Monday, January 23, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: November 20, 2398

Everything worked perfectly yesterday. Leona injected herself with a boost of temporal energy, which allowed her to transport herself and Alyssa out of the Mariana Trench, and back to the lab. There, Ramses provided her with a can of Bermuda Triangle water, which she poured into the engine of the Bridgette. She then commanded the whole vessel to make a jump to the surface of the ocean, and from there, she was able to fly back to Kansas City. It was a circuitous way of getting the job done, but it worked, and now she’s here, so she can focus on getting her husband back yet again. After all of this, she was exhausted, and she knows her body and mind well enough to know their limits. She went to sleep, and didn’t wake up until the next morning.
Leona generates a map over the holotable. This facility was originally equipped with a 3D scanner that would allow medical professionals to examine a patient infected with whatever disease they’re studying. That scanner is still in the infirmary they set aside for themselves, and this one is the backup, which the government team who retrofitted this place modified to be a regular computer display. “Vulcan Point. It’s an island inside of a crater lake on an island in a lake on an island in the ocean. It’s not the only land mass that’s like this, but where we’re from, it’s the most famous. It’s very small, you could maybe build two houses next to each other there, or a single home of decent size. No one has, it’s completely undeveloped, and protected as a wildlife refuge.”
Curtis walks into the room. “Oh, hey, Leona, you’re awake. Can we talk?”
“I’m in the middle of something right now,” she replies.
“ you remember me? Do you remember us?”
“Yes. You and a version of me were partners in more ways than one for three years before she met Horace Reaver in a very old timeline, but I try not to think too much about that reality, because I didn’t ask for those memories to be blended into my brain, and I feel very distant from them.”
“Okay.” Curtis seems to be in a very vulnerable place right now, but taking care of his mental state is not their priority at the moment. It’s certainly not hers.
“Anyway. These are the most recent satellite images of Vulcan Point Island. Like I said, it’s a refuge, so they don’t allow tours, which is why there’s no activity. No boats, no planes, no hiking trails. If we want to go there, we’ll have to teleport, and probably at night, because it may be monitored. If it’s as important as I believe, it may even have some high level deterrence, like Palmeria does.”
“Didn’t Alyssa say that we’re supposed to go there last, like after all the other errors have been found?” Ramses asks.
“That’s what Danica told her, which means that’s what she wants us to do, and I’m not inclined to follow her rules. If she truly wants me to do that, then she can show her face, and tell us in person.”
Ramses stares at her, and doesn’t speak, but Leona can tell that he has more.
“What, Ram?”
“In any movie, when the bad guy gives the good guy a choice of doing it the way he normally would, or going against his instincts, and following the bad guy’s directions, the good guy chooses his instincts, and it always backfires. Leona, it backfires every time. Danica may be expecting you to skip straight to Vulcan Point, knowing full well that one of the errors we find elsewhere would have been helpful in our pursuit of that final destination.”
“This isn’t a movie,” Leona reasons.
“Well, with the Superintendent in the mix, it kind of is. Our lives follow TV tropes, and the most genre savvy amongst us are the ones who do well. That’s why you keep winning, Leona, because you understand how your opponent thinks. Don’t forget that now. Don’t get emotional.”
Leona wants to get mad at Ramses for calling her emotional, like he’s a 1950s boss who can’t recognize the potential in his secretary, but that would be frustratingly ironic. She can’t give in. She just sighs, and looks away.
“I don’t remember saying what I said,” Alyssa begins to break the silence. “But you relayed it to me. I was clearly about to say that Vulcan Point was not going to lead us to Mateo, and I evidently had already said that he would never be coming back. Something must have convinced me of that.”
Leona nods, acknowledging Alyssa’s words, but not quite agreeing with them. “I think Vulcan Point leads us to Danica, and Danica knows when and where Mateo is.” She swipes the map away, and replaces it with the map that’s showing the last known location of the errors as plotted by the brain scanner on the AOC. “She is in this reality. She’s one of these dots. And if she doesn’t want us to go to Vulcan Point, then that’s exactly where we should go.”
“She may not be one of the dots,” Ramses points out. “Alyssa is not a dot, because my scanner doesn’t detect people with powers, just people who have a weird relationship with time, which she hasn’t really experienced yet.”
“Danica definitely has a weird relationship with time,” Leona argues. “She’s billions of years old.”
“I know, but Alyssa was the only person on the Bridgette, wasn’t she? This means that my scanner wasn’t picking up a real error. It just thought there was an error, because of the tech that was installed on the bridge. Surely Danica has a way to shield herself from being seen.”
“Then build another scanner,” Leona suggests. “Build one that detects temporal energy instead, or something like that.”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to do,” Ramses tells her. “That’s why I’ve been studying Curtis’ active abilities. It’s...not going well. So far,” he adds, not wanting to plunge her deeper into depression. What he doesn’t do is reiterate the fact that Danica may still be able to shield herself from that. Enemy or no, she’s one of the most powerful people they have faced, if only due to her age. No one else comes close, not even all the Prestons combined.
“I’m fine,” Curtis says, jumping back into the conversation. “I’ve rested enough, so I can get back into the machine.”
“Are you sure?” Ramses asks.
“Put me in, coach.”
Ramses starts running more tests on Curtis’ presumed unique ability to maintain his powers in this reality. Leona, meanwhile, goes back to her room. It was a quarantine cell, so there’s not much here, but it’s good enough. She doesn’t spend much time there before she gets an idea. She has combat experience, and she isn’t doing much good in the lab. They would all probably be better off if she left, and joined Marie out in the field.

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