Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Tuesday, August 10, 2156

Obviously the Mateo standing here was not the one who reached out to Olimpia, and told her to join this team. It could have been a future version of him, or an alternate version, or just someone masquerading as him. Either way, she seemed like good people, so they decided to keep her around, and assume that everything was totally cool. They put her through a little orientation, explaining what The Parallel was all about, how it was created, and why the team existed. She accepted all information without judgment, and no questions. She assumed everything they told her was everything they needed to tell her. They would expect this kind of relaxed behavior from someone who knew and trusted them, but a stranger should have been more cautious. Presumably, until now not being able to communicate with anyone without giving away her temporal condition just made her feel lucky to be around people who understood her. They ate, they went to bed, and they woke up three years later.
Mateo, said Amber while they were in the middle of breakfast.
“Back so soon?” Mateo asked out loud.
“I’m sorry?” Leona questioned.
“I’m on the phone,” he said, a little rudely. He didn’t need to talk to carry on a psychic conversation, but a side effect of being carefree was that Mateo was sometimes careless. “How long has it been for you, Amber?”
I’m here to serve as a psychic booster, Amber said, bypassing his question. Someone wants to talk to you, and while she’s capable of communicating across the bulkverse, I can help maintain the signal, since you and I are already bonded. She wants the whole group to hear what she has to say, so please make physical contact with your people. You can release once she’s made contact.
Mateo nodded, and held his hands out.
“You know we can’t hear whatever she’s saying to you, right?” Angela reminded him.
“Take my hands,” and unfazed Mateo clarified.
An image appeared before them, maybe a hologram, of a young woman. “My name is Thack Natalie Collins, and I live in a brane called Voldisilaverse. To give you a little background, there are three types of people with abilities. These are mutants, witches, and spirits. Mutants are the kinds you generally see on TV. Their bodies are genetically dissimilar to regular people, and this gives them some way of manipulating energies, matter, and other forces. People like you are witches in that you tap into the physical properties of the universe. It has less to do with your bodies, and is more about your minds, though there is a definite substrate component that sometimes prevents you from maintaining your abilities upon consciousness transference. I am a spirit. I possess a less defined connection to the world around me, and its peoples. My power comes from my soul. There is some chance for overlap. For instance—due to an interesting bloodline—Amber is a mutant witch spirit. But these are the three classifications, and understanding this is important in regards to what I am about to tell you.
“The Superintendent is another spirit. The reason the people in yours and my universes have free will is because, while he enjoys a great deal of influence over our worlds, he does not control them. To do that, he would need to be a witch. He also has almost zero control over his own life, for he is not a mutant. He is weak, and it is this weakness that forces him to exert as much control over the worlds he creates as possible. He is only a spirit, and he wields this power to manipulate the events across a number of branes. That number, from his perspective, is about to grow. And the more it grows, the more power he gains, and the more at risk people like you are. You’ll still have free will, but there will be some question as to how you encounter your circumstances, which determine the cards you’re dealt.
“To explain, the Superintendent did not rip you from reality so that no one you loved could remember that you existed. He altered your universe itself, making it so that you can’t exist within it during that time period. And you only returned at his behest, after Leona and her friends suffered through a series of arbitrary obstacles that he believes made for an interesting story.”
“I think I know where this is going,” Leona interjected politely. “This corrupted universe is destined to exist two years from now. Our next jump will take us seven years into it.”
“That’s right,” Thack confirmed. “Mateo, you can’t exist during that time period, and this team will move on, completely unawares. They’ll do this just as they did before, but this time, you may not come back.”
“Why wouldn’t he?” Jeremy questioned, almost upset with the messenger, but knowing that it wasn’t her fault. “Why won’t he come when we jump to...”
“Twenty-two nineteen,” Leona finished his sentence for him. “That’s after the end of the corruption.”
“Why would he?” Thack posed. “That’s not his pattern. He’s not designed to jump sixty-three years into the future. He wasn’t born that way, and those cuffs don’t make him that way. He will disappear when the clock strikes midnight, and you will forget him, and this time, you won’t have twin babies to provide the spiritual connection you’ll need to fight for his return. Because like I said, the Superintendent can’t bring him back. That, Leona, is something you did on your own, and it wasn’t his intention. He planned on removing Mateo entirely, and essentially starting a new story that focused on you. Your babies, and your freewill moved the circumstances beyond his control. You went against him, and that won’t work a second time.”
