Sunday, October 22, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 27, 2418

Generated by Google Workspace Labs text-to-image Duet AI software
It was time to go. None of them wanted to leave Dardius—least of all Mateo—but it was the right thing to do. He didn’t choose every aspect of his life, but he chose some of them, and no matter what the ratio was, Romana didn’t choose any of it for herself. She deserved to live in a comfortable and safe environment. It was going to be hard enough for her, only living for one day out of every year, and it wasn’t fair for Mateo to stick around if it was going to make that worse. This planet was the safest place to be only if Team Matic wasn’t on it. They attracted too much attention. They were magnets for trouble. Sure, they could find respite here and there every once in a while, but it was going to find them eventually, and they didn’t want anyone else to be caught in the crossfire. Karla, Silenus, and especially Constance would do right by Romana, and make sure she grew up to be a well-rounded individual. She would learn to make her own choices, and in several thousand years, if she wanted to start making a name for herself in this crazy multiverse, she could do that, and place her own self in danger. Until then, everyone else was responsible for making their respective sacrifices to protect her.
They had a grand breakfast together, complete with the best cuisine that Dardius had to offer. Vearden and the planet’s owners were all there, as well as some other government officials that Angela and Marie had grown close to over the last few days. When it was over, they said their goodbyes, and packed up the Dante. If you had told Mateo back when he was 27 years old that it was possible to store a spaceship inside of a backpack, he wouldn’t even have the concept for it in his imagination. Now it seemed so basic and unimpressive, even though it was still anything but. While Silenus was watching over the baby, Karla asked to see them off at the Nexus, so Mateo teleported her to Tribulation Island with the group. She swung her bag off of her shoulders, and dropped it onto the sand. “Silenus got this for you, but he asked me to say it was from me instead. I don’t like lying, so I’m not gonna do that. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly secure. It doesn’t store any images, or other data. No one can trace us from it.”
“What is it?” Mateo asked.
She opened the bag, and removed a box. She opened it, and pulled out a gooseneck mirror. “Now you can stay in touch.”
“Is that a time mirror?” Leona asked.
“One of a pair,” Karla confirmed. “It can’t be hacked, and it can’t be intercepted. It’s on its own special quantum frequency, or something.”
Leona looked over at Ramses.
“We have our own temporal engineers,” Karla explained. “You’re not the only inventors in the universe.”
“That’s fair,” Leona responded.
“Thank you,” Mateo said.
“I’m sure your wife can teach you how to use it,” Karla went on. “Unless you’re in the middle of talking to someone else, or Romana and I are out somewhere, I’ll make sure that it’s always pointed towards her. If we don’t answer, it doesn’t mean we’re not safe. It’s just not something that I can carry around. We’re probably just on a walk.”
“Thank you,” Mateo repeated. He carefully placed the communication time mirror back into its box, and then into his own bag.
They all stepped into the Nexus building. “Hey, Opsocor,” Leona asked.
No response.
“Opsocor, can you hear me?” Leona pressed.
Still no response.
“The techs can send you anywhere you wanna go,” Karla tried to explain.
“Not anywhere,” Leona contended. “We’re trying to go back to the Sixth Key.”
“Why would you go there? It doesn’t sound safe at this point in history.”
“Safe isn’t what we’re looking for,” Mateo told her. “There’s a mission somewhere out there that needs to be completed, and which we’re capable of accomplishing, so we’re going to do that. We can’t just go find a beach somewhere on a paradise world, and lounge about.” It sounded dumb to go off in search of trouble, but sitting around and doing nothing would defeat the whole purpose of keeping Mateo from his daughter. He had to stay busy, even if that meant deliberately inviting adventure and danger into their lives. They all agreed to this. “The Sixth Key is new, and on the verge of war.”
If they haven’t started fighting already,” Marie added.
“Right. Maybe we’ll make things worse,” Mateo continued, “but maybe we can help. We’re partially responsible for the mess they’re in, so we have to see if there’s anything we can do to prevent, or at least end, the killing.”
“Assuming it’s not inevitable,” Angela decided.
“Yeah, let’s hope as much.”
“Hey, Opsocor?” Karla asked the aether, just in case it worked.
“You may be the problem,” Leona hypothesized. “Everyone may be.” She looked up through the window to the control room.
