An excerpt from book 4: Marcus (A work in progress)
The alien hunter had tracked the carbon trail around the globe. Hovering over Germany, he realized he needed to find a better way to track the alien Shifts. They had been in Germany, but they had left carbon trails all over the planet including South America, North America, and Europe. His cloaked ship was a long-range scout ship with dark armor that looked like scales. It was built to carry one of his species and could travel through time and land anywhere including in deep water. The stealth ship was built from strong, lightweight composite materials that could handle both space travel and intense g-force turns, was slightly bigger than a military fighter jet with more interior room to move around. The cockpit had reinforced tempered glass that allowed a clear view, popup display and full tinting on demand. Armed with smart technology missiles and energy weapons such as the lasers with 360-degree shoot capability. Areas around his ship were strategically designed with weapon hubs built with a solid crystalline material that the energy from the ship could be released as high-temperature laser beams. The material that the ship was made from was spliced with infrared sensors and fusion technology for high-performance tracking and threat detection. “Computer, map both military and nonmilitary frequencies.”
The customizable synthesized voice responded and pulled up a global map. “Frequencies are mapped.” The voice spoke Mandarin in a soft sounding female voice as it adapted its language module by galaxy and the closest planet, then choosing the most spoken language by the inhabitants.
Orion, a name given to him when he completed his training on his home planet, was more like his call sign. He looked at the millions of layers of communication linked to GPS coordinates. “English please.” He paused, his red eyes blinked. He had been in this ship too long. His wings wanted to be released, to expand. The dark scales that protected his body had shown the first signs of shedding. Soon, they would detach from his dermis and reveal a fresh strong protective layer of new scales. He peeled off a small section of peeling scales and placed it in his mouth. Chewing it, his strong teeth and acidic saliva slowly digested it back into his body. “Now isolate frequencies that never leave the carbon trails that we have been tracking.”
Meticulously the layers dropped until there was only one. The lone signal indicated New York city.” His red eyes stared at the coordinates that would bring his journey to the United States. The hunter stayed tapped into police and military communications. He was learning quickly, adapting to this new world. His ship rose, turned and shot forward, traveling faster than any plane or ship that earth would have in this time period. It screamed through the sky. His mind was alive with thoughts, he needed to protect his ship. It carried time travel technology and in the wrong hands could be a weapon. He changed his course, he did not head directly to New York. He would find a safe place for it, Chicago. All of a sudden, he felt a presence in his head. He was surprised with her power, he believed it was one of the aliens he was hunting. She had detected him from thousands of miles away and yet blocked her location from him, but he knew where she was. He looked at the signal still showing her approximate GPS coordinates on his screen. “I am coming for you Cassandra.” Yes, he knew her name now. He had a glimpse into her mind before she completely blocked him. He was impressed with her intellect and strength. He loved a challenger. This hunt had now became personal for him. She had scored the first point. The tip of his long tongue slithered and escaped from his mouth as he smiled. “I will enjoy watching you die.”
Cassandra Ryan lived on the 14th floor in her luxurious two bedroom condo in downtown Manhattan. The bedrooms were large, both with walk-in closets. The main room was open with a large kitchen island and most importantly, had a balcony facing the Rock Observation Deck, one of New York’s landmarks. The balcony gave her a second entrance or exit when she needed to leave unseen. The condo she lived in had high ceilings and was painted in soft colors, off whites with an accent of green in the trim. She had collected a few plants, some white amaryllis and a few pink perennials that she had staged in dark grey plant holders. Very few residents in the building knew her and yet she knew every single one of them. People who saw her might guess that she was a college student, which would have been correct if they had met her before.They might have guessed that she shared her home with another woman, a beautiful fit blonde. They were partially correct. Cassandra was home, wearing a new white summer dress, she was pacing in front of a whiteboard. Her dark long hair was brushed and hanging down her back. There were a few words handwritten on the whiteboard. Her green eyes read them for the hundredth time. “Marcus. Travel back in time. Armageddon? Lonely. Need love. Need a ship. Mantis.” Under the name Marcus, she scribbled, died on Flight 423 from Dulles Airport, Washington to New York. She spoke. “Can we do this? Can we save him? How will it affect the timeline?” She paused. Had she put herself in danger by invading the alien’s thoughts? He called her by her name.
She was alone in her condo brainstorming. There was silence for a moment. She moved to a large stand-up mirror and reached out with her hand. It was a ritual she had done many times when Marcus had been with her, inside her. Sharing the same lifeforce, never able to have real physical contact. It was all they had, the reflection of a mirror. He was gone now. As she touched the mirror, her hand started to ripple. She smiled. Her skin all over her body started to change. Her long black hair shifted to blonde. Her green eyes to blue. Her teeth changed, her smile, everything was different. Flashes of flame from her natural alien form sparkled as she changed. She stared at her reflection. Cassandra was now locked inside and Angelica was released. Two identities in one alien life form. There used to be more but now, only two. Ever since she had lost Marcus, she was always lonely.
