Excerpt of NEW Chapter 1 of Tamisan

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Chapter 1

I felt a strange apprehension when I stepped out of the shuttle into the sunlight and it sent a shiver down my spine, but the feeling quickly subsided as I looked around me. This place was magnificent! It was a tropical jungle paradise. Tall trees surrounded us on all sides. The only break in the canopy big enough to let in the sunlight properly was the clearing where our small shuttle, the Outrider, had landed for emergency repairs.

It was so wild and free and different to the world I knew. I’d grown up on Earth, which was so ordered and sterile and ‘civilised’.

Craning my neck, I turned in a circle. All around us were huge tree trunks with vines that intertwined around them and through the branches of smaller trees and shrubs, slowly choking them to death while reaching ever upward to the sun. There were ferns that spread their fronds several metres in all directions and fungi in various shades of orange, red and yellow. The scents and smells of a hundred flowers, plants and animals were concentrated in the thick, humid air.

The other five passengers around me were awed by Althar 3’s beauty too, and they stood open-mouthed in the clearing. I stifled a laugh. We looked ridiculous.

We’d travelled across the universe to start work with the Voyager Division to study and observe the natives on this super-primitive planet, but the shuttle taking us from the main ship to the surface had developed engine trouble, forcing us to land in the middle of the dense jungle.

We were headed to Station Jannali, a hidden underground base somewhere in this jungle, and now we were getting an up-close-and-personal look at the local scenery.

The shuttle pilot had already started working on the engine.

As soon as Station Jannali had heard that we had to land, they’d located a suitable spot and given us orders to collect some plant and soil samples so we could make ourselves useful. They gave us a list of the kinds of plants that they wanted, so we took some sampling equipment and a PocketPC that contained the pictures they’d sent of what was required. We spread out, wandering amongst the vines and blooms at the edge of the clearing.

I didn’t start work straight away. My mind was trying to process everything I was seeing. It was so surreal. We’d been briefed on the flora and fauna on Althar and what to expect, including the kind of wildlife that lurked in the jungle, and it was actually full of very large and very dangerous creatures that basically belonged in the Jurassic or Cretaceous Period of Earth’s distant past.

Another shiver travelled the length of my spine at the thought. What if one of those dinosaur look-alikes was nearby right now? Why did Jannali give permission for us to wander around out here without any training or weapons for protection? What kind of company had I signed up with?

I started to think that maybe I’d made a huge mistake. I was a new graduate from the Academy. I was qualified to deal with computer-related problems. I had so many options open to me, but I chose to go to the edge of the Known Universe. I must be crazy.

What was I doing here? Why did I apply for a job way out here? Was my life at the Academy that boring that I jumped at the first opportunity to go off-planet?

My mind answered immediately. Yes.

That realisation had my mind reeling. I’d been prepared to leave everything and everyone I’d ever known. That was kind of scary.

Part of our work would involve studying the family units, which would be weird – also very intriguing – for some members of our group because we didn’t have families. We were cloned and raised in groups according to age and gender.

I’d learned about the family units that existed in some of the older cultures on Earth and other planets. There were some people on Earth who were against cloning.

A sound like something flapping around in the breeze, followed by an ear-splitting screech, pulled me from my thoughts and I turned to see a large leather-winged reptile flapping its wings madly as it made its way across the clearing, bringing screams from the other female crew members, Larissa and Bazeelia. Even Janssen and Lanu gave a shout as the creature flew past.

Bazeelia was a tall Ziflarian with long, black curly hair that she kept tied up in a high ponytail. She scowled at Janssen and Lanu for laughing at her. “Don’t be laughin’ at me. That thing was a monster! And it scared you too!”

Janssen turned to her, his long white-blonde hair almost blindingly bright in the sunshine. “Hey. Take it easy. We’re just messin’ with ya.”

Lanu got up awkwardly from the spot where he was kneeling in the dirt and stalked over to them. “You’ve got to admit it was amazing though.”

Bazeelia stared at him open-mouthed. “Amazing? No. It wasn’t. It was terrifying!”

Lanu just smiled, a look of awe on his face. “But that thing is so similar to the Pteranodon from Earth’s past and it flew within a few metres of us. It’s like going back to the Cretaceous Period and getting a first-hand look.”

“Well, you can go look at it and admire its beauty if you want. Pat it. Study it. Although I’m not sure being a Sociologist will help when it comes to dinosaurs. Me? I’m glad I’ll be working indoors once we get to Jannali.” She flipped her long hair over her shoulder and went back to work.

“Miss Rhodarma?” I jumped. Once I realised who had called me, I cringed inwardly. Kami Olion, the other Sociologist in the group, was standing at the hatch of the shuttle. He was nothing like Lanu. He was a prickly, annoying person. “I heard screams. What has happened?”

He had refused to leave the shuttle. He’d said that the engine trouble was a bad omen. I’d ignored him. I didn’t believe in superstitions and had jumped at the chance to see the jungle first-hand.

And what was with the ‘Miss Rhodarma’? Did he have to be so formal?

“Please call me Zhenna,” I said.

He inclined his head. “Very well.”

I gave him a small smile, feeling awkward. “Everything’s okay. It was just a flying reptile. It flew through the clearing and gave us a fright.”

He shook his head. “Going outside was a bad idea. I said it was a bad idea. But would anyone listen? No, they didn’t. Will you come inside, please, where it’s safe? The others won’t listen. And I have a bad feeling.” He drew out the word “bad”, like that would make me believe him.

