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“Worthless,” spits Conrad. “Kitchen oregano in a cheap capsule!”

“Cilantro, actually,” says Williams. Her voice is rich, mild and faintly mocking.

“And you claim they perform miracles. How can you possibly justify–”

“The contention that the pills’ contents cause no direct chemical change doesn’t mean they’re ineffective.” Williams is smiling. One of her teeth is gold. “There are older and more basic forces at work. We are legitimately changing people’s lives. We’re–” She leans forward, thumbing an intercom. “What did I call us, Van?”

“‘Consorts and enablers of the placebo effect,'” says a tinny voice.

“Yes,” she says. “That.”