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Ray Smith is a Canadian best-selling author. Shifts in Time 2 The Offspring : the second book of this series, explores a hybrid alien boy who is half human. This young alien does not know who he is, nor what he is. He is a shapeshifter born on Earth but his father came from a far away galaxy. Time travel, espionage, and the fourth dimension adds an intense story line and deep developed characters. Be sure to pick up the next one of the series. ‘Are you a Superhero’.
The Offspring : Chapter One
DEEP IN SPACE, THE DRACO GALAXY
DEEP IN SPACE, THE DRACO GALAXY
“Standing with her eyes closed, Tori, with her soft wavy red hair hanging past her shoulders, brought the large ship to within inches of the planet’s cratered surface. They were in the Draco Galaxy. Operating the huge craft, it maneuvered through a spin, just missing the jutting outcrops of rocks. She was pushing both the ship’s capabilities and herself to the limit.
O’Neil sat in the Captain’s chair. It was a healthy competitiveness between two of his crew members but it was hard to let go. He had faith in Tori but that didn’t stop him from saying a silent prayer every time she disengaged the computer guided settings and performed one of her showoff stunts. It was his ship and his job to worry.
Dressed in her black navigational uniform made Tori feel like part of the crew. The silver emblem she wore was a miniature replica of the Mantis; and acted as a transporter locator. Her wrist communicator linked her to the central computer but she was not using any of that now. Tori continued to maneuver the huge bird of space with her alien powers. She was controlling the navigation and weapon systems with her mind. The crew watched, mesmerized by her intricate control of the ship’s numerous functions. Lining the ship up for a quick touch and go, she throttled the impulse engines and shot the enormous craft through the obstacle course. There was no room for error. The ship was huge, the proximity to the planet’s surface was at times, mere inches, and the speed was based on total commitment. ‘Threading the needle’ was the term as the crew referred to it, but to Tori, it was an adrenaline rush. Sensing the volatile ground below, she tensed for an uncontrollable explosion. This was not part of the competition, but she didn’t even slow the Mantis when the ground erupted below her. The Mantis was a juggernaut in motion.
The volcanic explosion triggered the Mantis’s sensors; warning lights flashed. Dipping and angling the ship, Tori missed the worst part of the debris. Pulling up, she turned around and went for a second pass to complete the course, setting the weapon system on hot. She gave the crew a cursory glance then started to bombard the pinpointed targets on the surface. Every exterior turret pivoted in synchronicity with Tori’s impulses. The ion cannons released a series of blasts on the desolate surface below. Laser pulses followed in a crossfire pattern. The crew watched on the large view screens.
Lt. Laan would try to outscore Tori’s solo performance from the gunner’s chair with use of the computer aided setting and guidance control. He loved the way the chair hovered, aided by the smart targeting computer recognition, and prompts of multiple shoot solutions. The fighter helmet dropped a black visor with a heads up display. It reacted instantaneously to his input. He had been the best until Tori joined them. Tori was very calculating, quick and spontaneous. She was inputting the firing sequences on her own, triggering the weapons mentally, and balancing the landing their apocalyptic bird of space and time, the Mantis. Laan was impressed. He watched with grudging admiration.
Captain Blake O’Neil and Lt. Sharon Rossini observed in silence with awe as the craft began its hovering sequence; it leveled off and then gently touched down. They all enjoyed the competitiveness between Tori and Laan. It still amazed them that Tori could handle all the controls with her mind. Then, all of a sudden, the Mantis jolted. Catching their balance, the crew lunged to their stations. Again the huge ship rocked out of control.
Opening her eyes, Tori reversed the ship’s direction. The four ion engines shot the Mantis upwards breaking out of the landing sequence. She spun the ship around in an unexpected U-turn. A familiar yet haunting feeling clouded Tori’s mind. Tori responded the only way she knew how, by setting the course via the computer’s navigational system. The Mantis picked up speed.
“What is wrong, Tori? Why are you not completing the landing sequence? Why have you set the ship’s course without consulting me?” Captain O’Neil stepped closer. He was the one who called the shots. When Tori and Roger joined them years ago, that was the one proviso that he insisted on to allow the crew to mesh with the two outsiders. He allowed input but still reserved the final decision for himself. O’Neil studied the six view screens as he demanded answers from her.