“So, what do we do?” Angela asked. “We understand the problem, now what’s the solution?”
Thack sighed, and they waited patiently for her response. “Have you ever heard of Westfall?”
“Someone mentioned that once,” Mateo said. “She didn’t say what it was. Uh...Emma.”
“I don’t want to get into the details, but there’s this theory floating around that practically every television series exists in the same universe. Due to one character crossing over to another, and then a character from that appearing in a third, and this huge complex web of crossovers and mentions, and whathaveyou, people believe they’re all connected. Well, they’re not, and Westfall explains why they’re not. Sometimes a character is just randomly dropped from one universe to another, and it’s due to a malfunction in The Crossover. The individual is transmitted, has an adventure, and goes back without ever knowing they weren’t on their same world that whole time. While the Superintendent actually has a little bit of access to Westfall—meaning he knows when it’s happened, not that he can make it happen—he doesn’t have any control over most of the universes that it’s interfered with. He’s not a writer on any of the Law and Order shows, so he can’t do anything with those characters, or those worlds.
“Mateo could survive in one of these universes, and then he could slip back. But there’s an issue. Like I said, the Superintendent can’t move him over there, or it would defeat the purpose. Plus, Westfall isn’t a consciousness, or at least it’s not in the same way you, or even I, define it. It’s probably not random, but it certainly seems that way. If Mateo wants to crossover...someone has to invite him. This someone would have to be unconnected to Mateo, or any of his universes.”
“Why would they do that?” Jeremy asked. “You’re saying a writer on a TV show has to conjure a character named Mateo, and say that he’s the Mateo from this universe?”
“It doesn’t have to be a TV show, and they don’t have to explicitly say where he’s from. They just have to strongly suggest it. And again, the Superintendent can’t write that story. There are lots of people who can cross universes, like The Prototype crew, and Meliora Rutherford, but those people can’t help here. It must be someone else.”
“Bottom line,” Leona began, “what do we do? How do we make this happen?”
Thack waited another moment. “I can reach out to other branes, like I’m doing right now. There are other storytellers who...let’s say, treat their characters as a little more real than others do. They surrender to the direction of the story, and don’t try to decide everything that happens. The character can make a suggestion to the storyteller that Mateo should show up. Keep in mind that we’re still dealing with time travel, and universes whose respective timelines are independent from each other, so nothing has to happen right away from anyone’s perspective but yours. Mateo has to disappear at the end of the day, but Westfall can drop him off wherever and whenever it wants.”
“Are you asking us for something?” Leona asked. “It seems you don’t need us to make this happen.”
“I’m a spirit,” Thack tried to explain with a smile. “I need consent. That’s what sets us apart. Mateo can choose to step aside, and let the story continue without him. I can’t make him do anything he doesn’t want to. I reached out to give you the facts, but you have to ask me for help.”
“We want your help,” Leona said clearly.
Thack chuckled. “I meant that Mateo has to ask me for help.”
They looked at him with a certain assumption. The obvious response was to let her do it, but it wasn’t necessarily the wisest choice. He wanted to survive, and to exist, and to be remembered, but there was a chance the sentiment was only a gut reaction. If there was anything that the last few weeks had taught him, it was that a rush to any decision was never better than a thoughtful reflection, and as long of a discussion as necessary. “I need to speak with my counselor.”
Leona opened her mouth to argue.
“Please...” he stopped her before she could say a word, “respect my wishes.”
Mateo went off to another level to consult Amber in private. A grumpy Leona sat at the table impatiently. She asked Thack what her husband and the soul psychic were talking about, but Thack reiterated the part about consent, and refused to eavesdrop. She didn’t say whether she could eavesdrop anyway. Mateo had his decision ready ten minutes later, but spoke only to Thack, and never revealed it to Leona, or his team. They would either find out in sixty-three years...or never worry about it again.

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