Thursday, November 10, 2016

October 16, part 2





Anrel and I emerged food-free from the restroom at the same time Meyso came out of another lavatory. His hair was damp, but otherwise all evidence of our lunch had been removed. He gave us girls a cheerful kiss each and we boarded the elegant shuttle again.

As we headed out again, Meyso asked me, “Are you too tired to see more? We can take you to our home if you need the rest.”

“There’s more to see?” I said in surprise.

“Specific places, like where Aslada and I work. We thought you might enjoy visiting those. We can also go over a few things about your mother at the clinic.”

Anrel was beginning to yawn, heralding nap time. After my holiday with Betra and Oses, I knew she could sleep through just about anything. As for me, I wasn’t tired in the least. I was curious to see the professional faces of this maybe-clan. “I’m game, but Anrel will snooze right through it. Where are we off to first?”

We went to Meyso’s clinic. Another surprise, though I probably should have been used to the elite stature of this clan by now.

First of all, it wasn’t a hospital in the regular sense of the word, the kind where emergency shuttles fly in and out, where the regular joes of Kalquor would go for care and surgeries. It was a privately owned clinic where well-heeled Kalquorians went for various treatments; from physical and mental rehabilitation to complicated surgical procedures. I learned on my visit that this was not where the Empire had automatically sent my mom to be treated. Meyso had stepped in, taking it upon himself to bring her from the local hospital to this exclusive clinic where he worked.

 It was also one of the few facilities not dependent on Kalquor’s usual adherence to keeping things as natural as possible. The clinic nestled in the valley created by surrounding hills. A large half-round central building constructed from a reflective material made it look like a bubble of sky had landed on the ground. Lines of arched walkways spread from this building, leading to smaller bubble-buildings. It looked like a really artistic asterisk. The areas between the walkways were given over to gardens, fountains, physical rehabilitation machines, and cafes. A lake where patients could swim glistened nearby, as did an amphitheater where seminars and the occasional entertainment were held.

It was a spectacular facility. My estimation of success for Mom’s procedures went up astronomically. If the best care money could buy wasn’t available here, it didn’t exist.

We landed in a covered bay in a space designated for Meyso’s shuttle. As we disembarked, I noted how much grander the clan’s craft was in contrast to the others waiting for their owners. Meyso grinned to see me comparing.

“Usually I pilot my own shuttle in. It’s much smaller than the clan shuttle. Come on, let’s say hello to everyone.”

We had a look around, especially where Meyso did his work. The brain and neurosurgical team had their own bubble building complete with operating theaters, an initial occupational therapy area, a lounge for waiting loved ones that looked more like a club than a waiting area, and private patient rooms that rivaled the finest hotels. Mom might not mind what I’d elected for her own good in such luxurious surroundings.

I was swept away by the outstanding clinic. Even so, I still watched how Clan Aslada interacted with others, particularly those who did the grunt (aka, most important) work of any healthcare facility: nurses, orderlies, and even those who took care of maintenance issues. It was clear the boys had funds to spare. That made how they dealt with those lower in the financial strata more important than ever to me. I was beyond delighted to see them treat all those people as equals. Meyso checked in with the nurses on how his patients were doing, asking opinions based on what they’d observed as much as dictating changes in therapy and medication. Aslada seemed to know his Imdiko’s every co-worker by name and asked questions that showed he took an interest in their lives. Jaon was quiet for the most part, as Nobeks tend to be, but I did hear him trade a couple of jokes with the men running cleaning machines. No sign of snobbery there.

So far, so good.

I was introduced to everyone and greeted warmly. Anrel had fallen fast asleep, as I’d known she would. I could tell the staff wanted to fuss over her in the worst way. They kept quiet however, not wishing to wake the sweetly sleeping baby.

“You’ll get your chance,” I chuckled at the mostly Imdiko audience. That breed cannot resist an infant. I saw their fingers twitching as they restrained the urge to pluck her from my arms and cuddle.

“That’s right,” Meyso told them. “This is not only our potential Matara and child, but also the family of the elderly Earther Matara we will be helping. So keep their faces in mind while you take care of Matara Eve.”

