Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: July 26, 2398

The process of freeing the unconscious prisoners is not easy. It wasn’t legal for them to be kept there like that in the first place, but that doesn’t mean it’s legal to just let them out, and drive away. Certain people should be notified about all of this so a proper investigation can take place. The Matics didn’t have time for this, and they didn’t want all that heat on them anyway, so their only choice was to sneak them out themselves. Most people working at the facility didn’t know about the secret prisoners, but enough of them did to avoid having to actually break out, like Mateo and Leona have had to do so many times in the past. Still, they had to wait for the cover of night, and the few guards who could help them had to dress differently. The prisoners would have been spooked to see a guard’s uniform. It had to look like a legit covert mission by a third party, which it essentially was. They loaded them into a school bus, and drove off without a hitch. Winona had to go back to finish one last thing first, which Leona assumed was code for killing the doctor who kept them locked up there, but she can’t prove that.
It’s morning now, on a Sunday. They can’t take the strangers to the secret McIver cabin, because there must be a reason they were in the prison in the first place. The question is what was that reason, or those reasons? It wouldn’t be any of their business what they allegedly did to get themselves into a special isolated section of the prison under normal circumstances, but since the team broke them out, it doesn’t seem crazy to ask. But are they entitled to an answer? Maybe, but food and shelter first, and Winona claims to have a little place to take them just outside of Las Vegas. Leona tried to call it a safehouse, but Winona was hesitant to agree with that guess. Both she and Mateo slept most of the way, the Energy water they injected themselves with having worn off, and caused them to crash
“Where are we?” a groggy Mateo asks Winona, who is sitting behind him.
“A few miles past Santa Fe,” Winona answers.
“Santa Fe...New Mexico?” he questions.
“Isn’t that the wrong direction? I thought we were going to Las Vegas.”
“Yes,” Winona confirmed. “There’s also a Las Vegas in N-M.”
Mateo relaxes his neck. “Yeah, that’s right. I’ve been there.”
“You have?” Leona asks. It’s funny that she should forget such a thing. How many other memories managed to escape her steel trap?
“Yeah, my parents and I were stranded there once, back in, uh...” That was 378 years ago, in an old timeline.
“Right, I remember now. I was in school at the time.”
“Do you have something against the town?” Winona asks, worried about pissing them off.
“As long as it helps these people, it’s fine,” Leona brushes off.
“Anyway, we’re not technically going to be in Vegas. We’ll pass it in a half hour or so, and end up closer to a one-horse town called Arriba.”
Leona nods, unperturbed. She doesn’t know about Marie yet. Mateo doesn’t know how to tell her, or any of them, for that matter. He should talk to her first, to get her side of the story. She’s obviously not evil, but the Honeycutts have caused them all a lot of problems since they came here, and that’s not something they should have to just forgive and forget without an explanation.
The bus exits onto Highway 104, and heads away from civilization. Before too long, it turns again, and takes them to a place in the middle of nowhere called Jimenez Cemetery. “Ominous,” one of the prisoners muses. “You are saving us, aren’t you?”
“Absolutely,” Winona replies believably.
The driver stops, and opens the door. Everyone begins to climb out, looking for any sign that this is the right place to be. It might be a poetic location, fit to kill a bunch of ne’er-do-wells that society doesn’t want to deal with anymore. She’s probably going to force them to dig their own graves.
There’s a little shack on the other side of the graves. A man comes out of it in response to their arrival, polishing something in his hands. As he approaches, Mateo starts to think that he must recognize him. Even Leona seems to be having trouble matching a name to the face. “Mr. Halifax,” Winona greets him respectfully.
How could they not spot him immediately? It’s The Gravedigger. Though, to be fair, it’s been a pretty long time since they’ve seen him, and he looks a few years older. If anyone can get them back home, it’s this guy. He lives in another universe, and is on a first name basis with the powers that be. Or maybe they should be referred to as the powers that were. Nah, they’re still in control of other people’s lives.
“Is this all of them?” Halifax asks.
“Yes,” Winona says. “Can you take them all at once?”
Halifax narrows his eyes at the crowd, particularly at Mateo and Leona. “That depends. Do any of them not want to come with me?”
Leona crosses her arms. “That depends. Where are you taking them?”
“That depends...on where they belong,” Halifax says cryptically.
“Where might they belong?” Mateo asks him.
“Various places,” Halifax begins. “Kind of like how I belong elsewhere.”
“They’re bulk travelers,” Leona realizes.
“What does that mean?” Winona asks.
“It’s above your paygrade,” Halfiax says to her.
Winona looks over at Mateo. “This is why I need to debrief you, despite what you think I’ve already been told.”
“You’ve been told enough for us to want to debrief you.
“How did they end up here?” Leona asks Halifax, ignoring the short exchange between her husband and Winona.
“Westfall,” Halifax answers, surprisingly forthcoming.
“So, they don’t even know,” Leona notes.
“Unclear,” Halifax says. Westfall is a section of The Crossover which instigates travel between universes while preventing travelers from even realizing that anything happened. Instead, they believe that everything they see is just a part of their own world.
“We’ll go with you,” Leona begins “as long as our friends can come with us, and as long as we get certain biochemical characteristics back.”
“I can’t give you either,” Halifax says apologetically. “I wish I could.”
“Come on, Honeycutt,” Leona says as she turns away. “It was nice to see you!” she yells back to Halifax.
“Likewise,” he returns.

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