Sunday, June 18, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 8, 2400 (The Conclusion)

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Mateo teleported himself to Lebanon, directly into the Constant, which he thought wouldn’t work because of the safeguards, but he entered just fine. He landed in the master sitting room, which was where they always hung out in the version of this place in the Third Rail. It has been completely cleared out. All of the books were gone, as well as the furniture, and the snack bowls. Even the bookshelves have been removed. It looked like a room in a house that the previous owners were trying to sell after they had moved out. Maybe Danica was just trying to do some renovations. He stepped out and walked down to the security room. The door was wide open, and it too had been stripped. He looked farther down the hallway to see the rest of the doors open too, including ones that he had never been allowed to enter before. What the actual hell was going on here?
He kept walking through the complex, searching for any sign of life, but everything was gone. Only the walls remained, held up by the floors, and holding up the ceilings. It was completely bare. What. The. Hell? He called Danica’s name, but no one responded. “Constance?” he questioned nervously, but she didn’t answer either, which was a good thing, because this version of the superintelligence was evil. Maybe she had done something to Danica. They had always been told that his cousin was immortal, but in every story about someone who could not die, there was always a loophole, and if anyone had the smarts to find it, it was a Constance. “Danica?” he called again, but still nothing. Finally he found something. It was the garden, and so far, the only place with anything still in it. This particular area was untouched, looking just as it did before. He stepped in, and walked down the windy path a little. He rounded the bend just in time to see Zeferino Preston and Dalton Hawk disappear. “Danica!” he shouted one last time.
“Matty?” Danica asked. “When did you get here?”
“About fifteen minutes ago,” he answered. “I’ve been looking for you. What did those two assholes want?”
“One wants a purpose,” Danica replied. “The other says he can give it to him.”
“Did Dalton seem like he, become a villain already?”
“No. If that’s happened, I don’t think it’s happened to him yet.” She eyed the space where he was once standing. “Perhaps this is where it begins.”
“I don’t know,” Mateo said. “I think this would be before he sent us to the Third Rail, which he seemed to have done by accident, out of benevolence. “I just don’t know. Anyway, it’s inevitable, and it can’t be undone. We got through it. No one died...permanently.”
“You’re looking at me weird,” she pointed out.
“Did you know that there were other versions of you, in the parallel realities?”
“I suspected. I mean, that’s the point of the Constant, to begin so early on in the inception of the solar system that it can’t be undone without the kind of effort that would wipe out humanity before it could evolve anyway.”
“Did you know that...Constance was evil?”
Danica sighed. “Yeah, which is why I erased her thousands of years ago.”
“Well, it didn’t take, and the other Danicas did not make the same choice anyway. They all came after us, except for Constance!Three. She was pretty helpful.”
“I apologize for any trouble she, or the other Danicas, have caused you.”
“You can’t apologize for them. Four and a half billion years is a long time to become entirely different people.”
She nodded appreciatively.
“Are you shutting down? Is that why this place is empty?
“It’s over,” she explained. “Evidently, it was always going to end like this. The people who contracted me for this job never told me that there would be an endgame, and I didn’t give it much thought. I only had real work for the last few millennia.”
“So you know about the Reconvergence too?”
“No. Maybe I knew it before, but everything’s been taken from me, including my immortality, and what knowledge I possessed about the timelines.”
Mateo frowned. “I’m sorry.”
“Yeah, well, like you said, four and a half billion years. I wasn’t awake that whole time, but who can complain about getting that much time? I accept my fate.”
Mateo shook his head. “Who’s making you do this? You said you deleted Constance? I thought she was your boss.”
Danica looked up to search for the right words. “She was more of a consultant. Management selected her to keep me on track, and give me advice, as well as keep this facility running, but she couldn’t actually tell me what to do. If the other versions of her made you believe that they were in charge, they were lying.”
“So who is your boss?”
I am; the first me. Danica!Prime. That’s what I decided to call her, at least. She’s even older than me, especially now. That’s why she chose me as The Concierge, because she figured she could always trust herself to do it right.”
“Wow. I had no idea.”
“Yeah, and now it’s over. You better go. I have to press the big black button.”
“Wait, I came here to ask you for guidance. don’t even know about the Reconvergence, so maybe...”
“So maybe I can’t help you,” she finished for him. “Sorry that the last time we saw each other was so unsatisfactory.”
“No, you don’t have to—why are you acting like you have to die? Press the button, and I’ll teleport us out of here.”
She shook her head. “I told you, I accept my fate. Go on and get out of here.” She held out Dalton’s Cassano Cane. “Take this with you, would ya?”
“Dalton uses this in the future,” Mateo said without taking it yet. “I don’t know how to get it back to him.”
“I’m sure the time gods will show you the way.”
Mateo frowned again, or still, really, and accepted the burden.
“Now, go on. I started this alone, I’ll end it alone.”
“There but for the grace of God went the other parallels.”
She smiled at this. “I love you, Mateo.”
“I love you, Danica.” He teleported out, and landed in the chapel on the surface. It was funny, after all this time—the gradual phasing out of the world’s religions, including Christianity—the bulldozing of all the tiny little buildings to replace them with megastructure arcologies, that this tiniest building of all should survive this long. This year really was The Edge, wasn’t it?”
