Sunday, September 6, 2020

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Tuesday, July 4, 2119

As they were on their way back to Tribulation Island, Mateo and Ellie came up with a lie. Conventionally, seers were heard, but not seen, so to speak. They gave people advice, and as long as they had proven themselves trustworthy, most time travelers believed them. Furthermore, other time travelers would usually believe someone who claimed to have been guided by a seer, towards some action. There was a lot of potential for abuse, and of course, there was no way to know how often this happened, but the two of them needed it right now. They were going to exploit this phenomenon, and claim that a seer told Ellie to take J.B.’s place in the circle of Cassidy cuffers.
First, they needed to come up with a riddle. Seers never gave perfect instructions. One would never say, take the Cassidy cuffs from J.B., and place them on your own wrists on July 3, 2118. Keep them on for precisely this amount of time. They had to be real vague about it, so their words could be misinterpreted once heard, but unmistakable when the moment came. That is, the premonition would fail if simply hearing it prompted immediate—and therefore premature—action. It had to come with a temporal marker that still prevented the listener from seeking it out, but once the signal appeared, there could be no denying its validity. Mateo felt pretty proud of himself for devising a reasonably plausible fake prophecy. Ellie was supposedly told by someone she trusted that she needed to free the ursine on the beach. Ursine meant bear, which was part of Jeremy Bearimy’s full name. It wasn’t likely that she would ever encounter a real bear, or some other kind of bear-like something or other on a beach at any other juncture. So it was something she couldn’t have understood when she first reportedly heard it, but also something that could not be ignored, now that she knew J.B. was on Tribulation Island, and in a way, chained up.
Leona’s level of suspicion fluctuated, but ultimately remained unchanged. The fact that Ellie had this prophecy to fulfill, and that Mateo was in on it, explained why he was acting shady earlier. But then her suspicions rose back to where they were, because now she wondered why he was involved, and what else he wasn’t telling her. This was ludicrous, he was supposed to be able to tell her anything. He was just so caught up in it now, though. Telling her the truth late, not telling her until she found out on her own; which was better? If only he legit knew an actual seer himself, who could tell him what to do, his life would be a lot easier. Why was it that everyone seemed to have their own personal fortune-teller, but he had seemingly never even met one before? Did they even exist? Anyway, J.B. was happy to give up his cuffs, because the FOMO was real, but he would need them back eventually, because the FOMO was just as real on this side. Ariadna never even suspected it had anything to do with her, and Ellie still didn’t tell Mateo why it did. She didn’t seem to be doing anything with her power yet.
The next day, Mateo decided to finally tell the group what Jupiter asked of them. They didn’t act upset about not having been told before, so that was a big relief. It sure didn’t hurt that he came to them with a solution in hand. The details weren’t all there, and they didn’t necessarily have everything they needed, but it was a great start. The strange thing was that Trinity, Thor, and Abigail were nowhere to be found. They never came back to Tribulation Island themselves, and when J.B. and Gilbert went out looking for them, they found no one on Lorania either. They weren’t instrumental to the Vearden plan, but they were still meant to stick around and help.
Sanaa decided to sum up their conversation thus far. “Okay, so we need a fully mature clone body of Vearden Haywood, so that Ellie can transfer the real Vearden’s consciousness into it. And we need it by the time of his predestined death in six days.”
“That’s right,” Ellie said. “I thought my friends were going to work on that while we were gone, but their own plans have apparently changed. I don’t know where they are.”
“We shouldn’t need them,” Ariadna put forth. “If Thālith al Naʽāmāt Bida can do something in 2400, then someone in The Parallel can do it right now. This place is still millennia ahead in terms of technology.”
“There’s an issue with that,” Leona reminded them. “They’re not allowed to help us when it comes to what we do with the main sequence. They’re not allowed to do anything.” She was right. There was no guarantee that the Parallel natives would agree to help, and they did need their help to pull it off. If it was a violation of their non-interference laws, there wasn’t likely anything they could do to convince them to make an exception. As soon as they asked whoever it was they asked, they would receive the only answer they would ever get.
“Sanaa,” Ariadna said, “you figured out how to make a transition window go both ways, and extend the time it’s open.”
“For ten minutes, yeah. Like you were saying, though, I only held the window open longer. These things aren’t capable of opening a window that isn’t already there, if that’s what you were thinking.”
“They have to be,” Mateo argued. “I mean, the reason we’re all on this new pattern is because J.B. and I and Leona are now sharing our respective patterns. Jupiter may only have one cuff on, but we still have to have access to his power. We’re expected to not try to use it, but Sanaa and Leona proved they can be hacked. There must be a way to steal it from him, and transition whenever we want to.”
“The question I have,” J.B. began, “is why do we want to do that? Why do we need to transition before Vearden’s day?”
“Yeah, I was on my way to explaining that” Ariadna continued. “I assume you need a sample of his blood ahead of time, in order to make the clone?”
