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Saturday, May 20, 2023

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: March 17, 2399

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Leona has finally come back to the Superscraper after spending days at Homes for Humankind, working on something big. She even made a short trip to Haiti without even telling Mateo about it. She hasn’t given any details regarding their plans, but Mateo has briefed her on what he and the volunteers discovered as they were exploring the sublevels. She wanted to see it for herself, of course. She is particularly interested in the fusion reactor on the very lowest level. She stares for a few minutes, not vocalizing her thoughts. Then she walks over to it, and starts opening panels and hatches. She presses a few buttons, and flips some switches too. When she’s satisfied, she brushes the dust off her hands, and walks back over. “It is more interesting than you thought.”
“Why’s that?”
She points. “See that over there, that collection of tubes?”
“Yeah. Kind of looks like an organ.”
“It’s part of a cooling system.”
“Sounds reasonable to me. Fire hot. Fire burn,” he says like a caveman.
She smirks knowingly. “Let’s go back upstairs. I need to test something.”
They take the elevator up. Leona stops on the main floor, and opens the door to a maintenance closet. She looks around a little bit before finding what she’s looking for, which is apparently a large metal pipe. She smacks it against her other hand to test its strength, then they get back into the elevator to go up a few more floors. She doesn’t say a word this entire time. Mateo doesn’t think she’s going to hurt anyone with it, but he’s very confused, and a little nervous. She usually likes to explain herself along the way.
They get out on the fourth floor, and walk into a random unit. It’s not being used by any of the people they took in. Still silent, Leona pulls the pipe into a backswing, and sends it straight into the window as hard as she can. It’s not too hard, because she never played baseball, or works out, but it should have done at least a little damage. There is not a mark on it. Also silent, Mateo reaches out. She hands him the pipe, and he takes his own shot. Nothing. Impenetrable. “What does this tell us?” he asks.
She takes back the pipe, and hits the glass again, like a pickaxe this time, and not with all of her might. She feels the seams with her fingers, and looks closely at them. “Does this kind of window remind you of anything? Like, when you think back to the times you’ve encountered one that appears to be indestructible, were you in an office building, or were something else?”
Puzzled, Mateo winces, and tries to think. “I mean, they’ve always been like that when I’ve been on ships?” He shakes his head tightly, and widens his eyes. He looks around at the room that they’re in, and slides his palm on the walls. “This is a ship?”
“I think so. In fact, I think that it’s just a giant evacuation vessel. They built them to replace the original arcologies in the main sequence during Project Airtight, but we never saw them. The whole planet could be evacuated in a matter of hours, if need be.”
“Leona, one of our new friends did the math. If some lived up top, and some below, a million people could fit. How many would you need to save literally everyone?”
“At a million per ship, that’s about eight thousand, just like this one.”
Mateo gazes out the window. “Is that possible? Do you think more exist?”
She sighs and watches the sun set upon the city. “That...would be crazy.”

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