Monday, May 8, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: March 5, 2399

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Their new rocket pilot, Hemi has been trying to get as far away from Earth as possible, but they can’t seem to get far enough. Leona keeps resurfacing in Mateo’s brain, but then disappears again within minutes. He’s glad to know that she’s still there and alive, but he can’t hold onto her consciousness. She can’t say much while she’s active, but she’s been able to deduce that the Omega Gyroscope’s range is growing. It’s not doing so spontaneously, though. The math doesn’t work out. Based on how long Alyssa has been the Gyroscope’s new little keeper, it should have spread far beyond the current orbit by now if it had been moving outwards at the same pace that it is exhibiting now. Her conclusion is that it moves as the ship moves into higher orbits. Or rather, it’s Mateo. As he moves outwards himself, the bubble expands to compensate. He will never get far enough away from Earth to escape it; not permanently, anyway.
“Stop!” Leona orders upon her next return. “Don’t go into a higher orbit!”
“We’ve already stopped,” Mateo informs her. He’s speaking out loud for the both of us. He drops his sunglasses down every time that she’s in the driver’s seat.
Leona breathes a sigh of relief. “Oh, good. We can’t let this thing get out any farther. People could die.”
“We need you,” Mateo isn’t arguing that it’s not risky to keep going, but they have to go at least a little higher, or they may never get Leona back. He understands that other people’s lives are at stake here, but it’s worth it. He thinks so anyway.
“I’m sorry, it’s just not going to happen. I’m about to lose you, but I wanted to tell you one last time...were I you.”
“Were I you,” Mateo echoes. “Hello? Hello?” He closes his eyes in sadness. She’s already gone. That wasn’t much time. It was the shortest moment yet.
“Forgive my ignorance,” Hemi pries, “but what is the danger in continuing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to get you to do it. I think I just don’t have all the facts.”
“The...superpower blocker—I guess I’ll call it—is reacting to me. It doesn’t matter how far out we go, it will always catch up. Now, I may be able to teleport away from it, and give myself more time, but then what am I gonna do? Besides, that could place us too close to our friends, who are already out here.” This hypothetical bubble will eventually reach the AOC, which could have terrible consequences. Marie is Angela's duplicate, and she may pop out of existence, for all they know. If they’re the cause, they have to minimize the damage as much as possible. “We can’t let that happen.”
“Maybe if we go back towards Earth, the bubble will shrink?” Heath suggests, not sure if it makes him sound like a total idiot, or not.
“It’s not entirely implausible,” Mateo replies, channeling Leona’s spirit without actually being able to communicate with her at the moment. “I suppose I could imagine that the Gyroscope wants to conserve energy, and really only wants to focus on where there are people to control.”
“Hmm,” Tarboda utters.
“What?” Mateo asks.
“No, nothing. It’s not a solution. I just thought of something. Go on.”
“You can teleport yourself?” Hemi asks. “Like all on your own?”
“Yes, as long as I’m not in this stupid bubble,” Mateo replies.
Hemi starts thinking about it. “How much can you take with you? Can you do it with a vacuum suit? Can you take a whole ship?”
“Definitely not the whole rocket. Yeah, I could take a suit, but I couldn’t take both me, and Leona’s suit, and the equipment I’ll need to transfer her mind out of me.”
“What about a tent? It’s thin and light.”
“Do you have a tent, because yeah, one of the first things we learned when we became time travelers is that tents will jump with us.”
“Of course I do.” He reaches under the command console, and pulls out a large pack. He tears something off the back of it. “This will protect you in the vacuum. Normally, you wouldn’t have long to open it up, and get in, then inject yourself with medicine before your eyes pop out, but we can set it up in here, right?”
“Yeah. That will fit me and my wife’s new body?” Mateo asks.
“Sure will. Not too much else, but absolutely,” Hemi replies.
It was an overstatement to say that they were going to set it up. He just releases the tent. It opens on its own, and seals itself up. They reopen it, and place what they needed inside, including Alyssa’s vacant body, the Insulator of Life, and the Livewire. Mateo doesn’t really know how to operate these things, but none of this works unless Leona is awake anyway.
Against Leona’s orders, Hemi navigates the rocket into a higher orbit. As soon as Mateo senses that his temporal abilities and bioenhancements have returned, he tells him to stop. Despite Leona’s protests, Mateo teleports himself as far as he can without risking getting too close to the location of the AOC, the distance of which he only has a rough idea of.
“What are you doing?” Leona questions.
“I’m trying to save your life,” Mateo replies as he’s getting the Insulator and Livewire ready, though he doesn’t think they have any use for the former in this situation. “Now, you can either make this work while we still have time, or we can argue about it, and waste this opportunity.”
Leona growls. “Let me drive.”
“Are you gonna get into Alyssa’s body?”
“Yes, now let me drive.”
“Okay.” Mateo relinquishes control of his body.
Leona places one end of the Livewire in Alyssa’s hand, and takes hold of the other. She reaches over to the portable power source, and prepares to plug it in. “It might try to take hold of you. Don’t let it. Fight it, Mateo. Only my consciousness is meant to transmit down the wire. Fight it.”
She plugs it in.
She was right. He can feel electricity surge through his body, and also somehow his mind, like he’s also imagining it at the same time. To combat the pull, he decides to imagine himself holding onto the railing of a balcony, desperately trying not to fall into the void below.
Leona appears next to him, also holding onto the railing. She’s not putting as much effort into it, though. “See you on the other side.” She lets go, and falls. It works.
They float there in the middle of interlunar space for a bit until Hemi comes by to pick them up. Before they enter the rocket, they leave a little present outside.

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