Thursday, September 8, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: July 6, 2398

The team tried to play it cool with Amir. They let him get a few meal vouchers for them, so they don’t starve. Heath is the one who needed these the most. Leona and Marie have realized that they can last a little bit longer without food, even though their upgraded bodies aren’t operating at full capacity. Kivi is apparently in the same boat, even though she supposedly originates from this reality, and never received any upgrade. Perhaps all Kivis are like that. She certainly does have a special ability, which they’re thinking now may not be just this thing that she happens to be good at, but which is actually somehow supernatural. She found Amir pretty quickly, as if he was giving off a smell. If it’s real, and not a coincidence, that is certainly a talent that they could use in the future.
Amir has been very helpful and kind, but they’ve gotten to the point today that squeezing information out of him covertly is no longer working. It’s time to take a more direct approach, and just tell him why they’re here. “Listen,” Leona begins, “thanks for all your help, but I think we need to be honest with you.”
Amir drops his whole face towards the floor. “You didn’t just think I looked like a nice guy,” he figures. “You were sent in here to retrieve me.”
“So you know?” Leona asks.
“I’m only in here to get away from people like you. Who do you work for?”
“We weren’t sent here to extract you,” she begins. “We ended up across the border for unrelated reasons, and I think the Senator just thought it would be a great opportunity to exploit our skills again. We had no idea you existed until a couple of days ago, I swear.”
“Senator Morton has something on you?”
“No, Honeycutt,” Marie clarifies.
Amir shrugs. “Never heard of him. Who knows how many links in the espionage chain are between you and me?”
“Do you want to live here?” Kivi asks him.
“Not particularly,” Amir answers. “It’s just the safest place to be. I didn’t think anyone would be able to find me, and even if they did, the government wouldn’t want to help. I’m not sure how your boss convinced them, but maybe he’s more powerful than Morton.”
“He’s not our boss, he just has a grip on us,” Heath contends.
“I’m sorry to hear that, but I’m afraid I’m not going anywhere. Either you get out without me, or you stay here for the rest of your lives. I don’t care what it takes, I’m staying away from Arctos.”
“Arctos? What is that?” Leona asks, thinking about it, but still needing answers.
“That’s what they call themselves,” Amir says. “Their symbol is a bear.”
Marie looks at Leona. “Leelee, is that...?”
“Bears eat salmon,” Leona says. “That must be what it means.”
“Yeah,” Amir remembers, “they used to talk about salmon all the time, like it was some kind of rival organization.”
“We’re not rivals,” Leona tells him. “We’re targets. Did you hurt any of them? Did you work for these Arctos people, or something? Did you escape?”
“I didn’t work for anybody,” Amir claims. “I was their prisoner. Or their test subject, it was always unclear to me. They thought I was salmon at first until tests somehow proved that I had nothing to do with them.”
“What kind of tests?” Kivi asks.
Amir shakes his head. “Mostly involving water? I don’t know, it wasn’t torture, but it was weird. I couldn’t say what they were looking for. Yes, I did escape, because some of them thought that I should be let go since I wasn’t really salmon, but others seemed to think that I was associated with them in some way. I really don’t know, can we stop talking about this, please?”
So the Honeycutts know more than they have let on so far. Or maybe they’ve been letting it on just fine, but the team has been blind to the truth. There are people here who are aware of time travel, and now they know that there are other time travelers. Amir must be connected to them, perhaps by relation, or he saw something as a child he didn’t understand. Regardless, they all have to get out of here. They don’t know how long Amir has been on Melville’s radar, so maybe he’s not any less safe than before, but it doesn’t matter, because he’s definitely not safe now. “We can’t,” Leona says apologetically. “In fact, we’ll need your help more than ever. Can you get us back to the shore? Can you get us to the Dead Sea?”

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