Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Tuesday, May 27, 2081

Mateo and J.B. were placed in highly advanced medical pods. In a matter of minutes, the minimally invasive nanobots had repaired all of their bodily injuries, and restored them to perfect health. In fact, Mateo hadn’t realized he hadn’t been feeling great for the last week or so, but all that was gone too. He was feeling better than ever before. Unlike Leona, he was easily able to forgive Sanaa for what she had done, though he could tell that all his wife needed was time. Jericho, on the other hand, was not so merciful. He was pissed, and while the two of them were recovering, he had caused so much of a stir, that Parallel natives had to step in, and place him in a holding cell, so he wouldn’t be able to hurt anyone. It was here that he spent the rest of the day, and when the next time jump came, he made the trip with them to May 27, 2081.
By then, the AOC had been returned to them, so they could continue their mission, which was apparently taking them to Egypt. Shortly after they arrived, their next target did as well. Ariadna Traversa, also known as The Escapologist, had been living in the Great Pyramid of Giza on May 27, 2081. She wasn’t alone there. Others were staying there with her, along with an alternate version of Leona. Though Aridna was the only one who was sent through the transition window.
“Jeremy,” Ariadna acknowledged.
“Do we know each other?” J.B. asked her.
Ariadna looked around. Her pyramid was gone. They were standing in a rainforest. Some deserts did exist on this planet, because certain living organisms thrived there, but there was a lot more greenery on this version of Earth than their homeworld. The humans put a great deal of effort into insulating and seeding life on the worlds they conquered. They considered protecting the environment their sacred duty, even though their whole deal was being able to go wherever they wanted in the observable universe, and not worrying about the habitability of any one place. Ariadna didn’t know where she found herself now, but J.B. not knowing her was still not a surprise. She breathed in and enjoyed the particularly clean air. “Report.”
“Have you ever heard of The Parallel?” Leona asked.
“No, what is that?”
“It’s an alternate reality that runs concurrently to our own,” Mateo answered.
“It’s halfway between a different timeline, and a different universe,” Leona started to clarify. “Each can be changed by time travelers, but neither led to the other, and any changes to one have no impact on the other.”
Ariadna nodded her head. “I understand the concept. What am I doing here?”
“Jupiter Fury,” Sanaa said.
Ariadna rolled her eyes. “You guys are mixed up with the Springfield Nine?”
“Really just the one,” J.B. said.
She was still nodding. “How do I get back?”
Mateo consulted his cuff. “You can go back in an hour, right where you came through. Sometimes we have to get people to different places, but you can just stay here and wait.”
“Then I can go through too,” Jericho suggested. He had long ago calmed down, but they were still controlling his movements through proximity settings. He couldn’t be more than ten meters away from at least one of the others, and he couldn’t stand within one meter of any of them. “It’s only been three years, I can still go back to my life. I won’t tell anyone about this place, I promise.”
“We’re not worried about you exposing us,” Leona assured him.
Sanaa continued, “the prison will lock you up if you try.”
“You can’t go through the window either way,” Leona finished.
“Why not?” Jericho demanded to know.
“Yeah, why not?” J.B. questioned. “Is it because he still has a chance to stop the changes to the judicial system?”
“It’s not that,” Leona replied. “Ariadna, when did Adolf Hitler die?”
“I don’t know,” Ariadna answered, “like 1949, or something.”
“You sure it wasn’t 1945?”
She thought about it a moment. “Yeah, because he had that scandal involving the Argentinian ambassador that definitely happened after the war ended. Why?”
“That’s why you can’t go through, Jericho,” Leona said to him.
She was right. It wasn’t going to work. If they tried to send Jericho back with The Escapologist, he would end up in the wrong version of 2081. In fact, she shouldn’t return either. This was the last day of reality before it collapsed to make way for a new timeline. Since Mateo was the one who killed Hitler, and created the new timeline in the main sequence, he chose to be the one to explain this to both of them.
“Well, fine,” Jericho said, still frustrated. “Then I’ll go back in 2084. Will that work?”
They looked to Leona, who shook her head. “The next window won’t be until 2100. I’m sorry.”
“This is bullshit!” Jericho cried. “I didn’t ask to be here!”
“Yeah, that’s the deal,” Mateo volleyed. “Sanaa is the only one who came here on purpose. The rest of us are salmon, and aren’t given a choice of how we experience time. Except for Ariadna, who’s basically been kidnapped, just like you.”