That caused a wave of excitement among the group. They were looking forward to treating their first Earther, and Mom’s case had them all vying to be assigned to her.

I thought about warning them about her temper and tendency to say with appalling bluntness exactly what was on her mind. I refrained, however. I was reminded of how indulgent the Kalquorians were of her on Earth. I’d given Meyso the whole story already anyway. He would know how to advise his staff.

We went into his office for a sit down. He went over once more what the surgeries would entail, using diagrams until my head swam. I was almost cross-eyed with confusion when I made him stop.

“Look, as long as you know what you’re doing, I think it’s best I don’t try to know what you’re doing,” I said. “One expert is enough, right?”

He grinned, his eyes twinkling at me in the most adorable way. “I will not fail your faith in me, Shalia. Your mother is in good hands.”

I felt good about his abilities. “When does this happen?”

“Four days,” Meyso said. “We’ll start the process of pulling her out of arrested stasis into surgical stasis. I’ll order a full physical to catch any issues with her heart, cardiovascular system, and other organs so we don’t have anything unforeseen pop up. We’ll also check for unknown allergies or any infections not noted before she was placed in stasis.” As my eyes started to glaze over again, he gave me another affectionate grin. “In short, we’ll ensure she’s in as perfect physical condition as possible before putting her through the surgery. All I need is your go-ahead.”

“You’ve got it.” I had decided the time to be wishy-washy about my mom’s future was over. I was committed to this. No looking back.

Anrel woke from her impromptu nap early, giving Meyso’s staff the opportunity to moon over her in truth. She was not as beaming-happy as she is when she gets all of her rest, but she smiled and let herself be adored.

Next, we were off to Aslada’s office. He had taken the day off, but we were on tour. I was curious to know about this potential clan, and again, I knew the best way to gauge them was by how their subordinates treated and were treated by them. It was the same as with Meyso’s gang: unfailing courtesy when outright friendliness wasn’t in play.

With his staff, Aslada joked like they were all old friends. These men were mostly Dramoks, but they were as eager as Imdikos to dote on Anrel. Not as many were keen to hold her, but Dramoks and Nobeks tend to worry about how to handle a little baby. It’s hilarious to see powerful leader-types and fierce warriors shy away, afraid the slightest touch might harm her. Again, she was sweet and didn’t act up, but I could tell she hadn’t gotten enough nap time.

I met members of the territorial council as well, since all the offices are in the same hillside-building. The government facility is built into the side of a huge hill covered in emerald-green grass and wildflowers. It looks like something fairies or gnomes might congregate in from the outside. Inside, it’s as business-like and full of technology as any office building I’d expect.

Everyone was pleasant to me. A couple of council representatives, winking and grinning at Aslada, told me they had been recently picked up by the lottery. Aslada scowled at them, but good-humoredly. Jaon frowned and moved close to me. I had to fight not to laugh.

Even the men Aslada had mentioned by name as being fierce opponents to his causes were respectful to me. I guess they keep their differences to the council floor. Then again, who was going to mess with a woman who had Jaon at her side? For politicians, they were smart guys.

Aslada’s office was grand. It boasted fine furniture, richly woven rugs, stunning artwork, and awards littering the surfaces. “I think we have one of our settings for your vids,” I told him. “This is great for when you’re on-camera, discussing your policies and causes.”

He grinned. “I can’t wait to discuss the ideas I have with you.” At Meyso’s raised brow, he amended, “Once your mother is on the road to recovery, so I’m not adding to any stress you have to deal with.”

“I may need to work to escape my worries,” I said, touched at the concern they felt for me. “We’ll play it by ear and see how everything goes.”

It was Jaon who chuckled at that. “And that is how all life is lived, isn’t it? Despite all our planning, it comes down to dealing with what comes at us first.”

Amen, brother.

The tour was at an end. Thank goodness, because Anrel was starting to fuss. She was too fascinated with new surroundings to allow herself to sleep, and it made for a cranky baby. We headed for the home of Clan Aslada.

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