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Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: October 8, 2215

Vitalie was watching Mateo and Leona intently during breakfast, with a big smile on her face. Étude was there, but was notably less excited. Ramses was off doing apparent work somewhere, but that wasn’t fooling anyone. “We all know you’re going to reveal the ship after this, Vitalie. It’s not like it’s a secret.”
“Shh, don’t ruin the surprise,” Vitalie scolded.
“I just told you, it’s not a sur—”
“Hush, darling.”
“You don’t know the name of it,” Étude pointed out.
“That’s true,” Leona agreed.
“Now, you’re the one who actually built it, right?” Mateo asked. “What did Ram need to do then?”
“I could use my mother’s power to construct the frame and shell of the vessel, and I could bring in a few random pieces, like seats, but it’s Ram who you need to make it work. The jury is split about whether I could build the entire thing single-handedly if I had the technical expertise to do so. I’m not convinced, though. Some details are just too specific. I don’t use hardware, ya know. There is not even one screw on the parts that I built. If I want two pieces to connect to each other, I basically teleport them to the exact same point in space, which causes them to be merged.”
“You could kill someone like that,” Mateo noted, which may have been an inappropriate remark.
“I could.” Then she jerked her head and hands towards him, threateningly but jokingly. Still, it did cause him to flinch, and her to giggle. “But any teleporter or apporter can send someone to the bottom of the ocean, or the top of a cliff. Is object merging really any more dangerous than that?” Probably not.
“Are you finished?” Vitalie asked, just as excited as ever.
“No,” Leona said plainly.
“I’m ready,” Mateo said, wanting to stay in his new friends’ good graces.
Leona started eating real slow-like, just to irritate Vitalie. She finally had to be done, however, and the whole group went out to the hangar.
A thin sheet was draped over a vaguely gumdrop-shaped object that was maybe eight meters wide. Ramses was waiting for them at the top of a set of movable stairs. “Ladies and gentleman,” he announced, “I present to you...” He took a pair of hedge shears, and reached over to clip something at the very tip of the ship. The sheet slid off on all sides, exposing the vessel Mateo and Leona would be taking to Jungula, and probably later Earth. “The Ocasio-Cortez.” Beautiful. He offered the group to follow him through the airlock, so he could give them the tour. They were in a circular room with a oddly-shaped table in the center that was about two and a half meters wide. “It’s designed for six people, but you could fit twelve, if you were willing to pair up in the grave chambers.”
“Grave chambers?” Mateo questioned, worried.
Ram knelt down and slid open a hatch in the floor. “One meter deep with a king sized bed, and storage on the sides.”
“Little privacy,” Leona guessed.
“The floor is completely soundproof,” Étude explained as she stomped her feet demonstratively. “You could have a screaming match in one of those things, and nobody else would hear it.”
Ramses pointed to other parts of the floor. “There are six of them in total.”
“Do we need that many?” Mateo questioned.
“Might could be,” Ramses said, standing back up. “You’ll need at least two for now. Étude, Vitalie, offer still stands.”
“You’re really not coming?” Leona asked.
“We’re gonna stick around here,” Étude said. “I promise you and I will see each other again one day, though.”
“Who is your seer?” Leona asked, shaking her head.
“They prefer to remain totally anonymous. Not even other psychics are aware of this person, because they’re capable of shielding themselves. Danica is the only other one who knows about them, and they only revealed themselves to me because I saved their life once.”
“Well, we’re both going to miss you,” Mateo said sincerely. “This is a wonderful ship you’ve created for us.”
“It was inspired by an old show I watched when I was catching up on Earthan culture,” Vitalie said proudly.
Leona nodded understandingly. “Dollhouse.”
“Now that you’re back,” Ramses began as he was walking over to a computer terminal, “wanna run a final diagnostics check with me?”
“Definitely,” Leona answered. “I need to familiarize myself with the systems.”
“We procured magboots, but I’m hoping the temporal sharing gravity drive...” Ramses started explaining, leaving the other three to glaze over and get bored.
While Leona and Ramses were making sure the ship didn’t blow up when they tried to take off, Mateo filled the Ocasio-Cortez with homely belongings, as well as journey supplies. They didn’t have much with them anymore, but they didn’t need much. Vitalie was helping him.
“What are these tubey things filled with green bubbling water?”
