Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: January 9, 2399

The AOC came this close to catching up with the Constant, and whatever is propelling it through space. It was moving away from its original coordinates at subfractional speeds, probably under the assumption that it would be able to hide itself away without using up too much power. Then, as soon as they detected Mateo, Ramses, and Alyssa’s pursuit it switched the engines on to maximum, and started to stay ahead of them. This is where they have remained since yesterday, with pretty much no hope for the team to overtake them. There’s no way for them to gain an advantage. The reframe engine moves the ship faster than light, but it’s still inextricably linked to the light speed barrier. The Constant apparently has access to this technology, thanks to Pryce himself, no doubt. What they really need is a true faster-than-light drive, though to be fair, if they had that, so would likely the Constant. It’s kind of weird that they don’t, to be honest. Team Keshida figured it out, which means it’s possible, so why didn’t the builders of the facility from deep into the future include a propulsion drive in the original design? They supposedly had multiple contingencies for everything else.
“Is there anything we can do?” Alyssa asks.
“Not unless they falter,” Rames replies. He’s on edge, like a real spaceship captain, even though there’s nothing for him to do. Constance is handling everything.
“Well, if they’re going—as you said—ninety-nine point nine-nine-nine-nine percent the speed of light, can we just tack on a seventh nine? Or hell, even a one would get us there eventually, right?”
“That’s not how it works,” Ramses tries to explain. There are no more decimal places. Adding even a one at the end would be close enough to the speed of light to break the laws of physics.”
“Don’t you break the laws of physics every day with your powers?”
“It’s my theory that all time travel is powered by vacuum energy, which—to simplify it greatly—operates at a level higher than the bounds of the universe, which means it does move faster than light. Our problem is that we don’t have the resources to truly harness its might. We have friends in the main sequence who cracked it, but their ship is gargantuan compared to ours, and I would need more time to study the technology if I wanted to replicate it.”
“Maybe there’s some other loophole?” Alyssa offers.
“There’s one,” Ramses says, “but it won’t work for us. We could theoretically teleport forwards while we’re still moving at reframe speeds, which will cover a little extra ground. Unfortunately, we’re too far from them. It would only have worked if we had caught up to within teleporter range before the max reframe chase began.”
Alyssa frowns, and looks down at the floor, hoping that her uneducated brain can come up with a solution that a super intelligent person wouldn’t think to try, because it’s just too simple. “When’s the last time you tried to call them?” she asks Mateo.
“Twenty minutes ago. They have their heart set on staying away from us.”
“Did you tell them that Leona isn’t here, so they don’t have to worry about her being able to take over?”
“They’re aware. My messages got through, they just aren’t responding anymore.”
Alyssa paces. “Why are they so afraid of us catching up? What did we do so wrong? I mean, I know you’ve had your issues, but from the sound of it, they’re using a lot of energy to keep us at bay.”
“Does seem irrational,” Ramses agrees. “We’re little threat to them.”
Alyssa narrows her eyes at Mateo. “Do you know who all is out there?”
“Besides everyone on the government rocket, Tamerlane, and Danica, anyone else could be there. The facility fits thousands, and could accommodate hundreds at least if they needed to spend the night.”
“Right.” She pauses. “Ramses, how many people have we still not yet found from your little brain scanner; the errors, I mean?”
“According to the last scan, there were three remaining errors. We just haven’t taken the time to look into them. Why?”
“These grave chambers,” she begins, “they can be jettisoned?”
“Umm...yeah. What are you getting at here?”
“She thinks there’s someone in the Constant who has been marked with the timonite,” Mateo finally realizes. “Danica doesn’t want me there, because I would make them disappear.”
“How would they have gotten up there?”
“I don’t know, but think about the math. There were eleven errors in total, including the guy from that other dimension, who didn’t always show up on the scans. Add him to Erlendr, Meredarchos-slash-Erlendr, the woman from Manila whose name I can’t remember, because we let her go...”
“Everest, Curtis, and Aquila-slash-Bhulan,” Ramses finishes. “There’s one missing. How could I have not noticed that?”
“You’ve been pretty busy,” Mateo comforts.
“Wait, did you ask about the grave chamber, because you want to jettison Mateo?” Ramses questions.
“Park him somewhere safe, and retrieve him later,” Alyssa suggests.
“That’s so dangerous,” Ramses argues. “We could get to the Constant, and then find ourselves being locked up in stasis for 10,000 years. The suspended animation tech we have in the grave chambers can’t last that long.”
“Leave him with your little remote thing,” Alyssa puts forth. “If we don’t return in X amount of time, he can replicate himself a new ship.”
“There’s not enough ambient temporal energy out here. The teleporter eats more than the reframe engine, but the reframe engine also requires antimatter, which is even more precious to us at the moment.”
“All the more reason we should stop fighting from behind, and try diplomacy again. It can’t hurt to ask,” Alyssa assumes.
“It can. Trust me, it can.”
“I’ll do it,” Mateo volunteers.
“Matthew, you don’t have—”
“I said I’ll do it.” He slides the door to grave chamber four open. “Now show me how to jettison myself.”
“Let’s not be hasty,” Ramses warns. “That may not be the issue, and even if it is, they may not accept the solution. Constance?”
Attempting to contact the Constant...again.

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