Friday, December 16, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: October 13, 2398

The tack team, as it turns out, was on Meredarchos and Erlendr’s trail the entire time. It’s just that Kivi just picked up other people’s scents along the way. It was the original spotter, and newly appointed technician, Manuel Hurst who figured it out. All he did was draw a line from Kansas City to Los Angeles. He then added blue dots that designated places they had gone to, and red dots for reported activity that fit the modus operandi of their target. The dots matched. The rest of the team feels like this validated Kivi’s participation, but she sees it a different way. If they had just gone straight to these places, and looked for the bad guys using traditional means, they may have caught them sooner. She kept distracting the team from the real mission, wasting precious time.
“I know it bothers you now,” Arcadia says, “but you’ll forget about it eventually.”
“How?” Kivi asks.
“You’ll save so many missing persons, and catch so many bad guys, that you’ll remember your trial period as exactly that; a trial. Now that you know that other scents can distract you from the one that you’re going for, you can figure out how to focus.”
“Can you teach me?”
“I don’t know about that. I never had to learn how to use my powers. They were always just...there. I was all but a sociopath, which meant I never had to worry about things like distractions. And then when I was thrown out of The Gallery, I did whatever I wanted. I didn’t have any goals, so there was no way to fail.”
Kivi frowns.
“Bottom line, you just need practice. I think this is a great place for you. This isn’t me, but you belong on this team. I don’t recommend going back to Team Matic, or that software company you were helping with. That’s just my opinion, what do I know?”
“I should think you know a lot,” Kivi muses.
Arcadia chuckles, and then heaves.
“Are you okay?”
She runs into the bathroom, and retches for the second time today as Kivi holds her hair for her. “Ugh,” Arcadia says as she’s wiping her lips. “This new body is irritating. How do you humans live like this?”
Kivi gets a thought. “Umm...women have been living like this for hundreds of thousands of years.”
“Well, it’s annoying.” Arcadia isn’t picking up what she’s putting down.
“I said women have been living like this.”
“What do you mean, that men don’t get sick?”
“Of course they do, but I’m talking about morning sickness.”
Arcadia glances at her watch. “It’s 12:45.”
Kivi rolls her eyes. “I guess your endocrine system doesn’t keep good time.”
“Honest hour, I don’t know what the endocrine system is, except that it’s the thing that Gary Busey is going to pull out of my body if I put that straitjacket on him. Remember, I was literally made out of clay.”
“Well, you’re not made out of clay anymore, you’re living in Leona Delaney’s body. That must be different for you.”
“Don’t remind me, my morning sickness is the least annoying thing that’s—wait. Morning sickness? Are you trying to tell me...?”
I’ll go buy you a home test,” Kivi volunteers.
“It’s not possible,” Arcadia says.
“I assure you, it is.”
When she returns twenty minutes later, Arcadia takes the test into the bathroom, and carefully follows the instructions. Near as she can tell, they’re just like they are in the main sequence. You pee on a stick, and look for a symbol after a minute or two. Not that she’s ever concerned herself with such pedestrian matters. Like she mentioned, her original body was made out of clay. She had all working outward parts, but her internal organs were a different matter. They weren’t nonexistent exactly, but they weren’t the same either. They had minimal function, and were mostly there for show. Honest hour again, she had never even had sex before she came here, and met Vearden Hayward. She was told, and believed, that she could never get pregnant, no matter which body she was in. It wasn’t just her womb or hormones, but her mind. It wasn’t fit for motherhood, so it could never be. She was supposedly designed that way.
It was the same for all the Preston clay children. Zeferino had a way with the ladies. As far as she knows, he never abused his power, but he did enjoy the occasional recreational...event. Nerakali would be a better comparison, but she seemed to have no interest. There is no precedent for this situation. A pregnant Preston? That’s absurd.
Kivi nods as they’re waiting for the results. “That may be true in the main sequence. If you jumped into someone else’s body, maybe you really couldn’t have children, even if that person normally would. But this is the Third Rail. The rules are different here. Why did you not use protection?”
“I guess when you spend thousands of years without so much as considering something as a possibility, you don’t let go of it, even when the variables change.” She buries her face in her hands. “I can’t do this. When Athanaric told me that I couldn’t have children, he was discussing it on a neuroglandular level. When my father said the same thing...he was talking about it psychologically. I’m a garbage person. Vearden and you guys have made me better, but I’ll never really get that stink off of me.”
“I don’t believe that,” Kivi says sincerely.
The alarm goes off.
“You read it.”
“Okay.” Kivi takes the stick, and compares the readout to the chart imprinted next to it. Rip it off like an adhesive bandage. “Arcadia, you’re pregnant.”
Arcadia grabs the stick, and looks at it herself. Then she pulls the second stick out of the box, and goes back into the bathroom. Guessing that Arcadia may be in denial, she bought three more boxes of three different brands, which Arcadia proceeds to pee on until she runs out. That’s eight tests in total, the girl is pregnant.
“Are you going to tell Vearden?”
“Of course I will, what kind of person do you think I am? Oh, wait...”
“In my—albeit limited—experience, sooner is better than later.”
Arcadia looks down at the pile of tests and boxes. “Would you mind disposing of all this in such a way so as to prevent anyone else at this blacksite from seeing them?”
“Consider it done. What are you going to do?”
“Do you know where he is?”
“Last I heard, he was still with Marie at the hospital in Chicago.”
“Then I’m going to Chicago.”

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