Sunday, July 31, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 28, 2398

Leona’s supervisor is not happy. She suddenly took vacation time, but promised to return soon. Then she extended it. Then she extended it again. She didn’t deliver any new data that whole time, so Petra is starting to think that there’s something fishy going on. She’s not rageful, or anything, and she hasn’t already made the decision to fire Leona, but she’s getting there. “You’re back.”
“Yes,” Leona confirms.
“I was beginning to think that you defected to a competitor. I’m still not sure that you haven’t.”
“I haven’t,” Leona says simply.
“Did you have fun on your vacation?”
“It wasn’t a vacation,” Leona reveals. This statement is true in the end, but where the lie begins is the explanation of what she was doing while she was claiming to be on vacation. She drops a tablet on Petra’s desk. “Plans for a tritium extraction facility. This is decades beyond what anyone already has, and once I’m done designing the reactor, we’ll actually be able to do something with all those isotopes you create.”
Skeptical, Petra lifts the tablet, and starts to tour the 3D model. She narrows her eyes in some places, and widens them in others. She then swipes over to the next page, which details specifications and production objectives. This is where she gasps. “Are these efficiency numbers accurate?”
“Completely,” Leona claims. “I’ve been working, I just haven’t been in the office.”
“Why would you keep that a secret? Did you go somewhere?”
Leona doesn’t respond, instead looking like she doesn’t know if she can say anything at all.
“What did you do?” Petra questions, becoming nervous as well.
“I think it’s best if you don’t know. Plausible deniability.”
Petra stands up straighter, and exhales through her nose. “Nothing illegal, I trust.”
Leona bobs her head. “More like...internationally complicated and delicate.”
Petra clears her throat. “You’re right, I don’t wanna know.”
“I’ll probably have to take more trips. I’m not just some genius who randomly came up with this stuff on my own. It’s borne from my experiences, and contacts. Sometimes I might have to reach out to these contacts, or conduct field research.”
“Very well. If you ever need to take time off,” Petra says with airquotes, “then let me know, and now I know that I shouldn’t ask any more questions.”
“You won’t be disappointed,” Leona assures her. She leaves the office, and begins to walk down the stairs when she notices someone she never thought she would ever have to see again, standing on the bottom step, looking up at her. Leona’s former observer—and prolific sexual harasser—who Petra agreed to dismiss three weeks ago, is staring at her menacingly. “How did you get in here?” she asks him impolitely.
Holger Bandoni shows his most evilest grin. Suddenly, he’s standing right in front of her, having somehow teleported up the steps, despite that being unheard of in this reality. He takes her by the shoulders, and tosses her over the edge, only to teleport down just in time to catch her. “Love knows no boundaries. Love walks through walls.”

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