Tuesday, August 16, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: June 13, 2398

As far as anyone knows, there are no special temporal locations in or around Munich, Germany in any reality. This is just one more step towards their goal of Croatia. They don’t want to be spotted in this area at all. It would defeat the purpose of having Angela pretend to be Marie, safe and sound stateside. This is just part of a contingency plan. Yes, maybe Marie Walton was in Europe, but it’s not because she was having an abortion. She was just enjoying some time off, and maybe she and her husband are having some marital problems, and this was just a little break from each other. Again, hopefully no one finds out, which is why she’s walking around in a sort of casual disguise, but there may come a point where fessing up to one lie is the only way to protect the true lie.
The trio checks into the hotel, where they’re given a three-room suite this time. They agree to do their own thing for the rest of the day. None of the landmarks interest any of them. Actually, Marie already had a vacation here two years ago, and saw just about everything she wanted to. She’s remaining in her room, meditating on what she’s about to do. Ramses is buried in his work, analyzing the data from the Bermuda Triangle water, and whatever else he has up his sleeve. That leaves Mateo to wander the city, hoping to get lost for a few hours. That’s precisely what happens, but just because he’s lost, doesn’t mean he can’t be found. Across the street, he spots a familiar face, staring back at him with serious eyes. For half a second, as a bus passes between them, threatening to spirit the vision away, he questions his own sanity. Then the vehicle moves on, and the light turns green.
She maintains eye contact as she crosses, and approaches. “How was your flight?” she asks him in a suddenly British accent. “Or did you stay on the water?”
“What happened to your voice, forger?”
“This is my real voice,” she responds. “Not many hear it. I never needed anyone being able to narrow the search for me using superficial characteristics, like my place of origin, or natural hair color.”
“Why would you let me hear it?” he questions.
“Because it’s time you learn the truth about who I am, and why you’re here.”
“Why I’m here has nothing to do with you,” Mateo insists. “Please leave.”
“No, you chose the location, and I respect that. We were hoping you would end up in Türkiye, but we can work with this. There’s an important enough mission in this area too. I would like more prep time to pull it off, but based on your experiences with the traffickers, I believe you can get up to speed quite quickly.”
He rolls his eyes. “You’re intelligence.”
“Not exactly. You’re intelligence, and so is your wife. I’m just adjacent, which is why I was able to place the two of you in your respective positions of authority. I have my own background, though, which prevents me from making certain moves—”
“Blah, blah, blah, you needed an outsider. Blah, blah, expendable. Something, something, something dark side.”
She smirks. “That’s a reference, isn’t it?” She sticks her tongue under her upper lip. “You’re from the future.”
“Excuse me?”
“That’s why you don’t have an identity. That’s why you struggle with pop culture, but seem to have a set of your own. You and your friends are from the future.”
Mateo drops into a paranoid demeanor. “Clever girl, not many have found out. Timey-wimey, wibbly wobbly. But if you know, then you’re now in more danger than you can imagine. I’m one of the good ones, but we’re not all like that. If they find you, they will kill you, or worse...erase you from existence.” Okay, this is all actually somewhat plausible. Such forces are real, but it’s just that they don’t seem to live in this world. “I can get you to safety, but you have to do exactly as I say. Do you have any aluminum foil?”
She looks down her cheek at him. “Oh, you had me for a second, you sly dog. You sexy, sly dog, you.”
“What? Did you think my attraction to you was just part of the act?”
“One can always hope,” he replies.
“It is you who should come with me and learn the secrets. We have a job for you to do, and there is no time to waste. You will meet the team.”
“Yeah, you seem to be pretty convinced that what you say I should do is just what I’m going to do, as if choice has nothing to do with it.”
“It really doesn’t,” she says.
He stands there a moment, considering his options.
“We really must go,” she urges.
“You have a man on the inside.”
“Inside what?”
“That merc team who had the plan to free the refugees. Either they’re all your people or at least one of them is.”
“Yes, that’s how we know what happened to you. You didn’t think that a bunch of ex-soldiers randomly approached you, and forced you to help, did you?”
He shakes it off, “fine. My point is that you read a report. You know what we did.”
“Okay, yeah...” she trails off.
“But you don’t know how.”
“No, we were hoping to debrief you, perhaps after this next mission.”
“Oh, I can just tell you right now.”
She’s intrigued. She’s very intrigued.
He tips his forehead towards her, and beckons her to do the same with one finger. When she leans in, he looks around to make sure they’re not being watched, and drops into a whisper. “We’re willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, even if it’s unsavory...”
“Yeah,” she presses.
“Even if it hurts.” With that, he slides his pocket knife into his gut where his left kidney used to be before he gave it to an alternate version of Leona. He gasps, but doesn’t scream. He leaves the blade in, and applies pressure. He turns around, arches his back a little, and stumbles away from her. It’s not long before passersby begin to notice that something is wrong, and then they see what is wrong. Good samaritans try to help, a couple of them catching him by the shoulders as he collapses to the ground. The crowd grows and grows. Somebody calls emergency services. He can’t see it, but he assumes that the mysterious forger-but-not-really is executing an exit strategy.

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