I frowned. Why was he only asking me? “Umm, I can’t. Jannali wants the samples. It’s going to give a bad impression if we refuse.”

His eyebrows drew together and his mouth turned down at the corners. He turned on his heel and went back inside.

I sighed, relieved that he was gone. He’d been a pain in everyone’s butt on the journey out here. He must have been really good at his job because I was sure he didn’t get hired for his personality.

“Don’t worry about him,” Larissa said as she walked up to me, her long white-blonde hair almost blinding in the sunlight. “He’s just a superstitious old grump.”

I laughed, then cringed. I hoped he couldn’t hear her.

She noticed my reaction. “I don’t care if he hears me.”

I giggled.

We’d met on the trip out here to The Fringe, as some called it, and became friends right away. It had taken us two weeks at Warp Delta and there wasn’t a lot to do aboard the Acronis. We both had an interest in art and liked similar types of music and had spent a lot of time together.

I turned my attention away from the spot where Kami had stood. I needed to actually do the job I was sent out here to do. We headed a bit further into the jungle. I was looking for an orange flower and Larissa was after a type of fungi, which should’ve been easier for her since she was a Botanist.

As we searched, I saw Larissa stealing glances at Janssen. This wasn’t the first time I’d seen her watching him. I was sure she had a crush. She’d shown an interest during the trip out here, but she always insisted that she didn’t like him all that much. I smiled.

The next time she looked at me I said, “I saw you looking at him.”

“No, I wasn’t.”

I just cocked an eyebrow at her.

“Okay. I was.”

I watched him ducking under a low-hanging vine and watched his long white-blonde hair fall over his shoulder. “You like him.”

Her cheeks turned pink. “I… Uh… maybe. I don’t know.”

“Well, you’ll have plenty of time to find out since you’ll be working together.” Janssen had also majored in Botany.

Her eyes never left him as he bent down to look at a lavender flower. “Is he unattached, do you know?”

“It has taken you two weeks to even ask that?” I asked. Her cheeks flushed even more. “I heard him telling Mosuti that he doesn’t have a girl. Or boy,” I added.

She looked relieved. I chuckled, thinking they’d make a great couple. They had a shared interest in botany and they even came from the same planet: Shakira.

Mosuti, our telepathic crew member, wandered over to where we were. “Hey, girls.”

“Hey,” we both said together.

“Found your specimens yet?”

We both said “no” at the same time and laughed.

From the corner of my eye, I saw movement. It was Kami again, just staring at us with a furrowed brow and his mouth set in a thin line.

“Mosuti. Kami doesn’t like you, does he?” I whispered.

“I’m afraid not, Zhenna. Says he doesn’t like my ‘kind’.”

I narrowed my eyes as I kept watching Kami. “Don’t let it worry you. He’s a douchebag.”

“He doesn’t worry me.”

Kami called me again. “Zhenna, dear, why are you talking to him?”

“Uh, because he’s my friend.”

“His kind can’t be trusted. He’s probably reading our minds right now.”

Mosuti stood up straighter. “I would never do that. It is against the Talents’ Code of Conduct to read a being’s mind without consent.”

The Code had been created years ago to protect people’s privacy and to protect Talents all over the Known Universe.

Larissa took a step forward. “You’re a jerk! What would you know about Talents? You’re so narrow-minded!”

He waved his hand in the air dismissively. “They are nothing but freaks. Mutated beings that taint our genetics.”

I clenched my fists, trying to keep my temper in check. “What do you suggest we do with these ‘mutants’?” I asked him.

“We need to keep them under control. They shouldn’t be allowed to wander free where they can manipulate our minds and wreak havoc across the universe.”

“So, we should enslave them?”

“I… wouldn’t use that exact term… but what else can we do? They’re freaks of nature and they are a danger to us all.”

My fingernails were digging in to my palms and my face felt like it was on fire. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!

I heard Mosuti’s voice in my mind. <It’s okay. I can defend myself. Don’t let him get to you. Don’t cause yourself unnecessary worry.>

It always gave me a thrill to hear his voice in my head. We’d messed around with it a couple of times on the trip out here. All I had to do was think my answer and Mosuti could read it. And, of course, he had my permission.

      I know, I replied. But he’s just such an ignoramus!

I turned back to Kami. “I’m glad I won’t be working with you when we get to Jannali. You’re such an arrogant, narrow-minded, backwards hick!”

Before he could answer, there was a loud zapping noise like an electrical current arcing. I looked around. “What was that?”

Instead of answering, Mosuti grabbed Larissa and I by the arm and practically threw us to the ground. “Stay down!” he ordered.

I heard more zapping sounds and people screaming. I looked at Mosuti’s rugged face and wide eyes from my position in the leaf litter and he whispered, “Laser fire.”

I froze and could feel the warmth drain from my face. Laser fire? In the middle of a prehistoric jungle? How? … Who?

I heard another scream and looked up to see Bazeelia fall screaming to the ground with her hair on fire. I quickly put my head back down on the soft earth, trying to somehow block out the sound. There was nothing I could do to help her. We were all unarmed.

From where I lay on the ground, I heard more laser fire as it struck targets all around us. I was too afraid to move and it took all my willpower to keep from screaming. I knew that no race native to this planet possessed laser weapons, so my brain tried to figure out who could be attacking us.

