Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: September 19, 2398

Meredarchos fell off the map. He never tried to sneak into The Lofts. He never showed up anywhere near the Fountain of Youth. If they were right about his motives in any sense, he probably connected with the past version of Erlendr, who they still haven’t found. They’re not even destined to find him. Erlendr left the universe, and so did Mateo, Leona, and Alyssa. When they came back, they may have come back to a different timeline. Nothing they think they know about the future can be trusted. They could be stuck with two Erlendrs forever. One of them must theoretically cross over to the main sequence to jump start the series of events that leads the team here in the first place, but they’re not even sure of that. This is all new territory, and they’re lost in it.
Leona and her SD6 team are preparing to leave the Orlando area tonight, but not before a permanent installation is established. A group of researchers and operatives will be monitoring the Fountain in case Meredarchos does ever show up, but will also be protecting and studying the Youth water bubbling up from the spring. That’s what they plan to do anyway. Anyone who steps foot into the water becomes immediately stricken with a strong sense of urgency to head for the center, where they will most likely be transported to Birket. So far, by a system of pulleys and ropes, it has not yet come to that, but it is always a risk. The team gave the government all the details about the phenomenon, and they’ve now wiped their hands of all responsibility.
Nothing is really happening today back at the team’s building. Leona is the only one capable of safely operating the Insulator of Life, plus the Livewire. Arcadia has agreed to help fix Ramses, but then she really does just want to get back to her normal life with Vearden and Heath. Angela’s work is presently on autopilot, so she’s bored, and upstairs in the lab, where she comes across the box of Rothko’s magical flashlights that were recovered from the grounds of the blacksite. There are eleven of them in total, of all different shapes and sizes. The largest is the size of her head, and the smallest can fit on a keychain. She lays them all out, arranging them according to color, because again, she’s bored. She wants to switch them on, but she knows that the others would not be happy. She finds herself focusing more on the penlight than the rest. Is it less powerful? Will it run out of energy sooner, if any of them run out at all? What can it do? What can she do with it? Ah, it doesn’t matter. She’s just curious about a unique thing.
“What are you doing?” Marie has secret agented her way into the room unheard.
Without even realizing that she’s doing it, Angela slips the penlight into the back pocket of her pants after she turns to face her alternate self. “I’m just making sure that everything is okay in this room. Why, what are you doing?”
“I was looking for you,” Marie explains.
“Well, I’m here.” Is this the first time she’s hidden something from someone in the centuries that she’s been alive? Well, not always alive, but whatever.
“My old boss called. He wants to speak with me about an incident that happened about four months ago? I did the math, that was when you were impersonating me, so I don’t know what he was talking about. He didn’t say who you had the problem with, because he assumed I would recall. Tell me what happened,” she asks gently.
“I don’t understand how you stood it for all those years. This world is more backwards than ours. I’ll tell you, but only if you promise not to get mad.”

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