Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: November 28, 2398

Alyssa and Ramses continued to discuss the plan to fake Leona’s death with Arcadia and Vearden. Their live-in guards got in on the conversation too, contributing their experience and expertise as career military servicemen. The National Intelligence Agency has an entire department tasked with faking people’s deaths, usually for witness and turned asset relocation purposes. Their methods usually involve using completely unrelated corpses as proof; they’ve never done anything like this, but they have not been read into the situation anyway, so no one is allowed to reach out to them about it. This is all very ghoulish of them, but they keep reminding themselves, and each other, that it would be a lot worse if they were planning an actual murder. The point is to prevent someone from dying, and if all goes according to plan, no one will get hurt at all.
Here’s what they’re going to do. First, they’re going to transfer Erlendr’s consciousness from the Insulator of Life, into Leona Reaver’s body. Well, first they have to convince him to play along, but assuming that he does, they’re going to equip him with concealed body armor to prevent anyone else from managing to actually hurt him before they get the chance to complete their performance. He’s going to make himself known in a very public space where Leona’s face is sure to be recognized. They will pick a place that is having a parade, or something, so it will be really crowded, and possibly even filmed and streamed. They’ve not chosen any event yet, because they’re not yet certain of their timeline. They may plant operatives in the audience to make sure Erlendr isn’t standing out in the open without anyone noticing.
Their fake bounty hunter—which will be an undercover SD6 specialist—will then begin his or her pursuit. If any other hunters happen to be in the area, other undercovers will run interference against them. The chase won’t last long, or go far, because they want the audience they end up with to be able to see the whole thing. Erlendr will duck into a car, and drive off a little ways before a bomb goes off. This is the trickiest part of the magic trick, because they don’t want anyone else to get hurt, so it has to be highly controlled, and focused, but not so focused that it looks like maybe Erlendr survived it. The timing has to be perfect too, because they can’t allow people to see the Leona Reaver body disappear when fate intervenes, and sends it to the other timeline. Tinted windows will be key, along with maybe a little remote driving.
They have to control for security cameras, audience involvement, and other crazy eventualities, this is not something that they’ll be able to pull off today. That’s probably all right, though, because they want Arcadia’s baby bump to get a little bigger, in case she gets recognized after the thing. That brings them back to the crux of the plan, which is Erlendr’s participation. He has no loyalty to them, so figuring out a decent incentive was the hardest part, and they did need to come up with one, because if they tried to force it on him, he would probably claim to be a twin or triplet in public, and ruin their whole gambit. They think they have a way to go about it, but they’re going to need Arcadia’s help. They don’t really have a Plan B if they can’t get him to cooperate.
“This won’t hurt the baby, right?”
Ramses smiles. “First of all, no, it wouldn’t. But I knew you would be concerned, which is why you’re not going in cerebrally. You’re just going to use these.” He holds up the goggles.
“What does that mean?”
“I’m connecting my brain to the simulation, which will make it feel like I’m really there...except I always turn off my pain receptors. You, on the other hand, will only be able to see what it looks like through regular VR. You won’t feel a thing, but you can pilot your avatar using this controller, if you want.”
“Okay.” She accepts the googles.
“Lyss?” Ramses asks.
“I don’t want her to be alone in there, even just as an avatar, so I’m going to set myself up first, and then you can push that green button in the corner of the screen to activate her once I’m jacked in, okay?”
“Then when she gives you the signal, press the purple button.”
“Green button, then purple, got it.”
“Thanks,” he says to her. “Are you ready?” he asks Arcadia.
“I know kung-fu,” Arcadia says casually as she’s wrapping the goggles around her head. She might actually know it for reals.
Erlendr sits up in his cot, and blinks at the lights that have just turned on. They’re not real eyes, just visual coding that’s been programmed to become distressed due to virtual lighting changes to make it feel more real. “What’s this about?”
“Are we having fun yet?” Ramses asks.
“Barrels. What do you want?”
“We would like you to help us save Leona Matic’s life.”
“This oughta be good.”
Ramses and Arcadia go over the plan, altering certain details, so he doesn’t know too much about it yet. He has to agree to help them first, then he gets to know exactly how they’re going to fake his death.
“You want me to knowingly put myself in harm’s way, all for a woman that I couldn’t care less about? What’s in it for me?”
Ramses clicks the button on a little fob. The wall behind him, opposite Erlendr, falls backwards, and lands in the grass. The field of daisies where Bhulan was staying is there. Erlendr could run out and frolic if he wanted to. “This is a sign of good faith. You can live there, instead of in this room. If you don’t agree to help us, we won’t even put you back in here. That’s how important this is to us.”
Erlendr starts to speak in a weird mocking voice, but it’s hard to tell who he’s mocking. “They let you try it free? It must be good!”
Ramses looks quizzically at Arcadia.
“It’s an old television advertisement,” she explains.
“Oh. This isn’t your reward. Like I said, it’s a good faith gesture. Your reward...is this.” He takes a half-step to the side to get out of Arcadia’s way.
She takes off her ruana, and lifts her shirt to reveal the bump on her belly. It’s just a virtual construct, but Ramses built this avatar by scanning Arcadia today, and extrapolating what she would look like if she still had her real body, and it was pregnant, instead of Leona Delaney’s body. “If you don’t help us, you’ll never meet your granddaughter, because she will be killed before she can even be born. Now, Alyssa.” She transforms into the image of her current self, as Leona. “What say you, father?”
Erlendr frowns. “I’ll do it, but your plan sucks, I have...many suggestions.”

No comments :

Post a Comment