Wednesday, May 24, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: March 21, 2399

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Alyssa left for a few hours, claiming that she was going to ask Dalton to agree to a meeting with Team Matic. When she came back, she apologized for not being able to make it happen. He was apparently still upset with her for losing the Dilara Cane, and only maintains any sort of relationship with her because he still needs her to be in charge of the Omega Gyroscope. The good news is that Alyssa has so far been able to keep to her word. She didn’t leave the Superscraper ship after relaying the news, and spent the night here. She had a lot of work to do before, but most of that is over now. Things should be working on their own without requiring constant attention.
“Thank you for trying,” Mateo says to her during breakfast. “I’m not sure I said that to you yesterday.”
“I’m sorry for how I behaved. That’s not me.”
“It literally wasn’t. Don’t worry about it. We’ve all done stuff like that. Ramses sacrificed himself out of his guilt for what he had done. Don’t let that happen to you. We’re a team, and we can get through anything. Together,” he adds.
She smiles. “Where’s Leona.”
“She’s getting ready.”
“Ready for what?”
“For our response to Dalton.”
“Hmm. What response would that be?”
Leona walks into the kitchen in her Shabatica best. She’s wearing a pretty floral dress that shows off her figure, but isn’t revealing or distracting. Her hair’s been done up all nice, and she’s wearing a modest amount of concealer makeup. “You told me to not wear blackface, so I’m not.”
Mateo shakes her head. “I still think it’s going to work. They just need to see what you can do.”
“Who needs to see what she can do?” Alyssa questions nervously.
“The Meeting House,” Leona replies. “I’m going to reveal myself as an illusionist.”
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
“You’re right. I hadn’t given it any thought. I’m just doing this on a whim.”
“I thought we were friends again now,” Alyssa says.
“That’s how I talk to my friends sometimes. You’ll learn.”
“She’s anxious about it,” Mateo tries to explain. “It’s kind of a big deal.”
“It’s not that big of a deal,” Leona says dismissively. “People already saw this building appear out of nowhere magically. They just need some details.”
“She’s too anxious to be honest with herself about it,” Mateo adds.
“That may be, but do you think your remarks are helping?” Leona asks him.
“What exactly is the purpose of this?” Alyssa asks.
“Do you think that Dalton would change his mind if you asked about us again?”
“That’s why.” His initial reaction was totally predictable. She didn’t think that he would go for it. If Dalton wanted to talk to them, he would have shown up anytime in the last year. This was just a wave hello. It was pleasant. It was nice. He’s going to wish he had answered it. The next move might hurt a bit. He’s the god here, and if someone makes an appearance, claiming to be just as powerful, that would cause quite a stir.
“I don’t understand,” Alyssa admits.
“We want his attention,” Mateo elaborates. “We’ll get it.”
“Are we not worried about the repercussions?” Alyssa presses. “The side effects?”
“It’s like the man said,” Leona begins, “they’ve already seen the building. If a house had appeared out of nowhere, we could have chalked it up to a magic trick. But a gigantic spaceship that’s taller than any building in the world by a hundred meters? In the middle of downtown New York City? Try explaining that away. The secret is out, and even if it wasn’t, it soon will be. The world is about to be destroyed, and everyone here is going to need to be moved to an entirely new universe. We have a term for that in the main sequence. It’s called The Edge, and it marks the year when everything changes. I think it was off by a few months, because this is happening, and it’s happening soon.”
“Okay,” Alyssa decides. “You do you. Can I come, though?”
“Absolutely,” answers a voice in the doorway.
“Imani Pettis, meet our good friend, Alyssa McIver. Alyssa, Imani.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” Imani says, stepping into the room, followed by Heath.
“Likewise,” Alyssa returns.
“Do I look okay?” Leona straightens her dress at the hips.
“You look perfectly acceptable,” Imani says, but she doesn’t sound happy.
“Oh, no. What’s wrong?” Mateo asks.
“I’ve been praying on it, and I don’t think this is a good idea anymore.”
“To be quite frank,” Leona begins, which is never the best way for her to start a comment to someone of which she is asking a favor. “Assuming Dalton is a real god who can hear your prayers, he’s the one we are trying to summon. If he doesn’t want to be summoned, of course he’s going to tell you that we shouldn’t do it.”
“First of all,” Imani replies, “Dalton is not a god. He’s a leader, and his power is undeniable. Secondly, what Dalton would want is paramount. If he doesn’t want to come, that is his prerogative, and nothing we do can alter it. Especially not you, since you are an unbeliever. That is why I’m allowing you to do this, because if he appears, our prayers will have been answered in that regard. If he turns out to be a fraud, then we will welcome this revelation, because it will be the truth, and the entire purpose of our religion is to seek the truth. That brings me back to my final point, which is that I’m not canceling your appearance. I’m merely postponing it. I was worried about it before, because it was such short notice. I realized that it will be better for us to do it on Friday. That will give us time to spread the news, and for people to make arrangements.”
“Oh,” Leona says. “Thank you.”
“Plus,” Imani continues, “we only broadcast services for the occasional very special event, usually to turn unbelievers such as yourself towards the light. We need time to test the system before we do that, because it has been some time.”
Leona lowers her head. “This was very thoughtful of you,” she says contritely. “I apologize for my outburst.”
“It’s quite all right. I would ask you, however, if you could...maybe...?”
“Show you again?” Leona guesses.
“If it’s not asking too much,” Imani says, uncharacteristically shyly.
“I’ve been practicing.” Leona winks at Alyssa. A beam of light shoots out of her chest, followed by another, and many more. She’s a humanoid beacon of light, and then she’s just the light. When it recedes, she’s made herself look like a growing oak tree.

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