Monday, June 5, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 2, 2399

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Leona is in the Third Rail, knowing full well that Trina is not going to like it. Well, they didn’t give her a way to contact the Keys and Keyholders that are living in that white pocket dimension, so if they want to file a formal complaint, they can figure out how to do it, and let her know. As it turns out, Mithridates was completely right. After the initial shock of millions of people all over the world suddenly developing time powers, patterns, and afflictions wore off, the Global Council held an emergency meeting. It was decided that everyone exhibiting temporally unusual signs and symptoms would need to report to their local government offices. It wasn’t a done deal yet, but it was looking like they were intending to round everybody up, and stick them in protective custody somewhere until they could figure out what to do with them. Leona’s independent nation of Arvazna may indeed have a very specific purpose. The refugees already living in the Superscraper could find the place to be pretty crowded soon.
Leona is trying to keep in the loop with what’s going on with everything, but so far, the U.S. is the only government cooperating with her and her requests, because she has a preexisting relationship with them. While Senator Morton awaits further orders, he’s actually been incredibly helpful in this regard. He’s outed himself to the world as just another one of these weird time people, and no one has had the time to investigate his claims in particular since there are so many others to deal with.
She’s getting a call from one of the other parallel realities. It’s from the Parallel. “Hello? Can you hear me?” Tarboda asks. “Is this thing working?
“It’s working. I read you five by five,” Leona answers. “Is this important? I’m a little busy at the moment.”
I assure you that it’s vastly more important than whatever it is you’re doing. I have someone here who says he knows you, and he also says that if you don’t come talk to him, my whole planet is going to be destroyed.
Argh! Leona actually doesn’t know too many people from the Parallel, but she can’t say she’s a fan of that reality, as a general rule. “Okay, I’ll be there in a minute.” She turns the dial on her device accordingly, and transitions over.
Ramses is standing next to Tarboda and Fairpoint. “Thank you for coming.”
“Report,” Leona says plainly.
“I’m the Ramses that lives here, in case you didn’t realize,” he begins. “I’m a powerful leader here, but I am not omnipotent, nor universally revered. I experience political opposition, and other obstacles.”
“Cool story, bro. Get to the point,” Leona urges.
“A vast army is planning an assault on your reality, the Third Rail.”
“Why?” she asks.
“Because you stole every single weapon in the entire universe capable of killing more than a few dozen people,” Parallel!Ramses explains.
Leona just stares at him. “What the fuck are you talking about?”
“We don’t know how you did it, but you did it,” Parallel!Ramses goes on, “and various scientific groups were able to trace the destination. You probably thought they wouldn’t be able to, which was not a crazy notion. It took them a long time to figure out, but now that they know, there is no stopping them. Not even I can prevent the attack.”
“Ramses, I can honestly say that I have no clue what happened to your weapons. It wasn’t me, and if they were anywhere near Earth, I would know about it. There are quadrillions and quadrillions of people living here, which I imagine amounts to an unholy amount of weaponry. That’s not exactly something I could hide in my basement.”
“There were fewer weapons than you may have guessed,” Parallel!Ramses says. “We do not fight with each other. We only prepare for outside attacks.”
“If there weren’t too many, then why don’t you just manufacture more?” she asks.
“They’ve tried,” he clarifies. “They get stolen too. Time, right?”
Leona takes a deep breath in, and holds it there for a moment before letting it out. “If the weapons are gone, how do they intend to attack?”
“They’ll dispatch unmanned ships to act as relativistic kill missiles,” Parallel!Ramses answers. “They’re not technically weapons, which is why whatever you used to accomplish this feat did not take them as well.”
“I told you, I had nothing to do with this. Wait.” Leona looks down and away to think. “There may be an answer to this.” She looks at her transitioning device. “He can’t hide from me anymore.” She looks back up to Parallel!Ramses. “Can you stall them?”
He nods. “I’m already doing it. There are some legal hurdles before they can transition to other realities, but those will not stop them forever.”
