Sunday, October 29, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 28, 2419

Generated by Google Workspace Labs text-to-image Duet AI software
The Team quickly discovered that they actually weren’t necessarily stuck on Flindekeldan. When they first escaped from here over 160 years ago, they did so by flying through a transition window, which took them to the main sequence version of the planet. After they were gone, luring their enemy at the time away, Ellie Underhill sealed up this window in order to protect the remaining residents of this world. When the five realities were destroyed, and taken into the Sixth Key—or in the case of the main sequence, copied and left whole—all of the inhabited habitats were brought along for the ride. Some of them were on planets, some inside of rotating cylinders, and some only on transport ships. There were five versions of Earth, five versions of Proxima Doma, even five versions of Durus. Flindekeldan was different in that it was only inhabited in the main sequence, and in the Parallel, so only those two ended up in the Sixth Key together.
But together would be a strong word to use in this case, because something went wrong here. The other version ended up flying off away from the star system, and into the interstellar void, traveling at an incredibly high speed. The Flindekeldans have since lost track of it, so if Team Matic wanted to get to its Nexus, they would have to find it first. It wasn’t just about them, though. Arcadia and Vearden also wanted to return to the rest of civilization, but there was a complication. Their daughter only existed for one day a year, and that day did not correspond with the other time jumpers. So while they were gone for their interim year, the Haywoods took the Dante into orbit, along with Cheyenne. Now that she was flying in a ship, Cheyenne would always return to the timestream relative to that, rather than the middle of orbital space, which would kill her. In the meantime, Arcadia and Vearden lived up there alone. Also during this time, Ramses’ probes went off in search of the other Flindekeldan.
Today was April 28, 2419, so the team was back, and Flindakeldan II was found, but Cheyenne was gone again. They could reach their exit in a matter of hours, but then what? “Uhh,” Olimpia started, “is this going to work? What happens to Cheyenne?”
“She’ll come back to that crib, where she was, even though we will have moved,” Mateo reasoned.
“Will she?” Olimpia pressed. “Even after we take the Dante through the Nexus?”
Oh no, that was a good point. Leona hadn’t thought this through. The moving spaceship rule was bestowed upon them many, many years ago. It was so long ago that they had never even heard of real Nexa. This was too much of a risk. No one’s fate was decided. Baby Cheyenne could very well die here. They couldn’t leave. Well, they could, but they couldn’t take the ship with them. The Haywoods and Team Matic were going to have to travel separately. They were on a different schedule. “That’s okay. Dante will transport us all to the Nexus. While we stay behind, I’ll make sure that you two understand how to collapse the shuttle into its pocket dimension. Once Cheyenne comes back, you’ll take her through. Months later, we’ll follow.”
“Are you sure?” Vearden asked. “Why don’t we just leave your shuttle here? After Cheyenne comes back to us, we shouldn’t need it anymore.”
“We don’t know what state the Gatewood Collective will be in,” Leona explains. “They could already be in the midst of war. You’ll need your own vessel. I would rather never see the Dante again then leave you stranded in the Gatewood Nexus building with no resources.”
“Either way, we better get going,” Angela urged. “We don’t know the state of things on the other Flindekeldan either. I would rather hurry up and wait than wait to hurry up.”
“She’s right,” Mateo said. “Is everyone ready to go?”
“Dante,” Leona began as everyone was nodding, “yalla.”
The shuttle flew out of the solar system. It wasn’t long before they caught up with the second Flindekeldan, hurtling through space, devoid of life and its atmosphere. Hopefully the Nexus building would be protected from the now-harsh environment, and if it wasn’t, they would make it that way. Unlike last time, they knew precisely where it was, but out of a concern for safety, Mateo and Ramses decided to teleport down to the surface alone. They were right to be worried. The building’s door was open, exposing the chamber to the freezing cold temperatures of outer space. It wasn’t empty, though. A man and a woman were in the Nexus cavity. A temporal field made it look like they were frozen in place. Ramses detected life signs, though, so that was good. He pointed his instrument up towards the control room, which was sealed shut.
The two of them teleported inside. Here the atmosphere survived. “Hey, Opsocor?” Mateo asked. “Yeah, I didn’t think it would be that easy,” he said when no one responded. “We should have brought Leona with us.”
