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Captain ghost and the warriors of evolution Ch3, V2

by Swike 

Posted: 17 September 2003
Word Count: 3670
Summary: Same as Ch 2, still fine tunin'

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Chapter 3

A Lesson in the Unknown

As she stepped out into the orange-white glow of the early morning sun, Alex forced her eyes into slits. She stomped into the private grounds of hedgerow hall, scowling and making deliberate crunching noises in the slush.
She was closely followed by an over-zealous Barney. He had completely taken leave of what sense he had, as soon as he had heard the “W-word”. He exploded down the driveway, lunging into a huge pile of wet snow.
Fred had declined to join them. It was too cold. His basket was too warm, and there were no pesky strangers to chase away or growl at.
So, Alex and Barney made there way out into the wintry scene. Alex's mind was a fog. She couldn’t ever remember being this confused. Jayden Keefler had really got to her.
She hadn’t a clue what Keefler had meant at the breakfast table about her being too precious a thing to lose. It was rather creepy and Alex did not like any of it. If only things could go back to the way they were. If only Father and Alfred would come home........
Alex reached the huge stone gazebo at the heart of the grounds, and stepped inside. She smiled ruefully to herself. This was the place she always liked to visit. It was her place to think. Her place to reflect. And it was the final resting place of her Mother, Nancy Chambers.
At the centre of the gazebo interior lay an inscribed slab of marble. This simple instalment was written upon it in inch high letters:

Lost are you,
But found is grace,
You brush the tears from my eyes,
When all is forgotten,
But time is my key in passing,
With this kiss,
We will remember thee.

Father had taught Alex many things. He had taught her about science and astrology, mathematics and quantum-mechanics. But, he had taught her little about feelings or hopes or fears. Mother had taught her that, but now she was gone; a void.
Alex sat in the secluded half-light born of radiance and shade that danced in

flat dark gloom across the floor. Outside, Barney was chasing his tail; oblivious of human feelings. Her thoughts turned in on themselves.
The moment was fleeting.
When she awoke from her moment of oblivion, she found her face stung with tears. She brushed them aside and looked up to the gazebo entrance. Predictably, the gaunt figure of Jayden Keefler stood in the way of the view.
He swayed jauntily inside.
“Have you been drinking?” Alex asked, a hint of annoyance in her intonation. His head was bowed. Alex sensed that he had been there for some time. Her moment must have lasted longer than she thought.....
And then she realised something. The sun was no longer low in the sky. instead it was high and burning.
Somehow time had slipped away from Alex.
Keefler stood in silence, a brooding expression on his face.
Suddenly, Keefler spoke, calmer than before. “Close your eyes, Alex.”
Alex shuddered, the chill had set into her bones like rot. (How long have I been sitting here?)
“Why?” she stammered.
Keefler was standing in the open doorway, his frame gaunt and somehow sinister. “I have all the answers. Keefler smiled, there was little warmth behind this smile, though. “Please,” he asked again, “close your eyes.”
Reluctantly, Alex did as she was told. Calm slipped over her, seductive and deep. She felt safe. She felt warm......
She felt...
All of a sudden she felt wind ripping at her skin.
All of a sudden, Alex felt as if she were falling. She tried to scream but her voice was lost in the howl of the gale that surrounded her. Alex forced her eyes to open. When she did there was nothing but black. Sickening panic clutched at her, squeezing, biting.
Again she screamed.
The wind was relentless.
Alex could feel her arms and legs flail in a frenzied drowning struggle.
The rush of air picked her up, slamming the breath from her body. She was choking, she was drowning.
She was safe.
Just as soon as this dreadful experience had started, it came to an abrupt end. Swiftly, colour flooded back into Alex’s eyes. Everything came into sharp focus.
It was like waking from a bad dream. She was still in the gazebo, but everything seemed different.
It all looked the same, but, somehow.....
Alex looked beyond the boundaries of the gazebo, and her jaw dropped. She stood, rooted.
The house. The garden. Everything. It was gone.
Alex blinked.

