Saturday, October 29, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: August 26, 2398

Ever since the incident that sent Leona Delaney, Leona Reaver, Andile Mhlangu, Alt!Mateo Matic, and presumably Trina McIver to the main sequence, Leona Reaver’s body has been kept alive in the SD6 black site. The team asked the agency to  hook her up to life support, because they don’t know for sure what happens to a body whose consciousness has vacated it. Back in the main sequence, it’s legal to transfer a consciousness to another substrate, and then just leave the old body lying there. Bills were passed before it was possible, dictating the responsibility of whatever licensed individual or organization conducted the transfer. The old body must either be destroyed, or kept alive artificially. No legal experiments have been done to observe the consequences of leaving such an empty body as is. The assumption is that it would just die, even though certain involuntary bodily processes, including breathing and pumping blood can continue without true consciousness. To let that body die on its own is considered just as unethical as letting a real person die.
Alyssa insisted that Erlendr not be placed in chains. She doesn’t want to see her sister like that. She doesn’t want the memory of that to sit in her brain forever. It should be okay, Erlendr wants to make this transfer. He doesn’t want to look like a little girl any longer than he has to. Still, two guards walk at his flank while Alyssa holds him by the hand. It’s weird and uncomfortable, but necessary. They lead him into the room where Ramses is waiting next to Reaver’s bed. He has wrapped the Livewire around the Insulator of life. One end is attached to a helmet of his own invention, which he has placed around Reaver’s head. The helmet on the other end is sitting on the nightstand. A regular wire, which will provide power, is leading to the wall, but it has not been plugged in yet. He could probably attach a switch to the apparatus for easier control, but it’s safer just to keep electricity out of the equation until the last possible second.
“Okay,” Ramses says. “Everything’s ready, so everyone needs to leave the room.”
“We can’t do that, sir,” one of the SD6 guards replies.
“These helmets have never been tested,” Ramses explains. “Energy is going to be passing through the Livewire, which is not insulated. I’m not sure that it can be, and still function properly. There’s a chance that energy gets loose, and I don’t want to be responsible for what happens to anyone nearby. It’s better if I only put myself at risk.”
The guards exchange a look, and then leave the room.
“Go on,” Ramses says to Alyssa.
“Promise me that this will work,” she demands.
“I can’t do that. This is new territory. I had never even heard of the Livewire until recently. I can tell you that your sister is safe. Nothing’s going to happen to her body. Honestly, Erlendr is at the most risk here.”
“Gee, thanks,” Erlendr says.
Ramses ignores him. “Go on. You can watch from the observation window.”
Alyssa leaves, and closes the door behind her.
Unlike the cells down below, the observation room isn’t directly connected, so Ramses waits a minute to make sure that she has time to get there. Meanwhile, he has Erlendr sit in the chair next to Reaver’s bed. He sets the helmet upon Trina’s head, and makes sure that it’s secure. He didn’t include a chinstrap, but as long as Erlendr doesn’t move during the process, it should be fine. “Are you ready?”
“Absolutely,” Erlendr answers. “Get me out of here.”
“Okay.” Ramses gets on his knees, and picks up the power cable. He reaches for the socket, and just as he gets to it, he feels something on his head. He doesn’t manage to stop himself in time before power begins to run through the wires, and once it does, he can’t move at all. In a flash, the world goes dark.
Ramses is lying on his back when he comes to. “What happened?”
“Erlendr corrupted the procedure,” Alyssa explains. “I’m sorry. He’s in your body now. You’re in Leona’s.”
Groggy, Ramses flutters his eyes open, and looks down at himself. He can see the hospital gown that she was wearing. He looks over to the floor, where his own body is slumped against the wall. One of the guards is placing him in handcuffs, and pulling him into a more comfortable position. “How long has it been?”
“Not even a minute,” Alyssa responds. “You woke up a lot faster than the others did before.”
“I figured it would happen like that.” Ramses clear’s Reaver’s throat. “There’s no temporal factor.” He looks back down at Erlendr once he comes to. “What did you think you were going to accomplish? Now that we know it works, we’ll just switch.”
Erlendr puffs Ramses’ chest out, testing the tautness of the cuffs. “If there’s one thing I know about you, Rambo, it’s that you always have an exit strategy.” He pulls the cuffs under himself, and around his feet. The guard is back on him quickly, but it doesn’t really matter, because he doesn’t understand what to expect. Erlendr reaches up to the emergency teleporter strapped to his chest, and disappears.
“Call the building!” Ramses shouts to Alyssa. “He’s in my lab!”
“They took our phones!” Alyssa shouts back. “I don’t know the number by heart!” she cries when the guard tries to hand her his.
“Give it to me,” Ramses orders. He takes the phone, and dials Angela, hoping that she can make it upstairs in time to stop Erlendr before he does something crazy. “Angie, this is Ramses, trapped in Reaver’s body. Erlendr is in mine, and he’s there.”
He can hear her breathing heavily as she skips steps up the stairs. She opens the door, and starts to rush around, looking in every corner, and under every desk. “He’s gone. If he was ever here, he’s gone now. He probably took the fire escape.
“Is anything missing?” Ramses asks her.
I don’t know. I’m not familiar enough with all the stuff you have up—wait.
“Wait, what?” Ramses asks.
What did you have in the gray case where we found the LIR Map?
“The LIR Map,” Ramses answers. There was no reason to keep it anywhere but where it came from.
Oh. Then he took the LIR Map.
“Crap. Okay. I’ll get there when I can. Thanks.” Ramses hangs up, and starts to get out of bed. It’s a little difficult, learning how to maneuver this new body, so he’s going to take it slow. “Clean the sheets, replace the life support systems, and put Trina in them,” he orders one of the men. “No one else comes in without my say-so.”
“Yes, sir.”
He looks to the other. “And you, I need to find someone in the city.”
“This site is designed to contain suspects, persons of interest, and prisoners. Such tools cannot be here. I’ll initiate transport to the field office.”

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