Tuesday, July 19, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 16, 2398

Ramses quit his job, having come to the conclusion that the extra income was not worth keeping. He hated it, and truthfully, probably wouldn’t have been able to steal very much before getting caught, and then that would just paint a target on their backs anyway. Fortunately, it isn’t customary to give notice in this country in this reality. He just told his boss it was over, and hung up the phone. Looking back, it was a bit of a silly plan, and he’s glad to be free to do things like this. He’s taking Leona out to the site of The Constant. It took Heath days to make contact with the rest of the team, but now they’re all caught up. Leona is nervous, but she’s coming anyway, because she knows more about time travel, and has to inspect the scene herself. She’s fairly confident that Mateo is alive. No, Heath didn’t look all over the facility to find him, but he probably looked enough. Mateo has a habit of surviving, even if he has to die first. There’s no reason to believe that this time will be any different. Still, Leona’s husband just disappeared. She can’t not go, and just wait for him in Kansas City.
That’s what Angela and Marie are doing, as the second reason that they’re just staying in the area. The number one reason, though, is that they still have to go through with the plan to have the former be able to successfully pretend to be the latter. Even if it never comes up in regards to the abortion, it’s a handy secret weapon to keep in their arsenal for any future use, and the logical thing to do. Not many people would be able to get away with it; not in this time period, anyway.
“We’re here,” Ramses announces.
“This is where The Olimpia is hidden,” Leona complains. “I wanna go to the Constant.”
“Heath sent us a text message while you were asleep. He wants to meet here.”
“He didn’t say.” Ramses drives into the shallow ditch, and up into the treeline, where he parks behind the Olimpia.
Heath is waiting for them outside, hands stuffed into the pockets of his jacket.
“What’s wrong?” Leona asks him after getting out.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong,” Heath begins. “But first of all, I want to apologize for the part that I played in—”
“Get on with it, what’s wrong?” Leona interrupts.
“Okay, so...when the thing that happened happened, Mateo saved my life by pushing me out of the hole. I fell backwards, and hit a rock, suffering a latent concussion. I managed to get all the way down to—”
“I know all this,” Leona interrupts again. “Move on.”
“Okay, well, the concussion caught up to me, and I passed out. I woke up in the med bay.”
“How did you get to the med bay?” she asks.
“A nice family of four orphaned children found the hole before I had the chance to cover it up better, and treated me. That’s why it took me so long to contact you. I was out for quite awhile.”
“Four orphaned children,” she echoes. “Where are they now?”
“They’re still down there,” Heath explains. “They’ve sort of...laid claim to it. It’s not completely ridiculous, because they own the land. Well, they own the land over most of the facility. The entrance, they believe, is on public land, because it’s so close to the road.”
“Are they not letting us down there?” Leona presses.
“No, they’re happy to host us, but they’ve decided that they are the hosts, and we are the visitors. They’re hoping to sell tickets to rich people who fear World War VII.”
“That’s not an option,” Ramses decides.
“I told them as much. They’re...willing to negotiate.”
“I don’t have time to deal with this right now,” Leona says. “I need to be there, and not be here. Let’s go.”
“Okay, I just wanted to warn you that things are complicated. They’re not going public until we tell them it’s okay, though, so don’t worry about that. Or, they won’t go public at all, I guess. They’re not going to advertise—”
“Let’s go!” she repeats, walking past him, and heading for her destination.
When they get down the elevator, preliminary negotiations begin. Ramses tries to explain to the eldest sister that the bunker was built long before the land above it was in their family’s name. When the girl argues that it’s been in the family for centuries, he tries to clarify that it’s far older than that, but she has a hard time believing it, because the technology down here is even more advanced than the rest of the world nowadays. In the middle of the argument, he introduces himself, and she returns in kind.
Leona wasn’t paying any attention, but she perks up now. “Alyssa? McIver?” She didn’t even have to hear a last name to make the connection. She’s just used to meeting people from her future, so a first name is often enough to spark an associated memory.
“Yeah. Do you know me? He acted like he knew me too.”
“Yes, but I won’t explain it unless you sign over the rights to a small plot of your land, plus everything lower than three kilometers under all of your land.”
Alyssa crosses her arms. “Whatever, I’m not stupid. This is the only thing we own that’s worth any money. You think I’m gonna let you keep it?”
“We don’t want money for the bunker. We just have to keep it a secret,” Leona tells her. “You see what this place is like. It’s much, much older than my friend here has even told you. It’s so old, no one owned this land. No one was living anywhere near here. No human was alive at all.” She looks around at the walls. “Except for the ones who built it, but they were just there to supervise the robots. That’s a taste of the explanation; the tip of the iceberg. You want the whole story, you sell us the above land for at least double the fair price, and you don’t tell a soul about it. You don’t utter a single. Damn. Syllable.”
Alyssa’s interest has been right piqued, but she still isn’t sure.
Leona throws in a bonus. “You can live down here, if you want, and use whatever technology you find that we don’t take out for our own purposes, or to protect you. Again, you can’t tell anyone, but it’s yours. Have you found the swimming pools?”
“Pools?” one of the young boys asks, emphasizing the last letter of the word.
Alyssa wants to counter, but looks like she’s worried about losing everything if she doesn’t accept what’s been offered. “Okay, deal.”
The six of the presently able-bodied people begin to clean up the mess from the explosion. Not only does it have to be done regardless, but they want to be absolutely sure that Mateo’s body isn’t lying in there somewhere. Ramses breaks up the rock with a sledgehammer. Alyssa and the boys collect the pieces, and the youngest girl operates an automated vacuum for the rest. They get it done in a day.

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