Sunday, October 1, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 24, 2415

Generated by Google Workspace Labs text-to-image AI software
The great thing about life on Dardius was that Mateo and Karla had no responsibilities beyond caring for their child. They didn’t have to get up and go to work in the morning. They didn’t have to mow the lawn, or go out for groceries. Everything they did revolved around little Romana. They slept when she slept, and they played when she was up for it. A lot of experts will recommend not sharing a room with one’s infant, and especially not a bed, but the two of them didn’t agree. They were in little danger of accidentally harming their girl. She slept in a bassinet that was situated between the two of them in the center of a gigantic bed. Even if something happened overnight, alarms would go off, because all three of them were being monitored by medical equipment. If she woke up to cough once, the computer would log it, and if the cough kept going, and the parents didn’t wake up on their own, that alarm would go off. Karla was born to a long line of roomsharers, and this didn’t change when the Neimans made the move from Durus to Dardius. And Mateo? He wanted to give his new blended family everything they wanted or needed, so he was flexible.
Most of the rest of the team didn’t have any responsibilities either, but they were keeping themselves busy. Ramses and Leona spent a lot of time in the lab, inventing new things, and even retrofitting the shuttle. Angela and Marie wanted to learn more about the planet, its culture, and particularly the global government. They were currently in the tower next door, shadowing the owners, and sitting in on meetings. Even Constance had something to do. She decided to become Romana’s fulltime doctor. Dardius had prepared a medical team for them, but it wasn’t necessary. She possessed the knowledge and skills of four and a half billion years. She could do just about anything. After all, her prime directive was nurture and care. As for Olimpia, there was nothing. She wasn’t smart enough to work in the lab on the Dante, and she wasn’t interested in any of the boring sociopolitical stuff. She felt like a fifth wheel with the baby, so she just sat in her room, and started watching Dardieti TV. She found it a little odd. They were speaking English, and they were talking about things she had decent experience with, but it was like they were on a slightly different wavelength. Plus, she was growing bored with it too. What she needed was a native to tell her what historical programs to watch, and which ones to skip. But who has time for that?
This was a big world, and while everyone else was limiting themselves to one tiny sliver of it, she decided to go explore. They had all been able to teleport for a long time now, but hadn’t really used this power for personal reasons. There was always some specific place they needed to be, and some urgent matter to attend to there. She was just going to be a tourist. In a single day, she hiked the Mountains of Opalia, canoed on Azuria Lake, and walked the streets of Quasar City. Now, for no reason at all, she decided to return to Tribulation Island, and take a dip in the completely unpolluted ocean. But when she arrived, she was overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle.
A man in military uniform was barking orders at his soldiers, who were running around, then taking formation around the Nexus. Two helicopters were flying overhead. A fleet of ships sat at various distances in the water. Olimpia thought about just leaving, since this wasn’t her business, but her curiosity got the better of her. She noticed one soldier standing separately from the others, staring out over the sea, instead of towards the Nexus building. “Forgive me. Is it all right if I ask what’s going on here?”
“How did you—oh, Miss Sangster. It’s an honor, but you should leave. It’s not safe here.” She lifted her binoculars back up to scan the horizon.
“What’s happening?”
“There’s been an incursion in the Nexus. And unauthorized visitor has come through. Don’t ask me who were why, because it’s not my job to know. I’m here to keep a lookout, in case the true threat is coming from out there, and the Nexus arrival was nothing more than a distraction.”
Olimpia looked over to see that others like her were staring up at the sky, a few of them with telescopes. “I’ve seen in movies, distractions like that. You’re smart to be concerned with other points of entry.”
“It’s unlikely anyone will come by sea, in such a sparsely populated remote galaxy, but it’s not impossible for someone to have secretly landed in deeper waters, and are now making their way here. We always keep an eye on the vastness, but we’re on high alert right now.”
Olimpia looked behind them. “My team and I just arrived through the Nexus.”
“I am aware.”
“How many visitors do you receive on average?”
“Almost none these days. We don’t make many rescues anymore.”
“So, it’s probably not a coincidence,” Olimpia guessed.
