Monday, December 12, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: October 9, 2398

Fairpoint Panders is not working alone, and he has control over everything. Evidently, Palmeria is a coveted prize. There is an organization that has dedicated itself to figuring out how to breach its short borders. They believe that it must contain something so valuable that it would set them up for life. The truth is that, other than universe-hopper, Keaton Palmer himself, there is nothing particularly special about the islands. It has dirt, trees, and other plants. There are a few small rodents, and birds. Fish swim nearby. The resort is a wonderful and tranquil place that can transform the most stressed out individual into the epitome of contentment and chill. It’s a cool place, but its main draw is its exclusivity. That’s what keeps the business going. A limited number of people will ever be allowed to enjoy the amenities, which makes any potential vacationer that much more intrigued by the possibility. It’s not like a real life Fantasy Island, or whatever this organization is imagining. It’s just really nice here.
As far as they can tell, Fairpoint is not a member of the so-called Palm Readers, but he did make contact with them, and convince them to take their methods to the next level by finally making good on their promise of breaching those borders. As it turns out, they were closer than Keaton knew. Here they are, having taken everyone hostage, and demanding answers. Of course, Fairpoint doesn’t care about any of that. He just wants to know what happened to his ex-husband, and Marie is not doing a very good job of explaining it away. Brain damage? How? Under what circumstances? Can it be undone?
“I’ve told you everything that I can!” Marie shouts back. “We didn’t mean for this to happen, but it did, and now I’m doing everything I can to reteach him.”
“But he won’t be the same.” Fairpoint questions. He’s heard all of this already. He just keeps expecting a different answer. “There’s no recovering those memories.”
Marie looks over at Dr. Merrick, who doesn’t think so, given the information at his disposal. He’s right, this is a different Heath. “No. The memories are gone.”
“So my Heath is dead,” Fairpoint reasons.
“No. My Heath is gone. Your Heath left you years ago, because you’re the type of person who would take children hostage.”
“I didn’t know that children were here,” Fairpoint claims. “They’ll be free to go once the Palm Readers find a way to safely transport them off of the island without your shadowy government agents being able to sneak through.”
“You could just give up,” Marie argues. “You can’t undo what’s been done to Heath, and your little friends aren’t going to find whatever they’re looking for here.”
“She’s right,” the Palm Reader who was assigned to watch them says to Fairpoint. “We were wrong. There’s nothing special here.”
“Then go,” Fairpoint says dismissively. “I don’t care what you do. I just used you to get me across the border.”
“We didn’t sign up for hurting kids,” the guy explains. “We can’t leave until we know that they’ll be safe.”
“Take them with you, and hand them off to the authorities,” Fairpoint suggests.
“Then we’ll get in trouble for transporting children across national borders.”
“You’re already in trouble for kidnapping them, what’s one more charge?”
“Mr. Panders, you need to stand down, and you need to convince our leader to do the same. He’s going crazy in the other room. He insists that there’s a secret basement entrance somewhere.”
“We couldn’t build a basement on this island,” Keaton tells him. “The ground isn’t stable enough. We don’t need one. I assure you, there is nothing here but good vibes and good food. And nice bedsheets.”
“I believe you,” the Palm Reader replies. “But try telling him that” He jerks his head back towards the door, in the general direction of his boss.
“Fairpoint,” Marie says, trying to get them back on track, “this has gone far enough. Let us go.”
“No.” He frowns over at Heath 2.0, who is smiling dumbly in the corner, totally unable to grasp the gravity of the situation. “No, I came here with two objectives. I wanted to know whether he could be fixed, and also to punish the responsible party.”
“The responsible party is in the wind,” Marie says for the upteenth time. “In fact, your little stunt has diverted resources that are meant to be used to track him down.” Marie doesn’t technically know that Kivi and Arcadia’s team are the ones on the other side of the border, trying to correct this situation, but her position is sound.
“He may have done the deed, but I blame you too.” He turns away from Heath 2.0 to face Marie. “I blame you for everything.” He takes out a gun, but doesn’t aim it.
“Whoa, dude,” there’s no need for that,” the Palm Reader contends. They’re mostly nonviolent, but Fairpoint lit a fire under their ass, and corrupted their mission.
Fairpoint walks over to Heath 2.0. He gently caresses his cheek with his free hand. Heath smiles wider, and leans into the hand. “I love you. I always will. I’m the only one who loves you enough to free you from this prison.” He lifts the gun, and shoots Heath 2.0 right in the forehead.
Marie yelps.
The Palm Reader walks out of the room. “Nope. Nope, nope, nope.”
“You were destined to be arrested as soon as you stepped foot on this island,” Marie says to Fairpoint in a quiet rage. “Now you’ll get the death penalty.” Very few countries have banned capital punishment. “I will see to it.”
“You won’t be seeing anything after the next few days,” Fairpoint tells her. He takes what looks like a puzzle box out of his bag, and sets it on the table. He slides his finger across the faces, edges, and corners in a pattern to release the locking mechanism of the puzzle box. Inside is a mostly spherical object that comes to a point at the top as a cone dropped upon its ice cream. Upon that is a needle. He then takes out his knife and knicks Marie on the arm. He lets several drops of blood run off the blade and land on the needle. “This is a gene bomb. Do you know what that is?”
“Yes.” They used those in Carnage World in the afterlife simulation. They would target specific code, so that the explosive could go off, and only damage specific people. They were inspired by base reality weapons, which used DNA instead of computer code.
“Mr. Palmer, thank you for your hospitality,” Fairpoint says in the tone one might use at the end of a pleasant dinner party. “I’ll be taking my leave now.” He walks out.
Keaton pulls the rope binding his wrists under his body, and stands up. He runs over to grab the bomb. “I’ll take this as far as I can.” He crashes through the window, and hops out. It proves to be pointless. The bomb’s range is very wide. Marie feels the blast a few minutes later. She’s going to die.

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