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Sunday, June 25, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 10, 2401

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A part of Mateo expected the sight to be more spectacular; that they would see countless worlds suddenly appear in the sky, but obviously it wouldn’t look like that. Even he knew that all those planets would all be ripped apart if they suddenly came close enough to each other to be seen by each other. There was nowhere you could be where you could witness more than one planet appear out of nowhere. Even if you could, Mateo wouldn’t be in such a place. The whole point was that the main sequence would be spared the Reconvergence. Nothing should change here.
“That’s not entirely true.” Mateo, Angela, and Marie spent the night in the nearest arcology to Stonehenge. Bhulan has just shown up.
“What do you mean?” Mateo questioned.
“You’re not in the main sequence right now. You’re in the Sixth Key.”
“So it didn’t work,” Angela assumed.
Bhulan stared at her for a weird length of time. “There are two main sequences now. The original is fine, right where it was before in Salmonverse. This one is a copy.”
“That’s not what I asked for. The Omega Gyroscope was meant to read my mind, and do what I wanted. And don’t tell me that it was an accident, like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, because I didn’t even consider this outcome. I wouldn’t have thought that would be a thing. I’m not—how you say—creative.”
Bhulan nodded, and stood up, pointing to his jacket hanging over the chair. “Were you wearing this when it happened?”
“Yeah,” Mateo answered. “Let me guess, I’ve been unknowingly wearing the Jacket of Duplication this whole time, or some bullshit like that.”
“It’s not the jacket,” she said with a shake of her head. She reached into one of the pockets, and then another, where she found the knife that Mateo used to replicate parts for the Olimpia, and also fail at fixing Heath when he was on the brink of death. He kind of forgot that it was in there. “Oh, crap. Are you serious? I forgot about that.. Like I said, I wasn’t thinking about making a copy of anything. I was trying to save the main sequence the headache of the Reconvergence stuff.”
“This is a temporal object,” Bhulan said, shaking it demonstratively, but not angrily, “just like the Cassano Cane, and the Omega Gyroscope. Sometimes they interact with each other, whether you mean for them to, or not. Who gave this to you?”
“The natives on an island we ended up on once,” Mateo answered. “They were...mysterious, and noncommunicative.”
Bhulan nodded again. “This is the same place where Angela got her immortality waters, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” Angela confirmed. “That didn’t work. Or it did? Marie is alive, but I never found Activator water, so that whole ordeal is confusing.”
“I can’t explain how Marie survived what happened to her,” Bhulan began, “but you becoming immortal would not have done it. Yes, she’s an alternate of you, but you had become two independent beings. There was no reason why she would not have been able to die. The only thing that Time and Existence waters do is prevent someone from preventing you from existing and becoming immortal, and Marie has nothing to do with that anymore. I don’t know who told you it would—”
“We were just...desperate,” Angela explained. “And it seemed to work, so we figured that it was inevitable.”
“Bottom line,” Marie jumped in, “what does this mean? What can we do, what should we do? Why are you here?”
“I’m not here to talk about the main sequence, or the new main sequence,” Bhulan said. “That’s just something I noticed you were confused about. I’m here for that.” She pointed to the corner where Mateo had leaned the Cassano Cane and Omega Gyroscope against the walls. The latter was still hovering over the former. “They need to be destroyed, and I finally figured out how. The Reconvergence has not technically happened yet. The Keys were turned ahead of time, in case there was a delay or complication, but all the other parallel realities will collapse, and everything in them will be destroyed. This whole thing with the Third Rail started because I was there too early. I showed up at the beginning, but I should have appeared at the end. This is my chance.”
“Any objections?” Mateo asked the girls. “Go ahead,” he told Bhulan when they shook their heads. “It’s only here because Alyssa disappeared on us when I used it...incorrectly, and don’t know who’s supposed to have it.”
“I appreciate you not pushing back.” She walked over and reached for the cane, and as soon as her fingers wrapped around it, Ramses Abdulrashid appeared out of nowhere, and wrapped his own fingers around it. “Um...excuse me.”
“I need this,” Ramses said.
“Report,” Mateo asked.
Ram looked at him, but did not let go of the cane. “I don’t have long here, so I’ll just give you the highlights. I survived Phoenix Station. I found Olimpia stuck in the Sixth Key before its big bang. I was forced to join the Shortlist’s meeting for The Edge. I escaped, and now I have a new mission...which requires my use of the Cassano Cane.”
