Sunday, September 24, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 23, 2414

Generated by Google Workspace Labs text-to-image AI software
Mateo was the one to donate his blood to Karla, so she could start skipping time, and remain on the same pattern as their daughter. This was intentionally a temporary fix, just in case she changed her mind later. It made sense on paper to stay this way forever, but she may decide that it would be best for her to always be waiting for little Romana to return to the timestream. She had about a week to decide, and if she still wasn’t sure, they could always give her a second dose of the temporary pattern-sharing serum, instead of the permanent one. Perhaps they would just keep doing it like that. Neither Cassidy nor Mateo had a problem with this eventuality.
She was a very special little baby. Generally speaking, the first time a person travels through time—and usually to a lesser degree for every subsequent trip—it’s a jarring experience. It can come with sometimes very nasty side effects, such as nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, or diarrhea, among other possibilities. These symptoms can come on in the moments leading up to the jump, and last for minutes or hours afterwards. For Romana, she seemed to have no issue at all. As midnight central approached, she giggled, as if it were a pleasurable experience for her. It probably was. It wasn’t the first time she did it; just the first time after she was born. The truth was that it had happened to her about 270 times before this. It was part of who she was, in a deeper sense than most time travelers, including her own father. Meliora Rutherford, the daughter of this building’s namescape, was likely the only person with some understanding of what Romana’s is going through right now. They couldn’t wait until she was verbal.
It was April 23, 2414 on Dardius right now. The Dardieti toyed with their own calendar for a while before deciding to conform to that of Earth’s. A dying man was sent back in time about two millennia to let his final act alive be setting the flag of Dardius in the North Pole. His remains were discovered beside the now-buried remnants of that flag in recent days. His fusion-powered solar watch was still ticking, allowing them to accept the calendar as real. Of course, this was but a symbolic gesture. There was no real reason why they couldn’t simply deliberately have declared what year it was without technically starting at zero, but it made it a little easier to believe in.
Leona was sitting on the huge penthouse balcony, watching the sun rise. The arch that the Isaac Skybridge created was facing north and south, so the sun came up over Lincoln Tower, and set over Rutherford Tower. It was beautiful up here. There was no rule that LIR Towers had to be the tallest structure in the city, but it was. In fact, it remained the tallest one in the world. They were pretty lucky to live here now, and hopefully it would last. Leona being the cynic of the group, was not so convinced, but she wasn’t about to let that on to anyone else. It wasn’t helpful. So she was regarding the sky, and appreciating the time that they did have in this wondrous place. As she sat there, she started to feel a pull behind her. It was Ramses, calling to her from the Dante using their empathetic bond. She stood up, and teleported to the shuttle.
Ramses was in his laboratory pocket dimension, hunched over his table, studying something with his ocular loupes. “I’m hoping not to have disturbed you. It did not feel as if you were asleep.”
“I did not sleep,” Leona clarified. “None of us but Mateo did. Did you see the bed they designed for him and Karla?”
Ramses looks up from his work. “No? This sounds juicy.”
She laughed. “It’s a giant king-plus sized bed with a bassinet installed in the center, so co-parents can sleep on either side of the baby.”
He chuckled. “Cute.”
“I should say, I don’t think the concept was inspired by them. I believe it’s a normal product that anyone can order, but this one was custom-made as a gift from a friend of the family, or maybe just a fan.”
“Who knows, this planet is weird.”
“What are you working on there?”
“The rosary.” He lifted it up with a pair of tweezers. “I’ve been trying to get it to work. So far, I’ve been able to guess at its function, but not actually trigger its power.”
She looked upon it. “I forgot about this thing. It definitely works. I’ve seen it used. You, or someone who looks very much like you, used it at The Edge meeting. And someone who looked very much like you popped in and out of the timeline while I was gone to take things from the team.” It could be that the real version of him was never destined to use it. Ramses was in possession of it now, and Future!Leona will have it at some point later. It pretty much had to be in that order, because Ramses took it directly from Arcadia in another brane, but that was the extent of their understanding of the thing. It didn’t mean he would ever figure out how to operate it. “What does it do?”
“I counteracts time.”
