-10 Years Ago
Inhabitant Vaughn Faul read the next item up for discussion aloud to the room.
“Inhabitants Todd, Merkle, and James are to be banished to the Unknowns tomorrow. We must decide their fate.”
Jonas Pratt, the Supreme Inhabitant looked around the crescent moon shaped table at his fellow members of the Pinnacle. He could see by the way they avoided his gaze that they were waiting for him to speak first. He waved his hand at the Secretary. “Vaughn, read us the charges against each Inhabitant will you?”
Vaughn cleared his throat. “Inhabitant Thom Merkle and Esther James were found selling faulty counterfeit upgrades that caused multiple traffic disruptions, nine hospitalizations, and one death.”
Several of the eleven members shook their heads. A poor, young couple had bought the upgrades at a bargain price to give their infant son a chance at a better life; instead, the upgrades had caused a massive seizure leading to his death.
“Inhabitant Jason Todd was observed telling tales of the old days to his daughter, Sara, by his wife,” Vaughn continued. “She also suspects he has tampered with their daughter’s implants. The findings were inconclusive and the girl will be adjusted.”
Jason Todd was the city’s most gifted inventor. To send such a valuable asset into the Unknowns was unthinkable. To allow him to stay and spread his lies would be worse. This one malcontent could infect the entire city. Still, they couldn’t kill him.
“Send him out with the others, but make sure his daughter watches from home. We don’t need anyone getting sympathetic.”
The eleven nodded in agreement.
“Dispatch the other two. Separate them from Todd, then activate the cranial implant about a mile from the city. We’ll keep track of Inhabitant Todd in case we need his help to finish this.”
Jonas grasped at the air in front of his face and made a throwing motion towards the open end of the table, bringing up a virtual screen. On the screen were partially finished blueprints for a bomb. He grinned, his gold teeth glinting in the half-light.
Sara broke into a sweat. So they had found the note; it was all over now. She’d be banished to die in the Unknowns like her father and her friend.
“Well, out with it,” the doctor prodded, “why aren’t you taking your vitamins?”
Doctor Aliah looked so stern but Sara was trying her hardest not to laugh from relief. Vitamins were a small matter next to a note from a dead traitor. She tried her best to look repentant.
“I guess I just forgot. I’ve been a little forgetful since an adjustment I had at school a couple weeks ago.”
“A thin excuse,” said the doctor, “but I suppose I can let you off with a warning this time.” She gave Sara a narrow look. “But don’t think I won’t send a ping to your mother to make sure she is fully aware of the situation.” She frowned, adding, “And there is nothing wrong with your implants electronically, Sara. Perhaps it was only a vitamin deficiency.”
It was Sara’s turn to frown. She knew she hadn’t imagined the glitches, the headaches- even the voices. Those had started three days ago. They whispered to her at night, urging her to pack and leave, urging her to come out into the Unknowns where it was Safe. Sometimes Sara could swear it was her father’s voice.
Her face must have betrayed her confusion.
“Is there anything else you should be telling me, Inhabitant?”
Sara shook her head no.
“Very well. See the receptionist on the way out to settle your bill.” The doctor waived her hand in a dismissive motion.
Sara almost leaped out of the chair in her effort to get out of the room. Amie the receptionist was waiting at her desk, still as chipper as ever.
“Your visit will cost you only three credits today. Thumb please!”
Sara pressed her right thumb to the glowing blue pad Amie pushed in front of her. It scanned her thumbprint to confirm her identity, then the chip in her thumb for her plan and payment information. The pad flashed green twice.
“Great,” Amie chirped, “you’re all set to go! I hope you’ve had a pleasant experience! Have a splendid-“
But Sara was already out of the building, unfolding her board and joining the second tier traffic. A hooded figure followed a few seconds later.