Monday, March 20, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: January 15, 2399

Ramses puts the ship in park, which is to say he placed it in orbit around Earth. When he climbs up to the main level, he finds only Alyssa there. She’s playing a solo game of RPS-101 Plus. “You’re the sponge.”
“It reminds me of him,” she replies.
“Are the kids upstairs?”
“They weren’t allotted any time to watch the Earth after the rocket launched a few months ago. It hadn’t been tested yet, so they were told to stay strapped to their seats.”
He nods. “We can give them a little more time.”
“No.” She lets her sponge get ripped apart by a whip. “Let’s go now.”
“Is that what you were waiting for?” he asks. “That finishing move looks oddly familiar.”
“I imagine that Lucius would have been a good whip.”
“It’s not his fault.”
“No, it’s never anyone’s fault. Shit just happens. Yeah, I’m learning that.”
With a sigh, Ramses starts to climb up to the upper level where the McIver boys and the doctor are admiring the view from the airlock. “We have to go.”
“Oh come on, just a little bit longer,” Carlin pleads.
“Yes. Please!” Moray agrees.
“No, I have work to do.” He looks down at Alyssa, who’s still on the steps. “You take them. I’ll take the good doc. Then I’ll come back up for Angela’s pod.”
“I haven’t had much practice,” Alyssa warns.
“You’ll be fine. You’ve done it before. Go ahead,” Ramses encourages.
She composes herself, then teleports the three of them away.
“Does it hurt?” the doctor asks.
“Are you currently holding any citrus fruit?”
“Uh, no.”
“Then you’ll be fine.” He takes him down to the lab, and looks around. Leona and Marie are there, but no one else. “Alyssa left before me.”
“She’s not here,” Marie says.
“Dammit,” Ramses says under his breath. He takes out his phone, but by the time he can place a call, it rings.
It’s Alyssa. “I’m off by a mile. Literally a mile. We’re just gonna walk, though, to be on the safe side.
“That’s fine. It’s probably best not to have the children here anyway.”
“What do you mean?” Leona asks.
With a grimace, Ramses disappears, and returns a few seconds later with Angela’s stasis pod. He hands the proximity fob to the doctor. “Down the hall, last door on the left. That’s a good place for you to set up.”
“Is that Angie?” Marie asks, standing on her tippy-toes to see through the window on the pod. “How did you find her? Is she okay?”
“She’s perfectly healthy,” Ramses assures her. “No, don’t..go,” he tells her when she tries to follow.
“What is it, Ramses? What’s got you so upset?” Leona questions.
“Leona, I need to tell you something. We found the Constant, and Danica wasn’t the only one there.”
“Obviously the rocket showed up,” Marie says. “They were going in the opposite direction, though.”
“The phoenix coordinates were a misdirection,” Ramses explains. “Tamerlane manipulated the nav system on the rocket so that it would go to the real location. But that’s not what I have to tell you. It’s about Mateo.”
“What about him?” Leona stands up, nervous.
Suddenly, Mateo—or at least someone who looks like Mateo—appears. “Hey, sorry I’m late. I was stuck in the middle of a game of RPS-101 Plus. You know how invested I get when I’m being chased by that whip. Oh hi, love.” He gives his wife a kiss.
Ramses is stunned. “How did you get here?”
“Wadya mean, brotha? I teleported, just like you.” He slaps him playfully on the back of his shoulder. “You need some sleep.” He leans in and tries to whisper in his ear. “Play along. She doesn’t need to know.”
“She does need to know,” Ramses contends at full volume. “We can’t be sure you’re the real Mateo.”
“Why wouldn’t he be the real Mateo?” Leona demands to know.
“Oh-hokay,” Mateo says, trying to usher Ramses away. “You’ve been working so hard, you’re goin’ a little crazy.”
Ramses pulls himself away. “No. Leona, Mateo died. We found Lucius up there. He was on his last breaths, but Danica wanted to weaponize him, so your husband tried to euthanize him. Something went wrong, and they were both molecularly teleported. I don’t know who this guy is, or how he got here, but he is not who you think he is.”
“Yes, I am!” Mateo argues.
“Prove it!”
“Give me a simpatico test I guess, I dunno, but I am him! I mean...I’m me!”
“How did you survive then?” Ramses asks.
“Constance uploaded my consciousness into her computer, and then sent me to the Fifth Division, where a different version of Constance—who I decided to call Constance!Five—helped me locate and salvage the wreckage from the Suadona. I was dormant on the servers for ten years while her robots cloned my body at thrice the normal speed, at which point they downloaded me into it. Then we plugged a virus into the time machine, set on a timer to go off just after we left, and came here. We showed up an hour ago in Danica Lake. I was in the middle of drying off after a shower at a rest stop when I sensed your arrival, so I knew I had to get here before you could tell anybody that I was dead.” Mateo finally takes a breath.
Ramses blinks a few times. That is quite the story. Not saying he’s not telling the truth, but a simpatico test probably is in order, if he had the necessary equipment. He’s not entirely sure how to make one, and it may be some time before he cracks it.
“You said we,” Marie points out. “If a physical form of Constance came with you, where is she?”
“I left her in Lebanon, because it would obviously ruin the lie that I was trying to tell to protect my wife from any unnecessary emotional strain.” He frowns, and looks around at the group. Clearly no one is willing to say one way or another whether they believe him. “Fine. I’ll go into the containment chamber. Do what you must to prove it.”

No comments :

Post a Comment