Friday, April 14, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: February 9, 2399

Leona, Tarboda, and Roeland ate at a sidewalk restaurant that reportedly serves the best adobo in the country. It was the first time Leona ever had it, so she has nothing to compare it to, but it was really good. Roeland talked about himself during the meal. Back in the main sequence, he was known as The Stillness. He could travel forwards or backwards in time, but only after standing in one place for a long period of time. The longer he waited, the further he could go. His record is two weeks, during which he found himself severely dehydrated, but he didn’t do that on purpose. As the story goes, he experienced a miscommunication in a not-to-be-named wartorn country, which resulted in his incarceration in an extremely inhumane prison. He was given no food, and no water the entire time. He couldn’t even sit down in the cage. He had only recently discovered his ability, so he didn’t know what he was doing. More specifically, he didn’t know how far back in time that amount of stillness would take him.
Roeland ended up millions of years in the past, stuck in the mesozoic era. He could either stand around for another two weeks to get back, or make multiple, shorter jumps. But there was a problem with the second option, because he had no way of knowing what year it was, and more to the point, when the extinction level event that would inevitably end the reign of the dinosaurs would come about. While he was confident that he would not need the entire two weeks to clear the death, destruction, and mayhem, he didn’t know the minimum amount of time. He wasn’t particularly good at math, and there were too many variables anyway. It’s not like he could look at the creatures around him, and find out what period that was. Jurassic and Triassic; the only two words he knew that had any relevancy, and they were unhelpful. Funny tangent, based on his description, Leona is pretty sure he ran into Siria Webb while he was back there. This was before a dinosaur tried to eat him, forcing him to jump early.
He wasn’t quite fast enough, and Roeland was severely injured in the attack. Plus, he didn’t make it anywhere near civilization. His best guess is that he landed about 50,000 years ago. A family consisting of a human woman, a neanderthal man, and their child, tended to his wounds. Neanderthals are evidently called primaceans in this reality, which he only learned later once he had recovered enough to continue on his way back to the future, and discovered that everything was different because he was no longer in the main sequence. He has found no way to return home, but has made a life for himself here for over sixty years, the most recent of which he’s lived in this beautiful place to enjoy his retirement. He reiterated the lie that he’s here alone, insisting that no one else is on the recursive island, even though the satellite is still registering a time traveler there.
At the end of the night, Roeland returned to his isolated home, and the other two checked into a regular hotel for the night. The next morning, they walked to the Talisay Municipal Hall to see about getting permission to visit Vulcan Point. The people in charge were extremely hesitant to even entertain the idea. Roeland and his daughter—she knew it—went through a lot to convince the government to let them become residents there. The whole reason they eventually agreed is because the Harlows agreed to have no visitors over, even for a few hours. They live in a little hut with no running water, and no electricity, and they do not disturb the wildlife. They boat and walk to the city once a week for supplies, carrying all of their waste with them, including what would normally go into a toilet. The fact that they could not honestly say that they were friends with the Harlows did not help their case. In the end, they had no recourse. These people do not want them here, so they have to leave.
They’re on their way back to the airfield when Leona stops. “Wait.” She swipes through the screens to make sure that she’s seeing this right. “I can’t believe this.”
“What? What is it?” Tarboda asks.
“There’s a missile heading for my satellite. At least that’s what...yep, there’s no other object that it could possibly be on course to intercept.”
“You have a satellite?”
Leona dials her phone, and waits for Aldona to answer. “You didn’t know anything about this?”
“I don’t know anything, ma’am. I’m just the pilot,” Tarboda says.
She believes him. Aldona answers. “Hey, Al. You’re tryna shoot me down.”
I’m sorry, it’s out of my hands. They told me they were going to refuse to let you put it up there, but I guess they found out that you deployed it anyway. They didn’t even tell me they were sending a high-orbit missile, or I would have called you. I imagine we detected it at the same time.
“When you were talking to them about it, did you tell them that I’m a great friend...and a terrible enemy?”
I...didn’t know that myself,” Aldona replies.
“Welp, you’re about to find out...and so are they.”
What are you going to do?
“I’m going to initiate the satellite’s defenses.”
Leona, if you go to war...
“They started it,” Leona contends.
Okay, but they didn’t.
“I’m trying to help them. I’m trying to help you. I went on vacation, and kept working. The updated design for the lunar H3 refinery should have crossed your desk about an hour ago.”
It did, and it looks perfect, but that doesn’t mean—
“Goodbye,” Aldona.
Don’t do this.
“Goodbye,” Leona repeats right before hanging up. She sighs as she’s accessing the satellite’s secondary protocols. She releases the decoy, then teleports the rest of it to the other side of the planet, turning it into a darklurker for a time until she can figure out a more sustainable solution. It’ll keep orbiting using a relatively hard to see EM drive, but it won’t be doing any scans for the foreseeable future. Still, it’s better than losing it altogether.
Tarboda is grimacing. “What did you just do?”
“I released something called a leechcraft. It’s going to find one of their satellites, latch onto it, and lure the missile to destroy it instead. Go ahead and call someone to warn them. It won’t matter, they can’t stop it.”
“Nope. I’m good. I’m with you,” he assures her.
“If that’s true, then we’re both gonna need to go somewhere to hide out.”
“I have some friends in a nonextradition country. You ever been to Croatia?”
They don’t make it one meter towards Croatia before they’re hooded and sedated.

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