Movement 1: Weeds and Thorns - #21

“Riko, is everything okay? Are the children okay?”

“They’re scared. I’m scared. I’ve been checking the feeds. The Ehvow are still only around Quebec and Montreal, but what if they head this way? How much longer are you going to be gone, Hena? Half the staff left in the past few hours. I think they abandoned us to go find their families. I’ve been trying to hold everyone together, but I hardly know half of them.”

“I should be back soon. I found a bus and a bunch of cars parked near a hotel. I’m trying to get the bus to start, but the fuel cells are low and there’s some sort of password to unlock it. I’m reading the instructions on the feeds for doing the emergency override, but it’s not easy. I also need to drain all the fuel cells in the cars here to charge it back up. This isn’t exactly something I’ve done before. Once I get that I can load the supplies from my car and head back to the school. Don’t worry about the Ehvow yet. We’re in Seskatciwan, the middle of nowhere. All the Tarrare files say they’ll focus on major populations first.”

“There’s something else you should know. Some of the children’s abilities are manifesting stronger than we’ve seen before. I guess it’s the stress. It’s just small stuff now, knocking things over, moving chairs, rattling windows, but I’m worried it’ll get worse.”

“They’ve never dealt with anything like this before. Whatever they can do, this is definitely going to bring it out. All you can do is to try to keep them calm.”

“We’re almost out of meds. I know we’ve been trying to ration them, but should I just go ahead and give them all their normal doses? Just to help control it?”

“Riko, I have a confession to make.”

“I don’t like the sound of that.”

“The meds have been placebos for the past two month.”

“No, that can’t be right.”

“It’s right, Riko. I was only clued into it two weeks ago by IEI. The treatments we’ve been giving the children for the past two years were Phase I. Phase II they go to placebos and see if the results stick. At least with these kids, apparently. There’s some other school in Mexico where they were keeping the children on the meds, but our school was the control group.”

“And you didn’t tell me, Hena? I know you’re the school administrator, but I’m their doctor. I need to be in the loop. How can I care for them effectively if I don’t even know I’m giving them sugar pills?”

“I know, Riko, and I’m sorry. I was going to tell you even though IEI made it abundantly clear they’d sue me into oblivion if I did, then all of this happened. At least we know the children can survive without their meds. Whatever their abilities are, the neural regenerations have worked. Their conditions and neural damage are gone and then some. They’ve stabilized. Good thing, too, because I don’t know if there’s ever going to be meds again with the Ehvow out there.”

“Hena, this is a lot to absorb. It changes everything. I thought we were treating conditions and helping these kids learn like everyone else. I didn’t know this was all part of a sinister corporate plan with phases.”

“I hear what you’re saying and I’ve been thinking the same thing since they told me. It makes me wonder what the hell they had mind for Phase III. I was told there were five phases to the program.”

“That’s … unsettling.”

“I know. I took this job knowing that it was going to be a special needs school and that there were going to be some innovative treatment programs using Tarrare science against terminal diseases, debilitating injuries, and chronic conditions. We thought we were helping these kids. In reality we were accomplices in an illegal biotech project.”

“But I think of where these kids were and where they are now. Most of them couldn’t walk on their own, some of them couldn’t even form words.”

“That’s the only thing that helps me sleep at night.”

“Hena, there’re people pulling up outside. I’m going to see if I can get a look.”

“Be careful. I’ve seen a lot of stuff on the feeds about some violent people taking any shelter and supplies they can get. I’d like to believe they wouldn’t go after a special needs school, but you never know. Thank god, I finally got this bus unlocked. I just need to recharge it.”

“There’re vans and an armored carrier. Looks like one of those new tanks. They’re all armed, but they don’t look like military. There’s someone in a suit leading them. He looks familiar.”

“Riko, can you take a picture of him?”

“Not a good one, but I can try. Here, I’m sending it.”

“Not good. That’s Pheng, our IEI handler and the one who always comes once a month to tell me they’re not seeing enough progress. That’s why he looks familiar. He’s bad news. You can’t let him inside.”

“What am I supposed to do? They have assault rifles and a tank.”

“Listen, you can’t trust him. Hey? Are you there? Dammit, recharge! I’ve drained two cells into the bus, one more and I should be able to head back. You’re talking to him, aren’t you? I know you can hear me even if you’re on mute. All Pheng cares about is what IEI wants. If he came armed he must want to take the children. You can’t let him do that! Riko, come on, tell me what’s going on or switch to speaker or something. I can’t take this. I think I’ve got enough to come back, so I’m starting the bus.”

“Hena, I can’t stop him. They want the children. Wilson tried to stand up and they stunned him with one of those microwave guns. They said they’ll do the same or worse to any of us who try. They’re using sedatives on the kids to knock them out. They said they have to take them somewhere safe. Pheng is going on and on about IEI’s investment.”

“This can’t happen. They can’t take those kids and stick them in some dungeon somewhere while this war is going on. I’ve started the bus and I’m on my way back.”

“Hena, it’s too late. They locked me and the rest of the staff in one of the supply rooms. I can hear the kids crying and screaming out there. Nefertiti lashed out, knocked a few of these armed soldier-types down, but they sedated her before she could do more. There’s nothing we can do.”  

 “I’ll be there soon, Miko. Maybe we can catch up to them. Maybe we can find them.”

Image Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA
Acknowledgements: D. Calzetti (UMass) and the LEGUS Team