The soldier lowered the binoculars. “That’s why it’s not safe. They could be coming for you. I do not believe your team has been informed of the development, or you would not be the only one here.”
“I teleported here on a whim. I don’t know what the others are doing.”
“I urge you to go find out, to tell no one of what’s happening here, and to never return to the island unless a trusted authority has assured you that it is no longer a risk.”
No. There was no such thing as a coincidence when it came to time travelers. She may have thought that she came to this island just to feel the waves tickle her ankles, but she was here for a reason. It was her job to represent the interests of Team Matic. It was her job to keep the others safe from whatever was going on here. They all had important things to deal with. As the only free agent, it was the least she could do. “Thanks, soldier.” She stepped away and walked up to the General. “Do you know who I am?”
“Yes, Miss Sangster.”
She waited a beat. “Report.”
“A group of six people came through the Nexus. We have safeguards in place that prevent anyone from doing that unless they call ahead.”
We didn’t call ahead.”
“Unless they call ahead, or it was prearranged,” the General clarified.
She nodded. “What are their names?”
“They’ve not said. They claim to be representatives of a multireality advocacy group working towards a cooperative future in the Sixth Key. I don’t know exactly what that means, but we’ve quarantined them in there until we can figure out how they breached our security, and why we’ve been locked out of the controls.”
“Did they say anything else?”
“They would like to establish diplomatic relations with Dardius.”
She nodded again. “I’m going in.”
The General sighed. “I can’t stop you, but I can advise you to not.”
“Noted,” she said simply. She turned to face the building, and prepared herself. Then she teleported in.
The six strangers were standing in a circle in the Nexus cavity, talking amongst themselves. When one of them noticed Olimpia’s arrival, she indicated as much with her eyes, prompting the others to turn. “Hello.” An apparent leader took one step forward, but stayed in the pit. “My name is Heath Walton of the Third Rail. Do you represent Dardian interests?”
“Dardieti,” she corrected.
He closed his eyelids softly, and nodded. “Apologies.”
“And no, I don’t.” She pulled out her handheld device, and ran a search. Heath Walton did not appear on her list of people she had met. But he was on everyone else’s. “The name of your wife.”
“Marie. Angela Marie Walton.”
“What happened to her?”
“It’s complicated. Do you know her?”
“Why are you here?”
“To establish—”
“Diplomatic relations with Darius,” she interrupted. “Yes, I’ve heard.”
He narrowed his eyes at her. “You do not have diplomatic experience yourself, yet they sent you?”
“Nobody sends me anywhere. I do as I please.”
“Ah. So you’re one of the elite travelers; someone so powerful that smart people know that it’s safer to just let you make your own choices than to try to get in your way, and risk turning you into an enemy. Yes, Marie is like that as well.”
“There is a Fifth Divisioner; his name, we’ve never known,” Olimpia began.
Heath’s face fell. He knew where she was going with this.
“He imprisoned Team Matic. What do you know of this?”
Heath nodded. “He was one of the few of us who happened to be in the main sequence during the Reconvergence. A copy of him materialized in the Sixth Key, and he established contact with his alternate self. He joined our group, and we asked him to find and secure Team Matic so they could return to our new universe. I wanted to see my wife again, and to offer them all to join us. They are a source of inspiration for many, and we were hoping they— wait, you’re Olimpia Sangster.”
“And if I am?”
He didn’t really answer the question. “What happened to you was wrong. We charged that man with getting you back to us. He thought that we wanted him to hurt you. He is an idiot, and an asshole, and both versions of him have since been removed from our organization. I apologize for the trouble, and the trauma. That is not what we are about. We are aware of the impending war between realities, and we are doing everything we can to stop it. We came to ask Dardius for its guidance, but since you are here as well, we ask the same of you.”
She scanned the representatives. “Do any of you have powers; temporal, psychic, or otherwise?”
“No, not even the one from the Parallel.” Heath answered, shaking his head.
Olimpia teleported out and returned a minute later with zip ties. “Let the military take you in for questioning. I’ll speak with my friends. We’ll get back to you next year.”

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