Steven Lyle Jordan

Author, Futurist, Science Fiction Aficionado

Evoguía: Preview

Evoguia cover 2015

Dr. Anitra Juarez creates a revolutionary breakthrough in accessing the untapped potential in humans, and in so doing, sows the seeds of a decades-spanning conflict between Homo Sapiens and a group of people—a 98-pound weakling, a police detective, a boy with learning difficulties and an illness-prone woman—who become the first generation of Homo Evoguía… the Self-Evolved Man.


Preview: Chapter 1

Nami ran full-tilt across the parking lot. It was just past midnight, but there was enough residual light from distant streetlights and open windows to illuminate the mostly-empty lot… which was not good, since it meant she was a reasonable target for the gunman in the building on the opposite side of the lot. Nami ran in a slightly-curved trajectory, then switched direction about two-thirds of the way across the asphalt, to throw off anyone taking aim at the top of her head. Just before she reached the far wall, she spun around and braced herself, and allowed her momentum to carry her. She struck the wall of the building hard enough to make her teeth rattle, but she flattened there, and stayed put.

And silently cursed herself for being caught in such a situation. Detective Nami Waters, with nine years on the force and two as a detective, wasn’t supposed to be out in the middle of the night giving foot chase to armed drug dealers. She was supposed to be cleaning up after the uniformed cops who were supposed to be chasing down perps in the middle of the night. No, she checked herself, that’s not true. She could feel her heart racing, and after a sprint across a wide open space that could have been her last steps alive, she knew she was spooked. And when she was spooked, she often got angry, and said (or thought) things that simply weren’t true.

“How the Hell,” she whispered to herself, “did I ever make detective?” She rolled her head along the wall to locate the nearest opening… in this case, a cracked wooden door to her left. She slid along the wall to the door, reached out, and discovered it was unlocked. An invitation if she ever saw one, but not one she wanted to accept at face value. She slid away from the door a few feet, and tapped her finger to her earphone. Her partner, Israel Madison, was supposed to be out here somewhere, but they had become separated when they went around opposite ends of the street to flush the dealers she had followed this far. She waited to hear the click of his tap on her earphone, indicating he’d heard her tap. Or a double-click, which would indicate that he heard, but could not speak.

She received nothing.

Or had she heard nothing?

Nami reached for her radio, and switched to a general call mode. “Central,” she whispered into her earphone mic, “1-Evan-6, requesting backup, code three. Possible officer down. Locate on me or Detective Madison.”

“1-Evan-6, we copy. Sending two units now.”

“Thank you,” she said after she switched the radio back to local mode. She tried tapping again, but still got nothing. Had Izzy been taken down? She hadn’t heard a shot. Was he already in the building? After all this time, she didn’t even know if the dealers were still in there. And here she was, plastered uselessly against the sooty wall of the building, while her partner might be bleeding to death, and her perps might be halfway to Marietta by now.

“Backup, backup…” she whispered again as she edged closer to the door. Moving her head right to the edge of the frame, she listened for any sound of movement. After what felt like a few minutes (and could have only been four or five seconds), she suddenly moved across the door, grabbing the handle and pulling it open as she crossed the threshold. She flattened herself against the opposite side of the now-open door, gun drawn at the neck-height of anyone who might be stupid enough to stick their heads through (like herself), and paused for a brief moment. She used her hand on the door handle to pull herself quickly forward, and used her momentum to carry herself into the dark interior and downward, to hopefully land in some low shelter.

Instead, she crashed into a pile of boxes, some of which were empty and flew into the air upon her impact. She bruised her shoulder on one of the others, which must have been filled with machine parts. She heard no sound, and no shots were directed at her, so she quickly scrambled out of the pile and tried to get a good look at her surroundings. Nami’s eyes widened and strained to see, but the room was as pitch-black as it could possibly be. She waited for her eyes to adjust—which seemed to be taking far too long—and tapped her earpiece again. Still no reply from Israel. For the second time, she considered waiting until she heard something, or got her backup. For the second time, she decided against it.

