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Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 30, 2398

The internal investigator looks over the file like a cliché. His gaze jumps from the middle of the page to the top, then to the bottom, and then back to the other side. He wipes the sweat from his forehead with what appears to be a dishrag, and pulls the chair out for himself. “State your name for the record.”
She looks around for a recording device. Perhaps it’s hidden under the table. “Leona Matic.”
“What is your position within this organization?”
“My official title is Advisory Head of Special Projects.”
“Advisory Head?” he echoes in the form of a question.
“A little odd, but anything less ambiguous would be too elaborate and long.”
“Very well.” He flips through the file a little more. “How did Mister Bandoni do what he did?
She carefully considers the statement she prepared. “The device he used emits a particular frequency, which researchers have discovered to temporarily interfere with the human brain’s ability to encode recently absorbed long term memory.”
“I understood that,” the investigator says honestly. “But for the record, could you repeat that in English?”
“It makes you forget what you just saw. To compensate, your mind simply skips over the time it missed, and moves on from there, which can make it appear as if objects and people have moved instantly from one point in space to another.”
He closes his eyes and nods, satisfied with this response.
“Do you know what happened to the security footage from the basement lab during the hostile actions on the part of Mr. Bandoni?”
“I imagine he erased them.” He did not. He cut off the live feed so outside observers could not watch remotely, but it was she who wiped the footage after managing to incapacitate him.
He nods again. “He did. Well, not all of it. He looks up and over at his shoulder as he takes a little remote out of his pocket. The mirror behind him renders a video image. “Take note of the timestamp.” It’s showing a bird’s eye view of the lab, presumably from the perspective of a camera mounted on the rocketship, which must not be linked to the network. It clearly shows Holger teleporting across the room as he wrangles the staff without the aid of anyone else. Of course, since he really is teleporting—and not interfering with anyone’s memory—the timestamp shows him to be jumping around instantaneously.
“Touché.”
“Tell me, Magnus Matic, why would you lie to us about this? What does he have on you?”
“Nothing. He’s an idiot.”
“He’s not saying a word.”
“That’s probably for the best.”
The investigator kind of rolls his eyes. “We don’t just have video, but audio. We heard your whole conversation. You know more about this stuff than he does. You weren’t surprised by what he could do, and you took control of the situation at your earliest convenience. I assume the thing you said about the watch exploding was a lie?”
“Maybe.”
“The problem is we can’t find it.” He leans back and skips the video to the point where Leona picks up the watch and transports it to oblivion. It’s not full on molecular teleportation, but a failsafe that rips the device into a thousand pieces, and embeds it in the nearest solid object. In this case, it’s probably in the floor, or maybe a nearby wall.
“Hm. Weird.”
He smiles out of mad respect. “I like your lie. The whole interference with long-term memory thing, that’s pretty cool; we’re gonna use it.”
“Pardon?”
He flips the file closed as he’s standing up. “That’s what we’re gonna say to the rest of the lab scientists, to explain why what they think they saw is not what they really saw, even though you and I both know that that’s exactly what they saw.”
“Okay...”
“You’re free to go,” he says, stepping towards the door, not in a hurry. “Your husband is waiting for you in the parking lot. He’s known something was wrong longer than we have. Please don’t run. We would like to know more, and we promise to be courteous, and...discreet.”
“Who’s we?” she questions.
“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” He leaves the door open, and begins to walk away coolly.
Leona stays seated for a moment, then she jumps up, and hangs her head over the threshold. “Sir!”
He turns around patiently.
“Welcome to the Masquerade.”
He nods politely, and turns the corner.
That should keep them busy for a while. Now it’s time to run.

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