That didn’t work, her eyes were not deceiving her.
And then something else struck her. It was hot; not just a little bit warmer but blisteringly hot! In fact it was almost tropical.
The view outside was obscured, somehow darker. The air was alive with the sounds of insects and hidden jungle creatures...
Alex took a few tentative steps forward, and peered outside.
Yes! She was! She was in a jungle! But how?
Alex sunk back against the gazebo wall, hardly daring to stir. The shock of her predicament left her winded and confused.
She looked once more out into the emerald haze of the jungle. And then she realised, it was like no jungle she had ever witnessed. She had seen many pictures from books and in C.A.T.U’s teaching units, but she had never seen anything like this.
For a start there where no trees. Instead there were what appeared to be enormous grass stems, some rising fifty feet or more into the air. Some, she guessed looked as if they were at least ten feet in diameter. They were simply extraordinary. These were growing in hap-hazard fashion all over the place. Ragged ribbons of brightly coloured moss hung limply from them, adding to the shadow creating murk. And then there was the fungi. Alex baulked at the overwhelming yeasty smell, before she even laid eyes on them. Her eyes stung from the hazy yellow dust that must have been the spores. The fungi themselves were also gargantuan in size; some as big as cars; some as big buses.
And all the time there was the constant hum of the insects.
Alex stepped gingerly outside, loosening the buttons on her coat. She glanced furtively around the area, sensing danger behind every stem.
Strangely enough, though, Alex wasn’t scared. She was very far from it. In actual fact she was exited, fascinated and exhilarated all at once. As she stepped out into this strange new world, she let the dappled sunlight bleed across her face. She felt calm and relaxed....
And then she remembered Keefler.
Was he here?
Was he hiding?
“KEEFLER!!!!!!!” Alex yelled at the top of her voice. There was no reply. Nothing moved as the sound of her voice echoed and faded.
Suddenly, the sounds stopped. The jungle went as still as death itself. Alex surveyed the misty scene. Again, nothing moved. Again, there was no reply.
Slowly, the reverberating sound of the insects began once more. Alex was more nervous now, but curiosity got the better of her. She continued forward, the draw of the unknown was seductive.
Alex stepped up to the nearest clump of grass, cautious but probing because the noises seemed to be strongest from beyond these in particular. She wasn’t disappointed as she used her inquisitive hands to pull them to one side and peer into the sea green gloom beyond.
She was very surprised that the things that were making the most and

strangest of the noises around her, weren’t insects at all. What she saw, in the clearing, amazed her.
What she saw was a bunch of gigantic slugs!
But these were no ordinary slugs. They were at least seven or eight feet in length, bright yellow, and had what appeared to be human arms! Alex gasped, blinked and starred in wonderment again.
Again, her eyes were not deceiving her.
Long minutes passed as Alex watched the slugs, that numbered around twenty, as they slowly oozed their way over fallen vegetation, devouring everything in their path. She watched intently as they used their arms for both pulling themselves along and cramming vast amounts of food into hungry mouths. It was fascinating and spellbinding all at once.
“Why haven’t I seen anything like this before?”, whispered Alex. Her voice was lost in the sound of the creatures munching.
Suddenly a loud, familiar voice sounded like a foghorn from behind her. Alex nearly jumped out of her skin.
It was Keefler. “You haven’t seen them before, miss Chambers, because they live three million years in the future!” And then he added, “It’s alright, there’s no need to whisper, they have no ears.”
“Huh!?”, was the only response Alex could manage.
“Perhaps you heard me incorrectly. You have travelled three million years into the future, and this is an example of the creatures that inhabit your world.” Keeflers’ voice was matter-of-fact.
“Huh!!!!!!! Are you serious,” started Alex, “but that’s impossible!”
“And I suppose my little demonstration of the ‘impossible’ has failed to convince you.” Keeflers’ tone of voice was harsh and serious. “Alex, I thought more of you than this. I have always believed that you would look at this situation objectively. You are one of the greatest scientists who ever lived, after all.”
“What do you mean? What does any of this mean? I want to see my Dad...” Alex was weeping openly now; a sudden flood of emotion.
“As I have told you before, Alex, you are very special,” said Keefler as he leaned closer to Alex, craning his long neck and dropping his voice to a whisper. “Now, I suggest you listen.”
Alex simply nodded her submission. With her sleeve, she wiped a solitary new tear.
“This is a possible future that you helped to create!” Keefler made this opening statement bold and certain. Alex was once again stunned. This, after all, made no sense whatsoever.
“Are you now trying to tell me that time travel is possible?”, asked Alex, sarcastically.
“It certainly is, Miss Chambers, and has been for some time where I come from.” Keeflers answer was defensive. “I’m still a little terrified of time travel however. Very dangerous.....”
“Hang on,” butted in Alex, annoyed now beyond belief, “are you telling me

that you’re a time traveller?”
“Yes,” said Keefler, beaming from ear to ear because he got the feeling that the penny was finally beginning to drop.

