Sunday, February 26, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Year 242,398

Danica checks her watch. They should be here by now. There must be something wrong with this damn thing. Or maybe she just doesn’t know how to use it. Tamerlane was right about that. She wasn’t chosen for this job because of her technology skills. She was chosen by fate. Or destiny, or just arbitrarily. Who knows? As she’s shaking her head out of frustration, the machine turns itself on. In a flash, Mateo and Curtis appear from the past. “I’m sending you back. Bhulan isn’t here,” she lies to them. Technically, she is here, but not because this is where Tamerlane sent her. It’s because she returned 10,000 years ago, and now she’s still here, currently hanging out with Abigail, Cheyenne, and Curtis in one of the stasis chambers.
“So we’ve already lost,” Past!Curtis questions.
“Not yet. I have another trick up my sleeve.” Danica double checks the temporal coordinates on the time machine, set to send them back to ten seconds after they left 20,000 years ago.
“Is there anything we can do to help?” Past!Mateo asks.
“You’ve done more than enough,” Present!Mateo replies.
“I wasn’t talking to you,” Past!Mateo argues with his future self.
“Everything’s gonna be okay,” Danica assures him. “Just say you didn’t find her here, because that’s the truth. Safe travels.” She pulls the switch, and sends them home.
“The loop is closed,” Present!Mateo declares with an exhalation that sounds like he’s been holding it in the whole time.
“The issue remains.” Danica starts tapping on her watch, remotely unlocking Tamerlane’s special stasis pod, the hatch to his private stasis chamber, and the gate to his cell. “I need you to get something for me.”
“Tamerlane Pryce. I don’t feel like walking all the way down there, and all the way back. We may as well get some use out of your teleportation powers.”
“What are you gonna do to him?” Mateo darts his gaze over to the machine. “Or rather, when and where will you send him?”
“I’m going to send him where he wants to go,” Danica answers. Keeping him locked up was the wrong play, and crueler than she ever wanted to be. It’s messing him up, and it will only get worse. There’s one option left to fix this, but he’s not gonna like it, and she definitely won’t. Mateo will probably be displeased too. If Tamerlane wants to disappear, then she’ll help, but to different ends. After Mateo zips away, she starts to set new temporal coordinates, this time 60,000 years from now. He thinks that this will set the Omega Gyroscope free, but there’s something about it that not even he knows.
Mateo returns with the prisoner in hand. “I need to know that you’re not going to hurt him. I can’t be party to that.”
Danica takes Tamerlane by the shoulder, and escorts him into the time chamber. “He’ll be back in the year 302,398, just as he wanted.”
“Why are you doing this?” Tamerlane asks, a little worried about looking a gift horse in the mouth, but too curious to keep quiet.
“It’s clear that I can’t control you,” she explains as she’s stepping out of the blast zone. She frowns at Mateo. “But I think I can control Leona.” She pulls the switch again.

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