Jad Zin gathered with the forty-nine other subjects in RosWe’s convention center

Jad Zin gathered with the forty-nine other subjects in RosWe’s convention center. She dreaded her fate for years. With the trial poised to begin in three weeks, she found the inevitability of her situation daunting. Her eyes glanced at her fellow volunteers who were all adults. With an equal number of men and women, no one exceeded two and a half centrades in age.
The hierarchy gave her ample warning, enough time to order her affairs. Most notably, two weeks ago, she finalized a divorce with Ron Fellart. His attentions suffocated her these last several years.
At the room’s exits, security guards menaced with stun guns. Today, Dr. Zans planned to hold a Q&A session with the subjects. She imagined that the guards would quell anyone overwrought from Zans’ disclosures. This move she thought a bit too melodramatic. After all, violent civil discord belonged to the distant past.
Withdrawal from this study no longer was an option. A year ago, the cohort announced the trial and introduced the fifty volunteers to the world. This day marked the point-of-no return for the subjects locking them into a potentially terminal fate.
The loathsome Dr. Zans mounted the stage after an hour-long wait. This middle-aged norm man dressed in his customary spotless white lab coat.
Zans’ rasping cough hushed the hall. “Welcome, to the twelfth human trial for the infertility cure.”
The audience made a half-hearted applause.
Zans’ voice boomed. “I’m sorry for the years of delay. But, we had to be sure that the cure we had found had an acceptable mortality rate. I stand here today to tell you that we have formulated such a remedy. Soon our numbers can begin to grow again.”
“Damn you. Tell us what’s about to happen.” A gruff voice from behind her demanded.
A guard advanced toward the protester.
The cohort leader gestured causing the guard to back off.
Zans continued. “I’m sorry we have withheld some specifics on how we plan to conduct the trial. We had no choice. I can tell you that the cohort had many arrangements to complete. We had to ensure the absolute integrity of the underground facility. There can be no chance that the retrovirus can escape to the outside. I still can’t tell you the trial’s location because of security. You should not worry though. The facility is almost ready. Rest assured, we spared no cost for your comfort. After all, the trial might last up to three years.”
Many of the volunteers erupted into protest. During prior briefings, the cohort swore that the trial would last at most a year. The guards leveled their stunners upon the approaching subjects.
More lies, this became what she expected from the life-science cohort. Wait a minute, Zans just said that the trial would take place underground. The thought of spending years surrounded by pressing walls triggered a brief twinge of claustrophobia.
Zans waited until the uproar subsided.
Everyone returned to their seats. The guards who leveled stunners with casual menace gave them no choice.
“At this point, I’ll be happy to provide more details. But, I’m sorry. I can’t tell you everything due to trial security. Questions,” Zans asked.
She raised her hand. Despite her near panicked state, she concealed her concern. She struggled to keep a level tone. “Dr. Zans, I’m curious to know what the cohort considers an acceptable mortality rate. After all, none of you in the cohort will have to face the dangers of the trial.” She rose and stood with folded arms.
Zans’ throat rattled. “The always defiant Zin has to challenge authority at every turn. Well, once we are cured, we will need such boldness again. To answer your question, we believe the cure has less than a four percent mortality rate.”
She thought that translated into two trial deaths. Good odds unless the cohort lied yet again.
Zans added. “Part of the long delay was due to our efforts to lower the death rate from the retrovirus. You should know that six subjects are cohort members. They will go with you into the facility and face the same dangers you will. We have withheld their true identities, until now, for the sake of security. Their leader, Dr. Stemon will you please stand.”