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Thursday, January 12, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: November 9, 2398

It’s just Mateo and Alyssa now. Winona came back down to the surface of Earth as well, but she has her own life with SD6, so she’s more of an honorary member of the team. Mateo used his temporary teleporting powers to jump them down to Kansas City, where the two true team members stayed in The Bridgette. It was a little weird for them, but fine. They made it work. This morning, Vearden called from space to ask them for a favor. He and Arcadia were approved for the house in the suburbs that they want to buy. The only thing pending that can’t be done over the phone is the home inspection. They want someone there to observe the process in person, so that’s where they are now.
“This is a beautiful vehicle ya got there,” the inspector says when they meet in the driveway. He immediately seems salty and talkative, and he clearly has an aversion to personal hygiene. Perhaps he’s a Suilien, like those people in the hospital who were being purified by their rivals. Or he’s given up on life, and he’s faking it through forced cheerfulness. Or maybe he was just in a hurry this morning.
“Oh, yeah, it’s a company car,” Mateo explains. It’s not entirely a lie.
Car is a bit of a weak word, don’t you think?” The inspector caresses the outer hull with his grubby little hand. My car can’t fly.”
“Oh, if it did, you couldn’t ever drive anything else again,” Mateo muses, trying to play the part of the friendly suburbanite. “It would get you to your jobs faster.”
The inspector looks at his watch, and frowns. “I’m not late,” he insists.
Awkward. “No, I—I’m not saying that you were, I was just...”
“Ah, I got you! You’re too easy, my friend. What’s your name, brother?”
“Mateo. Mateo Gelen.” He was about to say his real last name, but then he thought that it would be best not to go around declaring any possible connection to the infamous Leona Matic. It’s still not yet safe.
Alyssa shakes the man’s hand next. “Alyssa...” she begins, and they can both see her struggling to think of a fake name too. “...Gelen.”
Okay, that’s okay. Mateo can work with that. He smiles, reaches behind her back to her opposite shoulder, and pulls her closer.
He smirks creepily. “See, I knew you and I had a lot in common. I like ‘em young too. You ol’ dog.” Then he howls. The man actually howls out loud. In front of people.
Mateo just clears his throat uncomfortably.
“Ha-ha, anyway, I’m Guthrie. Guthrie The Dog. Nah, they don’t call me that, but I’m tryin’ it out. Wadya think?”
“I think it...suits you.”
He takes it as a compliment. “Anyway, I better get to work, shouldn’t I? It’s like you said, I can’t fly to my other jobs.”
The rest of the day is just as inappropriate and uncomfortable. They’re happy to help, but this guy is a lot to deal with. They would rather be in charge of moving all of Arcadia and Vearden’s belongings, which they probably will have to do later. That is, if it’s ever safe enough for them to return to Earth. They have sure all been doing a lot of moving recently. It’s good, though, it makes them feel kind of normal. Packing and carrying boxes is the kind of thing that regular people do everyday without thinking about bombs, tactical teams, and spaceships. They just worry about men like Guthrie.

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