The only answer I could think of was that the attackers were the Varekai. They were basically space pirates and had a reputation for being totally brutal. My heart constricted in my chest. Were we all about to die?

Our shuttle must have been followed somehow. But why would they bother? It’s not like we had anything valuable on the ship.

In the chaos, I noticed that the soil and leaves around me seemed to be moving. There were ants and a half a dozen other crawling insects moving about on the forest floor, some of which were starting to crawl up over my hands and arms. Again I had to resist the urge to cry out. I had to let them crawl. If I made any sudden move, the lasers might target me.

I could see the fear churning in Mosuti’s eyes as we lay on the ground side-by-side. Larissa was on my other side, but I couldn’t turn to see if she was okay. There was a weird beetle crawling on Mosuti’s arm, but he didn’t move.

The laser fire and the screaming stopped, and I froze where I lay. I heard footsteps all around me. I closed my eyes. I couldn’t bring myself to look, but I knew they were there, looking down at me. The left side of my face lay in the soft earth and I hoped that the position I was in made it appear as though I’d fallen that way and was either unconscious or dead. If they thought I was dead, they might leave me and return to their ship.

I knew that I wouldn’t be so lucky.

I could feel their presence, making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Fear was creeping up my spine, eating into my flesh.

I tried to keep my breathing as shallow as possible, hoping they wouldn’t see my ribs expand and contract. They were right behind me. I imagined their piercing eyes, staring down from above. My lungs desperately needed more air, but I didn’t dare suck in enough to satisfy their hunger.

Someone said, “These ones are good…”

Something was crawling on my neck. Another ‘something’ was climbing along the length of my right leg. But I had to stay there. Had to let them crawl.

“Don’t damage them,” said another. What were they talking about?

I couldn’t just lie there. I desperately wanted to turn around and face my foes, to see who they were, but I couldn’t do it. Something was starting to bite my leg, but before I could give myself away by swatting at it, I felt burning pain surge through my whole body. Every muscle convulsed and the darkness closed in quickly around me.


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Excerpt – Chapter 1 from “Tamisan”

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Chapter 1

I opened my eyes to darkness and all the jumbled thoughts in my head seemed to ease up a little. Almost as if they were afraid of what my waking mind might do to them. I tried to hold on to some of the images in my head to try to make sense of them as they tumbled over each other. They seemed to be memories. I could make out the faces of my friends, Oliana and Kaliya, as we shared some laughs in the cafeteria at the Academy. Yes. That made sense. It wasn’t just a flash of jumbled up stuff.

There were lots of other faces, too. My mother and father… My father’s face was clear… he was the Zheav… our leader… I could see my brothers, Axiak and Jadidi, running and diving off the rocks and into the ocean at The Dive… There was a sea of faces that I recognised as my classmates at the Academy… I frowned up at the ceiling in the darkness. Something was definitely wrong with this picture. I didn’t have any brothers. Or parents… I was a clone… What the…?

A flash of something… Oliana’s smiling face… “Travelling to the edge of the Explored Universe,” she said, “Studying new races and exotic planets – and being paid for it – how could a New Graduate with an adventurous spirit refuse?”

My friend faded away and was replaced by the image of an old woman with wrinkles so deep that they looked painful. Tasha, the Old One. Tasha took one look at me and scoffed. “So I ask for a pupil that I can help to hone their Mind Skills, and this is what they send me? Ha!”

Tasha floated away into the depths of the ocean and then there was just the beautiful sight of so many colourful fish, swimming in and out of the coral and rocky outcrops on the ocean floor. Once the fish dissolved away, there was a large computer screen on a wall in a small classroom. The room was filled with students sitting with their heads bent as they worked on their exam papers.

Then my mother stood before me. “You are the daughter of the Zheav. You know that there are certain things expected of you. You cannot abandon your duties and run off to play with Jarleth and your brothers.”

“But Mam, we weren’t gone long…” Before I could finish pleading with my mother, that image faded to nothing. It left me confused. How could she be my mother? I didn’t have a mother…

Panic crept into my chest and I squeezed my eyes shut. What was happening? Who were these people? I knew them all, but I didn’t know them. My head was filled with memories of two distinctly separate worlds and two different lives; the civilised and technologically advanced Earth and the wild jungle planet… Sovoli, my memory supplied. None of it made sense. My heartbeat picked up so fast that it felt like it was fluttering inside my ribcage. I needed to calm down. I needed to think rationally. These memories could not all be mine…

More memories flooded in… swimming under the sea… studying computer programming at the Academy… Jarleth, a warrior of the Waikari people and my Betrothed… running and laughing on the beach… Oliana sitting in front of her computer monitor studying for her classes…

My name was Sifayah… NO, I was Zhenna! It was too confusing. Too much… I put both hands up to my head and squeezed, hoping it would help and knowing that it wouldn’t.

I could see my father’s face, but I knew that I was a clone, and didn’t have a father in the proper sense of the word. I was made in a lab and genetically altered so that I didn’t look identical to the original human that I’d been cloned from. We all were. But the image of him was there in my mind all the same, looking down on me with a proud expression… then Kaliya was there – the close friend that I affectionately called “Mum”… then my father again… Impossible! I was a clone! Clones do not have parents!

I didn’t know who I was… I felt lost. They seemed like my memories – like I’d actually lived them – all of them – but the chances of that were as slim as me flying through the air like a Hovercar.