“We need to go back!” Tori said, ignoring the questions. She had always listened to authority before but this demanded a race horse mentality. There was only one way to confirm her haunting suspicion.
“Back where?” Roger spoke, his voice has a calming effect.
“To Earth.” Tori knew the others would not understand except perhaps Roger. She had not explained the invisible bond that all Shifts shared. She didn’t explain that she had heard a voice, a Shyft, calling her from hundreds of light years away. Even though it was half-human, it was still a half alien Shyft and she felt his presence.
“Computer,” Captain O’Neil sat in his command chair. “Cancel last coordinates and reduce speed to light three, heading zero one four seven six nine.”
Nothing happened. Tori overrode the command mentally before the ship had time to react. Their speed was still increasing. Captain O’Neil studied view screen five, the destination read planet Fyte. Why would Tori want to return to her home planet? The heavy green fog filled with deadly contaminants that hung low in the planet’s atmosphere almost claimed her life once. He knew something was wrong, something very serious. “I thought you said Earth. Why does the destination view screen indicate planet Fyte?”
“We are going into battle, Captain. If we want to be able to win or should I say kill, we will need the contaminant from planet Fyte’s atmosphere. It is the only thing that is lethal to him in his alien form.”
Captain O’Neil inched toward her then stopped. “Who Tori?”
“A hybrid, an alien child, a Shyft.”
“An offspring.” Issuing an order, Captain O’Neil steeled his voice and spoke. “Lt. Laan take Tori and escort her to her quarters.”
Lt. Laan only took two steps toward her before he collided with an invisible force field. Tori shook her head. “Laan, I can kill you with a thought! I don’t want to hurt you but I will; the choice is yours. We have to go back.”
It was all she needed to say. Roger understood. As a NSA agent, he had met the airline stewardess years ago. Her fiancé had been murdered. Dying and full of destruction, Kelton, one of the three Shifts that had escaped from planet Fyte, had tricked the flight attendant by using the appearance of her lover and soon to be husband. In the appearance of her fiancé, the pilot, he flew from Los Angeles to Peru years ago. Thousands of feet above the ocean, joining in a moment of rapture, they entered the mile high club. Kelton, a smorgasbord of evil, had left behind his alien seed. Roger knew he should have asked the questions but they were left unasked. Now they had a loose end.
Tori was connected to the offspring in a way that Roger only partially understood. She had tried to explain it but it was difficult to comprehend that she could still sense a life force billions of miles away. Somehow the hybrid had touched her thoughts, called her back to Earth, and baited her into his trap. Roger smiled, half smirked at the challenge. This time, he would show no mercy. Someone was going to die. Roger had a gentle appearance for his large commanding frame, but that’s all it was, an appearance. He had lost count of the lives he had taken when he was an active operative. Trained to kill, he was doing what he was good at; but this time, when he killed, it would be his choice, on his terms.
Rubbing his clean-shaven square jaw-line, Roger thought about his promise to his daughter, Amanda. He would see her again and she would be all grown up, a woman of eighteen. Frowning, a few creases weathered his forehead and worry seeped into his consciousness. Billions of miles away from her, he felt a tinge of fear that maybe, he would not get back in time. How much would the alien child know? How much would he remember? Would the alien child know that Roger played a major part in his father’s death? Would he seek revenge against someone Roger loved? Again he thought of his daughter, Amanda. Was he already too late?
They were all time travelers living in a ship so large, there were transport zones to travel back and forth within the huge structure. The original crew consisted of only three: Captain Blake O’Neil, Lt. Sharon Rossini, and Lt. Robert Laan. They were historians. Adopted years ago, ex-NSA agent Roger Thompson and Tori joined the specialized team.
