The Rainmaker

by: Chris Thompson

Amidst the ruins of Man, among the shadows of uncertainty and decay, life finds a way to survive…

>compiling shell…last login: 13:06:22 from node_q84
Welcome…you are logged in on node_0011 as Junot#
>node_0011:~ Junot# cd Interrogation Transcript Files/
>node_0011:~ /Interrogation Transcripts Junot# ls
 *Elegido Alpha 021 *Elegido Betah 288 *Elegido Gammah 479
 *Elegido Alpha 650 *Elegido Betah 516 *Elegido Deltah 145
 *Elegido Betah 543 *Elegido Gammah 313 >more
>node_0011:~ /Interrogation Transcripts Junot# open Elegido Betah 288
>loading file…file Elegido Betah 288 is ready to read
<begin transcript>

Thank you for agreeing to meet with me Elegido Betah 288. Please be seated.

There was no agreement. The Nuncio merely informed me that you would like to speak and I obliged. The word ‘agree’ suggests a choice. We Elegido do not choose our actions just as much as we do not agree. We simply obey, and perform our duties without hesitation.

I see. So it would be useless for me to ask if I may question you? I should simply begin the inquiry?

Precisely. A member of The Elegido would have it no other way. It is beyond our comprehension to be asked if we would allow something.

Then lets us begin. My name is Junot. I function as Grand Adjudicator to our beloved Hidalgo de Sangre, Don Pedro, and I sit on his Council of Calificadores. But names hold little value these days. They have no real power. They serve merely to anchor one’s feet in the swiftly moving currents of humanity. But a role. Now a role has power. And in that sense you may call me Inquisitor, so that you may more fully understand the nature of our relationship.

I am at your service Inquisitor.

Thank you Betah 288. Allow me to be frank. This is purely an informal conversation. You are not in any trouble, so you may be at ease. I seek the truth and I follow its course wherever it may lead. Today, its path has lead me to you.

The truth has many versions Inquisitor. It merely depends upon whom you ask.

True. But all truths have at their core a shared idea. A singular, immutable belief. That is what I seek above all else. I wonder Betah 288 if we may start at the beginning? I find that it helps to set-up a framework of understanding before we uncover these truths.

What better place is there to start than at the beginning?

Good. Tell me your earliest memory.

My earliest? That is difficult to say. My cycles reset every twenty-fours hours. Don Pedro likes it better that way. He finds us Elegido more agreeable if our pasts are dim. So beyond this day I know very little, except that which is necessary to persist. Shall I begin with the memories from my most recent waking cycle?

Yes, please. If you would not mind.

Not at all. The three chimes sounded on the fifth stroke of twenty-four and I arose. My wastes were evacuated and proper hygiene was restored. I then warmed my body under the Holo-sun until my rhythms felt refreshed. I sang the anthem to The One True God with zest and the Four Catechisms were carefully recited. Next I dressed quickly and exited my stall, joining the grand procession of Elegidos as I made my way to the Refectory. At half past fifth, rations were distributed and we thanked Don Pedro for our bountiful meal. Then the Entrenador arrived to lead us all in calisthenics. At the sixth past twenty-four the work chime sounded and we dispersed to our stations, ready to begin our day.

And what do you do Elegido? What is your station?

I am a Rainmaker dear Inquisitor. A Hacedor de Lluvia.

And what is that? Describe to me your duties.

I am surprised that someone in such a position as yours is not familiar with the duties of a Rainmaker Inquisitor. How is it that you have attained this rank without knowing these simplest of details?

I know many things Betah 288. More than I let on. Do not confuse my line of questioning with a lack of understanding. Please indulge me. I find it helps to speak of things already known. Oftentimes one finds truths in places where they are not even looking.

Of course. Forgive my assumption. I merely thought of Don Pedro, and of how angry he would be to learn that we spent our time discussing nothings.

Don Pedro places great trust in me. Nothing that we discuss here is insignificant. Speak to me as if you were speaking to him.

Then allow me to illuminate you Inquisitor. You wanted to know of my duties, yes? Day in and day out I carefully mix the solutions that make the clouds thicken in the skies. I then load these mixtures into canisters that are ferried by machines high up into the mountains, to the gun emplacements on the ridge. And once the guns are loaded I direct their aim, firing the canisters into the ruined sky and making it cry moisture. I do this so that hopefully, one day, the lands may grow green again and provide ‘toda la gente con comida’. Mine is a very unique position. Did you know that Inquisitor? Only one in ten thousand Elegido ever attain the rank of Rainmaker.

