Saturday, February 4, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Year 22,398

Mateo willingly returns to the stasis pod, but he’s once again brought out after only one second. When Asier opens the hatch, ten thousand more years have passed. No one was reportedly awake at the time, though there’s no way for Mateo to know whether that’s true or not. “Well, we do things a little differently than you,” Asier explains. “Time moves a little slower for us in our pods, and slower still in our joint stasis chamber. It’s still not as slow as time is moving for the rest of the universe, though. This allows us to decide when we want to be part of the group, and when we want to move off alone, while at the same time not being bored by watching the clock tick by as slowly as realtime. And now, you’re part of the group too.”
They have entered the library from before, which appears to be a hangout room for these people. Danica is there, along with Bhulan, and Tamerlane, and that’s it. It’s kind of a letdown, really, Mateo was hoping to see someone here that he didn’t already know was a part of this, so it could be a shock, and maybe explain a few things? Maybe Tristesse Ulinthra is hiding behind the couch? Or how about this, Leona’s birth mother is in the bathroom right now, and about to walk through the door behind them. He’ll just have to wait and see, there’s no inherent reason why everyone in The Constant right now is also awake. He just wishes he could have some kind of ally here to talk to. There are so few people, but there are two clear sides to the party, and he’s on one side alone. He feels out of place, which may be what others have felt when they encounter the team that he’s been on since it was only him and Leona. He’s always had to accept others, rather than be accepted, and truthfully, he doesn’t care for this side of things.
They noticed him at first, but are sort of ignoring him. Asier goes to grab himself a drink from the bar which seems weird for a library, but whatever. Mateo breathes, and works up the nerve to approach the triumvirate. “Matt,” Danica says with a nod.
“Dan,” he volleys awkwardly.
She sighs. “You and I never met.”
“I don’t know what you mean by that. We met, what was it, twenty thousand years ago?”
“No, I know, but I mean, you have history with your Danica. I’m not her. So you’re expecting me to take you in my arms, and tell you everything is going to be okay, but I don’t know you, and you don’t know me.”
Asier side steps over, and offers Mateo a cup of something. “You look like you could use this.”
Mateo continues to stare at his once-cousin while he takes the drink, and takes a sip. It’s just orange juice, no pulp. “I understand the concept of alternate selves.” He jerks his head to the door behind him. “I sleep next to another one of me.”
“Well, you’re not really sleeping—” Tamerlane starts to correct.
Mateo faces him. “No, no, no. You can shut the fuck up.” He turns back to Danica. “I understand that you do not feel as close to me as I do to you, but I would like you to consider something that you seem to have not realized yet.” He points to the crown moulding above them, as if that is specifically what he’s discussing. “This place, the a glorified hotel. They even call you The Concierge. Your job is to take in guests, and make them feel relaxed, because people like me have really hard lives. Mine’s not even that bad, comparatively, and I recognize that. Just the same, I expect to be treated with respect. Whether I was technically invited, or not, what you don’t do when someone arrives at your doorstep—who you damn well know is not a threat to you—is throw them in a stasis pod for ten thousand years!”
Bhulan clears her throat, and instinctively shies from the raised voice.
Mateo breathes again. “I don’t know what’s going on here, but I can see that it’s a very touchy subject. If you really were my cousin, Future!You would have tried to reach out by now. And funny enough, if you had, I would never have come back here. But I can’t submit a complaint to the customer service department, because you haven’t done that yet. All I can ask is that while I’m here, you try to be patient with me. A parent does not angrily send their child to their room because they ask where babies come from, and the parent isn’t ready to go over that.” He’s starting to get angry himself again, and raising his voice. “Getting pissed at me for trying to get my family home is a bit absurd, if you ask me!” He looks back over at Tamerlane. “And I mean, this guy? I know he hasn’t done the whole afterlife simulation yet, but surely you know how that turns out!”
“I’m not who you think I am either,” Tamerlane says, seemingly a little afraid of being shut down again.
“You mean you’re an alternate?”
“My alt went back in time to create the timeline that had the simulation, and I was born in that timeline. I haven’t done anything wrong.”
Mateo nods. “I apologize for snapping at you. I will...try to remember that, and treat you as someone I’ve only just now met. Rule Number Five: treat everyone you meet with respect, as they may unexpectedly return.” He downs the rest of his drink, and decides to walk away. The ball’s in Danica’s court now.
She picks it up. “Can I show you something?”
He turns back around, and closes his eyes gently while he bows slightly.
“Are you sure about this?” Bhulan questions.
“Unless you want to deliberately break The First Decree—which you must admit, would be quite a pathetic attempt at adhering to the Decrees—he’s going to be with us for quite a long time. I would prefer it if he stopped getting so angry at us.”
“We could always keep him in stasis the whole time.”
Danica ignores the suggestion. “It’s just over here.” She walks towards the rotating globe on the other counter.
Mateo plots an intercept course. “It’s quite nice, very detailed.”
Danica laughs, and splits the globe at the equator. The inside is hollow, as one would expect, but it’s not empty. A gyroscope is floating in the center, spinning around, and producing a scifi glow. It’s obviously the Omega Gyroscope, which can apparently manipulate reality to any and all degree.
“Quite nice, indeed,” Mateo emphasizes.
“This is what we’ve been protecting. We protect it so it can protect the timeline. No one is supposed to come here, to this reality. There is no time travel; that’s the First Decree. You being here flies in the face of everything the three of us discussed. There’s a weakness to the Gyroscope’s power, and you’re proof of that. That is why I’m so touchy, because it proves that everything I’m trying to do here will eventually become meaningless.”
“And your father? Is he proof of that too?”
Danica looks at Asier with a frown. “He exception to the First Decree.”

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