Captain O’Neil had a Sean Connery appearance from an old twentieth-century film. Level-headed and respected, he was a forty-seven-year-old veteran with short tapered hair and a strong jaw line. His sea green eyes squinted slightly, emphasizing a few soft wrinkles. Known for his common sense and hands-on approach, he was a natural leader. Lt. Sharon Rossini was the woman-next-door type, a historian who specialized in intergalactic navigation and communications. Gifted with a medium build and hazel eyes, Rossini’s shoulder length dirty blonde hair and smooth complexion hid her age well. She was forty-one. Lt. Robert Laan was harder yet soft-spoken, even when he was angry. With a 6’2″ frame, ferret eyes and dark hair, he looked like an old picture from the database of an American Navy Seal or dedicated Marine in training. Although he was considered a loner, he had been handpicked for his diverse training. His forte was in the weapons center.
Then there was Roger Thompson who had joined the original three-person crew of the Mantis years ago, from Earth, the same world as the others but from another time. Roger was an ex-special ops, ex-NSA government agent who chased UFO sightings around the globe following his hunches and gut instincts. Devoted to chasing the paranormal, Thompson believed he was destined to meet Tori. She was an alien Shyft, a shape shifter, a flame-like species that didn’t burn or consume, but were capable of mimicking other life forms, duplicating DNA codes and formulas, images, emotions and bone structures, by mere physical contact. Tori was a shape shifter. For each being she cloned, she not only shared the genetic makeup, but also their knowledge, skills, and memories, and the ability to change back and forth and back again. It was a delicate balance between power and control, yet Tori handled it well with multiple personalities layered inside her, each struggling to emerge as the dominant identity. She normally appeared as the redhead, Jennifer Black, a failed Hollywood actress, bisexual escort that worked the finer clientele in the North Hollywood area. Tori liked her personae and appearance the most. They had met on their rescue mission ten years ago. She had others to choose from like a living database of identities including her natural non-consuming flame-like alien form. There was Kristina Baldwin; a mulatto CIA agent; James, a young student and part-time security guard; and Aimee Reed, a determined and independent female entering adulthood in the field of anthropology.
Together, their mission was to travel back through time, to study the past, and ultimately to prevent Armageddon. The Mantis was christened from the space dock Nikita in the year 2640 A.D. The future led to the end of time, the past led to the cause. Ten years ago, with the original crew knocked unconscious during an explosion, three Shifts managed to survive by stealing the DNA formulas from the original crew. Mutating, they resembled twins and in their powerful transformation they stole all the skills, knowledge and memories of the humans they had touched. Then the Shifts stored the crew in cryogenic containment. Having obtained their knowledge, they followed the only lead they had, the two yellow Carta Stones stolen by an Inca slave girl in the 1400’s on a previous mission. Using the Mantis, they returned to Earth. The damaged ship missed the time location trajectory and landed in the year 2014. The journey tore the three dying aliens apart. Two tried to save themselves and their planet; the other, propelled by self-preservation and selfish goals, broke off from the group. The mission had changed their lives forever.
Tori and Roger had been with the original crew for ten years through numerous missions and adventures – many that brought them closer together, and a few that painfully reminded the two teams which of them were outsiders and which of them were not. The two Shifts that initially escaped with Tori from planet Fyte had died. Kelton, they had chased down and killed; the other, and oldest, lost his life from the effects of the deadly contaminants.
TEN YEARS EARLIER
Darkness swept silently over the city of Los Angeles. The lone occupant of a one-bedroom apartment sat cross-legged on her cold bathroom floor in her black panties. A pregnancy test was in progress, all done except for the waiting. Tammy sighed and pushed a few loose strands of her blonde high-lighted hair away from her watery blue eyes. It had been six long weeks since that strange overseas flight. She reflected on those uncertain moments of rapture. On a commercial jet airliner destined for Lima Peru out of Los Angeles, her fiancé, Captain Kris Faulkner, officially made her a member of the mile high club.
The memory flashed in her mind as she nervously awaited the beep of the pregnancy test. Kris had acted so strange. High above the Pacific Ocean, they had slipped into the small airplane bathroom. He had removed her top, hiked up her uniform, and savagely ripped the baby blue G-string off her pale innocent skin without hesitation. The look of hunger had burned in his eyes, and his animal-like roughness was nothing like their previous lovemaking. The firmness of his grip as he wrapped his hand around her long hair and held her head down seemed strange.
