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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: Year 292,398 Part 2

Leona admires the stars for the next few seconds before shaking it off, and getting back to business. They could be in a lot of danger here. The Bridgette was designed to survive the vacuum of space, but that has yet to be properly tested. It was something that Ramses was meaning to do, but it would have required wearing a spacesuit as backup, and it was this whole thing. “Constance, report!”
All systems nominal,” the AI replies.
“All systems, really?”
Constance takes a moment. “Really.
“Thank you. Where are we?”
Unknown. Unable to calculate.
“I see a planet.” Marie points out the viewport. “It looks nothing like Earth.”
Leona sticks her face up against the glass. “That could still be Earth. Billions of years ago, it didn’t have water yet. Constance, please locate any and all satellites orbiting the celestial body along with us.”
Four objects of significant mass are currently orbiting the planet below,” Constance responds.
“So, definitely not Earth,” Marie assumes.
“Don’t be so hasty,” Leona tells her. “We don’t know what the solar system was like back then. Let’s try this. Constance, how far are we from the host star?”
We are currently located one hundred and forty-seven million kilometers from the host star.
“Hmm...can you be more exact?” Leona requests.
One hundred and forty-seven million, two hundred and sixteen thousand, one hundred and twenty kilometers.
Leona turns away, and starts talking mainly to herself. “The Earth was never that close. I mean, not once it was formed, and that world down there is fully formed. Wait, what’s the diameter of this planet?”
Six thousand, one hundred and eight kilometers.
“Similar to the size of Mars,” Leona notes, still to herself.
“So, it’s Mars,” Marie thinks.
Leona’s eyes widen. “Constance, find the other nearest massive celestial body.”
Another object is orbiting the host star at about the same distance as us, in the path of our object’s orbit.
“Holy shit.”
“What is it? Is it Mars? That doesn’t sound like Mars.”
“It’s Theia.”
“Theia Stendhal?”
Leona shakes her head. “That’s Téa. Theia is a planet.”
“I don’t remember learning that in school.”
“It doesn’t exist anymore. I mean...it won’t.” She points at the viewport, which is showing what the solar system looked like 4.5 billion years ago.
“What happens to it?” Marie questions.
Leona looks her straight in the eye. “It crashes into Earth. It’s what forms the moon. The hypothesis was right.”
“Are we gonna die?” Marie asks.
“No, Marie—” Leona stops herself, and sighs. “Maybe. I don’t know exactly when The Constant was built. It seems unlikely that it would have survived the giant impact, which suggests that it was built sometime after that happened, while the Earth was reforming-slash-recovering.”
“When exactly is the impact gonna happen? Can we wait it out?”
Leona can’t help but laugh. “At the earliest, millions of years.”
“So...no,” Marie jokes. “We have a teleporter, though. Isn’t Earth our best hope?”
“Well, let me do the math. The Bridgette has a teleportation range of about 13,000 kilometers per jump. We can make maybe a dozen jumps before we run out of temporal energy...”
“Is that enough?”
Leona is a bit surprised. “Sorry, I thought that math was easier to figure. We’re around 10,000 jumps too short. We should have brought the AOC.”
Teleporting to destination,” Constance suddenly announces, completely unprompted.
“What, why?”
They jump before Constance can respond, and find themselves floating in the middle of an Olympic-size pool.
“Oh, crap. Go. Teleport, Marie, to the energy generation room. Go, go, go, go, go!”
Marie closes her eyes, but doesn’t go anywhere. “I can’t, I’m stuck.”
“I was afraid of this. This place must be able to control internal movement, as well as external intrusion. I don’t know as much about this place as I would like.”
The doors to the pool open, and a figure comes towards them, which they quickly recognize as none other than Danica Matic. She takes out a megaphone. “Please exit the vehicle with your hands up!”
“Is she serious?” Marie asks.
“She is right now.”
Leona opens the hatch, and waits. “Do you have, like, a raft, or maybe a ladder?”
“You can swim, can’t ya?”
“Goddammit,” Leona mutters. She sighs, and slips into the water. Then she swims over the edge and climbs out as Marie follows closely behind. “It’s so nice to see you!” she tells Danica in an incredibly passive-aggressive high-pitched voice.
Thanks!” Danica replies, matching her energy. “You just missed him!”
“Missed who?” Now apparently they can’t stop with the voice.
“Your husband, Mateo! He disappeared from a locked room, and funny thing, I don’t remember a thing that happened in there since I  closed the door behind us!”
“Did you check the cameras?”
“Oh, I forgot to do that, because I’m a total idiot!” She takes a beat. “They’ve all been erased!”
“Take me to that room, and I’ll look into it,” Leona offers, in a deeper, more genuine voice.
“No!” Danica has decided not to drop the voice yet. “You’re both going into stasis for a very long time! Congratu-frickin-lations!”

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