Sunday, June 7, 2020

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Tuesday, March 29, 2022

As soon as the final bullet landed in its target, everyone stopped. Two sides of the battle dropped their weapons, and watched Anatol Klugman as he was dying. People were dying all around them, but it was as if they knew this death was different. Were they somehow aware that Mateo had pulled the trigger, with a weapon that wouldn’t exist for nearly a century and a half? Anatol fell to the ground, and exhaled his last breath. And then, just like that, everyone else disappeared. Arcadia had said that this battle wasn’t even meant to be part of the Franco-Prussian War. The hundemarke had created the battle that would create the hundemarke. But if the hundemarke were never allowed to exist at all, the war wouldn’t exist in this time period either. It was ended months ago in this new timeline. It didn’t make any sense, but then again, when it came to the hundemarke, nothing really made sense anyway.
Anatol’s body lied there alone. The screen slowly turned black. And then, so did all the others. Some of them had been shaded red, which meant Jupiter wanted to paradox them by killing killers before they could kill with the hundemarke. The screens shaded blue, however, were ones he wanted to persist, even in this new reality. None of them was safe, though. They were all turning black, because none of them ever happened.
Jupiter watched the whole chamber turn, and with it, his apparent plans for world domination. “What did you do? What? Did? You? Do?”
“Leona?” Mateo said in the form of a question, but he didn’t really know what he was asking of her.
“I think you did the right thing,” Leona said. “I know it doesn’t sound like me, but...”
“I agree,” Ramses added. “Hard reset. The hundemarke is responsible for so much death. The world is a better place without it.”
“Are freaking kidding me?” Jupiter was seething. “The moment that you destroyed was everything. It occurred in the first reality ever.” It was like he was experiencing true grief. “Three temporal objects were created on May 23, 1871. First, the hundemarke. It creates fixed moments in time. The second, was the Sword of Assimilation. It can transfer time powers. Well, actually, I think it can transfer any special property from one individual to another, but in terms of our world, time powers are the only things that matter. The third...” He couldn’t finish his sentence.
“What is it, Jupiter Preston?” Declan prompted.
“Don’t call me that!” Jupiter cried. “My name is Fury.”
“I thought it was Rosa,” J.B. said.
“My alternate goes by that name, but I’m Fury.”
“Keep explaining,” Leona coaxed.
Jupiter composed himself. The third object that was created on May 23 was the Omega Gyroscope. It was...kind of a toy that one of the soldiers was carrying with him. I guess he planned on giving it to his son, or something? It can manipulate reality in any way imaginable, and any way unimaginable. It can do literally anything.”
“Well, that sounds dangerous,” Mateo figured. “I’m not sure it’s a bad thing it doesn’t exist in this timeline.”
“You don’t get it.” Jupiter was shaking his head profusely. “The Omega Gyroscope is responsible for time travel.” He waited for a reaction before continuing, “it led to everything! It led to everyone you’ve ever known existing. It led to the Saviors of Earth, to the salmon, to the Gallery. This world is nothing without it. It’s..nothing!”
Mateo approached Jupiter, and placed his hand on his shoulders. “It’s not nothing. It’s what the world should be. It’s what nearly everyone believes the world is...until someone like us shows up, and reveals the truth.”
“You still don’t understand, Matic. You erased time travel from history. We may not be in what we were calling The Parallel, because it might not be running parallel at all. You might have just destroyed the timeline you come from. We could be stuck here forever. You know how many trillions of people you just killed?”
“I know how many people I killed,” Mateo defended. “I killed one person here today. At least in terms of traveling through time, I only killed one person. Every time you go back, even just one second, you’re collapsing the timeline you came from, right? So I’m not any more of a killer than any of you. Don’t try to guilt me. I stand by what I did, even if it means this is just where we live now.”
“Yeah,” his friends backed him up in relative unison.
“And I’m not so sure we can’t call this the Parallel,” Mateo went on. “I just carried out Arcadia’s plan, and I hardly think she would have wanted to undo the creation of this gyroscope thing, if it’s so important to you people.”
“She wasn’t going to do that,” Jupiter argued. “She was only going to erase the hundemarke. There is a moment that we mapped that could have prevented the one, but not the other two, from existing. She was going to act on that moment, but you preempted it. You stopped the whole thing. You essentially went back too far.”
“I’m sorry you lost,” Mateo said. “I guess, if time travel doesn’t exist, there’s nothing you can do about it now.”
“Oh, to be sure, time travel doesn’t exist in this timeline, because we’re still in the miniature Gallery chamber. But when we step out, we’ll integrate ourselves fully into the timestream.” He held up his primary Cassidy cuff. “We’re just the only six people with time travel capabilities right now.” He reached out to the keypad, input the code, and opened the door. The basement was a total mess. Furniture was strewn about the floors. Leaky pipes were hanging from the ceiling. Exposed wires were sparking. A little fire was burning in the corner that probably wasn’t going to get much bigger. The walls were blown out.
“I’ve seen this before,” Leona said as she was stepping out. “This is what it looks like in our timeline...sometimes. It spontaneously switches back and forth between perfectly pristine, and destroyed.”
“I guess now we know where that temporal anomaly comes from,” Mateo said with a smile. “I think that’s pretty good evidence that this really is the Parallel, and not all there is.”
