Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Tuesday, April 29, 2053

Before anyone could so much as begin to guess what the hell was going on, a pod appeared a few meters away from them, and opened up to reveal what Mateo could only describe as a future-cop. He smiled at the group apprehensively. “Hello. Reports indicate that some unusual temporal activity has been occurring in this area. Where, and/or when are you from?”
Hmm. He seemed to be a deveiled human, who used time technology on the regular. Mateo checked his wrist. Yes, it was honest hour, so he resolved to take the lead on this one, and not worry about whether anyone disagreed. “We apologize if we have broken any laws.” He showed the cop his Cassidy cuff. “We are not in control of our temporal movements. We do the bidding of someone who is very powerful. He’s trapped us here in your reality, though to be fair, all we’ve done so far is help people, so he may not be as bad as he wants us to believe.”
The time cop looked to the rest of the group, not because he didn’t believe Mateo’s story, but to see if anyone else had anything to add. “You’re from the main sequence.” It was a half-question.
“If that is what you call it,” Leona confirmed. “We just call it the main timeline, and we call this The Parallel.”
“Indeed,” the cop agreed. “You have been foretold.” He looked at his own watch, but literally. “No point in transporting you into the heart of the city, and alerting anyone else to your presence. I’ll be right here to pick you up in three years, two days.” He climbed back into his pod, and teleported away. Ninety minutes later, midnight central was quickly approaching.
Sanaa knelt down, and picked up what were formerly Ramses’ cuffs.
“Don’t touch those!” Leona warned.
“Why not?” Sanaa asked. “Will they magically wrap themselves around my wrists, and trap me on your hyphenated pattern?”
“Yeah, they might,” Leona warned further.
Sanaa smiled, and gracefully strapped them onto her wrists. “Well, what the hell else am I gonna do?” The damage was done now, and could not be undone, unless they forced someone else to take her place, or Kalea returned to explain how she removed Ramses from them in the first place.
Just as the man said, he was waiting for them three years later, but this time with a larger transport vehicle. He ushered them into it. “We’ve requested an audience with the Tanadama.”
“The whatnow?”
“The gods who created our galaxy. They’re very busy, but I’m optimistic that they will come here to speak with you.”
“They created the galaxy?” Leona asked.
“Well, not literally. The stars form naturally, of course. They saved our species, so that we almost never die. We only experience the occasional suicide from someone who’s just over it, or an AI malfunction that cannot be repaired.”
“You never die,” Leona continued the questioning. “How long have you been like that?”
“About twelve thousand years,” the cop answered. “I’m Officer Tynosey, by the way, but everyone just calls me Tyno.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Tyno.” Now Leona was just going to take over the conversation. “I assume that you are an interstellar civilization.”
“We’re an intergalactic civilization, but the majority of our population still lives in the Milky Way. We’re at K3.”
“My God,” she said. “How many people is that?”
“A couple undecillion,” Tyno said, like it was nothing. Mateo had never heard that particular prefix attached to -illion, which meant that it was probably pretty damn big. “Each host star houses around five septillion people. We could go higher than that obviously, but we like to spread out.
“That’s insane.”
“Yeah,” Holly Blue concurred. “Do you have faster-than-light travel?”
“We do,” Tyno replied. His watch beeped. “Oh. That’s confirmation. I’ve been authorized to return you to Earth, where your friends are waiting for you.” He closed the hatch behind him, synced his watch with a panel on the wall, and transported them to Earth.
The hatch opened from the outside as soon as they arrived. Ramses was there with his big fat smile. They were on the side of a mountain, overlooking a valley. “Man, we had always planned on being there, waiting for you when you arrived, but the timeline is complicated. We weren’t sure which timeline you would remember, so we just decided to let the locals handle it until this year.” He gestured towards Tyno.
Tyno hopped out of the transport, and closed his eyes. He placed three fingers loosely on his forehead, and then moved them down to his lips. He kept switching back and forth between these two positions, occasionally spending several seconds in one stop, and changing speed erratically. It reminded Mateo of how the Catholics did the sign of the cross. Catholicism probably didn’t exist in this reality.
“That’s enough, my child,” Ramses said to him.
“It is such a deep honor, Father. I am so humbled in your presence. I’m not worthy to breathe from the same atmosphere as you—”
“All right,” Ramses stopped him. “What does it say in the Book of Ramses, Chapter Eleven, Section Twenty-Four, Paragraph Forty-Two, Line Fifty-Six?”
When the Mother or Father appear to you, they will be human, and they will be accessible, and you will respect them, but you will not worship them,” Tyno recited. “Sorry, sir.”
“It’s all right. Just don’t forget that I’m only a person.”
The group looked at him in disapproval.
“It got away from us,” Ramses tried to explain to them. “We didn’t write the books, but we did edit them, adding lines like that so they wouldn’t kill themselves out of reverence every time we showed up.”
Leona rejected this response. “You formed a religion. That’s time travel one-oh-one. In fact, I better make it Rule Number Fourteen, do not form, or inspire, a religion.”
“It’s a lot more complicated than that,” Ramses argued.
“Clarify,” Mateo said. “Report.”
