Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: March 7, 2399

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About a week ago, a building in the middle of Manhattan, New York City, New York appeared out of nowhere that the people are calling The Superscraper. It was national news, but no one on the team—nor anyone affiliated with them—was paying attention to anything going on in the world. Their own concerns overshadowed anything in the public view. Not even Winona was apprised of the situation, though her father has been closely monitoring this development. The government is not allowed to go in, though, because while the building is located within the borders of the United States, it’s not technically a part of it. It is a Microsovereignty. It is Leona’s Microsovereignty.
The building is unlike any other in the world. It’s more like something one might find in the main sequence, or the Parallel. The Fifth Division doesn’t really do planetary structure as most everyone lives in space, but they would be capable of such an architectural feat. It’s a thousand meters high, and 180 meters wide, which is about half the size of a standard main sequence arcology. Depending on how high the floors are, you could serve hundreds of thousands of people here, or more. Who built this, and why? Leona had the idea to do something like it at some point, but a whole lot of other stuff got in the way, particularly all of her death threats, so she abandoned the idea, and the Microsovereignty itself.
Mateo and Leona only know now that anything happened to this place because it’s where Alyssa wants to meet. The whole area has been cordoned off by the International Relations Bureau, which normally wouldn’t be responsible for such matters, but it’s one of few exceptions. The two of them were placed on a list, because Leona no longer looks like herself. If she had access to temporal energy, she might be able to create the illusion of her real face, but as it stands, Alyssa appears to be the only one with such power. That’s why she didn’t need to put herself on the list, because she’s made herself look like Leona.
The outside is incredibly impressive, and the inside is just as, though still barebones, unfurnished. Alyssa, who still looks like Leona, greets them in the lobby. “Thank you for coming.”
“Hm.” Leona has interacted with people who look exactly like her before. One of them, Arcadia isn’t even an alternate version of her. She’s not sure why she’s so unsettled by it, but she would prefer it if Alyssa turned it off.
Alyssa seems to sense this. “Oh, sorry about that.” She drops the illusion, and goes back to her own face, which is weird too, what with Leona also looking like that. Everything and everyone needs to go back to the way they were.
“Are you feeling any better, or are you still against us?” Mateo asks her.
“I was never against you,” Alyssa tries to argue. “I’m brainwashed. Now, I know what you’re gonna say, if I’m aware of that, why can’t I just counteract it?”
“Neither of us thinks it should be so easy,” Leona tells her. “The mind is complicated, and space and time travel adds an extra dimension to it, because who knows where the technology that did this to you comes from?”
“I certainly don’t,” Alyssa promises.
“What’s changed then? Why are we here?”
“I would like to make a proposal,” Alyssa begins. “If you agree to cease all attempts at bringing temporal energy back to this world, I will bestow one of you access to your bodily alterations so that you may use them at your discretion. I don’t care which, though I know which one of you I would choose.”
“We weren’t trying to bring back temporal energy,” Mateo contends. I had to get out of range so I could bring my wife back.”
“Yes, I understand that,” Alyssa says. “I sensed your escape, and I sensed the bubble rushing out to keep up with you. Before you get mad, I did not personally make that happen. I am the Gyroscope’s caretaker, not its master. It works as long as I don’t leave for 50,000 years. No, I’m not talking about that, you were poking at the bubble before, and you still are. It has nothing to do with your little space excursion.”
Mateo and Leona exchange a look to see if the other has any idea. “We have no clue what you’re talking about. All we’re doing is observing it.”
“Don’t lie to me,” Alyssa requests.
“We’re not lying. We came to this world without powers. Our only concerns are Angela and Marie, and what happens to them when they get back.”
“They will be afforded exceptions as well,” Alyssa says. “I want them both to live as much as you do.”
“If you can make an exception for them—” Mateo begins before Leona hushes him up with a short shake of her head.
“So you are poking the bubble?” Alyssa presses.
“No, we are not,” Leona explains. “He just likes to poke holes in people’s arguments. If you’ll make an exception for Angela and Marie, and do whatever you could to help Arcadia, we would be grateful.”
“What’s wrong with Arcadia has nothing to do with me,” Alyssa reveals. “I’m afraid I can’t help her, though I would. You’re all my friends. I still want to be part of the team. I just have other loyalties now.”
“We understand.”
“No, you don’t.”
“Yes, we do. We’ve been doing this a lot longer.”
Alyssa nods, agreeing to disagree. “Have you decided which of you will get their abilities back?”
“You’re still going to give that to us, even though we’re not...poking the bubble?”
Alyssa laughs. “I promised a gift, I’ll give you a gift. I suppose I should ask you to not poke the bubble, whether you have been doing it already or not.”
“Give it to her,” Mateo says of his wife. “She needs to look like herself.”
Alyssa regards Leona. “Is this amenable to you? You won’t be able to teleport.”
“I want this building,” Leona clarifies. Powers are great, but something tells her that this tiny little nation will soon be far more valuable than being able to jump around the globe a few hours faster. “Give me back my face.”
“Very well.” Alyssa reaches behind her back, and pulls out a cane with a giant-ass diamond at the top. It’s the Dilara Cane.
“Where the hell did you get that?” Leona questions.
“Dalton Hawke let me borrow it.”
“That is what sent us to this reality, did you know that?” Mateo asks.
“Hmm.” Alyssa examines the object. “He taught me how to make exceptions with it, and to maintain myself as an exception. He didn’t say anything about other realities.” She points it at Mateo. “Do you want I should send you back?”

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