We’ll go,” one of the technicians said through the speaker. “We’ll leave you be for ten minutes, but not a second longer. We cannot be away from our posts for longer than that.
“I should only need two minutes,” Leona told the two of them as they were coming down the stairs. “If she doesn’t respond to me by then, she probably never will.”
Karla gave Mateo a hug, and a mostly friendly kiss on the lips. “Call me maybe.”
“Absolutely,” he replied.
They cleared the room.
Leona took a deep breath. “Opsocor.”
Yes, Leona.
“I don’t understand your rules.”
You don’t have to.
“You’re always there, even if you don’t say anything, which means you know where we wanna go?”
Yes, and I’ll send you there, if you would like, but...
“But what?”
But it will put you on a path. I can see that path. Well, I can’t, but I know someone who can. You can get out of it. All you have to do is go to Worlon instead.
“Worlon?” Ramses questioned, very concerned. “The homeworld of the Ochivari? Are you sure?”
The Ochivari left so they wouldn’t destroy it again, so ironically enough, it’s the safest place to be right now.
“That’s not what we’re looking for,” Olimpia tells Opsocor before muttering under her breath, “we keep having to say that.”
Out of the group,” Opsocor began, “I answer only to Leona.
“Take us to the Sixth Key,” Leona requested. “Take us to the safest planet in the Sixth Key. Does that sound like a decent compromise?”
Very well. Step into the cavity.
They all did so. All of the sixteen numbers and activation glyph were etched on the walls of the cavity, which was only one step down. These were not only for decoration. It was possible to input the sequence from here, without doing anything with the computer in the control room, or the terminal on the wall. Whichever method one used for a departure, the glyphs on the kick buttons lit up in order to indicate where the travelers would be going. Leona’s eyes widened as she watched, but she wasn’t able to stop it in time. “Oh, you sneaky snake.”
The light overwhelmed them, and transported them not only to another planet, but another universe. And when they arrived, they realized that they were also not in the Milky Way Galaxy, where they expected to be. Everyone in the group who had been here before recognized it immediately, even though it had been 165 years since the last time. “Flindekeldan,” Olimpia whispered loudly.
“Oh. Seems nice enough,” Ramses noted.
“It doesn’t have a Nexus,” Mateo told him. “We’re stuck here.”
“How did you escape the first time?” Ramses asked.
“Desperately,” Mateo answered his friend cryptically.
“I’m sorry,” Leona said, shaking her head. “Venus tricked me.”
“She’s protective of you,” Mateo said comfortingly, with a kiss on her forehead.
“I can understand that,” came a voice behind them. “It was Leona. It was some version of Leona anyway. They didn’t know which one yet.
“Report,” the true Leona said.
“I’m Arcadia. We live here now. Some of us more than others.”
“You do?” Mateo asked, stepping forward. “You, Vearden, and little Cheyenne?”
“Vearden’s back home. I’m on a walk. Cheyenne is...”
“Cheyenne is what?” Leona urged.
“She doesn’t exist right now.”
“What do you mean, sh—?” Mateo began. “Oh, no.” It happened to them too.
Leona shook her head. “My alternate self. You’re in her body, so Cheyenne inherited the pattern.”
“Shouldn’t she be here today, though?” Olimpia reasoned. We’re here.”
“She’s not on your exact pattern,” Arcadia explained. “She’s on a similar one. She won’t be back until June 8, zero-zero-one-nine.”
“Zero-zero-nineteen? What calendar is that?” Marie asked.
“New Clavical Calendar,” Mateo answered surprisingly. “I didn’t know they had implemented it already. That was fast.”
“Yeah, we’ve been hopping worlds, hoping to somehow alter Cheyenne’s pattern, but it hasn’t worked,” Arcadia lamented. “We should have known. Our first attempt with Proxima Doma was a good guess, since their years are eleven days long, but coming here was stupid. Now, even if we wanna try something else, we can’t.”
“I’m sorry, Arcadia,” Leona said solemnly.
“This isn’t your fault,” Arcadia told her honestly. “It’s a shame you’ll probably never get to meet her. I don’t know which calendar you’ll be on now that you’re here. But since you are, are ya hungry? Vearden learned how to make Horace Reaver’s quiche.

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