed it on the floor. “They’ve been doing it for decades without us, and will continue to do so until they decide to quit themselves. I’m not participating.”
“Okay, fine. It was just an idea,” he said as Nerakali was slowly starting to walk away.
“How does this help us find Erlendr Preston?” Leona asked.
“It wasn’t meant to do that. I was just trying to give us a break. This has been hard on all of us, but especially on her. I think it would be good for us to take our mind off of it...start fresh in the morning.”
Nerakali stopped, and turned back around. “It was a nice idea, but it’s over.” She removed her Cassidy cuff, just like she had last year before she lost her memories. “You are free from your obligation.”
“Don’t do that,” Mateo argued. “Don’t do that,” he reiterated. “If you don’t want the day off, then I have another idea. I didn’t really wanna do it, because I didn’t think you would be up for it, but I don’t want you to give up either.”
“What are you thinking?” Leona asked.
As Mateo was hunting for something fun, it also occurred to him that the only reason Bhulan would be able to help was because of her time power. There were other ways someone could help, though. What they needed was information, and they hadn’t really put much effort into gathering that. Well, Nerakali seemed to have done that on her own, but perhaps she missed somebody.
“We need your brother.” He didn’t really believe that, and desperately hoped neither of them would agree with it, but this was his best way of driving the conversation where he really needed it.
“Why the hell would we do that?”
“He knows your father, right? He knows how he thinks. Arcadia can’t help us anymore, so we need another Preston to replace him.”
“I’m the only Preston you’ll ever need.” Nerakali got all up in Mateo’s face.
“So you’re not quitting?” Leona smirked.
“I can’t quit if you’re thinking about looking for Zeferino. Jesus.”
“If not him, then who?” he began to reason. “There were only five people up in The Gallery dimension, right?” He knew that wasn’t accurate. “Erlendr’s evil, and he has Arcadia. You’re already here with us, so that only leaves your real mother, and hasn’t she been missing this whole time?”
“I spent many years searching for my mother, before any of this happened. I believed she was dead until I started hearing about sightings of her throughout time. I don’t know why my father is masquerading as her, but I don’t think he would do that if she weren’t actually dead. He probably thinks he’s honoring her memory.”
“Then Zef is our only option.”
“No, you’re wrong,” Leona contended. “There weren’t five people in the Gallery. There were six. The Artist.”
“Yes, the Artist,” Nerakali said. “Athanaric Fury. I have a pretty good idea where he is right now. So we don’t need my brother at all. I don’t know if Fury knows something, but he might.” She bent down, and retrieved her Cassidy cuff again. “We’re talking to him instead.”
Mateo felt bad about manipulating her like that, but he was worried she wouldn’t be into it if he had to ask her about Athanaric outright. He felt he had to give her a much worse option, and let her talk him down to a better one. Still, it put a pit in his stomach. Was this what happened to her? Did her ability to control people’s memories necessarily corrupt her, and was that happening to him now? Leona seemed fine, but she also wasn’t using the power anyway. He had to keep an eye on himself, so he wouldn’t hurt anybody.
“Where are we?” he asked after Nerakali teleported them to some kind of cave.
“Mount Rushmore,” Nerakali answered. “FDR’s head, to be precise.”
“They added FDR sometime after 2014?” Mateo pressed.
“No.” A man came in to the corridor. It must have been Athanaric Fury, a.k.a. The Artist. He was already in Mateo’s little notebook, since he had heard of him before, but he now had to switch him over to the list of people he had met. “Shortly before the end of his tenure as president, Truman commissioned a fifth head to be added to the mountain, in honor of his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt. While the project was under development, however, Eisenhower reversed this decision, choosing to redirect the money for more productive uses. A very powerful choosing one didn’t care for this, though, so he finished the head himself, but kept it hidden in a parallel spatial dimension. He then went on to carve busts for every president afterwards, except for one, until the U.S. government was dissolved. They’re all hidden too, of course.”
“Let me guess, Donald Trump is the one president he didn’t carve,” Mateo said.
“The real estate guy?” Fury asked. “No, he wasn’t a president. I’m talking about Buchanan.” Oh, right. This was a different reality.
“Do you live here?” Leona figured. It was a fitting home for a sculptor.
“I’m just visiting,” Fury replied. “I don’t live in any one place. I like to keep moving. After I completed The Mass, I put away my special tools, and focused on true art, rather than creating people.”
“What about Serif?” Mateo asked. “You helped Lincoln Rutherford build her for me.”
Fury shook his head. “That wasn’t me.”
“Who is this other artist you’re talking about?” Nerakali asked. That was twice now that a Preston was ignorant about something. Being the most knowledgeable person in the room was kind of their thing. He had always assumed there just wasn’t anything they didn’t know.
Fury got all serious. “You will die never knowing.” It wasn’t a threat, but it was cold. He moved on from it quickly. “Now. Why are you here? You don’t need me to build you someone, do you? Like I said, I don’t do that anymore.”
“We just need to know if you know how to find Erlendr Preston,” Leona explained to him. “He’s been killing people, and must be stopped.”
Fury nodded his head, knowing what they were talking about. “I have no idea where he is. I didn’t even know he was involved. I thought it was Savannah, or Arcadia, or both.
“He’s disguised as mother. I don’t know why.”
“There are some things I know about him that you might not. Parents always keep things from their children. I can’t promise it’ll help, but I’ll tell you what I can.”
“Thank you,” Leona said, “it’s much appreciated.”
After Fury gave them his intel, they left him alone, which was how he wanted it. Mateo couldn’t stop thinking about this mysterious second clay human-maker. Whatever his identity, he was going in the notebook.

No comments :

Post a Comment