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Chapter 37:

“Elliot, this is Airomem,” I said,  casting a confused look at her as she took another step back, “Where is the rest of the council?”

“Inside and waiting.  A pleasure to meet you, Airomem,”  He said, “Don’t be scared, I’m not going to hurt you.”

“They’re inside there?”  Airomem cried, her voice alarmed, “Get them out, now!  Quickly!”

“Look, I head about what happened on the bridge,” He said, “But we’re not like that here.  There is nothing to be afraid of- no one here will hurt you. There is no danger.  Now, we are all very eager to hear your story, and I assure you that you will be safe when telling it.”

“No, I won’t,”  She said, “Not in there.”

“Airomem, I saw you take on two grown men at once,”  I said, as Hannah waved from within the chief’s quarters, “Trust me, should you want to fight us, we would lose quickly.  We know nothing about fighting.”  

“No, I don’t know how to explain this,”  She said, her foot tapping against the floor anxiously, “Open the door a bit wider so I can see in.  Oh God, what have you done?  Where are the warning signs?  The monitors?  You must have removed them ages ago.  You see, on my end of the ship we have a hallway just like this, and a room just like yours on the end.  See, look inside- do you see that red C plastered to the door at the end?”

“Yes,”  Said Elliot, starting to grow impatient, “C, for Chief since this is his quarters.  And we’ve tried to open that door, but had little success.  It’s stuck shut.”

“You tried to open it!?”  Airomem shouted, “That’s insanity!  That C doesn’t stand for chief- it was once part of a larger sign, one that has been scraped away.  That door once said nuclear- as a warning to what lies within.  You don’t understand, it’s poison, poison of the worst type.  That door blocks most of it, but some still leaks through to where you stand now.”

“This is ridiculous,”  Said Elliot, “Every chief we have had has lived here contentedly, for as long as I can remember.  If it’s poisonous, then why is the heating so convenient, making a comfortable gradient from the back to the front?  That’s one of the reasons it’s so habitable, obviously that was planned for maximum comfort.”

“The heating is part of the problem!”  She exclaimed, “The heating comes from the poison, from radiation!  Look, have your chiefs ever exhibited any abnormalities?  Any growths, or discolorations on their skin?”

“Why, of course,”  Said Disci, the head doctor, appearing behind Elliot, “Such is God’s mark upon a successful leader.”

“No! That’s wrong, so wrong.  Did they die soon after?  Each time they were blessed, did it last long?”

“Well, no,”  Said Disci, his face scrunching together, “The Lord only blesses hose near the end of their life on the ship.”

“You have it backwards,”  She said, “Those growths are why they died.  They’re signs of the poison, signs of death coming.  Regardless, I refuse to come any closer.  I’m something of an expert on this poison, and I know what it can do to people.  We need to find another spot for our meeting, and you should board this door shut- it should have enough shielding to contain the poison.  I can explain everything to you- the poison, the other side of the ship, everything- but not here.  Those are my terms.”

Elliot paused, his face flickering between disbelief and uncertainty, and I spoke.

“Elliot, do you really believe that a chief marked by God would have allowed Segni to become our leader?”

And as he mulled over the question, his face turned closer to uncertainty, and Disci took a quick step away from the room.

“To our normal meeting room, then,”  He said, rubbing his wrist, “Despite the memories of what last happened there.”

***

Chapter 38

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