Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: June 1, 2453

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The team transported the Sixth Key delegates, the Primus, and her assistant to the Executive Bunker on the other side of the world. From there, they watched the battle that the Transit and the Cormanu were fighting against the onslaught of Ochivari ships. The local squadrons watched from orbit, but did not participate. The public watched as well through minimal satellite feeds, though most of the cameras that were pointed  away from Earth were limited to military and governmental use. After only about fifteen minutes of the shooting, they all disappeared through a technicolor portal. No friend or foe was left on the battlefield. The theory was that the Transit was trying to spare the locals by moving the fighting to another universe, but it could have just as easily been more like the other way around. No one sent them a message, and when the team returned a year later, they still hadn’t heard from anyone, but a lot had changed. Carlin was now a folk hero.
In all this time, they never got a chance to find out what his time powers were, which appeared to run in the family. Apparently, he was kind of like a walking homestone, but with fewer limitations. He could send anyone back to any point in their life just after they departed from that moment using teleportation or time travel; not only the first instance. He was able to return all of the delegates to where they were when the Tree of Life first pulled them to the nucleus. Leona respectfully asked why he didn’t do that before, and he said that he wasn’t certain of the extent of his abilities. He didn’t know that he could relapse across universes, but Thack was able to check to make sure that everyone was back to where they belonged as if they had never left.
“Are you sure you want to use that word?” Mateo asked.
“I like it,” Carlin insisted.
“Well, it’s just that it has negative—”
“I understand. I like it,” he repeated.
“I could relapse you too,” Carlin offered, “now that I know that I can even do it from all the way out here.”
“Can you do it to yourself?” Mateo asked him.
“Then it’s a no for me too. We’re not gonna leave you behind. Though, perhaps Thack would like to go home?”
“She says that she must remain here for a certain amount of time,” Carlin explained. “I offer a way out to her every day.”
“Does it drain you of energy, doing what you do?” Mateo went on.
“It’s invigorating,” Carlin revealed. Even though the orbital battle last year was fought against an armada of ships, it wasn’t like they were the only Ochivari in the universe. More kept coming through smaller breaches on the surface of this planet. Whenever a new arrival was detected, the government would fly Carlin to that location to have him dispatch of the threat. They actually gave him a special hypersonic jet to accomplish this. He might need to travel anywhere in the world to complete his missions, and he was beloved by all for his efforts. Many were coming out of the bunkers, and trying to return to their normal lives as a result. Though, the government wasn’t sure whether that was the right call. One thing that helped them know when an Ochivar had snuck in was because there were fewer humans around for them to blend in with. They had yet to figure out how to detect the portals themselves, and were hoping that the team could help them. “I love all the sudden travel, though I know that the natives are hoping that you can make that simpler.”
“Are you up for that?” Leona asked Ramses.
“What, me? Of course, why wouldn’t I be?”
“Well, you almost died from equilibrium exposure,” she reminded him.
“Well, I had to test what it was like to be exposed in the equilibrium,” Ramses explained. “And now I’s worse than a vacuum.”
“Next time, wear a helmet,” Leona suggested.
“Aye aye, Captain.” He was trying to keep it light, but Leona wanted to be a little more serious, so he nodded, and added, “I really will. I need to get the Ambassador back up to the surface, and re-embigify it, so I can start working on the detector in my lab.”
“Go ahead,” she allowed.
“I’ll go with you,” Angela offered. They both jumped away.
Soon after they were gone, Thack Natalie Collins entered the room. They were in the executive bunker situation room, where the military usually planned and led the war efforts. It was originally designed to support the continuity of government in the event of a total collapse of civilization, which hadn’t happened yet. However, they were always on the cusp of complete failure, which was why most of Primus Mihajlović’s supporters kept begging recently for her to begin operating out of here fulltime. The second major tactical  assault was all the reason they needed to basically force her to finally accept that, so she and Kineret had been down here for the last year, as was Thack, who was presently serving as a cultural advisor. “Welcome back to reality.”
“We weren’t sure that we would jump at all,” Leona told her. “Being in other universes makes it complicated.”
“I wouldn’t know anything about that,” Thack claimed.
