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Sunday, December 10, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 4, 2425

Generated by Google Workspace Labs text-to-image Duet AI software
Mateo woke up in incredible pain. There was something jammed into his waist, and up his spine. He tried to reach back there to feel for it, but it was hard to contort his arms into the correct angle. He was face down in the dirt. While it was more difficult to breathe than it should be in this upgraded body, it balanced out to being about normal for a regular human. He shut his eyes and reached out to his team. He could feel them all, and thought they were pretty close by. He struggled to turn his head, and was able to see them lying next to him. Most of them were beginning to stir, and he could finally see what was wrong with them. There were huge weights upon all of them. No, two weights each; literal balls and chains. He should be able to sit up if he just pushed them off of his back. He had to roll them a few times to build momentum, but they came off. Now that he was free, he could start to recover, and rebuild his strength. The sun was coming up on whatever planet this was, so he could use that to refuel his energy.
The rest of the team was able to do the same, and as the sky grew brighter, they gained more information about where they were. It was a desert, with structures scattered about, including what looked like the entrance to a mine. People were gloomily walking towards it with gear. No one was paying the six of them any mind. After an hour, they were strong enough to stand. “How much do these weigh?” Mateo asked.
“Over 200 kilograms,” Leona answered, swinging one around by the chain, careful not to let it crash into her leg. “That’s equal to the mass of roughly three people.”
“Which means we can’t teleport them with us,” Angela noted. Unless there was something special about them, a teleporter could only transport two extra people with them. Some people couldn’t even take that many. It didn’t seem tied to strength, or even the weight of the travelers. It was just kind of a vague arbitrary limit. One could push themselves to carry just a little bit more, but not quite this much more. Whoever placed these belts on them knew what they were up against.
“Okay, but why can’t I just teleport out of the belt?” Olimpia asked.
“It’s fused to your spine,” said a stranger. He walked up to them coolly. “A crude solution, but it works, doesn’t it? We do not have the technology to suppress temporal powers here, so this was our best option.”
“The solution to what problem?” Leona questioned. She made a step towards him. She was strong enough to drag the weights behind her, but it wasn’t pleasant. “What do you have against us?”
The man rolled his eyes. “Ours is a caste-based society. The rich pay the poor to do their work, and if they can swing it, the poor force someone else to do it instead. Over the years, forced labor has gone away after a number of unfortunate slave uprisings. It’s not what you think, though. They weren’t elevated to higher castes. They had to be killed for their ingratitude, but that means there are no more slaves now. Well, there weren’t. Last year, you brought us thousands of able-bodied men and women to fill that void once more. Thank you so much for that. As I believe the Earthans say...no take-backs.”
“Hence the weights,” Leona said. “You know that if we can teleport, we can decimate your system, and free the slaves ourselves without any of them dying.”
He nodded. “We are well aware of who you are, Mrs. Matic. You have all been famous for millennia. As time travelers, you could have shown up at any point in our history, so every child is taught to fear you.”
“The children should not fear us,” Mateo pointed out. “Only the adults.”
“Quite,” the slavedriver agreed.
They were never able to get the chains off the entire day. It appeared that no one wanted anything to do with the team. They just left them to the elements the whole time. No one came by with food or water. They were seemingly trying to let them die without having to get any blood on their hands. They pretty much just sat there with nothing to keep them busy. There was one more hope, and they didn’t even have to work for it. Midnight hit, and the team jumped forward an Earthan year. They left the weights behind. They were bloody and hurt, but the injuries from having the weights ripped out of their bodies would heal. They could not necessarily say the same thing for the people what done this to them.
The Welriosians had to be slaves for yet another year while the team was gone again, but there was nothing they could do to undo that travesty. All they could do was fix it now. It was time to show these people how right they were to fear Team Matic. They approached a few passersby who weren’t dressed well, but also weren’t working, suggesting that they were the impoverished slaveowners that the man was talking about last year. They were all so fearful of helping, so they had to try a few people, but they finally learned where the head of the snake rested. They teleported up to what was literally an ivory tower. Well, it was white, anyway. The guards put up a fight, but they did not have firearms, and the team could always teleport away before their blades could get anywhere close to drawing blood.
The boss of this world was just called The Monarchy. “You have no right!”
You have no right!” Leona shouted right back to him. “Let them go! Let them all go!” she demanded.
“This is how our system is built,” the Monarchy defended. “You came to our world. We didn’t ask you to do that, but we took you in. All of our slaves are well-housed and well-fed. Now, we understand that you six are special, which is why we have no plans on enslaving you as well, but I will not allow you to interfere with our way of life.”
She pursed her lips to consider their options. She looked over at another man. “Are you second in command?”
The other guy’s eyes darted towards the Monarchy.
“Don’t look at him. Look at me. Are you next in line?”
“I am.”
“I am ordering you to free the slaves.”
“I do not have such power,” he answered with a shake of his head.
“You will.” Leona took the Monarchy by the shoulders, and teleported away. She returned a few minutes later, soaking wet, and smelling of salt.
“What did you do with him?” the new Monarchy asked. “Did you drown him?”
“He’s alive...but he won’t be making any decisions from now on. “I suggest you do not make the same mistakes that he did. There’s plenty of room on that island. I can do this all day.”
Afraid, the new Monarchy breathed deeply. “It’s true, you could do whatever you please all day, but no longer than that. I am willing to free the slaves. I honestly don’t care who does the work, just as long as it gets done.”
“And I don’t care about how your society works. I’m not here to blow up your shit. If you let the Welriosians go, we won’t have a problem. We’ll leave, and you’ll be free to continue on from there.”
