Saturday, October 22, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: August 19, 2398

It’s time. It’s time for Marie’s team to learn the truth about what kind of things she’s been doing in this reality for the last four years, and what kind of person they’ve turned her into. They could have lost Mateo. It’s a lot easier to build a machine that teleports you out of the timestream, but much harder to get it to bring you back. Such a fate could be waiting for anyone at any time. Honestly, it’s a miracle how few people they have lost along the way. Whoever is preventing temporal manipulation in this reality was most likely trying to keep it from hurting people, but there is plenty of danger here. Mateo could have been killed by something else, perhaps in a war against Russia? She can’t die without having told everyone the truth. Mateo knows, Alyssa knows, and most of the rest don’t need to know. They’re still not sure what happened to Vearden and Arcadia. He left a note that said he was leaving, but from what it looks like on the security camera footage, she followed him on a whim.
They’re all sitting around the table in the Walton apartment. No one knows what she’s about to say, though Mateo might suspect. She’s putting it off on the seconds scale, but it’s creeping up on a minute. Mateo is putting it together, if he didn’t already realize. “It’s going to be okay,” he pledges with a hand upon hers. “You can tell us anything.”
She nods at him and his kindness. It’s given her the confidence she needs to push forward. She gets into the explanation, starting at the beginning, disabusing them of some beliefs that they held regarding her. She started out as an asset, but became a full agent. Winona does not have some grip on her; she does it voluntarily. She’s not proud of every mission she’s been on, but overall, she doesn’t regret her choices. She tries not to focus too much on how they’re receiving the information, because it’s just making it harder. Ramses remains anxious as ever to get back to his work, but this was a good excuse for him to take the period break that he needs. Kivi is nodding nonjudgmentally. Angela seems hurt. She’s had a tough time with the dynamics of living with her alternate self. Leona acts like she’s always known, which wouldn’t be surprising. Heath is stunned and angry. Things might get bad with him. Things might get real bad.
When she’s done with her speech, silence falls over the group. Heath is not yet ready to respond, and may not feel comfortable saying anything until their friends have left. Angela breaks the ice. “I don’t understand. I know that I don’t know what you’ve been through, but I still can’t see myself going down this road. I mean, I couldn’t bring myself to step into Carnage World.”
“I’ve never killed anyone,” Marie protests. “I don’t do those missions. Well, I’ve...associated with it, but I’ve never done it, and I’ve never directly assisted in it.”
“Wait, what’s Carnage World?” Kivi asks.
“It was a server in the afterlife simulation,” Marie explains. “There were many like it. Basically you run around, killing people, and then they respawn. That one was particularly brutal, because you gained points by how creatively vicious your kills were.”
“I don’t care about any of that!” Heath cries. “I want you to explain why you lied to me for four years, and I want you to do it in front of your friends! I don’t want excuses, and I don’t want you to play the victim anymore! Tell me why you thought that was okay! I’m your husband, I deserved to know who I was married to!”
“I’ll try to stop playing the victim, but not if you keep yelling at me like that.”

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