How could this happen? Something must have happened to me before I woke up here… wherever here was. There must be something that I was forgetting…

My train of thought was derailed by the memories of what had happened in the jungle. We had boarded the shuttle from the main ship, the Acronis, and headed to the surface of the planet. Then there was the problem with the shuttle… landing to do repairs… the beautiful sights of the amazing plant life and the colourful birds… a prehistoric-looking flying thing swooping into the clearing and nearly scaring us half to death… the attack… laser fire and screams echoing through the trees…

I pulled my thoughts away from those terrifying moments and opened my eyes to the darkness once again. I realised I was trembling all over and took some deep breaths to try to calm myself, heart pounding now.

I could make out a ceiling above me with a small light fitting to my right. I also sensed that I was lying on a bed. Hearing the soft hum of a Bio-scan as it passed down the length of my body was very reassuring as it confirmed that I must be in a Medical Facility. I closed my eyes briefly and relaxed a little. The knowledge that I was back in civilised hands was very comforting. Jannali must have sent out a team to rescue us from the Varekai. At least, I thought that we’d been attacked by the Varekai. Who else would do such a thing?

Wait – did that mean that those memories were real? Was there a place called Jannali? Station Jannali… I couldn’t be sure.

Were we really attacked in the jungle by pirates? Is that the reason I was in a Medical Facility? I had so many questions. Like why would they be out here, in the middle of nowhere-in-particular, waiting to ambush a shuttle full of scientists, botanists, a linguist and a computer programmer? What would they gain from that? We’d had nothing of any real value onboard.

My heart rate wasn’t slowing down. I felt like I might be on the verge of a panic attack and tried to slow my breathing down. Maybe that would slow my heart down a bit, too. Breathe in… then out… in… out…

I needed to think rationally. Needed to sort out this mess. Those other memories of the ocean and the primitive Waikari tribe didn’t tie in with anything like this; Bio-scanners, electricity and Medical Facilities. There was nothing like that in the ocean or cove where I lived – or where whoever it was lived. Maybe those memories were just dreams… or something…

Hmmm… There was something – something I remembered in the back of my mind. Memories… There was a company I’d heard about that could implant memories into your mind so that you could have the experiences of going to a new country or new planet, without leaving home. It was like going on a holiday, without really going anywhere. It was a bizarre concept, but it could be that I’d paid to have one of those ‘holidays’ implanted and had just forgotten the part where I’d gone in to the company and had the procedure done.

Maybe that was where I was. Maybe that was why I was in a bed with a busy Bio-scan checking my vital signs. If so, I was going to tell them that there was something wrong. The memories were all over the place. Just a jumbled mess. Not pleasant at all. And it didn’t seem like a holiday. Just memories of someone’s life. It made for a pretty dull holiday. It didn’t make any sense.

I want a refund.

But I didn’t remember paying any credits to anyone or visiting a Memory Centre. What have they done to my brain?

I stared up at the ceiling again. Once my eyes had adjusted to the darkness, the room seemed to brighten and I could see quite well. Or did the lights just brighten a little as I watched?

My mind wandered. Would I pay credits for a holiday like that? Was my life that boring and empty? Once I thought about it, I realised that my life was pretty sterile and ordered. I grew up within the Institute with no parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts or grandparents. My whole life revolved around my education and the betterment of the human race. Sure I had my two best friends, but there was something missing in my life that was present in the lives of the humans that still procreated naturally and who lived in family groups outside the cities: love.

I’d read about how the other people lived and it seemed to be so much better than the empty life I’d had growing up.

What had gone wrong with society? Why had humans decided to live like this? I was raised this way and taught not to question it, but I couldn’t help it. I just felt that it was wrong. Unnatural.

So maybe I had paid for some memories to be implanted in my mind as a way to escape.

I lifted my head and looked around. I was in a small white room, with discreet light fittings on the walls and a full-length mirror on the far wall. It looked like I was in a Medical Facility, with everything all white and sterile-looking. The lights didn’t look like they were turned on, but I could see everything around me clearly now. To my right there was a small plain bedside table with nothing on it – no hint of any sort of decoration or even a clock. There was a door on my left that was barely visible as it blended so well with the wall itself. I slowly raised myself to a sitting position and sat staring at it for a moment, wondering where I was and what was on the other side.

Suddenly the lights in the room came on at full brightness and the door slid open, which made me jump. A man appeared in the doorway and strode into the room as my heart did a weird dance inside my chest. He was a tall, slim-built man with hair the colour of sand and eyes that were a bright, almost sky blue. I guessed that he was in his early forties. He wasn’t what I would have called attractive, but he wasn’t unpleasant to look at either. His facial expression was cold steel, but once he turned his eyes to me, it quickly moulded itself into a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. I immediately went on alert. I’d seen that look before, and I clearly remembered seeing it on the face of one of my professors only a few months before when I entered the classroom and he’d been in the middle of blasting my classmate, Jus Sadikin, about the appalling formatting in his latest assignment. He had hold of Jus by the front of his shipsuit and his other hand was clenched into a tight fist. The professor had release him immediately and tried to plaster a smile on his ugly face and patted Jus on the shoulder as a pathetic cover-up. Probably worried I’d report him. He was right to be worried, because that’s exactly what I did the first chance I got.

I looked at the man in front of me now. Not a good first impression, I thought, and tried not to cringe. Was this man as fake as my old professor?

He greeted me with the same weird smile, “Good afternoon, Miss Rhodarma, how are you feeling?”

