Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What do you mean by unusual? #excerpt from Rogue Alliance by @MichelleBellon

TRYING TO ESCAPE a horrific past, Shyla has immersed herself in life as a tough, sassy cop in the bustle of LA. When the case of a lifetime takes her back to her hometown of Redding, she is thrown into a world of organised crime, deceit, and bitter reminders of her childhood.


Michelle Bellon


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As Shyla’s path crosses that of Brennan, an unwitting and troubled sidekick to the ringleader she’s intent on taking down, she is forced to re-evaluate everything she believes about herself, her job, and what she knows about right and wrong.

Can she face the demons of her upbringing and learn to trust again? Her life will depend on it.


He faded in and out of consciousness. Sound, light, and movement all blended together until he couldn’t tell one from the next. Coherent thought was impossible; fragments of ideas filtered in then slipped through the sieve of his mind. He was weak, dehydrated, and starving.

The one consistent concept he was able to grasp was his name. Brennan Miles. It was the name he had given himself. Simple, strong, normal; all qualities that he longed for. He no longer remembered his real name, just as he no longer remembered anything before he’d come to the institute.

The few who had ever met him took one look at his large frame and stocky build, and thought he looked plenty strong. He could see it in the way they looked at him with a mix of awe and fear. But he wasn’t strong in the way that he wanted to be. At the moment, he wasn’t even physically strong. They’d kept his food and supplements from him for over seventy-six hours – the longest period to date. Water was the only offering and even that had been the bare minimum. They wanted to see how long he could go and how powerful his need would be when triggered.

He had seen how intense his need could be and what it could drive him to do. All those other times, though, he had been in prime condition – healthy and agile. In his current state, he doubted he would be able to lift his head, much less give in to the power of his unnatural instinct. The doctor would be disappointed.

Serves him right, he thought.

Brennan heard the swish of the door open and close. His acute sense of smell instantly recognized the scent of Doctor Shinto and that of a stranger. Repulsion and hate flowed through his veins. The voices of his visitors drifted in and out. They were speaking about him as if he weren’t even there. He was just an object, an experiment. He wanted to lash out and crush the doctor. He wanted to give in to his need here and now, but with his ankles shackled and his wrists bound, he would do no such thing. Even if he had been unrestrained, he doubted that he could stand up, let alone end Doctor Shinto’s unconscionable life in his current condition. Instead, he let his head loll against the back of his chair and listened to the conversation at hand.

“Don’t get too close, Mr. Champlain. He can smell us. I don’t want him to be tempted.”

“Tempted, huh?” Champlain said, “he’s restrained and looks to be half dead. What threat could he be?”

Dr. Shinto spoke methodically. “He’s been without supplement or food for over 3 days. He’s had only 50ccs of water daily. He is extremely weak and dangerously dehydrated and will go into hypovolemic shock if he doesn’t get what he needs very soon.”

His voice was devoid of concern. The only inflection was a breathless excitement revealing the delight he took in his work.

The voice of the Champlain visitor was deeper, more humane.

“He looks terrible. Why would you treat him so terribly? If you know what he can do, what’s the purpose of this abuse?”

“We only know what he can do when strong and healthy. We’ve kept him without supplement before to monitor his physiological response. Now, we are curious to learn just exactly how he will react when deprived for an extended period of time, combined with the effects of being under extreme physical duress.

“He is weak now. But his body is not like ours. His brain has been programmed to release high levels of adrenaline when in distress. There is a nano-chip embedded into his hypothalamus. When his sympathetic nervous system triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response, neurotransmitters are released as well as norepinephrine. These directly stimulate all organs of the body and strength, mental acuity, and endurance are all significantly increased as the body’s instinct to survive kicks in.”

 “I’ve heard rumors of what you’re doing here, Dr. Shinto,” Champlain snorted, “your experimentation with genetically altered specimens has pushed limits that most of today’s society and medical professionals would find unpalatable, to say the least. If word got out, that is. A very close friend of mine- someone who has been a significant financial contributor to your…projects – has recently brought to my attention this particular endeavor of the institute.

“He claims that not only have you been successful in your creation, but that this specimen has strength and physical agility like no known human.”

“Hmm. Has he now?” Dr. Shinto asked cautiously.

“Yes. But I’m looking at him right now and, although he looks to be physically strong, he’s not exactly impressive in his current condition. I understand what you’re claiming to accomplish with this brutality, but I came here to see the phenomenon. I came here to see with my own eyes what this genetically altered super-human is really capable of.”

 “I assure you, Mr. Champlain,” Dr Shinto chuckled, smugly, “he is quite capable of what our trusted mutual acquaintance has shared with you – plus so much more. You will see for yourself in only moments. But before the demonstration, the conclusion to this piece of my analysis, may I ask why you are so interested in this project?”

“Let’s just say I have personal interest in his skills. I could use a man like him in my line of work.”

Shinto hesitated.

“Uh…well…” he faltered, “I’m sure his skills would come in handy to your…work, but unfortunately he is not ready to be integrated into society. It would be much too dangerous. And frankly, I’m not willing to let him go.”

Brennan found this conversation almost intriguing. He peered through the slits of his drooping eyelids. This Champlain character was more than just morbidly curious about him. He had an inclination to acquire his assistance. It was a possible way out of the hellhole of the facility. He wasn’t sure exactly how he could be of help, but he was damn sure he would do whatever required of him as long as it meant freedom from Shinto.

He wished he could show him his abilities, but felt drained, lifeless. The thirst was painful. The craving of his supplement was exponentially worse. The smell of his visitors’ scent gnawed at him, making it hard to think of anything else.

The stranger called Champlain turned to face Shinto directly. Even half unconscious, Brennan could see the uncompromising stare of defiance.

“We’ll see about that,” he said before turning to face Brennan again, “but before we move forward, tell me more about the subject and his development.”

Brennan could hear the inflection of uncertainty in Shinto’s voice when he answered. He’d never heard him waver before and it was gratifying to hear.

“Well,” he said, “when we brought him to the institute, he was already a fine physical specimen, given his age. Not like he is now, but very toned from his athletic abilities.

“I won’t go into specifics and bore you but, through genetic modification, DNA splicing, strategic placement of micro-chips in the brain, and trauma based behavior modification we have essentially created a super-human with what you might consider…unusual cravings.”

“What do you mean by unusual?”

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