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In total, 19, badgers were culled in the badger cull in England. Farmers will be allowed to kill badgers across England after an expansion of the culling program, which previously only allowed the animals to be killed in areas deemed to be at high risk of bovine TB.

The WKBG is opposed to the cull and gives its full support to those challenging it and to those groups who are vaccinating badgers in their areas. For more information on how you can support those fighting the cull, contact The Badger Trust via badgertrust. The poorest caveman in the darkest days of humanity would have had better quarters.

Yet despite these miserable surroundings, this is where these people feel most comfortable. I move past Houston while lowering myself. My face and the little girl's face are at the same level. The bleeding is finished, and it never was bad. She sniffs to prove that she can breathe, and when I smile, her smile turns more genuine.

She is suspicious, but she wants to believe that she can go back to her day. He hit you with his foot. With his hand. Then I make myself tall, my face above every head. Take your daughter out of here. I watch the adults. I watch him. Then it is just the two of us inside that filthy little room, and I put down my satchel and grab the boy by the head, squeezing hard enough that his eyes bug out.

There was a thirty-year window where humans touched Mars and the asteroids and flew bracingly close to Venus and Mercury. Every successful mission had its doctor, and after serving the expedition to Vesta—the final deep-space mission—my lineage was put to work on the increasingly fragile earth. That's when the earliest stations were being built: Huge complexes of sealed buildings and greenhouses and solar farms, recycling systems proved in space reclaiming water and trash.

But instead of caring for small crews of highly trained specialists, the new doctors were called on to culture optimism in tens of thousands of ill-prepared citizens.

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Perhaps this is why each of those giant stations failed. Too many bodies meant too many variables. Inadequate planning and political turmoil proved to be decisive enemies. In the end, what survived were the small-scale, isolated stations. Purity and New Beginnings and The Three Cycles of Charm were burnt out shells, but a thousand obscure, nameless hamlets like mine passed into the next century, and then the next. I am the last kind of doctor: A mock-human machine built to mimic the warmest, most trusted elements of caregivers, but with skills and codes recognizing what is best for my patient.

This is what I am thinking when the boy smiles at his own hands. Only when he bolsters his courage with some dangerous thought can he look at me. Orlando is healthier than most fourteen year-olds—taller and stronger than one would expect, knowing his genetics and the daily ration. These are the blessings of being a gifted scavenger and thief. Through most of human history, that handsome, well-fed exterior would serve him well. But everybody knows his face already. That face smiles at me, and his mouth narrows, and he says, "I'm not scared.

A man's voice is beginning to emerge, and his shoulders promise an easy, increasingly dangerous strength. Cull me. I'll just find a better place to live. He nods, delight brightening the brown eyes. The rats caught him, I heard. A day or two later, wasn't it? And the boy agrees. I know how to survive. Terror tactics don't work if your target refuses to be scared. Just slightly, Orlando flinches. Then with a skill that can only impress, he lies. He says, "I don't know what you mean.

One has dried food, the other tools and the tarp that have gone missing in the last year. Yes, they are standing in the hallway, on the other side of this door. But they're scared and very sad, and they don't want to hear what I am telling you. So they aren't listening.

They've never been so sick with worry, and that's why I can tell you this, Orlando. Since you are a smart boy One injection leaves the brain laced with my agents, my most talented fingers. This is an official secret, and Orlando is being invited into the knowing circle. He recognizes the importance of the moment. Relaxing, he breathes and drops his shoulders, his pleasure matching that very smug grin.

How crazy is that? It has been my strategy for years. You are sane and sober while the others are neither, and I knew conflicts would arise. Some incident.

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Some excuse. This is a day both of us saw coming, and that's why you stole those supplies, and that's why I allowed it. No, that isn't your fate, Orlando. You must believe me. We need to walk past the lake and meet the others. The boy listens and dresses, and then he cannot move any longer. My answer takes him by surprise.

I have never seen such a broad honest smile. One boot is on and untied, the other in his hands, and he is so happy that he cries, and that's when my human hand reaches, one of those tears feeling my touch, slipping off the eye and the lash to form a perfect bead resting lightly on my least useful finger. People fill the hallway, waiting.

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And everyone sees what he needs to see. The cool clean agent of decency takes the lead, quietly begging the others to step away, to leave them room. Behind the doctor walks the criminal, the scourge. Nothing about Orlando appears worried. He struts and flashes his grin, even when his parents fall in behind him. Dhaka sobs and moans and wraps her arms around her panting chest. Houston takes responsibility for the daughter, holding the little hand while staring at his son's erect back, his face pinched and pained but the remnants of a thirty-year smile refusing to melt away.

Our audience follows us into the public plaza—a space of high ceilings and vibrant colors, the black rubber floor wearing to pieces in the high-traffic areas. More people wait there. The station's entire population gathers, including three citizens that should be in bed. Everybody needs to see Orlando one last time, and he loves the attention. He shows them a cocky, smug creature, which is best. Which is my intention. Nobody is going to feel sorry for him. Nobody will ever miss him. This ridiculous image is what they will remember—a crazed man-child being led to his demise—and nobody will ache for what has been lost.

The station's inner door stands open. Orlando passes me at the end, grabbing the filter mask and goggles from the peg wearing his name. But he doesn't put them on. He has to look back at the others, throwing out one mocking laugh. Then his mother grabs him, and he endures her smothering hug while winking at his angry, sorrowful father. I pull the mask from Orlando's hands, placing it over his careless mouth. But then he kneels, putting his face in front of his sister. Touching the nose and a last bit of dried blood, he tells that scared little girl, "It's nothing.

You're better already. And be happy. Now you get three more bites every day. He stands and puts on the goggles, and after adjusting the straps until comfortable, he calls out to everybody, "What's the delay?


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Let's get this chore done. There is one light. I spread the beam, giving us a good view of the path leading down to the lake. It is January and dark. My light hides whatever stars might be showing through the dust and clouds that cling to these mountains. It is a rare night, the air chilly enough to make breath visible. Orlando pulls the work gloves from his pocket, trying to keep his fingers warm.

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Then he repeats that magical word. There was a lot of cargo, and the one ship returned for no reason except to fool people. Their plan was to convince the world that the little world had been touched and then abandoned. That's what gave the colonists time and peace enough to build what was needed. They built reliable habitats with room for the children to explore and grow and new ships were built, and when the children were grown, they flew to new asteroids. That was the dream—a desperate last gambit to give humanity new homes.

He believes me. Young legs push, almost running. Looking over his shoulder, he says, "And why the secrecy? So the big earth stations didn't launch desperate missions.

So they didn't try to pour too many bodies into that final lifeboat. He asked that same question before. Once again, I say, "I don't know. The voices from the sky won't tell me. The trail flattens into sand and gravel packed smooth, and we step onto the lake's surface. Last summer was long and exceptionally dry, leaving the top layers dry as old bone. But ten meters down is moisture, and thirty meters deep is water enough to last until the next good rain. Our feet make crunching sounds on the dry gravel. We walk and he slows, and that's when I ask, "Where did you bury them?

Orlando searches for his landmark—one of the access pipes, sealed and leading down to the water table.

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