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Thursday, October 13, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: August 10, 2398

Mateo knocks on the door, but can’t hear the muffled response from the other side, so he knocks again. The response is still muffled, but it sounds angrier this time, so either Alyssa wants him to just come on in, or she very much wants him to leave. He decides to open it carefully, and prepare an exit strategy. “Hey, sorry, I couldn’t hear you out there.”
She’s rushing from one side of the apartment to the other. She’s wearing a towel around her body, and one on top of her head. She’s trying to put away some dishes in the kitchenette, and haphazardly fold the clothes on the couch at the same time. “I said to come in. I can’t talk, though. I just came back to shower, because my brothers complained about the smell, but I’m going right back to the blacksite.”
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Look, Matty, I know you all say that Trina isn’t in there, but what if she is? What if this Erlendr asshole is just suppressing her consciousness, and she’s been trying to escape this whole time? She may be watching through his eyes, I have to control for that. When we get her back, what should I say to her, that I just stayed home, and left her there in the prison?”
“No, I suggest you tell her that you did everything you could to get her back, and sitting in that room doesn’t accomplish that,” Mateo replies. They’ve been to a number of places on Mateo’s list already, usually for other reasons, and now it’s time to start considering making a point of finishing off that list with a real world tour. He does not yet know, however, who will be accompanying him. A good start could be to ask for help for something very specific.
She unwraps the towel from her head, and furiously dries her hair as much as possible. “What else can I do? I’m not a physicist, like Ramses.”
“He’s not a physicist, he’s an engineer.”
“Whatever.”
“Speaking of Ramses, he needs something from somewhere, I need help getting it for him. Marie is considering going with, but whether she does or not, I could do with a translator.”
“You’re going back to Russia?” They learned that Alyssa’s mother’s family originates from Russia, and that her grandmother taught Alyssa the language before her death. The younger children don’t know it, and of course, wouldn’t be suitable for this mission anyway.
“Technically, I wouldn’t say that we were ever in Russia before since we never got off the boat. I’ve never been at all, even in my home reality.”
“What do you need in Russia, and how will it help Trina?” When he takes a little too long to answer, she winces. “Is it dangerous? Spit it out.”
“It’s politically very dangerous, they could brand us traitors by asking to excavate in the area, because we would have to give the Russians the mineral rights, but I don’t see that we have any choice given what else is down there.”
“What else is down there?” Alyssa questions, annoyed. “What is down where? You’re explaining this all out of order, you realize that, right?”
Mateo takes a breath. “You’re right. There’s a mine in Russia that contains a ton of diamonds, worth hundreds of billions of dollars—maybe even over a trillion—but the thing is that this mine was never discovered in the Third Rail. We know exactly where it is, and we don’t care about the diamonds. According to lore, there’s a gemstone down there that’s worth more than everything else combined.”
“Lore?” Alyssa asks skeptically.
“Marie’s friend from Australia who collected stuff like this, and things that Leona Delaney read in her book about time travel; they corroborated each other’s stories regarding the thing.”
“What is it?”
“It’s called timonite, and it’s rumored to grant the user control over all of time and space.”
“That sounds like a fantasy,” Alyssa reasons. She steps behind her bedroom door so she can finish changing. She starts to raise her voice a little to compensate, but it makes her seem irritable. “I don’t much care for fantasy. Talk to Moray about that stuff, he’ll go on, and on, and on.”
“It might not be real, but isn’t it worth the risk?”
“If it starts a war with Russia, which Russia will win because of their sudden influx in capital, then no. Trina is a child, so she doesn’t understand the politics, but if she did, I know she wouldn’t want that. She hates violence. She doesn’t even like to watch cartoon characters fighting each other, even though they’re all immortal.”
“You’re right. Again.”
“There has to be a way to dig where we need to dig without starting an international incident,” Alyssa figures. “You’re time traveling teleporters, for God’s sake; get creative.”
A lightbulb comes on over Mateo’s head. “Yeah, that’s a good idea. We need you more than ever.”
“I could interpret for you, but you’ll have to figure out who you want to talk to. It can’t lead to violence, that’s my one rule.”
“We require the most powerful person in Russia. He’s the only man who can get us what we need.”
“Well, yeah, but you’ll still be branded as a traitor.”
“Not if we have help from the U.S. government, because we don’t need to talk to the actual Russian President. We just need someone who looks like him, and we need him to talk to other Russians on our behalf.”
She stares at him. “Am I supposed to know where you’re going with this?”
Has anyone ever told you why we were immediately comfortable being around you? Didn’t it seem like we recognized your name, or something?”
“It seemed a little weird, but I had other things on my mind, and later I thought we knew too much anyway, so you either had to bring us in, or kill us.”
“It is we who knew too much,” Mateo corrects. “We already knew you. Or we knew of you. Vearden knows you personally, he met you centuries from now, or something.”
“You mean that I’m going to go with you to your alternate reality, and meet people I’ve already met before?”
“Yes.”
“Hm. What does that have to do with the Russian President?”
He smirks. “What are your thoughts on hats?”

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