Today I found a photograph taken by our late father. It was the very last one in the very last photo album they owned, and I’d never noticed it before because Dad had hidden it behind a larger photo. You know I flip through our parents’ pictures all the time. I like reading their little notes, it feels like they can still talk to me. But this time I noticed that the last photo in that album felt unusually thick. When I fiddled with it, the secret photo fell out.
Dad had taken a photo of his workplace. The lab in Batalla Hall. Dad never talked to us about his work. Yet he’d taken this photo. It was blurry and oversaturated, but I could make out the shape of a young man on a gurney pleading for his life with a bright red biohazard sign imprinted on his hospital gown.
Do you know what Dad wrote at the bottom of that photo?
Resigning, April 6.
Our father had tried to resign the day before he and Mom were killed in a car wreck.
I’ve been trying to find clues for weeks. Still nothing. Who knew the deceased civilians database was so difficult to hack?
But I’m not giving up yet. There’s something behind our parents’ death, and I’m going to find out what it is.
You asked me why I seemed so out of it today. June, if you’re reading this, you probably remember this day, and now you’ll know why.
I’ve been hunting for clues ever since my last entry here. For the past few months I’ve tried asking subtle questions of other lab workers, and of Dad’s old friends, and searching online. Well, today I found something.
Today I finally managed to hack the Los Angeles deceased civilians database. Most complicated thing I’ve ever done. I was going about it the wrong way. There’s a security hole on their servers that I hadn’t noticed before because they’d buried it behind all sorts of—well, anyway, it resulted in me getting in. And much to my surprise, I actually found a report on our parents’ car accident.
Except it was not an accident. June, I’ll never be able to say this to you out loud, so I desperately hope that you’ll see it here.
Commander Baccarin, another former student of Chian (you remember Chian, right?), submitted the report. The report said that Dr. Michael Iparis had roused the suspicions of the Batalla Hall lab administrators when he first questioned the true purpose of his research. He’d always worked on understanding the plague viruses, of course, but he must have uncovered something that upset him enough to make him quietly file for a change in work assignment. Remember that, June? It was just a few weeks before the car crash.
The rest of the report didn’t go into the plagues, but it told me what I needed to know. June, the Batalla Hall lab administrators ordered Commander Baccarin to keep an eye on our father. When Dad tried to get reassigned, Baccarin knew that he’d figured out the reason for his research. As you can imagine, this didn’t go over very well. Commander Baccarin was ordered to “find a way to smooth the whole matter over.” The report ends by saying that the matter was resolved, without military casualties.
Dated a day after the car accident.
They killed them.
They fixed the security hole on the server. I’ll have to find another way around it.
It turns out the deceased civilians database has more information about the plagues than I guessed. Of course I should’ve known that, what with the plagues killing off hundreds of people every year. But I always thought the plagues were spontaneous. They’re not.
June bug, you need to know this. I don’t know when you’ll find these entries, but I know you’ll find them eventually. Listen to me carefully: when you are finished reading, don’t tell me you know about anything. I don’t want you doing something rash. Understand? Think about your safety first. You can find a way to help, I know you can. If anyone can, you can. But for my sake don’t do anything that’ll draw attention to you. I’ll kill myself if the Republic strikes you down for reacting to knowledge that I gave you.
If you want to rebel, rebel from inside the system. That’s much more powerful than rebelling outside the system. And if you choose to rebel, bring me with you.
Dad found out that the Republic engineers the annual plagues.
They start off in the most obvious place. Those high-rise terraces full of grazing animals isn’t where most of our meat comes from. Did you know that? I should’ve guessed it. The Republic has thousands of underground factories for the animals. They’re hundreds of feet deep. At first Congress didn’t know what to do with the crazy viruses that kept developing down there and killing off entire factories of animals. Inconvenient, right? But then they remembered the Colonies war. And so every time an interesting new virus appears in the meat factories, the scientists take samples and craft them into viruses that can infect humans. Then they develop an equivalent vaccine and cure for it. And then they hand out mandatory vaccinations to everyone but a few slum sectors. Rumor has it that there’s a new strain developing in Lake and Alta and Winter.
They pump that virus into the slum sectors through a system of underground pipes. Sometimes into the water supply, sometimes just directly into a few specific homes to see how it spreads. That starts off a new round of plague. When they think they’ve seen enough evidence for what that virus strain can do, they secretly prick everyone (everyone still alive, that is) in those sectors with the cure during a routine sweep, and the plague dies down until the next test strain. They also run individual plague experiments on some of the children who fail the Trial. They don’t go to labor camps, June.