Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: July 25, 2398

Mateo didn’t really have a plan, he was more just winging it, processing his actions through instinct, and powering them by his emotions. When he saw Leona Reaver lying there, helpless on the table, he felt guilty. It was an alternate version of himself who was responsible for her inevitable death—the one, in fact, in a medical coma on the other side of the room—which as Nerakali would remind him, was someone completely different, but he still felt the blame. This was his chance to protect her in the way his counterpart couldn’t. She’s young, and untraveled, and by all accounts, innocent. His wife, Leona, meanwhile, has lots of experience getting out of scary situations. He knew that she could handle it, and would jump at the chance.
Before any guard could return to the evil prisoner experimentation lab, the Matics teleported in, and took their respective places on the tables. Leona and Ramses don’t know whether immortality water injections wear off over time, even without use, so they needed to be as quick as possible. The Energy water they used should be pulling double-duty, insulating them from any mind-numbing drugs, and keeping them powered up. To pull off this latest prison break, they probably won’t be able to teleport everyone to safety, but the trick might still come in handy. The others are relying on them. Time travelers or no—part of their group, or no—these people need help. They are the only ones in a position to do it, and if they didn’t swap places with their alternate selves, then the prison would have heightened security after the first escapes. Now the prison isn’t even aware there were any escape at all.
It’s been two days, and nothing has happened. The non-plan won’t work if they don’t encounter at least one person who is part of all this. All this time, they have only ever seen the other test subjects. Leona is starting to think that maybe they’re not even subjects at all, but special prisoners who are simply not allowed to get up and move around. It’s plausible that the fact that Leona Reaver and Alt!Mateo are time travelers is a coincidence, and this section has nothing to do with that. No, that can’t be true. It’s too unlikely of a coincidence. Leona is about to tap a status report request from Mateo when the doors finally open. She shuts her eyes to avoid getting caught.
“I believe this is one of the two you are interested in?” asks a voice in a sort of Baltic-Canadian accent. He sounds fairly close to Leona’s table.
A familiar voice replies, “yes, that would be her. Where is the other one?”
“Over here,” he answers, stepping farther from Leona.
Winona follows, but speaks loud enough for Leona to hear. “And that’s the other one. How long did you say they’ve been here?”
“The man came to us almost one year ago, but the woman hasn’t been here but a month.”
“And you’re certain of this? There is no way they could have escaped?”
“Escaped? But how? And why would they return?”
“Far be it for me to answer that, just assure me that they could not have.”
“I keep a man posted at the door at all times, and personally check in on my patients at least once a day.”
“Except for yesterday, when you were in Washington to meet with us.”
“Except yesterday, of course. But I promise you, that door has not opened.”
Winona mutters something under her breath that Leona can’t hear. Then she continues with, “and the others? Who are they?”
“Oh, you do not want them. There is nothing special about them. No unexplainable photographs. They are down here for other reasons.”
“Give me the reasons.”
“Well, it’s different for each of them. You don’t have the time. You came here for these two, just take them...and there is a matter of my payment?”
“I have been unable to locate any security cameras in the basement.”
“I’m sorry, no cameras down here, as we like to keep this project private, but as I said, they never could have escaped, and even if they could, they would not have been able to return. It’s quite simply impossible.”
“What do you think, Agent Reaver? Would you have been able to escape this place unnoticed?”
Leona sits up on her table. “I’m sure I would have figured out a way.”
The evil doctor, or whatever it is he is, is mortified. “What is the meaning of this?”
“You have been holding two of my best SD6 agents against their will. We have spent untold amounts of taxpayer money in the search for them. Agent Reaver here caught a lead in the whereabouts of Agent Dufresne. She followed it right here, which is obviously when you abducted her as well.”
“I...I had no idea,” the doctor apologizes.
“I believe you, but that doesn’t mean my superiors will be lenient with you.”
“No, please. Take them, take them. No charge.”
“And the others.” Mateo sits up on his table as well.
Winona looks to Leona for guidance, then sighs. “Yes, the others.”
“Are they all agents?” the doctor questions.
“They’re persons of interest,” Leona explains, hopping down to the floor.
“Yes, of course.” He bows humbly. “I’ll begin revival procedures.”
He jogs over to one of the other patients, and starts fiddling with the equipment. Leona goes to watch him in case he tries to do something funny, like release a cyanide solution. Winona turns to Mateo. “This is the last favor I do for you without any answers. I don’t care if my father and I have built enough trust, or not. You’re going to tell me what I want to know regardless.”
Mateo tilts his head. “I don’t think I have to.”
“Mister Matic, I have helped you on a number of occasions, and now I’m breaking you out of prison, which will take money to stay quiet. You—!”
“I don’t know why you’re so hellbent on getting me and my friends to admit what we are, but I don’t care. There’s a song I like where we’re from. It has a lyric that goes, no one can tell you what you already know. You keep showing up at the right place at the right time. We’ve scanned for trackers and listening devices. There is no way you could know the things that you know without amazing intel. So why don’t we cut the shit, and you tell me who it is?”
“Who who is?” Winona asks, still playing dumb.
“The mole. Who has been feeding you information about us?”
Winona frowns, ‘cause she knows she’s been found out. “Agent Walton.”
“I knew it! I knew we couldn’t trust Heath.”
“No.” Winona shakes her head. “Agent Marie Walton.”

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