Slowly she began to move forward, searching for the door to the next room. She grunted when she stubbed her toe on something absolutely unmoving and hard. She reached out, felt something cold and metallic, kept running her hand along its close edge until she touched something sharp, and pulled her hand back. Considered her encounter, she deftly reached into her pocket and removed a tiny flashlight. Twisting it on, she waved it across the room in a quick sweep and took in the objects that were momentarily reflected in its light. She saw floor-mounted machinery. She was in a machine shop. Heavy-duty machines, designed to work metal.

If the entire building were made up of machines and metal like this, it might keep her radio from being able to communicate with Israel’s. So he might be okay after all, if he was inside. But if the building was that well shielded, her backup would not be able to locate them inside.

“It just gets better and better,” she whispered, making a mental note to stop whispering aloud for the duration of her stay inside.

The building proved to be empty on the lower floor, and she eventually discovered a stairway leading to the next floor. Before she reached its base, however, a distant voice froze her in her tracks. She waited, and the voice came again, definitely from somewhere above the stairs. Probably a sentry with a big mouth and an itchy trigger finger. So the stairs weren’t an option…

Click.

Nami’s eyes snapped wide, and she let a silent sigh of relief escape her lips. Izzy. She tapped back, twice, and waited.

“Look left.”

Nami looked left, and saw a vague figure in a shadowy corner, a dozen yards away. The figure waved at her. Nami glanced at the stairs, which were between her and her partner. It was close, but she concluded that she could move to his corner if she moved as far to the left of the room as possible. She started for Israel, taking care to move slowly and quietly.

About halfway to Israel, Nami heard sharp, insistent voices from the floor above. Something had set off the guys upstairs. Nami could not hear any specifics from their voices, but when she glanced back to look at Israel, she caught sight of a red flash of light, reflected against the wall. The flash came back a second later, and was followed by a blue flash a half-second after. The backup had arrived. They had just pulled up around the building. The dealers upstairs had seen the cars, and judging by their voices, were now panicking. If they decided to rabbit… as panicked perps often do… they would probably have to come right down the stairs that terminated about seven feet from her present position.

Nami’s stomach turned cold, and she looked over at Israel. His shadow had also shifted and tensed, and Nami knew he was thinking the same thing she was. And at that moment, the stairwell erupted in a ragged thumping of hurried footsteps, sounding much like a flurry of kids descending from their bedrooms.

Nami turned and rolled, coming around and taking aim at the first pair of legs rushing down the stairs. “PoliceYou’reUnderArrestFreeze!” she barked, at the same time that she saw the barrel of the automatic the first pair of legs was carrying.

The legs on the stairs suddenly tangled with each other. Nami heard a great deal of profanity erupt from the upper level… apparently they hadn’t realized they had visitors in their lobby. But the legs in back could not stop soon enough to avoid forcing the legs in front the rest of the way down the stairs. Faced with imminently losing his footing, the first set of legs suddenly tried to leap the length of the stairway to the floor. There was a roar and bright flash as the man attached to those legs tried to fire a warning shot into the room with his automatic. But his uncontrolled fall down the stairs had thoroughly ruined his aim, and he only knocked plaster off of the roof. Nami had already taken a bead on him, and she squeezed off a shot. The gunman did a sudden barrel roll on his way down, landed at the foot of the stairs, and rolled limply across the floor.

“FreezePolice!” cried the voice of her partner, who had come up out of the shadows and now moved up behind Nami. The legs did not freeze, however, and almost every set of them insisted on trying to shoot their way down the stairs. Their firing created a fireworks display in the small space, strobing light, and booming sound that could be felt down to the bone. Unfortunately for them, their own bodies were in the way of getting a clean shot at the officers below. Nami and Israel found themselves literally picking them off one by one, as they stumbled and tumbled down the stairs firing wild shots throughout the room.

Suddenly, there was no one else to shoot at. Nami’s ears rang from the cacophony of gunfire in the enclosed space, and her eyes blinked back the blind spots left by muzzle flashes. She barely had any connection to the room she was in, could hardly make out anyone in the room with her. Heart still pounding, she let herself slump to a seated position on the floor, just inches from a dead drug dealer. She looked at him: She couldn’t see in the dark well enough to identify him, even this close.