“Well.” Jericho didn’t understand. “Can’t you just make the window go back to the other, other 2081?”
“Can you?” Sanaa asked of him.
“That guy,” Jericho pleaded. “That guy I saw you talking with. He’s the one in charge, right? He can do it. He’s in total control of these window things anyway, isn’t he?”
Now everyone looked to Sanaa, who had spent the most time exploring her Cassidy cuffs. She probably knew more about them than Leona did. “There’s a Help feature, just like you would find on a regular computer.” She started to tap on her cuff. “When I select it, it shows me the options for Call, Chat, and Summon. But they’re all grayed out, as if we need to wait until business hours. I’m sure that’s how we would contact Jupiter, but he would have to clock in to work. I’m glad he’s not there, though.” She addressed Jericho alone, “I wouldn’t want you to go back to the main sequence. Hell, I don’t even want you going back there in 2100. Don’t worry, I won’t stop you guys, but I won’t help you either. I vote we find a way to strand him here.”
Leona sighed. “We’re not doing that. We will send you back on June 15, 2100. Until then, you will both have to stay here. Miss Traversa, I’m afraid I cannot allow you to return to a reality we know is about to collapse.”
“Of course not,” Ariadna said. “I’m glad you have a choice, and Jupiter isn’t forcing you to do it.”
They stood there awkwardly for a moment. J.B. broke the silence, first by casually sucking his teeth as if it were a music instrument, and then with words. “ you want a tour of the ship?”
“Sure, why not?” Ariadna asked rhetorically.
“Perhaps you can tell me about this other version of me you evidently met.”
“Yeah, all right.”
“Mr. Hagen, I know that you are angry. What my associate did to you is unforgivable. I hope you will one day understand why it is she made her choice, as dangerous as it was. I believe that you would benefit from a little history lesson. Our ship possesses the repository of human knowledge within its memory storage. I can show you what the world goes through up until 2100, especially in adjudicative related topics. I can even show you beyond that, though it may be best you don’t learn anything about the future. Would you be interested in that? It might help change your mind.”
“I don’t want to change my mind,” Jericho argued.
Leona nodded. “A lot of people have held the same conviction. I’m not saying you’re evil, but it’s unquestionably the reason we had the Crusades, and the Spanish Inquisition, and the Witch Trials, and the Great Wars, and all the other wars, and McCarthyism, and all the other bad things that our world has experienced!” She didn’t yell too loudly, but she was impassioned. “The inability to surrender to the possibility that one is wrong has led to so much death and heartache that it is quite literally impossible to quantify. If you’re not open to learning more information, and becoming a better person, then you’re not a real’re just a walking law book. And a book is no better than a paperweight if the lessons inside it aren’t used to make the world a better place.
“So you can sulk until you go back, and you can plan your revenge against time travelers, which puts you at risk of being placed in a prison no human could escape. Or. You can come with me back to the AOC, and find out how to practice law in the new system.”
Jericho took a moment to reply, but it was clear he was about to, so no one interrupted him. “Very well.”
Mateo and Sanaa watched them head for the ship as well. “Wow, she said. Remember what I told you about us never having a threesome? I’m actually considering it now.”
“Keep it in your pants, Karimi.”
Nothing interesting happened for the rest of the day. J.B. and Ariadna proved to be fast friends, which wasn’t that weird, since the latter already knew some other version of the former. Jericho studied what was originally meant to be his past, and while no one would have said he had some kind of revelation, he was a little more flexible about the law by the end of the day. They let the transition window come and go, once again without having anyone actually use it to go back to the main sequence. From now on, people would only be coming from the reality that existed after Mateo assassinated Hitler. That was what most of them thought, anyway. Leona explained that it was more complicated than that.
People were regularly going back in time and changing history, and since the main sequence was less a separate reality, and more of a series of realities, it was entirely possible someone would come through the window with a slightly different recollection of events than they had. These differences would most likely be imperceptible, like what color shirt they wore when they first met, or whatever. It could theoretically cause problems with causality, however. So Leona recommended they really do try to send people back through the windows, if at all possible. Keeping the main sequence separate from the Parallel was something they ought to be striving for. Hopefully that would start to feel as easy to do as said.

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