Tammy had been bent over the whole time during their torrid sexual gymnastics. She had felt more than just a nuance that something was wrong. His smooth manicured hands had seemed callous at times when he pawed her body, her breasts, and her throat. His smell was not the same. It was a mixture of unknowns. Her arousal had been heightened by the intensity. The incredible force was matched by her own and ended with him exploding inside her. When he released his grip on her hair, she had raised her head and studied his reflection. There was something hidden behind his eyes. He had turned and left her in the bathroom without even saying a word.
The remaining flight had been uneventful but when they had landed, he was gone. Nobody had seen Captain Faulkner leave. Airport security in Lima informed the crew that Captain Kris Faulkner’s body had been discovered in L.A. airport. But that was impossible. He had been murdered before the flight to Lima. Confusion followed. Tammy’s mind raced. She had known him better than anybody but somehow she had been fooled. Who had flown the plane? Who had killed her fiancé? Who had she made love to? Fear knotted her stomach. She remembered how she had felt the subtle changes, the warnings that silently screamed at her consciousness. What had she made love to?
Now back in California, sandwiched between Interstate Five and the Los Angeles airport, her apartment looked vacant except for the solitary light. At twenty-three, and alone, she was afraid. A passenger jet flew overhead traveling north. A lonely Persian cat sat outside her window and meowed at the full moon. The faint tick tock of an old grandfather clock marked each agonizing second. Finally, a tiny beep was emitted from the pregnancy tester. Tammy stared at the results. Tears pooled in her eyes. Picking up the tester, she hurled it against the wall. The indicator crashed to the floor with a reading that confirmed positive.
Slamming the bathroom door behind her, she entered her bedroom. With a voice command, she turned on the lights. Her airline stewardess uniform hung in the closet next to her wedding dress. There would be no wedding. Internet printouts from news websites and hard copies of newspapers from Peru, Germany, and the United States were sprawled across her desk. Headlines of aliens with front-page photos of a huge spacecraft dominated the Berlin news. A report of an air-to-air encounter between two F-22 multi-purpose fighters with stealth technology and an unidentified craft had been cut out of her local paper. The two American jets had vanished without a trace. Dried tears stained the obituary page that listed her fiancé, Captain Kris Faulkner. A dozen orchids were on display next to the newspapers. She had brought them home from the funeral parlor. The mysterious man who sent them, NSA agent Roger Thompson, had also disappeared. She had tried to track him down to thank him but government officials were tight-lipped.
The tears fell. Tammy’s mind was spinning, imagining the real and the unreal. She would be calling in sick tomorrow. Tammy wanted to run, and hide. She thought about moving to another city. There was no one left that loved her. Washington popped into her mind but even that scared her. Whose thought had it been, hers or that of the seed growing inside her? Was it motivating or manipulating her decisions? Was it evil? The possibility turned her stomach. She felt its presence, something unclean, part of her now. Tammy was afraid.
WASHINGTON, D.C. SIX YEARS LATER…
Something had clawed her awake from her sleep. Tammy’s eyes opened. Her bedroom was dark, quiet.. Wearing a red thong and a Laker’s jersey, she sat up and listened. She was tired. Then she heard it again. It was her son, Kevin, screaming.
Bolting out of bed, she ran. Another scream echoed down the hall. Without hesitating to knock, she flung the door open and froze. What she saw was frightening. Her five-year-old son’s body was convulsing on his bed. Thrashing his head from side to side, he shouted in his sleep. “Leave me alone; I don’t want to go!”
A model airplane flew across the room and smashed in midair with one of Kevin’s roller blades. Miniature cars left abandoned on the floor, seemed possessed. They moved haphazardly in all directions. Books on his shelves fell to the ground. Tammy moved closer to try to wake him up. She shook him gently. “Kevin, I’m here.”
Tammy tried to hold her son’s body down. Instead, it arched up as if in pain. “I don’t want to go.” His voice was louder this time. His body was drenched with sweat, and his light blonde hair clung damply to his head. A jar of marbles crashed to the ground; the glass jar shattered, sounding like an explosion on the hardwood floor. Marbles rolled in all directions.
His body went limp. Kevin opened his blue eyes. Everything around him stopped. He pulled his mother closer. “They’re coming for me, mom. I saw their ship.”
