Tuesday, March 7, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: January 2, 2399

Leona woke up in Leona Reaver’s body while Mateo and Alyssa were in Lebanon. Both physically and mentally, she was fine. Mateo returned to lament the situation she was in, but she said she wasn’t worried about it. “Most people die,” she explained. “Even we’re not immortal in the bodies that Ramses made for us. I’m in no more danger than I was before.” But of course that’s not true. This indicates that someone is trying to kill her, and now that she’s where they want her, there is only one step left. “Again,” she pointed out, “lots of people in this reality are trying to kill me.” But not for long, because Kivi is working on that with her team. After a pattern formed weeks ago, they realized that her psychic ability to find people was helping them locate everyone with any serious intentions to kill Leona for the bounty. They’re gradually rounding them all up, and handing them off to a transport team to hang out in a black site detention cell until they forgo their plans. In another month, they should all be taken care of. The plan to fake her death will not need to take place, even if it would work, which it won’t anymore.
Both patients stayed at the government hospital for rest and observation, but were released this morning. They’re at the team’s new facility now, in the middle of a long, detailed, and complicated mutual debrief in the conference room. Ramses nods. “So, your cousin’s boss. How worried are we?”
Very worried,” Leona says. She lays a hand on Mateo’s knee. “Sorry, I know that was part of your story, but I just have to say that learning about someone new this late in the timeline can only spell trouble.”
“Agreed,” Mateo says. “Especially someone powerful enough to scare any version of Tamerlane Pryce. If this mysterious person is dormant in some way—or was billions of years ago—it’s only a matter of time before he shows up. All five of us need to get back up to full strength, and we need to find Olimpia. That means leaving this reality...”
“Or destroying the Omega Gyroscope,” Ramses believes, “or in some way altering its programming. Now we know why our transhumanistic upgrades aren’t working, in addition to our time powers. It’s a powerful magical object that can just unilaterally decide that things like that don’t work. That is our priority, because it has the potential to solve all of our other problems.”
“Agreed,” Mateo repeats.
Leona nods. “We need to get into space.”
“What’s in space?” Ramses asks.
“Theia...or part of it, anyway. Most of it is still part of Earth.”
“Do you know where it is?”
Leona nods. “Phoenix 15-236P7 Marathon-Algae-Temple.”
“Aquila was lying when she said we would find Mateo there,” Ramses reminds her. “What makes you think there is any significance to that location in the Oort Cloud?”
“It’s a place to start,” Leona explains. “I think that something is there. It may even be a version of Mateo. Based on my husband’s testimony, I firmly believe now that the implosion that created Danica Lake was not an implosion at all, but a massive transport. The Constant remains intact, just moved elsewhere. We know that because Mateo and Danica saw it in the future. It was close to a black hole, and Earth is too massive to have likely made it that far from its current location. What better place to hide such a thing than a chunk of the planet that it used to be a part of anyway?”
That would indeed be a good place for it; still close to Earth, but too far for a normal person to come across. She’s right, they have to get back up to the AOC, and go on a mission to find it. Mateo has more experience with the layout than anyone did months ago when they first uncovered this reality’s version of the facility. Hell, Danica was probably in her secret section the entire time, watching them wander around like ignorant children. And she may be there right now too, unwittingly waiting for them to return and demand more answers. “This is what we’re doing next, aren’t we?” he asks the group. “We’re going to look for the Constant again?”
“Not all of us,” Leona says.
Ramses nods. “Yeah, I’ll stay grounded to help with things here.”
“No, you go,” Leona counters.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Ramses argues. “You’re the one in danger.”
“That’s exactly why I shouldn’t go off on risky missions, to uncharted territories in outer space. Besides, I want to spend some more time with Arcadia. I’m starting to feel like an aunt, and aunts are meant to help.”
“I understand. You can’t be alone, though,” Ramses reasons.
“I’ll stay with her,” Marie says, having not spoken much up to this point. “I’ll protect her, and we’ll both protect Arcadia and Vearden.”
“You’re not gonna go back to SD6?” Mateo asks.
“They’ll hold my spot until I’m ready,” Marie replies.
“I would like to go to space,” Alyssa chimes in as she’s spinning in her chair. “My brothers are out there; seems unfair that they get to have all the fun.” She’s relieved when they all look fine with that idea.
“Don’t go until tomorrow, though,” Leona requests. “I would like to spend one night with my husband. It’s been quite awhile.”
“What? I’m not going anywhere,” Mateo contends.
“She’s your cousin,” Leona volleys. “You need to be the one to talk to her. She doesn’t even know Ramses. Besides, it’s at least a three-person mission.”
Mateo tries to speak.
“No arguing. This is how the teams are being divided,” Leona explains.
“I thought you were trying to be more democratic,” Mateo says.
“I’ve kind of rethought that,” Leona. “It’s inefficient. I’m not a dictator, but someone has to ultimately be responsible.”
Ramses nods decisively. “Hear, hear.”
Mateo laughs a little. “Anyway, let’s wait a few days before we go anywhere. He starts talking out the side of his mouth, but it’s loud enough for all to here. “Keep in mind that I’ve been apart from you longer than you from me.”
“Okay,” she says with a smile.
“Get a room,” Alyssa jokes. It’s nice to hear that some expressions transcend the boundaries of any one reality.
“That’s a good point,” Leona says. “I would like to see where we’re staying.”
“We’re underground,” Ramses says, “so it’s not as nice as The Lofts, but the amenities are pretty sweet. There’s even a pool, which the researchers originally designed to test the spread of disease in water.”
“I think I just want a bed right now,” Leona tells him.
“Same,” Mateo agrees.

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