She was an alien life force, a shapeshifter where Cassandra and Angelica shared their life inside one lifeform. They could switch back and forth at will. They were capable of stealing more DNA codes, more identities but balancing and keeping control was harder as they acquired more, so they avoided adding random personae to their being. The two, Cassandra and Angelica had their own goals and desires but today they were working on a plan, to bring Cassandra’s lover, Marcus, back into her life. They wanted to steal his DNA code by traveling back in time, before he was murdered. Marcus would be their third personae. Angelica looked at her own reflection, she had azure blue eyes with an inviting sparkle of innocence and vitality which seemed to cloak her capacity of high intellect and deception. Her athletic body had been earned although her genetics may have helped. She had run, swam and trained in her youth for many hours that had contoured her body like a gymnast or a dancer. She moved with grace like she was always on stage but so genuine that she was easily liked. She picked up an elastic and pulled her hair into a ponytail. Her complexion was flawless at 27 years old. She smoothed down the white summer dress with her hands. “I love the new dress, and yes, we can do this,” she said with confidence.
Angelica’s life before her DNA code was stolen, was a life of deception. She was an international rogue spy and assassin who was getting ready to retire in a few more years, then settle down and have children. That was her dream, to raise a family. She wanted to be a mother. Her sex life was complicated, she was bisexual but loved women more. Now, she was dead, and yet, her DNA code remained in this alien form. Her memories, her skills, everything was still alive in this alien, trapped, yet alive with all her thoughts and desires. She looked at the whiteboard. Her mind liked the idea of traveling back in time to reunite Cassandra with her true love, Marcus. He was her first love, a Gothic musician who had been killed by the same alien that they were now part of. Marcus was dark-haired, with pale skin and on his last trip to Washington, he had his two canine teeth surgically enhanced to resemble a vampire. Cassandra loved his new smile but now he was gone. His DNA code was lost with others when their alien life form was attacked. Many of the identities died, only Cassandra had survived from all of the original identities. She had her teeth surgically enhanced like his, like vampire teeth, as a reminder of his memory. She had been surprised when they completely removed the two canine teeth and added new teeth with dental implants deep into the bone tissue of her jaw. They looked strong, unnatural smile, like a vampire. It was her keepsake of his memory.
Angelica was new, handpicked by Cassandra. She moved to the balcony. Mentally, she willed the balcony doors open. The wind flirted with her dress. Closing her eyes, she expanded her mind’s eye. The was a hunter on his way to kill her. He was from another galaxy, another time, but he was here now, on Earth, and he was getting closer. She spoke softly. “We can learn from him, steal his thoughts, steal his ship, and travel back in time.”
The change came quickly. Cassandra had taken over their form. Her long blonde hair changed to black hair and cascaded down her back as she pulled the elastic out with her hand. “Yes, and his ship is the key.”
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. Cassandra had not noticed the arrival with her mind’s eye. She had been distracted. She focused on the other side of the door. Someone was blocking her, she knew then who it was. Opening the door she greeted Tori. “I thought you were traveling with the Mantis crew?”
Tori walked in. “We have been gone for almost a year but needed to return Amanda to this time. Sometimes I forget that for you, it is like we never left. You would have loved our adventures. One day we will travel together side by side and have our own adventures. We transport Amanda home tomorrow to break up with her boyfriend.” Tori noticed the words on the whiteboard.
Cassandra was absorbing the impact of seeing Tori here, That meant the Mantis was back. Amanda Thompson was being returned to Earth. She had been a temporary crew member who was also part of the crew on the Mantis. “Why are you here? In my condo? Knocking on my door?” Cassandra was already thinking of the ship. The Mantis was a heavily armed time traveling ship operated by less than five people.”
Tori was still wearing her flight suit. She was an alien Shift like Cassandra. Tori was the only one left from the three that escaped their planet that survived. Cassandra was slightly different. She was a hybrid, the offspring of a Shift and a human. “I am here to protect you. The Mantis discovered a signal of a ship from an unknown origin here on Earth. We believe that you may be in danger.”
“Yes, I have felt a presence of another species. He is from a far away galaxy. He is not hunting me, he is hunting us. He has signaled others to come but, for now, he is alone. His name is Orion.”
“How do you know all this?” Tori realized the answer as she asked the question. Cassandra’s powers were stronger than hers. “Have you been in his mind?”
Cassandra stared at Tori. “Yes.” She was angry, she knew Tori would try to stop her from reuniting with Marcus. She reached out and tried to read Tori’s thoughts.
Tori steeled her mental forcefield. She had no secrets but wanted Cassandra to respect her privacy. She felt the invading mental probe. It was strong. Tori’s mind focused on the wall that surrounded her thoughts. Dark steel and brick, and yet Cassandra’s force was aggressive. First, she tried to bend the steel wall with her thoughts, nothing, then without warning, she struck the wall with her full energy, shattering the steel. Tori was astonished how powerful Cassandra had become. Brick by brick, she was dismantling her mental wall that was protecting her thoughts. She pushed Cassandra with her telekinesis power. Cassandra’s feet started to slide back. She fought against it. Tori felt her body get smashed by an invisible force knocking her backward, through the open balcony doors, and over the ledge.
Hovering in the air, fourteen floors above the ground, Tori spoke to Cassandra with her mind. “Stop it. I have no secrets. I just want you to respect me.”
Tori felt the mind probe fade. She floated back to the balcony and as her feet touch the floor, she walked back into the condo. “I assume Angelica knows that I am here or are you blocking her?”
“She knows you are here. You can grab some of our clothes tomorrow. We already share most of our outfits.”