Thursday, August 25, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: June 22, 2398

They’re whispering, so Leona can’t hear very well, but she can make out most of what they’re saying on the other side of the door. It’s good, because she works better when people are rattled. She has had it up to here with people threatening her family, and that ends today, whether he heeds her warning, or ignores it, and suffers.
“I told you not to disturb me, Sheila,” or whatever her name is.
“I’m sorry, sir, but she has an SD6 badge.”
“SD6?” he questions. “Is it Agent Matic?”
“I couldn’t see, sir. I saw that symbol, and froze. She looks...”
“She looks what?”
“She looks...menacing.”
“Let her in, and go to lunch.”
“Sir, it’s only—”
“Go to lunch!”
The secretary comes back out to the waiting area, and immediately realizes that she’s no longer smiling, which is probably in her job description. She remedies it, and says, “he’s ready to see you now.”
Leona walks in and closes the door.
“Agent Matic, I apologize for failing to explain to you that our business relationship will be relegated to the laboratory. You are not to come to my office. I can’t be seen in your company.”
She stares at him stoically. “I failed as well. I failed my family. I thought, if I took up the mantle of the badge, you would leave them alone. I was wrong about that, and I promise that I will not let it happen again.”
“Leona, we all have a job to do—”
“And your job is to serve your country, but here’s the thing, I don’t give a shit about this country. It’s not my home, and it never will be. Those people are my home, and you’re threatening them. Where I come from, we react in kind.” She removes a little berry from her pocket, and sets it on his desk.
He’s actually scared of it, because he doesn’t know what it is. “Is that a...tiny little bomb, or something? Is that a fusion bomb?”
She rolls her eyes. “It’s a hungerberry. It grows seemingly naturally on a single island in the middle of the ocean, which just so happens to be named after me, on a planet called Dardius.”
“So you are aliens?”
“We’re castaways, stop losing focus. It’s called a hungerberry, because it makes you hungry. There’s no cure, certainly not on your world. I’ve been saving it for a very long time, but I haven’t kept it refrigerated, so honestly, I don’t know how potent it is. Perhaps it ferments, and grows stronger with age. It’s not shriveled and dead yet, which is weird when you consider it’s been years since I picked it. I have more than one, and like I said, we react in kind, so right now, while you’re at zero berries, you’re treading dangerously close to one berry. Now, it won’t cause you to feel starved, but you will be slightly uncomfortable for the rest of your life. You’ll never feel satiated, no matter how much you eat, but you’ll have to regulate your intake intellectually, or you could overeat, and die. Are you following me so far?”
“Poisonous berries, I got it,” he responds.
She lives up to her recent reputation of being menacing with an evil grin, and an uncomfortably jovial timbre. “Keep in mind that when I was using the word you, I wasn’t talking about you specifically. It’s more in the general sense, because I wouldn’t be force feeding you the hungerberry, I would be giving it to your daughter.” Upon the last few words, she drops the grin, and goes straight to genuine wrath.
If he wasn’t paying attention before, he is now.
“I understand that life is a give and take, so I’m not severing ties with your family, nor the lab. I will continue to work on fusion, and I will continue to execute missions to both your discretion, and my own. But you will not reach out to my husband, and you will not threaten or harm anyone else that I care about. Because if you only learn one lesson today, let it be this. The my least powerful weapon. If you fucking push me, I will ruin you. You and your daughter will suffer so hard, you will wish I had instead given you all the berries in my possession. Do you have any questions?” She overenunciates the last sentence.
He’s frightened and humbled. “No, sir. We’ll leave them alone.”
“Good. And be nicer to your assistant. Don’t be a cliché.” She takes the berry, so he can’t use it to start a war, or something, and starts to leave his office.
“One thing,” he says, still scared of her. “Is the berry real, or just a prop?”
“Oh, it’s very real. It contributed to the death of an immortal. Have a nice day.” That’ll only entice him to learn more about time travel, and find out what else is out there, but it was a pretty cool way to end the so-called conversation, so she just couldn’t help herself. She walks out of the building, and goes home to her family.

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