“I just need to find some answers. I promise you, Ramses, I have far too much on my plate to even consider executing a plan to take your wee guns away. But I’ll tell you this—and you can relay it to your little buddies—the Third Rail will defend itself, and I’ll serve as the spearhead, if I have to. I’m certain that this vast army is severely underestimating the forces at my disposal.”
“Are you just posturing?”
Leona turns the dial. “No.” She jumps back to the Third Rail.
She’s standing before Dalton Hawk, who is sitting on a hammock, enjoying a bowl of fruit, like a cliché. “Madam Matic! How did you find me?”
She waved her hands in front of her chest, and whispered, “magic.”
“Want some raspberries? They’re really good for you.”
“I would have thought that you would be freaking out right now. All time powers have been unleashed in the Third Rail.”
He laughs. “I know. It’s great, right?”
“This is what you wanted all along?”
“All part of the plan.”
“Everything you’ve done up until this point has been in opposition to this situation. You’ve been suppressing temporal manipulation in all its forms.”
“Or is that just what I wanted you to think?”
“Explain,” Leona demands.
Dalton struggles to get out of the hammock, and set his bowl down on the table at the same time. He notices that she doesn’t budge to help him. “No, it’s all right.”
She just clears her throat.
He makes it back down to the ground, and adjusts his clothes. “Let me tell you a little story.”
Leona can practically feel the flashback trying to take over. “No, I don’t wanna hear your life story. Just tell me what you want, and why it appears to be the opposite from what you wanted before.”
“You’re bossy.”
“I’m the boss.”
“Fair enough. But this will require some background information, or nothing I say will make any sense.” He waits for her to protest, and when she doesn’t, he goes on. “As you know, temporal energy explains why some people have time powers, patterns, or whatever. The thing is, though, everyone has access to temporal energy. If they didn’t they literally wouldn’t exist. When you met Alyssa, you discovered that she was born with her ability to generate illusions, but she had spent all of her life without the ability to tap into that gift. You changed that when you gave her the energy to process. There was a reason you were able to do that. Danica could have turned off all special temporal energy, and left just what people needed to exist from one second to another. Instead, she left certain sources available, like the immortality waters, to relieve the pressure.
“If she had stopped it all up, and the Omega Gyroscope failed, what happened the other day would have happened without my help, and of course, she didn’t want that. I did. Well, I mean, I didn’t want all that death, destruction, mayhem, but it was a necessary evil. The Gyroscope is good at bending, but it does have a breaking point, and I had to reach that, so I employed Alyssa to modify it to halt all special temporal energy, and when Cheyenne was born, she released it all at once with a force so powerful, the dam burst. Now not even the Gyroscope can put things back as they were.”
“And why do you want people with powers?” Leona asked.
“Why did you come to me today?”
“The Parallel. They’re coming to attack this planet.”
“That’s why.”
“Why, what? You want people with powers to fight against them?”
“If that’s what it takes. Someone, or someones out there can protect this version of Earth. Aldona’s orbital defense grid will be great for the Reality Wars, but not this. These people aren’t ready. The world needs heroes. Over.”
“They won’t have time to figure out what they are. They won’t have time to train,” Leona argues. “You took too long.”
“Oh, they’ll have time,” Dalton replies confidently. “They’ll have more than enough time.”
“How? A time bubble?”
“You get them all into that giant ship of yours, and I’ll teach them everything they need to know, and I’ll take however long I need.”
“So, you built it?”
He shakes his head. “No, I don’t know where it came from, but it’s yours, ain’t it? So let’s use it to do some good.”
Leona scowls at him and seethes. For the most part, they don’t want to give the antagonist what they want. If the team can find another way, they should. She once again has to take a detour from her work, but it must be different than the other times she broke Trina’s rule to only focus on the Keys. This has to qualify. The Reality Wars are supposed to start after the Reconvergence. And that will never happen if these rogue Parallelers kill everyone in the Third Reality first, including Cheyenne. Let's just say that that’s who Leona is protecting. And hey, a whole planet gets to reap the benefits. Bonus. “I’m not going to help you do anything. You could have brought me and my team on this, and made things a whole lot easier. Now I have to clean up this mess myself, like I always do. You can choke on those grapes for all I care.”

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