Chavez works for The Agency and has been assigned to rescue Kira Rostropovich and return her to Vega Minor, where she resides with her parents. After being in prison and being 'bought' by Chavez in an auction, Kira is not happy about being searched by Chavez. But he finds a tracking device on her right before a mercenary, Captain Maddeson, finds them and demands that Kira be turned over to him. Chavez immediately makes a sudden jump across the galaxy, much to Kira's surprise! While exploring Chavez's ship, Kira finds a plush garden, but is startled by a watchful Chavez who she keeps at arms length. Kira continues to have nightmares and is haunted by the fact that her life is in danger. She demands to go back to Prison Planet 452, but Chavez has someone to add to his crew complement first.
Chavez set coordinates for Arcturus in the Delta quadrant and engaged the engines. He would have to push it to get there as soon as possible, since Kira was deteriorating rapidly. He needed some expert advice and there was only one man who understood the latest studies on genetics and laser irradiation that Chavez trusted. He would be able to tell what was happening to Kira and whether Chavez had gotten to her in time.
Chavez hadn't slept since bringing Kira on board. The strain was starting to wear on him, but he didn't dare leave the bridge unguarded after her attempt at removing him so she could fly the ship back to Prison Planet 452. He needed to find out what happened there. He finally had his opportunity to question her when she woke up from sleeping and calmly entered the bridge. The dulled night time lights suddenly brightened as 0600 hours was announced.
"Good morning, Kira." He offered her a steaming hot cup of Earth coffee.
She eyed the cup. "Aren't you the gentleman this morning? What's in it?"
"Coffee, Earth style."
She accepted the cup, but waited for Chavez to drink from his cup first. "Thanks. I guess I am a little paranoid this morning."
"Why? All I've done is try to protect you."
"That's what I don't understand. Why was that Captain Maddeson accusing me of being an escaped prisoner?" She paused to take a sip of coffee. "I was sold."
"It's part of the game of acquisitions. They sell you, and then take you back. Then sell you again and take you back again. It's a slave trading racket that keeps you caught in the middle. And the few idiots who buy from the auctions either hand you over or get killed. Either way, the warden gains a profit."
Kira looked blank for a moment. "How do you know so much about the warden's game?"
"I was sold as a slave when I was a young boy. That's how I got these." Chavez gritted his teeth and pointed to the scars running down both sides of his face. "I made a smart remark about the warden and he didn't like it. He said they would help me remember my place. I vowed then and there to learn everything about my place and then get out of it. And I did. I escaped when I was a young man. That's how I know so much and why I know it's such a bad place."
"What happened to your family?"
"I only remember my mother and we were separated after we were sold. They told me she died. That's when I escaped." Chavez had a faraway look in his eyes for just a moment, and then his face became hard. "You need to stay as far away from there as you possibly can. The warden has a long memory and will continue to hunt you down."
"But you don't understand. I need to go back. It's not just a whim I have, it's important that I go."
"I think you've been programmed to go back. It's their guarantee that their property, you, will continue to be theirs."
Kira's eyes grew large and her eyebrows shot up. "Programmed? Like in a room, with a table..." She stopped talking and looked away.
"What? Do you remember something?"
Kira let out a breath. "Just a dream."
"Dreams are important."
Just as she was about to start explaining her dream, the alarm on the incoming monitor flashed red. Damn! Just when I was getting somewhere! It was a call from Arcturus. Chavez pressed the sensor to bring the image on the forward screen.
To be continued...
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from The Chameleon Effect. Don't forget to sign up for my launch party for my new novella Medieval Muse, which will be offered as a free read from Smashwords starting August 1st.