Sunday, April 4, 2021

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Tuesday, August 7, 2153

Mateo went on a memory-wiping spree after saving Lucius from having to kill Ambrosios with his time power. He went after everyone who was even remotely involved in the occasion, including Leona, The Warden, and Lucius himself. He even did it to Nerakali, who fought back, but lost in the end. Sure, it was a violation, but things would be much worse if they knew what Mateo really did with Ambrosios. No one could know. No one could remember. It was better this way; safer.
There were an infinite number of realities, but that didn’t mean anything that could happen would happen somewhere. This was the fallacy of the many-worlds interpretation of multiverse theory. There was no reality, for instance, where Angela took one of Beaver Haven’s remaining lethal weapons, and started shooting people with it randomly. Sure, it was possible, but nothing would logically have led her to do that, because they would not to this moment have allowed her to stick around if she was the type of person to do something so horrendous. They would have noticed earlier if she was. Nerakali would say that this sort of possibility had near zero realistic potential, which was a term that always embodied its most literal interpretation. Her brain blending ability worked by allowing her to transfer memories from a potential reality to the real one—or theoretically from some other point in space time to the present—which meant that the memories had to have reasonable realistic potential. The higher the potential, the closer to actual reality, the easier the transfer.
Finding the right lie to tell his people was no easy feat for Mateo. Sure, he could have simply removed their memory of what really happened with Ambrosios, but then they would be left with a void in their memories, and wonder what they had done for all of August 4, 2150. The only way to prevent these questions was to replace the memories with alternatives. He was getting really good at finding these alternatives. As far as they knew, Ambrosios really did die on Lorania years ago, and was never in Beaver Haven. Instead of dealing with him, the transition team reportedly helped an alternate version of Darko Matic start a new life in The Parallel, since he was not capable of quantum assimilating with his past self. This sort of thing happened all the time with him, so if it were true in this case, they wouldn’t be liable to ever see him again anyway, so they would never see a discrepancy.
Now that the four of them had made their jump three years into the future, Mateo knew he needed to leave the past where it belonged. If he acted all sullen or guilty, it would raise suspicion, and defeat the whole purpose. It was time to get back to his old new self. He just didn’t know how he was going to accomplish that.
I can help, came Amber Fossward’s voice from his head.
How long have you been there? he asked back telepathically. He was in mixed company, so he couldn’t say it all out loud, even though it would be easier.
I come and go, Amber replied. Don’t be embarrassed, though. I’ve seen a lot of terrible things over the years, both in person, and through other people’s thoughts and experiences. What you’re going through isn’t that bad, and I can help.
You can fix me? he questioned.
Well, no, you can’t fix what ain’t broken. People can’t be broken. They can just be imbalanced, and then treated.
In that case, how would you treat me?
I would start by walking you through breathing exercises, like you did with Angela the other day. Once you’re more open and accepting, I would put you through a soul cleanse.
Is that like a juice cleanse in that it’s not real, but a hoax?
No, it’s very real. I can’t make you forget your bad memories, or erase your dark thoughts, but I can fill your heart with enough joy to sort of dilute such things.
Oh, I’ve done that before, Mateo said, by myself. I recalled good memories to the surface.
Well, that will make it that much easier, Amber said happily. But I don’t want you to just remember good things that you experienced. You’re soul already knows about them, and while it can be a temporary solution, it won’t last long. I’m sure those memories have since faded again, haven’t they?
I suppose they have, yes. I can’t just keep doing that?
You could, of course, and it would probably keep working, but that’s a lot of effort to expend when you got me. I can just add you to the mailing list.
That’s obviously a metaphor, what does it mean?
You’re not the only person I’ve created a psychic bond with. We share some of our experiences. We’re not a hive mind, though; you only share what you choose, and you even get to choose what you receive from others. There are two lists. One is for good memories, and the other for bad. The latter are for the support group, which I don’t think you really need right now, because it’s filled with negativity. It can be really helpful when you have an external obstacle to overcome, to hear what others have had to deal with. But you’re dealing with an internal conflict, and you’re struggling with accepting your past, which—even though you’re a time traveler—doesn’t seem to be something you can change. If you can’t change it, then you need to change your mind, and for that, we want all positivity.
How does it work? Mateo asked. Is it a one time thing, or a periodic appointment...?
