Chapter Fifteen: Travel

We got out of the weird invisible plane in China. It was the first time I had been outside the US. Though, to be fair, there weren't many places worth visiting outside the US.

Most of the old Roman ruins and Medieval castles of the European Union had been buried beneath a constant flood of new architecture, which was commissioned every time one of its child nations had money problems.

The tree-huggers had won in South America, declaring the whole continent a protected rainforest. A bioterrorist gene-spliced poison dart frog poison into the mosquitoes there to ensure no more loggers would come. Every year the United States sent an unmanned probe to the old cities to see what would happen if nature took back over. That broadcast got almost as many viewers as the Superbowl commercials, which had been condensed into a single hour-long block before the game so that nobody had to have their viewing pleasure disrupted by guys in bright colors jumping at each other.

Even though global warming had made Antarctica livable years earlier, there wasn't much to see there. All the architecture was short to deal with the intense winds, and most of the people who were willing to relocate to a country with more penguins per capita than people were... Well, they were people like me. And I honestly wasn't a huge fan of people like me, which is why, back before this whole thing started, I was spending most of my time investing in fantasy.

I almost went to Australia once, but it wasn't for a visit. Australia had been reverted to a penal colony again, and most of the world's prisoners grew most of the world's food supply there. I was almost sent there for drugs a few years earlier, but I got off on a plea bargain by selling out my dealer. If he ever saw me again, I had no doubt, he would kill me on the spot. Which was exactly the sort of reason we sent all our prisoners off to an island.

Actually, Africa was supposed to be a nice place to vacation. But I had a phobia of lions so I avoided the whole continent, to be safe.

Then there was the Great Glass Desert, which had once been where all the terrorists lived. The ruins were supposed to be a thing of beauty, but I head heard that it wasn't great for sightseeing since you had to wear radiation suits and those things got hot in the desert sun.

And the anarcho-Marxist state of China – which included all the pacific islands, the cold north lands that used to be Russia, and everything West from there until the European Union – just wasn't a big fan of US visitors.

Plus, I didn't get out much.

* * *

“So this is China?” I asked, looking around as I tried not to trip on the invisible hull I had just exited. “I always expected it to be more... foreign.”

“It's the media romanticization of the Orient,” said Aphrodyke. “Even so many years after Said's Orientalism, all you see on TV is the Great Wall and the Yellow Mountains. But in actuality China is more technologically advanced than even the United States. Since they acquired Japan Nation/Corp a few years back they've been producing most of the new technologies. In fact, every piece of Ada except the parts I made myself are imported from here.”

“Think they'll accept my citizenship?” joked Ada.

“Actually, if Marxist anarchists had such a thing, they probably would. When China defederated, they were forward thinking enough to provide full rights to autonomous artificial beings.”

“What about to international fugitive terrorist traitors?” I asked, hopeful.

“They don't practice extradition, if that is what you are asking,” Aphrodyke replied. “But you'd probably be on the fast road to a clandestine death camp. Nobody knows who the Takers are, but everyone knows they exist, and they surely watch the news.”

“The Takers? Really? Are they from an old Shyamalan flick? That name is stupid.”

“The name is stupid, perhaps, but due to China being officially anarchist, the Takers are able to operate completely outside UN agreements. Though it has long been suspected that Mia Mao, a woman whose ancestry traces to both Chairman Mao and Thomas Edison is secretly governing this nation, there is no proof that the Takers are anything other than a secretive terrorist organization. Therefore, they are able to do whatever they like. Furthermore, Mao has been known as a cutthroat businesswoman, whose acquisition tactics are so aggressive that competing CEOs frequently end up missing. And right now Ada is the most technologically advanced object on the planet, making us direct competitors to their digital stranglehold. Therefore, we will be spending as little time in this country as possible.”

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