Sunday, August 22, 2021

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: November 23, 1876

Anatol didn’t give them any time to rest before sending them off to their next mission. He didn’t say much about what they were going to be doing, which was standard protocol. He was careful to make sure they understood to convince the young version of himself to go back to Prussia, while they did whatever he was intending to do instead. They still didn’t know what that was, but they still didn’t have any leverage against The Warrior, and he was providing them with opportunities to save people’s lives. Perhaps he was becoming more like Nerakali and Jupiter, which was what they wanted all along. At the moment, they were standing at the bank of a river, or a lake, or something.
Olimpia knelt down, and dipped a few fingers in the water. She then stuck them in her mouth. “Salty.”
“My dear!” said a gentleman who was walking by with a fancy cane. “Of course it’s salty. It’s the ocean!”
Olimpia smiled submissively. “Yes, sir. I’ve never seen the sea. I have lived my whole life inland, on a farm.”
“Very well, miss.” The dandy started to walk on.
“Um, first,” Olimpia stopped him. “Since I am such a fool, could you tell us where we are, and maybe...the date?”
He looked upon her with such pity. “Portsmouth, on the twenty-third of November.”
She continued to give him puppy dog eyes.
“Thank you, kind sir.”
He was able to walk away.
“At least they speak English,” Jeremy noted.
“Anyone got eyes on the target?” Angela questioned.
“Yeah, he’s over there behind all that brush,” Mateo answered. “He’s been spying on us since we arrived.” They all looked over to see the figure of a man, crouched behind the tall grass, still as a statue, hoping he wasn’t actually spotted. “Come on out Annie,” Mateo instructed. “We need to talk.”
A young Anatol Klugman stood up, and approached them. Though he had just spent the last several years killing Prussian enemies in every war that his state was involved in, he appeared wide-eyed and naïve. He had yet to become so cynical and combative.
“You speak English by now, don’t ya, Annie?” Mateo went on.
Anatol just nodded his head.
“You gotta go home.”
“I don’t actually know, but it’s where you belong right now. Perhaps it has something to do with your mother?”
“My mother is dead.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Mateo said genuinely. He reached behind him, and offered his hand to Angela, who took it, and stepped forward reluctantly. “This woman delivered you. Your mother was alone, and we showed up to help.”
“That was thirty-eight years ago,” Anatol said.
“We skipped all that time to come right help you yet again. Helping you is sort of...what we do,” Mateo explained, mostly truthfully.
“I have business to conduct here,” Anatol argued.
“We’ll do it for you,” Mateo promised.
“You don’t understand...” Anatol lamented.
“We understand enough,” Mateo contended. “Prussia needs you. The port is ours.” He gestured towards the harbor behind him.
Anatol thought over the proposition. “I suppose, if you fail, I will always be able to return to this moment to repair what you broke.”
“Yes, you could always come back. But you might not have to...if you tell us what it is you were here to do in the first place.”
“You don’t already know?” Anatol asked rhetorically before disappearing without so much as a helpful hint.
“We’ll figure it out,” Leona assured her husband. “We always do.”
Mateo turned and gazed upon the water. “My guess is that someone is going to drown. Let’s fan out, and look for trouble.”
Since there were only five of them, they couldn’t cover much ground, but they were theoretically already in about the right spot, or the Warrior would have dropped them off somewhere else, and the other Warrior would have shown up there too. It was Olimpia who happened to be closest to the problem when it arose. It wasn’t just a drowning, however. As reported later, a man was deliberately holding a woman’s face down in the water; possibly to murder her, or maybe just to shut her up. The rest of the gang didn’t make it there in time to help. They just heard a blood-boiling scream, along with probably half of England.
When they arrived, the man was frantically crawling around on the ground like a dog. “You—you damned dirty wagtailing hedge-creeper! What did you do to me!” Blood was running down his ears, and dripping onto the grass. Olimpia’s arm was wrapped around the survivor’s shoulders, and she was slowly crab walking them both away from the would-be killer.
Jeremy knelt down, and tried to hold the man in place, but he freaked out, and started flailing around like a fish on the dock. Jeremy didn’t let up, though. He pulled the man’s wrists together behind his back, pressed his cheek down on the grass, and started rubbing his back. It kind of looked like a deep tissue massage. After a few moments, he looked back up to the group. “I once saw my dad use this technique on a dog who wouldn’t let him into a house to help its injured owners.”
“He’s right, though,” Leona said, looking over at Olimpia. “What did you do?”
“I think I burst his eardrums,” she answered. “With my voice,” she added.
“He deserved it,” said the survivor as she wiped some residual water from her face. It was then that they realized quite how young she was. A girl, they might have called her. He was much too old for her, though they had to remember this was a different time. Besides, there could be any number of reasons these two were at the harbor together, and anyway, nothing would have given him the right to shove her face in the water like that. It didn’t really matter who she was, or who he was, or what they were doing, or what precipitated the attack. It shouldn’t have happened, and none of them could feel bad about the consequences that this man was now suffering. They weren’t here to hurt people, even though that was what Anatol wanted, but that didn’t mean they were going to condemn Olimpia for taking it this far. Sometimes, the only way to keep someone from getting hurt was to hurt someone else. Some people just gave you no choice.
