Monday, February 20, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Year 182,398

Mateo did as Tamerlane asked, though it was no small feat. The stasis pods are the lightest ever built in histories, but still more massive than Mateo. They set Bhulan’s to hover mode, which made it easier to move it to the elevator, and then into the airlock, but that’s not really the problem. Even some of the best teleporters have the standard triple mass limitation. They can carry themselves, and two other normal-sized adults, and no more. The number of people who are capable of handling more than that are very rare, and Ramses did not clone Mateo’s body to be one of them. The mass of the pod stood at the upper limit of this standard, which made the jumps difficult. He couldn’t wear a vacuum suit either, or that would have just added mass. He managed to make two dozen rapid jumps away from the planet, placing Bhulan’s pod in the middle of interplanetary space, at around ten million miles away. Tamerlane had placed a tracker on it, so it could be retrieved later, but then he sent the tracking device 50,000 years into the future using the time machine, so even if he wanted to, he would not be able to find her sooner.
It’s been 10,000 years now, and Mateo is getting worried. Using what Tamerlane taught him about his own stasis pod, he set the time difference at one minute per stint, instead of a second, which would have given him time to react if someone decided to reopen early. They haven’t. A full minute has passed, so he’s opening it himself. He steps into the main area to find Danica on that couch, clearly waiting for him. “Oh, hey.”
“Hello, cousin,” she replies.
“You don’t have to call me that, I know it makes you uncomfortable.”
“Oh, I just wanted to remind you that we’re kind of related, in case you ever got the idea to screw me over again.”
He sits down across from her. “There’s no need to be so vulgar.”
“I’m sorry. You want me to be a good girl?” she asks in a baby voice. Gross.
He’s going to ignore that. “Pryce made a compelling argument.”
“This oughta be good.”
“That no one should have the kind of power that that damn thing gets you.”
“Oh, this?” She reaches behind the couch as if going for a sword. When her hand returns, the Omega Gyroscope follows. She’s still not touching it; it’s hovering a few centimeters from her fingers. It seems you don’t have to be the possessor to play around with it. “You ever see the movie Wanted?”
“Can’t say that I have.”
“We have a very extensive library here.” She peers at the rotating gyroscope as it hovers over her left hand. She holds her right hand at the ready. “A library, Mateo is a collection—”
“You don’t have to talk down to me. I know I’m not smart, but you don’t know everything either. For instance, you obviously don’t know that mocking dumb people for being dumb actually doesn’t make you smarter. It just makes you an asshole.”
“You teleported my best friend to the middle of empty space somewhere. Some would say you’re the asshole.”
He sighs. “What did you want to show me?”
She keeps staring intently at the gyroscope. “The main character has been recruited into a shadowy organization, but before he can start killing people for them, he has to be trained, and go through tests. One of these tests is being able to snag a fast moving object called a shuttle through the fabric. We don’t have a loom here, but...” She darts her fingers into the gyroscope, taking something from the glowing orb in the center, and pulling it out before the metal bars—or whatever—can snap her fingers off. She drops one end of the object, but keeps hold of the other. It’s the hundemarke.
“What are you doing with that thing?”
“We’re trying to protect the timeline, but you seem to think you know better, and keep interfering with our work. First you show up, then you question our methods, then you try to escape through a time machine, and now you’ve kidnapped Bhulan.”
Kidnapped is a strong word.”
“A strong word, and the right word.”
“I’m sorry.”
She feigns delight. “Great. Go out and get her back for me!”
“I don’t know where she is,” Mateo explains. “I just jumped randomly. Tamerlane is the one with the tracker.”
Danica nods, because she knows this to be true. “Well, the reason I’m showing you the hundemarke is because this is what’s really in control of the timeline in this reality. The Gyroscope is a power source, and an interface. We tell it what we want to happen, then the Gyroscope tells the hundemarke, and the hundemarke keeps it from being undone with time travel, or similar nonsense. Right now, Bhulan is in control of the Gyroscope, because that is how it works. Only one person can control it at any one time, or contradictions would give rise to paradoxes. The hundemarke does not operate the same way. If someone uses it to undo something else that someone used it for, then a new reality will simply spring up to avoid the paradoxes. You’ve seen that first hand. My point is that the hundemarke is fine. We combined it with the Gyroscope, because that makes it easier to execute decisions on a global scale.” She places the dog tag around her neck. “But I can do without it. Tamerlane’s plan is flawed, and your participation in that plan only served to piss me off, and make me trust you even less than I already did.”
“This sounds like an internal matter that I shouldn’t have anything to do with.”
“You placed yourself in the middle of it when you took sides, and agreed to help Tamerlane betray us.”
“At least he can take ten minutes out of the billions of years he has in front of him to hold a simple conversation! What did you expect? Haven’t you heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy?”
“I’m gonna stick you in that pod, and not let you out.”
“Great, that’s what I’ve been asking you to do, so I can get back to my family!”
“When I said not, I meant never.”
“Don’t do this, sweet Danica. Don’t make me give you the speech about how people who go up against us never win. Don’t become my enemy.”
“That speech is about how well you win with a team.” She looks around. “I don’t see any of them here.”
Mateo leans forward. “I wasn’t born with a team. I built it, and I can build it again. Because I may not be a genius from the future, or a genius from the present, or a well-educated dead person with centuries of experience. Gathering armies is my forte.”
She leans forward to match. “Bring it on.”

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