Rhodarma… that name was familiar… Yes, I was Zhenna Rhodarma. My heart rate picked up. Maybe I would get some answers now about everything.

When I tried to speak, my voice broke. I cleared my throat and tried again. “I’m fine, but I’m confused. What happened? Where am I?” My voice sounded strange to me, different somehow…

“You are presently at Station Maztec – Althar 3’s newest research base,” he said proudly as he gave me a slightly warmer smile. “This is actually where you were destined to do most of your research and case studies. You were only to be stationed at Jannali for a few weeks.”

Yes, I could remember Jannali, but not Maztec. I couldn’t recall anyone mentioning a second base on the planet. So the memories relating to me being a clone from Earth sent to Althar 3 to study new alien races had to be real. From this new evidence, I guessed that we did get attacked in the jungle and I was in a Medical Facility.

The theory of the memory implant was looking very unlikely, but where did all those memories come from? I had no answer.

I must have been injured and taken to a Medical Facility. I couldn’t feel pain anywhere. I felt fine. And who was this man before me? My doctor?

I frowned. “Who are you?” I blurted out before I could stop myself. I cleared my throat again. Why did my voice sound so strange? It sounded higher pitched or something. Was my throat affected somehow from the attack?

I forced myself to think about what I could remember. I was face-down on the floor of the jungle with bugs and crawly things wriggling all over me, trying not to freak out or scream. The painful surge I felt before everything went black could have been a stunner. Maybe stunners contract your muscles enough to give your voice a higher pitch temporarily.

The man apologised and introduced himself as Dr Leonard Starrick. “I am in charge here at Maztec.”

So he was a doctor. I started to worry again and my heartbeat picked up speed. How bad was I hurt?

“I hope you will forgive me,” he continued, “I become so involved with my work that I forget my manners and my head, so I apologise for my rude behaviour.” I realised that I was just sitting there staring at him and looked away toward the mirror. “I’m pleased that you are feeling well and that you are finally conscious. You gave us quite a scare when you first arrived from the jungle.”

I looked back up at him. You’re kidding, right? I gave you a scare? I could have been killed!

His expression changed to that of deep concern. “Now, I need to ask you some questions to see how you are going. Are you feeling light-headed, disoriented or nauseous?”

“No.” I coughed to try to clear my throat. Maybe that would help. Maybe a drink of water would help.

“How do your muscles feel?” he went on. “Do you have a headache at all?”

“Well… my muscles do feel a bit stiff, but otherwise I feel fine,” I replied. My voice was wrong. Could it just be from a stunner? Or was it more than that?

“Do you have a sore throat?” he asked.

“I, ah – no,” I replied. “What… what happened? I have all this stuff spinning around in my head…” I pressed my fingers on my temples. I needed to make sense of it all. And get my heartbeat to kick it back a notch or two. It was still all over the place.

My brain wouldn’t slow down either… So, if I was Zhenna, who was Sifayah? And also, I felt different somehow. Not just my voice. Something else. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Maybe it was just the stiff muscles…

My thoughts returned to what had happened in the jungle… As we waited for the pilot to carry out the repairs to the Outrider, we wandered around the clearing, taking in the beauty of the jungle. After the flying dinosaur thing had spooked us all, we’d all breathed a sigh of relief. The attack came from out of nowhere and I instinctively hit the ground. When I dared to look up, I saw Bazeelia get hit by laser fire. My stomach dropped. “Where are the others? Are they okay? There was laser fire and – Bazeelia – is she alright? I saw her fall…”

“Well, er… let me explain what happened…” he said, his voice taking on a sombre tone and he shifted his weight uneasily. He told me that they were monitoring the shuttle’s progress as they entered Althar 3’s atmosphere and landed in the jungle. Another ship carrying the Varekai had followed us undetected, apparently using a very sophisticated cloaking device. So I’d been right about who was responsible.

They had beamed down to the surface and attacked the group, but by the time Dr Starrick’s men had discovered them and sent troops to intercept, it was too late. They didn’t have a Transporter at the base, so they couldn’t beam there in time to help us.

My stomach sunk when I heard about how I was the only survivor and had been wounded so badly that I had died a short time after my arrival at the base. My major organs had completely shut down.

“No!” I blurted out. He just stared at me. I didn’t feel bad about my outburst. “No, I don’t believe you! I couldn’t have died. You’re lying!”

“I’m not lying–”

“No. I’m here, right now. So don’t even try to tell me that… Everyone else can’t be dead. It’s not possible. I was only talking to Mosuti onboard the shuttle, just before we landed. I was talking to Larissa right before the… the… attack… oh…” I trailed off, feeling nauseous.

“It’s okay. This reaction is to be expected.” Dr Starrick placed a warm hand on my arm in an effort to calm me. It didn’t work. “There’s more,” he added.

My eyes widened. More? Well, of course there’s more to it. I’m alive…

“Try to slow down your breathing. In through the nose and out through the mouth.”

I felt like telling him that I was well aware of what to do, but I decided to do as he suggested. I concentrated on the mirror on the far wall, trying desperately not to think of what had happened in the jungle.

Once I’d calmed down enough, he told me that they discovered that my brain still showed signs of activity, so they kept the life support going. The only way to save me and the very essence of who I was was to find a suitable body and attempt a procedure that he had mastered many years before – the Eibhlin Process.