They left the man on the ground, knowing that a passerby would discover him at some point. It wasn’t their responsibility to make sure he was okay. They needed to get this young woman to safety, and if that meant giving her a cuff temporarily, so she could join them on the next jump, then so be it. For now, they just made their way into the woods, where they could set up their fancy futuristic tents, and stay on the fringes of society. She was obviously impressed that such a large structure once fit inside such a small bag, but she didn’t ask questions about it. It wasn’t crazy enough to warrant her rethinking everything she knew about the world, like a cell phone, or something, would. She was particularly attached to Olimpia, for obvious reasons, so the latter stayed with the former while she tried to get some sleep. The rest of them made a fire, and sat around to talk.
“Did you notice her name?” Angela asked as she was warming her hands.
“Orna?” Mateo echoed how the woman had answered the question on the walk here.
“Orna Kelly,” Angela said in full.
They all shrugged their shoulders, and shook their heads to indicate that they did not see the significance.
“Does she become famous, or something?” Jeremy asked.
“Not her, really. And maybe not at all. It could just be a coincidence.”
“Go ahead,” Leona encouraged.
Angela began the story. “Decade after I died, I wasn’t anywhere near being considered for a role as a counselor yet. I was just a normal resident, but I was...privy to certain historical knowledge that other people didn’t have access to. I didn’t know it at the time, but since I had a personal connection to a time traveler, Tamerlane Pryce let me know a thing or two about life back on Earth. You have to understand that once you died, you lost all connection to the world. If you wanted to know what was happening, you had to wait until you just so happened to run into someone who died at some point after you, and just ask them to recount the history. I, on the other hand, like I said, had access to the news. I received a newspaper every day that gave me just a brief overview of current events. I didn’t know why I was receiving this, or why other people weren’t, but I just accepted the privilege, and read it during my breakfast.
“Well, since I’m a clever girl, I was able to occasionally use this knowledge to meet certain historical figures, because I got an alert every time they died. It’s essentially what eventually made me become a counselor in the first place. I am cognizant of certain...truths...about certain...conspiracies. I know who killed JFK because I was able to talk to people that people on Earth weren’t. Anyway, the year is 1888. I meet a twentysomething woman named Mary Jane Kelly.”
“Jack the Ripper,” Leona interrupted.
“That’s right. She was his last victim, and she told me...well she told me a lot of things, but she talked about her family. She mentioned having a sister named Odharnait, which I believe is the full name for the diminutive Orna.”
“You think that’s Dark Mary’s sister?” Leona guessed, pointing to the tent.
“Timeline checks out,” Angela said. “I don’t know anything for sure.”
“What does this mean?” Jeremy asked. “For the rest of the timeline, that is. Did we save this Mary Jane’s life just by saving her sister first, or what?”
“Without someone like Anatol to tell us, there is no way to know the consequences of our actions, or Olimpia’s,” Leona explained. “All we can say for sure is that she saved someone’s life today. How that impacts the future is not for us to say...not yet. We still don’t know why Young!Anatol had to go back home, and let us take care of this mission, instead of just letting things play out as they did. He’s a time traveler, he should have been able to go back home afterwards.”
“Maybe that killer has powers.” Olimpia was out of the tent, and sitting down on the log. “And maybe Anatol didn’t want his younger self to end up with those powers. Maybe Prussia has nothing to do with this.”
“Spot on!” The Warrior said. They turned to find him standing a few meters away, covered in blood. He jammed the Sword of Assimilation into the ground, and left it there while he walked over to warm himself by the fire. “My stupid younger self was an idiot. He was reckless with his powers. He just jumped around the timeline, taking whatever he wanted. That man’s was too early. Young!Me isn’t ready. I’m ready now, so I had you alter my personal timeline, so I could assimilate myself into my future alternate self’s body. I know it’s confusing, but everything’s better now. Miss Kelly is on her way to her true destiny, and it’s time for you to return to the modern day.”
“What exactly is Orna’s destiny?” Leona questioned.
“Don’t worry about her,” Anatol said. “No one is going to connect her to that asshole’s murder. I know how to get rid of a body. And before you get all high and mighty on me, I agreed to let you save people’s lives, instead of taking them. I never agreed to go celibate myself.”
“That’s not what celibate means,” Jeremy said to him.
“It does for people like me.”
“Where are we going?” Mateo asked, knowing that this conversation about death could only end up in a fight if it were allowed to continue.
“How does 2013 sound?” Anatol smiled with his teeth. “Huh? Computers? Showers? Ubiquitous antiseptics? Let’s do this. You’ll have a week to rest.”

No comments :

Post a Comment