“That’s right,” Ellie confirmed. “That’s a good idea. If you guys can figure out how to get me back to the other reality, we can sneak a sample, and come back. We can’t do anything without his DNA.”
“Okay.” Leona nodded her head, and paced a little bit. “Sanaa and I will work on the cuffs. Hopefully we’ll have a way soon. If not, maybe we can just ask Jupiter for help. If he really wants this done, nothing should stop him from getting involved.”
“You have over two days,” Mateo advised them. The way I remember it, our past selves are in the middle of the Xearea expiation. No one is even on the island in the main sequence right now, because they’re all scattered throughout the timeline, filling in for the Savior.”
“Okay, great,” Sanaa said. “I do know how to interface with the cuffs using a separate screen. I find it easier to work on something larger.”
While they went off to work their magic, Mateo took Ellie aside to get a few answers. “What powers does Ariadna have, and why do you need them?”
“Don’t you trust me, Matty?” Ellie asked, batting her eyes at him.
“I do, but I still wanna know. I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me before, but I’ve never known what she was capable of. They call her The Escapologist, but she doesn’t say where she escaped from.”
“That has nothing to do with it,” Ellie replied. I mean, it’s not completely unrelated, but it’s not super relevant either.”
“So, how ‘bout it?”
Ellie tipped her forehead down respectfully. “Very well. She’s a dimensional hacker.”
“I don’t know what that means.”
“Some people can create and inhabit parallel spatial and temporal dimensions. They use these to hide away from the world, watch people in secret, give themselves a little extra time, imprison people, or do any number of other things. Only certain people can access certain dimensions, each for unique reasons. Ariadna, on the other hand, can access any and all of them, no matter what. You can’t keep her out.”
“So, you’re trying to break into one of these things?”
“I am, yes. It sounds malicious, but it’s not.”
“I wasn’t thinking that.”
“There are people trapped in one of these. It’s called The Fourth Quadrant. Now that I know about the Parallel, I’m starting to see why they called it that. A very long time ago, even from this point in time, a man created a copy of the Kansas City Metropolitan area.”
“Oh yeah, I’ve heard of it,” Mateo recalled. “Ace and Serkan got mixed up in all that back in the day.”
“Yes,” Ellie said. “They managed to escape from that world, along with K-Boy. No one else did, though. Jupiter Rosa has a jacket that can get there, but it only can only transport two people at a time. I’m trying to get everybody out.”
“So, you’re going to go back to, what, 2024, and free them?”
Ellie shook her head. “I was just hoping to do it today or tomorrow. If my calculations are correct, it’s been less than seven years for the people in there. Time moves differently for them.”
“Is there a reason you’re keeping your intentions a secret from your friends, or Ariadna herself, for that matter?”
“I don’t want to put anyone else at risk. Tauno Nyland didn’t trap those people in there because of any particular disdain he has for them. He’s just a sadist who likes toying with people. He allowed a few people to escape, because he found it entertaining, but he’s not going to stand by and let me cancel his favorite transdimensional TV show.”
“If Ariadna can access this Fourth Quadrant world, can she not get us back to the main sequence without Jupiter’s help?”
“As I understand it, the Escapologist doesn’t use her powers, for reasons she won’t fully explain, but I think it has something to do with whatever inspired her nickname. If she can get to the main sequence, she either doesn’t know it, or doesn’t want to do it. The only way to get this done is if I just borrow her powers, and put myself—and myself alone—at risk. I didn’t think I would ever get the opportunity to do this, but then I ended up here, and realized that opportunity has been waiting for me. It won’t last forever, though.”
“Let me help you,” Mateo requested. “I get you to the Fourth Quadrant, you get me to Vearden.”
“I don’t need your help getting there, I already have the power. I just need time to practice. That’s what I was doing all last night while everyone else was asleep.”
“You do need my help,” Mateo contended. “I imagine you have to travel back to Earth, because that’s where the barrier between the worlds is. The intergalactic transporter technician said they’ll take me anywhere I want to go. I can’t promise that offer extends to you, since you weren’t with us at the time.” That wasn’t entirely truthful. People here were very relaxed and accommodating. They would probably help Ellie without knowing anything about her, because they would see no reason not to.
“Mateo, I just told you that I’m doing this to keep everyone else safe. If Tauno goes after me, he won’t go after anyone else. He’s a terrible person, but he doesn’t retaliate against people who’ve not gone against him.”
“Did the entirety of the KC Metro piss him off?”
“Those are just quantum duplicates,” Ellie clarified. “He doesn’t see that as hurting them. To him, the copies aren’t real people.”
“Well, I can’t imagine he’ll deign to interfere with whatever Jupiter Fury has planned for me and mine. If anything, my being there will protect you.”
“I dunno...”
“No one should do anything alone. You might run into an obstacle that requires you to be in two places at once. What will you do then?”
She sighed.
“Miss Underhill...”
“Okay, fine. You can come. But just you. I don’t want anyone else involved, despite what you may think about what Tauno would or wouldn’t do in regards to Jupiter’s plans.”
“I’m telling Leona the truth, however. I won’t tell Ariadna, or anyone else, but I can’t keep lying to my wife.”
“Okay. I’m gonna go keep practicing.”

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