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Eve Vaughn

BOOK: Eve Vaughn
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Children of the Dust: The Zoo

Eve Vaughn

All rights reserved.

Copyright ©2007

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is
illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary
gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison
and a fine of $250,000.

ISBN: 978-1-59596-664-3

Formats Available:

HTML, Adobe PDF,

MobiPocket, Microsoft Reader

Publisher:

Changeling Press LLC

PO Box 1046

Martinsburg, WV 25402-1046

www.ChangelingPress.com

Editor: Crystal Esau

Cover Artist: Karen Fox

This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some
may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling
Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in
which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be
accessed by under-aged readers.

The Cyrellians appear friendly, offering hope to a battered and devastated Earth. But
three women soon make startling discoveries that could very well change the fate of
their home world yet again.

With the help of Cyrellian technology, Bella may soon hear for the first time. When
she goes to their lab for tests, she finds herself sold off -- as a pet in an alien zoo!

Although she’s expected to mate with a “creature” of her kind, she can’t fight her
attraction to Dar, the zookeeper assigned to oversee her training.

Dar has a knack for dealing with the most unruly of the zoo’s pets. Still, he’s
surprised at how like his people these new breeders are. Disturbingly he finds
himself falling for the Earth being, even though he knows it’s wrong to mate with the
pets. But when Bella tells him of the Cyrellians’ underhanded tactics, he risks his life
on a daring escape. Will they find their way back to Earth in time to warn others of
the Cyrellians’ devious plans?

 

Prologue

Anarchy reigned supreme.

Those old enough to remember cursed the day when the world leaders decided nuclear weapons would solve their disputes. It did, but not in the way they’d expected.

In the years since nuclear holocaust wiped out three-fourths of Earth’s population, animals included, no order had been restored. Clean water and food had become a form of currency. Nowhere was it safe to be out once the sun set -- people were likely to be killed for anything of value they might carry. Orphaned children ran through the deserted streets naked, dirty, and unsupervised. Women and men alike sold their bodies on street corners for a simple bite to eat.

Many who didn’t die immediately eventually succumbed to radiation exposure.

Still more chose death as an escape from the mess Earth had become. Bodies lay decaying on the ground, the meat picked from their bones by some hungry creature --

or person. There were those who craved some kind of structure, but were too afraid to voice their opinions, scared they’d be attacked by those who thrived on the chaos. And so nothing changed. There was no government, no law, no peace -- no hope.

The survivors dubbed themselves the Children of the Dust, as that was all that was left of the planet.

Then one day, help came in the form of alien space ships. Strange luminescent beings with misshapen heads, large dark eyes, and long spindly fingers descended on Earth. The aliens’ arrival struck fear in the hearts of the people. It made no sense that they’d come to conquer a nearly barren planet.

While the skeptics kept their distance from the new arrivals, a few brave souls attempted communication. The Cyrellians as they were called soon proved to be

- 6 -

friendly. Not only were they instrumental in restoring Earth to its former glory, but they introduced the people to technologies beyond their wildest imaginings.

Within ten years of their arrival, the Earth was once again prosperous. Humanity flourished under the guidance of the Cyrellians. Things could only get better, or so they believed.

Discord was soon created by a small factor of malcontents who didn’t trust their alien benefactors. But eventually, this small group of rebels disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again.

 

Chapter One
2107

Bella could tell from the thoughtful look on Holly’s face that she’d try to talk her out of the decision she’d already made, but it would do her friend no good. There was no changing her mind.

She stood, abruptly walking the length of the room, and halted in front of the window to stare outside. Hovercrafts flew across the sky leaving little white clouds in their wake. Bella looked down below her to see people interacting with each other, laughing, chatting, and greeting one another. The city was full of activity.

And she heard none of it, not so much as a bird chirping or the sound of an engine. She lived in complete silence, and had since the age of nine, shortly after her parents were killed by a careless motorist. She’d come down with a cold that had soon developed into a nasty viral infection that destroyed her hearing. It was ironic that she’d lost the one sense she’d depended on the most. Bella had been a proficient violinist by the age of five. A child prodigy was what they’d called her. But what was the point in continuing when she didn’t know if she was playing the right note, or whether her instrument was in tune?

Her violin still rested in her closet, a reminder of when she was whole. It mocked her each time she laid eyes upon it. With the help of a school for the blind and deaf, she persevered, learning to live independently. She now held a job as a teacher at the same school, owned her own condo, and lived relatively well by most standards, but she longed for more.

