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Monday, January 9, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: November 6, 2398

Ramses tries to deliver The Bridgette back to the park in New York, but it seems that Winona has managed to lock him out of all systems. That’s impressive. These Third Railers are more resourceful than he thought. He’ll have to remember that moving forward. He doesn’t like being surprised, or the one beholden to someone else. He’s always meant to be in control, and once he clears the override feature that Winona installed on this craft, he’ll get back to that. For now, he has to do what she says. They need their starship back, and this is the way they’re getting it. It’s not the first time their plans didn’t go as planned. They always figure out a workaround to the obstacles.
Winona sets her tablet on the console, and lets it sync with the Bridgette. “Constance, please navigate us to these coordinates in realspace.”
Prepare for liftoff,” the AI replies.
“I’m sorry I had to do that,” Winona says to Ramses. “I like Leona; I consider her one of my own. But I had to make a call. We will get her up into space, I promise you.”
“You can’t promise that,” Ramses says, “but I can. I can also promise you that getting on my team’s bad side never works out for people. You live in your own little reality, but we always win. You apologized with words, now do it through action.”
Winona nods. The computer beeps. She looks down at the console. “We’re here.” She activates the radio. “Amberjack, this is Pelican. Come in, Amberjack.”
Amberjack Actual here, go ahead.
“Permission to land and come aboard. Three visitors total, limited equipment.”
Permission granted.
“Constance, please land. Once we’re aboard the Amberjack, dive to a depth of thirty meters, and travel three hundred kilometers to the Northeast, avoiding detection along the way. Once there, resurface, launch, and return to base.”
Understood,” Constance replies.
She regards Ramses’ expression. “The Bridgette will be fully yours after today.”
“Clearly.”
They land the Bridgette, and board the sub. They’re surprised to see what must be a full crew waiting for them. It’s hard to walk through, there are so many people. They were to understand that there would only be a few left around, while the rest rested and relaxed in Bermuda. Winona and Executor Ongaro go into his office to have a chat about it. When they come out ten minutes later, Winona explains to Ramses and Alyssa that rumor spread about what kind of mission they were going on, and everyone wanted to be a part of it. She questioned why he didn’t just order them to go on shore leave, being the Executor and all. He claimed that his own curiosity made him feel like he couldn’t rob others of the opportunity. Bad leadership, if you ask Ramses, but nothing can be done about it now. They have already begun the dive.
By the time they reach the bottom, Ramses has started to receive a signal from the AOC. So not only is it close, but it’s on and operational. That’s good, it strongly suggests that life support is still active. Even if it’s not, it shouldn’t be too hard to re-engage it. Once they’re close enough, the sub’s lights shine upon the vessel. It’s sitting neatly on the ocean floor, right between two little rocky cliffs. Either it was damn lucky to have fallen right in the perfect spot, or the AI is still on, and navigated it well enough to protect hull integrity.
“Wow. This is yours?” one of the crewmen asks.
“Yes,” Ramses replies, not super happy about having all these eyes on his ship.
“It can fly to the stars?” another asks.
Ramses looks over to Winona. “You have some leaks to plug up.” He’s not referring to the sub, or the ship.
“A lot of people had to be read in for this, Winona defends.
“How do we dock with it?” Executor Ongaro asks them.
“We don’t.” And now for the hard part. There are more people here than Ramses was led to believe. Keeping the secret amongst a smaller group would have been easier, but they probably know enough already anyway. He’s just gonna teleport in, now that he has a target. “You have a torpedo room, right?”
Executor Ongaro laughs. “Yeah, but you’re not going to be able to fire one from there, if that’s what you’re thinking. That’s just where they’re loaded.”
“That’s not what I was thinking. I just need privacy. Can you give me that, or are we gonna have a problem?”
Ongaro sizes him up, but decides to agree. “That will be fine.” He doesn’t think there’s anything he can do in that room that they won’t be able to find out about.
The torpedo room offers them a plausible way off of the sub, and onto the AOC. It’s ridiculously impossible at this depth, but they will probably assume that Ramses used some kind of crazy supersoldier serum that allowed him to traverse the distance safely. What he won’t guess is that he can inject himself with a magical formula that will allow him to teleport over there without getting a single drop of water on him. Ongaro leads him down to the other side of the vessel, and shows him into the room, ordering the crew manning their stations to leave. He makes a mistake, though, when he accidentally looks up to the security camera in the corner. That’s fine, disabling basic surveillance is incredibly easy for Ramses with his trusty mission kit.
Winona closes the door behind them. “They’ll still be watching.”
“They’ll try.” Ramses presses the button on his signal scrambler, and shuts off the cameras and microphones. Then he places a magnetic lock on the door, in case going blind pisses them off enough to try to get back in here.
“You’re not going to try to stop me from coming with you?” Winona asks.
“I can’t leave you here with these warmongers,” Ramses tells her. “I’m mad at you right now, but we’ll get through this. That’s what it means to be on our team. Isn’t that what you want?”
“Yes.”
Ramses injects himself with the Existence Water. “Then hold onto me tightly.”
Both Alyssa and Winona take him in a bear hug, and let him transport them into the AOC. He was right, life support is fine. A cursory glance at the diagnostics screen shows that everything is fine. The hull did suffer a few scrapes on the way down, but it repaired itself without any prompting. Ramses takes out the data drive where he keeps the base code for the AI that he got from The Constant. He plugs it into a dataport, and uploads it as an upgrade. “Constance, can you hear me?”
Five by five,” Constance replies.
“Run full diagnostics on yourself, please.”
Once the perfect diagnostic finishes, Ramses says, “okay, then. Please teleport to the last New York coordinates where the Bridgette was.”

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