“Would you know about the Transit, and the Cormanu?” Mateo pressed. “Where did they go when they left here?”
Thack smiled in a way that made it seem like she was about to school them on the subject. “Psychic abilities are interesting. For the most part, we’re not talking about knowing things without learning them, though that’s definitely part of it. The majority of psychics are limited by their connection to others. That’s what it is; the links that bind us together. Now, you would think that this means I should be able to find our friends wherever they are, especially since I have formed close personal relationships with the Hawthornes, however, I believe that they have traveled beyond my scope. They have gone to a universe where no one else lives. Yes, I’m connected to the people that I already know, but not to anyone else there, because they don’t exist. You’ve been to a handful of branes yourselves, and you’ve always found people to already be living there, such as the one we’re in right now. But most aren’t like that. Most are dead, or lifeless anyway. In the infinity, I think most can’t even harbor life at all, meaning that you can’t go to them, or you’ll just straight up die. I can tell you for a fact that our friends did not end up in one of those extreme scenarios, because I see their futures. But there are plenty of others out there where life is safe, but never evolved. And again, I can’t see them. If you were in the middle of a fight with the Ochivari, you would probably try to go to one of these places, so the conflict did not endanger the lives of innocents.”
“I would if I could, yes,” Mateo agreed. “But just to clarify, you can’t watch them remotely, even when you concentrate, and you can’t guess when they’ll return, if ever?”
Thack shook her head. “I’m saying that I don’t know where they went when they left,” she explained, quite careful with her language. It probably wasn’t safe for them to know too much about the future. She faced Carlin. “Mister McIver, I will be leaving today. Please prepare to relapse me back to Voldisilaverse.”
“I’m ready, we can go right now,” Carlin replied.
“No, no. Mister Abdulrashid needs time to build his little device. When we’ll go, he’ll take measurements of the bulk energy that you’ll be tapping into. That data will be vital for the goal of detecting arrivals as they happen.”
The Primus walked into the room with Kineret, having heard enough from the hallway. “Will we ever be able to predict them, so we can dispatch a team ahead of time? We’re always worried that some remain...somewhere.”
“I wouldn’t know anything about that,” Thack repeated herself from earlier.
Naraschone seemed to be used to having to allow Thack her secrets. “Anyway, the military requires this room for a battle exercise for one of their new fighter jets.”
This was where the team happened to be last year when their proverbial hourglass ran out, and they were sent forward in time a year. They weren’t entirely sure when it would happen, since their original pattern was tied to midnight central in Salmonverse. This was a version of Earth, and the bunker was located in Colorado, so their best guess was that it would be the same, using the local time zone borders, but it happened at 22:00 instead, when it was only 23:00 in Kansas. They did not know why.
“We were just leaving,” Thack said respectfully.
As they were exiting, Mateo pulled Thack aside since this was evidently his last time to talk to her. “When I was being possessed by Amber and Sanaa, two others managed to sneak into my mind. One was Meredarchos, I’m sure you’ve heard of him.”
“I have,” Thack said, nodding.
“The other; they were crying for help. Would you have any idea who that could be, or would you not know anything about that?” Hopefully that didn’t come off as harsh.
“It could be a number of people,” Thack answered. “It could be me. It could be one of the people on any of the bulk traveling machines that were here last year, or of the people who travel using other means. It could be you, from your future.” She looked away from him as if her own words had given her an idea. “Or from your past.”
“No, I would remember that,” Mateo insisted.
“Aren’t you missing some personal time? Think back.”
Mateo winced, not knowing what she was talking about, but then he realized that she might be onto something. He did disappear once, from the Third Rail, in the Russian mine where they were looking for timonite to rescue Trina. When he came back, they thought that he had only jumped forward in time a couple of days, but he had always secretly had the feeling that he had actually been detoured somewhere in the meantime, and had since lost his memories of it. He never really talked about that with the others, but it was super weird that he just happened to swallow the one rock that they had been searching for. “Maybe you’re right. You really think that it was just me?”
“Oh, it’s only an idea. You have an opportunity to investigate that you didn’t have before, though. If you don’t have anything else going on, you could talk to Carlin.”
That was an interesting recommendation, one which he should probably take.

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