Tamisan

Goodreads Giveaway!

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I have organised a Goodreads Giveaway for the next month, starting today! All you need to do is click a button to enter – and that’s it. It’s free. Goodreads will pick ten people at random who will receive a signed paperback copy of my book, Tamisan (Tamisan Book 1). I will post them to the winners of the giveaway.

Here is the link to the book’s page on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35879941-tamisan

Scroll down to the section where is says WIN A COPY OF THIS BOOK and click on Enter Giveaway. It’s that simple. I hope you win!

*Note: The widget for the giveaway isn’t displaying properly, but the link still works.

 

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Another free promotion of Tamisan

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Tamisan is free on the 22nd July on Amazon! Grab it now!

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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Tamisan FREE on Amazon for three days!

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Hey everyone! I’ve just organised a free promotion on Amazon for Tamisan from the 15th July 2017 to 17th July 2017. I’d love it if you took advantage of this and grabbed a copy. If Science Fiction Paranormal Romance isn’t your cup of tea, maybe you could tell someone you know about it.

I’d also love it if you could leave a review up on Amazon. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just let me know what you thought of the book. Us authors need all the feedback we can get so that we can improve our writing and give readers the best story we can create.

Thanks in advance! I love writing. I live for creating characters and worlds. I want to keep writing till I’m too old to type, and even then, there’s this program called Dragon Naturally Speaking…

 

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Know your characters

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I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos lately to improve my writing and one thing that stands out to me is that you have to know your characters before you start writing.

I haven’t really done this much in the past (for my first book, Tamisan) and I think it lead me to “Writers’ Block” and total dead ends and just hours of not knowing what to write. It ends up being very frustrating. And a waste of a lot of time.

After reading posts on Live Write Thrive, which is a fantastic website by author, editor, and writing coach, CS Lakin, I started writing character sketches for the main characters in my first novel, Tamisan, by using her templates, and the difference it made was amazing.

I know a lot of people like to pants their way through things and “discover” their characters’ personalities as the story progresses, but besides it being harder to do, you end up with a character that is flat and one-dimensional at the start of the book, and someone who is more complex and three-dimensional by the end. Then how do you go back and make them more realistic and interesting afterwards? It’s not easy. And it takes longer to write your book.

For my short story, The Alien, which is up on Wattpad.com, I took the time to delve into the characters more and I noticed how much easier things were. I knew their backstories and a bit about their likes and dislikes and even their attitudes. Lilliana is a bit of a smart aleck and it showed in my writing. Even something as simple as nicknames that they have for each other just flowed easily. It was the most natural thing in the world for one of the crew members to walk into the room and say, “Hey, Wildcat. Ready to get outta here?”

So, of course, with my work-in-progress, I have been spending the time to get to know my characters a lot more and I’ve even developed Character Development Sheets based on some that I downloaded from Live Write Thrive. (Ms Lakin has to take most of the credit – I just tweaked the one she made.) I’ve even created a World Building template based on a couple of websites that gave some great info on what should be included in your world building. So I’m all set.

Now that I’ve finished with those things, I’m back to writing. I can’t wait till it’s finished. I plan to keep you posted on my progress.

What do you think? Do you agree with what I’ve said? Let me know in the comments.

 

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Excerpt – Chapter 1 from “Tamisan”

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This book is available for sale at www.amazon.com (or in your country of choice). Here is the direct link to the book.

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.

To the readers who have recently purchased Tamisan

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To the amazing readers who have recently purchased my book, Tamisan, I’d firstly like to thank you. It means a lot to me.

Secondly, I’d like to ask a small favour. Could you please write a review on the site you purchased it from just to say what you thought of it? Even if it’s just a short paragraph, that would be enough. You don’t have to be an expert on writing reviews. It would mean the world to me personally to know that you enjoyed my book, or if you didn’t, but professionally, it would really help me out. Word of mouth is the absolute best way to get more sales in any profession.

The fact that no one has written a review yet, even though the people I know who have read it have given me terrific feedback, gives the rest of the world the impression that it’s not a good book.

I admit I didn’t use Beta Readers during the writing process – mainly because I have only recently discovered how important they are and how to go about getting some. I have Author-tubers like Jenna Moreci, Kristen Martin, Vivien Reis, Kim Chance, Rachael Stephen, Natalia Leigh, and Shaelin Bishop to thank for the excellent info on the Beta Reader process and the importance of having Critique Partners. And a bunch of other stuff.

You can never have too much help when it comes to writing. Well, you can, but I only find it overwhelming if too many people are giving conflicting information, which doesn’t happen too often. I encourage any authors out there to check out the above authors who have amazing videos up on YouTube that give great writing advice.

And if you can’t write a review, a comment here would be really nice.

Thanks in advance!

 

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