“Who?” Tammy regretted the question as soon as she spoke.
“They have a big ship, it’s huge.”
A tear slid down her cheek. Tammy held her son against her, close, and rocked back and forth. “It’s only a dream, Kevin. It’s only a dream.”
“They’re real, mom. They’re coming for me!”
FOUR YEARS LATER
The overweight cab driver pulled his electric propelled minivan up to the circular parking area of the newly constructed elementary school. Wiping his greasy hair with one of his huge hands, he smiled, showing off his gold tooth, and waited as his fare finished paying with her fingerprint-sensitive smart card. The minivan’s doors opened automatically as the mother and son stepped out. The doors closed and locked on their own, as he drove away.
Affectionately, Tammy rested her hand on her son’s head as she studied the smooth architectural lines of the new school. Kevin spotted the arcade across the street. “Mom, do I have time for an arcade game?”
Brushing her blonde hair away from her face, Tammy followed her son’s line of sight. She knew her son loved to fly those virtual jets; it was the newest rave with the kids. Hesitantly, she looked at her watch. They were early. “Ten minutes Kevin, then meet me in front of the principal’s office.” Every moment he would be out of her sight, she would worry.
His youthful legs were already in motion, even before she had finished her sentence. Watching him go, she wondered how much trouble her nine-year old would find in ten minutes.
The small school handled hard cases, unusual students with circumstances that required individual attention. Even with their mandate to help the unusual, there was something about this new student that troubled the principal. He had called in his long-time friend and colleague, Anthony Depaz, to talk to the boy. “He’ll be here with his mother any minute now. I’m not sure if this school needs another trouble maker.”
Anthony reached for another mint from the principal’s desk, “The files indicate he has transferred six times; it doesn’t say he is a trouble maker.” His voice was accented by his Spanish background.
“When I spoke to his mother, I felt she was hiding something. I can read between the lines so I phoned a friend of mine over at his last school. That boy had the whole administration scared. They did not want him there anymore and were glad that he has transferred.”
“How can an entire administration be afraid of a nine-year-old boy?”
“He wouldn’t say; all he told me was that I wouldn’t believe him anyway.”
A knock interrupted the two. The Spanish teacher opened the door. “Come in.”
Tammy Saunders ushered her son in. She looked tired and frustrated. “Thank you for seeing us. I’m Tammy Saunders and this is my son, Kevin.”
The principal just nodded but Anthony Depaz moved closer to introduce himself to the intriguing student. Shaking hands, he spoke in Spanish, his mother tongue. “Buenos dias nino Saunders, come estas usted? I will be your Spanish teacher if you choose to learn a second language.”
Kevin paused. It had happened again. He felt it as they were shaking hands. Knowledge, memories, secrets and understanding all passed through him when he touched the man’s hand. It always happened like that but lately it was faster, and stronger in its intensity. Looking up into the teacher’s eyes, he knew Mr. Anthony Depaz was having an affair with the secretary that they had passed on their way in. Kevin also knew that Mr. Depaz was heavily in debt and that he had a criminal record he was hiding. In Spanish, he responded. “Buenos dias Profesor, muy bien gracious.” His accent was heavy, like he had been speaking Spanish for years.
“Hey, “ Anthony spun around to face the mother. “Yo no sabia que usted habla Espanlo.”
“What are you saying Mr. Depaz?”
“I didn’t know he could speak Spanish. His file didn’t indicate that he was fluent in another language. Where did he learn it?”
Kevin’s voice was soft, quiet, but all three adults heard him. “From you, Senor Depaz.”
“I have never taught you before and it would have taken you years to acquire the accent you seemed to have mastered. So how can you say I taught you?”
“When our hands touched, that’s when I learned Spanish.”
The principal’s voice resonated in the office as he questioned Tammy. “Does your son really know Spanish?”
“He does now,” she said with a sigh and sat down. “Kevin, go play outside with the other children. I’ll be out in a few minutes.”
Kevin gave her a hug and whispered in her ear so the other two could not hear him. “Mom, the other children will not want to play with me”
“Just don’t show off.” Tammy said. Waiting for him to leave, she didn’t start talking until the door was closed. “I still think he can hear me but what am I supposed to do? He is my son, my only son, and I can’t cage him up like an animal. He is all I have.”
