Kira's dream keeps coming back. Is it a warning? All she knows is that her destiny lies intertwined with the prison planet. Will Chavez understand?
Just as Kira was about to start explaining her dream to Chavez, the alarm on the incoming monitor flashed red. Chavez hit the alarm. Damn! Just when I was getting somewhere! It was a call from Arcturus. He pressed the sensor to bring the image on the forward screen.
“Greetings, Chavez!” A bushy headed man in his fifties wearing a white lab coat appeared on the screen. He was a quirky character, with an Albert Einstein appearance.
“Dr. Winters! So glad you got my message.”
“Tell me, is our young lady present?” Can we talk freely?
“Yes. She’s right here.” No, she’s listening.
“Please introduce her to me, will you?” Let me have a look at her.
“Dr. Winters, this is Kira. She is looking quite well for her ordeal.” It’s hard to see anything on the outside.
“Hello, Kira. You are exceptionally lovely.” I can’t see anything out of the ordinary.
Kira raised an eyebrow. “Hello, Dr. Winters. Thank you for the compliment. Are you our passenger?”
Dr. Winters smiled. “You are perceptive. Yes, I will be accompanying you to Vega Minor.”
Kira whirled around to face Chavez. “I thought we were going to Planet 452. You lied to me!”
“Our plans have changed. We need to go to Vega Minor.” Chavez could feel the atmosphere change as Kira frowned, then dodged the hot cup of coffee she suddenly threw at him. She scowled while she gripped her fists together and stomped off towards the sliding double doors. After she passed through them and was gone, Dr. Winters stroked his chin.
“Is she always that volatile?”
“Are you kidding? This is calm for her, doc. I haven’t slept since she’s been on board. Kira is demanding and spoiled rotten. She even tried to steal my ship from me!”
“I see. I’m prepared to come aboard as soon as you get here, so buzz me when you get in range and I’ll fly out to meet you.”
“Expect to hear from me in six hours.”
“Excellent. Dr. Winters out.”
Captain Luthius Maddeson hissed out a laugh as he finished listening to the translation of the intercepted message. He had been systematically searching through all the star systems in the galaxy trying to find the prey that had slipped through his fingers without a trace. But a simple thing like an unprotected message had not only given away Chavez’s position, but also his destination. The captain folded his webbed fingers together and grinned, showing his gleaming white incisors that looked more like the pointed teeth on a Terran alligator. He turned in his chair to face his navigator as his words slurred out in their guttural intonations.
“Ah, my little birds, I have you now! The warden will be pleased by this turn of events. Navigator, plot a course to Arcturus and tell me the arrival time.”
After a moment, the navigator replied, “Eight solar hours, captain.”
“That’s too long!” He pounded on the arm of his chair in frustration. “They’ll already be on their way to Vega Minor. Plot an intercept course two solar hours out from Arcturus to Vega Minor. Allow for varying speeds and course deviations.”
“Course plotted, captain.”
“Change course to intercept course... now. I'll be in my quarters and I don't want to be disturbed.”
Captain Maddeson went to his private quarters off to the side of the bridge. He needed privacy for the call he was about to make. He had waited to contact the warden until he could report that he had found the female. It would still be difficult to admit that he had lost her. It would mean a loss in credits because of the wasted time. But he was a mercenary and used to dealing with the warden. He placed his call and waited. During the time he had to wait, Captain Maddeson sat glumly before his screen, trying to decide how much information to divulge. If he disclosed too much, it would mean a humiliating conversation that the warden would use to his advantage. Finally, after an interminably long wait, he had a connection.
“To whom do you wish to speak?” A Terran male answered in the common Terran language onscreen. He was dressed in the uniform of the prison guards. He wore an all-black jumpsuit with a red 452 patch on the left shoulder.
Captain Maddeson flipped on his universal translator. “Tell the warden Captain Maddeson is waiting.”
A moment later, the screen lit up revealing a pudgy, red-faced man sitting behind a giant mahogany desk. He was wiping his forehead with a silk handkerchief and frowning at the screen. “Where have you been, Maddeson? I’ve been waiting to hear from you for quite some time. I’m assuming you have the female, Kira, from the auction?” The warden drew a heavy breath and mopped his forehead again.
“I am on an intercept course as we speak.”
“So, you do not have her. This is very disappointing. It complicates things. She was a special experiment and shouldn’t have gotten out of our hands in the first place. But since that is not your fault, I will not hold you responsible. Our agreement was that you’d find the female and get her back. You have another forty-eight hours before I call in help from other sources.”
“That won’t be necessary, warden. You’ll have the female by the deadline. She’s with someone else I think you’ll remember - Chavez.”
“Now that is a most interesting development.” But the warden wasn’t smiling. “Oh and Captain… we need Kira alive.”
The screen darkened as the warden cut Captain Maddeson off without so much as a proper goodbye. He gritted his teeth, more determined than ever to get his reward for this retrieval. Especially for the added benefit of Chavez being there. It was common knowledge that Chavez had escaped from the warden many years ago and had been a thorn in his side ever since.
And what was this experiment that the warden talked about? Could it be of any value to him? When he got ahold of the female, it might be good to have some information about this. He would have to contact his informants on the planet and find out what was going on. He didn’t have any time to waste if he wanted to bargain with the warden. If the warden called in the bounty hunters, his other source, the captain would have a race on his hands to get his credits. A plan formed in his mind and he hissed through his teeth, laughing out loud. He would lay a false trail for the bounty hunters that would be fresh enough for them to follow into the next galaxy! He turned to the navigator.
“Plot a course across the galaxy, opposite of ours, and send an ion trail in that direction.”
A few minutes later the navigator answered, “Buoy launched, Captain.”
To be continued...
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from The Chameleon Effect. I will be posting more chapters soon.