Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: September 26, 2398

Palmeria is the smallest country in the world, and is known as a micronation, though a few major countries do not recognize it as a sovereign state. Located on the border of the Minnesota, United States and Canada, and comprising two lacustrine islands, Palmeria is the home to an unknown very few people. To qualify as an independent nation, a population must interact with others in some significant way, and fulfill several other reasonable requirements. As an isolationist political region, the whole point is to not interact with anyone, but the founder—whoever they were or are—found a loophole, and of course, it has to do with religious freedom. Most of the time, declaring yourself independent of your host nation would be more difficult, because they might pose a threat to peace in the world, but Palmeria is so small and insignificant that most governments accept it because they don’t really give a crap. It’s not like the U.S. and Canada were clamoring to hold onto all of maybe fifty acres of land. The Palmerians stick to their islands, and don’t bother anyone.
There is a small economy. For one day and one night, a minimal party of guests are allowed to stay at a resort on the small island, which is only about fifty meters wide. It reportedly costs a buttload of money, and there are no extensions or repeat visits; no exceptions. The waitlist is several years long, and while no details have emerged regarding what a night stay actually entails, it enjoys a five star rating from one hundred percent of vacationers. Mateo, Marie, and Angela have arrived uninvited and unannounced via teleportation. They simply do not have time to do this the ethical way. Hopefully the Palmerians won’t be too angry about it to help. Who could be upset in a place like this? They find clear, unpolluted waters; crisp, clean air; beautiful greenery all around. Many would call this paradise. The only people who wouldn’t like it surely don’t like nature of any kind. It is so calm here, they hope not to ruin it with conflict.
They decided not to land directly on the island, because they don’t know what kind of security measures might have been put in place. Once Mateo finishes blowing up the raft, he and Angela paddle the half kilometer leg to their destination. At first they think they see a man standing on the bank, but the figure isn’t moving, so they decide that it’s an optical illusion. As they draw even closer, it becomes pretty surreal. It must be a person, right? No, it’s still not moving. Maybe a statue? It looks so real. It’s real. As soon as the raft touches land, he relaxes his Queen’s Guard stance to help pull it ashore.
“Thank you. We’re sorry to intrude,” Marie says to him diplomatically.
“Bring the boat up under here before today’s real guests see it,” the man says, helping carry it to a pile of brush and other debris.
“We were hoping to speak with the one in charge,” Marie continues.
“Follow me before today’s real guests see you,” he paraphrases himself.
As they’re following the stranger into the woods, Angela leans over to whisper, “this is a good sign. He might have access to a seer who foresaw our coming.”
“Yeah, maybe,” Marie agrees halfheartedly.
They don’t have to go far before they reach what the greeter calls the main house. He motions for them to approach the door, but doesn’t come with them. He must need to get back to greet today’s real guests. Mateo knocks.
Another man opens. “Ah, there you are.”
“You knew we were coming didn’t you?”
“Of course I did,” he says with a chuckle. “I have cameras all over the island.”
“No,” Marie says, “you knew we were coming today, even though you’ve never even met us.”
“No, I had no idea. You’re supposed to make a reservation online.”
“Why did you let us in then?” Mateo asks.
“I have cameras all over the island,” he repeats, “and a few off of it. I saw you three appear out of nowhere. I’m curious, what universe are you from?”
That makes it sound like he’s directly connected to Chase Palmer. “We’re from this one,” Angela explains. “We’re just from a different reality, where things like teleportation are slightly more common.”
He nods. “I see. “Well, what did you want to speak with me about?”
“Do you know a man by the name of Chase Palmer?” Mateo asks. “He was from another universe.”
The man in charge tilts his head back, surprised by the question. “Did you come here after hearing the name of the island? Did you think you would find him here?”
“We thought maybe we would find one of his descendents, or acolytes maybe?”
“I’m the former. I’m his son, Keaton.” He outstretches his arm. “Keaton Palmer.” After they take turns shaking his hands, he opens his arms wide. I grew up on Earth, where such is the custom. On my mother’s side of the family, however, it’s tradition to hug upon meeting friends, both new and old.
They hug him too.
“Your mother is not from Earth as well?”
Keaton smiles proudly. “No, I’m a successful hybrid. We’re quite rare.”
“I should say so,” Marie determines, “half human, half something else.”
“I’m fully human,” Keaton contradicts. “My mom was just born on a different planet. Technically a different universe too, but it’s a biverse, so we’re very close.”
“How did you end up here?” Mateo asks.
“That is a long story that’s not as interesting as you’re probably imagining. Essentially, I’m on vacation. I wanted to go somewhere without all the fuss and bother. I was just going to retire on my own Earth, but I kind of got detoured.”
“Does that mean you have a way to return?” Marie asks, hopeful.
“In about four or five months, yes,” Keaton answers. “Until then, I can’t so much as contact anyone beyond the membrane. Do you want a ride?”
“Four months is the shortest estimate we’ve heard so far, so...if you’ll have us...”
“Sure, there’s more than enough room for you.”
“Actually, we have many others back home,” Angela warns.
“I’m sure it’ll be fine,” Keaton says, unfazed.
“We appreciate it.”
Mateo nods, glad for the progress. He hands Keaton his notebook of names. “Whenever I meet someone new, I like to find out if we have any mutual acquaintances. Would you mind?”
“No problem.” Keaton takes the notebook, and begins flipping through the list. He’s taken aback. “My mother’s name is in here. How do you know Amber Fossward?”
“Uh, she literally saved my soul once,” Mateo answers.
He considers the news fondly. “That sure sounds like her. Now I definitely feel obligated to help you.”

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