From somewhere a voice bellowed out. Israel raised his head, and yelled out, “We’re in here… stand down!” He moved over to Nami and knelt beside her. “You okay, partner?”

Nami, still half-blind and deaf, and fairly shaking with excess adrenaline, responded by thumping her fist against his chest, and demanding almost plaintively, “Where the hell were you?”

~

It was past two A.M. when Nami walked through the front door to her apartment. At least, she wouldn’t have to come in the next day, she thought… the only perk to working night shift, taking out a handful of drug dealers, and making your Captain happy. She walked out of her clothing, having stripped down to her trousers only by the time she reached the bathroom. She dumped everything into the hamper, finished off with the trousers and her panties, and forced herself into the shower to wash off a week’s worth of grime, accumulated in one day.

Once she was relatively clean, she padded back to the kitchen to get a glass of cold water. Then back to the bedroom, where she pulled on a long tee-shirt before she crawled under the sheet.

She had concentrated on every move she had made since coming home, right down to getting into bed. She had hoped to concentrate on going right to sleep, but contrary to plan, she stayed stubbornly awake and alert. Which, unfortunately, left her mind with nothing else to do except contemplate her evening, and how scared she had been out in the field. Slowly her resolve melted away, and she shivered as she fought back tears.

She managed to avoid crying, but she was too upset with herself to go to sleep. After a half-hour, Nami got back out of bed and paced into the kitchen again. She considered the lateness of the hour, and regretted that she could not call one of the men she had occasionally dated, and spent the rest of the night with one of them… she could have used the company (not to mention the sex). She could have used someone to talk to.

She had doubted lately that she had made the right decision in becoming a police officer. It had started when her eyesight had started to go south, a year ago, and she had been forced to start wearing reading glasses for the first time in her life. She noticed her hearing seemed to have lost some of its sharpness, and those loud concerts she sometimes went to seemed to force her ears to ringing a lot sooner, and a lot longer, than they had years ago. With her youthful sensitivities going, she seemed to be losing her youthful confidence as well, and working on the streets of Atlanta seemed tougher and tougher every day. She was becoming more and more concerned that she was losing her edge, and that loss would someday prove fatal in her line of work.

Nami sat at her kitchen table, contemplating her future. And once again, her mind returned to an entry she had read online in the Journal-Constitution weeks ago. She had a laptop that she generally kept in the kitchen, and used to read from the web, or get some paperwork done. She searched through her files of the articles and ads she had saved, until she found the one she was looking for.

Research Subjects

Participants needed for a research study being carried out on mental development and physiological conditioning. Subjects will attempt to augment their micro-physiological condition through mental development exercises. Long term study… must be able to stay in Atlanta for the next two years. Subjects will be compensated for their time. If interested, please call (404) 332-3602, ext 19.

Nami reread the ad carefully. She recognized the extension as belonging to one of the exchanges near Georgia State University, where a number of independent research facilities were located. And the research they suggested sounded just like what Nami could use right now. If they could actually help her regain her preferred physical condition, even through a “mental development” of some sort, she would be able to continue to work the streets. And if it didn’t work out, it might prove to be an indicator that she should start shopping for a new career, once and for all.

~

Nami had been right about the location: The building—a plain structure with nothing for adornment except its street number, in ten-foot numbers along the top level below the roofline—was literally across the street from one of the Georgia State University parking buildings, just off campus. She maneuvered around the parked cars that lined the streets, walked into the plain lobby of the building, and checked the kiosk that sat in the center of the lobby floor. She found an open elevator and took it to the sixth floor.

The sixth floor was even more plain than the lobby, if that was possible: Plain doors up and down a plain corridor. It was obvious that this building was here for purely sponsor-related work. Nami counted the doors until she reached the one marked 610, and turned the knob.

The office was not as plain as the corridor, but it was still pretty basic. There was a duo of couches in the front of the room, a table with a few magazines arranged on it, and a smaller table holding a lamp and a few more magazines. A woman sat on the couch on the left, and glanced up from the magazine in her lap when Nami walked in, before she resumed reading.

