Monday, July 25, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 22, 2398

Word spread throughout the resort that a military officer had arrived, placing Mateo in an awkward position. Now when he walks into a room, people applaud his valor, unaware that it was stolen. They’re not sure how the resort found out that he had military credentials, because he certainly didn’t advertise it when they requested a room, but it doesn’t matter now. The imaginary cat is out of the bag, and of course, being imaginary, it’s much more difficult to put it back in. The honeymooners are determined to stay out of the spotlight, which means signing up for activities on the other side of the island. They just hope the fake news hasn’t somehow circulated beyond the grounds.
“Why is this such a big deal? I mean, I know it can be a big deal, but they don’t know anything about me. They don’t know what I supposedly did.”
“It’s your rank,” Leona explains, still looking at the computer. “Dominus is a fairly high title. You’re theoretically responsible for about two thousand people.”
“Jesus. Why did that forger do that? I just thought we might need to steal some weapons from a military base. I don’t need to have this huge, complicated backstory.”
Leona spins her chair around. “You know why she did that. She probably thought she was doing you a favor, making you look like a big hero.”
Am I a hero?” Mateo questions.
“Looks like it. Your specific exploits are as classified as you would expect, but you have a few pretty major medals.”
“Two thousand people,” he echoes. “If even one of them comes forward...”
Leona turns back at the screen. “It doesn’t say which regiment you ran. But yeah, people here might expect you to tell them. I’m surprised, but glad, that no one has yet.” She shakes her head, trying to figure out how they’re going to get out of this. “Look, people like you’re pretending to be are often expected to look and act a certain way. That can cause us problems, but it can also work out in our favor. You can be the strong, silent type. Say few words. Don’t react too strongly to stimuli.”
“I shouldn’t pretend to be triggered by PTSD?”
“Absolutely not, Mateo, that would make it worse. You’re already far over the line. Just don’t give people any opportunity to ask too many questions. Now here’s the hard part; it’s really hot, but I can’t seem to find any evidence one way or another for what kind of tattoos you’re expected to bear. You’re going to have to cover up, just in case a savvy person walks by and wonders why you don’t have your district emblem on your shoulder, or whatever it may be.”
“Maybe we should just go.”
“That would make things worse too,” Leona warns. “Then people will wonder why you only stayed one night, and maybe they mention it on social media...”
“They could say something on social media now!”
“You’re right, which is why I’m calling Ramses, and asking him to make a visit to that forger. She put you in this mess, and she’s going to get you out of it, by whatever means necessary. If that means forging more documentation, or scrubbing the internet of your presence, then so be it. We’re going to have fun on this vacation, fraud or not.”
“Okay. In that case, which do you want to do first; snorkeling, or ziplining?”
“Neither. I’ve always wanted to go horseback riding.”

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