Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Tuesday, October 21, 2228

Now back on Earth once more, the AOC teleported to the transition window, and the crew waited for it to open. When it did, about a dozen men and women were standing there, holding weapons. They were extremely confused, having never seen any form of time travel before. Mateo decided it was best that he approach alone, with his hands up. “We mean you no harm,” he promised. “Why don’t you go ahead and put down those guns? You don’t need them here.”
They quickly retrained their guns on him. “What is this?” one of the men questioned. “Some kind of holo-trick?”
“Not a trick,” Mateo said. “You’re in a different reality. Whatever quarrel you have in the other world, it doesn’t exist here.”
“Bullshit!” he fought back. “Hold steady, boys! They’re just trying to get us to give up!”
“Give up what?” Mateo asked.
“Our land!”
“Who’s trying to take your land?”
“Like you don’t know.”
“Assume I don’t. You ever given anyone the benefit of the doubt before? What if I’m not lying? What if it turns out you’re pointing those things at friends, rather than enemies? How bad would you feel if you pulled the triggers, and you were wrong.”
The man faltered, but did not relent.
“Tell me your story. Perhaps I can help.”
The man waited a moment to respond. Then he eased himself, and held up three fingers. Everyone else lowered their weapons as well, except for three of them. They were clearly a team, since they knew which three his instructions were referring to. They were all dressed differently, though; not wearing uniforms. They didn’t look like soldiers, but farmers. Were they farmers? Was that still a thing? “We’re farmers,” the man explained. “We work at The Last Farm on Earth. Every job—every single job—has been taken over by some robot. We are the last human laborers in the world, and we can’t let go, no matter what you say!”
“I don’t know who’s trying to take your jobs, but I’m not. That’s not me. I’m just here to help. My windows, I don’t control them. They open up, and someone comes through. It’s my job to provide whatever it is they need, so I know how important it is to feel useful.”
“We don’t feel useless. We dig in the dirt with our hands, and we provide for our families, and we like it!”
“I don’t doubt it,” Mateo said. “Keep going. Who were you holding those guns against before the window opened?”
“The government, of course. They want to shut us down. They say we can keep farming in one of those giant towers, but that’s not real farming. That’s more like lab work. We wanna feel the sun on our necks, and the sweat in our eyes, and the bugs on our skin.”
“I get that.” He didn’t. “Why do they want to close the farm?”
“They want to turn it into another nature preserve, as if the world doesn’t already have enough of those already. That’s all there is now! Nowadays, people just live in computers. They don’t struggle. They don’t know the value of work.”
Mateo nodded. Personally, he didn’t care about any of this. Work was dumb, and he always admired the future people for figuring out how to get rid of it. Nerakali probably didn’t open the window to fix their stupid little farming problems. It most likely had something to do with whoever it was they were about to shoot. But still, these people were radicals, and even if he could stop them today, they would take up arms again tomorrow. The transition team wouldn’t be here tomorrow, so the solution had to come now. “All right,” he began. “How much money did you make last season?”
“Money? We don’t have money anymore.”
“Then how are you providing for your family?”
“With the produce that we...produce.”
“Okay. Your only customers are yourselves?”
“No, we distribute to the wandercrafts.”
“I’m afraid I don’t know what those are.”
The farmer was taken aback. “They’re hover vehicles that people live in. Instead of arcologies, seasteads, underwater stations, or in space, they fly over the lands, enjoying the beauty of this world.”
“I see, so the establishments provide their own food, but the wandercrafts rely on farms like you to provide.”
“Well, I mean, they can always pop into the nearest arcology for a resupply. And...”
“And what?”
“And we’re the last farm, I told you that.”
“Oh, you did, yeah.” Yeah, Mateo wasn’t really listening to his ranting. “When was the last time a wandercraft came through?”
He mumbled something under his breath.
“I can’t help you if you’re not honest.”
“A year and a half!”
“Jesus, man. You’re not farmers, you’re toilers.”
“It’s just because people don’t—”
“...know the value of work, I get it.” Mateo sighed. Honestly, he tried real hard in the beginning, but his heart wasn’t in this one. It was just so ridiculous, and his mind kept drifting back to his relationship. Things were okay for now. Both of them just wanted to take it slow, and focus on their missions. It looked like that might be coming to an end, however. There just wasn’t a lot of danger in the world anymore, and people like them weren’t so necessary. If a farmers union was their biggest problem, then the main sequencers were probably doing okay too. He spoke into his cuff, “Leona, could you teleport to my location?”
