Chapter Twenty-Six

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To whom it may concern,

My name is Charles Eastman. I was the consultant at your birth and I am wholly responsible for your demotion to the Flawed.

Hannah dropped the letter on her bed and took a sharp intake of breath. It was as if ice had begun to flow through her veins. She didn't want to read on, but she knew she had to. With a shaky hand, she tentatively picked it up as if it were a red-hot poker about to burn her and continued.

I trust this letter finds you well? Understandably, you will be feeling a little confused as to the intent of this letter. No doubt, the last few weeks will have been tough on you and I apologise from the outset for any hurt my actions have caused you.

Because you are reading this letter, it means firstly, that I am no longer, and I truly hope that it is by my own hand and not by another's. Secondly, it also means that you are the one deemed to be the most likely to succeed. I wish you well in your endeavours. The road ahead will not be an easy one to travel and please don't for one-minute feel that I don't understand the burden I am placing on you. With this letter I hope to explain to you my actions, deeds and words so that you have a clearer picture of why.

Before I tell you why, I need you to understand my motivation. What drove me to do what I did, for in that explanation, I hope will come for you an understanding and I hope from you some sympathy.

I first met Michael Briggs in my role as doctor when I had to declare his sister legally dead. I was the one who switched off her life support machine. This was during the uprisings ten years ago. Briggs had been on active duty at the front line when he learned that his much- loved parents had been viciously attacked and killed by rebel fighters. This wasn't a planned assault it turns out, but a rogue, opportunistic group of men who decided to use the chaos of the day to further their own ends. Briggs' younger sister was taken from the home and brutally assaulted. Those evil men did unspeakable things to that young girl and left her irreparably broken. Sadly, there was nothing we could do for her and Briggs reluctantly accepted our diagnosis. I remember so clearly the look on his face as I turned off the machines. I think for a moment he considered me as bad as the men who had put her in hospital in the first place.

After a few weeks, Briggs turned up at the hospital and thanked me for the care I had given his sister. We kept in touch, and I often saw him visiting his injured men. The battles at the time were fierce and many lives were lost on either side.

Over time we became friends and when his leave and my shifts allowed, we would spend time together. Briggs and I were very different people, yet we shared a love of good wine and good music. Our friendship grew, but at the same time so did the bitterness of his heart. I was fortunate to see the acceptable side of Briggs' nature. The rebels were not so fortunate. Hardened by the loss of his loved ones, he became reckless in his pursuit of vengeance. He countered the brutality the rebels had shown and threw it straight back at them ten-fold.

I worried for my friend, I worried that this obsession in righting the wrongs done to his family was slowly twisting his mind. Anyway, unbeknown to Briggs, I had begun a relationship with a young woman. Her name was Cecily and she was a high rated, Flawed. I first met Cecily when I visited a Flawed neighbourhood to do some SPR appraisals and basic general practice. I'd set up office in the assembly hall of a local school. Cecily was my twentieth evaluation of the day and I was becoming tired and jaded to all the suffering I was seeing. The world there seemed so drab, so grey, that is until Cecily walked into my room. I felt I had come home from a far-off land, the minute I saw her face. She was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen and I swear, I loved her in an instant. Were it not for her lack of sight I am sure she would have scored very highly, but Cecily was blind and had been so since birth resulting in an SPR of 72.

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