“It’s algae,” Vitalie replied. “I think it produces oxygen, and feeds plants? I’m not sure how it works. You’re asking the wrong girl.”
“Well, then I’ll ask you something you would know. What are you going to do here on Doma?”
“We’re going to contribute positively to society.”
“Do you think you’ll ever go back home?”
“I lived on Durus, The Warren, and Earth, before coming here. I have no real home.”
“So, maybe this is it.”
“Maybe. Where will you go after Bungula?”
“That’s not up to me. It’s not up to either of us.”
“Ah yes, these mysterious powers that be.”
“Do you think you can fly a ship far enough away from them, so they can’t control you anymore? Durus was too far away at one point.”
“I don’t think it was too far away, Vitalie. I just think it was out of their jurisdiction, because other entities had power over it. Beyond that, though, I think the powers own the whole universe. Dardius is millions of lightyears away, and they still had us in their grasp.”
“That’s depressing.”
“You get used to it. There’s a level of peace, knowing that your decisions don’t matter that much anyway. It’s a lot harder to make mistakes, that’s for sure. You can always blame them.”
“Is that why people believe in God?”
“I wouldn’t know,” Mateo said. “I’m an atheist.”
She frowned, like she didn’t think that sounded correct.
“Well, Miss Crawville. Thanks for your help. I feel like I know you so well, since I have all of Leona’s memories. I’ll miss you.”
She nodded. “I won’t miss you. I don’t know you.” She smiled, because it really was half true.
“Watch out for centaurs.”
“Will do.”
Leona and Ramses were finished checking the systems just before lunch, so they all ate one last meal together. This time, everybody stalled, and let it go on for longer than it needed to. Eventually, however, they needed to get going, so the powers that be didn’t experience any confusion as to where they were meant to return come next year. They didn’t even need to lift off the ground, and escape the planet’s gravity, which was a nice bonus. Étude interfaced with the ship, enhanced her powers using technology that The Weaver had invented, and zapped them straight into orbit. Then she and Vitalie said their final goodbyes, and teleported back down to the surface.
Mateo then watched the two geniuses operate the Ocasio-Cortez, but could do nothing to help. It was a shame that Mateo absorbed so many of his wife’s memories, but none of her skills or knowledge. He was just as useless as he had ever been. If he had the time, he could become a pilot, which would be a logical extension of his experience as a driver, but it still required too much studying, and possibly a level of intelligence he would never possess.
“All right, it’ll be a few minutes before we reach escape velocity,” Ramses said, leaning back, and letting the artificial intelligence take over.
“Are you going to be all right alone for an entire year?” Mateo asked him.
“I won’t be here for an entire year,” he responded. The trip is only four months long.”
“Yeah, but won’t the planet be totally empty until very late next year?”
“That’s true, but I’ll be all right. I have plenty of entertainment, and I designed a paradise virtual reality to escape to.”
“What’s that like?”
“Private,” Ramses said. Okay.
“Captain Abdulrashid,” the computer said in a sexy Australian accent.
“There is someone at the door for you.”
They all looked up towards the airlock section.
“Not that door,” the computer clarified. “Grave chamber four.”
Mateo looked down at what he guessed the fourth grave chamber would be, but then he realized the other two were looking somewhere else, so he quickly followed suit. They seemed too afraid to check, so he decided to kneel down, and open it himself.
“You don’t know who—or what—is down there,” Leona warned.
Mateo scoffed. “They were probably sent here by the powers that be. It could be Saga, or Vearden.” He slid the hatch open, and was shocked by who he found there.
“Serif?” Leona asked.
“Help me up,” Serif asked.
Mateo took her by the hand, and lifted her out of, not the grave chamber, but a ladder in what looked like a library. Bigger on the inside, and all that. “You’re back.” He took her into a hug, and passionate kiss. “How?”
“One of the scientists who built the Crossover survived the suicide pact, and wanted to help all the humans who were stuck on Ansutah, so he built the Universe Bridge,” Serif said after escaping Mateo’s grip. She was then forced into Leona’s grip.
Mateo peeked into the library, where he saw about a dozen people, staring back at him. “We only have room for, maybe eight people? How many do you have?”
“Roughly eleven billion,” Serif answered. And she didn’t look like she was joking.

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