Friday, October 14, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: August 11, 2398

Training. Before Ramses started to have to devote all of his time to trying to get Trina back, he was working on a way to give people their time powers back permanently. The immortality water injections worked really well for a few uses, but they wore off quickly, and it would be nice to not worry about procuring more. It was never that high on the list of priorities since teleporting is a convenient alternative to traditional means, it isn’t usually necessary. It’s mostly a luxury that most of them spent most of their lives not having anyway. Angela and Marie could do it in the afterlife simulation once she reached Plus status, but she didn’t exercise the right very often. It wasn’t because she was used to a life without it. It’s that after you die, the time it takes to accomplish something the hard way doesn’t seem as bad as it once was.
Alyssa McIver was born in a reality that didn’t allow temporal manipulation, except for certain exceptions, apparently. But they know that she has time powers, which allow her to create illusions, which she may or may not use primarily to generate disguises for people. There is a chance that she gets such powers later in her personal timeline, but they have every reason to believe that she was born with them. She should have them now, though they would have been suppressed her entire life up until this point. The team was content to keep her in the dark regarding her destiny. If they couldn’t prove it to her, there would be no point in saying anything. But things have changed. They need disguises. They need McIver hats, if that’s even possible with the state that she’s in.
“It’s not working,” Alyssa says. Her eyes are so closed, so what does she know? Anyway, she’s right, it’s not.
“Do you feel anything different?” Ramses asks, tablet in hand, ready to take notes on how the experiment is going.
“Nothing. I’m still not sure that I believe you.”
“Perhaps that is your problem,” Mateo says. “If you believe you can’t do it, then you can’t, so why not try believing that you can?”
“You can’t just decide to believe something,” she contends. “Something has to convince you, and that usually comes from the outside.”
“We showed you the McIver hat.”
“Stop calling it that.”
“That’s what it is,” Ramses reasons.
“I didn’t make no hat, and you didn’t show me using any special power. You showed Marie changing herself into famous actors, and other celebrities. I have seen no evidence that that has anything to do with me. The hat is amazing. I’m unremarkable.”
“That is certainly not the word I would use to describe you,” Mateo argues.
“We have been at this for hours,” Alyssa begins. “We’ve not made any progress. You haven’t even seen my cheek bubble as the illusion tries to form. Nothing has happened. It’s useless.”
“It’s not useless,” Ramses tries to explain. “It’s all part of the process, and it’s all leading this.” With the final words, he reaches into the box, and pulls out the McIver hat that Marie got from The Dealer, handing it to Alyssa.
“What am I meant to do with this thing?” she questions.
“You don’t know where hats go?” Ramses jokes.
She chuckles voicelessly. “I thought this was for other people who want to borrow my power.”
“Generally, yes,” Ramses says, “and it can do that because there’s power in it. Yours. It doesn’t work with everyone, because not everyone has the ability to harness it. The Dealer doesn’t, but Marie does, and I’m presuming that you’re more like her.”
“Someone told me that Marie has some of that immortality water in her system. They wouldn’t tell me what kind, or why it’s lasting longer than normal. But instead of these injections, why don’t you give me some of that stuff?”
Mateo and Ramses exchange a look. Marie still has Health and Death water in her system, because they were used to perform an abortion. This is a medical condition that cannot be replicated. “She has private reasons for that. It won’t work for you,” Mateo says as vaguely as possible, hoping to not elicit any followup.
“Go on and put on the hat,” Mateo suggests. “It’s like jumpstarting a car.”
She sighs, a tiny bit frustrated, but mostly tired. “I don’t know what that means.” Oh yeah, this world hasn’t used petrol cars in a long time.
Ramses doesn’t say anything, he just nods at her encouragingly.
She sighs again, and gives it a try. Her facial expression changes just from putting it on. She still looks like herself so far, but she’s clearly feeling something, maybe a surge of energy?
“Report,” Ramses requests.
“I don’t know,” she answers. “I can’t describe it. It’’s like a light? What would light feel like if it didn’t feel like heat? I dunno.” She shakes her head, trying to come up with a better way to word it.
“That’s good, that’s good.” Ramses taps some notes down. “Okay, now I want you to do it the same way we practiced, except now there’s a zero percent chance that it won’t work. Think about someone you want to look like. Visualize an image of them standing in front of you. Then turn it around, and pull it back until the image is wrapped around you, like a suit.”
Alyssa closes her eyes and tries again. They can see her struggling with it, but in a way that makes it look like it might actually be working this time. Her cheek doesn’t bubble, like she said it might. Sharp beams of light appear out of nowhere, and shoot across her face and body. She slowly disappears, and then faster and faster, until she’s been completely replaced. It’s the current President of Russia.
“Okay,” Ramses says, smiling widely. “You’ll probably always have to wear the hat, until we fix the time power suppression problem for this reality, or get you to the main sequence, but I think we have something here. It’s a great start.”
Alyssa doesn’t seem to consider it a problem. It’s a comfortable enough hat, and it disappears when she transforms into someone else anyway. She’s more concerned with the mission itself, which is perfectly understandable. It won’t be a walk in the park. A part of her always thought that none of this would work, and she wouldn’t have to participate. Now it’s all too real. Ramses calling it a start is a nice thing to hear, though.
“A start?” Mateo asks. “I would call this more than a start. She looks exactly like him! I can’t tell the difference!”
“Take a step to your left,” Ramses tells her.
They see the President step over, but not all of him moves at the same time. It looks like a bad censorship job, not quite synced up. Okay, so he’s right; it’s only a start.

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