Beyond the couch was a desk, with a young man seated behind a computer. He smiled and arched his eyebrows when Nami walked in. “Good morning. Miss…?”

“Nami Waters,” Nami replied, walking up to the desk. “I have an appointment.”

“Yes,” the young man said, consulting his screen. “Dr. Juarez is expecting you… she should be just a few more minutes, if you’ll have a seat.” He indicated the couches, and Nami thanked him and took a seat on the opposite end of the same couch the other woman sat on. The other woman did not look up again immediately, but she did look past Nami to the door on the opposite side of the room, past the desk. Nami settled back and waited, without picking up any of the magazines.

A little over five minutes later, the far door opened. Nami and the woman looked up to the door. A tall, thin boy walked out, followed by a small Hispanic woman in a white lab coat. The boy looked none too enthused about being there… in fact he looked bored, and maybe a bit put-out. The woman rose from her seat (she was clearly a relation to the boy), and approached them.

The Hispanic woman smiled at her. The woman looked to the boy and said, “So, what do you think, Harv?”

Harv, the boy, looked to her and the Hispanic woman, and even risked a quick glance at Nami, who was doing her best to give them their privacy from the far side of the waiting room. He finally shrugged and said, “Yeah, I’ll try it, Mom.”

“Good,” his mother said, smiling broadly at him the way only a proud mother could. “Don’t worry, it’ll work out wonderfully. Won’t it, Dr. Juarez?” (Thought so, Nami mused.)

“Yes, Mrs. Taim, he’ll be fine,” Dr. Juarez replied. “We had a good talk, and from what Harv tells me, I don’t see any reason why our program won’t potentially work for him.”

“That’s wonderful,” Mrs. Taim repeated, beaming at her boy. “What time should he start, then?”

“Harv,” Dr. Juarez addressed the boy, “can you come in on Monday, at ten in the morning?”

“Yeah, sure,” Harv nodded.

“Monday at ten it is,” Dr. Juarez said. “Thank you for coming in, Mrs. Taim. Harv, I’ll see you Monday morning.”

“Thanks again, Doctor,” Mrs. Taim said, leading Harv toward the door. Harv shot another quick look to Nami as they passed her and left the office.

“Miss Waters?” Nami looked up when Dr. Juarez addressed her. “I’m Doctor Juarez.”

Nami rose and shook her hand. “Hi.”

“Thank you for coming in. Please join me in my office?”

Nami was led through the far door, to make a quick right turn into a small office. The single desk had the same computer as that which adorned the receptionist’s desk, two chairs in front of it, and one behind. Two diplomas were posted to the wall, side by side, above a small cabinet filled with storage CDs and paper reference books behind glass doors. Dr. Juarez indicated the chairs to Nami, and sat down behind her desk. The doctor reached for her computer screen and tapped at it, and Nami saw in the reflection of her eyes a document that filled the screen.

Dr. Juarez turned from the screen, once she had found what she wanted. “I was really glad to see your application when it came in.”

Nami raised an eyebrow. “I’m not sure how I should take that, Doctor.”

“Sorry. I’ll explain,” Dr. Juarez said. “And you can call me Anitra, if you like.”

“I’m Nami.”

“It was the fact that you are a police detective that caught my attention,” Anitra explained. “Not your condition, or your goals, precisely. I’m sure you understand that we are in very early stages of our research into conscious micro-physiological manipulation. We are still working out our theories, and seeking better ways of making these experiments work.”

“I understand.”

“So, when we saw your background, we realized that we had found someone who is already a trained observer. Theoretically, we should be able to glean much more information about our processes, and much more objective information, from you. It would be a big help to our efforts, and should help further our research. It should also make it much more likely that we’ll be able to help you.”

“Ah,” Nami said. “So there is something in it for me.”

Anitra smiled and nodded. “Sorry again. I do tend to get very excited about this research. You’re an intelligent woman—you must be, or you wouldn’t be a detective, right?—so you must have a good idea of the benefit to Mankind this research represents.”

“Finding a way to improve human physiology consciously, at a micro-cellular level, and without surgery or chemicals?” Nami nodded. “I’ve got a pretty good idea. And speaking of which… exactly what were you planning to do with me?”

