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Tuesday, November 8, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: September 5, 2398

Mateo handed the headset back to Alyssa, because she was the one who needed to hear the message about her sister, Trina. After confirming that it wasn’t a prank, she hung up, and asked him how this was possible. It’s a complicated relay system they have. They discovered that certain signals can pass through the bubble that separates the duplicate of Kansas City Metro Island from the rest of the Fourth Quadrant. Radio waves don’t penetrate the barrier, but light can, which means that they can use a laser communication system rigged up on a ship that Great Britain has stationed nearby. Details are scarce, but Trina apparently survived the trip to the past, made her way back to present day, but since she had no way of entering the Third Rail, she crossed over into the Fourth Quadrant. She obviously had help, because she didn’t know about the portals. She and the other travelers weren’t even still around when the team discovered the truth about Easter Island and Stonehenge. They got lucky, really.
“Why can’t we go back?” Alyssa asks. She keeps expecting a different answer.
After Leona came to rescue Mateo, Winona, and Tarboda using the Easter Island portal, that portal closed up behind them. It was almost as if it were sentient, and decided that no one else needed to pass through. It’s not gone completely, though. The connection remains intact, just not on a physical level. It now resembles the Kansas City Island barrier, however, in this case, they don’t need lasers. Just before the rescue team departed, Ramses had finished the prototype for an interdimensional communications booster capable of exchanging transmissions between realities. He had hoped to use it to reach out to someone in the main sequence, but that hasn’t worked so far. The sealed off portal is impossible to traverse, but on a hyperdimensional level, it’s closer than other realities are to each other. “We can’t get over there anymore,” Leona explained.
“But Mateo can teleport at will. Maybe he can teleport though the barrier,” Alyssa suggests. “You haven’t tried that, have you?”
That’s not a crazy idea. If anyone can do it, it’s him. He’s maintained the strongest connection to what little temporal energy they have been able to find in the Third Rail, though they still don’t know why. He was unable to reopen the portal before, but he should try again. He has his fancy new timonite skin now. “Okay, I’ll do it.”
Leona sighs, not because she doesn’t want to help, but because she knows that this isn’t going to turn out as they hope. Their plans never do. They may make small wins that add up over time, but big swings like this don’t go well. She knows that she can’t stop them from trying it, or wanting to. When a problem arises, they’ll rise above it. They always do. “Okay, I’ll run the pre-flight check on the Olimpia.”
“We don’t need that anymore,” Mateo reminds her. He reaches out and takes Alyssa’s hand.
“We don’t know the limitations of your power,” Leona warns him. “You may only get a few jumps before you run out.”
“Only one way to find out.” Mateo jumps the two of them away, but they don’t make it to Easter Island. They don’t make it very far at all. They’re in Ramses and Leona’s lab, locked in a cell, turrets pointed at them from above. “What the hell?”
Ramses perks up, and takes his headphones off as he’s spinning around in his chair. He starts laughing at them like a kid at the zoo when the simians start to throw feces at people. “What are ya in for?”
“Ramses, what the hell is this?” Mateo demands to know.
“This is a failsafe,” he explains. “If you try to teleport in or out of this building, or within a hundred meters of it, you’re gonna end up in the boo-boo cage.”
“And are we married to that name?”
Ramses pretends to think about it. “Umm...yeah, it’s perfect.”
“Listen, I know you’re paranoid after what happened with Erlendr, but is this really necessary?” He looks up at the guns.
“Oh, those aren’t real. They’re just there to look menacing,” Ramses explains.
Leona enters the lab. “I didn’t know that thing was online yet.”
“I just activated it twenty minutes ago,” Ramses tells her before redirecting his attention to Mateo. “I was going to ask you to test it, but then I got this great idea for something else, and you know how I get sometimes. I had to write it down right away.”
“I do know you,” Mateo agrees, “and you know me, so you know that when I’m ready to do something, I’m ready. Can you let us out?”
“Depends,” Ramses says. “Where are you gonna go?”
“Easter Island,” Alyssa replies. “I want to speak to Trina myself.”
Ramses nods. “I understand that. I hope it works.” He accesses the app on his handheld device, and shuts down the power dampener that’s been keeping Mateo’s teleportation powers from working.
“Be careful,” Leona instructs. “Were I you.”
“Were I you,” Mateo echoes. He takes Alyssa’s hand once more, but something goes wrong. Technicolor bulk energy begins to run up her hands, towards the rest of her body. “Oh, no. What happened?” He steps away from her, but the damage has been done. The best thing he can do now is hold on tight, and try to go with her.
“Turn it back on!” Leona runs over to the cabinets on her side of the lab.
“What?” Ramses asks.
“Just do it!”
Leona opens one of the cabinets, and takes out a huge bag, which she straps to her shoulders. “Is it on?”
“Yes,” Ramses answers.
Just before Alyssa and Mateo disappear, Leona presses her own emergency teleporter, which reroutes her into the cage. She wraps her arms around the both of them, and hitches a ride into the bulk.
They land in a dark forest. Random junk is all around them. A few things they recognize, but others Mateo never banished. Either he chooses to banish them in the future, or he loses control of his power of suck. Or maybe he’s not the only one with the banishment ability. Leona reaches behind her back, and pulls out a shotgun. She scans the area, looking for signs of danger. She tenses up when they see a figure approaching.
It’s Ramses. It’s actually Ramses’ body. Time is a funny thing, so it may or not be him. It could be Erlendr, or even someone else. “I’m not here to cause problems.”
“Who are you?” Leona asks forcefully.
“I’m who you think I am. I’m Erlendr Preston.”
“Get on your knees.”
“Are you going to kill me!”
“On your knees! Hands on your head!” She drops her bag and finds a set of zip cuffs, which she gives to Mateo. “Tie him up. We’re taking him with us.”

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