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He wasn’t afraid of the Colonel, though; he just kept his thoughts to himself. He saw no reason to engage in the insolent behavior of the men around him. He thought their crude remarks were warranted, of course, but he wouldn’t give in to the childish need to discuss his superior’s actions in public. So he kept his mouth shut and his eyes straight ahead whenever the Colonel had insisted on tormenting civilians overseas. Most nights, Josh had to pray for forgiveness at his inability to stand up for the women and children that Mark tortured.

Mark Davis raped any foreign woman he deemed pretty enough to attack, and he had no qualms about slapping even the smallest child who got in his way. The entire unit was disgusted with his behavior, but none dared to stand up to the man leading them. So Josh and several other honorable men in his unit were forced to grit their teeth and pray their cowardice was forgiven.

Josh stared at Colonel Davis, waiting patiently for him to begin with his new orders.

“There is a development that needs our most classified soldiers,” Davis began. His voice was raspy; he was getting older and he knew he would soon have to retire from his post. Putting the force back in his voice, he continued. “A civilian woman is having a moral crisis about who to trust regarding the formula for eternal life. She has been approached by Etiquette and offered a very large sum for the formula.” Here Davis paused, allowing Josh to speak.

“Sir, we are the current holders of the formula. How can this woman be claiming to sell it off?” Josh had been given the formula twelve years before, when he signed up for the Army. All the new soldiers were injected with the formula for several hundred years before he was born. Of course, because of the lack of soldiers dying in battle, the Army needed fewer and fewer new soldiers. But there was a small need, as many soldiers retired after a mere hundred years in service.

“Unfortunately, Sergeant, this is not happening right now,” Davis explained. “This woman is currently living in the 2000’s. She is the scientist who discovered the formula and her moral crisis could very well be the end of our race. During the Hardship years, very few people procreated, and even fewer were unaffected by the plague. Humans only survived it because we couldn’t die; without that formula, it is assumed that the population would have dwindled during those two hundred years to less than fifty people. Fifty is hardly enough to ensure the continuation of the race. Without the formula, we’re doomed.”

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