Tuesday, September 13, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: July 11, 2398

It wasn’t easy, but they were able to get The Olimpia moving. They weren’t traveling at normal cruising speed, but they were making decent time. Three days later, they can finally see land again. It’s exactly where Ramses said it would be. They have to get pretty close to see any sign of civilization, but it is there, just without any skyscrapers or roads. The people who live in Vertegen reportedly like the quiet life, far from the hustle and bustle of everywhere else, but they’re not completely cut off. There’s a radio tower. The team hasn’t been able to learn too much about them, only as much as the blurb on the map can tell them. Ramses is missing some key parts that were lost to the deep in the crash, and the communications system was damaged the most. It’s unclear who they would call, though, considering that their friends are all locked away in a penal colony, and Amir Hussain is hiding from the U.S. government. They would rather meet someone who can help get the Olimpia back in the air, but it’s not going to happen. That’s okay. They weren’t holding out hope for a mechanic who can work on a vehicle that quadruples as a car, boat, submarine, and airplane. They just need to contact someone who may be able to help, and as remote as this settlement is, they have that. But who can they trust?
The people of Vertegen are trying to speak to them in a language that they don’t recognize, let alone understand. They seem to be able to tell that the four of them are speaking English, but none of them understands that. Ever the counselor, Angela takes over the responsibility of fostering communication. She points to themselves—particularly their lips—and says, “English.” Then points to the local, and raises her eyebrows to suggest a question.
The local points to himself, and the crowd behind him, and says, “Rakripa.”
She nods. “Rakripa.” Now they’re getting somewhere.
They learn a few more things as their ambassador is showing them around. He picks up a cup, and says “pani.”
At first they think he’s just trying to teach them a few words, but then he keeps trying to give it to her, so she accepts, and drinks.
“What is it?” Mateo asks.
“It’s just water,” she answers. “It’s nice and cold, though.”
The man smiles, and hands her another cup. “Panijiben.”
“Panijiben,” Angela echoes. She accepts the drink as well.
He gives her one more cup or just plain water, which they all think is a little strange, but who are they to judge these people’s rituals?
He says, “momma” and hands Ramses a small lantern. It’s then that they realize these aren’t lessons, but gifts. This becomes clearer when he presents Mateo with a beautiful knife, and calls it a “kjuro” but much less clear when he smiles at Amir, opens his arms wide, and says, “keri.”
“Keri?” Angela tries to decipher the code.
“Keri, keri,” the man repeats enthusiastically, gesturing to Amir. He points at one of the tents, and says it again. He indicates the whole settlement one more time. “Keri.”
“Home,” Amir realizes. “He wants me to stay.” He turns to face the group. “I think I’m meant to be here.”

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