Senator Cruz put a hand on my shoulder and she leaned forward, inspecting my work. “Why were the Reds and Oranges in the second ring from the center, instead of in the outermost? If they were going to cause problems, it seems like they’d try to move them as far away from the Control Tower as possible.”

“They surrounded them on either side with a buffer of Green cabins,” I explained, “so that if they tried to attack the camp controllers, or tried to escape using their abilities, they’d have to burn down a few kids on their way.”

“Did that ever stop them?”

I shook my head.

“Did anyone ever escape?”

I shook my head again. “The ones who tried were shot before they reached the fence. They kept at least one sniper on the roof of the Control Tower at all times—two if a group was working out in the Garden.”

“Well, that kills what little faith I had left in humanity,” Cole said, coming back in.

“Any luck?” I asked him.

“Nada,” he said. “We’ll talk later. Right now, can you walk us through a typical day? I’m sure you had some kind of a routine, right?”

“Five A.M. wake-up alarm. Five minutes later, the doors unlock. After that, it changes by month. They gave us two meals a day, so if you didn’t have breakfast scheduled, you went to the Wash Rooms and worked for the next six hours until midday, when they gave you lunch. Then you had time in your cabin for about two hours before you started an evening work shift, usually some kind of cleaning, like laundry, or mucking out the terrible sewage system that always got backed up. Then dinner. Then at eight, lights out.”

“My God,” was Senator Cruz’s only comment.

“There were over three thousand of us,” I said. “They had the system down to the second. They even figured out how to accommodate for the shrinking number of PSFs, once everyone started finishing their four years for the draft.”

“What would you say the ratio of kids to PSFs was?” Cole said. “Ballpark it.”

I’d already given him this information in my plan, but he was asking for the benefit of the two women in front of me.

“Cate told me there were usually two hundred in the camp at all times, plus an additional twenty bodies working in the Control Tower. There may be fewer now that they’re in the process of closing the camp.” I shook my head. “It doesn’t sound like a lot, but they’re strategically placed, and they’re given permission to harass and bully the kids.”

For someone who had been so involved in researching a cure for IAAN, Dr. Gray looked sick at all of this, like it was her first time hearing it. That seemed impossible. Certain things were bound to be confidential, but her husband was the president—he’d played an integral role in the development of the rehabilitation camp program.

She looked away. “...You’re like my son, are you not?”

“Yes,” I said, “but not in the way that matters.”

“Were you there at Thurmond while he was?”

“After. We didn’t overlap at all. I didn’t arrive at the camp until they’d already started to expand it. Is there a reason you’re asking?”

She cocked her head to the side and I fought off the shudder that threatened to move through me. The simple movement was Clancy, all Clancy.

“I’m assuming that the reason I’m here is because you want to know about my success in controlling the children’s psionic abilities?” she began, straightening in her seat. “As well as Leda Corp’s final assessment as to the cause?”

“You got it,” Cole said. “So, naturally, our question is what you want in return.”

It was straightforward and to the point, and still, I was somewhat shocked by it. I don’t know why I had expected her—a Gray—to do this out of the goodness of her heart. I had hoped, I guess, that the apple had fallen far from the tree in that regard.

“Can we speak somewhere with a little more privacy?” she asked, glancing through the glass windows at the kids moving through the halls.

“Sure thing,” Cole said. “Nico, grab us if you hear any chatter about Kansas.”

We followed him upstairs, past the groups of kids moving between the rooms in the hallways, all of whom seemed oblivious to who the blond woman was. When we reached the office upstairs, Cole motioned for the two older women to sit as he walked around to the other side of the desk, and I locked the door behind us.

Dr. Gray leaned back against her chair, her dark eyes taking the small room in with one glance. “This was John’s office, wasn’t it?”

I’d somehow managed to forget the fact that the Grays and John Alban were once close personal friends. Alban had helped the First Lady disappear, sponsored her research trials, made a deal with her—Oh.

“You want us to hold up Alban’s end of the bargain,” I said. “You’ll give us the information in exchange for being able to perform the procedure on Clancy first.”

Cole let out a soft whistle. “I was under the impression it’s a kind of operation. You couldn’t expect to be able to perform it here....”

“Of course not,” she said. “You could scrub every inch of this place with bleach and it still wouldn’t be clean enough for an operation. I would need you to quietly help me set up a time it can be performed at a local hospital, where I’ll have trained staff.”

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