My chest tightened and I felt a zing of adrenalin rush through me. I’d heard of this procedure before. Originally, a complicated technique had been developed to help patients with severe brain damage. Scientists discovered that they could map out the damaged areas of the brain and replace the thought patterns with new ones from another person’s brain. In most cases, it worked well. It was a revolutionary procedure that enabled many people to again live a normal, happy life.

Then a group of scientists found that they could modify the process so that they could transfer all of someone’s thought patterns and memories to another person’s brain, replacing all the original patterns. It was like a brain transplant without the dangerous operation and related risks. Their full consciousness was moved across into the other person’s mind.

The modified procedure – later called the Eibhlin Process – opened up so many possibilities. The option would be open for people to escape a body with failing health, or opt for a younger and/or more attractive body – so it, in effect, made the dream of eternal youth a reality. When a person’s body grew too old, they could simply have their mind transferred into a younger person’s body – and live longer.

In theory, it seemed like a wonderful idea. However, as the consciousness that was transferred to the second person’s brain replaced the original person’s consciousness completely, that person’s mind – and their personality, memories and identity – were wiped from existence. It was literally murder.

This meant that there were no willing donors and there was almost no legal way of obtaining them. So when the number of abductions and missing persons rose drastically, the authorities were forced to put a stop to it. The procedure became outlawed throughout the Known Galaxies.

There were other dilemmas too – moral and spiritual dilemmas – such as the question of what happens to the souls of the two people involved.

It was mind boggling just to think about it. It was dangerous, morally and ethically wrong, and it caused more problems than it solved. Although the original procedure was still practiced, the Eibhlin Process was now outlawed.

I was horrified, “You mean to tell me that you did that brain transferral thing on me?” I almost shouted the words.

“Yes, but we had no other choice,” he insisted. “We either attempted the transferral – or we let you die. It was as simple as that. We had to make a decision fast. We weighed up the risks, and the decision was made. Enough lives were lost already.”

I opened my mouth to protest, but nothing came out. What could I say? I thought about it for a moment. Dr Starrick was right. I wouldn’t be alive if they didn’t act quickly, and I was glad that they’d saved my life. But at what cost? It also meant that they had basically killed the other person. It went against everything I believed in. But what could I do? It was too late now – it was done. I was alive, but was the cost too great?

And it meant that I was now a different person. I looked completely different. But who was the other person? Who was the donor? The answer hit me like a slam to the chest: Sifayah.

Was Sifayah the body donor? Was I now Sifayah? In her body? Of course I was. It was the only explanation for where all the strange memories came from. They weren’t implanted – they were already there. They were supposed to be totally replaced, but had somehow remained. Something must have gone wrong. So much for him ‘mastering’ the technique! He had failed miserably in wiping out all the donor’s memories.

I wondered if he could fix it – then I wouldn’t have all those confusing memories scrambled up with my own. But maybe that wouldn’t be a good idea. He could make things worse. I didn’t want him to go messing around with my brain some more. I would have to learn to live with the weird memories. It shouldn’t be too hard to tell them apart from my own, once I had a chance to sort things out in my head.

The ramifications were starting to set in. I was now another person. But not just any person – I was an alien! Sifayah was an alien from a barbaric and primitive planet. A jungle planet. Just like this planet.

I wouldn’t be able to go home and carry on with my life as if nothing had happened if I wasn’t even human. I could not even hope to live life as Zhenna Rhodarma, nor could I pass myself off as Sifayah. Not that I wanted to live among the Waikari people for the rest of whatever.

What kind of life would I have now? What was I going to do? I would have to start my life again somewhere else – as someone else. I wondered why people would want to do this to themselves. Why people paid top credits for it. Maybe they wanted to get away and start again. If that were the case, it would have been their choice, but I didn’t choose this.

A thought struck me. This was the reason my voice sounded different. It was Sifayah’s voice!

This was just too incredible to believe. I realised that I was trembling. I felt my face with my hands and caught a glimpse of something black out of the corner of my eye. I turned to see long black hair cascading down my back. I quickly brought a handful of hair around to the front so that I could see it more clearly, and it was so long that it reached the blanket that was covering my legs!

I was reminded of how much I had admired my shipmate, Larissa’s, long white waterfall of hair on the trip here. I couldn’t help staring at Larissa’s long, straight hair and wishing my own hair was longer. Now mine was like that – flowing like a river over my shoulder. Just jet black instead of white. It was so dark that it appeared bluish where the light touched it.

This could not be happening, I thought desperately as my heartbeat picked up again. It must be a trick or a practical joke.

Tears welled up in my eyes. My next thought was to get to the mirror. I wanted to see myself – my mind was just refusing to believe that this could be real. Holding my hands up in front of me, I was shocked to find a pair of slender, well-tanned hands instead of my own fair-skinned ones. (But in Sifayah’s memory, these were her hands.) It was hard to see them clearly through the tears, but I could see enough.

It just seemed so unreal, but it was real. I was really in someone else’s body!

I looked up at Dr Starrick and tried to keep a rein on my thoughts and emotions. My mind was racing, trying to take in what was happening. My heart beat faster and it felt like it was beating kind of erratically. Maybe my new heart had a problem… I frowned… Maybe this body was old… Maybe it had major health problems…

Dr Starrick gestured toward the mirror, “Go on. Go and see what you look like. I think you’ll like what you see.”

But I already know, I thought wildly as I looked across to the mirror in anticipation. But still, I just had to see.

