Sunday, October 16, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: August 13, 2398

Mateo, Marie, and Alyssa are sitting on one side of the table, trying not to look up at the overly bright bulb above. The others have yet to arrive. Alyssa is noticeably nervous, bouncing her knee, and cracking her knuckles. They know that she’s under a lot of stress, so they don’t want to say anything, but this isn’t the kind of behavior that she should be displaying when that door opens. “It’s okay,” he assures her.
“What?” She didn’t even notice what she was doing.
“Are you gonna be able to handle this?” Marie asks her.
“Yes, I’m fine, it’s fine. It’s just...this is the government, but kind of not?”
“That’s the best way to describe it,” Marie says. “They’re sanctioned, but...not everyone who expects to know what they’re doing actually knows what they’re doing. It’s a special kind of covert.”
“And you’re one of them, but no one can know.”
“Yes, you can’t tell anyone,” Marie confirms.
“I can do that. I can keep secrets. I basically raised Trina, and the boys, though less so. You learn how to lie when you have kids.”
Mateo places a hand on her shoulder. “She has to see what you can do, that’s the only reason you’re here. We wouldn’t involve you with this side of things if we had a choice. Sometimes I wish I didn’t know anything about these people.”
Winona comes in, followed by two men, one of which appears submissive, and maybe about as nervous as Alyssa. “Sorry we’re late.”
“It’s my fault,” the nervous one says.
“We’re fine,” Marie promises.
“Yes, it’s all right, Tate. You’re not losing my job.” She faces the members of Team Matic that are present. Mateo starts to think about this. They only ever called it that because most of the members used that name, but now they have multiple Waltons, and multiple McIvers. So it just sounds self-serving.
“Snap out of it,” Marie orders him, reaching across Alyssa’s face to literally snap her fingers in front of his.
Winona laughs. “He does do that, doesn’t he?”
“He’s waiting for the narrator to finish talking,” Marie explains cryptically.
Winona doesn’t know what that means. She was never briefed on the whole Superintendent thing. “As I was going to say, this is my assistant, Tate. He’s afraid of his own shadow, so you can speak freely around him, and he won’t tell anyone.”
Mateo leans forward. “If he really is so afraid, then don’t forget to be nice.”
“I am,” Winona says. “He’s not just loyal to me, I’m loyal to him. The way I see it, that’s what separates us from the bad guys. Speaking of which...” She turns to look at the other man. “...this is Timofey Putin.”
Mateo is surprised by this name. He tries to exchange a look with Marie, but she’s not fazed at all. He’s the only one balking at it.
“What is it?” Winona asks, concerned.
“We really can speak freely here?” he asks.
“Yes, Timofey knows. Marie okayed him a month ago, even before all of this.”
“Vladimir Putin is the name of a historical President of Russia where I come from. He’s...well, he’s a bad guy.”
“Interesting,” Winona begins. “I said, speaking of bad guys, because that’s what he used to be. He was a spy, but he’s recently defected. We believe, however, that his people do not yet know, which is why he could be a great asset to you on your mission. I mean, I don’t know why you’re on the mission, or what this has to do with everything that you are, but that’s why we’re here today, right? Anyone want tea?”
“We’re fine,” Marie says. “Please, sit.”
They sit down. Tate pours himself a glass of water, spilling it from the pitcher, from the glass, and out of his mouth, right down his shirt; all three, a turkey. Alyssa can’t help but giggle. For a moment, no one speaks.
“Does this have to do with that fancy hat you’re wearing?” Winona asks, looking at Mateo.
“You don’t know what that is?” Marie asks her.
“I believe it’s called a fumbler?”
Marie laughs. “Alyssa, are you ready to remove it from Mateo’s head, and place it upon yours?”
Alyssa first looks at Marie, then turns her head to look at Mateo, and then turns back. “Any requests?”
“Her,” Marie answers, nodding towards Winona.
“Is this going to hurt?” Winona asks.
“Not if you hold still, and give Tate a raise.”
Winona cracks a smile. “Fine. Three percent.”
Tate is more scared than anyone.
Alyssa takes a deep breath before taking the hat. She immediately transforms into a mirror image of Winona, complete with the same clothing she’s wearing right now. She adjusts her position to match too, which is a trick they didn’t know she had until yesterday.
“You can move again,” Marie says as Winona is doing everything she can to hold back a gasp.
She adjusts herself, and Alyssa continues to match in realtime, like a true mirror. It’s just something that she can feel. When she creates an illusion of someone who is still alive and kicking, she also creates some kind of connection to them. Ramses figures that she could match Winona’s movements from the other side of the planet if she wanted to. It’s not necessarily just an image. It’s...her. This is important, because they need to convince people that she’s someone else, both in how they look superficially, and how they move around. Everyone has their own gait, their own way of itching the back of their head, or pushing their glasses up the bridge of their nose. Even holding up the wrong specific fingers to gesture a quantity could give her away. She has to look and act like her target at all times, or people might get suspicious, even if they could never guess that it has something to do with a time power illusion.
“I do not understand how that works,” Winona laments. “I thought all powers had to do with time in some way.”
“Time and space,” Marie clarifies. “You’re in that space over there, so she is superimposing everything in that space over what is in her space. It’s all about the movement of light.”
“Fascinating,” Timofey finally speaks, and does it in his thick Russian accent. “I have heard the stories, but to actually see it... Is there more you could show us?”

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