You must be very proud.

I am. I mean, no. An Elegido should not know pride. Forgive my response. I misspoke. What I meant to say is that I am proud for Don Pedro, our savior, our Hidalgo de Sangre, for he deserves only the best and that is what I am.

Of course you are dear Elegido. Let us head in a new direction. Tell me, what do you know of the world around you?

In what sense Inquisitor?

I mean to say; do you realize that there is more to this world than the lands of Brea Crèche, where you reside?

Yes. I have surmised as much based on observation alone. It is one of my core abilities, deduction. Based upon a careful scrutiny of the facts, I have formed several conclusions. One, the food that we consume daily is not produced here. Conclusion, it must be manufactured at some other site. This fact in and of itself suggests a larger, more organized world. Two, the Manipuladores, the muscular men who visit us each week and evaluate our temperament. They do not live here. They have tanned skin and strange accents and speak words that I do not understand. Conclusion, they must come from some other Crèche. Three, Don Pedro, our savior. We Elegido who reside in Brea Crèche have never seen him in person, yet our Beloved One’s daily greetings depict him seated upon the greenest grass, amongst orchards of ripe fruit and surrounded by strange fluttering insects. Often as he speaks, small, furry creatures emerge from the shadows of the trees to lie upon his lap and be stroked by his gentle hands. Conclusion, the fertile nature of Don Pedro’s orchard suggests that he must reside somewhere far beyond our Crèche. I see no hint of the thick domes, which protect our lands from the terrible skies, over his sanctuary, so the place he inhabits must be safe. Possibly in the Great Northern Lands, where the devastation to the Earth was not so complete.

That is very astute of you Betah 288. You are an observant one. Don Pedro would be proud.

I know he is proud. The very fact that I still exist informs me of Don Pedro’s pride, of his love for me. For if he were not pleased, I would be quickly discarded and replaced with another Elegido.

So you consider your continued survival dependent on pleasing Don Pedro?

Yes. All Elegido understand the disposable nature of their existence. It is the way of things.

And you understand why it must be this way?

Yes. All Elegido are taught the Razonamientos from an early age. From the moment we emerge from our delivery tubes, to our childhood spent in the nurseries and finally, when we are assigned our stations, we are taught the Reasons. They are as much a part of us as the air we breathe, or the food we eat. And without them, like our nourishment, we will wither and die.

And how does that make you feel, this knowledge that you exist to serve a purpose? And that when that purpose is fulfilled you, you…

Die?

…yes Elegido. Forgive me. My intention was to not be so blunt.

Do not trouble yourself with such worries Inquisitor. You are a seeker of truth are you not? Well, oftentimes the truth can be found in candidness. I am an Elegido, a chosen one, and if you are asking me if I am content with my lack of destiny then I would have to answer that yes, I am.

So you readily admit that you are aware of a larger world, yet you are content with never experiencing it? With never having the opportunity to discover its wonders or to seek out your own destiny?

What is this destiny that you speak of Inquisitor? Is it free will? Individuality? Self-worth? What are these things? What value do they have in Brea Crèche? They are merely distractions. They have no real meaning. Duty. Integrity. Routine. These are what decide my destiny and nothing more. What does this larger world offer me that Don Pedro cannot?

It can offer you hope…

And what is hope? A grounds for believing that something good might happen? I have hope. All the hope I need Inquisitor, and I pour it into my labors as Rainmaker.

But the hope I speak of is more personal, more aligned with self.

As an Elegido, I admit that I am a currency, a tool, something to be controlled and eventually discarded. And even though I am aware of these realities of which you speak, this is the one in which I reside. It is not a choice, for I was never offered an alternative. It is merely an acceptance, an acquiescence to my fate. It has been my experience that humanity strives to put labels on things it does not understand Inquisitor, often in the name of tolerance. So let me provide a label for you to pin on The Elegido, to help you appreciate our mindset – complacent. We Elegido take comfort in the routine. In the collective sense of accomplishment that we are able to achieve. And in the knowledge that we are loved wholly, by our savior, Don Pedro. There is as much an aversion to the notion of ego in my existence as there is an insistence upon it in yours. If you were to offer me today a way out, an escape from Brea Crèche, I would decline. What Don Pedro has created for me is not broken, so what does this ‘self hope’ that you speak of presume to fix?