“We are not asking you to cage up your son. We are just trying to understand what just happened.”
“It is like he has ESP or something. I can’t keep secrets from him. He can read my mind. Every Christmas, he tries to act surprised when he opens his presents but I know he already knows. Lately he is learning things like math, science, French, deep secrets, and now Spanish by just touching people. Nothing surprises me anymore. Mr. Depaz, I hope you don’t have anything hidden in a dark corner somewhere. If you do, then my son has found it. Secrets are hard to keep with him around.”
Mr. Depaz leaned on the desk, bothered at the possibilities that a mere child could read his mind and steal his thoughts. “Would you let us test your son’s I.Q.? Maybe we can determine if he does have ESP. I have a few colleagues at the university that are very interested in that sort of thing. They specialize in the paranormal, and especially with young students like your son.”
“If I let you do that, will you enroll him in your school?”
The principal dug out his business card and wrote the university’s number and contact name on the back of it. “When you call, ask for Mr. Ming; his first name eludes me right now but he is good with this type of thing. He may be able to set up some private tutoring for your son on an accelerated program if his I.Q. warrants it. They have special facilities for what we refer to as a borderline genius. Do you think your son’s a genius?” He handed Tammy the card.
Reading the number and name on the business card, she paused. “You don’t want to know what I think my son is.”
Outside, Kevin watched the kids play. He read their minds saying their names out loud. “Marty, Sharon, George, Peter, Maria, Walter.”
The closest boy noticed him and stopped. Approaching, he wiped the sweat off his brow. Flushed from playing soccer, he made a face that only a ten-year-old boy can. “Hi, my name is Walter.” Offering his hand, they shook. Walter was doing his special handshake, fingers hooked, the slide and finishing off with an arm wrestle grip.
Kevin started to read emotions as their hands touched but then something strange happened. His hand trembled, he felt funny inside, his skin began to shift, and the muscles on his face tingled; even his teeth felt different. Walter screamed and backed away. All of the others stopped to look. The new arrival had changed. He had become Walter. Staring at each other, no one knew who was more afraid, Walter or the new boy. Turning away, Kevin ran into the school. The principal’s office was upstairs but he wasn’t going there. Near the gymnasium, he pushed through the washroom door and stared at himself in the mirror. He had dark hair now, a stronger athletic body, a flood of new emotions and memories, a longing to be noticed by a classmate named Sharon, and a dream of becoming a soccer star. His clothes were much tighter, uncomfortable. Confused he shouted. “What am I?”
Still looking in the mirror, he hesitated to ask again, afraid he might not like the answer. His body started to change back again. His hair lightened and his skin shifted to his previous appearance. Completely changed, he stared at his old self. He touched his teeth with his hand; they too had changed back. Two kids barged in with the principal in tow. His mother followed but instead of entering, she stood in the doorway. One of the children who had observed the transformation pointed at Kevin. “There he is. He turned into Walter. I saw him do it.”
The principal, seeing Kevin standing by the mirror, asked. “What is going on? You have all the children frightened.”
“It was just a game sir.” With his mind, he used his telepathy to soothe the principal’s thoughts. “Everything is fine. It was only a game.”
“I’ll be right up. I need to wash my face.”
The principal hesitated but then changed his mind and left the washroom.
His mother realized that this school would never take her son now. She retreated.
The two boys looked at him, confused and afraid. Not wanting to be alone with him, they left. Kevin watched them leave then stared at himself in the mirror. He was frustrated. “Who am I?” His voice was loud, filling with rage. He screamed. “What am I?” He looked at his reflection and frowned. It frowned back!
Tears of anger slid down his face and he clenched his little fists. He focused on the reflection, concentrating on his eyes, deeper and deeper. The mirror shattered and fell to the tile floor, exploding into tiny pieces. The principal was in the upstairs hallway when he heard the glass break. Anthony Depaz was in front of the mother who was clutching the business card, studying the name and number on the back when they heard the young boy scream for the second time. “What am I?” With that, he turned and ran. The virtual arcade was nearby; he would hide there. He needed to be alone. He needed time to think.