Sunday, February 5, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Year 32,398

Asier doesn’t come to retrieve Mateo after the next break from realtime. The stasis pod hatch opens on its own ten thousand years later, so Mateo steps out to head for the master sitting room. It’s empty, which he takes as an opportunity. Looking around to make sure that no one is spying on him, he creeps over to the globe, and opens it up. It’s empty too; the Omega Gyroscope has been removed from it.
“She knew she couldn’t trust you,” Bhulan reveals.
Mateo closes it back up without looking at her. “I just wanted to see it again.”
“Uhuh,” she says, not believing him. “It’s hers, you know. As long as the Gyroscope is in use, the user can do whatever they want with it, and no one can take it from them until the current objective has been fulfilled, or they give it freely.”
“It can’t be stolen, got it.” He steps away from it and sighs.
“I can be convinced not to tell her you came straight here to steal it.”
“I wasn’t stealing it, I was just going to borrow it.”
“For what purpose?”
“To get back to my family.”
Bhulan chuckles. “That thing can’t do that for you. I mean, technically it can, but not on its own. People seem to think that its power is limitless, but it’s not. It can alter the physical laws of the world that it is in. It can’t turn you into a bird, and it can’t send you forward in time. At best, it would give you the option of jumping through time, but you would have to figure out how to actually accomplish that on your own.”
“What if I asked it to alter the world so that psychically-powered wormholes capable of time travel open up when conceived up by someone who wants one?”
She smiles. “That’s creative, but you’re not psychic enough. It doesn’t alter people, I mean, not really. Like I said, it can’t turn you into a bird.”
“No birds, no psychics. Understood.”
“Anyway, we’re having a pool party today, if you wanna come. We can print you a swimsuit. I bet you’ve never worn one that fits perfectly.”
It seems weird to have a pool party with five people, three of which are related, but he follows her anyway. They’re in the short course pool today, instead of the Olympic-size one, and it is packed full of party-goers. Who the hell are these people? “Are they holograms, androids...?”
“Oh no, they’re real,” she claims. “Have you ever heard of Westfall?”
“So, they don’t even know where they are?”
“They think that this is a rich community’s disaster bunker.”
“Isn’t that what it actually is anyway?” Mateo suggests.
She just rolls her eyes. The three of them aren’t rich in the traditional sense, but they command all of this real estate, and all power is concentrated in them. They’re rich.
“Did you ask for them to come here?” he asks. “Spit it out,” he encourages when she hesitates to respond.
“It’s the Gyroscope. This is a glitch. Tamerlane thinks it has something to do with its user. He was actually the first Westfall victim to show up, and he just never left. Without them, there would be nothing to do here. Most of the time, when we’re not in stasis, it’s because alarms have reported that someone is here who shouldn’t be. One of us is then tasked with leaving the stasis chamber, and containing the intruder.”
“That’s why Danica is so freaked out, because the whole point is to prevent all this scifi stuff from being able to happen in this reality.”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“But intruders like this don’t happen in the other realities, right?”
“Not to this annoying degree, no.” She gestures towards the kids laughing and screaming in the water, thinking they’re pulling one over on a wealthy snob.
“Maybe it’s wrong to think of it as a glitch. Maybe it’s more of a consequence. The Gyroscope is like a vacuum, sucking up all temporal energy, and pushing it away from the world, but that opens tears in whatever separates this universe from others. Things are supposed to go out only, but occasionally, something comes the wrong direction through these tears. I mean, maybe it’s even the temporal energy itself that’s doing it. If you were trying to suck out all the carbon, it would be fine, but what you’re doing is taking power away from us, and giving it to them, which they then use to sneak in.”
Bhulan slowly turns her face away from him in thought. “Hmm.”
“I don’t sound like an idiot?”
“Usually, yes, but that was surprisingly...not entirely ridiculous. What we need to do is move the temporal energy out of the world, and put it somewhere where we can contain it, where it can’t affect anyone. Like a...pocket dimension?”
“Or how about Durus?” Mateo offers. He’s not doing it to be nice. Durus is a rogue planet that is not very far away from Earth in celestial terms, and if he and his friends can get back to the AOC, it won’t take them long to make the journey. From there, the smart team members will surely be able to come up with a way out of the Third Rail, with virtually limitless power at their disposal.
“No, there are too many people there. Well, not in this reality, of course, but in others, and that would put them at risk of accidentally crossing over. One errant portal, and the system breaks down.”
That’s okay, it doesn’t have to be Durus. As long as Mateo knows where it is, they can get to it four and a half billion years from now. By then, these people will have tossed it to the back of their minds so they can focus on other issues. Once this new plan works, they’ll stop worrying about it, which will allow Mateo’s team to exploit it. “I suppose Dardius is out.” He doesn’t want them choosing it, because it’s too far away from here. The AOC can’t make it in a reasonable amount of time.
“Yeah, we wouldn’t wanna do that.” She looks over at him. “In fact, we wouldn’t want it to be anywhere where there are people. That includes you. You’re trying to trick me into telling you where we’ll end up sending the temporal energy.”
“I don’t understand the problem,” Mateo argues. “You want us to leave the Third Rail, we want to leave the Third Rail. To me, that sounds like our objectives are aligned, but you keep acting like I’m the frickin’ enemy.”
“It’s more complicated than that.”
“Yeah, it’s way complicated, and I’m just a big ol’ dum-dum who couldn’t find his arms with his hands. Well, if I’m no longer needed, I think I’ll go take a nap. I haven’t slept in a long time, because the time jumps give me a huge case of FOMO.”
“No, it’s okay, I understand. Good luck with your little power vacuum.” Holy crap, power vacuum? Is it really that obvious? Did he just help himself realize where they end up dumping the temporal energy?

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