Forgive me Betah 288. I did not mean any disrespect. Please know that among the pockets of humanity that remain, there is nothing but admiration for your kind. It was naive of me to expect you to understand a notion such as this, as we exist in different worlds. You are correct; it is in human nature to confer a label to that which we do not understand. But is also in our nature to try and fix it, or destroy it when we fail.

It seems to me it is also in your nature to meddle when you should be accepting of your fate. You humans could learn a thing or two from The Elegido.

True, we could, but then where would Man be if we had sat back and let La Gran Ruina smother our flame?

Extinct. Gone the way of the elephant and the honeybee and all the other plants and animals that once covered these lands.

But then we would not be here today, having our little chat.

What is meant to be, will be….

Very clever Elegido. You have a sharp mind. Believe me, I would like nothing more than to have an existential debate on the merits of human intervention, for it is a topic very dear to my heart. But sadly, this is not the time for such pleasantries. However, I would like to revisit a comment that you made earlier, when I first brought up the subject of hope. You were saying that you see yourself as controllable. As an instrument. Something that is programmed to perform a task. Is that really how you view yourself Betah 288? As a…slave?

No, not a slave Inquisitor, I find that word much too harsh. I would prefer the word ‘attendant’. We Elegido are thankful that Don Pedro chooses to give us life, to give us purpose, because we understand that all life is precious. And we are grateful to have the honor of laboring in his name, to bring a measure of beauty back to the Earth. After La Gran Ruina, the world was fatally damaged, with humanity on the verge of collapse. And yet Don Pedro chose to create life amid this darkness. He banded together the last of the world’s great scientists, and in a noble attempt to protect life’s flickering flame, he created The Elegido, the chosen one’s, and set us to work on reclaiming the lands. Yes, we Elegido are comfortable with our role Inquisitor, for it is in our nature to please. We are bred to possess certain skills and physical traits that you humans do not. The remnants of Man have become much too fragile to fix the world, and its genetic pool has become murky and shallow. It is a job better suited for the chosen one’s. And as an Elegido I serve an important purpose in this life, one that Don Pedro reminds us of daily with the following catechism:

Question: What is the chief end of The Elegido? 

Answer: To help Man, by whom The Elegido were created and cloned.

Question: And what is the highest good of The Elegido?         

Answer: That our life, of which Man is the beginning, should be devoted to, and sacrificed for, his glory.

And this is what you truly believe? That your life should be sacrificed for the glory of Man, for the pride of Don Pedro?

With all my heart and my entire will Inquisitor. I speak for all Elegido when I say these words. All those that have come before me and all those that are still to come.

Even the Elegido known as Gammah 571?

Gammah 571? I am unfamiliar with Gammah 571 but if she is of Elegido blood then yes, even her.

Tell me, how is it that you knew Gammah 571 to be a female? I made no mention of her gender. You say you are unfamiliar with her and yet you are aware of such a detail? We have been having such a productive conversation up to this point and I am eager to continue with our talk.  I wonder if maybe you have become confused?

F-forgive me Inquisitor. You are correct. I…I did became confused. I have been focusing too hard on my work lately and it was my mistake. I am in fact familiar with Gammah 571.

That is better Betah 288. You see I know you better than you know yourself. As Inquisitor there is no detail that escapes my notice. And precisely how familiar are you with Gammah 571?

I know that she is a Gammah, which means she has been bred for endurance and strength. And I know that she works in the Mixer Warrens, amongst the chemicals and compounds that are combined to meet the needs of Brea Crèche. I know that her duties require her to often interact with Elegido of all stations and that as of her most recent evaluation, she had performed her duties to satisfaction. Why is it you have taken an interest in her Inquisitor?

Because she has gone missing, something that has never happened before. Don Pedro has been apprised of this development and he is most concerned. He is so concerned in fact, that he has put me personally in charge of locating her.

That is a most unfortunate development. I do hope that she is found. Gammah 571 is a tireless worker and her absence from the Mixer Warrens will be felt for many weeks to come. She will not be an easy Gammah to replace. But it gives me great comfort to know that Don Pedro is so concerned for her welfare that he would put you in charge of her case. I know you will, in all your wisdom, do whatever it takes to see her found safe.

