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Thursday, October 20, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: August 17, 2398

Since he arrived, Vearden has been on vacation. He’s helped carry equipment up to the second floor lab, and stuff like that, but he hasn’t really tried to get too involved. Before this reality, he was really busy and stressed out all the time, and it didn’t seem like there was much he could do to help here. It’s probably time for him to make some decisions regarding his future. He’s living in his apartment for free, and while no one has asked him to get a job, it’s probably not okay that he hasn’t. According to the group history, he’s not the first person to feel this way. The core people are Mateo, Leona, Ramses, Angela, and Marie. Everyone else has had to work much harder to find their place. There don’t seem to be any openings at the moment. Angela’s new business is too small to need more than three employees. He’s not equipped to be of any use in the lab. He’s not qualified to go on the secret missions, not that he’s interested in any of that.
He’s decided that he has had enough of this time travel business. He remembers being young and motivated. He wanted to understand how it all worked, and to know his place in the world. He had to force his way into the underground time traveler society. Nobody asked him to do it. They asked a version of him in another reality, but since that version ended up in the new reality, people apparently didn’t feel that they needed another. That is, until they did. They sent him to another planet, in the future, where he tried to help an alien race coexist with a competing species. It was exhausting, and now that it’s all over, his perspective has changed. He’s always liked to be the little helper. That’s what he’s been for most of his life, the guy who’s just there to help others with their objectives. He’s worked as a literal assistant on more than one occasion, including a position usually filled by women. He got some looks for that. Whatever. Whatever about everything. He’s just going to leave.
“Where are you going?” Vearden has gotten a good grasp on people’s schedules around the building by now. No one should be up and down here at this hour, but the receptionist is at her desk almost two hours before the first floor even opens.
“Oh, hey, uhh...Arcadia, right?” It’s weird that she’s using Leona’s body.
“We’ve met.”
“You might be thinking of a different me,” Vearden says.
“We met briefly on Orolak, when I came to take your alt to Tribulation Island.”
Vearden looks for his memories up in the corner of the ceiling. “Yeah, I guess I did see you once. I wouldn’t say that means we met, though.”
Arcadia nods. “It looks like you’re leaving us.”
Why would she care? He doesn’t have to lie to her. “Yep, for good, probably.”
She goes back to her book. “Good luck.”
He nods, picks his bag back up, and starts walking towards the door, half-expecting her to dole out some morsel of wisdom that might get him to rethink his plans. She doesn’t say a word. He was right, she doesn’t care. Vearden steps out of the building, and into the predawn darkness. He breathes in the warm summer air. It’s a new chapter in his life, but don’t call it the second, because he’s lost count of how many times he’s changed directions. He has no job, and no place to live. He doesn’t even have an identity, but what he does have is—Arcadia catches up with him, and starts to walk by his side with a smile. She still doesn’t say anything, though, not until the next day.

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