Saturday, June 3, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: March 31, 2399

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An interesting thing that Aldona and Erlendr learned is that they are capable of traversing the boundary between the domed over Kansas City, and the rest of the Fourth Quadrant. The only thing is that they have to do it together. They have to be touching each other in order to pass through the dimensional barrier. It’s sort of weird, after all this time, with so many people working on the problem, that the barrier remains. The man who built it is pretty powerful, and maybe only he can one day bring it down. He’s reportedly not been involved in any of this since he did it as a favor for a friend, and they don’t have time to try to find him now. It’s great that Aldona and Erlendr can do it, but that doesn’t help Leona. They can’t take anyone else through with them.
Leona originally assumed that the reality dial that Trina gave her would always jump her to the alternate version of wherever she happened to be at the time, but it seems that she can go wherever she long as it’s not the Kansas City bubble in the Fourth Quadrant. Anywhere in the galaxy but there. She may even be able to travel anywhere in the universe, but there has been no need for it so far. What she really needs is a way for her new task force to be able to reach out to her, and maybe even to each other. She wishes she had asked Trina about that, though she probably would have said that Leona is just meant to hop between realities regularly so nothing falls through the cracks. Team Keshida doesn’t have a solution for this either. The special bi-fold and tri-fold mirrors can do it, but that’s not enough to go around.
“Talk to my son.” Erlendr is on the other side of the barrier, while Aldona is discussing matters with the presidents. He can’t come back through to Leona’s side, but they can communicate using the interdimensional radios that Ramses designed. They only work between the Third Rail and Fourth Quadrant since they’re so close together.
“Zeferino? Do you know where he is in the main sequence?”
Erlendr shakes his head slowly. “Not him. My other son, I know you met him.”
“You mean Jupiter? You can’t call him your son.”
“No.” He sighs. “The other, other one.”
“Mithridates.” Leona didn’t want to say anything that she wasn’t supposed to.
“He has a way to reach across realities. I don’t know how, but he knows things.”
“Yeah. He can reach further than that.” Leona takes her reality transitioner out.
“One more thing,” Erlendr says when he sees her prepare to leave. “I know that you and I don’t get along, but we’re on the same page here. I wanted to create a perfect reality, and now it’s happening.”
“The Sixth Key is not perfect,” she argues. “Even if I knew absolutely nothing about it other than that it existed, I would know that. There is no such thing. You should understand that better than anyone. Either way, do your job.” She turns the dial.
She thought it was going to take some time to find the long-lost Preston, but Mithri happens to be hanging out with Winona and the Fifth Divisioner by Earth’s one oasis. They’re enjoying each other’s company. Well, the two of them are. Winona looks uncomfortable as hell, but she’s trying not to rock the boat.
“Thank god,” she mutters under her breath. She stands up, and places her lips against Leona’s ear as they hug. “Can you get me out of here?”
“I really can’t. I think it’ll be a lot worse if you try to leave. I may be able to bring someone else here to sort of...make this easier to deal with, however.”
“Enough hugging!” Mithri exclaims. “Come have a drink with me and Hamilton!”
“Hamilton?” Leona questions. “Your name is Hamilton? Surname, or given?”
The man who tried to kill her not two months ago stands up, and presents his hand to shake. “Hamilton Burr, Madame. What are your orders?”
“Oh my God, this reality is so weird.” She shakes off the bit of silly trivia. “I don’t need to talk to you. I need him.” She points to Mithri.
“What can I do for ya?”
“Number one...what is your stake in this? Do you know what’s happening?”
Mithri smiles, and looks around behind him as if there’s something to see but barren desert. “Why do you think I was building that Hyperalpha Collapsis?”
“I don’t think you can take it with you into the Sixth Key.”
Mithri smirks at her. “Yeah, I can.”
“Bottom line it for me. Are you going to help us, or hurt us?”
“Oh, I’ll definitely help,” he assures her.
“Great. Then I need inter-reality communication technology. Your father thinks you have it, and you’ve mentioned things you know regarding other universes.”
Mithri scowls now. “Don’t ever listen to what my father tries to tell you.”
“Answer the question,” Leona demands.
He sighs. “In this case, he’s right. I do have such technology, but it’s not what you think. You can’t chat with whomever you want. They need their own devices, or it’s only one way. And unfortunately, I only have the one. I can spy on anyone, but they can’t talk back. I’ve never needed them to.”
“Give it to me. I’ll make it work,” she tells him.
“I believe it.” Mithri turns around, and enters his little hut.
Leona looks over at Winona, then at Hamilton Burr. “You there. I also need to communicate across vast distances within this reality as well.”
Hamilton pulls a device out of his pocket, and tosses it to her. “Call the operator, and tell it who you want to talk to, and which habitat they’re on.”
“I know how this works, thank you.”
“Leona!” Mithri calls out from inside. “You might wanna come look at this!”
Leona steps into the hut, and crosses to the other corner. She’s never been in here, but she would have expected this place to be bigger on the outside. He doesn’t live luxuriously, which is odd for a Preston. He’s got his hand on top of a box television set with all sorts of funky dials and buttons on the side. It’s retro-futuristic, and it seems to be showing the news. The reporter on it is discussing a mysterious bubble that spread all over the globe, and started making people disappear. “Which reality is this?”
“It’s the Third Rail,” Mithri says. “I think we’ve figured out the true purpose of that ship that someone built for you in New York.”
“How do you know about that? Ya know what, never mind. I can’t do anything to help with this. I’m meant to focus on the Keys, and nothing else.”
He smiles knowingly at her, but doesn’t speak.
His face says everything, though, and he’s right. Who decides what pertains to the Reconvergence, and what doesn’t? Trina and her band of Keys and Keyholders took people from her that she needs to help her get shit done. Then she remembers that she’s never followed the rules before, so why start now? She tosses him Hamilton’s communicator. “Ask Dilara Cassano to come here. I have to go.” She picks up the TV.

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