Birthdays Part 3

((Part 1))


Jan slipped into the hospital room. Though it was the first time he had left his home station, that wasn't the reason for his hesitance. A cocoon of medical equipment hid the recumbent figure inside the room. As he approached he realized that the shape was wrong, even with all the equipment. Far too narrow, near the top. Fragments of the doctor's explanations came back to him, slipping into his thoughts as he walked further into the room:

Severe burns over most of the torso and...

He came close enough to peer through a transparent window near the head area and smiled with relief when he saw blue eyes only partially dulled drugs. They peered up at him and it was a moment before the brightened with recognition.

It's a miracle she survived more than a few seconds, much less long enough to reach us.

The lower half of her face was entirely occluded by some sort of breathing apparatus. The machinery that kept her alive whirred in the background.

...barely stable...

He cleared his throat, "Hey Ami, don't know if you can hear me in there. The doctors say you'll be out of here in no time. Anyway, it's our birthday sis."

Her arms had to be amputated, and most of the internal structures of the shoulders were removed as well. Virtually all of the tissue near the surface of the upper body will need to be regrown.

"I brought you this." Jan held up a small glass container, perhaps half the volume of an average beverage can, "It's its own ecological system. It just needs a little light now and then."

This accident is really an opportunity...

"It was for next time you visited. I didn't know I'd be seeing you so soon." Was that crinkling around the eyes the top half of a smile?

...opted in for the enhanced capabilities program when she applied to recon...

"Anyway, I thought you might like to have a little piece of home with you. I hope I made it small enough so that you can keep it in your personal effects."

...new program, and she will be one of the final late stage trials.

He turned it so she could see the tiny bits of green that were inside "I designed it to last nearly forever."

...better than new! In fact...

Jan swallowed and set the little glass world down on a nearby table, concentrated on what he knew, "The circulation systems run on heat, so a warm light, or being held once in a while helps."

Further prosthetics will be implanted if she remains, ah, a viable candidate...

"Well, you can tell me if you like it later. In any case, they say you're st... that I can stay for a few hours. I thought you might like some entertainment. I thought I'd read Kirigan's 'In the Wind, Dragons' to you." Jan tapped on a datapad to pull up the collection of traditional stories and poems and began reading in a warm, soothing voice, "First was the Wind..."

Jan had to leave the next day to return to work. He planned on visiting again while Amieta recovered. A string of events conspired to keep him busy until after she was judged sufficiently recovered to be reassigned. By the time he was able to get time off and money enough to travel, she had been promoted and disappeared again into the machine that is Ishukone Watch. One of the occasional letters she was able to send did mention that his gift was a comfort to her.

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