Sunday, March 14, 2021

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Sunday, July 31, 2146

The team dropped Miapaktem and Padera off in the Croatian arcology, right where the scientists had been for the first transition window. Their job done, they went back to The Imzadi, and hung out for the rest of the day. A transition alarm woke them all up from having been sleeping in the next day. They were a little out of sorts, but well-rested. The window was opening up in Lebanon, Kansas in two minutes, and they were still in Croatia, so the new AI teleported them there, evidently underground.
A woman appeared on the bottom level. She looked around, curious but not scared. “Does anyone need any help?” she asked.
“Us?” Leona questioned as she was sliding down the steps. “I believe you are here so that we may help you.”
“I think I’m all right,” the woman said. “Helping people is generally my job.”
“As it is ours. My name is Jeremy Bearimy. These are my friends, Missus Leona and Mateo Matic, Angela Walton, and two people you can’t see named Kallias Bran, and Aeolia Sarai.”
“It’s nice to meet you. I’m Jodie Konsten, substitute Savior of Earth.” She smiled proudly.
“Substitute?” Leona asked. “You step in when Xearea needs a break.”
“Indeed,” Jodie confirmed. “It is a tough job, and mine is easy. She gets the occasional vacation, and I get the occasional un-vacation. The rest of the time, I wait in The Constant.”
“Konsten in the Constant,” Angela noted.
“The powers that be do like their puns,” Jodie acknowledged. “If you don’t have a job for me, though...”
“Why weren’t you called up in 2109?” Leona asked, though more to herself. “That’s when Xearea went out of commission, because she was trapped on Tribulation Island. If you existed, you should have been able to fill in for her the whole time.”
“I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Jodie apologized.
“It’s Arcadia,” Mateo began to explain. “She trapped a bunch of people on another planet. Younger versions of the two of us are there right now.” He pointed to himself and his wife. “We were later assigned to fill in for her ourselves. I was responsible for 2121, 2122, and 2123. She had 2118, 2119, and 2120.”
Leona stepped forward. “That’s right. She must have planned that all along, and arranged for Jodie here to not be called to action.”
Jodie was upset. “That is my entire purpose in this world. Had I know that there was a gap in service, I would have found a way to close it.”
“It’s okay,” Mateo assured her. “We took care of it.”
“But not forever,” Leona reminded him. “Lincoln is doing it right now. “He got last year, this year, and next year. After that, Arcadia runs out of people. I talked to her about it once, she said that all the years until 2159 are shit out of luck.”
“Not if I have anything to say about it,” Jodie said, determined.
“This must be why we’re here,” Jeremy figured. “Arcadia managed to keep Jodie in the Constant so she couldn’t do what she does, but we’re a loophole. She doesn’t know this team exists, or I mean, she doesn’t know what we do.”
Mateo nodded. “We’ll get you back to your reality, so that you may take the baton from Lincoln.”
“What do you mean?” Jodie asked. “Are we in a different reality?”
“That’s how we got you out,” Leona told her, “or rather, how our boss did. You won’t be needed for another year and a half, though. I’m not sure why you’re here now.”
“We think we might have an idea.” Bran looked forlorn, as did Aeolia next to him.
“What do you know?”
“I don’t know anything,” Jodie said. “You’re the one who said I’m too early.
“No, I wasn’t talking to you,” Leona tried to explain.
“Not me, what?”
“It’s too confusing,” Mateo said. “Give her a cuff, so she can see Bran and Aeolia.”
“Who are Bran and Aeolia?” Jodie asked. She couldn’t even remember Jeremy mentioning them earlier.
Angela took a cuff out of the drawer, and handed it to Jodie. “If you put this on, you’ll start to share their  patterns and temporal conditions. I’m a human, so you’ll get nothing from me, and we recently parted ways with our resident choosing one. We will also be able to use your abilities, though I’m not sure what that looks like when it comes to the Savior. This has to be your choice, mind you, but you can absolutely take it off whenever you want.”
“Okay,” Jodie said with no more thought. She put on the cuff. “Oh! Kallias and Aeolia! I know who you’re talking about. Hey, guys.”
“Hey,” Aeolia said with a laugh, but the smile faded from her face quite quickly.
“Why did we have to transition Jodie this year?” Leona asked her. “What do you know of the future?”
