Chronicles of Chiron: Excising Arx | Scene 16

Cleve and Takuto wait outside the clinic, one impatient, one mentally tallying all the things that could still go wrong. They remain near the access cables Takuto used to hack into the computer network, just in case there’s a reason for him to return there. No one is likely to notice them here, where a derelict debt collection storefront abuts the back edge of the clinic’s southern wall. Louisa is around on the northern side, where a Campos Transportation & Construction building touches up against the clinic. The medical center extends outward from these two structures, a peninsula of treatment rooms. The shimmerfly Bella had indicated Mariah and Arx were in one of those on the second floor, but she is now back to idly flitting around Cleve. He hopes that means they are on their way out.

Suddenly, alarms start blaring, “Miasma alert! Clear the area!

Louisa comes dashing around the corner. “They almost made it out before there was a lockdown,” she reports. 

“Of course,” Cleve mutters. “Crap on a stick!” He joins Louisa at the corner of the building, glancing around it to the front entrance, hoping to figure out what the alarm is about. The doors and windows there are now obscured by metal rolling shutters.

“It’s some sort of miasma leakage,” Louisa says. “Who knows what they’ve got in there. They’re researching ‘curing’ people from miasma but they could have tanks and tanks of it that they’re using to experiment on people.”

Takuto joins them. “But we have to get Arx out!” he protests. “We have to go in there!”

“I’m not saying we need to listen to their orders to clear the area,” Louisa tells him. “I’m saying there really could actually be a miasma leak inside.”

“We can’t get in the front,” Cleve observes. “Takuto, is there any way to get a map of the facility?” He wasn’t able to get Arx’s room number from the financial records earlier, but maybe if he digs a little deeper, he can turn up something useful.

“Uh…. maybe. That’s a good idea, Mr. Cleve!” Takuto scurries back down the length of the building and plugs Datapad++ in again. “Let’s see… no roof… metal shutters…”

“There’s not a back exit?”

“There’s a basement. It looks like it has access from outside the facility. This is abstracted though, so I’m not sure where the, uh, lid is. This just lists exterior basement access.”

“No evacuation route?” Cleve asks.

“It says, ‘Evacuation plan not on file,’” Takuto tells him. “Typical business!”

“That’s concerning,” Cleve says, muttering on about deathtraps and fire hazards.

“Let’s canvass the area for signs of a street cover,” Louisa suggests. Although outside the suns are going down, the dome is still well lit by installed lighting. It doesn’t take long to determine that the streets on all three sides of the clinic are unbroken. That means the access is close to the dome edge, and if it’s not outside, then one of these two adjacent buildings was constructed atop it. That’s entirely feasible, here in the dome where buildings are squashed in right next to each other. They experienced that firsthand today when they were fleeing through the row houses with Louisa’s gang.

Louisa shares that the closest dome exit to the clinic is over by the waterfront, which is not terribly close at all. The primary dome entrance and the freight entrance are even farther away. “Sure, it’s possible the basement lets out to outside the dome, but that’s not very likely,” she says. A tunnel from here to one of the other domes would be too long to be practical.

“Well, I don’t have a plasma cutter to get through these bars,” Cleve says. “It’s been ten minutes since that alarm started blaring, and we don’t know how long it’s going to last. Let’s try the buildings. Unless…” He grows pensive for a moment, wondering whether the shimmerfly he has dubbed Bella can be of any use. Maybe she can point Cleve to which of these buildings has basement access. At the thought of her, he notices the ribbon fluttering nearby. Once his eye locks on that, he can pick out the rest of her translucent form. Then she flickers out of sight, and Cleve is left wondering whether she has undertaken a mission on his behalf or just gone to find a snack somewhere.