Tara paced up and down occasionally glancing at the monitor and then grimacing and glancing away. She hated medical gathering runs. She hated idiots, she hated the whingers, she hated having to treat minor things that didn’t really need supplies wasted on them. This was why. She looked at the monitor again and then looked away as one of the security cameras showed an image of a man falling into a vat of what looked like boiling quick-sap, his flesh melting from his bones as he screamed and thrashed, taking too long to die. She sat down at her desk and put her head in her hands. When would people understand? Most things didn’t need anti-biotics or pain killers, just a long lie down in a dark room and plenty of fluids. Antibacterial soaps and uses of drugs enmasse in food stocks had almost killed humanity in the 21st century, and people today still hadn’t learned their lessons. So because Ensign Smith had a cold and had to have something for it, or because Private Jones had a tooth ache that meant that… She glanced down at the list of people who had gone into the arboretum this time and checked off the man who’d just died, drawing a line through his name in red biro. That meant that Lieutenant Davies had just been boiled alive and would never return home to his wife and two kids. They’d be without a husband and father because the whinging mass populace needed fucking paracetamol. She picked up something heavy from her desk and launched it, it sailed out of the doors and smashed against the far wall of the medibay. A small skutter crept from beneath a cot and began to sweep up the mess.

She sat down and placed her head in her hands, sighing. That’s when she saw the name on the list. The one name that to this day had always never been there. One of the small few that knew the truth behind the tree and so had never gone into the arboretum. Jay Chrysler. She swore and flicked through the security monitors.

“Fucks sake Chrysler. You better not be there to ruin this. You know we need it. You know what it does.” She whispered. She glanced up at the monitor and wondered if there would have been a better way. Perhaps if they’d had more time, or if the food supplies hadn’t been so low… She sighed. She heard the medibay doors swing open.

“Get out!” she roared, but the person didn’t. Instead entering into her office. It was Captain Ashley, she had a manila folder in her hands and placed it on Tara’s desk.

“Why weren’t we all told?” She said, looking at Tara.

“You’ve read it. All of it?” She said gazing at the folder and picking it up, regret on her face.

“Yes.” Ashley said, her face dark.

“Then you know. We had no other choice. It was that or starve.” Tara said, shrugging.

“But it was murder! How could you agree to it.” Ashley growled at the Doctor.

“I know… It still is. I almost wish I hadn’t.” She said, looking at the security monitors.

“Deck 13 was seen as expendable. We had to find a way to secure the future growth of the arboretum. It was… Everything was dying. We needed to kick-start the growth again. Doctor Ventrite said… It was the only way. He… He lead the project. He.. volunteered to go in as well…” Tara said, hating herself for going along, for the deaths that resulted.

“So that monster in there. That thing that kills everyone who goes into the arboretum… It’s literally composed of every psychopath, murderer, rapist and criminal we could find?!” Ashley yelled.

“And a handful of project volunteers and prison guards who thought they could keep control of the gestalt. It fertilizes the arboretum, it’s linked into every plant and living thing there making sure that it all grows. Making sure the ship gets enough oxygen…” She looked up and met Ashley’s’ eyes.

“You are the only survivor of the project. How have you kept this to yourself all this time?” Ashley said, realising now the full impact of what had been done.

“I didn’t… I told Chrysler. I confided in him at the time…” She looked down at the roster. Ashley did the same and her face went pale.

“Fuck… What’s he going to do? If they kill it, we all die. Not right away, but soon. Right?” Ashley sat down in a chair and rubbed her temples. Tara just shrugged.

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