“But that’s just it,” the new Monarchy continued. “Perhaps you will one day be able to leave, but what about those Welriosians? I will not live forever. I could lose power tomorrow, and my successor could spend the next year undoing what you ordered me to do. Can you take 11,0000 people with you? I mean no disrespect, I’m just trying to explain the risks here.”
“How far spread out are you over this planet?” Leona asked him.
“Not far,” he replied. “There are a few hundred million of us on this continent.”
“What about on other continents?”
“I wouldn’t know, sir. We are all slaves here, who answer to a greater power. It is possible that there are others elsewhere of which we would not be cognizant. Our technology is deliberately suppressed.”
She almost felt bad for him. She turned to Ramses. “You’re better at lasting in orbit. I have trouble seeing while I’m up there. Would you please scout for us?”
“Sure, boss.” He teleported away just after Angela took him by the hand to go along with him.
Meanwhile, Leona tilted her chin, and the rest of the team could tell that she was doing math in her head. “It should only take us about an hour to ferry everyone to wherever they’re going. The only reason we didn’t do that during the evacuation of the bunkers is because there were so many nooks and crannies, and it was very cramped in some places. If we can organize the slaves into one wide open space, this should be easy.” She looked back at the new Monarchy. “You’ll need to do that for us as well.”
“It will take us longer to organize and gather all of them then it will be for you to transport them to wherever it is you decide, sir,” the new Monarchy explained.
“Then you better start now. We’ll give you 22 hours, but earlier would be in your best interests; believe you me.”
“Right away, sir.” They didn’t love that he was treating them with such high regard, because it was clearly because he feared them, but it had to be this way to get stuff done. They were fine playing the part of gods among ants.
Ramses and Angela returned a few minutes later to recruit help from Olimpia and Mateo. They had spotted a sufficiently-sized land mass, but they still needed to make sure that it was safe enough for the Welriosians to live on. Ramses happened to have an edibility testing device with him, so he taught Olimpia how to use it. Over the course of the next half a day, she tested as many fruits and roots as she could in the immediate area, but there would not be enough time for them to check everything available. They would leave it with the refugees so they could take care of it themselves while the team was unavailable. While Mateo and Angela were scouting the immediate area to make sure there weren’t any other dangers lurking, like dinosaurs or unstable ground, Ramses programmed a nanoexcavator to start building the Welriosians a place for them to live that was out of the elements. It was just going to be a really simple artificial cave, but it would take care of them until they could build their own shelters throughout the next year. They were going to take whatever supplies and other resources they needed from the natives too, and just hope that it would be enough.
All of this had to get done in a matter of hours, because Team Matic was going to disappear at the end of today. There was nothing they could do to stop that, but it didn’t look like anyone here had spaceships, or even airplanes, so the Welriosians should be safe...for now. Life wasn’t going to be easy, but it wasn’t easy where they were living before. The real danger came from out there. This planet here was being controlled and used by the empire that reigned over this region of the galaxy. Representatives could arrive at any time in their own ships, and who knows how they would react to this development? Perhaps they already knew, and someone was on their way. The new Monarchy claimed that no one in the Goldilocks Corridor had FTL capabilities, except for the prime world, which no one here had ever been alive to encounter. They were a mysterious super-ruling class which may or may not exist anymore. If Bronach Oaksent was the true master of all, though, his capital planet probably was still in power, but was perhaps, busy with other things.
The team was doing the best they could with what they had, and now that they were completely shipless themselves, that wasn’t a whole lot. They never stopped working, scouting the area, testing the food, building the infrastructure, and coordinating the emancipations. There was so much, and it was impossible to make sure they had everyone in the time allotted. Mayor Merrick was still alive, and in possession of a full town census, but the priority was getting as many people to the new continent as possible. If that didn’t amount to everyone, the rest were just going to have to wait. They weren’t actually gods. “That’s not good enough,” Merrick complained.
“I’m sorry, it’s the best we can do.”
“No, I’m not blaming you, but we can’t just go hide under a rock, and hope that we all made it. We can take a new census while we’re there, but then what? It will be another year until you can ferry the missing, if we can even find them in another day.”
“What else can we do?” Marie asked. She was in charge of the gathering on this end. “You don’t want us to transport you somewhere closer, do you?”
“No. I want you to get my people as far from here as possible.” Merrick paused. “But some of us should stay behind. The strongest fighters, and I will make sure that none of these people hid one of my own somewhere in a basement, or something.”
Marie shook her head. “Far be it for us to tell you how to lead your people, but I’m not sure if I would feel comfortable deciding who has to stay.”
“I’ll get enough volunteers,” Merrick assured her. “I won’t need to force anyone. Sheriff Kamiński!”
The crowd parted so a man could step forward. “Right here, sir!”
“Organize a posse for me. Make it clear that it’s voluntary. I need ten to stay here for a year until the teleporters return. We’ll be responsible for finding any stragglers.”
“You shouldn’t do it,” Sheriff Kamiński insisted. “You need to be there to lead everyone else. Someone has to run a count, and then relay that information to us, so know who’s missing.” Everyone seemed to agree with that, that Merrick should be on the other continent, and they vocalized as much. “I’ll lead the posse from here. We will need a way to communicate, though.”
“We can handle that,” Marie clarified. She tapped on her own communicator. “Rambo, I need two spare comm discs.”
Coming right up.
Once the logistics were cleared up, all six members of Team Matic started to teleport the Welriosians once again, two by two. Three hours later, midnight central hit, and they jumped to the future. They were glad that the sheriff’s posse stayed behind. Over a hundred people were not emancipated when they were meant to be. This included Maqsud’s baby mama, Lilac, who was now safe in a building that they had seized. It was now called Fort Welrios. Her son, Aristotle, however, was still missing.

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