Monday, November 28, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: September 25, 2398

They found only one other recognizable name from the comprehensive list of world religions. And it was another major one. Bhulahai was obviously named for timeline mapper, Bhulan Cargill. No one on the team who knew her knew how she could have ended up here, but it’s not that important. The fact is that she’s here, or at least she was, and she either created a religion, or inspired other people to start it, perhaps by performing miracles that would seem mundane to them. That’s probably how they all got started; Pryce turned himself into a sabertooth tiger, and the cavemen who witnessed it started worshiping him as a god. In Bhulan’s case, Bhulahai appears to be a pretty nonviolent religion. It promotes learning from one’s mistakes, and trying to predict the future with high accuracy. That makes sense for someone with the actual ability to do that with real past events.
It’s hard to say much more with just the list itself. It doesn’t necessarily tell them the whole story. Any of these others could lead to the identity of someone else and they just don’t recognize the name, or the name of the religion is simply not shared by the founder or inspiration. They need to do more research on the history of faith in this reality. Things can change a lot over the literal aeons. “Someone is going to have to trace these all the way back to their origin stories,” Mateo realizes.
“I don’t really have time,” Leona laments. “I need to get back to the fusion project. They have been operating independently of me for a long time now. I’m worried what they’ve been up to.”
“I have quite a bit of my own work too,” Ramses says.
Mateo would do it himself, but he’s not quite—what’s the word he’s looking for?—smart enough. “I shouldn’t bother, I would just make mistakes. I think I have an idea of who could handle it, though.”
“Who are you thinking of?” Leona asks. “Angela and Alyssa have the business, and Marie is helping them out while Kivi is in the field, looking for Erlendr and Meredarchos.”
“No, not them.”
Leona thinks she knows who he’s talking about. “Oh, don’t bother the people living at the condo either. They’re not a part of this anymore.”
“No, they made their choices,” Mateo says, smiling. “How quickly you forget the children.” Mateo leaves the lab, and goes up to the residential floor. He takes a quick look in the common area. Finding it empty, he walks back and knocks on the McIver door.
Young Moray answers. “Hi.” He hasn’t been the same since Trina’s memorial service. “My sister isn’t here.” He frowns. “I mean, Alyssa isn’t. Obviously Trina isn’t anywhere at all, since she’s dead.” Yeah, he’s definitely not finished grieving.
Maybe the boy just needs something to take his mind off of what happened. This doesn’t really have anything to do with that. “Is your brother here?”
“Car, it’s for you!” Moray shouts into the apartment as he slides out of the way.
“I’m here for both of you, actually,” Mateo says, stepping into the unit. “Could I have a word?”
Carlin comes out of his room. “Are you kicking us out?”
“Why in the world would I kick you out?”
“I caused a lot of problems yesterday.”
“Those are called feelings,” Mateo clarifies, “not problems. We’re working that out together, and I don’t know exactly how to help you, but I know it doesn’t involve kicking you out on the street.”
“What is this about then?” Carlin questions.
Mateo hands him the tablet. “This is a list of every religion in your world. That’s great and all, but we really need to know more about how they each got started, when and where, and how they evolved over time. We need to know which ones branched off into which others, and get lists of key important historical or mythological figures.”
Carlin peruses the list. “Why are you telling me this?”
“Well, we would like you and Moray to take on this challenge.”
Carlin drops his arms loose. “You want us to do homework?”
It sounds to Mateo like these kids need some structure in their lives. They have had it a little easy since they’ve come to Kansas City in terms of daily life. It hasn’t been easy—they’ve made sacrifices—but Alyssa has a job, and the boys need their own responsibilities. It’s not good for them to do nothing. “Everyone has their assignments. This is really important to us. We need to know who else like us is here, and this research could be the key to finding that out.”
He looks back at the list. Moray comes over to look at it too. “This isn’t just busy work?” Carlin asks.
“Ain’t nobody got time for that.” Mateo assures them. “Four of the most popular faiths in the world were named after people we know personally. One of them is my cousin, and I’ve been looking for her since we fell into this reality.”
Carlin sets the tablet on the dining table. “We’ll do as you asked, but we’ll need some direction on precisely what you’re looking for. Written guidelines would be helpful.”
Mateo nods. “I’ll have Leona draw something up for you. I’m liable to make mistakes, or I might try this project on my own.” He turns to leave the apartment gracefully.
“Hey, Mister Matic?” Carlin stops him somberly. “Thank you.”
“Thank you, and just call me Mateo.” He sends a text message to Leona as he’s leaving the apartment. He then walks downstairs to find Marie.
She’s taking a shift in the security room. “Hey, you wanna get in on this?”
“Nah, I came here to ask you a question. Do you remember when you and I were alone together in the Mariana Trench? Those bug aliens attacked us, and were probably going to kill you until a couple of bulk travelers swooped in and saved us?”
“Yeah, of course,” Marie says. “That was shortly after I joined the team, long before I split in two, so I was still just Angela back then. Why?”
“What was the name of that guy who flew us from the rendezvous moon to the battle staging planet? Do you recall?”
“Yeah, he called himself The Hound, but his real name was...Hunter? No. Hold on...Chase.”
“Chase,” Mateo echoes. “That’s it. Chase what?”
“Chase...Palmer. Why?”
“He’s from another brane, and we didn’t spend much time with him, so I guess I forgot to put him on my running list. Have you ever heard of a religion called Palmeria?”

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