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Sunday, January 29, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: November 26, 2398

Bhulan bolted as soon as the coast was clear. Leona and Ramses hoped that she would stick around to answer more questions, which they were prepared to ask gradually, instead of in the form of an interrogation, but she wasn’t into it. This is why Leona chose not to tell her anything about the seed of her plan to retrieve Mateo. She is probably on her way to her little secretive cabal to share information. That’s fine, as long as they don’t go anywhere near Lebanon. That is where Leona’s plan begins.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to go with you?” Ramses asks. They’re parked on the far side of Danica Lake, waiting for the sun to go down more.
“The fewer the better,” Leona replies with a shake of her head. “Standard transportation rules, you can only take two people with you.”
He nods.
“Besides, I’m sure you have to get back to the lab. I know you have a thousand things on the agenda.”
“Not really, now that Curtis is gone. I have no idea where he’s getting his temporal energy, or why The Officiant was able to just swoop in and disappear.”
“Then just rest,” Leona orders affectionately. “It’s been a hard...” Her first thought is to say that it’s been a hard week, but that doesn’t seem like enough, so she starts thinking about the whole month, but that’s not enough either. It’s been difficult since they first got here, but not just that. There’s only one reasonable way to put this. “...since however long we’ve known each other.”
He nods again. “Come on, Lys.”
“Be careful,” Alyssa says to Leona before she turns back towards the road. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.”
“I don’t blame you for a thing,” Leona tells her honestly.
Once the two of them have gone, Leona climbs back into the Bridgette. She knocks on the bridge steps. “They’re gone.”
Marie opens the hatch, and crawls out. “I’m kind of surprised that he didn’t come here to check on his engine, or something.”
Leona shrugs. “The teleporter wasn’t necessary. Mateo is four and a half billion years in the past, there’s not exactly a sense of urgency.” She removes the floor plans from her bag, and unrolls them on one of the seats. They’re crude drawings based on what they were able to gather while they were down there for a brief time, but not official, and absolutely not to scale.
“Regular paper; old school,” Marie muses.
“Computers can be hacked. I’ll burn these pages.” She points at the plans as she’s discussing them. “Okay, the Bridgette reported still having trace amounts of chlorine in its systems, which most likely means that Mateo and Alyssa came up in one of the pools. Technically, two of them are big enough to hold this thing, but I’m guessing they appeared in the Olympic-size one. That’s right here. If we appear in the same one, Alyssa will probably have already been sent to the Mariana Trench. Well, the trench won’t exist yet, but...I don’t know how Danica does it, but the point is that the past version of our sub will be out of our way. If it is there, we’ll either be floating right next to it, or we’ll end up over here. It’s smaller, but still large enough to accommodate this whole thing. ”
“Okay, and where do I want to go?”
“Energy generation chamber. I think they called it The Cave. It’s made of partially naturally walling, because of how the vibrations work. Ramses explained this before. A long-ass tube runs from the Constant, all the way down near the core of the planet, and generates energy from the gravitational differences between the bottom of the tube and the top. Due to the magnetic field, if you’re in that room, the artificial intelligence that runs the facility won’t be able to detect your presence. If you can teleport there on the sly, and do it immediately upon our arrival in the past, I believe that the system will just think the temporal energy you use to do it is just residual energy from that arrival. Does that make sense?”
“You want the time travel to mask my jump to the energy room, and then you want me to hide in there so the AI can’t see me. Got it.”
“Right.”
“Then what do I do?”
Leona sighs. “Danica Matic is powerful because of how old she is, but back then, she won’t be that old. She’ll really just be another person, without access to all that knowledge. So what I want you to do is be your badass self...eventually.”
“Eventually, like how long?”
Leona removes a box of this reality’s version of meal bars from her bag. “These will last a normal person a month. Due to Ramses’ upgrades, you should be able to stretch them out to about a year. So all you have to do is hide in there somewhere for that long, and then you can come out after their guard is down.”
“See, that’s my problem,” Marie says. “You talked about how little power Danica will have back then, but Bhulan is a different story. Plus, we think Dalton was there...”
“I don’t think Dalton will be there yet,” Leona says. “I think he shows up later. His is not an important religion, suggesting marginal connection to the original ones.”
“Okay,” Marie says.
“I can’t promise that we’ll win, or that things will turn out okay. You might get caught immediately. But I don’t think you’re going to get hurt, or I wouldn’t send you in. These are not our enemies, they’re just...being dicks right now.”
“I understand. Let’s do it.”
“Okay.” Leona goes over to the controls, and commands the Bridgette to roll itself into the lake, and submerge. They start to float around, looking for signs of temporal energy, or anything of note. They don’t know exactly where to go, so they’re trying everything. Whatever portal first sent Mateo and Alyssa into the past was probably not placed there on purpose, making it a bug of sorts. It’s not just a bug, but something called a heisenbug, which is one that is unreliable to reproduce. The conditions that led to it happening the first time may no longer be present, or maybe it was just a one time thing, and the portal has since closed. It would require tons of temporal energy, and that may be all there was left.
A few hours later, they have scoured the whole bottom of the lake, and investigated every nook and cranny. Nothing has happened. No portals, no spikes in temporal energy. They don’t want to give up, so they decide to try again from the beginning. Leona commands the Bridgette to surface, and that’s when everything changes. They’re no longer in the lake, but the middle of outer space.
“Should I teleport now?” Marie asks as they’re staring at the stars below them.
“No, definitely not.”

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