So Ramses began to explain where he and Kalea had gone, and what they had done. “This isn’t the first new timeline that we created. At first, we followed the plan. We got everyone off of Durus, and back to Earth. We continued on the pattern, and things were okay when it came to us. It wasn’t okay with the rest of the world, though. Earth was still devoid of nearly all human life. There was us, and the people that Jupiter transitioned. Kalea didn’t like that. Her whole purpose as a source mage on Durus in the main sequence was to protect people using time powers. So the lot of us went back to the cataclysm that destroyed the species, and fixed it. Now things were even finer, but not great. Technology was incredibly slow. They were building castles when they should have been working on the first rockets. So we went back again, and saved more lives. Every time we went back, we made the timeline a little better; a little safer. Kalea was never happy, though. She needed to fix everything, and to do that, we needed help. We created more mages, and used them like the powers that be use salmon in the other timeline.
“I don’t even remember how it happened, but the last thing we did was go back thousands of years, and turn everyone immortal. I tried to explain to her the repercussions of such a thing, but she wouldn’t hear it. She would not listen to the math. I told her that over a hundred billion people had ever lived on Earth, and also that Earth could indeed support that many people, but I also told her that in a timeline with virtually no death, you can’t just go by that number, because those people are going to have children. Over time, the number has grown so large that we are now a Kardashev 3 civilization, occupying every star system in the entire galaxy.”
“Yes.” Leona nodded. “Tyno did tell us that. You made a galaxy of time travelers. I can’t imagine how problematic that has become.”
“No,” Ramses contended. “Time travel is against the law, galaxy-wide. It’s not technically necessary, since the only way to have time powers is to get them from me or Kalea, but it’s a redundant system. People don’t die, and they can move across the galaxy at superluminal speeds. That’s all we gave them. They developed the rest of the technology they have.”
Leona shook her head continuously. “Two undecillion people,” she said quietly. “I don’t even know what that means.” She wasn’t the only one wondering this. Leona and Holly Blue were two of the smartest people Mateo knew. If even they had trouble fathoming the vast number of people presently alive in a galaxy with a millennia-long history of nearly no death, then he would have no hope of understanding it. “You couldn’t maintain a homogeneous system with that, even with ubiquitous FTL. That’s just too many people.”
“Each solar swarm has its own governmental body, yes,” Ramses said. Saying we’re K3 is a bit of a misnomer. We’re more like a bunch of separate K2s. But there’s a lot of collaboration, and we don’t allow war. Half the Book of Kalea is about living in harmony.”
“People keep talking about these K-numbers,” J.B. complained. “What does that mean?”
Sanaa chose to explain this one, “a K1 civilization can harness all the power on its planet. K2 can use its whole sun. K3 can use the whole galaxy. What Ramses is saying that, since the galaxy is so big, they’re not really K3, because they’re not all one civilization anymore.”
“What are you?” Mateo asked Ramses, not bothering to ask Sanaa why she understood this scale the scientists were talking about.
“I’m a source mage now,” Ramses answered. “Most of the time, the source mages in the main sequence only create lesser mages. There was a theory, however, that they could effectively make more, just by giving someone the power to give other people powers.”
J.B. giggled. “It’s like using one of your three wishes to wish for more wishes.”
“Kind of,” Ramses admitted. “She only did it once, though. She made me, and we’re it.”
“The Dadamama, that is,” Mateo put forth.
“Tanadama,” Ramses corrected, but you were on the right track. Ta, da, ma, and na are all used in various languages to mean father and mother, respectively. We put it together, because parents didn’t seem to do our role justice. It was Alt!Jeremy’s idea.”
“Sounds like me,” J.B. decided.
“So, it’s over,” Holly Blue presumed.
“What’s over?” Ramses questioned.
“The Matic-Bearimy pattern. The only reason we were on it was because Jupiter was too powerful to go against. That can’t possibly be the case anymore.”
Ramses deafened them with his silence.
“Ramses?” Mateo began. “Can’t you just put a stop to this...or make somebody who can?”
“It’s complicated,” Ramses told them, but did not elaborate.
“Keep going,” Leona urged.
“The Book of Ramses clearly states, To maintain temporal integrity, no native of The Parallel may interfere with the actions of those from the main sequence.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Sanaa argued. “You’re from the main sequence, and Jupiter is interfering with the Parallel. It doesn’t go both ways? Seems irrational.”
“The line I recited is taken a bit out of context. If you read more of it, you would understand that I can’t help you. I’m not really from the main timeline anymore. I’ve been here for tens of thousands of years. I couldn’t be The Father if I didn’t integrate myself fully into this reality.”
“Leona,” Mateo interrupted her before she could argue again. “This is not the friend who left us yesterday. He is an entirely different person, who has been through more than we will ever understand. You won’t be able to convince him to help. We just have to accept the fact that this is how it is. I tried arguing with The Superintendent, and it got me nowhere.” He turned to the man who looked like his best friend. “Thank you for rescuing us from Durus, and thank you for your time. We will let you get back to your galaxy, as we return to the mission. We would be grateful, however, if you could find us a ride to Australia.”
“He’s right,” J.B. said, looking at his own cuff. “Now that we have a satellite feed, we can see exactly where we need to go.”
“I’m sorry,” Ramses told him.
“I firmly believe that we’re saving lives,” Mateo said. “I don’t know why Jupiter wants us to think he’s evil, or why he thinks the only way to save these people’s lives is to temporarily pull them into another reality, but I’m going to keep going until we run out of people to help.”
Ramses nodded in understanding. “I’ll get you to that transport. It’s not far from here; right where you left it in the underground hangar. I don’t know when it transitioned.” He was talking about the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which was the closest thing they had to a home these days.

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