“In what way?”
“Well, you said that this other Ramses—maybe Future!Me, maybe always Future!Leona—would squeeze it and disappear. That sounds like your average time travel or teleportation. But if that’s the case, why is it so coveted? Why does it matter? Plenty of people can do that on their own, there’s no real reason for anyone else to want it, especially not Future!Leona. She can do a ton of things. My best guess is that when someone uses it, they separate themselves from whatever time is doing to them in that moment. If they’re moving forward in time at typical speed, maybe they move backwards, or maybe just slower. If true, it could be reapplied to other temporal manipulations, such as breaking out of a time bubble, or undoing illusions, like invisibility.”
Leona looked away to think. “Or time jump patterns.”
He nodded solemnly. “It could...cure us. That is, if you look at it as a disease, which I personally don’t. After all, I did this to myself on purpose.”
She nodded back, just as solemnly. “But it could cure Romana. She could be a normal little girl.”
“That’s not my call, and like I said, I can’t turn it on.” He stood up, and walked over to a locker. “But that’s not all I wanted to show you this morning. Unlike the rosary, Dante 2.0 is complete.”
“Two-point-oh?” Leona questioned.
He smiled as he took what looked like a parachute pack out, and held it open. “Well, come on and put it on.”
She narrowed her eyes at him.
“What, you don’t trust me?”
“Not as far as I can throw you.”
He shook the pack, and then started helping her arms through the straps. “We’re five hundred meters up in the air, my dear. You could throw me quite far.” He came around and closed the waist buckle and chest buckle for her. “Looks good on ya.
“A parachute’s not gonna fit in here.”
He laughed. “It’s not a parachute.” He turned around so they were facing the same direction, and shook his hands accordingly. “Left is open, right is closed. I’m working on a special function that happens when you pull them at the same time, but that’s not ready yet. For now, that will just do nothing.”
“You’ve still not yet said what either one of the other cords does.”
He smiled knowingly, and pulled the right cord for her. Everything around them started to collapse in on itself, and become sucked into the pack as it shrank. In seconds, the whole Dante was gone, and they were standing in the open air on the top of the Isaac Skybridge.
“Oh. That makes sense. It’s just like the Phoenix.”
“It was already designed to potentially be collapsed into an uninhabitable pocket dimension of its own. All I had to do was reprogram it to collapse into this thing, instead of the suitcase that the rest of the capital ship goes into. The only thing is, if this shuttle were ever to be reunited with the Phoenix, I’m not sure whether it would function correctly or safely. It may go ahead and fall into the suitcase along with everything else, or it’ll be vaporized.” He grimaced at the thought.
She shook her head. “We’re never getting the Phoenix back. The people from the afterlife simulation need it more than we ever could.”
Suddenly, guardsmen from both towers rushed onto the bridge, and pointed their weapons in strategic directions. “Is everything okay, sirs?” one of them asked. “Your shuttle disappeared!”
“Everything’s fine!” Leona assured them. I just...put it in my bag!”
They were still on high alert. “Are you quite certain? We can protect you from anything!” the leader from Rutherford Tower added.
“Really, it’s fine! We didn’t mean to alarm you. Um...” She switched to false bravado. “Return to your posts, please. I think I’m going to..take it out of the bag again!”
The guardsmen retreated into their respective towers, except for one. He was just a kid, surely no older than nineteen. He held his gun at the low ready position. He was trying to avoid eye contact like he was really trying to avoid being noticed.
“You may go, soldier!” Ramses encouraged.
“I was actually hoping to, um...see it?”
“From outside, or in?” Ramses asked him.
The young man thought about it. “Both!”
Leona removed the Dante pack, and handed it to Ramses. She approached the soldier. “What’s your name, son?”
“Mercari, sir. Officer Mercari. This is my first week.”
“Are you related to Andromeda Mercari?”
“Distantly, sir. I...I can’t remember the family tree.”
“You don’t have to call me sir. I’m just a person. Why don’t you set that gun down? I don’t like weapons.”
Officer Mercari switched the safety on, and set the rifle down against the wall.
“We’ll start out here. Go ahead and do it!” she called over to Ramses.

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