Prologue

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Ava holds the lifeless hand of her mother's in her own. Her mother's once-bronzed skin now as pale as the foaming waves that wash the shores of this land.

It isn't fair. Her mother deserves a burial. She has earned the right for one. She's given every drop of energy she had to this healer center, and when the disease seeped into her blood she was persistent as any Chief Healer should be. But, the matter is out of Ava's hands, she knows this. There are too many bodies, not enough soil. No proper burial will be held.

"It's time to go," a healer urges as she steps inside the room, keeping her gaze far from Ava's mother. The woman knew her mother, no doubt. Their best surgeon, lying dead in front of them. She's never seen this healer, the women must be new. 

"I'm sorry, Mom," Ava's lips quiver as she squeezes her mother's hand one last time before letting go. She's had weeks to cry, yet a tear still surfaced. Irate, her eyes beam animosity toward the healer. Closing the distance between them, Ava steps so close that the other woman leans away, uncomfortable.

"Parting time is only five minutes now? What I heard is true. You've all become insensitive." She examines the healer. Usually healer's expressions are soft, their voices comforting, but not since the disease. Their structured white shirts and trousers are unwashed, spotted with blood and dirt. With tiresome eyes, their words are short, their voices coated in stress. 

"You got your time, Ava. We need this room," the healer stood up straighter, knowing she had full capability of throwing Ava out of the room. The sad truth is, she wouldn't be surprised if the healer did if she stayed any longer. 

Ava exits before she shoves the women into the wall. Clenching her fists she feels the rising anger. Hurting any healer will result in an arrest, and in all honestly, it may not be a bad place to stay at the moment. Penitentiaries contain glass cells that cage the detainee, and maybe that is the best place to be. Now, it would be a form of protection from the outside world.

Emptiness crowds each room she passes. What's left of the supplies is sparsely spread between them. Orange lasers beam from the front room doors, preventing all but certifiable healers from passing. She remembers this place feeling like magic as a child, but not anymore.

Passing an occupied room, Ava realizes the patient on the bed is dying. The patient's skin cracks, crimson rashes spreading throughout her body. 

The shaking has begun. The patient's body is raising above it's normal temperature, and her insides are burning. The patient doesn't scream; the medicine helps with the pain for now, but soon nothing will stop the torture.

Ava turns away. She could gag from the sight. The air smells of burnt flesh, and sweat. She shouldn't be able to still react to the smell from the amount of exposure she has had of it, but who could get use to the reek of death? 

These white metal walls torment her now, the whole place sickening her. Almost everyone she's loved has died within these walls. Her father, sister, now-

Mother. 

She is to go home now, but go home to what? Her empty house?

She has to. There is no other choice.

For many weeks she has been forced to process her family's deaths. After all, they weren't immune to the disease. Yet, she still feels she will hear the softness of her mother's voice, see her sister's shining blonde hair in the sun, and the warmth of her father's embrace. Her heart cries out from this realization. 

Those are all just memories now, a place in time where she was happy.

Heading for the exit, two Division Enforcements Envoys approach her. She should be used to their firm, ebony uniforms, for her father wore the same ones. But, something is off. If Division enforcements are here, the vanquish of the disease has begun.

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