Thursday, December 22, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: October 19, 2398

Vearden and Arcadia are sitting in the car together. It’s pretty cold out there, so it’s still running with the heat on full. They’re not talking, but it’s not awkward. It’s just that neither wants to interrupt the other, and they both feel like they’ll probably start talking at the same time, and make it awkward. So maybe it is a little awkward either way. Finally, Arcadia starts. “You have to pretend to be happy.”
“I am happy.”
“I’m serious, abortion is very illegal here. The ultrasound tech, the receptionist—no one can get the sense that we would consider it in a trillion years.”
“I’m not considering it.”
“That’s good, very convincing. Say it just like that.”
“Arcadia, who are you arguing with; me...or yourself?”
“Vearden, I’m thousands of years old. I’ve never been able to have children; not that I would have wanted to with anyone for most of my life as I was surrounded by my family anyway. This is never going to work. You and me? No one was shipping us. No one even thought about it. Now here we are, pregnant out of wedlock—”
“They don’t care about that here, which is weird, given their backward ways.”
Arcadia looks over at Vearden with a frown.
He nods softly. “I want to raise this baby, and I want to raise it with you. I know that our respective backgrounds are complicated at best, but so it is for everyone we care about. Some of those people are here with us, and will be more than willing to help. You may not be used to people loving you like that, but you have it now. I believe they’ve forgiven you for Tribulation Island. I haven’t even heard whispers of locking you back up, have you? That’s pretty telling, if you ask me.”
That’s a good point. They let her out, and never so much as threatened to put her back. Forgiveness is a strong word, but maybe she’s on the road to one day becoming like her sister, Nerakali. Arcadia takes a deep breath. She’s ready to face this, or hopes that she is. She opens the door, only to pull it back immediately. “Drive.”
“What? Why? Vearden asks.
“Please just go, or you’re going to get Leona in trouble.”
He starts the car. As they’re driving off, he looks back. “Did you see someone?”
“I just saw people,” she explains, shaking her head. “I saw people who will very likely recognize Leona Matic after she killed an enemy combatant on national television yesterday. I can’t go in there, claiming to be pregnant, until I solidify my identity.”
“I thought you did have your own identity,” Vearden says.
“I technically do, or rather Leona Delaney did, which I just sort of absorbed when I took over her body. We never came up with a connection to Leona Matic, though. I’m obviously her twin sister, but were we separated at birth, or what? What’s the story there? We need to regroup.”
“Okay, I agree, but as you said, Leona is going through something right now, and Winona is with her. Mateo and Ramses are still in that other dimension, Kivi is overseeing the prisoners, and Marie is trying to track down other possible time travelers. I don’t think Alyssa can help, so who could we reach out to?”
“Well, I’ve got one idea.”

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