Bella wanted to hear again. Perhaps things would have been easier if she’d been born this way, but she could still remember the sweet sound of music. Her mother had

- 8 -

played the piano, and her father the flute. When they’d played together as a family, those were her favorite memories.

She still missed them every day, wondering if they’d be proud of the woman she’d become.

A hand descended on her shoulder, forcing her to turn around. Bella focused on Holly’s lips to make out what was being said. “Look, Bella, I know this operation means a lot to you, but I would hate for you to be disappointed. This surgery is still in the experimental stages. Not only is it possible you won’t get your hearing back, but you could die. Remember when the eye implants were developed for the blind? Quite a few patients didn’t make it before they finally perfected the procedure.” Bella held up her hand, stopping Holly before she could say any more. “I know you mean well, but I won’t change my mind. Don’t you think I’ve weighed the pros and cons already? I know that by participating in this experimental surgery I’m putting my life at risk, but it’s a chance I have to take.” Holly flipped a strand of long auburn hair over her shoulder with a sigh of obvious frustration. Bella was familiar with that gesture. “I don’t believe you’ve thought this through properly. I’m sure if Sydney were here, she’d say the same thing.”

“I’ve already talked it over with her and she’s supporting me in my decision, just as I would expect a friend to do.” Bella was finding it difficult to keep her anger under wraps. What the hell was Holly’s problem? Lately she’d become Miss Doom and Gloom, but never would Bella have believed her friend wouldn’t stand behind her.

“Just because I’m concerned doesn’t mean I’m any less of a friend than Sydney.

You know I’m here for you, but I don’t want to lose you to something that’s not guaranteed. Besides, you lead a perfectly normal life.”

“If you believe that then you’re more out of touch than I thought. Do you think being this way is a trip to the moon? Yes, I’ve learned to cope with my disability, but I’ll never forget what it’s like to hear the sound of laughter or music playing. Knowing there’s something that could possibly fix my hearing loss has given me hope when I thought there was none. Would you take that away from me when I desperately need to

 

- 9 -

believe in something? If you’re truly my friend, you’d at least try to understand where I’m coming from.”

Holly recoiled, eyes widened as if she’d been slapped. “I am your friend. How could you imply I’m not?”

“Because you wouldn’t try to talk me out of it if you were. You know how much this means to me. I’ve thought long and hard about it and I can’t go on living like this when I know this can be fixed.”

“Possibly fixed. But that’s just it, you don’t know for sure. Could you stop for a minute and listen to yourself?” The minute the words left Holly’s mouth, she flushed apparently realizing the
faux pas
she’d made.

Bella knew her friend had meant no harm in her comment, but she wasn’t in the mood to shrug it off. Narrowing her eyes, she glared at Holly. “It’s hard for me to listen when I don’t hear anything. This subject is no longer up for discussion and I’d like for you to leave.”

The suspicious sheen of tears entered Holly’s brown eyes. “I didn’t mean it. I swear I didn’t.”

“I know, but now I’d like to be alone.”

Holly reached out as if to hug her, but Bella took a step back, avoiding the gesture with a shake of her head. “Just go, please.”

“Bella --”

She turned her back to Holly. She wasn’t interested any longer in the way this conversation was going. Wrapping her arms around her body, she walked to the corner and leaned her head against the window, willing herself not to cry. She didn’t turn around again until she saw Holly leave through the reflection of the window.

Swiftly, she wiped away an angry tear. Sydney had talked her into telling Holly about her decision because it was the right thing to do. Bella had been reluctant because lately Holly had begun to make strange statements about what the Cyrellians were doing to the planet. From what Bella could see, the Cyrellians had done nothing but good for Earth and its people. The only thing they asked for in return was the chance to

- 10 -

study the inhabitants of this world. When all was said and done it seemed like a fair enough bargain.

Actually it seemed more one-sided in the Earthlings’ favor considering all the technology and innovations in medicine they’d brought with them. Few could remember a world without the Cyrellians and most of them didn’t want to. Now that they’d found a way to restore hearing loss by rebuilding the inner bones and an electronic implant, Bella could only count her lucky stars.

She was well aware of the possible risks of the procedure, but the idea of being able to hear again made those possibilities inconsequential.

With a sigh, Bella walked over to her couch and flopped onto it. “Television,” she commanded, bringing the set from the ceiling to her line of vision. “Channel Three News.” The TV came on as did the subtitles for the pre-set closed caption feature programmed into it.

Trying to keep up with the flashing words, she finally gave up when a dull throb began at the base of her skull, threatening to turn into a full blown headache. She didn’t feel like reading the news anyway. At times like this, it would have been nice to lie back, close her eyes, and listen to the sound of the anchorman’s report as he relayed the happenings of the world.