“Well,” Anitra replied, “your situation is right in line with one of our four basic goals. You want to augment your sensory sensitivity. We have a program already worked out for that, as well as our other basic goals: Gross muscular augmentation; Analytical augmentation; and immunologic augmentation.

“The sensory augmentation program consists of two types: First, neural amplification, is designed to stimulate the neuro-chemical activity between the sensory systems and their receptors in the brain; and the second is micro-muscular augmentation, which is specifically related to isolated muscle systems, like those in and around your eyes. With both systems, we will locate the regions of your brain that are specifically linked with those functions, in order to set up a method of your being able to see what your brain is doing with its sensory input.”

“See what my brain is doing?” Nami repeated. “How, exactly?”

“We start out with an EEG,” Anitra replied. “You’ve seen those, I’m sure… it creates a graph of brain activity.”

“Sure.”

“Well, our electro encephalographic equipment is tied into a computer designed to break down the signals into specific bits, which we call ‘tags,’ which represent a single flash of information. Those signals are further manipulated, to create a specific pattern on a screen. That pattern is designed to respond to the signals in a certain way. As we teach you to try to adjust that pattern, you’ll see your actual progress on the screen.”

“Really,” Nami said, intrigued.

“Yes, it can actually be fun,” Anitra told her. “The trick is, to get you to make very specific changes to the pattern. Then we need to teach your brain to remember exactly what it did to create that change, in order to learn how to manipulate it on a conscious level.”

“And how is that done?”

“Hypnotherapy,” Anitra replied. Nami made a face, and Anitra returned it with a wry smile. “You know, it’s funny; everybody reacts strongly to hypnosis, either positively or negatively. But no one ever takes it in stride. I take it that you’ve never tried hypnosis before?”

“No, never,” Nami replied.

“Allow me to give you some background. What we call hypnosis has been practiced for thousands of years, by humans throughout the world. It was often given different names, such as dreamtime, trance-state, or mind-walking. Generally it involved specific mental disciplines, sometimes aided by drugs designed to put the mind into the proper state of relaxation. Very often these trance-states were designed to clear the mind of the stresses of everyday life, and provide clarity.

“However, many peoples discovered that the trance state allowed them to exercise more control over the normally autonomous parts of their bodies or nervous systems. This allowed them to do things that are still not understood today by modern medicine, and considered by many to be outright trickery.”

“Like stopping their heart rate,” Nami volunteered. “I’ve heard of that in India. That and walking on hot coals without getting burned.”

“Well, the coal-walking is actually not a great example,” Anitra told her. “In fact, there is a way to do it that avoids serious burning of the feet… if you know that trick, anyone can do it. However, stopping the heart… or cessation of breathing… or suppression of pain, has been done, and documented. I, myself, have seen it done in front of me.”

“Have you?”

“Yes,” Anitra nodded. “I’ve spent years studying in India, Asia, South and North America, with people who can enter various trance-states, and influence their autonomous systems, almost at will.

“Let me tell you about a study that was done in the 1970s,” Anitra continued. “Hypnosis was being studied, as a way to manipulate the body’s immune system on a conscious level. The subject was brought under hypnosis, and given a mental image of whatever the situation was that they were dealing with… for instance, if a body was under attack by a virus, the mental image might be the body being surrounded by attacking primitives, and fighting back from behind a barricade. The person controlling the session would describe antibodies as being guns, or bullets, tailor-made to destroy the attackers. Then the subject would be told that their body had just found more ammunition in its stores, more than enough to vanquish the enemy. The whole thing would be orchestrated like a dream, with the imagery designed psychologically to trigger a specific response from the brain. With about twenty percent of the subjects, an actual improvement in the body’s condition was recorded, with about three percent of the subjects becoming cured of their affliction without the assistance of drugs or any other therapy.”

“Three percent… twenty percent?” Nami said. Doesn’t sound like very high successes.”

