Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Tuesday, May 24, 2078

Sanaa was looking around the area with her Cassidy cuff. “Love Kansas City.”
“You do?” Leona questioned? “I didn’t think you had ever been there.”
“No, that’s just what the painting says. I mean, I don’t hate Kansas City. I don’t have any strong feelings about it.”
Leona lifted her own cuff. “Oh, the mural. Yeah, this is downtown KC. I’m kind of surprised this building survived the decades.”
“I don’t think it did.” Mateo was down the sidewalk a little, looking through AR mode. “They just left the wall up. The rest of the building is gone. Who painted it?”
“I dunno,” Leona answered, like it was a dumb question.
“At-scribeswalk.” J.B. was pointing his cuff on the corner of the building.
“I don’t think this reality has Twitter,” Mateo presumed.
Leona sighed. “Anyway, the transition is happening over there, at that construction site.”
Everyone turned around to see, and then followed her to get closer to their destination. People in the main sequence were walking down the street, going about their lives. The window was scheduled to open in under a minute, but nothing looked dangerous. No one was standing on top of a roof, or chained to train tracks. This was just a normal day, except that one of these people was going to spontaneously disappear from the world. Mateo tried to find someone he recognized, because so far, they hadn’t encountered a stranger during one of these challenges. Who did he know in 2078? That was back when he thought the Makarion he knew was his own person, and not being possessed by the spirit of Gilbert Boyce. It wouldn’t be long before Mateo would watch inmates from Beaver Haven Correctional fight in the Colosseum replica, and shortly after that, he would go backwards in time to 1945, and then skip a few years on his pattern as a result of the choice he made back then.
The flickering began, revealing their target. Yes, it was just some guy. He looked upset and frazzled, but not like his life was in danger, more like he was just having a bad day. Once he was fully integrated in this reality, and saw that his environment had changed, he was stunned. Natives of the Parallel were well aware of the Bearimy-Matic joint pattern. They were expected to clear the area of every transition window, which they did immediately after the four of them arrived, as if being directed by a film director. So now it was just them, and the refugee.
He looked over at them. “What just happened?”
“It’s okay,” Leona assured him. “No one here is going to hurt you.”
“Where exactly is here?” the man asked.
“This have...”
“It’s Kansas City in a parallel reality,” Sanaa jumped in. “You’ve been transitioned to our world by a powerful frenemy of ours, whose motives are hazy. It’s okay. We just have to get you to your exit window, and you’ll be back home before the day is through.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” the man was getting mad.
J.B. took his shot. “Time travel is real. We don’t know why you were chosen, but it’s completely reversible. You may just miss a few hours of your life.” He consulted his cuff. “We just need to get you to Washington D.C. in...oh, only twenty minutes. You won’t miss much at all.”
“That’s exactly where I wanted to be. I couldn’t get a flight out yesterday, or today. The meeting is in an hour. There is no way we make it.”
Sanaa smirked. “We would have time for a quick breakfast, if we wanted.” She placed her hand on his shoulder, and presented him with the AOC. “That’s our spaceship. It can also teleport.”
“Teleport.” The man narrowed his eyes. “Are you people crazy?”
“Nah, man. We’re just from the future.”
He wasn’t convinced.
“What’s your name?” Leona asked him.
“Jericho Hagen, Esquire.”
“What do you need to do in Washington D.C.?” she continued.
“They’re working on a proposal. They want to completely blow up our judicial system, and replace it with something entirely different. Of course, they’re going to start out slow, but I know their future plans. You won’t recognize the court system twenty-five years from now.”
“Oh my God,” Leona began, “this is the start.”
“What is the proposal?”