*** ***** ***

In the inky black of space hung a huge, bulky mass shaped like a sea-turtle. The occasional light from a nearby nebular storm, flickered along its’ hull, revealing that the ship was indeed made of stone, not metal. The hulking shape travelled laboriously on its’ way, devoid of life. Devoid of a crew.
And yet, the ships’ computer was still very much alive.
The exploratory star ship, “The Darwin” was passing just three light years from Neptune when it picked up an unexpected signal. It was, strangely enough, a conversation.
“Just wait until I tell the captain,” said the computer, congratulating itself rather enthusiastically. “The Darwin”, had been floating in space for many years. The ships’ computer had lost count of how long exactly, but had tried its’ best to continue the mission it had been set, even though the entire crew were long since dead.
It used to take three hundred crew members to fly this ship, but in time the ships computer had learnt to perform all the operational tasks of the vessel, all by itself. But It was lonely. And that was why it had gone mad.
“Dribble.....Bottom....Fish...Beaver!”, the computer began. “Now, where was I? Oh yes, I was listening in to that conversation taking place on, let me see...Oh yes, that little green planet, the third one from the sun.”
If it was possible for computers to smile, the ships’ computer attempted one. It was ready to savour the moment. He would tell the captain that he had, after all this time, re-established contact with intelligent life!
“Oh, won’t the Captain be pleased with me,” he said, as he continued to make fine-tuning adjustments to his radio wave sensors.
As the computer continued its’ analysis, it realised that the planet in question was absolutely teaming with life. And yet the two individuals having the conversation were unique; the only creatures of their type on the entire planet. “Well bless my soul, vicar,” rambled the computer. “Only three hours until midnight, and the score is Z to 9,” it added in a voice similar to that of a sports commentator......
And then it had a rational thought.
If those two beings down there were unique, maybe they weren’t from there. Maybe they were from a different place...or time...
The conversation the computer heard went like this:
“So, are you going to sit down and listen,” said a male voice, trying to sound stern. This voice belonged to a hyper-celestial warrior who was at present disguised as an earthling. The disguise itself was also particularly clever, because it was almost identical, in every respect, to the image of a human butler.

The second figure spoke. The voice was female and filled with confusion. “I’ll sit down if you start being straight with me and stop all this nonsense. And you can tell me what’s happened to Alfred while your at it!”
The male being continued in a soothing voice. “As I have already explained, Alex, none of this is nonsense.”
“So, let’s cut to the chase shall we. Why me?”, came the venomous reply.
“I shall tell you.” And then there was a long pause. In due course, the speaker began again, though, and this time he did not wait to be interrupted. “In ten years time you will be a great inventor, just like your father. Your greatest invention cures cancer, helps those who are hungry and thirsty, and even prevents several wars. Your name is heralded amongst the greatest names of all time. Your invention is wonderful, it is revolutionary.....” The speaker broke off suddenly, catching his breath. “But, Alex, like so many things, there are those who covert your invention. There are those who would use it for profit, for gain....for evil!” there was a stunned silence, the female remained silent. “That is why, you must come with me, Alex. You must come with me to where a hugely powerful future-version of your invention is being used for a terrible and destructive purpose. You must come with me, and persuade those who are using it so wrongly, to switch it off! You must help us switch it off!” The males’ voice had risen dramatically in pitch and urgency.
At once the girl answered with a question, “What is this thing that I’ve invented?”
The computer could not see the male but it sensed him draw himself up to his full height. “Your invention, Alex, is known as the ‘Evolution Accelerator’!”
“The what?”, came a startled reply.
“It has been called many things over the years, but that was what the organisation I represent settled upon for a name.”
Alex leaned forward in a predatory manner, hungry for answers. “And just
who do you represent, Mr Keefler?”
Then there was silence.
Alex listened.
Up in space, the ships computer listened.
There was some more silence.
And then Keefler gave his answer.
But, hidden from view, someone else was listening.

