This week’s excerpt is from Burning Love (Flights of Fancy 1) and is a PG excerpt.
Confusing images of DNA swam on the display of Debi’s data recorder and mixed in Star’s head with the wonderful erotic images of Spence from the night they shared on the sofa. She shook her head trying to make things fall into place.
Debi tapped the screen. “These plants aren’t old enough to have evolved here to the point they have.”
“I don’t understand.” Spence rubbed his eyes. “What do you mean they aren’t old enough? How old can a plant be?”
“No, not the individual plants, Major.” Debi took a deep breath. “I mean the species isn’t old enough. There are a lot of variables we don’t understand about this world yet, but genetic mutations happen at a predictable rate. In other words, we can look at the DNA and tell how old a species is based on the mutations.”
Star caught the detail part. “What’s this about variables you don’t understand?”
“Sometimes, certain conditions can change the mutation rate. Things like background radiation and a few others.” Debi grinned. “But it doesn’t matter. Enough radiation to make mutations happen fast enough to see a species this young would kill all carbon-based life here.”
Spence stopped with his coffee halfway to his mouth. “Eh?”
“Yeah. This plant species is only about two hundred years old.”
Star stared at the screen for a moment. “But you said there are variables that could change that.”
“There are. By as much as a factor of five.” Debi tapped her finger against the screen as she spoke. “Best case, this species is only a thousand years old.”
Spence shrugged. “So what? It just recently evolved.”
Debi shook her head. “It’s one of the oldest I’ve found so far. And there’s evidence of artificial manipulation of the DNA.”
“You mean it was made?” Star remembered the artificial device in the brain of the Hendri males.
“Exactly. Genetically engineered. We have the technology to do it, but from what I’ve seen, the Hendri don’t.” Debi smiled again. “These people don’t even have tri-v.”
“Have you advised the ship about this information?” Star had a bad feeling.
“No, I tried to send my data uplink just before I came over here, but there was too much interference.”
Spence tapped his communicator. “Daedalus, this is Major Spencer.” A soft hissing came from the receiver. “Daedalus, this is the landing party, acknowledge.” Again only quiet noise. Spence tried calling each of the other landing party members, but no reply came. He grabbed his armor as he ran to the bedroom. “You two stay here. No one leaves and no one comes in who isn’t human.” He stepped from the bedroom as he fastened the last of the straps.
Star touched his arm. “What’s going on?”
He smiled, but she could tell he forced it. “I don’t know. Probably nothing, just the energy field, but I’m going to find the others and bring them all here. Then we’ll get to the landing craft and get out of here.” He took her shoulders in his hands as he stared into her eyes. “No arguments, OK?”
“None from me.” She didn’t like the fear she felt welling up inside of her, but Spence’s presence and calm command made her feel better.
“That’s good.” His smile looked a little less faked. “I’ll be back soon.” He kissed her deeply before turning and trotting out the door and down the hall.
Debi nodded her head. “Oh. Now I understand.”
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