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Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: June 20, 2398

They took it slow. Marie first drove them into a more rural area of Germany, then had to return the controls to Ramses, so he could fly them over some of Eastern Europe, taking a little bit of a scenic route to avoid Czechian airspace. When they landed in Ukraine, they drove to the nearest dock, and floated for a little bit until submerging, and going the rest of the way through the Black Sea underwater. They reached the shores of Türkiye at around 4:00 in the morning on June 19. They weren’t at a port, though, because then they would have to register as visitors. To sneak in, they arrived at the most underpopulated area they could find, and performed a little trick.
The Olimpia can’t just transition from water to ground seamlessly. It has to roll up a ramp, and of course, that ramp has to be big and sturdy enough to accommodate it. That wouldn’t work here, so they needed a work around. In aircraft mode, it’s best to fly up as fast as possible. Vertical take-off and hovering takes a lot more energy than a normal runway launch, and forward propulsion, because it’s not drawing in ambient air to power it, among other reasons. But they can spend some fuel to make this happen, allowing them to essentially hop out of the water, and land on the road. They can’t fly as high as they would during a real trip, because then radar could spot them. Again, it’s not ideal, but necessary in this situation to meet their objective. They had to get into Türkiye undetected, and make it most of the way across the country, also undetected.
They hid in dense vegetation most of the day, but didn’t feel compelled to wait until nightfall, because they wouldn’t reach any street cameras until about halfway into this leg. Now it’s 4:00 in the morning again, and it’s time to get a sample of this Death water, hoping that it can do what Ramses believes. If not, they’ll just travel to Croatia via the Mediterranean Sea. They’ll actually probably head that way while he works.
“Hurry up, and get what you need,” Marie whispers. “This area opens to visitors in about two and a half hours, but who knows when a staff member might show up to...I dunno, pick up trash, or whatever?”
Ramses drops his bag on the ground, generating a clanking sound.
“Shh,” she whispers loudly to him. “What is in there?”
“This.” He pulls out a metal tank that’s probably large enough to fit five gallons.
“What the hell is that?” Mateo questions.
“Do I have to answer that for you, or is it rhetorical?”
“I thought you only needed a tiny sample,” Marie complains.
“We only need a sample,” Ramses agrees, “but we don’t want to come back here in the future, do we? While we’re at it, we might as well stock up. I don’t now how useful this stuff could become.” He dips it in the pool, and lets it fill up.
“It’s poison,” Marie reminds him.
“Well, I don’t plan on using it for that. If we happened to be in the Atacama Desert instead, I would take as much as I could of Body water.”
“What does Body water do?” Marie asks.
“No one knows.” As Ramses is lifting the tank up, and holding it while Mateo screws on the lid, they hear a commotion nearby.
All of the sudden, a strike team descends upon them, flaghlights and firearms drawn. A figure of authority, face still blocked by shadow, steps closer to the trio. “Is this it?” the forger, Winona Honeycutt’s voice asks. “Is this what gives you your power?”
“You’re going to spark an international incident if you try to take it,” Marie says, stepping towards her.
“It looks like you’re taking it,” Winona replies.
“We were thirsty.” Ramses struggles to lift the tank up to his mouth, then partakes when Mateo steadies it for him. If his theory is correct, it shouldn’t be poisonous without some good old fashioned temporal energy.
“Hand it over,” Winona demands.
Mateo screws the lid back on, and begins to place it in the bag.
“I said, hand it over,” she repeats more earnestly.
“Remember how I told you we would do anything to protect ourselves and each other?” Mateo asks her.
“Stabbing yourself isn’t gonna help you this time,” Winona explains. “We have a medic on standby right here, and our own doctor back on the plane.”
“I don’t intend to stab myself. I’m reminding you that you’re out of your league.”
“My dear,” Winona begins. “It is you who is out of his league. My father and I are playing chess, while you’re playing checkers.”
Mateo chuckles. “Then neither of us can win. We’re not using the same pieces. We’re not even on the same game board. Your advantage is an illusion.”
“My advantage looks like a battery of guns,” she counters, indicating her people.
That’s true, Mateo is really just stalling, and it sounds like he and Ramses did so for as long as necessary. They hear an explosion in the distance. Lights fill the sky. Everyone looks over to find more explosions, and more lights. Someone has set up a fireworks show. It’s incredibly odd timing. In any reality, he would assume it was a cognizant friend, or even a future version of himself, creating a diversion, but here, it must just be a coincidence.
Whatever the cause, it’s enough. Mateo feels himself being pulled over the edge of the pool, and into the water. A surge of energy overwhelms his body, and snaps him away, delivering him to the ground beside the Olimpia.
A woman comes around the corner holding a gun. “Stop right there!”
Marie stands up, and hits her in the forehead—not like a boxer, but with the precision of a grasshopper. She falls to the ground, unconscious. She stands with her friends for half a moment. “No jokes about how fitting it was for a woman to get into a fight with another woman.”
Fight?” Mateo echoes. “That was a savage takedown.”
“We gotta go.” Ramses opens the door, and climbs in, followed by Marie and Mateo. “Hey, Olimpia, engage Escape Pattern Alpha.”
“Acknowledged. Initiating.” The plane takes off, and heads for the dark skies.
“How did we teleport?” Marie asks.
I’m the one who teleported,” Ramses answers her. He shows them a syringe. “This is why I’m confident I can make the abortion bullet—”
“Don’t call it that.”
“I’ve figured out how to synthesize temporal energy,” he continues. “It’s only temporary, so I could inject you two too, but I think I have a better idea.”

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