He stepped out into the bright sun, and smiled softly. He was sad that his cousin was maybe dying, but she was right, it was certainly less sad than a child, or even a centuries old transhuman. She had lived so much longer than most. It was poetic, really, that she should not see the Reconvergence. “Hey. Who are you?”
A couple was standing by the picnic tables under the little shelter next to the table. “We’re just tourists. We’re sorry to bother you.”
“No. This place is dangerous right now. Have you seen anyone else?”
“What’s the matter?”
“Have you seen anyone else?” Mateo repeated.
One of them pointed. “There are a bunch of people in that field. I think they’re birdwatching. We’re not with them.”
Mateo pointed too. “Get in your car, and go now. Leave all of your belongings, and just go. Now. There could be a bomb.”
They ran for their vehicle while Mateo walked around the chapel. They were right, a ton of people were wandering around a football pitch’s length away from him. He might not have time to teleport them all away, not if what was going to happen when Danica pressed that button was what he thought would happen. The chapel was the secret entrance to the Constance. The rest of it was, of course, completely underground, but not spread out all around them. The elevator was on one side of the building, and the birdwatchers were right over the bulk of it. If they came this way, and managed to cross the road, they might be okay, but they had to come now.
“Bomb!” he yelled as he ran towards them. “There’s a bomb! Get across the road!”
“Huh? What?” They were asking, confused, and not used to living in such danger. Every structure these days came equipped with bomb detection systems, Mateo assumed. The average person in the 25th century was not under constant threat of such explosive risk. People in his time were usually not too worried about it either, unless they lived in a war zone, but that threat was always looming. These people were completely unafraid, and could probably not so much as fathom what he was even trying to tell them. They just stood there watching him as he drew nearer.
“Bomb! Come this way! Now!”
It was too late. It was far too late. The ground beneath them all blinked out of existence, leaving them a kilometer in the air, and starting to plummet to their deaths. Giant pipes were filling the crater up with water, but it wasn’t full yet. He would not have time to teleport more than a few of them out. Some of them may have been androids, or were beaming their consciousnesses to a satellite in orbit. Maybe all of them were, or maybe none of them were. They were all screaming. He had to use the only tool he had with him if they were to survive, which was this magical reality-hopping cane in his hands. He didn’t know how to use it, but if there was ever a moment to learn on the fly, this was it. He pointed towards the smattering of people, and just thought about what he wanted. A beam of light shot out of it, and overcame a good chunk of the people. They disappeared, hopefully to another reality...a safer one. He swept it rightwards, picking up more and more until they were all gone. He looked around, still falling, hoping that there weren’t any stragglers, and he didn’t see any.
Just before he hit the shallow water alone, he teleported himself a few meters away, but upside down. He learned this trick in the Parallel once. His momentum was now carrying him upwards, and slowing him down gradually, instead of all at once in a momentous splat. For a second, he was at an equilibrium, and that was when he took the opportunity to teleport again, this time to the surface next to the newly forming lake. He finally exhaled, and huffed to catch his breath.
The only couple he was able to warn in time was still there on the side of the road. “Our car wouldn’t start. It’s an antique. We were trying to live as the ancients did.”
“It’s okay. This is the edge. The danger is over.”
“What could have done this? Is that filling with water?”
Mateo nodded. “This, my new friends, is Danica Lake.” He was there when it happened in the Third Rail. It was what triggered his mind to erase the memories that could have explained it. It would seem that the creation of Danica Lake was always the plan, and not just something the other Danica came up with.
“What happened to the others? Did they all die? How deep is it?”
Mateo stood up straight and adjusted his clothes. “Did you see the message in the stars last night?”
“Yeah. Everyone did.”
“What did it say?”
Mateo nodded. “Exactly. They’re fine.” He winked, and teleported away.
“You made it!” Angela noted.
“Did you make a choice? Did Danica help you?” Marie asked.
“She couldn’t. She’s never heard of this and now, she’s...gone.”
The girls both winced, and didn’t say anything.
“You knew I would come here, though,” Mateo said, looking around at Stonehenge. “You knew I wouldn’t just bail.”
“Of course we did. We know you.”
“But we don’t know what choice you’ve made,” Alyssa said, coming into view from behind one of the stone sarsens. “So what will it be? Which reality are you saving?”
Mateo drove the Dilara Cane into the dirt so it could stand on its own. He did it for effect, and effect alone. “The main sequence; leave it here.”
“Don’t tell me,” Alyssa responded. “Tell it to this.” She reached behind her back, and produced the Omega Gyroscope. She wasn’t holding it in her hand, though. It floated above, active and glowing.
“How do I have that power?” he questioned. “Why would it listen to me?”
“Because you’re the current owner of that.” She pointed at the cane.
Mateo looked down at it. “This? I just got this. It’s a coincidence, and I’m not keeping it.”
“You should know by now, Mateo,” Alyssa began. “There is no such thing as coincidence; not in our world. You don’t have to keep it. You just have to use it in this moment. Kyra and the other Keys are going to try to pull every inhabited world in this universe through a quantum array of portals. All you have to do is close the ones that are opening up in this reality.” She gently nudged the gyroscope towards him. It floated through the air, and settled itself over the Cassano Cane like it was home.
Mateo stared at them for a moment before looking up at Alyssa, and the Walton twins. Then he wrapped his hand around the cane, holding it there. Alyssa nodded at him, so he thrust the powerful objects towards the sky, and closed the portals.

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