Friday, September 23, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: July 21, 2398

There is something that Andile didn’t even tell Alt!Leona. When the latter first came to this reality, they were surprised to see each other again. Two women out of time, there under different circumstances, and having already known each other. Upon hearing Andile’s new story, Alt!Leona realized how focused on herself she had been this whole time. She hadn’t asked Andile much about what she had gone through. She only knew the basics of the event; not the details. And she hadn’t made much effort to change that. But that doesn’t mean Andile didn’t lie. She could have volunteered the information, back then, or at any point over the course of the last year.
“How do you feel about this?” Leona asks her husband when they wake up the next day.
He’s had time to sleep on it. “It won’t be the first time. It’s not even the first time meeting this version.”
“You don’t know that it’s the same one from Dardius,” Leona says, not believing it herself.
“Let’s be real. He told Andile that he just came from what he called a Death Race. It’s the same guy.” Back in 2251, Mateo and a handful of his friends were living on Tribulation Island. There were once more people, but their then-enemy, Arcadia Preston was tormenting them with expiation challenges. Every three years, she would remove another person from the timestream. Only Mateo and Lincoln could remember that they even existed in the first place; the former quite intentionally, and the latter because knowing everything is his whole thing. One of these challenges involved Mateo street racing a different version of himself. This other Mateo lived in what was once known as Reality One, and has been commonly blamed for Leona Reaver’s death. Mateo’s niece, Dar’cy sacrificed herself by sending both her and Alt!Mateo back to Reality One, just before his death at the hands of Horace Reaver. Dar’cy had a hard time returning home, but once she did, she never mentioned that anything special had happened to Alt!Mateo, so everybody just assumed he died like he was meant to. Apparently, he survived.
Leona and Mateo left the safehouse after the news to let Andile and Alt!Leona discuss the secret in private, but now it’s time to get back to the matter. They have to find this other Mateo, and figure out what makes him so damn special. Marie wants them to hold off, and maybe get back to their other issues, but that sounds like a mistake. They’ve had so many missions since they’ve come here. Most of them were impromptu, and most of the rest were sidetracked…sometimes by one of the impromptu missions. They really need to stick to the plan for this one, and follow through. It’s important. The other stuff is important too, but there is no point in going to Easter Island if the other Mateo gives them all the answers they were looking for.
As the two of them are getting dressed, there is a knock at the door. Angela is already up, so she answers it. To everyone’s surprise, it’s Andile and Alt!Leona. They explain that they’ve decided to abandon the safehouse, mostly because a covert branch of the government set them up with it, which sort of pretty much negates the whole safe aspect of it. The condo isn’t safe either, but at least it’s more comfortable. There’s not exactly room for everyone there, but Ramses woke up hours ago, as he has been for the last few days, to continue working on their space issue.
“You know where he is?”
“I do,” Andile answers, not elaborating.
“Go ahead and tell them,” Alt!Leona urges.
Andile still hesitates.
“Where?” Mateo asks, not understanding the hold up. “Topeka? Croatia?”
“A prison in Utah,” Alt!Leona adds.
“Lemme guess,” the other Leona begins, “this nice little place outside of Vernon.”
Andile pulls out her device, and checks her map. “Uh...yeah, that’s the closest town. You’ve been?”
“We’ve broken people out of there,” Mateo explains.
“Could you do it again?” Alt!Leona questions.
Leona shrugs. “Probably not. We had a certain time advantage back then, and access to detailed plans. I doubt we could get any of that here. Does the government know he’s in there?”
“No, he’s using a fake name,” Andile tells them. “The government knows one of his aliases, but not the one he was using when he was arrested.”
“What’s the alias that the government recognizes?” Leona asks her.
“Leon Delaney,” Andile replies.
They can’t help but laugh. This other version of Mateo knew the other version of Leona, of course but they weren’t together. She was with Horace. Perhaps this suggests that maybe he was in love with her even then, though?
“And the other one?” Mateo asks. “What’s the one that he’s using in jail?”
Andile smirks. “Andy Dufresne.”

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