Major General Pinnock, standing on a small platform, spoke.
“I want to congratulate you on the strength you have shown in tolerating the additives that were mixed into your rations. Very few in the community have your resilience. It is for that reason that you have been invited to head to Silo Six with us to board the last outgoing shuttle.”
There was a concerned murmuring in the small crowd.
“As you may have surmised, conditions in this community have significantly deteriorated. Our power systems are unable to sustain us, and have furthermore degraded communications to such a degree that we cannot determine whether other communities equally affected. Supply deliveries have been irregular, and we are dangerously low on many necessary items, especially medical supplies.”
“Where is the shuttle headed?” A voice called out from the crowd.
“We’ll be heading toward the closest colony with which we have had the most recent communication. This voyage is not assured of success, but High Command has determined that we either take the chance and leave or face certain extinction here.”
A woman broke down sobbing and suddenly bolted toward Pinnock, screaming in fury and pain.
“My children are gravely ill in the medical center. You’re telling me it was the additives? It was you? You poisoned my children? You monster!!! How can you live with yourself? You… you...” Her husband attempted to hold her back and console her, with no success.
“No!” She pulled away and dashed toward Pinnock but was stopped by a couple of officers.
Major General Pinnock’s glared at the sobbing woman and his voice became icy and stern. “Stay with your children, then. Bradshaw, give this woman her eternity pill. Take them, or not. Starve to death, if you wish. Or fall asleep forever. Also give her husband his pill, and a pill each for their children. Oh – and Bradshaw, distribute eternity pills to everyone in the medical center and leave two by every sleep pod door. And leave a pile on the first table in the food dispensary. People will figure it out soon enough.”
“What should we say about the pills, sir?”
“Nothing. Just leave them."
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