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? Dr. Winters has diagnosed Kira with the Chameleon Effect and in an attempt to halt its progress, he will use Chavez's DNA. But Kira has other plans and escapes off Chavez's ship, without a word to anyone. Chavez decides to go after her. Kira remembers that her sister is being held hostage and she must return to the prison planet in order to barter for her freedom. But before she can get there, she is captured by Captain Maddeson, who is demanding payment for her return to the warden.
Chavez had almost caught up with the shuttlecraft containing Kira, when it suddenly went off-screen. The only other ship in the area was Orgarian and Chavez knew by its markings that it was Captain Luthius Maddeson’s ship. By the ion trail he had followed, that intersected with the other ship, he knew she had been taken by Maddeson. Since he didn’t have the resources or the firepower to fight an Orgarian battleship, he decided to follow them to their destination. But that was not without objections from Dr. Winters.
“Are you out of your mind? We can’t get her back from the Orgarians. If they know you plan on trying to rescue her, they’ll blow this ship from this side of the galaxy to the next. And I don’t want to be here when that happens. Besides, you know without the antidote I made, she’ll probably die.”
Chavez whipped his head from the screen and glared at Dr. Winters. “You don’t know that! She could still live!”
“Okay, I’ll admit it, I don’t know. Now you admit something. Admit that you love her and that’s why you’re following her beyond all reason. Admit it!”
“Okay, I admit it! I love her! And even if I didn’t tell her, I think she knows it. That’s why I can’t understand why she left.”
“She left because there’s someone else on the planet that she’s protecting. That’s what I think. You can think whatever you want. If you fought off all those Orgarians and won right now, she still wouldn’t go with you. The Chameleon Effect is in her brain and she’s changing, Chavez. She’s not the same person you met a few days ago, or the same person you were looking for ten months ago. Her parents would be strangers to her. Let her go!”
“I can’t do that!”
Chavez straightened up from his maps and stomped around the bridge. While they continued to argue, they missed the red blip that announced a small vessel coming along side. They were being boarded! Suddenly, an airlock burst open! Two Orgarian soldiers, dressed in their drab grey and black, armed with blasters, ran through the ship and appeared on the bridge. One took aim at Chavez and the other at Dr. Winters.
One of the Orgarians spoke in broken Terran standard to them. “We have message from Captain Maddeson to you. Stay away!”
At that moment, one of the Orgarians looked like he was going to fire his blaster at Chavez, so Dr. Winters made a lunge to jump in front of him. This caused the two Orgarians to open fire on Dr. Winters. When they did, it gave Chavez time to draw his pistol and fire back at both Orgarians. They dropped instantly, but so did Dr. Winters. Chavez dropped on his knees next to him.
“Doc… can you hear me? Damn, Doc, what’d you have to go and do that for?” Chavez cradled his head in his arms, examining the two wounds on his chest.
“If you love her… go after her.” Dr. Winters whispered, pressing the tube with the antidote into his hand. He breathed one last heavy breath and was dead.
Chavez never cried at death. He’d watched a lot of slaves die when he was young and even had to kill others when they fired upon him. Still, he never cried. But as he cleaned up Dr. Winters and prepared to eject him in a burial tube, he felt tears brimming in his lids.
“I’m gonna miss you, Doc.” He fired the blast to eject the tube into space as his eyes blurred with the overflowing tears.
Chavez removed the two Orgarians and kept their shuttle, in case he might need extra transportation some time. Then he worked off his anger by planning his assault on Prison Planet 452. But he had to do something first. He had to report to The Agency. If they denied his proposed plan, he’d quit The Agency and become a mercenary. He’d fight fire with fire. Whichever way, these mercenaries and the warden had to come down. But first, he had to get to Kira before it was too late to inject her with the antidote. The clock was ticking and he had very little time.
To be continued...