Saturday, August 13, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: June 10, 2398

Today’s the day. Half of the current team roster is going off on a long-term mission across Europe while the other half stays home to take care of things here. Ramses is in the driver’s seat of The Olimpia, while Heath’s regular car follows them down the road. Cars aren’t fully automated, but they can be programmed to stay on the exact same route as the vehicle ahead of them. It’s really just a fancy way of hitching it to the back. Flying cars such as this one are not commonplace, but they still need laws and regulations to operate safely. A driver can take it on any standard road, and float it in any publicly-accessible body of water, but flying is a lot more difficult. They’ll have to launch from an unpopulated area, and fly at a certain altitude, though very specific routes called market corridors. The more rural the area is under the vessel, the wider the corridor. Early versions had to take off from airstrips, but the more advanced ones are built with vertical take-off engines. So that wouldn’t be a problem, they mainly need to get far enough away from the city.
“Don’t we need to play rock, paper scissors?” Marie asks.
Heath stops midway up the steps. “”
“Ramses says he wants to sleep in the control area,” Mateo says, “and I can just use one of these little cubbies. You take the real bed, this isn’t a negotiation.”
“I don’t really like it up there,” Marie claims.
Heath just keeps carrying her bags up to the loft as Mateo chuckles. “Yeah, right.” He approaches her when he sees her frowning at him. “It’s okay for people to take care of you. I know that that was your job in the afterlife simulation, but surely you had your own counselor when you first died.”
“Yes, we did,” Angela confirms. “His name was Þorgeir.”
“I know that name,” Leona says, perking up. “Thor Thompson was named after him.”
“He’s in good company,” Angela decides. She returns her attention to her alternate self. “Take the loft. You know how much we hate to argue.”
Heath is already hanging her expandable shelf bag on the hook against the outside of the shower room wall. “Thank you,” she says to the group.
“We’re here!” Ramses shouts all the way from the front. They’re in the middle of nowhere outside Independence, facing the Missouri River. “It’s a beautiful day, and this is a beautiful area! Let’s all say our goodbyes before we lose the daylight!” He comes to a stop, turns the hazards on, and comes to the back.
“How long is the first leg?” Mateo asks him.
“That depends on exactly where we’re going,” Ramses answers.
Leona projects a map of their itinerary onto the lav door. The first stop on their fake vacation is Foggy Londontown. It occurs to Mateo that he still doesn’t really understand how the U.S. works in this reality, but he really doesn't know how other countries work. What might be waiting for them when they land? The entire island of the United Kingdom does not exist, for reasons they still don’t yet know. They’ll be investigating that in the coming few days. What they discovered is that a few small islands do indeed exist in the area where Great Britain should be, and they may hold answers. “Okay, the coordinate system is a little different here, which means it took some doing to draw from my own memory of main sequence geography, but I believe I’ve found the approximate location of Stonehenge, or rather the analog. Perhaps fittingly, if the mysterious rock formation existed here, it would be found at awaited.passively.landings. That’s my best guess.”
“Await-a-what?” Angela asks.
“The traditional numerical coordinate system was abandoned centuries ago, in favor of a lexical geocoding algorithm.”
“A-lexa-what?” Angela presses.
“A unique series of three random words are designated for a given square on the map, which can be shared and pinpointed using proprietary mapping software,” she says, which is just about as confusing. “For instance, where the Olimpia happens to be parked right now, we’re located at clashing.thrill.ultra.”
Ramses shows a nonchalant sort of pouty face. “I did that on purpose,” he jokes.
Leona rolls her eyes “Well, each square is three meters wide, and the vehicle is sixteen meters long, so where you were sitting up there is closer to yawned.nephew.custard.”
“Yeah,” Ramses insists, “I love custard.”
“Where am I?” Mateo asks, stepping towards the seats.
“You’re at telegrams.patch.card.”
“Where’s that tree?” Angela offers, pointing out the window.
“Uh, I believe culprit.triads.enrolling.”
“Where is” Mateo asks, trying to be cute.
Leona tries it. She even substitutes the word eye for I. “Doesn’t exist; not all word permutations do.”
“Oh,” Mateo is sad. “Well, what about—”
“You heard Ramses,” Heath interrupts. “You three better get going so you’re not flying too late at night. No more time for games.”
“Well,” Leona goes on, “based on this system, my calculations, and your most fuel-efficient cruising speed, you should arrive in about eleven hours.”
“Are we landing on an island?” Marie asks her.
“Well, awaited.passively.landings is in the middle of the water, but that’s probably for the best, and there’s a resort not too far from there, where Heath has two rooms booked for you. In fact, it will be past sunset by the time you get there, so you might just wanna check in, and head for the coordinates in the morning. It’s only a few hours away in boat mode. I believe that the island is where the city of Bristol should be.”
“Did the island sink?” Heath guesses. “Is your Bristol at a particularly high elevation?”
“Not that I can remember,” Angela answers. “The higher elevations were in Scotland. They called them the highlands.”
“Why do we need a resort if we have this?” Ramses asks, indicating the whole of the Olimpia.
“You’re on vacation,” Heath reminds him. “Try not to stand out. Do normal things, like hiking, and museuming. I didn’t make reservations for you, but there’s also a bike tour that goes all around that island, if you’re interested.”
They discuss a few more details, but it really is time for them to leave, so they make their farewells, and break in half. The away team uses the road as a runway, instead of doing a true VTO, to save on fuel, and disappears into the horizon.

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