Sunday, September 3, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 20, 2411

Generated by Google Workspace Labs text-to-image AI software
After their nemesis left them, probably trying to instill mysterious fear in their hearts, identityless stormtroopers kept guard over them for the entire day. If they were on the right side of things, they would be wearing red shirts. The fact that there were so many of them, and they were all armed, implied that there was some way to escape. At first, Mateo, Leona, and Olimpia let the bad guys hold onto their advantage. They had the numbers, this could not be denied, and they may have all been true believers in whatever cause this was, but they didn’t love each other like the three prisoners did. They seemed to be from different realities, and weren’t too terribly organized. Who was in charge was a big question, because while it seemed like the angry dude from the Fifth Division, the troopers didn’t give them the impression that they even knew anything about the guy. In fact, it was possible that no one was in charge, but this was a random collection of everyone who fought for the cause, and happened to be on main sequence Earth at the time.
After a while of sitting around, Mateo decided to take a risk. He and the girls didn’t ever speak out loud. They communicated with their feelings, doing their best to convey their intentions and thoughts through startling shifts in emotion, as well as a few sly macroexpressions. He teleported himself out of the room, directly on the other side of the guards standing in the entryway. They flipped out, but he was too fast for them. He teleported again, and again, and a few more times. Each time he landed, he took note of more information regarding the layout of this underground lair. It didn’t appear to be too large but he only stuck to one level. He was looking for an elevator, or even the stairs, but he didn’t really want to let on that all he was doing was building a map in his head. He wanted it to look like a genuine escape attempt. He mostly just wanted to be sure that he could teleport at all. The power suppressors were preventing them from leaving the lair, but they could evidently jump wherever they wanted within its walls. Before anyone caught him, he was back in the first chamber.
That was when the nemesis came back. “What exactly did that accomplish?”
“I may or may not have been counting your numbers,” Mateo lied. “And I may or may not have been checking to see how responsive they were to a threat. No comment.”
“You can’t say no comment after you make a comment, you idiot.”
“That’s why you’re over there, and I’m stuck in here.” Mateo has found that, even when someone thinks that they’re not susceptible to flattery, they are. Even when they know someone else is trying to stroke their ego, they’ll fall for it. They’ll fall for it every time. That doesn’t mean the manipulator will be able to turn their target into an obedient zombie, but it always moves the needle. It’s always worth a shot.
He scoffed. “We’ll double it—no, we’ll triple it.” He looked down at his wrist. “You’ll be gone in a few hours, and you won’t come back for a year. We’ll have that entire time to increase our numbers, and build the craziest prison you’ve ever seen. This entire place will be covered in monkey bars.”
“Monkey bars?” Leona questioned.
He chuckled. “Monkey bars. That is my design. Even if you teleport out of this chamber, you’ll be caught in a metal net, somewhere in the hallway. Sure, maybe you can start slithering your way through them like the snakes that you are, but you won’t get far before someone with a gun finds you. You could try to teleport again, but how confident are you that you won’t twist your ankle between two bars, or even rematerialize with one going through your neck?”
“Sounds like you have this all figured out,” Olimpia mused.
“I think of everything. You can’t get past me.” He sighed, and walked away. “Guns up at all times. If they disappear, and it’s not midnight...?” He looked back over his shoulder for dramatic effect. “Find them again, and shoot them in the kneecaps.”
“Sure,” one of the guards said. He didn’t say, yes sir. Yeah, he wasn’t really their boss. They were humoring more than anything. But the monkey bars. Those will be real.
Once he was gone, the prisoners stepped deeper into the room, and started exchanging emotions. Mateo slowly lifted his chin, and looked up. At the same time, he forced himself to express the feelings of being high, and elevated in the sense of euphoria. Then he shifted to boredom and fatigue while bouncing his head from side to side, like one might do while walking up the stairs. To the guards, these gestures meant nothing, but to the three of them, they were the first vocabulary of a new language.
Leona took a moment to interpret his meaning, then nodded slightly with her eyes shut. She echoed the boredom and fatigue with her own bounces. They would take the stairs. She added the feeling of falling, followed immediately by shock. They weren’t going to walk two kilometers up the stairs. They would teleport all the way up, using line of sight to better see where they were going, which wasn’t something they would be able to do in an elevator. Even in the shaft, they wouldn’t know where they could land.
The two of them looked to Olimpia, who nodded back. She understood the plan. There wasn’t really any to translate monkey bars into an emotion, so she carefully pantomimed grabbing onto objects one hand at a time, and also itched at her armpit.