“Nuh-uh-uh, buddy,” Bhulan argued. “I have to destroy these things.”
Ramses pursed his lips, and then let a puff of air escape to make a popping sound. At the same time, he flicked the Omega Gyroscope off of the cane, letting it fall to the floor, and begin to roll away. The glow emanating from it shut off while it was doing this, so it didn’t get far before becoming entangled in the hundemarke chain that had been hidden inside while it was active. “You can destroy anything you want, but you can’t destroy this cane.”
“This is my only shot. Once I do this, I’ll be dead, and I won’t be able to take anything else with me.”
“Then I guess you won’t be the one to destroy it, if anyone even is ever. Let. Go.”
Ramses was not letting up, and neither was Bhulan. They did not want to cause physical harm to each other, though; that much was clear. Mateo cleared his throat. “Bhu. It was your mission to destroy the hundemarke, correct? Then someone gave you the Insulator of Life, and someone else gave you the Omega Gyroscope, right? You have the hundemarke. No one here wants to see that used again, and we don’t really care about the gyroscope. So just go with what you have. Rambo obviously needs that for something that none of us understand.”
Bhulan frowned and considered her options. In the end, she chose the path of least resistance when she let go. “Fine.”
“Will we ever see you again?” Marie asked Ramses.
“I don’t know, but I was there. In the Third Rail, when you didn’t know I was. I was watching over you, and now I just have one thing left to do. When I come back, I’ll give you this.” He opened his other hand to show them an antique rosary. It was once Mateo’s, before he was ripped out of the timestream during Arcadia’s expiations. When the Superintendent returned him decades later, he made him an atheist instead of Catholic, and they never saw the rosary again. He only would have cared about it because it was his once-mother’s centuries prior.
“I don’t need that,” Mateo told Ramses. “It’s not mine anymore.”
Ramses smiled. “Trust me, you’re gonna want it, if only to keep it out of the hands of someone who would abuse its power.” He tucked the cane under his arm to free that hand so he could hang the metallic beads from it. “They call it the Mateo Rosary. He closed his fist over the cross, and disappeared, making it seem as though it was the rosary what done it.
“I’m not familiar,” Marie noted.
“I’ve never heard of it either,” Bhulan said, “but I don’t think it was just a teleporter. It probably also belongs on the list of objects that I would want to destroy.”
“You’ll have to settle for what you have,” Mateo told her. “I promise, I’ll do everything I can to make sure the cane, the rosary, and anything else like them, don’t fall into the wrong hands.”
Bhulan picked up the two objects, and disentangled the hundemarke, placing it around her neck. “I don’t doubt it.” She focused on the gyroscope, presumably trying to reactivate it. “I think Ramses did something to this. It’s...dead.” She looked pleased.
“That’s good, right?” Angela guessed.
“Yeah, that means it won’t be able to stop me from doing what I have to do.” Bhulan breathed a sigh of relief. “I die to save quintillions.” She disappeared as well.
“Whoa, does anybody else feel a little tired all of the sudden?” Marie posed.
The room around them changed. The furniture was moved around enough to cause the three of them to fall to the floor, and they were no longer alone. A couple was sitting on the couch with their young child.
“Sorry to disturb you,” Mateo said, standing up, massaging his coccyx.
“I recognize you,” the man said. “Why do I recognize you?”
“I recognize him too,” the woman corroborated.
“I just have one of those faces,” Mateo answered, not knowing the truth himself.
“We’ll leave you be,” Marie told them. “Apologies for the intrusion.” They left the unit, and stepped over to the nearest convenience terminal against the wall next to the elevator. “April 10, 2401. We jumped in time, just like we used to.”
“It wasn’t just like it,” Angela pointed out. “It wasn’t midnight central.”
“Yeah, it was,” Marie contended. “Well, it’s about fifteen ‘til one in Kansas, but close enough. It obviously happened because the Omega Gyroscope is finally gone.”
“What do we do now?” Angela questioned. “Where do we go?
“We have to find a way back to the real main sequence. That is where my wife is.”
“Are we sure about that?” Marie asked.
“No, you’re right, we’re not. In fact, there could be two of them now. Damn, I wish Ramses had stayed long enough to give us some details about that damn meeting.”
“If this is the Sixth Key,” Marie began, “then you know what we have to do, and it’s not looking for Leona.”
Mateo sighed, and nodded. “We have to assume she’s safe, but Olimpia may not be. I don’t know where to start with that trail either, though. Any ideas?”

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