“Maybe,” Jupiter was forced to admit the possibility. He started tapping on his cuff screen.
There was a sharp gust of wind, and the fire disappeared, but other than that, things looked about the same. “What did you do?” Declan asked.
“I wanted to test the new pattern,” Jupiter answered. “Nailed it too. This is March 29, 2022.”
“What is the significance of this date?” Leona asked.
“I just said it. It’s your new pattern. It combines yours with Jeremy’s. You were designed to jump forward one year at the end of every day. He only lives on Tuesdays and July. There are certain instances where these dates intersect, and now that is all you will ever know.”
“What is the point of that?” Mateo questioned. “What are you getting out of this?”
“Well, I did have plans for you, which is why I chose all five of you to come with me to the Parallel. Those have since changed, but I see no reason to change everything. You’ll still remain on this new pattern until I decide otherwise. I guess we’ll find out if you were right about the old timeline staying intact.” Without another word, he teleported away. Not that it mattered. They would eventually figure out how to break their connection to him and his primary Cassidy cuff, and when they did, they would be free of all control. The powers that be had no jurisdiction here, and as the man said, there weren’t any other time travelers either. This could have been everything Mateo had been searching for since this all began.
“Let’s get out of here,” Ramses decided. “We need to find out what the rest of the world looks like in this reality.”
They struggled to climb up the stairs of the basement. Even though they were made of concrete, and remained mostly structurally sound, they were covered in debris. Large chunks were torn off as if bitten into by a dinosaur, and the whole thing could come crashing down eventually. The steps didn’t lead them to the first floor of Fletcher House. They had to pull themselves up a wall of dirt and dead grass, and push other vegetation out of the way. When they finally emerged from underground, they saw little else but a meadow at the edge of a forest. They should have been standing in the middle of the suburbs, but it was all gone. They didn’t know what to think.
Declan pulled one of his pant legs up, and removed a cuff from his shin. He started fiddling with the screen.
“You hid that from Jupiter?” Leona asked.
“It’s just my backup teleporter cuff,” Declan started to explain. “I keep it there in case my primary one is damaged, not if an evil clone steals it from me.”
“That could come in handy,” Ramses noted.
“No, it won’t.” Declan wrapped it back around his leg. “Well, I could use it to transport us from here to over there. He shut one eye, and pointed to the distance. “If we wanted to travel the globe, we would need at least one satellite to do it. There aren’t any satellites, though.”
“There aren’t?” Leona was the most shocked by this, but obviously everyone understood how strange this was.
Declan went on, “my mother dispatched a very small and undetectable constellation so I could navigate the world. If those failed me, however, I should still be able to hack into any number of other artificial satellites up there. It’s like when you go hiking, and can’t find a single WiFi signal. There’s nothin’ up there. At all. This world is not space-capable.”
“Thoughts, Leona?” Mateo prompted.
She started to pace around, and work through the problem. The others gave her time to come up with a theory. “One thing I wondered when I first learned about time travel, is whether it explains some of the more wondrous things that humankind has accomplished. Were they responsible for the world’s pyramids? Stonehenge? The moai on Rapa Nui? When I was on Tribulation Island, I spoke with The Historian, and it turns Humans built those magnificent structures, and they did it with their present-day technology, and that technology was as advanced as it should have been given the constraints of logical progression.
“Still, time travelers do exist, and they do make an impact on the past. They spread future diseases, and save lives, and open people’s eyes. Perhaps they make subtle changes to our species’ development that not even the Historian has noticed, because there are too many variables. If time travel doesn’t exist here, maybe that was enough to slow progress. I mean, Horace Reaver went back in time and made a lot of inevitable technology happen just a few years earlier than in his original timeline. That sort of thing may be happening constantly. Of course, we still need more information.” She looked around. “We’ve yet to see anyone here. That could indeed mean the human race died out centuries ago, and all that’s left is this basement. Or it just means they live on the other side of that hill, and everywhere else on the map, but they haven’t gotten into orbit yet.”
Mateo smiled, and looked over at Declan. “You can’t teleport to China, but you can see over that hill. Why don’t you scout around, and see what else is in the area? It’s not an order, I wanna be clear. I recognize you don’t owe us anything.”
“I want answers too,” Declan said. He removed the teleporter cuff once more from his leg, and placed it on his arm, higher than it normally would be, because of the Cassidy cuff that he was unable to remove. “Well, that’s gonna be annoying.” With a smile of his own, he aimed his special device down West, where the golf course used to be. He appeared on top of the hill, though he was far enough away to be barely visible. Fortunately, Jupiter didn’t disable the feature that let them communicate with each other through the Cassidy cuffs. “Nothing here. I’m gonna keep going. Go ahead and search for shelter, and make camp. I don’t think we should go back down to the basement.
“Roger that,” J.B. replied.
They watched Declan’s silhouette disappear. He fell out of comms range after an hour of running a circular grid search, and didn’t return until long after nightfall.
“Did you find anything?” Leona asked.
“Nothing. We’re alone for miles and miles.”
“I’m sure Jupiter’s pissed,” Ramses figured.
“Good,” Mateo said.

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