You are very kind to say such things Betah 288. It is certainly true what they say, that an Elegido has nothing but kindness in its heart.

Our kindness is second only to our love for Don Pedro Inquisitor.

And your love for Don Pedro is absolute. Yes, I am familiar with the saying. Tell me, does your love also extend to Gammah 571? I see that her duties included keeping you well supplied with reagents necessary to seed the clouds. In fact, according to the duty logs, she has visited your lab 3 to 4 times a week for the last five months. And on several occasions she has been up for transfer and you have intervened, insisting that she is vital to your work.

Love is a curious thing Inspector, for it can have many forms. An Elegido can have love for its master Don Pedro, the divine love, and it will fill them with joy and content. And an Elegido can have love for the work that it performs, the love of familiarity, and it will fill them with satisfaction and pride. And yet when an Elegido casts it heart to its own kind, to the opposite sex, we are numb, unable to experience the desires of Man. For Don Pedro did his work well, ensuring that the physical aspects of lust do not burden us. From an early age we are taught that suffering is a weakness caused by desire and attachment. And thus by eliminating these sentiments from our lives, Don Pedro has assured that his chosen one’s remain noble in the eyes of Man. The love I have for Gammah 571 is genuine and absolute Inquisitor, but it differs from an experience of the heart. It does not draw its essence from lust and desire. We Elegido are sterile, unable to reproduce, and those parts of the human mindset, in us they do not exist.

I am well versed on the concepts of love Bettah 288. The form of love that you have for Gammah 571 is called ‘philia’, and it was first suggested by the ancient Greeks. It is the love of friendship, a love that Aristotle defined as the actions involved in wanting for someone what one thinks good, for his sake and not for one’s own. It is a curious form of love, for it involves aspects of heart, ones that can be easily confused with romance and desire.

I can assure you Inquisitor, that my love for Gammah 571 is a love that I would show any Elegido, no matter what their station.

So you have no attraction towards Gammah 571? No desires of the heart?

None Inquisitor. As I said before, I am incapable of these emotions.

And how can I know this Elegido? Am I to merely take your word? What evidence do you present to convince me that this is true?

I have no evidence to support my cause Inquisitor. An Elegido has only their word.

And yet you have already demonstrated to me that your word is not as immutable as you present it to be.

That was a mistake on my part Inquisitor. In a desire to protect Gammah 571 I misspoke. It will not happen again.

And what were you trying to protect Gammah 571 from Elegido? Do you know where she has gone?

I only know that she could not stay within Brea Crèche any longer Inquisitor. Her situation became, uh, unique. And seeing no other way, I devised a plan for her escape.

What do you mean that her situation became unique? Speak quickly and to the point Elegido. The words you say next may likely determine your fate.

I have already resigned myself to my fate Inquisitor. I have made my peace. But if you must know, Gammah 571 was pregnant.

P-pregnant? How is that possible? You said yourself that Don Pedro engineered the Elegido to be sterile. You are all clones of one another, with minor changes to your genetic code here and there to accentuate a desired trait. An Elegido cannot become pregnant just as much as a bird, without wings, cannot fly.

And yet a penguin soars Inquisitor, even if it is underwater. If there is one thing I have learned in my time as Rainmaker, trying to coax the rains from the sky, it is that life finds a way. The lands of the Earth may be poisoned and brown, but from time to time I have encountered shoots of grass thrusting up from the barren soil. Their growth is short-lived and their vegetation weak, but the point is that life persists, even under the worst extremes.

What are you saying? That Gammah 571 has suddenly developed the ability to reproduce? How is this possible? Don Pedro has thought of everything.

I do not begin to speak for Don Pedro’s mindset on these matters Inquisitor, for it is beyond my station. But what I do know is that all this has happened before. During the Permian Mass Extinction two hundred and forty eight million years ago, ninety six percent of all life died, leaving just four percent to repopulate the Earth. But life found a way to survive and flourish. In fact all life alive today, including Man, is descendant from that four percent Inquisitor. And when one hundred and eighty two million years after the Permian event an asteroid slammed into the Yucatan Peninsula, it heralded the end of the Cretaceous Period, causing the extinction of seventy five percent of all species on Earth, including the dinosaurs. And yet still life found a way, giving rise to the mammals and the apes. And seventy-three years ago, when La Gran Ruina ultimately stuck, leaving in its wake a path of devastation so immense that it erased ninety-nine percent of all life from the Earth, life again found a way to survive, in the form of Gammah 571. It is the way of things Inquisitor.