Leona appeared next to him, and the farmers reacted by lifting their weapons once more. She paid them no mind. “Yes, my love?”
“What’s that, uhh....?” Mateo tried to remember. “What was that planet, the first one you went to? When you brought me back to life?”
“Proxima Doma,” she replied.
“And didn’t they have that one dome...?”
“Yeah, the Oblivios live in a special dome, where they think it’s the entire world, and they live like pioneers.”
“Yeah,” Mateo remembered, “you ever heard of that?”
“The Oblivios?” the farmer echoed. “Yeah, we don’t want our memories to be erased.”
“Do you have a better idea?” Mateo asked Leona.
Leona shook her head. “Not in this time period. In the future, there will be other primitive worlds in the stellar neighborhood, but not for a while.”
“Are you immortal?” Mateo asked the farmers.
“No, we’ll die one day, as God intended.”
“You got kids, though.”
“Of course we have kids.” The farmer seemed offended.
“How do they feel about farming?”
“They’ll learn one day, before we die. Our legacy will live on.” He looked proud of the decisions he had made.
Mateo started walking forward with a purpose. “I’m going through the window to take care of this. Please step back, so you don’t get sucked in. We’ll reach out when it’s safe to return.” He didn’t try to contact Nerakali. She was definitely listening at all times. He just kept walking forwards until the window opened up, and delivered him to the main sequence.
Two drones were hovering over the shoulders of a woman. She didn’t seem surprised by his arrival, or by the farmers’ original disappearance. “Greetings. I’m Inês Coleman.”
“I’m here to solve this crisis. I’m pretty sure you were about to die,” Mateo warned.
“That was my guess as well,” Inês agreed.
“Why are you pushing so hard to shut then down?”
“We’re not pushing that hard,” Inês defended. “This is the first time we’ve asked for them to relocate to one of our vertical farms.”
“They don’t want to do that.”
“Yes, I was picking up on that before you transported them to your reality.” Hm. She seemed to understand what he was.
“Just leave them alone. Their kids don’t wanna do this. Their parents will die out, and the era of human labor will officially be over.”
“Yeah, I really just came to make sure they knew all their options. We would love to close this sector. In fact, I’m not allowed to leave this planet until I return the last of the farmland to the wild. I can wait, though. I can wait them out.”
“Very well, so it’s settled.” Mateo turned to go back through the window. “Wait, where do you wanna go?”
“Gatewood,” she answered.
“Are you packed and ready?”
She looked down at herself. “I always have what I need on my person. I’m an elevated human.” Elevated humans were a form of transhumans that focused on biological upgrades, rather than technological implants. They didn’t feel the need to be able to interface with computers, or have superstrength. They just wanted to be able to live pretty much forever, and not worry as much about all the little inconveniences of being a regular human. They could last longer without sleep, rest, or nutrition, but they remained at least a little reliant on such things. They were immune to genetic disorders, and extremely resistant to disease.
“Nerakali, let’s just switch places,” he said into his cuff. “Send the both of us to The Parallel, and return the farmers to their farm in the main sequence.
“Can you really take me to Gatewood?” Inês asked, hope in her eyes. “I know they’re planning a mission there, but it’s classified. We’re all thinking the probe found signs of aliens.”
“I know people.” Mateo assured her. “I can get you there. And no, there aren’t any aliens...yet.”
So Nerakali sent the farmers back to toil in their lands for no reason, and brought Inês through to start a new life. They transported back to Kansas City, where Nerakali opened yet another window, right where some friends were preparing for their mission.
“You want us to take her with us?” Saxon questioned.
“Will that be a problem?” Leona asked.
“It’s a two-person job,” Thor clarified.
“Is there room for a third person?” Leona pressed.
“Space is not the problem,” Saxon replied.
“Then she can go.”
Saxon was suspicious. “What do you know of the future? Is this her destiny?”
“We’re from an alternate reality,” Leona explained. “She wasn’t there before, but she will be this time around.”
“Okay, well we don’t leave for another two and a half years,” Saxon told them.
“That’s fine,” Inês said. “I really appreciate it.”
Thor wasn’t convinced. “You do know that no one lives in the Gatewood Collective, right? We’re meeting up with the only two other people stationed there.”
Mateo smiled. “That’s what you think.”
Thor nodded, knowing it was best he not push the matter. He was different in this reality.
“Good luck,” Mateo said to the trio. “Two to beam up, Madam Preston.”

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