A short story set in the Culture universe created by Iain M. Banks

From somewhere nearby came a voice, asking her a question, insisting that she answer: did she want to keep the tattoos? What a stupid question, she thought, of course I want to keep the fucking tattoos. Sleep, said the voice, and she slept.

When she woke again, she was in a standard-looking low-dependency medical pod in a standard-looking medical facility. A facility which could be anywhere; ship-board, on an Orbital - anywhere. She felt okay. More than okay, in fact; really good.

"Okay," she said, "Now where am I?"

"Mapague Brodeksa Juliann Morjana Apris dam T'seff?" a soft voice said.

It sounded like something non-human trying to be reassuring. A small spherical drone, looking like a ball of delicate white porcelain, swung into view.

"That’s me," she said, "Where am I?"

"You are on Losaetsa plate, Contulet orbital," the drone said smoothly, "You are fully restored and you can leave as soon as you feel ready to do so."

She held up her arms and inspected them minutely, followed by her breasts and belly. All her extravagant tattoos seemed present, exactly as they had been before. She stood up.

"Could I have a couple of reverser fields, please?" she asked the empty air.

Immediately, a couple of full-length fields set at a convenient viewing angle appeared. She twisted this way and that, inspecting her back and legs and bottom. She looked, and felt, entirely unchanged. She was immediately, unreservedly - if slightly obscurely - relieved.

She turned to the little porcelain sphere which was still hovering attentively nearby.

"So, drone, may I ask your name?" she said politely.

"Call me Api," the drone said immediately, "I'm here to help you with your restoration and re-establishment."

"Thank you. Do you happen to know where Romea is?"

"Contulet Losaetsa Romea Enhocca Escobas dam Besket-Quest has barely left this facility," the drone answered, "Since your mindstate was successfully received and verified and the development of a new body for you initiated."

"So where is he?"

The little drone made a sound like a sigh.

"Your complete revention was a few minutes shorter than anticipated," it said, "He was taking a nap in a room nearby. He has been awakened and I suspect he will be appearing in here about now."

Just at that very moment, the door to the facility burst open and Romea rushed in.

"Juliann!" he cried, flinging his arms around her, "How dare you worry me like that?"

"Oh, you silly boy," she replied, kissing him very firmly on the lips, "I've only come back for you."

And, just like that, they resumed their sparky sharp-tongued relationship.

Juliann was one of the very few people who had actually died during the Mass Corona incident. None died permanently, although it was later reported than a couple had been worryingly close to the margins. Still, all's well that ends well.

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