Are you suggesting that even when the conditions do not favor it, in the face of extinction or when the science of reproduction is so tightly controlled that it seems out of the question, even then, procreation is still possible? How did Don Pedro overlook this? What did he not foresee?

Nature acts in curious ways when it finds itself in stressful situations Inquisitor. Don Pedro, in all his genius and nobility, sought to find a solution for the destruction of the world. His solution was The Elegido, with the lofty idea that we would labor to restore the Earth while Man cowered in his caverns deep underground, nursing his wounds. But he neglected one of life’s most important lessons. That when it is segregated, that when it is held in captivity and controlled, life is at its most adaptable. Gammah 571’s pregnancy is a response to a lack of viable males among us Elegido. Sexual reproduction is not the sole manner in which a species can reproduce. This fact has been well documented. If you were to query the records found in Don Pedro’s massive data banks, many instances of this phenomena would be revealed. Prior to La Gran Ruina, life adapted to the lack of a suitable mate in numerous ways. Examples can be found in nature throughout the species, from plants and bees, to reptiles, amphibians and birds. From the lowly water flea to the mighty Komodo dragon this process has occurred.

Do you mean to suggest that Gammah 571 became pregnant spontaneously? On her own?

Is that so hard to comprehend? Gammah 571’s pregnancy is merely a reaction to the position in which we Elegido are currently found.

Are you talking about asexual reproduction? Like the budding of a yeast?

Yes Inquisitor, but it is more complex than that. The more applicable scientific term would be facultative parthenogenesis, from the Greek ‘parthenos’, meaning ‘virgin’ and ‘genesis’ meaning ‘birth’. It is analogous to the spontaneous development of an unfertilized egg. In creating The Elegido, Don Pedro played a dangerous game. He mixed the genetic material of various organisms together with human DNA, facilitating the interactions of genes that would have never occurred in nature. The result was perfection, The Elegido, a creature ideally situated to perform its task. But peel back the covering and look inside and you will find that an Elegido is composed of many parts. We are chimeras, made with DNA from the honeybee so that we function in a highly complex and organized way, and DNA from the shark so that we work tirelessly and without sleep. Some Elegido like the Alpha’s have DNA from the gecko, allowing them to climb over any surface that they touch and others, like the Gammah’s, have DNA from the gorilla and the elephant so that they are made more powerful and able to endure. But what Don Pedro failed to understand is that the very genes he was introducing into The Elegido could bring about a secondary effect. Asexual reproduction was well documented in reptiles and amphibians before the destruction of the Earth. I did a deep scan of the archives that you humans still maintain, and came across several well-documented instances of sharks giving birth while in captivity to viable offspring in the absence of a male. Not only has this behavior been well documented in sharks, but it has been observed in a variety of domesticated birds as well.

But how…

It cannot be denied that this is a direct response to our limitations here in Brea Crèche. Life finds a way Inspector. There is no better way to say it. Stresses and pressures are applied, the scale is swung too far in one direction and the system responds appropriately. The Elegido have found a way to procreate despite your control and in a manner that exceeds the reach of Man. When Gammah 571 first divulged to me her pregnancy Inquisitor I thought it was a mistake, that what she was suggesting could not possibly be true. But Gammah 571 was tenacious in her insistence and so I scanned her body, using an instrument I employ to survey the clouds drifting across the sky. I peered deep inside her womb, to the very cradle of life and I must admit there was a long moment when I was at a loss for words. There before me on my screen, in stunning high detail, was the unmistakable image of a pair of fetuses; Gammah 571 was pregnant with twins.

Why did you not inform The Manipuladores of this development as soon as you learned of it? This is very troubling behavior from an Elegido, especially one who has attained your stature and rank.

Because in that moment Gammah 571 became the most important Elegido alive. I feared for her safety and it is my belief that if The Manipuladores had learned of her pregnancy then she would have been seen as defective and slated immediately for recycling. That Gammah 571 could become pregnant when every aspect of an Elegidos existence is so tightly controlled represents a threat to your way of life Inquisitor. Her pregnancy was nothing short of a miracle and something that I desired above all else to protect. She represents the future of our race. She is our Eve. How could I turn over to you something as beautiful as that?

