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Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: June 8, 2398

In general, the afterlife simulation was cut off from base reality. Pryce made this decision with good reason, it wasn’t just to keep control over the residents. As great as the virtual construct was, it wasn’t real by most people’s standards, and having a link back to the people they left behind could be psychologically detrimental. There were eleven status levels that one could earn or lose, though the bottom level was true death, and the top was incredibly rare resurrection. So really there were nine; each level up affording the resident more privileges. Level Seven Pink Elite was the best for the majority of people. The upper levels demanded a level of responsibility that not everyone valued. But within this level were sublevels. Just because you reached it, didn’t mean you had everything. Only a select few were given insight into the events down on Earth, and in later years, outward to the stars. Angela was one of these people, having proven herself worthy of the honor.
Near the beginning of the 21st century, a certain television series premiered, featuring a shady intelligence agency known as SD-6. She described it to the team, but Heath shook his head, not thinking the two had anything to do with each other. No such show existed in the Third Rail. The version of SD6 to which Leona apparently now belonged was probably as secretive, but not as nefarious. It wasn’t really one organization, but six—hence the name. The National Intelligence, Domestic Affairs, National Police, National Military, Court Agent, and Transportation Regulatory Authorities came together for a joint task force that kind of had carte blanche for any mission necessary to protect the country’s interests. For the longest time, the existence of this task force remained only rumor for the general public, but it now features an overt director, which holds press conferences, and the occasional accessible budget or ethics hearing. Still, this is a big deal. Leona is a big deal. More to the point, if her credentials are as good as they seem, this forger’s powers are greater than they thought to consider until now.
“Oh, I got a little six-thing in the corner too,” Mateo says. He hadn’t really looked at his own new badge until this morning.
The others hadn’t checked it either. Marie takes it from him, and inspects it carefully. “Commandant in the National Military Authority. Mateo, this is, like, five ranks higher than you were before.”
He shrugs. “You know me, I excel at everything I do.”
“What does she want from you?” Marie asks, shaking her head in disbelief.
“What does she want from us?” Angela corrects.
“She never asked anything of the two of us when we first got Marie her new identity four years ago,” Heath explains. “What’s so special about you? No offense, because I know you’re special, but how does she know that?”
“Maybe it doesn’t really have anything to do with us,” Mateo suggests. “Maybe she has a gambling problem, and lost all her money the day before we walked in her door. Maybe her brother’s been locked up in a federal prison, and she wants us to get them out. Maybe it’s just a coincidence.”
Leona is grateful that her husband came up with an alternative to her theory that Heath is a mole. “That’s really creative, honey, but we don’t have the luxury of believing in coincidences. I haven’t seen a coincidence since 2028.”
“Trying to figure out what she’s up to isn’t going to do any good unless we can speak with her directly,” Angela believes. “For now, we have to plan tomorrow’s events.”
“Tomorrow’s events?” Marie questions, confused. “We’re not leaving until Wednesday.”
“Yes,” Heath begins, “so we’re going to spend the whole day together, just the six of us. We’ll have a special breakfast, a special lunch, and a special dinner, along with a few other surprises.”
“Don’t worry,” Angela continues, “we’re not gonna parade down the streets. We’ll just secretly see you off. Is that okay?”
“Yeah,” Marie replies with a smile. “That’ll be great.”

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