The tour

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The tour

Her breath was becoming labored. It was always like this after working a full shift in the zone. The dust made her throat dry and her lungs ache. The feeling of every pore in her body closing in response to the biological assault was all too familiar. She had been on the Tour now for three months; many people did not survive more than two, and she theoretically had to serve five. There wasn't anyone she knew that had actually completed their Tour, except for Xern, and his respiratory system had been replaced at least twice. But now Sweepers were just as expendable as cars used to be -- internal organs could be replaced or even upgraded, but it eventually became more cost effective to generate a new body than to constantly maintain an old one.

Besides, the Sweepers did not seem to be of use to anyone, beyond the task they performed. And after working a full shift, they were not even of use to themselves. Sometimes she was so mentally and physically spent that she would barely make it through the evening recalibration before falling asleep -- only to wake up feverish a few hours later. Tonight was no exception. It hurt so much to breathe, let alone cough or yawn. She had trained herself to take short, even breaths, because any sudden or deep intake

sent a stabbing sensation throughout her chest. She couldn't even remember the last time she felt healthy. It was certainly sometime before she received that notice on her monitor:

The Federal Medical Management and Research Association has identified a particular segment of your DNA that indicates immunity to BH-247XN30. This immunity merits a rarity of 5 on the Milton Scale, and has been identified in only .000014% of the population. Less than 5% of the same have been randomly selected to participate in Tour 598E that begins 1645/28/07/2048…

She had only vaguely heard of these Tours up until that point. They were of the vicious rumor variety, much like the perpetual threat of a comet-Earth collision. After she received the notice, she accessed the information site for the Tours. The laws governing them had been implemented 1022/03/05/2045, almost three years earlier. When she checked her voting account, she discovered that she had even submitted her approval for the laws.

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