Jericho was hesitant to keep talking to them, but if there was even a chance they would be able to get him to where he belonged, he probably figured it was best to be nice. “They want to add, like, a professional jury member. Every jury will have someone who studied law, so they can evidently keep the others on track. That will taint the entire system. Our courts are founded on a jury of peers. If we start contaminating the pool with people who have that kind of education, the process will no longer be fair. It would be like having a lawyer serve on the jury. That’s not technically illegal, but I’ve never heard of an attorney selecting one of their own kind for a jury. We just don’t do it. This is even worse, because they’ll be making it a requirement. And like I said, it’s only the beginning. They’re gonna start making juries smaller by default, and limiting the defending attorney’s ability to vigorously defend their client. I cannot let this pass.”
“That’s interesting,” Leona said. “Just give us one moment to talk.” She started leading the group away. “Just...don’t touch anything.”
“This sounds familiar,” Mateo pointed out.
“This really is the beginning. That bill is a historic moment. The first step should happen in two years, and changes everything about how we handle criminal and civil court. More changes will come later. Instead of having one jury, they’ll have two arbitration panels, who deliberate separately, and aren’t allowed to talk to each other. Attorneys start losing incentives to win at all costs, as priority shifts to finding the truth, and not letting the guilty get away with it. Judges become a completely separate profession. The arbitrator procedures he’s talking about only become stronger as time goes on. What he’s describing lasts for decades, at least, and that’s only because I don’t know what the future looks like beyond 2278.”
“So, he fails to stop it,” J.B. guessed.
“Or maybe he fails to get to the meeting,” Sanaa suggested. She pulled her head from the huddle, and looked back over to Jericho. “Maybe we’re here to stop him.”
“That’s your choice.” Jupiter Fury was standing behind Mateo’s back.
“Where have you been?” Mateo asked him.
“I’ve been working on your pattern, making sure the right people get here, so you can improve their lives.”
“Are we supposed to get him to Washington D.C., or not?” Leona questioned.
Jupiter pursed his lips, and shrugged his shoulders. “That’s up to you. I can tell you that if you send him through the egress transition window, when you return to the main sequence—and I promise, you will one day—the timeline you end up in will be wildly different than the one you left. That man has power. He’ll fight against progress, the jury system will remain, and inequality will reign. His people’s drive to win every case possible will send our country into a downwards spiral, until the very idea that the United States of America was ever a superpower will be laughable for students learning history two hundred years from now. They won’t believe it.”
“That’s bullshit,” Leona argued. “Our system has stayed pretty much the same for centuries already, and our status as a superpower hasn’t been questioned since it became one in 1898.”
“True,” Jupiter agreed, “but nothing lasts forever...unless it changes. He doesn’t know it yet, because he fancies himself a moderate libertarian, but Jericho Hagen becomes synonymous with a major paleoconservative movement that emphasizes maintaining the status quo above all else. He believes the Constitution is perfect, and amendments should be kept to a minimum, and that speaks to a lot of people. I’ve seen this future, and I don’t think you want it. To be honest, I don’t really care. My friends and I thrive in all realities; we just have to adjust our plans accordingly.”
“We have about ten minutes to make a decision,” J.B. alerted them.
Leona shook her head. “We’re not gods. Just because we have the power to change reality, doesn’t mean we should. It was one thing to save my mother from death, or let Elder Caverness go off to fight a war he wanted to fight. It’s another thing to keep this man from his life.”
“Would you do the same for Hitler?” J.B. asked. “If he came through a transition window in, say, 1910, wouldn’t we be obligated to keep him from getting back until after 1945? Or, I dunno, hold him forever?”
The other three looked over at Mateo, who had first hand experience with this scenario, several times. He rolled his eyes. “This is not the same thing. Jericho Hagen is not Adolf Hitler. Believe me, I know. We have to get him back. That’s the job. Like my wife said, it’s different when they don’t want to go back. He does, so we should accommodate that. It’s what we do. I’ve always been against messing with time, and if we come from a reality where Hagen never makes it to D.C., then I imagine that’s the result of time travel, and we would just be undoing that by teleporting him there.”