*** ***** ***

Alex and Keefler found a flat rock to sit upon as they talked. The giant slugs feasted noisily all around them and paid them little heed. When, however, one of them strayed particularly close, Alex shrank away nervously. Keefler assured her that they meant her no harm whatsoever and it was quite alright

to stroke it, if she was feeling brave. Alex did, and was most surprised when the slug in question turned and shook her hand!
“Are they, you know, intelligent?”, asked Alex.
“Oh, yes, very,” said Keefler, smiling.
Alex was in heaven. She never imagined there was such a place. If this was truly planet earth, though, she was more than interested to know just how it came to be this way.
It took Keefler a little while to even begin to explain the complexities of why he had come for Alex and why it was so vital that Alex did as she was asked. Ever questioning, Alex kept butting in and making him go off at tangents. She was fascinated with the concepts of space and time travel, but most of all she wanted to know about her invention. She wanted to know all about the Evolution Accelerator.
What did it do? How did it do it? Why did she invent such a thing in the first place?
Alex’s curiosity had been unleashed, and there was little Keefler could do to slow her down.
He tried to explain things in a measured manner, starting with how Alex had come across the idea in the first place. It seemed that Alex’s field of expertise was in biology and evolution theory. In her last few years at university, as she was studying for a PhD, (Which pleased her enormously to know that she would one-day leave the confines of the family home...), Alex found that there was more to evolution than natural selection etc! Her research lead her down paths never explored, and what she discovered, was astonishing.
She discovered that, if you modified genetic codes then you could dramatically alter the way a living thing grows. More than that, though; it was also possible to control this growth and, sort of, re-invent the living organism that you were dealing with. It was very possible, from this leap in technology, to evolve an existing species beyond the constraints of nature. It
was also possible to create new forms of life as well......
This was, up until now, thought to be impossible. It was also morally wrong. Alex was determined, though to prove her theory, but reluctant to try
it on a living animal.
And so she began work on evolving white blood cells. At first things went along a predictable path; Alex managed to increase the efficiency of the cells several times over, and was consequently nominated for a prize at her
university. The press, of course had a field day with headlines such as “Circus tricks in the blood” and “Chambers girl cures cancer!”
But the press soon got bored, and Alex continued her research.
One day, in the lab, Alex discovered something remarkable. Several of her most viable and productive white blood cells were behaving in a very peculiar way. As she stared down her microscope in amazement, Alex witnessed them working together to corner a bacteria. Once they had it
cornered, though, instead of killing it they engulfed it and set about changing

it. The end result of this was that the bacteria was turned into a healthy red blood cell, and sent on its’ way!
After this happened, there was no stopping the production of Alex’s invention. Everybody wanted it. From pharmaceutical companies to military organisations, they all wanted to find uses for the evolution accelerator.
Of course, Alex was very careful who she sold it to at first. She knew that it could become a powerful weapon if it fell into the wrong hands.
But, of course, that is just what did happen. Six years after the evolution accelerator first cured cancer, a terrorist gang stole a prototype and brought the human race to the brink of genocide............
“So, what did they do?” asked Alex.
Keeflers’ answer was simple. “Alex, I’m sorry to say that they did the most awful things with your invention.”
“What did they do?”, Alex pressed.
“They played God!”, came the terrible reply. “The group that stole your invention believed that it should be pushed to its’ limits, just to satisfy their own ends. They all but destroyed the human race by doing so.” Keefler broke off, suddenly, and stood up, listening. He had heard something. Suddenly his face contorted with fear.
“What is it?”, Alex asked with a puzzled expression. She was almost getting used to the unusual way in which Keefler did things.
“Go back to the Gazebo, now!”, Keefler rasped at her in a harsh whisper. “ I think they’ve found us!”
“Found us? Who......?”, asked Alex.
“Just do it!”, Keefler said as he dragged Alex to her feet. “Run! Run as fast as you can and don’t look back!” From beneath his jacket he drew a sleek black gun. Keefler whirled around, ready to defend them.....but he was too late.
His body twisted in agony as he was hit by what appeared to be a bright green laser beam, that came seemingly out of nowhere and struck him with
such force that he was knocked to the ground. The slugs beat a hasty retreat as Alex screamed.
In the next instant, Jayden Keefler buried his face in his hands. A single agonising sob broke free from his lips. His hands gripped at his face and he began to pull violently at his skin. He turned and screamed, “Run, Alex, run!” Alex shrank backwards, fearing for Keefler.
“ARE YOU ALRIGHT? KEEFLER, ARE YOU OK?”, she yelled, panic was in her voice and in her mind.
Keefler continued to cry out and flung his full weight to the floor. Alex stood helplessly and watched as he writhed about, seemingly in agony. But then she noticed something. His hands, his skin, they were becoming hairier!
Somehow, Jayden Keefler was changing before her very eyes!
Alex screamed, it seemed the only rational thing to do in the circumstances.
Curled into a ball, in amongst the moss and forest litter, Keefler lay motionless. Carefully, Alex crept forward. She prayed that Mr. Keefler was

Mr. Keefler didn’t move. As Alex got closer, she could tell that he had somehow transformed into something...well... something that definitely wasn’t human!


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