Wednesday, April 19, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: February 14, 2399

It was clear to Leona that Connell was never in the military, nor law enforcement. He was a wretched shot. He was just holding up his gun, and waving it around aimlessly, hoping to eventually hit something. She took it from him, and shot all of the henchmen in the legs. “I’m letting you live,” she announces, “not so you can come after me later, but so you can lick your wounds, and move on with your lives. Your boss is dead. He betrayed me, and karma paid him for it. Leave me alone, or the next time I’m holding a gun, I’ll aim higher. If I later decide that Labhrás is entitled to vengeance, I’ll take care of it myself, and send you the bill.” Satisfied that the firefight was over, Leona went with Connell to Dublin Airport. So they were in Ireland, or at least what’s left of it since most of the North Atlantic Isles were transported to the Fourth Quadrant.
The flight was the longest she’s ever experienced. After a long layover who knows where, it’s turned out that they’ve flown all the way down to Antarctica. Specifically, they’re landing at the Mozambican Naval Fleet Base. This still doesn’t explain who this Connell is, or who his boss might be, but it’s a lead. Technically, it’s not impossible that Coronel Zacarias is the one who is responsible for the bounty, but it’s pretty far-fetched. They left on great terms, and she gave him her contact info, so he would not have needed to set up this crazy elaborate plan to get someone else to kill her. Her guess is that she was right when she thought it was possible that someone had invaded and taken over the Nexus research facility. She’s proven right when they walk inside, and see the people milling about. These are definitely not Mozambican sailors. They’re dressed funny, but not unfamiliarly. She’s seen this kind of clothing before. Where was it?
“Oh, Christ, you’re from the Fifth Division.”
“Precisely, my dear!”
“How the hell did you get here?”
“That is not my right to tell,” Connell replies. “The boss will want to speak with you. It could be today, it could be tomorrow. It could be years from now. You’ll just have to hang out in hock and wait until he’s good and goddamn ready.”
They’ve just entered the hock section when a man jogs up. “Sir. It’s for you?” He hands Connell a comms device.
“Yes?” he asks the person on the other end. “I understand. No, right away, sir.” He hands the device back, and tries to say something to Leona, but she’s distracted.
“I’m okay,” Coronel Zacarias tells her from his cell. “I’m gonna need you to put on a brave face for me, okay?”
“Why didn’t you call?” Leona asks him.
“We’re leaving,” Connell insists, trying to pull her away.
“Get your hands off me,” Leona demands. “I won’t ask a second time.”
“I’m taking you to the boss.”
Leona twists his arm, and flips him onto his back. She steals his gun, and shoots the nearest other Fifth Divisioners. She hits him in the legs again, but she’s prepared to aim higher, like she promised the Irish gangsters.
“Stop!” Connell orders his men before they get the chance to shoot her back. “Stop! She must live!”
Leona lowers the gun to train it on Connell’s forehead. “I left you my number.”
“There was nothing that you could do,” Coronel Zacarias explains. “You would not have been able to come in time.”
“I could teleport.”’
“You can?”
“Well...not anymore, but when this happened, it’s possible. You should have reached out,” Leona reasons.
Zacarias shakes his head. “It would have only placed you in danger along with us. They didn’t know we knew each other. I never told them. They only know now because we’re talking.”
“I’m here now. I’ll get you out.”
“Don’t worry about us.”
She is worried about him. She feels like this is her fault, and it probably is. It usually is. Can she break him out? She could take out all these guys like John Wick before even one of them gets a shot off. The Crucia Heavy doesn’t like firearms, and taught her and Ellie to dislike them too, but she trained them on targeting anyway. It doesn’t matter how good of a fighter you are, you’re not faster than a bullet, and sometimes the only way to stop them from flying towards you is to send your own. Still, even if she got these people out of the cells, what would they do then? Would they escape? That would be a tall order. She has no way off the continent. She doesn’t have any control over the base’s systems, and Zacarias almost certainly doesn’t either. It is as they say, the only way out is through. She’s going to have to be diplomatic. Ugh. She’s no good at that anymore, especially not since her training on Flindekeldan. She carelessly drops the gun on Connell’s chest. “No! Touching!”
Connell is winded. “Yeah. Never again.” He struggles to get himself back to his feet, but slaps the guy who tries to help him away. “Never again,” he repeats. He brushes the dust off his pants, and takes a deep transitional breath. “Now, if you’ll follow me...” He holds his arms out to indicate the direction they’ll be going.
She lunges towards him by only a few centimeters to test his reaction. He flinches, so that’s good to know.
Connell leads her down the corridors, and up the elevator to the top level. It’s above ground and on the far end, allowing them to see the cliff and sea before them on one side, and the snow covered land on the other. “This is as far as I go.”
Leona looks at the ominous door. “Sleep with one eye open,” she warns.
He’s unable to hide a shiver. He starts to walk back the way they came.
Leona readies herself, then opens the door without knocking. Time freezes in her head as she considers who may be on the other side of it. If she didn’t know that this had something to do with her time in the Fifth Division, she may have guessed past and future greatest hits, like Erlendr or Zeferino Preston. Or maybe it’s someone who was actually a friend before, like Serkan Demir or Pribadium Delgado. Those being so random, and having nothing to do with any of these other people here, she dismisses them. She has narrowed it down to Mithridates Preston, Xerian Oyana, or that security guard that they left at the entrance to the time machine that ultimately led them here. They all have beef with Team Matic, or could have conceivably developed one in the meantime. They parted on all right terms, but who knows what has happened since then? The suspect is standing behind a desk, his back to her. She approaches him as he turns around to face her. She winces when she sees his face. “Who the hell are you?”

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