Chronicles of Chiron: Defragging Data Haven | Scene 17

When Takuto and I enter the medical center, Marina is in the main room at an examination table with a patient, conducting a checkup. Not wanting to interrupt someone else’s medical care, I just wait with Takuto outside her office until she’s free. With nothing else to do, I watch Marina as she works. She looks disinterested. It reminds me of how dull retail work could be sometimes. But I needed a legit job on my resume if I was ever going to get an interesting one, and I needed money to pay student loans and medical bills. Figuratively speaking, Marina’s physician work pays the bills for what she really wants to be doing here. It’s not exciting, but it needs to be done.

Marina glances up and notices me leaning on the wall next to her office. Suddenly her examination is finished. “Uh, yeah, you’re looking good,” she declares. “Take, uh…” she pauses for a moment, consulting a reference. “Ah, yes, mash this up, put it in some soup. Try some of that bush bug with it tonight. It should help clear up those headaches.”

Then she comes over to us. “Mariah!” she says brightly. “And, uh, Takuto. You’re still feeling well?”

“Takuto needs to be medically cleared to go out of Data Haven with me and Cleve,” I tell her.

She breathes out a hesitant sigh. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea…”

“I’m ready, I’m ready!” Takuto insists. “I’m better.”

“So examine him,” I tell Marina. “And if there’s anything you feel we need to address, we can do so.” It’s a cagey way to put it, but I don’t know what she’ll find. He might have other medical problems that were masked by his lung issues. With those out of the way, perhaps he needs a treatment he couldn’t have handled before. And if it’s something Marina doesn’t have a way to deal with, maybe I do. What I’m not prepared to accept is any sort of nonsense about Takuto needing to just lie around in bed all the time when he is willing and capable of going after someone he loves.

“I can do a more comprehensive battery of tests,” Marina agrees. “And if those come back healthy, I can sign off on a short excursion. I have to see how he’s doing first. We’re in uncharted territory as far as this…” She sighs as she searches for the right words, settling on, “incredible recovery.” She sounds… almost sad. Maybe Takuto’s recovery, rather than being a source of wonder and inspiration to her, is instead a source of sorrow, too little too late for her sibling. Tracking Takuto’s overall miasma exposure from this point on will also be more complicated. Although her mood is quite sober now, she rallies, telling Takuto, “I will absolutely run those tests right now and see what we can do.”

I stay with Takuto while his blood is drawn, his lungs are checked, and the machines do their thinking. We talk as much or as little as he wants; I’m there to support him, not to annoy him. I guess I’m there for myself, too, for every time I was alone in a medical facility because someone was too overworked or too bored or too strung out or too distracted to keep me company.

When the results are ready, Marina reports that Takuto’s respiratory levels are good. “It looks like your lungs are healed enough for you to move around fully. But if your injury gets aggravated again, it could be bad. Probably not to the level of getting laid up like you were, but be cautious not to overexert yourself.”

“Do we need to bring a miasma-blocker shot for Takuto?” I ask. “We’re going through the pass, back toward Morgan’s domes, but we’re traveling in Tenoch’s rover.”

Marina considers. We should be fine in the rover, but she tells us to take the shot along, just in case. “We’re running more operations than I expected, so we’re getting a bit low on these, but here,” she says, handing it to me, I suppose because I’m the adult here. “I’m not sure bluebells would be useful, but if you see any acornstars out there—”

“I can move miasma away from us,” I remind Marina. Takuto sits up straighter in his chair and looks at me, eyes wide. That’s fine; I don’t think there’s any danger to him knowing. Traveling with me and Cleve, he would have found this out soon enough. “There’s less risk of exposure to miasma than there would otherwise be. I’m not saying that there’s none, but still.”

Marina nods. She tells Takuto, “A short amount of time outside, maybe just a few hours at a time, is probably okay. More than that is what can lead to trouble. And when it’s daytime there’s more miasma…”

“Where our cryopods were, there was not very much miasma,” I tell her. “At least not right there. The main thing is just the pass between here and there.”

“Yes, that is one of the issues—but also safety mechanisms—that Data Haven has,” she says.

“So… you’ll sign off on this, then?” I ask her.

“I will. But keep a close eye on him,” she tells me. “If this condition returns, I don’t have a treatment.” Her voice breaks a little at the reminder of what she’s lost and why. “Get him back here safely,” she tells me. She even scribbles out a permission slip for Takuto in case Cleve needs physical evidence of her approval.

“Thank you. Is there anything you need from out there?” I ask.

Marina looks surprised for a moment, but then she quickly has an answer. “Yes, the acornstar. It’s an ingredient for the miasma blocker.” She shows me its entry in the zine so that I’ll recognize it when I see it. She’s never seen an acorn in her life, but clearly this was named by a planetfaller who had. The center really does look like an upside-down acorn, and five white petal-type formations peel back from it. I tell her I’ll keep an eye out for it. Maybe if I see anything else not in the zine, I’ll bring some of that back for her, too.