“You can’t possibly know that,” Sanaa contended.
“Ripples; not waves,” Mateo retorted.
“Ugh.” Now Leona rolled her eyes. “That’s a dumb line. But he’s right. He wants to go back, so let’s take him back. We better hurry. Sanaa and I will go set the coordinates, and prep for a jump. Go get him, and make sure he boards the AOC.”
“Very well.” Jupiter really didn’t seem to care either way. “I gotta go get Ariadna. I’ll see ya when I see ya.” He winked at Sanaa, then disappeared.
“My God, it’s real,” Jericho acknowledged when Mateo and J.B. went back over to retrieve him. “He just blinked away.”
“That’s time travel for you,” J.B. replied. “Or teleportation? Or reality jumping. I’m not sure how his power works. How does he do all this? Doesn’t he make copies of himself? Why does that allow him to switch timelines?”
“We’ll ask Leona later,” Mateo said to him. “I’m sure she knows why it makes sense. Anyway, you wanna get to Washington, we gotta go now.”
“Yes, definitely.” Jericho was all in now. He apparently totally believed that they were there to help him, and he seemed grateful for the opportunity to get back to his mission. Mateo might have even called him giddy. Hopefully this meant they were doing the right thing.
They walked up to the ship, climbed the ladder, and crawled inside. Leona was climbing back up from engineering. “We’re all here, and ready to go. Hey, Thistle! Make the jump.”
The ship powered up, and disappeared, just as it was meant to. Unfortunately, none of the passengers went with it. They were all left behind, and now falling through the air, towards the hard surface below. Leona thought quick, and caught Jericho in the air, so she could land him safely on the ground. Mateo and J.B., on the other hand, fell hard, and suffered painful injuries. Sanaa happened to have stayed down in engineering, so she hadn’t had as high of a fall.
Mateo could feel the pool of blood form underneath his body. “What the hell was that?”
Leona let go of Jericho, and dove down to tend to her husband. “I have no idea. That shouldn’t have happened.”
“I’m sorry.” Sanaa was now standing next to Jericho. She reached up, and slapped Holly Blue’s former Cassidy cuffs on his wrists. “Fortunately, the people in this reality have magical powers. They’ll fix you up, so it’s like you never got hurt at all. In the meantime, this will help with the pain.” She shot J.B. with a jet injector, then went over to do the same for Mateo.
“What did you do?” Leona asked.
“I know more about how spaceships work than you might think,” Sanaa began to explain. “Hokusai taught me a lot during your interim years. I’ve also been experimenting with our cuffs. We’re stuck on this pattern, but these things have other features Jupiter never restricted our access to. All I did was quantum lock them to this position temporarily, so the ship could jump away without us. It’s safe and sound in the Capital, waiting for us.”
“Why?” Mateo asked, wiping the blood from his lips.
“I come from a bloodline of telepaths. Not all of us kept their powers a secret, or kept it well. My family has a long history of being screwed over by small-minded white people who thought we were witches, or demons. The only thing that saved us was a more fair adjudicative system, which this man wants to dismantle before humanity even has a chance to start it. I can’t let that happen. If I had had more time, I could have done something else, but the window before the transition window was just too short. This was my only solution.” She checked her watch. “And now the moment’s pretty much passed.”
They could hear sirens in the distance, drawing nearer.
“The next window is in three years,” Leona nearly shouted at her. “We could have gotten him back then. You didn’t have to slap the cuffs on him. Now our job is really complicated, besides having to make sure these wounds heal.”
The ambulance approached.
Sanaa shook her head. “You were wrong. Jericho Hagen is Hitler. He just doesn’t know it yet. he never does. When he finally gets back to the main sequence, he’ll see the world he almost destroyed, and he’ll thank us for it.”
Leona stood up, so the medics could start treating Mateo and J.B. “Will I? Will I thank you?”
Sanaa took a half step towards her friend. “I hope so.”

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