I flung the blanket aside. Carefully swinging my tanned legs over the edge of the bed and sliding off onto the floor, I sensed that the muscles in my new body were firm and taut, though they were a bit stiff from disuse. For a moment or two, it was difficult to stand and I shifted my weight from one foot to the other in an attempt to work out the stiffness. I blinked hard so that the tears fell from my eyes, which made it easier to see.

Wiping them away with the backs of my hands, I looked up at Dr Starrick again. “How long have I been unconscious?”

He paused as if calculating the time took a lot of effort, “It has been three days since you were attacked in the jungle and we had you Transferred within the first hour.” He seemed very proud of that fact. Then he added, “I think the reason you were out for so long was because of the trauma you suffered from the events in the jungle. And just so that your muscles wouldn’t deteriorate while you were inactive, we have been administering a rigorous physiotherapy program…”

He kept rambling on, but I tuned him out as I made my way to the mirror and stood in front of the opaque glass for a moment. I drew in my breath and let it out slowly before waving my hand in front of the sensor to activate the mirror. It flashed to life and the vision of a strange woman wearing a white robe appeared before me.

I caught my breath and goose bumps spread across my skin. The woman before me was fairly short, slim and well-tanned with very long black hair. It flowed over my shoulder from when I had pulled it forward and went down to my hips. I thought again of how it looked like a waterfall. A black velvet waterfall.

It’s beautiful! I sighed. And it’s so long!

Then I remembered to breathe.

Excerpt from “The Alien”

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This short story is available at http://www.wattpad.com. Here is the direct link to the story.

Chapter 1 – Found

 I could tell by the way he looked at me. He was afraid.

I was totally alien to him. And I guess, he was totally alien to me, too.

His skin was so pale. His hair was short and the colour of dirt. His eyes were mostly brown, with a little black circle in the middle and white around the outside. That was weird. But as far as the shape of his body went, he was okay. Well, maybe more than okay. For an alien. I mean, he had two arms, two legs, one head, and a whole lot of muscle under those primitive clothes.

He stood staring at me, his back rigid and his face a mask of forced calm.

I was in a dangerous situation. I was on an unknown and possibly hostile planet with an inoperable ship and had been caught red-handed sleeping in this alien’s animals’ quarters. And all I could think about was how well-muscled he was. I must’ve lost my mind after the crash. How could I be attracted to an alien? I mean, I didn’t even know if our species were compatible. Agh! Why was I even thinking about this?

This was serious. I needed to focus. I couldn’t see if he held a weapon in his other hand. I had a laser on my belt that was set to stun, but I didn’t want to use it if I could help it. I needed this alien, as much as I hated to admit it. There were no other dwellings around here for a great distance, and I was cold and hungry. There were rations in the ship, but I couldn’t limp back there tonight. I might just pass out on the way.

“Greetings,” I put my hands up, palms out. “I am not your enemy.” I wondered if he spoke any of the languages I knew. Probably not. I was way out in the rocks here.

His eyes widened and he said something, but I didn’t recognise the dialect. Great.

I took a step forward and my head felt fuzzy. “I am peaceful. I need food and warmth.” I made a gesture of putting food in my mouth and rubbed my upper arms to show that I was cold.

He responded by showing me the weapon he’d been hiding. Just what I needed. I didn’t want to hurt him or scare him off. I just wanted to try to communicate enough to get the things I needed. I moved my hands so that they were slightly raised and away from my body, so he could see that I wasn’t going to try anything. “I don’t mean you any harm, but I cannot let you hurt me. I’m sorry.”

He said something else and pointed the weapon at my chest, which made me look at his chest. It was broad and I could see the muscles bulging a little under the clothing he wore. I cursed under my breath. I was crazy.

I had to try to focus. How could I remove the weapon without freaking him out? This would take some doing.

Maybe if I could work out how it worked, then I could disable it. He wasn’t going to show it to me, so I’d have to feel for it.

I reached out with my mind, stretching out the invisible tendrils until they reached the weapon. Huh?

It was very primitive. Just a simple projectile weapon. Easy to fix. I started by teleporting the powdered substance from all of the projectiles inside it to a place on the ground nearby. I really didn’t want the whole thing to explode and blow his hand off. That would be disastrous. And a damn shame. He would be damaged. And I liked looking at him the way he was.

Stop it!

He said something else, but I had to keep my attention on the weapon. I concentrated on the barrel section and focused my mind. I created a bit of heat, but I had to keep it localised so he wouldn’t feel the heat in his hand.

After a while, I relaxed. It was done. I’d fused the projectile to the barrel. It wasn’t going anywhere. And he wouldn’t be able to load any other projectiles into it either. Good.

Now I needed to focus on him. I needed to gain his trust somehow. I slowly reached for my laser and he tensed up, holding his weapon out further from his body. I got the impression that he wasn’t very proficient with the weapon and that he didn’t really want to use it, but he would if he had to. Fair enough.

“Uh.” I nearly lost my balance. My head hurt. Using my mind like that wasn’t such a good idea. I thought I’d hit my head in the crash. The dull ache I’d been feeling turned into a full blown headache of migraine proportions.

I gritted my teeth against the pain, pulled the laser pistol out of its holster and held it by the butt with two fingers. I lowered it to the ground and stepped back. Maybe that would help.

Oh, no. Bending over like that was not a good idea.

He seemed pleased with that. He stepped forward and picked it up. I managed to smile at him.

