by Ariel Djanikian
The Office of Mercy is one of many offices in the domed society of America Five, which stretches above ground in the shape of a flower, and below ground in a number of floors that make up the flower stem. It has been two hundred years since the Storm wiped out most of the citizens on the planet not living in one of the domed Americas, and since then scientists within the structures have perfected the ability for humans to live more than 10 decades, and to be reproduced in laboratory test tubes. This perfect world also includes an immunity to germs and regenerative cells, perfectly portioned and delicious meals, and gardens and virtual recreational opportunities. In fact, this world is so perfect that it is truly dismal to consider life on the outside, which is where the Office of Mercy becomes necessary. In order to prevent needless human suffering, the Office of Mercy is tasked with identifying and "sweeping" any human Tribes remaining on the outside. Natasha, one of the Office of Mercy staff, witnesses a clean sweep of one entire Tribe celebrating the results of a fruitful hunt with a feast. They never see the nova ray coming or know that the Office of Mercy has been watching their movements for weeks via sensors. After this sweep, Natasha turns her attention to a bigger tribe--but her blissful world is shaken the day that one of these Tribesman turns toward the sensor she uses to monitor...and looks right at her.