Mateo nodded as he was tapping on his wrist. He held up five fingers, then dropped them one by one. After zero, he suddenly opened his hand again, and nodded more deliberately. This was a timing issue. The guards took their watches, and started lying about what time it was, hoping to stop them from using their jump to the future as an advantage, like they did with a past prison break. But it was futile. These bodies always knew how far midnight was. Now that the plan was set, they stepped farther from each other to wait out the day. As midnight approached, the guards became more agitated, checking their own watches more and more frequently, so if the team didn’t already know exactly when it was time to execute the plan, they could gauge by that.
Seconds before go-time, the guards tensed up their weapons, and drew nearer, terribly afraid of what they were about to do, and thinking that there was any way to stop it. There wasn’t. Mateo stood in the middle, and held hands with Leona and Olimpia on either side. He was the obvious navigator, so there was no reason to have communicated that beforehand. Five, four, three, two, one, jump. They were in the staircase. None of the guards was around, but they would have immediately noticed that the time jumpers never returned to the timestream. An alarm began to blare.
“Can you feel that?” Mateo asked.
“Yeah,” Leona said. “You got the timing right. We could have jumped just before midnight, or just after, but if we had waited until after, we wouldn’t have gotten through this wall.” Their time powers were gone. They were no longer able to teleport.
“I don’t know if it’s right. We’re still stuck,” Mateo reasoned.
“We can’t jump—can’t jump,” Olimpia said through her time echo affliction, which she was forced to revert to when they stole her Cassidy cuff, “but we can jump—we can jump.”
Leona did the math. “Two kilometers. Each flight is three meters tall, which means fifteen steps per. If we jump to each landing, that means skipping seven steps at a time, which is doable for us, but that’s still over thirteen hundred physical jumps.”
“I’m not suggesting we skip seven steps. I’m suggesting we skip all of them. It’ll be less like jumping, and more like climbing.
They all looked up as far as their vision could see through the space between the flights of stairs. Mateo sighed. “These substrates are brand new. I have all the energy this body holds right now. I think we can do it.”
They started to hear people rush into the stairwell from other levels. “We better go now.” She took a few steps back on the landing, then ran forward and dove up to the railing. She swung herself around, and landed on the nex railing. But she never stopped. She held onto her momentum, and kept swinging around, and around, and around. Olimpia went next, followed by Mateo. They would occasionally lose their momentum to kick a guard in the face, so they would just start again, and get it back right away.
This didn’t last forever. The guards eventually wised up, and just took the elevator far enough above the team’s location. Then they packed themselves in like sardines, and created a blockade on level 345. There were countless mooks before them, all wearing black, and multiplying like Agent Smiths. The Fifth Divisioner walked up to them from below. “Did you really think that this would work? That’s why we chose somewhere so deep. You can’t get out. You should have given up on the first step.”
Olimpia looked at her friends, and conveyed the feeling of overwhelmingness while she massaged her throat. Another benefit to Ramses’ upgrades was the ability to simply switch off their hearing. Most animals never evolved the ability to do this, because it would be unadvantageous to not be able to detect danger when not looking at it, or sensing it in any other way. But that wasn’t a problem for them. Olimpia faced the Fifth Divisioner. “You should have let me keep my cuff,” she said rather quietly.
He couldn’t quite hear that. “What?”
“You should have let me keep my...” she repeated, increasing the volume with each word, but waiting for the last one until she could build up the energy that she needed. This was when Mateo and Leona shut off their hearing, but they could read her lips as she turned back to the blockade, and screamed, “cuff!” with enough force to knock them into each other, and burst their eardrums. They pawed at their ears, but there was no stopping the sound. It reverberated up and down the stairwell, hitting everyone not on the right side of a door. It bounced off the walls, and continued to attack, even when Olimpia was no longer expelling the syllable. They took this opportunity to turn, and head down one-half flight, knocking the Fifth Divisioner down the other half as he struggled against the sonic weapon as well.
Mateo opened the door, and shuffled the ladies inside. They ran down the hallway, pushed the button, and then took the elevator to the surface. From there, they teleported to one of the arcologies in Chile, which was a random location that none of them had any prior ties to. They found a courtesy phone in the atrium, and contacted the Dante. Ramses, Angela, Marie, and Constance were still in the middle of planning the rescue mission. They burst moded themselves away from Earth, then darkbursted themselves a little bit before making a stop on a random asteroid in the inner belt to regroup. Even with this inconvenient detour, they still needed to locate the second Earth Nexus. Constance thought that she may have that figured out.

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