Utawarerumono – Mizushima's Verses
The vote to unfreeze "Iceman," as they called him, had been close. 13 to 12 was the closest margin you could get. But Mizushima had managed to pull some strings, convince a couple more. It wouldn't take much to keep him alive. Food wasn't a problem anymore, and the air and water could be from a natural source for him, instead of their constantly recycled air and water.
They couldn't meet Iceman directly, but holograms and maruta would suffice. Mizushima had volunteered #3510 for that duty. The maruta's relation to him regarding their genetics would be kept secret, and further experiments would be called "health checkups." Once all information about his animate body and especially anything about the incredible mask he wore was found, he would be refrozen. With so many variables at play, that date could be soon, or years into the future. He would not be told either way.
Of course, much of this depended on whether they could speak with him or not. Hopefully, for his sake and theirs, they could talk.
200 years earlier, nobody would even discuss unfreezing Iceman. After all, he was the hope of a future generation of surface-dwelling humans and a valuable research specimen.
How did he get frozen so perfectly? What was the mask he wore? Exactly when did he come from? How did he get into that cave? Many questions were asked. Careful study revealed a few answers, but far too many alluded them. So a plan to take small samples was put forward. And accepted. Five years later, and 10 years after they had found Iceman, the first 25 tiny samples of various tissue were taken and analyzed in various labs.
The maruta, though not called that at the time, were the offspring of one specific lab – Lab 2. The first 10 were created in complete secrecy from the 12 other labs, and from indeed anyone outside of Lab 2. Horrible abominations, the poor people – if they could be called people – were dismantled almost immediately after being born in the artificial wombs.
Their parts studied for years, the research was finally released to the rest of the labs. The results were amazing. Most of even the first 10 could already breathe the air on the surface. Their immune systems could also fight back naturally against most bacteria and viruses on the surface. In essence, their bodies could live on the surface as the humans of old could.
And so, project "MARUTA" was born, with grudging consent from the other labs and people.
"Body temperature nearing 35 degrees Celsius," said the voice over the intercom. Mizushima could see it on his own display, but the vocal announcements were part of custom. Simple checks on the system, even though problems were exceedingly rare.
The only thing worse than just waiting, was the political maneuverings going on in the background as the project neared completion. With his natural disdain of power struggles, he was often used as the "neutral" pawn of all sides. Too intelligent and popular to be thrown away, yet too dangerous to get any higher-level jobs.
Case in point, the unfreezing of Iceman. He was a supporter of unfreezing him. But purely for scientific reasons. The others wished to get their hands on his mask, but their powers canceled out. So once again, he was used as the middle-man and was picked to be the unfreezing overseer and Iceman's warden, basically.
But that was fine with him this time. For this time, he had first access to Iceman, before and over anyone else. He'd be able to directly watch him, and have the added bonus of watching what effect an outside unrestricted 3rd party would have on maruta, with #3510.
Various other things could also be observed, such as the trauma of the missing years and an actual live example of long-term freezing on a human body. No human or maruta had as of yet been frozen successfully in one piece. It was deemed an unimportant science. However, the ability to examine somebody who had been frozen and thawed without having to use any time or resources in his actual freeze and little in being thawed was unique.
So it was fine. If by being a pawn in their game he got free reign with Iceman and all the data he represented, he was satisfied.
"Subject 'Iceman' is showing signs of awakening. Sending in maruta to transfer him out of the liquid warming solution." He watched as 4 various tailed and eared maruta entered the room and lifted the now unfrozen "Iceman" out of the bath and transferred him to a stretcher. Iceman's eyes were opening. That was Mizushima's cue to welcome him.
"Iceman, can you understand?" Mizushima could tell he heard, but he was still affected by the sedatives. Technically, Iceman should still be asleep, but the drugs didn't seem keep him under as long as a normal human. His body was thinning it out at an astonishing rate.
"Iceman, can you understand?" He had to be patient. Ah, he raised an arm. He shouldn't be moving yet, but it was a good sign. Mizushima sighed and tried again.
"Iceman, can you understand?" Iceman nodded his head. He understood. Good. But he was becoming irritated. Probably from the bright lights blinding him. "Don't move, the maruta will take care of you for now." Iceman nodded again, and stopped moving. Mizushima watched as he was carted out of the room by the four female maruta, and touched a button on the holopanel. The view changed to the room prepared for Iceman. It hardly qualified as living quarters, but it would have to do. He watched as iceman was carted in and laid down softly by the maruta. He appeared to be asleep by all sensors, so he shut down the console and sat back in his chair.
Mizushima heaved another sigh. First contact was most likely a success. Thank god he understood English, or at least recognized it. That was good for him and Iceman. Everyone wins.
"Doctor?" said a quiet female voice. A voice he instantly recognized.
"#3510, what is it?"
"Am I to immediately leave to watch over Iceman?"
"Yes. All necessary amenities have already been prepared for your stay. All you need to do is take the elevator to the contaminate level. You will be staying there for an indefinite amount of time. I trust there are no problems."
"No sir," she said meekly. All maruta were raised to be completely subservient and dependent on their masters. #3510 had been his ward to watch over for many years. He treated her well enough. Some of the others saw them as nothing more than slaves and sex-toys, to be used as they wanted.
Not through any thoughts of humane treatment for maruta, though, did he treat her well. Those who furthered those agendas were eventually outcast from the scientific community. No, he treated them for the simple reason that all animals worked best with some amount of positive reinforcement, humans and otherwise.
He knew #3510 viewed him as almost a god. It was... interesting to watch.
"Don't delay in departing. I'll be watching every day, so nothing will happen."
"Yes sir." She lowered her head in a slight bow, and left the room. She looked slightly sad. So there were two things he would be able to watch as she interacted with Iceman: Her reactions to Iceman and her reaction to a long period of absence from his side.