Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: September 13, 2398

Rescue is a strong word. The two people who Alyssa brought through the barrier between Kansas City and the rest of the Fourth Quadrant didn’t need to be rescued. There is nothing inherently problematic about living in the bubble. They did want to take that bubble down, though, so they sent two scientists to start tackling the issue from another angle. They had been studying the dimensional barrier for centuries, but always from within, so this was an opportunity to gain some insight that they couldn’t pass up. They might never get another. They will live on the ambassadorial ship that Great Britain sent there for communication, and stay until the job is complete, if that should ever happen. The team, meanwhile, has teleported to Stonehenge in the hope of finding a way back to their friends in the Third Rail.
Erlendr Preston has remained quiet. He hasn’t caused trouble, or tried to get in their heads. He’s just watching and waiting. The opportunity to free himself from their grasp is coming, and he has to be patient. He doesn’t even smirk as he watches these little ants struggle to figure out what’s going on here, and how they can get back to where they want.
“These four portals are the ones that didn’t work,” Mateo says, pointing them out. “My hypothesis is that they would lead to the other realities, if they were unlocked. How we might go about unlocking the, I wouldn’t know. If the Traversa bracelet doesn’t work, then I really don’t know. Maybe they need more power?”
“Go ahead and try,” Leona says to Alyssa.
“Not alone,” Alyssa replies. “You come with me. I don’t want to be over there alone if it works, but I can’t find a way back, and I don’t want you to be the one left alone with Erlendr.”
“That’s fair.” Leona takes Alyssa’s hand, and they attempt to walk through. They just end up on the other side of the rocks. They step back and forth a few times, but don’t get anywhere. Either these are just rocks or they don’t have the secret ingredient. They do the same for the other three mystery openings, but those don’t work either. “Mateo, are you getting the sense that they should work? Like with your hands?”
Mateo looks over at their audience. Of course, a team of scientists, military officers, and other experts have been stationed at this location since its power was first discovered, and have been trying to unlock its secrets the whole time. It hasn’t worked for anybody but Mateo with his unreliable temporal energy reserves. “I’m not getting the sense that they work, no. The other seven, on the other hand, are in perfect working condition. So is that.” He points up to the sky. In the Third Rail, the once-portal on Easter Island has solidified. Down here, it looks like there’s nothing special there. It appears to have disappeared, except it hasn’t. Mateo’s hands feel a draw towards it.
Leona narrows her eyes, and steps through the portal to Muskoka. Just before she disappears, they see her tilt her head funny. When she returns, she’s holding her hand several centimeters from her ear. “Yeah, that’s Huntsville, Ontario all right.”
“What’s wrong?”
“My earpiece,” Leona says. “It was squealing from feedback. Did yours do that?”
“Yeah, when we came through the barrier,” Alyssa confirms. “You didn’t expect that to happen?”
“I suppose it makes some sense. You were making a call from somewhere, and then you were suddenly at a different, distant somewhere. That’s bound to mess with the signal.” Leona keeps the earpiece at a safe distance as she tries to step through one of the mystery openings. She shakes her head. “Nothing. No feedback.”
Alyssa tries the same with another as she’s still the one wearing the bracelet, but doesn’t hear any squealing either, though she does when she steps through to El-Sheikh Zayed on her own.
Leona thinks on it a moment. “I watched a movie once where a man was running with a case of vials containing a deadly plague. The detective shot him dead, only to discover there to be seven vials in eight slots. What ensued was a pursuit of any lead that the investigators could find to figure out where the eighth vial was, and do you know where they found it?”
“ his stomach at the morgue, like a drug mule,” Mateo guesses.
She laughs. “No. Nowhere. The vial didn’t exist. There were seven total, but the case came with eight slots. They couldn’t find a case with seven. We’ve been assuming that all the openings should be portals. Maybe they’re not. Maybe they never were.”
“That’s fair,” Mateo decides. “What can we do then? How do we get back?”
“Well, you’re feeling something up there, aren’t ya?”
“I’m feeling like I don’t have wings,” Mateo returns.
Leona puts on her diplomacy face, and walks over to the research team. She spends a lot of time with them, no doubt negotiating for an aircraft of some kind, or maybe a crane capable of reaching that sky portal. Finally, she waves them over. Mateo takes Erlendr by the arm, and ushers him to the helicopter that he predicted. Knowing what these people are going to do next is almost too easy. He sits patiently in the craft as the pilot begins the preflight check, and teaches Leona what she needs to know to navigate it up and down. The Brits are probably never gonna get it back. At least the Matics are smart enough to recognize this. If Erlendr were in need of it, though, he wouldn’t have told the military that. He would have let the pilot take him home, and then just let her be trapped on the other side. He wouldn’t care about her. He doesn’t.
Erlendr turns out to be right, as per usual. Simply by having the Traversa Bracelet on her wrist, Alysa gets them through that sky portal, and over to Easter Island on Third Rail. What she doesn’t notice right away is that the bracelet falls apart, and off of her wrist. This is no surprise to him. Leona and Mateo talk a lot when they think that no one can hear them. They were particularly chatty while they were waiting for Alyssa to say goodbye to her sister. They were concerned that she wouldn’t be able to cross back over. Apparently, they didn’t come to this concern on their own. A friend of theirs from space did. Kestral thought that using the bracelet to transport their entire ship could destroy it, and she was probably right since this is just a regular helicopter. Ramses may be able to fix or reverse engineer it, though, so he gathers every hair he can find. He can use them as leverage. Again, he just needs to find the right opportunity.
When Leona lands to regroup, that’s when they discover the bracelet to be missing. There is no known way to return to the Fourth Quadrant, which from Erlendr’s perspective, is either a good thing, or a whatever thing. Having planned for this, everyone gets out to prepare to teleport. This bird can’t make it all the way to the mainland, so they’re just going to donate it to the Rapa Nui people. Erlendr would have instead crashed it in the ocean just for fun, but he’s not the one in charge...not yet.

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