Copyright © 2011 Lakisha Spletzer. All rights reserved. This excerpt is an original publication of Lakisha Spletzer. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely incidental. Without limiting the rights under the copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, by photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner and the publisher of the book. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or by any other means without the permission of the author is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized printed or electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.

Shinjiro Waylan stared up at the formidable Earth Conglomerate Laboratory. Every time he visited this place it gave him the creeps. He never asked his mother what really went on inside; he was too afraid he wouldn't like the answer. But he had to admit having her call out of the blue, after not talking to him for four months, raised his curiosity. So here he stood outside trying to calm his nerves. He straightened his tie and went inside. He was greeted by the front desk security officer and went through the necessary checks before being cleared to proceed. Shinjiro pinned the ID badge to his shirt and rode the elevator down to Sublevel 6. The doors opened and the smell of metal, grease, and some other odor he couldn't identify, assaulted his nose and made him sneeze. “And there he is.” Hearing the familiar voice, Shinjiro stepped out of the elevator and grinned. His mother's bright red hair and warm smile greeted him. “Hi, Mom.” “You just going to stand there, or are you going to give me a hug?” she demanded. He laughed and bent down to hug his five-feet-two mother. “How are you?” “I'm fine, but you, my son, seemed to have turned into a giant. You're how tall now?” “I'm six-two. Doctor said I might grow a little more before I turn 18.” His mother shook her head, but he could see that she was pleased by the news. “I'm glad you came. There is something I want to show you.” “Sure. I'm not doing anything right now at the observatory, so no worries,” he assured her. He followed his mother down two corridors before she stopped at a door and punched in an access code. The door slid open to reveal a room filled with pipes, tubes, and ducts. Shinjiro frowned. “Um, Mom, where are we going exactly?” “Just around the corner,” she replied and pointed at the dull light shining ahead of them. He didn't say anything else and fell into step with her. They turned the corner and he halted. All Shinjiro could do was stare. In the middle of the room stood a huge incubator tube filled with clear liquid, and bubbles that slowly rose the bottom. It wasn't that which caught his eye. Floating inside with eyes closed and hands placed over breasts and nether region, was a caramel-colored girl with dark black hair streaked with silver. “Wha--...,” he stammered and glanced over at his mother. She was grinning, but Shinjiro didn't see what was so amusing. “Isn't she beautiful? Go, touch the glass.” “Huh? You're joking, right, Mom?” “No, I'm not. Go, touch the glass.”

Shinjiro turned his gaze back to the slumbering girl. “Mom, I think I should be leaving.” He backed up a step and turned to go. “That wasn't a request, Lieutenant, but an order.” He stopped in his tracks. His mother had never pulled rank before. Just what was going on? He turned back around and studied her expression. She was wearing her no-nonsense look. He couldn't defy that, even if he wanted to. And now that she was using her rank as Lieutenant Colonel, he definitely didn't have a choice. Uncertain as to his mother's reasoning, but having no choice, Shinjiro walked over to the incubator tube and placed a hand on the glass. At first nothing happened and he let out a relieved sigh. He didn't know what he was expecting, but now that everything was still working, he was glad. He started to remove his hand from the glass when his mother cleared her throat. “Look up, Shinjiro.” Startled, he raised his head, and his eyes locked on to the half-opened eyelids of the girl inside. He couldn't tell what shade her eyes were, and it bothered him for some reason. He shifted and put his other hand on the glass as he tried to position himself to get a better view of her eyes. “Shinjiro, don't!” his mother's warning came too late. The moment his other hand made contact with the glass, the girl inside opened her eyes fully and Shinjiro felt the power of that pale, turquoise-eyed stare. It felt like she was sinking into his mind and soul. He forgot to breathe. Even the alarms which had begun to blare couldn't shake him free. “Beautiful,” he whispered and meant it. “Shinjiro!” He was jerked backward violently, and he let out a protest at the loss of contact. The alarms fell silent, and, in a daze, he watched as the girl's eyes drifted closed. It took him a few seconds to focus on his mother who was shaking him hard and speaking. He saw her mouth moving, but her words were not reaching him. “Snap out of it, Shinjiro!” He shook his head and forced himself to focus on his angry mother. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “Idiot! I told you to touch the glass. I didn't say to use both hands!” she scolded him. “I know...I said I was sorry, Mom!” He blinked and felt the last of the mental fog clear. He really looked at his mom and saw fear and something else in her eyes as she visually checked him over. “Come, I'd better let you go. Don't you have work to do?” She put her hand on his arm and tugged him none too gently from the room. He managed to get one last glimpse of the girl in the incubator tube before the doors slid closed.

“Mom, who is she?” “Who she is, is not important right now. You will forget what you saw here. I mean it, Shinjiro.” He started to balk, but it was the hint of fear in her eyes that dragged a grudging, “Yes, ma'am,” from his lips. “You always were a good son. Now, shoo, I have work to do.” His mother pointed to the entrance doors. Shinjiro came to attention and saluted her. He saw her eyes narrow, but he didn't give her time to say more as he hurried from the lab. He didn't know what game his mother was playing, but he didn't want to be a part of it. * * *

Dr. Sindra Waylan watched her son leave and smiled. Just as she had predicted, he had gotten a reaction. Excited that her hypothesis was correct, she made her way to the main lab where all the monitoring staff and computers were located. “Did you get it all?” she demanded of her right-hand man, Michael Hodsin. “Yes, Dr. Waylan. We have the data which began recording the moment you entered the room with him and through the breaking of connection.” “Pull it up on the screen and let me see,” she demanded and made her way over to the central data table. A 3-d projection of several graphs appeared. She touched one and enlarged it as her staff joined her, crowding around to get a good view. “See, here and here,” she told them, pointing to the middle range of lines on the graph. “These correlate with contact. And look at the Sync Ratio. It's high for an untrained Bonder.” “Unusually high,” Michael added and pulled a different graph up. “But see this one? This was his reading when the subject entered the room. Did you know his psionic potential was this strong?” Sindra smirked and Michael frowned. “He's my son, of course I know everything about him. He doesn't know that, though. He went through the prenatal and natal tests like everyone else. We were told about his potential and options to help him develop toward certain paths. My husband and I agreed that we wanted him to not have to deal with the stigma that comes from being a psion. So we choose a military path for him which later diverted to one for the Space Corps.” Michael whistled. “I knew you were a planner. Maybe I should get you to help me with my own life,” he teased. Sindra laughed and shook her head. “Sorry, my friend, you are on your own. However, pull my

son's Academy records for his weapons training, flight training, and martial arts training. Compare those against his Alpha and Beta wave readouts. I need to know if his untapped psionic powers are used when he's doing strenuous and focused work.” “Are you thinking of pairing him up with Subject 000?” “No, my son is not destined for that program. However, I am curious to see how he compares to those that were chosen for the project and were trained at an early age to participate in it. Besides, Subject 000 is slated to return to the Harmonie homeworld in eighteen months. We have until then to get as much data as we can,” she reminded him. “I hadn't forgotten. It was nice of them to loan her to us.” Michael tapped a few keys on the data padd in his hand. “I'll get to work on the correlations.” “Thank you. Everyone else, show's over. Back to work,” Sindra ordered and shooed them away from the display console. She took one more look at the graphs and closed them. She still had plenty of work to do and she couldn't wait to share the news with her husband.