It’s an extended session, Amber clarified. You’ll want a quiet place to be alone, where no one will disturb you. If we do this again, you’ll need less of this solitude, but first timers should dedicate all of their attention to it, and it’s not instantaneous; not if you want to do it the healthy way.
I think I can take the day off.
Thank you ahead of time.
Leona, Angela, and Jeremy were going to have to take the next transition on their own. Mateo needed some time to be alone. They didn’t specifically know what it was he was going through, and the last challenge with Darko wasn’t all that difficult, but they didn’t question it. They happily left him in the Imzadi, and went off to find the window, which was on top of a fairly low mountain on Earth. They used Nerakali’s teleporting ability to jump right there and wait. Even though most transitioners didn’t literally fall out of the windows, they did kind of get startled, because they didn’t know it was going to happen. As the transition flickered, they could see a woman casually hiking along the crest, hands on the straps of her backpack, enjoying the day. Once it was over she kept walking, and approached the three of them like she knew exactly what was going on. “Okay, I’m ready—I’m ready.”
“Did you just repeat yourself?” Jeremy questioned.
“Not technically, I’m The Echo—I’m the Echo.” They stared at her, not understanding, so she went on, “I developed a time affliction, where every sound I make is sent a second or two into the future, so I always sound like an echo—always sound like an echo.” Now that they were hearing her speak a more extended sentence, they could tell what she was talking about. She sounded like she was making her voice vibrate, like The Flash sometimes did just to mask his identity. It was actually pretty soothing, and not irritating, but maybe because her voice was beautiful on its own.
“We’ve never heard of you,” Leona pointed out.
“I’m not a time traveler—time traveler. I’ve just been wandering around in the wilderness, because I have no control over it, and there’s no decent way to explain it to normal people—to normal people.”
“Do you want us to make it stop?” Angela offered.
“I was to understand that that’s why I was here—why I was here. The first reason, anyway—first reason, anyway.”
Angela retrieved a Cassidy cuff, and handed it to the Echo. “Put this on. It won’t fix you right away, but Leona knows how to suppress it, don’t you?”
Leona started tapping on her cuff. “Yes, Nerakali gave me control over people’s powers and patterns. Only me, though.”
The Echo smiled and placed it around her wrist, but she waited to test it until Leona gave her the go ahead. “My name is Olimpia Sangster, and I have a normal voice!” she spoke a little loud for emphasis. Then she waited to hear back from herself, but there was nothing but silence. “I don’t have an echo,” she said, testing it another time to make sure it really was working. “Oh my God.” She started tearing up, and then couldn’t help herself. She reached over, and took Leona in a bear hug. “I’ve been so alone, like you don’t even know.”
Leona waited patiently, then pulled back a little. “I’m glad we could help, but there’s a catch. It’s not a permanent solution; you’ll have to leave the cuff on at all times. You can take it off for a few minutes probably, but if you leave it off too long, it will reset, which means I’ll have to reengage the suppression for you again. Which is fine, it’s not like that bothers me, but it means you can’t just go off wherever you want. We are time travelers, so you’ll have to stick by us. And if all of us remove our own cuffs, you’ll lose your suppression, because it’s tied to our ability to not echo. I don’t see us doing that, but it’s something you should know.”
“I wasn’t just told to come here for the cure,” Olimpia explained. “I was told I was meant to join your team. I’m supposed to, umm...transition people?”
“Yeah, that’s what we do,” Angela confirmed.
Olimpia looked around. “I was also told I would be the fifth player. He made some sort of basketball analogy, which I don’t know why he did, I don’t care for sports.”
“He?” Leona echoed. “He who? Jupiter?”
“No, I know Jupiter. He’s a historical figure where I’m from. No, this guy never said his name.”
Leona would have expected her to have been recruited by Nerakali, or maybe Jupiter Fury before he moved on, so who was this mysterious man, and was that a good thing or a bad thing? Olimpia seemed like a perfectly lovely person, but the chances her pleasant demeanor was just a façade were nowhere near zero. This was something they were going to have to worry about soon, if not right away. If there was another player in the game, they needed to know who he was, and what he wanted. Perhaps she would be able to describe him for them, but that would have to wait until they returned to the Imzadi. Mateo still needed his alone time to meditate, so out of respect for that, they decided to go on a hike, and enjoy the great outdoors. It was a really nice day, so it felt like a vacation.
Hours later, they teleported back, and Leona went in to make sure Mateo was okay. He was apparently fully recovered, and enjoying a snack. He was glad for their return, and eager to meet this new member of their team. Olimpia climbed in, and tilted her head quizzically. “Oh, it’s you.”
“You know this man?” Jeremy pressed.
“Yeah, that’s him. That’s the guy who told me to come here.”

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