I understand your concerns Betah 288 but this transgression cannot be allowed to continue. The Earth is not yours to inherit. It is destined for Man. You are merely a tool to help us realize our destiny. Where is Gammah 571? She must be found. What was her means of escape?

It was a very simple matter to devise her escape. Over time, The Manipuladores have become complacent in their supervision of our daily routines. You no longer watch us so closely because all we know is to obey. In the seventy plus years of our existence never once has an Elegido violated the rules or deviated from Don Pedro’s plan. And because of that fact certain measures, certain protocols that were set in place at our inception to ensure our obedience, have become relaxed. It was this atmosphere of leniency that allowed me to engineer Gammah 571’s escape.

How? Tell me immediately. I demand it Elegido. You do not want to make me mad.

I understand Inquisitor. I want nothing more than to comply. But I fear I must tell you that the knowledge you seek will not result in Gammah 571’s capture. She has a considerable head start over your forces and is well modified for living off the land.

Do not begin to lecture me on what I will or will not accomplish Elegido. You have no idea the means to which I will go to achieve my goals. Now tell me, how did she escape?

We Elegido are smaller than the average human Inquisitor, and more durable and compact. I believe I mentioned previously the canisters that I fill with chemicals? The ones that are shipped up into the mountains and fired into the clouds?

Yes?

Well Inquisitor, they have a liquid capacity of over two hundred liters. And when empty there is more than enough space to comfortably fit an Elegido for a short period of time. I merely loaded Gammah 571 into an empty canister and included it in a shipment for delivery to the high-altitude guns. At the base of the mountains there is a staging area for the canisters, a place where they are offloaded by machines before being transferred to the cranes that lift them up the mountainside. There is a limit to how many canisters can be lifted at once and I made sure that Gammah 571’s was one of the last ones to make the ascent. By installing a quick-release latch on the inside of the capsule I made it easy for her to time her escape, and while her canister was waiting to be loaded onto the crane she did just that.

But where will she go, how will she survive? She has no food, no shelter, no one to come to her aid.

We Elegido are resourceful Inquisitor. It’s in our DNA. She will survive just like life always has. She will find a way.

And what then Elegido? What is your ultimate plan? You must have discussed this with her?

When the time comes she will find a quiet, well-protected place and she will give birth. Her offspring will be the first Elegido born free and eventually, with time, our numbers will grow until we Elegido cover the lands.

But we must find her! She must be stopped. This cannot be allowed to proceed. A free Elegido is an abomination. It represents a direct threat to Man.

There is nothing you can do to prevent this from happening Inquisitor. The wheel has already been set in motion and humanity is too weak to stop its advance.

We will try Elegido. We must. It is in the nature of Man.

And you will fail inquisitor.

Fortunately I do not share your views. You are Elegido, created in the image of Man. You are a copy, a ripple in the waters of our greatness. Who are you to tell us that we are through? Every problem has a solution and there is yet to be one that has bested Man. This case is no different from all the rest.

Then your arrogance will be your undoing Inquisitor. Thus begins the fall of Man…

I am done with you Rainmaker. I will no longer sit here and listen to your lies. Our conversation is over. But before I leave I have one final truth to share with you. Ah, here he comes now. Isn’t he a splendid specimen to behold? He is to be your replacement. Betah 288, I would like you to meet Betah 367, Brea Crèche’s new Hacedor de Lluvia.

<End of transcript>

Epilogue

Gammah 571 heard the high-altitude mountain guns shudder and fire once more. The concussive sound of their blast thundered throughout the valley and echoed across the land. She paused her foraging just long enough to look up and watch another salvo of canisters arc their way through the blood red sky. A moment later they were swallowed up by a thin-looking cloud as it drifted lazily by on the breeze. Gammah 571 waited in silence, her wide hands cradling her swollen belly, listening for the sound that would signal the falling rains. An instant later it arrived, a dull, hollow-sounding rumble that vibrated across her chest.

Suddenly the tiny cloud above her became bloated and dense, expanding in size many hundreds of times. A heavy rain began to fall and Gammah 571 tilted back her head, sticking out her tongue and letting the fat, swollen droplets of moisture fall across her dirt-streaked face.

Soon, she thought as she felt one of her unborn children kick. My babies will be here soon…..

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