Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: June 14, 2398

Upon learning that this reality does not have the same sign language inventory as the main sequence, Marie thought it might be a good idea to teach it to Heath in case they ever needed to communicate with each other on the down low. It was a perfect idea, because under normal circumstances, such a language might not be viable. You either come up with a new language on your own, or somehow find one so dead, no one but you and your people know it. Drawing from a history completely removed from the current timeline is a pretty good workaround. The more the team learns about this world, the stranger it becomes. It makes no sense that the majority of the North Atlantic Isles don’t exist, yet English does. Yet American Sign Language doesn’t. Yet something called North American Sign Language does. Someone has to be making these decisions; mixing and matching parts of reality that they like, and leaving out the ones that they don’t. That begs the question, what the hell do these people have against the United Kingdom? And also, how does everyone in the U.S. explain the fact that the language they use is called English? Where does that word come from?
Anyway, Marie taught the rest of the team a few basic signs once they were sure that their superhuman group empathy was no longer a thing. They all now know the alphabet, even Mateo, and a few other words, like yes, no, and pasteurized milk. That last one is even better, because Louis Pasteur was never born, so these people just call it thermal sterilization. They also don’t have the Global Positioning System, instead opting to call it SatNav, which is ironically, the British term for it! So even if this detective figures out that Mateo is using some form of sign language to communicate with Ramses in the hospital hallway, and even if he somehow recognizes the letters to be G-P-S, he will have no appreciation for their combined meaning, nor be able to follow it as a lead.
Ramses flicks his finger in the air to let Mateo know that he understands, but he does it just as the detective is turning around, because he actually does notice something strange about Mateo’s finger movements, and his gaze. Ramses covers by itching his temple, and looking away coolly. Once he’s confident that the exchange has remained sufficiently secret, he takes out his phone, and logs onto the tracking system. Yes, one tracker is unaccounted for. It’s one of the microdots, and it’s presently on the move, which suggests that it has not fallen off onto the sidewalk. That is the problem with them being so tiny. To be hard to find, they have to be easy to lose.
Ramses makes two fists, but keeps his thumbs and pinkies out. He holds them in front of his stomach, and drops them down. Then he holds his palms upwards to make it a question. Stay?
Mateo makes a gesture, almost like he’s knocking on a door to reply with yes.
The detective sees this motion too, but by the time he turns around once more, Ramses is already walking away to track the location of the microdot. He doesn’t know who has it, or why, so he’s going to have to make a few educated guesses—and he’s going to have to do it all alone, so he doesn’t place Marie in danger—but he’s sure that it will all work out in the end.
By the time he catches up with the dot, it has pretty much stopped for the last ten minutes, suggesting that the target has made it to a destination, and is now moving about minimally. He looks around. This particular building appears abandoned, though none of the ones surrounding it are. It’s a relatively busy part of town. He feels all right just opening the door, and walking inside to do a little recon. He sneaks around slowly and quietly. Just because the dot is still a ways away, doesn’t mean there isn’t someone else closer. This place could have been packed with ne’er do wells, for all he knew. As he draws near, he starts to hear voices talking to each other. He can’t make out what they’re saying, but he can tell that at least one of them is upset. The rest are staying calm, so they’re not arguing against each other, per se. He will have to get closer to hear the conversation. Fortunately, he can make out a few words, so it’s not in German. Mission, contingency, and night shift stick out to him. Unfortunately, that’s all he gets.
He feels a blunt object pressing against the back of his head. He built these new bodies with a sort of spidey-sense, so it’s really annoying how this reality didn’t let him keep it. “Go forward,” the voice behind him demands in a transatlantic accent.
Move ahead,” Ramses responds, still not complying. “Try to detect it, it’s not too late.
“Huh?” she questions.
He can feel the gun drift from his head slightly, indicating that she’s loosened a little tension in her hand. He spins around, and pins her wrist to the wall. She tries to punch him in the face, but he blocks it, and kicks her in the chest. As she’s falling to her back, her arm slides out from under his hand, and he manages to snag the gun from her. He doesn’t point it at her on the floor, though, because he knows the ruckus has alerted the others. Instead, he backs up to get himself into a defensible position. The group runs in with their own weapons drawn, preparing to fire, but waiting for the go-ahead from someone.
The forger from Kansas City comes in from behind, not holding a gun. “Mister Abdulrashid.”
“It’s Abdulrashid,” he corrects.
“What did I say?”
“Something stupid.”
She sighs. “Lower your weapons,” she orders her team, all of whom comply immediately, without question. “It looks like we have the substitute we’ve been looking for. Thank you for coming, Mister...”
“Abdulrashid,” one of the men pronounces for her in a perfect accent. It’s nice to hear, even coming from a presumed enemy.
The forger smiles. “This operation is back on,” she announces to her people. She redirects her attention to Ramses. “You’re lucky we don’t need an NMA agent for this one, or we would have had to take Mateo out of the hospital while he was still trying to recover. This one does require skill, though. How are you with a sniper?”

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