How could I communicate and make him understand me? My stomach gurgled and growled so loudly. His eyes widened. I felt the heat rush to my cheeks. I didn’t realise how hungry I was.

He looked into my eyes and made a hand gesture as if he was eating something. I nodded vigorously, making the same movements. “Yes. I’m very hungry. Can you help?”

I immediately regretted nodding my head like that. My head throbbed even more. This was not good.

I wasn’t sure if I could eat the same food as him. The ship’s computer hadn’t been able to provide enough information about this planet before it died. I knew that it had a similar atmosphere to home and carbon-based life forms and a few other details, but not really anything about culture and food and more detailed anatomy.

That got me thinking about the alien’s anatomy again. I was really messed up. It must be the result of hitting my head so hard.

A pain shot up the side of my head. Yep. I must’ve hit it a lot harder than I thought. I’d treated my leg injury and not checked out my head. That was a dumb move.

I gingerly touched the right side of my head, toward the back, and found a large lump. The pain spiked and my legs wobbled a bit. When I pulled my hand away and looked at it, my fingers were covered in blood.

I looked up at the alien. He looked concerned. That was weird. He held a weapon on me and he was worried about me. Go figure.

Wait. Something was wrong. I didn’t feel right. My head was really fuzzy. The whole room started to tilt and there was blackness clouding the edges of my vision. This was so not good.

I had no idea what the alien would do if I fainted… Oh… no…

Blackness washed over me.

I’d love it if you could go and read it and let me know what you thought, either here or on Wattpad.


Please check out some of the helpful tutorials for authors here at TechSavvyAuthor.net.

Excerpt from “Tamisan (Tamisan Book 1)”

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‘“Hi…” was all I managed to say. I was looking directly at Darion, looking straight into his blue eyes, and it was making me come undone. To finally meet him after so long was just so unbelievable. I’d been waiting for what seemed like forever and I was starting to think that it would never happen.

He was smiling. It was harder to see him clearly in the glow from the lamp, but my eyes adjusted quickly to the light and the shadows that were being cast across his face. I could see that it was a genuine smile, like he was happy to see me, too.

He was tall – taller than the other two men that stood either side of him – and fairly slim, but not skinny. He had short brown hair that was kind of messy on top. I managed not to giggle at the sight of them wearing loin cloths with a wide strip of fur that went across the front of their bodies and over one shoulder. I guessed they could probably pass for locals, but if you looked closely, you could see that they were different.

“Hi yourself!” he laughed, and he stepped forward to greet me.

I didn’t know what to do – should I shake his hand or just stand there? I felt nervous, like a shy schoolgirl. What should I do? What was he expecting me to do? I felt silly. I wanted to just fall into his arms, but maybe I should just give him a quick hug or a handshake or should I give him a nod or a wave?

“What took you so long?” he laughed.

“Well, there was this…” My voice trailed off as I realised that he was just joking.

I took another step toward him and we just stood there, looking into each other’s eyes. His eyes were a vivid shade of blue. Such a beautiful colour. I needed to do something, not stare at his eye colour.

I could feel the tension within me. Feel the adrenalin pumping through my body. Even though it was a warm, humid evening, I started to shiver. I noticed that my breathing was shallow and tried to force myself to take deeper breaths.

The other two men stood watching us, though I was hardly aware of their presence. Darion seemed to have forgotten them too.

“So,” he began.

“So,” I said.

“So we meet at last…”

I was a mess. Emotions raged within me, wreaking havoc. I couldn’t speak. What was wrong with me? Why was I just standing and gawking at him like an idiot? I felt like squirming on the spot and it took all my effort not to fiddle or shift my feet in the leaf mulch on the ground. What should I do? I searched for an answer in his blue eyes.

He stopped torturing me and took another step forward, wrapping both arms around me. Relief flooded over me as I fell into them and held him tight. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. It was so good to be holding him at last and it was comforting to be in his strong embrace after all that had happened. I didn’t know how long we stood and just held each other. I was a sponge, just soaking him in.

Sucking in long, deep breaths, I realised that I was standing there with my eyes closed, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to see the jungle anymore anyway. Tears started to roll down my cheeks as I laid my head on his chest.

Then my knees started to buckle and my arms became almost too weak to hold him, but he held me close. “It’s okay,” he whispered.’

– Tamisan is available at Amazon.com and Smashwords.com for $2.99USD.


This is Book 1 in the Tamisan Series.
They transferred my consciousness into the body of an alien without my knowledge or permission. I woke up like this. Don’t worry, I’m not small and green with large black eyes or anything. I still look human. It’s just that I can now breathe underwater and I have these cool psychic abilities like telepathy and telekinesis.
When I found myself in this situation, I quickly realised that the scientist that did this to me – Dr Starrick – was crazy. I was trapped in an underground base on the planet, Althar 3, so I escaped. Problem was, I escaped into the jungle. Maybe that wasn’t smart, but I had to get out of there. After dodging dinosaurs, I was poisoned by a plant that made me hallucinate and captured by slave traders.
The only one who could help me was a Telepath named Darion. He helped me get rid of the poison in my body using my new abilities, but I had to stay with the slave traders because it was safer than wandering through the jungle alone.
Darion worked in the other underground base on the planet and he was coming to rescue me. The only problem was, I didn’t know where I was, and Dr Starrick was looking for me too.

Approximately 124,000 words. Paranormal/Romance with a bit of Sci-fi thrown in.