2012 05 15 3

Tue May 15 2072

Grizzly Bluff, overlooking the northern valley. Home of the Bear's Lair, the fortress that Theodore Gill rules from. The central nexus of California Command, all the Cal Guard communications in the northern valley route through it. Built to withstand any NBC short of a direct strike by a 10megaton warhead, the Bears Lair has long blocked the northern expansion of the JPC.

Theodore sits in his command post, sipping his beer. The reports from the south come in, and he reads them. "Sir." Says his communications man. "General Gill is on line for you."

"Put him on."

"Father." Says Jace.

"How are things in Bakersfield? You seem to be doing very well down there."

"As well as can be expected. We've secured ourselves. We've got supply lines and we're doing what we can."

"What's on your mind? Why the call?"

"I wanted to see you one last time."


CH3CH20-P(O)(CH3)-SCH2CH2N(C3H7)2. You can't smell it. Can't taste it. Can't understand it. At low levels, you may get a runny nose and never know you were exposed. Confusion and drowsiness. You might have rapid breathing and chest pains. Your nervous system is shorting out, misfiring and your body sends all the wrong signals.

Theodore Gill never really - nor does anyone in his command bunker - understand what happens. He drops his beer, the glass shattering on the floor as he lurches to his feet. He doesn't make it far as he stumbles forward.

On the view screen, Jace Gill watches, impassive, as his father collapses, then dies.

"End the call. Scrub it from the records." Says Jace, looking away. He's not inhuman. He knows what he just did. His brows flicker. Did he do the right thing? Is this really what's best for California?

His doubt passes quickly. Yes. It is.

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