“She doesn’t want to talk to Venus,” Ramses reminded him. “We can figure this out ourselves. Most people aren’t even aware that the God of the Nexus exists, yet they still find a way to use the machines, and the network that they’re on.” He sat down, and got to work on the computer while Mateo got on the radio, and updated the team.
A few minutes later, they realized that they were running out of air. If Ramses didn’t repressurize and recycle the oxygen, they wouldn’t have much time left. It never came to that, though. He reengaged life support, and dropped the temporal bubble. The two who had been kept alive in there stumbled around for a minute, dazed and confused. Once their brains stopped spinning, they noticed Mateo standing at the top of the stairs. “Mister Matic, is that you?” the man asked.
“It is.”
“We were locked out of the control room, and out of the entire network. I initiated the emergency stasis protocol, because that was our only option when we discovered that the door was stuck open too.”
“Are you aware of what happened? Have you heard of the Sixth Key?” Mateo filled them in on the basics while the rest of the group teleported down. Except for Arcadia, who didn’t want to leave Cheyenne’s crib unattended out here in the black, even though she wasn’t going to be there for months.
“The portal between the two Flindekeldans wasn’t sealed up,” the woman began to explain their side of the story. “It was locked. It was our shift to be stationed here, in case anyone wanted to leave, just as you did decades ago. No one ever did, but we maintained the connection in the event. We have to get this machine back to where it belongs. If both planets are now in the same reality, and the transition portal connecting them no longer exists, then we have to move it physically. People deserve the option.”
“Is that possible?” Marie asked Leona.
“The Nexus building can survive in the vacuum, and it has a moderate propulsion system, but it’s only good for stationkeeping. You couldn’t fly the tens of thousands of astronomical units you would need to in order to make the journey back to the other Flindekeldan.”
“Can the Dante do it?” Marie continued. “Can it tow it back?”
Leona sighed. “If the building were already in space, I suppose it could, but it’s been installed on the surface. I don’t know how to get it up there.”
“Can you...ask?”
Leona signed again. “Goddammit,” she muttered under her breath. “Hey, Venus?”
No response.
“Hey, Venus? Hey, Opsocor? Hey, Venus Opsocor?”
“She’s probably mad that you’ve found a loophole,” Mateo guesses. “She didn’t want you to leave.”
“Well, we can leave,” Ramses announced. “I’m seeing hundreds of destinations in the computer. We’re not locked out of any of them.” He regarded the screen in horror. “Wait. No, we’re—” His eyes widened. “Okay, now we are. We’re locked out of everywhere. Every single destination. This Nexus goes nowhere; does nothing.”
“Venus,” Leona complained under her breath again.
“Hold on,” Ramses said. “I spoke too soon. I think we can still go to Worlon.”
“That’s what she wanted.”
“This is what happens when you get mixed up with a god,” Mateo lamented. “I’ve been there.”
“A god,” Leona whispered. “Everyone jump back to the shuttle...except for Mateo. Do it now. Take a friend.”
Olimpia took one of the technicians by the hand, and Angela took the other. Ramses took Vearden’s. They all disappeared, leaving Mateo alone, not having any clue what he was meant to do now. Then he started to experience a deep overwhelming feeling. It was coming from all of his friends in orbit. For the last several days, when there was nothing else to do, they had tried to work on a way to communicate with each other using their psychic bonds. Since Ramses still couldn’t figure out how to make true telepathy happen, they were limited to conveying their emotions. That could only get them so far, thought, unless they used it as a code. It was a pretty simple system. Each emotion was assigned a letter; the first letter. For instance, annoyance could stand for A, boredom could stand for B. By slipping from one emotion to another in rapid succession, words could theoretically be constructed. It would take a long time to convey more than a single word, but it was a start. Actually, they hadn’t really started it yet. Only the concept had been devised. They had yet to determine a way to tell the difference between an attempt to convey a letter of the alphabet, and just picking up on someone feeling that feeling for real, because people feel feelings.
Overwhelming, okay. O. Mateo stood there and waited. O. That was all they were saying: O, O, O, O, O. What the hell was that supposed to mean? Why did Leona choose him for this job? He was the dumbest of them all. He just kept trying to figure it out. O, O, O, O, O. Oh! Zero! He jumped into the Nexus cavity, and kicked the symbol that represented the number zero. Then he kicked the enter button, and disappeared.
A rowboat approached in the water. The god tied it off, and walked towards Mateo. “Hello, and welcome to Origin.”

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