Saturday, November 26, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: September 23, 2398

Meredarchos’ plan presumably hinges on this idea that the team is not meant to know that he has transferred to Trina’s body. While the authorities were looking for Andile, he would apparently be free to move about the world unnoticed. Except that he would be noticed, because we’re talking about an unaccompanied six-year-old girl. His plan just doesn’t make any sense, especially considering the fact that Ramses knew about the secret refrigerated room, and would discover it eventually, if not immediately, which he did. Of course, little Trina was not capable of carrying Andile out of the building, so he couldn’t take the body with him after the transfer, but then why didn’t he just take Trina’s body, and make the transfer somewhere else. This is all sloppy work, and Ramses believes that he has an answer for why.
“Erlendr is in there.”
“They’re sharing a body,” Leona understands. “That’s always been a theory, but it doesn’t explain why they would use Trina’s instead of Andile’s, and risk us finding out.”
“I think it does explain it. They’re both alpha males, trying to control the outcome of whatever it is they’re doing together. They have their own objectives, and their own ways of accomplishing them. It’s sloppy because they can’t agree on anything, and neither of them will concede to the other, which means that nothing gets done right.”
“The problem with this possibility,” Mateo begins, “is that we have a short window to take advantage of their disarray. Eventually, one of two things will happen: either they’ll learn to work together—though this is less likely—or one will win out over the other. It depends on who is the stronger psychic, I would guess.”
“There’s at least one other option,” Leona says. “They may be able to split their minds to a second body.”
“Whose?” Mateo asks. “The only other vacant body we know of is Leona Reaver, who is being protected by layers and layers of agency security.”
“Who says it has to be vacant?” Ramses poses.
Mateo shakes his head. “If they can share the body of someone who doesn’t want to share it, why take Trina at all? Why not go straight to the guy who owns the pizza place down the block, or any other random stranger?”
“Erlendr may not be able to resist the poetry,” Rames suggests. “The pizza guy means nothing to us, but he doesn’t think we can hurt Trina. Again, sloppy.”
“Well, that’s another problem,” Leona says before a pause. “Can we? Can we hurt Trina’s body? Can we hurt any child?” That is the classic question issued in philosophy classes the world over. Would you be able to kill Hitler as a child, knowing what he would turn out to be? Except they don’t know what Meredarchos is, or will be, and Erlendr has already done his worst.
They’re silent for a moment before Mateo speaks again. “We still have the Livewire, right?”
“Yeah,” Ramses answers. “Meredarchos apparently doesn’t need it to control the Insulator of Life, so he didn’t steal it too.”
Mateo looks at his wife. “I would hate to kill someone who looks like you, but...”
“But it would be easier than someone who looks like little Trina, and honestly, we would probably ask Arcadia to actually do it for us.”
“If you place someone in Leona Reaver’s body, they’re not going to die,” Ramses reminds them. “They’ll fall back to her original timeline, and then be dropped right back here in that parking lot.”
Leona nods. “I’ve been thinking about that. I need you to do something for me.”
“Okay. What might that be?” Ramses is worried now.
“I need you to build me a prefrontal cortical scanner, unless they exist in this reality already, in which case, you would just need to procure one.”
“Lee-lee, what is that?” Mateo asks.
“Leona Reaver and Alt!Mateo keep subverting death because an extraction mirror keeps saving them. They thought that they couldn’t get out of the loop, but I believe that they’re not trying hard enough. It’s true that it is difficult to let yourself die when you see a way out, even when you’re suffering from suicidal thoughts. That’s why people who genuinely want to die can’t just strangle themselves with their bare hands. These decisions are made in the frontal lobe, and with enough science, you can manipulate which decisions an individual makes.”
“Are you talking about inventing a suicide inducer?” Mateo questions.
“They already exist in the main sequence, and probably the other advanced realities,” Leona reasons. “Or rather, they could. Whether anyone has ever actually used such technology is irrelevant. It’s possible regardless. I’m not talking about using it on all my enemies, but I think it might be worth the risk.”
Ramses is torn between the two of them. “I’ll investigate the possibilities, but I make no guarantees.”
Leona tilts her head as she’s standing up to leave. Sometimes she wishes this were a dictatorship. Sometimes.
“I know my wife,” Mateo says after she’s left. “You may also know her well enough to know what she’s really planning.”
“I do. She’s not interested in making Meredarchos and Erlendr suicidal. She’s going to copy her own brain, and upload all three consciousnesses into her alternate self’s head. She’ll kill herself, and the other two will just be along for the ride.”
“How do we suppose we stop her from doing that?”
“Not how you’re thinking,” Ramses warns. “Don’t forget, I know you too.”
“It’s the only play that makes sense.”
“Sacrificing yourself to prevent her from doing it isn’t a fair trade.”
“It won’t really be me. It’ll be a different me. But it won’t even be that, right? It’ll be a lesser me. No memories, no real thoughts...just the impulse to get out of the extraction mirror loop, and end it once and for all.”
“You can get semantic on me all you want, Mateo. This is a murder-suicide pact. Whatever happens, you both need to appreciate that truth.”
Mateo stands up as well. “It won’t be the first time, and I doubt it will be the last. And hey, won’t they end up in the afterlife simulation anyway?”
Ramses shakes his head. “I don’t think so. It’s an old timeline. We don’t believe it existed back then.” He watches Mateo leave the lab too. Then he unlocks his Completed equipment locker, and takes out his neural scanner. It’s funny that the two of them are under the impression that she’s the one who came up with the idea to copy consciousness. He was working on this for weeks, and now he knows how he’s going to use it. He’ll scan his own brain, and end this once and for all.

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