Friday, August 31, 2012

Excerpt from The Chameleon Effect #8

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! 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.
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? It is six hours away from rendezvousing with Dr. Winters, who will attempt to help Kira with her problems. But Captain Maddeson is on an intercept course to capture them and return them to the warden. Will they escape?

Upon boarding Dr. Winters, Chavez altered their flight plan to arrive at Darius, in the Merridian sector, before returning to Vega Minor. Something in his gut told him this retrieval of Kira had been too easy. Captain Maddeson didn’t give up when credits were involved, so he was out there somewhere, coiled like a cobra, ready to strike. What Chavez didn’t know was how closely he had missed him. But what he did know was that by diverting their flight to Darius, it would give Dr. Winters ample time to examine Kira.

Chavez escorted the small, wiry doctor, whose head came just up to Chavez’s shoulders, to the personal living space he kept as his own quarters. He had packed away his private effects so Dr. Winters could make himself comfortable. Gone were Chavez’s bear skin rug and ornamental throwing knives. What was left gave the space a Spartan appearance, but Chavez knew the doctor had a lot of expensive medical equipment to fill up the room. He’d been close friends with Dr. Winters for many years and willingly gave up the large quarters to the one person he could call his friend.

“Doc, you can have the first door on your left for your quarters.” Chavez had moved his personal belongings to the bridge and would sleep there or in smaller quarters so the doctor could have as much room as possible for his equipment.


He peered into the room and stepped in long enough to unburden himself with an armload of equipment. Then he turned to Chavez with anticipation written all over his face.

“Where is Kira? I’d like to get a good look at her as soon as possible.” Dr. Winters followed Chavez to Kira’s quarters and waited while he pressed the pad that would announce to Kira she had visitors. But there was no answer.

“Kira? We’d like to see you.” Chavez spoke into the comm-link. He pressed the entry pad when Kira didn’t open the door. The door was locked, but Chavez bypassed it with his entry code and it slid into the wall allowing the two men entry into her quarters. They found Kira lying on the bed with her eyes fluttering and drenched in sweat. She was startled by their intrusion, causing her to jump up and lunge forward into a defensive stance.

“How dare you enter my quarters uninvited!  Just what do you want?” she shouted. Her breath was rapid and her eyes burned with fire.

Dr. Winters stepped forward to calm her. “Kira, we’re not here to hurt you. You didn’t answer your door and we were worried about you.” He offered her a towel.

Kira relaxed her stance and accepted it. After wiping the sweat from her face and neck, she asked, “You’re that doctor I met from Arcturus. What do you want?”

Dr. Winters nodded and smiled. “I’m Dr. Winters. We met via the comm-link. I’d like to examine you, if you’ll allow it. I understand you’ve been having some dreams?”

Kira averted her gaze. “So. Chavez told you.”

“Yes, but I think there might be a way to get them to stop. Or, to figure out what they signify.”

Kira nodded as she threw the towel on the bed. “I’d like that. What do you want me to do?”

“May I look at your back?”

Kira hesitated, sizing up the small, wiry man and then turning to Chavez. “Does he have to stay?”

“Of course not.” Dr. Winters turned to Chavez and ousted him with a wave of his hand. “Excuse us for a minute, will you Chavez?”

Chavez made a display of unhappiness at being told to leave, but he sauntered out, flipping his ponytail over his shoulder as he gave one last look at Kira.

After he was gone, Dr. Winters smiled and asked, “Would you mind lowering the top of your jumpsuit so I could see your back?”

Kira turned around slowly as she unzipped her silver jumpsuit. Dr. Winters gingerly pulled down the top of her suit so he could see her back. His eyes widened as he saw what he thought might be there: mottling on either side of the spine, all the way up to her neck. He was silent while he measured the size of the spots, pressed on them to see their depth and if they caused any pain. Then he carefully pulled her jumpsuit back up, turned her around and examined her arms and wrists, which were clear.

“Thank you, Kira.” Dr. Winters said. “May I take a blood sample?”

Kira shrugged. “What’s wrong? What did you see on my back?”

Dr. Winters gave Kira a reassuring look. “I think someone has injected you with autonomous transposons, which are elemental genes that can move from one place to another along your chromosomes. It appears they are travelling up the spinal column at the moment. I’ll know more after I see your blood work.”

“I don’t understand what you’re talking about. What does all that mean?”

“There are special genes that are affecting the chromosomes in your DNA along your spinal cord. They caused the spots to appear.”

Kira’s eyes grew large and round and her face paled. “Am I going to die?”

“I haven’t seen any evidence of death, yet, but it is serious.”

Kira closed her eyes and shook her head to steady herself. “I can’t believe all this is happening to me! First my memory and now this! What am I supposed to do about it?”

There was an insistent chiming of the doorbell and then rapping on the door. Dr. Winters knew Chavez wanted to know the outcome of his examination. After getting an affirmative nod from Kira, he stepped over and pressed the privacy button to unlock the door. It opened with a hiss and an impatient Chavez stormed in.

“So what’s happening?”

After receiving another nod from Kira, Dr. Winters filled him in on her primary diagnosis.

“Those spots weren’t there two days ago.” Chavez insisted.

“That means the genes are moving quickly through her nervous system.”

“But why would they inject her in the first place?” Chavez asked.

Kira waved her arms before Chavez and Dr. Winters to interrupt their conversation. “Hey! I am in the room, guys. Don’t talk about me like I’m not here!”

Dr. Winters turned to her. “I think you might have been injected for experimental gene reproduction and to see if you would adapt to your surroundings. Why they sold you in the auction is a mystery still.”

Chavez watched as Kira’s eyes filled with tears, but he didn’t want to embarrass her by bringing up her pain. His desire to comfort her was overridden by his hate for the one who had done this to her: the warden. He wanted to get even. Not only for Kira, but for all the people he’d wreaked havoc on. But his reverie was interrupted when Dr. Winters turned to Kira and asked,

“ Kira, can you tell me about your dreams?”

Kira closed her eyes, and then began describing her dream. “All I can remember is being inside a white room, strapped to a hard bed or table and someone comes towards me. I start to ask for help and I wake up. It’s the same each time. Except this last time, the person gets to me and he has something in his hand.”

“Can you see what it is?” Dr. Winters tried to push her on into the dream image.

“No, it’s all blurry. But it’s small, like a pen or needle.”

“A laser-syringe, maybe?”

“Yes! That’s what it is!”

“What happens next?”

Kira opened her eyes and sighed. “I don’t know. It’s all a blank, but I bet I get injected like you said I did.”

Dr. Winters exchanged looks with Chavez as he pressed a laser syringe on her finger to get the blood sample. “Probably so. Kira, you rest now and I’ll look at your blood work. We’ll talk after that, okay?”

Kira gave a half smile, which didn’t go unnoticed by Chavez. Was she actually trying to smile?
To be continued...


  1. Sneaky crawly genes creeping up her spinal column... ewww! Didn't see that one coming. :-D The plot thickens!

    1. Rettakat: And that's just the beginning of it!