Chronicles of Chiron: Defragging Data Haven | Scene 14

“Anything in there about where people think stuff from the crash landed? Initial surveys?” Cleve asks Roze. “Anything that they’re so far just planning on recovering but we can go in there and swipe before they do?” 

“Yes, anything about Morgan Prospecting’s designs on our crash site?” I add.

“Ah, Morgan Prospecting…” Roze pulls up a flyer. “They’re hiring additional people for prospecting on Beetle Ridge. These coordinates…” They open another window on the monitor, showing something that looks very much like a subway map. It’s stylized, connecting place names with lines but lacking details on the topography. “These are the same coordinates as your cryopods.”

Map of the region. Made by our GM, Danielle.

“Can you tell if they’re already working there?” I ask. I’m pretty sure they are, but confirmation outside my dreams would be good.

“As best we know, they’re working, but they’ve been delayed. Don’t know why. Whether it’s that they’re having problems, or they found something… I don’t know. Maybe when they find a cryopod, they follow extra precautions.” Roze shrugs.

“¡Ay!” I throw up my hands, slipping them both into my curls as I spin away from the monitor to pace the small room, holding my head. “I hope they haven’t found our things already!” I groan.

“Yeah, Morgan Prospecting might be excavating all the gear at your landing site right now,” Roze says.

“So that may not be an option,” Cleve considers matter-of-factly.

I turn to face him. “We have to go there,” I insist. “Even if there’s nothing to recover of material benefit for Data Haven, I have to get the data from my cryobed. This trip has to happen. The data that is on my cryobed—I am not exaggerating—could change the way humans and Chiron coexist.”

“Well, they probably don’t know that,” Cleve observes, “so it probably isn’t a priority for them.”

Roze tsks. “Better make sure they don’t dismantle your cryopod for parts.”

“Then we’ll have to go after the hard drive,” I say.

“It’s so awful when someone erases data,” Roze reflects mournfully. They look up at Cleve. “I still have stuff from our Canadian Defensive War, old files.”

“That stuff’s ancient!” Cleve laughs.

I’m amazed they brought that here, but Roze insists one never knows when one might need such stuff. “Do you still know where all the mines are?” I ask, thinking of Cleve’s war story.

“Well, yeah. That was a cool program! And it’s come in handy a couple times, okay?”

Cleve gives Roze a consoling pat on the shoulder. “It’s been a while since new data has come into Data Haven, hasn’t it?” When he’s done with his chuckles, he gets right back to business. “So Beetle Ridge is where we’ll start. What about Dr. Citali’s folks… Daughters of…?”

“The Stepdaughters of Chiron,” I supply.

“Anything they might be interested in that Morgan’s got earmarked?”

Roze digs around in the data, and Cleve watches with satisfaction, enjoying seeing his friend have a good time. The news isn’t great. Morgan Industries is tracking the Stepdaughters of Chiron as foreign terrorists, a military-level threat. Now, no one around here has armies, but from the looks of things, Morgan Industries is developing that capability, working through the logistics. There’s been movement on the technological front, too. Their biosciences division is working on a new fungicide that is easier to mass produce than the current one. Roze roots around a little more, and the screen fills with another flyer. “Stuck in horrible debt? Enlist today! Keep the dome safe! Keep the dome secure! Morgan Planetary Security Force.” Nothing calls out the Stepdaughters of Chiron specifically, but it certainly sounds like Morgan Industries is gearing up for a violent physical confrontation.

“There’s also this email,” Roze says. “It wasn’t encrypted—well, not enough, anyway. It’s from one of the other Exec Board members, Leyland Campos.”

“Oh!” I exclaim, surprised to hear this name in this context.

Cleve turns to me. “Do you know this person?”

“Yes. Well, I know of him. Leyland Campos is who Sylvia Stanton was supposed to report to. That’s the skeleton from our cryopod room. I thought someday I might have the opportunity to inform him of the bad news of her death.” I step up next to Roze to read the email for myself. “But he’s a board member, you say?”

