Chronicles of Chiron: Excising Arx | Scene 11

In charge of a very small platoon of teenagers, Cleve issues orders. He stands watch while Louisa and Takuto case the medical building, looking for any weak points of access, but specifically of a hacking variety. Cleve’s not expecting any immediate problems, but he’s not confident they have escaped the repo squad completely. He runs a hand over his naked chin and shakes his head ruefully. Every now and then, Cleve’s hair gets longer than he likes, and only then does he bother to shave or visit a barber. Who would have thought today would be that day? And who would have thought he’d have an opportunity to deploy the chili powder so effectively?

Louisa finds a set of cables for Takuto to tap into. Ah, Louisa. Now that’s another problem Cleve hadn’t anticipated. Having three kids crammed in the back of the rover will probably be fine, but he can’t help but worry. She’s an additional person he can get killed with his offroad driving. He contemplates just removing the backhoe from the top of the rover when they get back to it. That should at least decrease their rollover chances if he blunders off a cliff edge hidden by thick miasma.

Takuto clips Datapad++ into some data transmission cables and sets to work. Kid’s got a great attitude, Cleve reflects. Health is still maybe a bit shaky, but he has definitely proven himself useful. Before too long, the young hacker is ready. “I can get in, Mr. Cleve, and I have some access to the finances. Do you want me to try to change the number to fifty credits? It’s going to be hard. I can’t guarantee that it’s going to succeed, and it might… might trigger some things,” he says hesitantly. Then, with more assurance, he continues, “But I’m definitely in!”

What could go wrong? Cleve thinks sourly, but he gives a sharp nod and says, “Yeah, let’s do it.” Mariah’s up now. This is his show. Despite all his doubts, where he’s going to shine is getting Arx out of that medical center without gunfire. And this hack job is the best way they can support him in that. “If you can’t get it all the way to fifty, just knock it down however much you can,” Cleve tells Takuto. With the repo squad on their heels, they only have one chance, and this is it.

With the adult decision-maker’s blessing, Takuto sets to work. Unlike Hypercor, who swears a lot and bangs keys forcefully, he is highly focused and quiet. “Fifty credits, fifty credits,” he murmurs under his breath. Then he taps the final key. “Fifty credits!” he announces with satisfaction. “I had to swap it with someone else who actually did only owe fifty credits,” he tells Cleve, “but it’s done.” Cleve just nods at the news; Takuto got the job done, and the details don’t matter.

“Oh! Looks like your friend is almost done,” the receptionist tells me. “Fifty credits is all they have left. They’ll be out of here probably in another week or so.”

Good job, Takuto! “Could I just pay it off?” I ask casually.

“Er, I mean… if you wanted to, yeah.” The question seems to surprise him. With a twirl of my fingers, I produce Cleve’s credit chit. I snap it down onto the counter and slide it across to the receptionist with one finger. “Sure, okay. I just need some very basic information on who’s paying this off, just to make sure it’s all transferred correctly,” he says, holding a paper form out to me.

I raise an eyebrow. “Does my credit record matter for that?”

“It’s just a standard form,” he tells me. “We need to know for our own medical records, to track who is paying off what.” He perks up a bit and encourages me, “It does actually improve your credit rating to pay off someone else’s debt. But I’m not an accountant, so I don’t know the details.”

“Do you know how long before this will post to my credit rating?”

“A couple days? No, probably a week, what with banks being closed for Planetfall Day. And it’s already late today. But it’ll definitely be posted by the end of the month. Who knows, it might give you a few extra points when you apply for your next loan…”

I take the form, comfortable now that there won’t be an immediate verification of whatever information I provide. The receptionist accepts the completed document with a smile. “Great! I’ll ping Dr. Khan. There are some exit procedures.” He glances at the time again. “She should be able to take care of those in the next hour or so. Do you want to wait right here? Or do you want to see Arx?” He smiles even wider. “You probably want to see Arx, huh? I’ll send Dr. Khan to their room, and you can talk with her there. You know, just in case there are follow-up care instructions you need to know about. I don’t know what shape Arx is in right now.”

I thank him for his help, playing the role of someone who is happy to be seeing a friend again. Not one worrying about if there’s anything I can do to help Yushi while I’m here. No, I need to focus on this job.