Chronicles of Chiron: Defragging Data Haven | Scene 9

With Takuto now settled in Roze’s office getting his tablet updated and hooked into the new data stockpile, I slowly make my way back through Data Haven. I find Dr. Citali in the small office off the side of the medical center that is her private lab space. Along one wall, shelves hold various pieces of scientific equipment but also a glass terrarium containing a sample of mushrooms I have yet to see out in the wild. The doctor herself is seated at her desk, going through notes scribbled on physical paper, not logged into a computer. “Ah! Mariah!” she acknowledges me when I rap on the door jamb. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m not feeling very well right now,” I tell her.

She drops the pages. “Oh no!” she says, standing up with concern.

“I don’t feel like I’m going to fall over dead,” I assure her. I don’t want her reaching for that experimental “antidote” she brought along on her search for me. “But if you could listen to my lungs, I would appreciate it.”

She gestures for me to take a seat and pulls out a stethoscope. She’s not as smooth with it as most doctors I’ve visited, a reminder that medicine really isn’t her main focus. I undo a few buttons of my shirt to give her easier access to my chest and back, and then we go through the standard set of slow breaths in and out. Not deep ones—I can’t do those right now. “This sounds like miasma poisoning,” she says after a while. “Really advanced though,” she adds in a puzzled tone. “You’ve only been on this planet less than a month, right?”

“I’ve been on this planet for thirty years,” I correct her.

“You know what I meant,” she grumbles.

“I do. But I was in a compromised cryopod. I don’t know how long I’ve been exposed to the atmosphere.”

“That’s true, that’s true,” Dr. Citali murmurs, thoughtful.

Before she can go too far down that road, though, I tell her, “But this didn’t start until earlier today, and I caused it.”

“Today? What do you mean you caused it?”

The words come out of me slowly as I try to figure out how to explain what happened—and gather enough air to relate it. “I mean… I tried to do something and… I still don’t really understand what I can do and how I can do it. And I didn’t do it right.”

She seems flustered at this response, as out of her depth here as I am. She latches onto principles of inquiry to guide us. “All right, well, let’s scientifically step through the process of what exactly happened. It may sound dumb, but let’s literally start with what you ate this morning because sometimes that can affect things. Also, we don’t know how long these ration packs are actually rated for.” She sits back down behind her desk, pen ready.

I wave off the question of diet. Moldy rations are not the source of my lung problems. “I ate the same thing that everybody else did,” I tell her. I haven’t yet talked with Dr. Citali about the specifics of what I can do, but I can no longer afford to be careful about that the way Cor cautioned me to be. “I can sense miasma. I can feel it, and I can feel what it is feeling. I thought Takuto might still have traces of miasma in his system, so I tried to extract it.”

Dr. Citali’s eyes widen a bit, but I rush on before she can object or say that it’s impossible. “I have extracted miasma from things before. I’ve manipulated it; Cleve was a witness. Corazon and Cleve also saw me pull miasma out of one of the robots. That’s real. I can definitely do that. I tried to do something like that with Takuto, but his problem was more advanced than that. It wasn’t a matter of getting miasma out, it was more a matter of things needing to be repaired. And that requires energy, which had to come from somewhere, so… I think I damaged myself in the process.” 

Dr. Citali does not interrupt; she takes furious notes the whole time, occasionally murmuring about how fascinating this is. “Ah, Takuto, yes. I saw him walking today. He hasn’t walked in over a month. He needed a lung transplant.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m kind of feeling like that’s what happened.”

“Interesting…” Dr. Citali lets out a long breath. “As far as I know, this is unprecedented, this degree of interaction with miasma. This is troubling.” She pensively taps her pen against the paper for a moment. “Ah, but maybe your lungs don’t have exactly the same condition. That would be astounding, if it was literally the same problem he had. We should take a closer look at those, now that I know that’s what’s going on. Maybe we can do something. Maybe it’s temporary…”

The next couple hours are as tedious as most stays at the hospital. I drink some thick, foul liquid and then sit around a while to give it time to disperse throughout my bloodstream. The machine that images my lungs takes its time. Once that is all done and Dr. Citali has completed her analysis, the treatment is a garish neon orange corticosteroid gel that I have to smear across my chest. ¡Qué asco! But at least it will help me breathe more easily.