Roze nods. “In theory, a peer of Morgan. Runs a subsidiary.” From what I see here, Campos seems to be in disagreement with Morgan on certain matters, though still profit-driven. For example, he considers the repo squads a drain on funds. Campos’s company is in construction, with a focus on using local materials. They were the ones that built the network node. Campos is at least adapting to Chiron, which is something I can get behind. While Morgan is inflexible and even fearful of this environment, Campos is taking a stab at working with what is here. I don’t know if there’s any common philosophical ground between him and the Stepdaughters of Chiron; it might just be a practical matter of it being cheaper to use shroom forest wood than to wait for fir trees to grow. But at least Campos isn’t keen to remake Chiron in Earth’s image like Morgan wants to.

“I bet you Morgan has chickens,” Cleve mutters when I sum up my conclusions from this correspondence. When I don’t respond to that cryptic comment, he adds, “We’re going to end up in that dome, aren’t we? We’ll probably get ourselves killed.”

Maybe he’s alarmed at the level of interest I am taking in this matter. “We’re not going to die,” I tell him. I add encouragingly, “Besides, we’ve each got fifty credits to burn in the dome. Speaking of which…” I fish my chit out of my satchel. “Anyone interested in a little hacking project? If we’re going to a Morgan dome, maybe crank up the value on this?”

“I can do that!” Hypercor says, snatching it from my hand before I can even turn around to respond to her. I guess she has been at least half-listening to the conversation this whole time. She hooks it up to her laptop and starts typing furiously. That stops with an abrupt swear. “Ah, they’ve changed the… um…” Cor, not so hyper now, detaches my chit and hands it back to me. “There’s no more credits left on your chit, Mariah,” she says. Rather than being apologetic, she growls, “Add it to Morgan’s tab.”

I slip the empty credit chit into my satchel. “I think you should just hold onto yours,” I murmur to Cleve.

“Maybe we can just go in and buy all our equipment,” Cleve says with a chuckle.

“Yeah, well, not with my fifty credits.”

Perhaps Cor does feel a little sorry for clearing out my wallet. “If you took it to one of the financial institutions, that’s where you could load it up using the official software.” Growing more animated, she starts, “If you could get me in one—”

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here,” I caution her.

“You’re right,” Cor sighs. More grimly, she adds, “I ain’t going back. Not until I can tell it’s the right time.”

Roze watches this all with amusement. “Oh, yeah, that’s one piece that I designed.”

Cleve holds out his credit chit towards them. “Well, do you know how to work with it?”

Roze shakes their head, declining the challenge. “I designed it with the idea that I shouldn’t get around it, you see.”

“Really! You made something without a backdoor for yourself?” I ask. 

“That’s too easy! Make a backdoor for myself for money?” They scoff at the very idea. “And look, this was early on in the dome. I thought maybe this Morgan fellow wasn’t so bad, once he started organizing folks, right? So, yeah, we should have a secure financial system. For once!” Roze shakes their head at themself, though. “Damn fool maneuver, I tell you. I should have left a backdoor,” they mutter. Then their good humor returns. “But, nah, that would be cheating! I’m sure I’ll find a way back in. But me twenty years ago was a little faster than I am today, is the problem.”

“So what data was Data Haven looking for?” I ask Roze. “Or are you just so starved for new data that you wanted the tap for that reason alone? Why did you all take the risk to install it a month and a half ago?” I shoot a glance over at Takuto. What have he and Arx suffered for?

“Little bit of this, little bit of that,” Roze answers evasively. “It’s not so important what the data is, but that we have the data. It’s not the data, it’s the jazz.” They turn back to their monitor and lose themself to the music only they can hear. 

I’m shocked at how flippant Roze is about this, given what it cost Takuto and Arx. Takuto takes no offense, though. “No, no! It was worth it. It was definitely worth it,” he insists. He’s an idealist, a real believer in Data Haven. He feels guilty that he failed Arx, at least in his eyes, but he does not blame the job itself.