Tears stung the back of her eyes. She’d give anything to hear the sound of…

anything. No one could know the ordeal she faced daily. When she’d received that brochure in the mail about the miracle operation, Bella had believed it was an answer to her prayers. Sure it was experimental, but she didn’t care. If there was the slightest of chances that her hearing would be restored, she’d take it. Damn the consequences.

If she could hear, maybe she wouldn’t get those pitying looks any longer or deal with men who felt they could treat her any way they wanted because she should be grateful to have them. Some would say she was lucky to be alive, but what kind of life did she really have?

 

 

 

- 11 -

“Television off,” she ordered and lay back on the couch, closing her eyes. A smile tugged at the corners of her lips. Tomorrow she would go down to the BioMedic Labs and take the test to see if she was a candidate. She couldn’t wait!

* * *

Bella couldn’t say she enjoyed all the poking and prodding the Cyrellian doctors were subjecting her to. She wished she could make out what they were whispering to each other. Because the Cyrellians didn’t have lips, just a small slit to put food in and get words out, she couldn’t always tell what was being said. Not that it really mattered; she only spoke Spengnese, the official language of Earth. Right about now she wished she’d opted to learn more dialects when at school.

Strangely though, Cyrellian was not a language offered to children in school. No one really questioned it, especially as it was they who had taught the people of Earth the language they now used. But they maintained their own language amongst themselves. Bella could only guess at what they may have been talking about.

She frowned when one of the doctors stared at her with dispassionate large black eyes. They seemed to bore right into her soul. She couldn’t quite hold off the shiver that raced up her spine. Why did she get the uncomfortable feeling something wasn’t quite right? Could it be possible Holly had been right to be concerned with this procedure?

No. It couldn’t be.

She
would
hear again.

It was simply the nerves talking. “What’s going on?”“ She looked at the doctors who were still studying her as if she were an amoeba on a Petri dish.

The one who’d introduced himself as Dr. Hyoisl sighed. “Relax, Ms. Scott, we must first make sure you’re in good health before we can go any further.”

“But we’ve already been here for over an hour and all you’ve done is take my blood, and temperature. You’ve barely looked at my ears which is why I’m here in the first place. Surely if I weren’t a candidate, you would have told me by now.”

- 12 -

The two aliens exchanged looks and spoke in what Bella assumed was Cyrellian, as she couldn’t make out even one word they were saying. Again that uneasy feeling returned and this time she couldn’t shake it.

Bella moistened suddenly dry lips and stood up. “Look, let me know now if I’m wasting my time, so we can either get on with it or I can go.” Dr. Tyron patted her hand in what must have been his attempt at a comforting gesture, his thin mouth tilted in what looked like a smile. “We apologize for keeping you so long. You are indeed a candidate for this procedure, but first we must perform one last test to make certain.”

She didn’t think she could handle any more, but she figured the end justified the means. “What does this test entail?”

Without answering, Dr. Hyoisl produced a large menacing needle.

Bella gulped nervously. “What… what kind of test requires you sticking me with that thing?”

“We need to see how your body responds to this drug,” Dr. Tyron explained.

She didn’t like the looks of that thing or the determined look in Dr. Hyoisl’s eyes.

Taking a step back, she shook her head. “Uh, I don’t think -- hey! What the hell are you doing?”

Dr. Tyron grabbed her arm while Dr. Hyoisl jabbed her with the sharp point and injected the contents of the needle into her.

Bella knew in that instant she’d made a mistake in coming here. For whatever reason they’d advertised, it wasn’t for the purpose of conducting a surgery. She had to get out of here and fast. Thinking quickly, she slammed her elbow into Dr. Tyron’s midsection, breaking free. She rushed to the door, but found it locked.

What in the world was happening and why did she suddenly feel so drowsy? It had to be that drug they’d administered. If she couldn’t get out the traditional way, she’d have to try the window.

Bella grabbed a chair and tossed it toward the framed glass. The chair bounced back.

 

 

 

- 13 -

Plastic.

Damn. Now what? With each passing second, she grew more lethargic, swaying on her feet to remain standing. “What have you done to me?” she demanded.

Bella didn’t have to hear herself to know her words were slurred. Unable to remain steady, she shook her head to rid herself of this sleepy feeling. Glancing at one of the doctors, if that was in fact what they were, she caught the gleam of triumph in his eyes.

This had all been a set up and she couldn’t for the life of her figure out why.

Bella’s last coherent thought before she lost consciousness was that she wished she’d listened to Holly.

BOOK: Eve Vaughn
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