As the elevator begins its descent, Cleve vouches for Mariah with Roze. “That guy had my back a couple of times. If you have any sway here, which I’m guessing you do—”
“Sway yes, but I don’t run this place. Nobody runs it, you gotta understand.”
“—yeah, he could use a medic, for sure.”
“I’m going to try to find somebody, don’t you worry.”
The elevator ride is short, just one floor. Roze leads Cleve off for a private chat, leaving Corazon in the care of others. Roze’s first questions are practical ones about the current situation. “What happened to Mariah? Is there any particular medical specialty he needs? He’s walking with a cane… Is his leg okay?”
“I mean… attacked by bear beetles—whatever, big fur beetles. Attacked by the plant beast. And then a lot of it seems to be just breathing in the miasma. And I don’t want to embarrass him or anything, but he did take a bit of a tumble when we were running through it. That’s why he’s covered in everything.”
“You ran through miasma? Whew! That’s nasty stuff.”
Cleve describes how he jury-rigged an air-blower and bemoans their lack of proper masks. Roze has enough information now to decide who to send up. They place a call and then return their attention to Cleve, lowering their voice and leaning in closer. “You ever see his eyes, like, glow a little bit?”
“Yeah. Is that… not a thing here?” Cleve asks, uncertain. Roze’s own eyes go wide, and they shake their head no. “That’s not just the light?”
“Look, I just want to know if maybe he has some contacts in or something. Can’t be good to wear those for a hundred thirty years…”
“I saw it earlier. Maybe it’s some enhancement. He’s from LA.” Cleve adds that last bit as though it should explain anything.
“Oh, if he’s into modifications, let me know,” Roze says, interest piqued. “Maybe I’ll talk to him then.”
Cleve shrugs. “Well, you can ask him. I kind of just met him a few days ago when we woke up.”
“Good to know, good to know. Our air filter’s not the greatest, so we can’t be taking too many chances.”
“Oh yeah? What’s the problem with it?”
“Aw, never you mind about that. Give me a hug! It’s so good to see you again after all these years!” Roze throws their arms around Cleve, and he happily embraces them.
“I’m glad to see you alive, too. I was worried you’d gotten into trouble you couldn’t get out of,” he tells them.
The two old friends, as close as siblings, settle down into some chairs to relax. “Yeah, I couldn’t hack my way out of this one,” Roze says. “So how did you end up just waking up? I thought you had some security gig?”
“Yeah, I did. But the pods didn’t open, and nobody came to wake us up.”
“So, about my message—I don’t remember exactly what I said, sorry. But that was the only copy of the data. Do you have it? The data?” Roze asks, with the familiar intensity they exhibit around all things computer.
“Yeah,” Cleve confirms. When he presents the data stick, Roze eagerly accepts it in order to make backup copies. “What happened?” Cleve asks. “When did you send that message? Was it right after you woke up?”
“Yes. Something went wrong during planetfall. Somebody assassinated the captain—I think it was this Morgan guy. Alarms are going off. I check the logs. That was the last person to go into the captain’s room.”
“Mariah said that Morgan was in our pod group. He didn’t even stop to wake us up.” Cleve is still pretty sore about being sidelined for so long.
“Wait, Morgan was in your pod group? That don’t smell right to me,” Roze says, sucking their teeth. “That don’t smell at all right to me, Cleve.”
“Yeah, I know! You don’t just leave people asleep! And for thirty years! One lady didn’t even make it. She’s just bones.”
Roze lets out a long breath. “Well, the problem is that Morgan’s kind of really entrenched now. You haven’t been to his domes yet, have you?”
“We haven’t been to a dome at all. We met Corazon in one of the shroom forests and then she told us about this place, Data Haven. It sounded like, if you were anywhere, that would be it.”
Roze smiles. “Yeah, yeah, you got me right.” They let out another one of their exasperated sighs. “Long term, Morgan’s got to pay for what he’s done, I think. At the very least, the show he’s running is not right.”
“Sounds like you can be in debt there just for existing.”
“Yeah, and he’s got a tight control on all information. Since we can’t, like, broadcast pirate radio, it’s hard to free people, you know?”
“If you say he’s not right, he’s not right,” Cleve says. He trusts Roze implicitly.
Roze sighs. “But that’s a long-term project,” they say, dismissing Morgan for the moment. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed these digs we’re in…”