Sunday, August 21, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: June 18, 2398

Leona is sitting on a stool in her new lab. She normally just works in an office, or remotes in from home, but she’s waiting for the item to arrive. She’s been asked to make a preliminary assessment on a mysterious object that Ramses and a band of mercenaries “liberated” from a transport team just outside of Munich. As of yet, no one has been willing to tell her what this object is, or even hinted at what it could be. They just hope she can figure it out, and give them some scientific advantage. She’s bored, because she was required to leave all communication devices outside of the room. It’s actually a room inside of a highly insulated room with blast doors, which the executives hope will insulate the rest of the facility, should the object explode. When she pointed out that this was a way of telling her that it was a bomb, they seemed to not quite agree with that.
Petra walks in. Behind her are two military men in black uniforms, carrying a plastic grayish case between them. “Over there,” she orders, pointing. They set it down on the table.
Leona gets up to get a look. “Okay, now can you tell me what it is?”
Petra clears her throat suggestively. The military men leave, but even after they do, Petra hesitates to respond.
“Okay, I guess I’ll just open it myself.” Leona places a hand upon it. She doesn’t hear anything, but she can feel something inside click, and rotate.
“Good luck,” Petra says. “Let me know what you find.”
“Wait, what?”
“That’s your first task, to get the case open. We’ve already tried, and it appears to be impenetrable. That’s why you have so many tools and equipment at your disposal.”
Leona looks at her, and then the case. “You don’t even know what this is?”
“Why did you steal it?”
She hesitates again, but gets on with it. “It appeared to be rather important to the people we recovered it from.”
Leona just stands there. “It could be a nuclear bomb.”
Petra nods. “Yes.”
“It could be a biological weapon.”
Petra nods again. “It could.”
“And you want me to just open it without question.”
“You’ll be handsomely rewarded.”
“If I live,” Leona amends for her.
Petra nods once more. “Correct.”
Leona sticks her tongue inside her bottom lip. “Thank you. You can go now.”
“Like I said...good luck.”
Leona scowls as her boss leaves the room, and then the other room. She places her hands on her hips, and looks around a moment when one of the observation cameras catches her eye. That’s what she’s calling them now, because they’re obviously not there for security. Petra and Senator Honeycutt are in a room right now, watching everything that happens. She’s not going to give them the satisfaction. She removes a giant freakin’ wrench from the wall, and smashes it against one of the cameras, and then another, and then most of the rest. She leaves the last one up for a second. “I’ll let you know what I find...if I feel like it.” With that, she destroys it, then sits down to wait for someone to arrive in anger, but no one does. So maybe they have a hidden camera that she can’t find, or they’re willing to take the L on this one.
Now that she’s alone, she can finally get to the bottom of all this. It could be anything. It could be dangerous. She’s just grateful that the thing didn’t pop open as soon as it found itself in her presence, because she doesn’t need any more questions. It is unlocked. It reacted to her touch as if she were always destined to have it. Wasting no more time, she goes back to the table, and lifts the lid. Inside is a large, blank piece of brown paper. Parchment, she might call it. “This is weird,” she says out loud. As she speaks, lines and colors begin to form on the page. In the top left corner is a square, displaying an image of this moment right here of Leona standing in her lab. Another square forms next to it, showing the observation room she predicted would exist. Petra, Honeycutt, and a few other people are watching her on a monitor, but they can’t see anything noteworthy, because the hidden camera is pointed at her back. The digital clock, that’s where the secret camera is.
She picks up the wrench again, and smashes the clock. When she returns to the parchment, a third square has appeared, illustrating that act, and then a fourth shows the Senator walking briskly down the hall. It looks like a comic strip, but that’s not the whole story. the LIR Map. Lincoln Isaac Rutherford is a man from the main sequence with the ability to know everything about the universe, though not necessarily all at once. He has described time as a painting. Most people are standing very, very, very close to their little section of this painting. They can see some of the past, and blurred images of the future, but mostly only the present—their present. All he does is step back and get a better view, and then he can move over and look at a different section of the grand painting. A different section, kind of like a comic book panel?
Leona wasn’t around when Mateo, his brother, Darko, and Lincoln were charged with figuring out how to create this special map, which mimicked the latter’s ability, but reportedly, none of them ever actually saw it. They realized that the only way to get a clear picture of the universe was to leave it, but they were not asked to participate in this final step. Arcadia returned without showing them that it worked, though it obviously did. How it found its way to this reality, Leona couldn’t say, and neither could anyone else. If there’s one thing she knows about it, though, it’s that the map can’t be destroyed. Well, she doesn’t know that for sure, but due to its immense power, Arcadia probably demanded it to be made indestructible. So she folds it in half, confident that she’s not ruining a priceless relic. Then she folds it in half again, and again, and again, and again. When all is said and done, it’s the size of a quarter, and no thicker than it was before. She tucks it into her underwear just as the door is opening.
“What is it?” Senator Honeycutt demands to know.
“It’s nothing.”
He glowers at her, then steps over to look into the case. All he sees is the protective black foam, and an indentation that suggests that something the size of a desktop computer was in it at some point. “What did you do? What did you do with it?”
“Look around, my friend. Check the badge logs. I never left, and I couldn’t have hidden an object that size anywhere in here. That case is empty, and it has been this entire time. I don’t know why your enemies were transporting it so carefully, but it looks like you’ve been had. Maybe they knew you were coming?”

No comments :

Post a Comment