Monday, January 30, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: November 27, 2398

Ramses and Alyssa went into town for an extended lunch, and extended it further with a walk in the park. They returned to Danica Lake a few hours after leaving Leona to her solo mission. He dropped a single probe in the water. They sat in the trunk of their SUV and ate ice cream while they waited for confirmation that the Bridgette was gone. The probe didn’t detect any technology down there, so Leona’s plan seems to have worked. They waited for another hour after that, because...time travel, but she never came out, so they just drove back to Kansas City, hoping that she would be there. She wasn’t, so they are trying to move on without her, and be patient. Temporal navigation is an inexact science. She and Mateo may just be in the middle of overshooting the mark, and they’ll be back in a few days. If they never return, the rest of the team is to assume that she made it to her destination, and they’re living in the past together. That’s Plan B. Of course, she may have failed to find him at all, and it’s all gone to shit, but it’s best not to dwell on that possibility. It’s unhealthy.
Ramses woke up this morning, realizing that he hadn’t seen Marie for a while. She didn’t say that she was going back to SD6, but he called Winona anyway, and she claimed to have not seen her. He called Arcadia next, but she had no idea where Marie could be. Vearden and Arcadia are in their new home in the suburbs, but it’s not an ideal situation. She walks around with a disguise to prevent anyone from recognizing Leona’s face, and they have two live-in SD6 operatives who protect her at all times in shifts. They still don’t know how they could get her and Leona out of this predicament. She has a lot of fans in this world, but just as many enemies, including those who couldn’t care less about her politics, but would like to cash in on the bounty that’s on her head. Hey, maybe that’s why Leona can’t come back. The chances that she undershot the mark is just as likely, and she’s been hiding out somewhere all this time. If he can solve the bounty problem, it won’t matter anymore. But how?
Alyssa tilts her head, and thinks about it. “Hm. No...” she says to herself.
“What is it?”
“Nah, we couldn’t do it, it’s not even worth mentioning.”
“We’re brainstorming here, sister, No bad ideas.”
“Well, I’ve not been with you guys all that much, but I’ve already seen you switch people’s minds to different bodies to trick other people on multiple occasions.”
“You’re right, that wouldn’t work. We don’t have any extra bodies hanging around, except for Leona Reaver’s, and that doesn’t actually change anything. Plus, Arcadia needs that body right now to gestate her baby.”
“I’m not suggesting we move either of them to Reaver, but that body would be involved, assuming you could work your magic with that weird mini-consciousness you created a long time ago.”
“What are you talking about?” he questions.
“The problem is that people want Leona dead, but only one or two people can actually kill her, and collect that bounty, right? If she dies, people will stop trying to come after her, because they’ll be chasing after a ghost.”
He stares at her. “That’ll never work. We can’t kill the Leona Reaver body, it will just jump back to her reality of origin, and then jump right back here. I mean, the group that set up the bounty will expect proof of death.”
“You’ll have proof,” Alyssa contends. She uses airquotes, “kill her in a very public way, let her body go through that weird time loop cycle, and then delete the consciousness to make it vacant again. A body without a mind just looks like a dead body, doesn’t it?”
“Well, if we’re just going to give up the body for proof, why do we need to pretend to kill her at all?”
“Technically, you wouldn’t, but...think about the people who are going after that bounty, and the people who are rooting for it. They want to see her suffer. They want the spectacle. It will make it harder to disprove if they both see it happen, and see the outcome. They want to watch her walking around alive, and then...stop being that way.”
“And what happens to Reaver’s body afterwards? I’m not asking, I honestly don’t know; we would have to pay a corner, or something.”
She shrugs somewhat dismissively. “You don’t have to pay a coroner. The government has their own, enough of them know our situation.”
“I dunno, does that really help Arcadia? She would still have to wear a disguise.”
“True, but I think that it would be safer since people will not be looking for that face anymore. If someone is suspicious of the girl in the store wearing sunglasses, she’ll be like, oh, I get that a lot. Don’t be racist. Plus I’m preggers, look at me.
Ramses chuckles. “She did have a cute little baby bump last I saw her.” He breathes in deeply. “This isn’t a bad idea, it’s just not a very exciting one. It’s pretty morbid, really. You’re suggesting I go out in public and pretend to murder someone very believably. Even if the government can get me out of jail—”
You? Who said anything about you doing anything? No, it would be someone from the government; a trained assassin. Don’t forget to use all of your assets.”
“There are a lot of moving parts here, it’s not something we’ll be able to accomplish today.”
“Then let’s work on it. I’ll call Winona.”
“I don’t want to get her involved just yet. Short of being able to contact the real Leona about this, we have an obligation to at least ask Arcadia how she feels about it.”
The two of them leave the lab, and head for the suburbs.
One of the personal security guards answers, kind of surprising them with regular clothes, but they obviously don’t want to arouse suspicion. He’s probably pretending to be a cousin, or something. “Come on in, Mister Abdulrashid,” he says, stepping aside.
“Thank you.” They haven’t met, but they must have all of their photos on file.
The couple is sitting in their breakfast nook with their pancakes. She’s holding her stomach. It’s not that big yet, but not as slight as Alyssa expected.
“Hey, what’s up?” Vearden asks
They sit at the table next to them, and go over the beginnings of their dastardly plans. They both listen intently, and don’t interrupt. When it’s over, Arcadia nods understandingly, and stands up to look out the window. “Are you asking for my permission, or my opinion? Or are you just letting me know what you’re going to do?”
“The first two things,” Ramses replies.
She looks over her shoulder at him. “I’ll agree under one condition, and it is non-negotiable.”
Now he’s real worried. “What’s that?”
“Don’t make one of your weird mini-mind things. Make my father do it.”

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