The Elusive Spark series, Book 3
"Back in the world of the Star Children! Our teen heroes James, Keira, Lumen, and Paul are together at a new facility run by the villainous Dr. Albion - a facility that's just as frightening as the Paragon Academy. A nemesis object in space is on a collision course with Earth, and only these teens with their unique powers can stop it. I adore these characters, having been with them for the 2 previous books, A Little Bit Langston (2015) and Alpha Wave (2018), so naturally I get anxious every time they get so much as a hangnail. Which led to some stress as I read Darkfeather. Because boy oh boy, do bad things happen to my book friends. Painful lab testing. Electric shocks as punishment. Betrayal by trusted loved ones.We encounter a few new faces here, including some long-lost family members we've been itching to meet. And there's more than one fresh love interest. Demcak is adept at weaving realistic love stories into the tapestry of high adventure (and I completely applaud the range of sexuality represented among our four teenagers, plus the new cuties introduced in this book). The cycle of crush-and-heartache brings us back to earth time and again with painfully beautiful writing." - from Goodreads.com
Darkfeather, Chapter 1
The Paragon Academy, Los Angeles, CA, 2001
“Karen, wake up!” the short, beige-colored alien, UBE, said as he shook the unconscious woman on the Army bunk. “You have to hurry. The security fence is only going to be un-electrified for another twenty minutes. This is your only chance of getting out of here!” UBE threw his three-fingered hands in the air and paced in a small circle.
Karen Darkfeather rolled over. She rubbed her hazel eyes and pulled her long red hair away from her face. Her pupils adjusted to the dim light inside the Army command center beneath The Paragon Academy. She yawned and stretched, taking in a deep breath of the recycled air. In all these months, she still hadn’t gotten used to living in a retrofitted cavern, day and night simulated by banks of sodium lamps bolted to the cave ceiling. When she had turned nineteen last year, she’d won a coveted scholarship to do research at Paragon. Her classmates at UCLA’s Microbiology Department were green with envy, after all, she was the kid of the department. Since then, Karen had been living full time in a staff bunker on the base with the other med techs and scientists. It seemed like forever since she’d been “up top” on the earth’s surface where she could walk around freely without armed MPs watching her every move. She was forgetting what sunlight even felt like.
Everything down here is one big secret, she thought absently.
Karen shifted in her white lab coat and undid the top three buttons. It was so hot and stuffy in UBE’s humidified chamber. The three-foot tall alien stood attentively beside her, wringing his hands, a look of grave concern in his huge dark eyes.
“What time is it?”
“It’s time for you to go!” he continued while waving her up off the bunk. “Come along. Dr. Albion is off-site, and they won’t be expecting someone escape over the fence by the XiCOM towers.”
“This is all happening so quickly. Are you sure this will work?”
“Girlfriend,” UBE said and snapped his fingers twice in the air. “You’re the one who got herself pregnant with stolen Zeta-Reticulan DNA. You should have known the Army wouldn’t let keep your baby.”
“But I’m only eight weeks pregnant,” Karen said and rubbed her belly. She felt the fullness of her unborn child, even this early. She let her hand rest there for a moment. There she is, my precious baby growing inside. She. I said it. I know she’s a girl. I know it somehow. Keira, that’s her name. I won’t let them take you, Keira. I won’t! Karen shook her head. “Maybe I can still make some kind of bargain? I mean, I’m still their employee, right?”
“You were their employee until you broke every rule in your contract by trying to smuggle top secret government material off the base – your unborn child! I can’t hide you in here any longer,” UBE replied in a scolding tone. He turned from Karen and crossed to the far side of the small metallic room. The alien put his hand on what looked like a block of solid marble the size of a filing cabinet. It began to glow bright white and then opened along the side. A metal tray slid out. In it were two strange objects: a gold chain with a black stone pendant in the shape of two conjoined suns, and the other, small stone box about the size of a deck of cards that had the twin suns inlaid on it in gold. UBE retrieved the articles and then walked over and placed them in Karen’s hands.
“What are these?”
“These are for Keira…” the alien said simply and paused.
“But how did you…?”
“We are psychically connected, Karen.” UBE smiled kindly at her. “You are my only friend here at Paragon. I can see your thoughts. In time, with the help of your unborn child, you may start seeing mine.”
“But what are these?”
“This,” UBE said as he picked up the pendant, “Is a Heart’s Compass. It will bring your daughter back to you or to me, if ever she gets lost. And this is a hjarta kassi, a Heart’s Box. Once we close it, it will only open again for one person, its true owner, Keira. I want you to write her a letter and explain what is happening to you and place it inside. At some point after she is born you will need separate from her so The Paragon Academy can’t find her, maybe offer her up for adoption. You will give her the Heart’s Box and Compass so she’ll understand and find her way back to us.”
A look of anguish flashed over Karen’s face. “I can’t! I won’t! I’m not going to give up my child.”
“Karen, it’s the only way if you want her to be free and not be a slave of the US Government,” UBE said and blinked his huge eyes coldly. “You know what they’ll do to her: the experiments, the painful genetic tests, the endless rounds of bloodwork and tissue samples.”
Karen nodded sadly and then sat in silence on the green bunk. “UBE, this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. I’ve messed everything up.”
“On the contrary, this is all part of a much larger plan, my dear,” UBE said wistfully. “I only have seen one small part of it and that part will take place sixteen years from this very day. That’s when I’ll reconnect with my life partner EBE, he’ll show me the rest of the plan. That is when Nibiru is arriving. And at that time, EBE and I will be together with Keira and her new Zetan siblings.”
Karen was stunned into silence again. She had no idea what UBE was talking about. But there was no time to ask questions; she knew she had to get going. This was the only time the well-maintained security perimeter would be down for maintenance. She’d have to climb over the usually electrified fence and then head down into the canyons and find her way from The Paragon Academy to the nearest freeway and hitchhike. UBE was right; this was her only chance, right now.
“I’ll miss you so much,” Karen said, standing and embracing the small being, the tears already forming in the corners of her eyes. “You’ve done so much for me.”
“Oh, twaddle; it is I who is grateful for you,” UBE continued as he hugged tighter. “Now, hurry. You have no time to lose.” UBE moved over to the sealed aluminum door and swiped his hand across it. It opened with a hissing sound. “Go along the hallway to the Gamma corridor and then go to the nearest freight elevator. Here’s the elevator key I stole from one of the guards. Take the elevator up to ground level. From there you’ll have to run. Now go!” UBE commanded and pushed Karen, trembling, out into the hallway. She broke into a sprint down the hall and ran as fast as she could. She turned the corner, not looking back even once. UBE waited patiently until he couldn’t hear Karen’s footsteps anymore, then turned and went back inside, the automatic door closing behind him.
“I hope she’ll be alright,” he said sadly to himself and shook his bulbous head. “She has to be, for all our sakes.”