Aeolia sighed sadly. “The Constant. It’s been, well...constant, for billions of years. It was designed to last forever, but everything has a weakness. I couldn’t tell you what that weakness is, because I’m not the one who destroyed it. All I know is that it was, or rather, will be. It happens sometimes next year. I would imagine Nerakali is aware of this as well, and has extracted Jodie early, to both save her life, and prepare her to take a more active role in her job.”
“What?” Mateo had been pretty good for the last few days. He came back from his multiversal ordeal a changed man. He was no longer so agitated and anxious, but calm and forgiving. The bliss wore off over time, or at least lessened in intensity, but his sense of completeness remained. The constant carefree attitude would have gotten on people’s nerves, so this was a good balance. Now, all of it was—hopefully only temporarily—gone. He was back to being pissed off and overwhelmingly worried. Family was clearly his trigger. “What does that mean for Danica?”
“We don’t know,” Bran said. “We saw the aftermath in 2151, and eavesdropped on a few people who had some more details, but no one seems to know where The Concierge went.”
“Well, we have to stop it.” Mateo was growing frantic. “What did it look like?” Was it an explosion? Implosion? Tell me everything.”
“It was...” Aeolia hesitated.
“Spit it out,” Mateo demanded.
“Mateo, relax. It’s not happening today, give them time.”
“It was pretty bare,” Aeolia went on. There was some debris; pieces of the walls, it looked like. The rest was gone, and what little remained was, like, pulled toward the center.”
“A portal,” Leona guessed. “A portal that sucks things in, rather than allowing you to walk through it.”
“Is this a person?” Mateo wasn’t feeling any better. “Who do we know that can do that?”
“I don’t know of anyone specifically,” Leona said. “We’ve never seen it before, it’s just...possible. It would have to be a time power, or a time device, because human technology doesn’t do that. From what they describe, there’s too little left behind to be anything but temporal. I suppose the portal itself wouldn’t have to be capable of it. Maybe they simply opened the portal to a location of intense gravity, like a black hole, or a neutron star.”
Mateo sort of stepped away from the group, and spoke into his cuff. “Nerakali. You better be listening in realtime, or somehow get to us. I need you to open a transition window. We need to go to the Constant and stop whatever this is. Or we at least need to be able to save Danica. We gave you this job, you owe us.” In response, all of their cuffs beeped. A time appeared in the corner, counting down. “What is this? What does that mean? Nerakali, just use your words.” The timer grew to a larger font for emphasis, but that was it. “Goddammit.”
“It’s counting down to next year, Mateo,” Leona said. “It’s a transition window. Today is about Jodie. Tomorrow, the Constant. Presumably, there’s nothing we can do until we’re given that mission.”
“I can think of a whole hell of a lot we can do. First, we can just sneak Danica out of there, so it doesn’t matter what happens. We can leave a guard topside, and we can find a psychic, and a seer, and call in every favor we have coming to us.”
“Nerakali knows more than us,” Leona continued to try to get him to understand. “Respect and accept that.” She cleared her throat. “Of course, this doesn’t mean we can’t prepare. I don’t want Jodie involved in this, as she’s too important. So Jeremy, please escort her to the Kansas City arcology, and get her set up with a unit, where she can rest, and learn about this world. I don’t know if you’ve kept up on current events while down here, Jodie.”
“Not really. It would be nice to familiarize myself with this world.”
“Angela and Bran, we haven’t really asked you to use your powers yet. I’m going to be making a list of tech that could help us, and I want you to steal it from the Parallel natives. We don’t have time for diplomacy. Angela, the way I understand it, you taught a medication class in the afterlife sim before you became a counselor?”
“I did, yes.”
“Please help my husband get through whatever it is he’s going through. God knows I’m useless in that respect.”
“What will you do instead?” Mateo asked. He wasn’t upset about her talking about him like he wasn’t here, because he knew she was right.
“I’m gonna go call in some favors.” Leona lifted her head, and spoke to the AI. “Computer, please teleport me to the surface. I can transition from there.”
“Wait, what?” Mateo questioned. “You can?”
It was too late, Leona was gone.

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