Tuesday, January 17, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: November 14, 2398

Marie teleported down later yesterday to take over the brain scan error investigations. She’s going to prep her own small SD6 team. This isn’t a tactical team, like the one Kivi works with. One of them is an operative who specializes in combat and weaponry, yes, but another one is an agent, like Marie, with investigative experience. The third is an officer with diplomatic skills that she uses to turn foreigners and other civilians into government assets. They have all been read into the whole thing about time travel and alternate realities, so they’re ready to go on these missions. Alyssa doesn’t need to be involved in that anymore, and Mateo can’t, because whenever he approaches one of these people, they’re accidentally banished to another universe. While that’s happening, there is something that he always thought they should do, but weren’t able to.
The Olimpia was a submarine, but it had limited depth capabilities. The Bridgette has its own limits, but it can dive far deeper, which they’ll need in order to get to the bottom of Danica Lake. It’s located on the McIver farm outside of Lebanon, Kansas, and the McIver’s still technically own that land, but they still don’t need anyone seeing them go down there. As the saying goes, it’s always darkest before the dawn, and though that’s wholly inaccurate, that’s about when they arrive in the area. That way, they’ll still benefit from some of the daylight filtering through the water. There may be nothing down here, but then again, it may be everything,
This vehicle is far more automated than their last one as it’s equipped with the AI that Ramses rescued from The Constant before it was flooded and destroyed. Mateo is capable of operating it himself without the help of one of the team’s smart people. They dip into the water, and hang out near the surface for a little bit, shining the giant lights on the exterior around in case they see anything interesting right off the bat. They do. There are tons of fish down here. “Were you aware of people stocking this lake with life?” Mateo asks.
Alyssa shakes her head. “If they did, it would have been illegal. Not only would they have needed permission from the owner, which is me, but they would have had to negotiate a lot of bureaucratic red tape. A team of scientists would have needed to come out and test the area for pH, salinity, and other environmental variables. You can’t just randomly introduce a species to an ecosystem. Not enough time has passed for all of that, and we still have friends in the area. I’m sure I would have heard something.”
“Hmm. You seem to know a lot about how it works.”
“We considered doing it,” she explains. “We could have charged people to fish. I decided not to, because all this stuff was going on, and I didn’t want to deal with that red tape. I doubt it would have been worth it, especially since we would have either had to move back, or employ someone to manage the licenses.”
Mateo nods. “So this may be a clue. These fish here came from somewhere. I guess we don’t know where the water itself came from. I saw a movie where an isolated species of carnivorous fish were living in an underground lake until something broke, and they ended up in the regular lake, where they started eating people.”
“Sounds awful.”
“It was.” They continue to dive down as the sun rises. The natural light is never bright enough to do them much good, but it does make it seem less scary, being able to look up and see that they’re not trapped in a watery grave. They continue to see fish, though the population is not as dense down here, which they guess is typical of any body of water. They don’t see any other things, like frogs or octopodes. Mateo had a thought that they might, and that they were about to be transported to somewhere else in the world. These sorts of missions usually end up like that, but it doesn’t happen. No coral, no sharks. It’s looking like someone really did just drive up here with a tank of unauthorized fish, and dump them in here, for whatever reason.
Just as they’re reaching the limits of the sub’s capabilities, they also reach the lakebed. They expected to see the twisted ruins of the Constant, but there’s nothing. It’s just dirt and particulates, and a few adventurous fish. They go back up a little bit, because this water did have to come from somewhere, but they don’t see the pipes. “They must have been designed to disintegrate after use. The Constant must have been designed to do the same.”
“Surely the walls will have gotten wet at some point,” Alyssa reasons.
“Yeah, so water wouldn’t have caused them to fall apart. There must have been something in the water, like a...enzyme, or whatever, I don’t know.”
“Ha, are you just using fancy words you’ve heard before?”
“Pretty much.”
“Let’s call it an enzyme, which destroyed all evidence that there was once an underground complex down here. The question is where was that enzyme stored before it was needed, and why don’t we see evidence of that?”
Mateo sighs. “Neither of us is smart enough to make any real guesses in this matter. This was a nice idea, but we’re not qualified for this work.”
“Yeah.” Alyssa leans forward, and looks up through the viewscreen, where she sees nothing remarkable. “Let’s call it a day.”
“If we surface now, someone may see us.”
“I don’t really care anymore,” Alyssa decides. “This is still my land, I can do whatever I want with it.”
“Fair enough. Hey Constance, please surface.”
Surfacing,” the computer responds.
They keep looking through the viewscreen as they go higher and higher. It’s going pretty fast, which Mateo would think would be dangerous, but Constance knows best. Something weird happens when they’re almost at the surface. The water becomes clearer, and light comes in through the glass. It almost looks like there’s a wall in front of them. An alarm starts going off outside, but it’s not too loud, and not too obnoxious. “Constance, report!”
Status normal,” she replies simply. She doesn’t see anything wrong with this. The Bridgette breaks the surface, and starts to just float there. Now they can really see the walls. It looks like they’re in an Olympic-size pool.
“What happened?”
“I’m pretty sure we just went back in time.” Mateo reaches up to the emergency ceiling hatch, and pulls himself through it. He then helps Alyssa up as well.
They stand on the roof, and get a look around. It’s definitely a swimming pool, and it looks familiar. The double doors open, and Mateo’s cousin, Danica power walks in. She looks surprised to see him, but more annoyed than anything. “What the hell are you doing back here?” she questions.

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