Monday, May 22, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: March 19, 2399

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Alyssa teleports herself into the center of the bottom floor of the Superscraper. It hasn’t been that long since she last saw Mateo and Leona, though longer for them than for her. She assumed this place would be virtually empty, but there are a few dozen people around. A few are moving furniture and indoor plants into place, while others are just sitting around and conversing. There are even children, so they’re probably not movers. Are they residents? Do people live here? How much did she miss while she was off-world? They’re regarding her curiously, but they’re not shocked, so maybe they’re from other realities, and they’ve seen this sort of thing before.
A little girl runs up, and tugs on Alyssa’s shirt. “Hi. Where are you from?”
“I’m from a black hole that’s so far away, if you flew there going the speed of would take you more than a thousand years to get there.”
“Wow,” the girl says. She runs off to tell her friends the news.
Alyssa notices one of the adults on a phone that’s attached to a support column. He hangs up. “Mrs. Matic is on her way.”
“Thank you,” Alyssa replies. She stands there awkwardly while she waits.
A few minutes later, Leona comes down the elevator. “Alyssa, you’ve returned. Is it by coincidence, or did you finally receive our messages?”
“I was indisposed. Is there somewhere we can talk?”
“Here’s fine,” Leona tells her.
Alyssa looks over at the people, who are watching, but not staring. “Privately?”
“Oh, please,” Leona says. “Look around. Everyone knows about time travel now. They may not understand it, but the world has been deveiled. I’m working with a publicist, and will be making a streamed statement regarding the secret at a later date.”
“I see, and who are these people; part of your new publicity team?”
“They’re helping us put this place together, and in return, we let them live here. They have nothing to do with the statement.”
Alyssa nods. “Well, I’m sorry I didn’t respond earlier. I was orbiting a black hole. Those things slow down time, did you know that?”
“I did,” Leona confirms.
“Well, I wasn’t there long, but apparently I was.”
“What were you doing there?”
Alyssa keeps her mouth shut.
Leona breathes deeply through her nose. “Very well. Would you be willing to help us with an issue that we have?”
“I can try. What is it?”
“Angela will be returning soon, and if she doesn’t drink all of the immortality waters soon, Marie is going to die. Now, we had Tarboda go out and scoop up some Bermuda Triangle water. It’’s just water. There is no temporal energy in it.”
Alyssa nods. “Because the Omega Gyroscope is suppressing it.”
“That’s right. It would be incredibly helpful if you could...turn them back on for us, and then teleport us to each location, so we can procure the samples we need to save Marie’s life. Otherwise, everything that the two of them did after Marie was attacked with a DNA bomb will have pretty much been a waste of time.”
Alyssa closes her eyes to think. She desperately wants to help her friends, but nothing she does can interfere with what her brainwashing demands, and it is not always obvious where the boundaries are. She sometimes has to sort of…ask herself about it. She doesn’t realize that she’s been holding her breath too. She gasps for air. “I’m sorry, I can’t do it. I want to, I hope you believe me. I just...”
“It won’t let you,” Leona says. “I get it. Which is why we’re gonna help you.”
Mateo creeps up behind her, and injects her with a powerful sedative.
Alyssa wakes up strapped to a chair. She can’t move her head. It’s strapped against the headrest. She reaches up to feel.”
“Don’t, don’t, don’t,” Leona urges softly.
Alyssa tries to turn to face her, but she can’t even do that, so she just moves her eyes, but it’s not enough. She looks to her other side. Mateo is in her field of vision. He’s wearing a bracelet attached to a wire, which is connected to Alyssa’s wrist. “Is that the Livewire?” she questions.
“Yes,” Leona’s voice comes again from behind.
“You’re going to force me out of my body?”
“Absolutely not,” she replies. “If you should suddenly get the urge to teleport away, the wire should allow my husband to travel with you. It’s just a precaution.”
“Could y—could you step in front of me, so I can actually look you in the eye when I’m talking to you?”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that. Mateo?” Leona asks.
Mateo reaches over somewhere behind Alyssa, and comes back with a tablet. He holds it so she can see. There’s a video showing someone performing brain surgery. “Can you see okay? I think the brightness isn’t all the way up.”
“What is this? Why are you showing me this?”
“That’s you,” Leona replies. “That’s your brain.”
“You cut open my brain?!” Alyssa exclaims.
“Not me,” Leona answers. “I’m holding the camera, and the scope. A neurosurgeon is handling the actual surgery.”
“And what exactly is the purpose of this?”
“Well,” Leona begins. “While you’ve been swimming in black holes, Mateo has had his hands full with the ship—”
“The ship? Which ship?”
“Oh, you didn’t know that the Superscraper was a ship? Hm. Well, it is. Anyway, I’ve been dealing with the public in that regard, Heath’s been trying to find Dalton—”
“Heath is trying to find Dalton?”
“Yes. Would you please stop interrupting me? You don’t want me to poke your brain, do you? As I was saying, Tarboda is handling transportation, so everyone’s been pretty busy. I had Vearden look into your history, since he’s not really doing anything while he sits by Arcadia’s bedside. Turns out, you had surgery when you were a baby.”
“Yes, they had to remove a tiny benign tumor. It hasn’t been a problem since.”
It sounded like Leona was looking at something as the surgeon was digging around. “I don’t think they took something out. I think they put something in.”
Alyssa watches in horror as the surgeon separates a brain fold to reveal a black dot tucked inside. “What the fuck is that!?”

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