“Actually, a one in five response rate is considered very high,” Anitra pointed out. “As to the three percent total cure rate, that figure can be debated even further. But the fact that there was progress at all shows there is merit to the method. The catch was, although the hypnosis and auto-suggestion seemed to work, it did not give the subject any way to physically see what the body was doing. What was happening was that the subject was making a vague suggestion to the brain, and hoping that the brain would respond as desired. It was akin to tossing a ball of paper into a corner, and hoping you would hear it, go over, pick it up and read it. Almost everyone would look, but many would not get up from the chair. Some would go over and see what made the noise. And some of those would actually pick up the paper. And a few of those would simply throw it away, instead of reading it.

“What I’ve done is to take those mental cues, and tie them in to tailored biofeedback data. Based on what I’ve learned from natural practitioners, I’ve worked out a series of tests that will isolate the particular areas of the subconscious brain that should be targeted, and a program that will allow the conscious mind to draw connections between itself and those subconscious areas.”

“So, your system provides better feedback, I guess.”

“Exactly right,” Anitra nodded. “It gives you a visual of what your brain is actually doing, and how your efforts are directly affecting it. No dreamlike imagery that you hope your brain will figure out properly. We are talking to the brain itself, and giving it direct commands.”

Nami nodded silently, considering the implications of Anitra’s answer. In the space of that silence, Anitra glanced back at Nami’s application information, on her computer screen. “I understand this is a bit more than just an experiment, to you.”

“Yes,” Nami nodded. “Lately I’ve had a lot of trouble doing my job, because I seem to be losing my edge. I can’t see, or hear, or smell, like I used to. I don’t recover as fast. Maybe it’s just too much hard living, but…” Nami trailed off, opening her hands in an “I don’t know” gesture.

Anitra nodded. “I understand. You need to be in peak condition to do your job. You’re losing that, and you want to see if we can help you to regain it.” She leaned forward across the desk. “We can. I’m sure of it. That’s why we accepted you. The NA and MMA programs will work for you, and you’ll be sharper than you’ve been in years.” Anitra saw the spark of desire, a change in Nami’s face that signaled the abandonment of her concern in favor of the need to try. “So, what do you say? Will you be here on Monday?”

Nami actually squared back her shoulders, and smiled. “Try to keep me away.”

“Great,” Anitra said, rising from her desk. “I’ve got a few minutes… would you like to see the lab?”

“No, I’m afraid I don’t have time today,” Nami replied. “I’ve got to get back to my job. But I’ll see you on Monday.” She extended her hand. “Thanks, Doctor… Anitra.”

Anitra shook her hand. “Thank you, Nami. See you Monday.”

Once Nami had gone, Anitra returned to her desk and opened another file on her computer. It was a database broken into two, one above the other, with four names in the top section, and forty names in the lower section. The four names in the top section were, “Jafar, John Singh,” “Larson, Nicolette Mary,” “Taim, Harvey Alan,” and “Waters, Nami Ann.” Beside each name were “X” marks in individual categories, each related to a specific set of test procedures scheduled for them. A few categories were marked for each person, but all of the subjects had one item marked on the schedule that no one else had marked. Altogether, the four of them were scheduled to try every test procedure on the schedule, with some overlaps.

Anitra looked over the database, and moved to a comments area after Nami’s entry. She reached for a small handheld microphone and began to dictate. As she spoke, a small icon began to blink on the screen, indicating that it was saving her voice recording with the database.

“Detective Waters seems to have a healthy dose of concern over our program, but she also has a strong desire to succeed, thanks to the pressures of her profession. She may prove to try too hard at first… I expect her progress to be slow. But if she perseveres she could ultimately prove to have the strongest results we get out of the four subjects.”

At that point, she switched to the comments section after Harvey Taim’s name, and continued. “Harvey Taim is a textbook underachiever, although in his case, there do seem to be some indications of mental problems in his history. The records his mother provided to me suggest there may be a level of retardation, but the original tests were done in public school, and were far too vague and crude to be at all reliable. I will have to assume, therefore, that he is simply hard to reach, probably a short attention span, possibly ADD but not necessarily. Hopefully the sight of all our machinery will keep his attention long enough to show some results. If not, we’ll have to find new ways to inspire him.”

Anitra ended the dictation, and closed the database. She had a few minutes until her next interview was due, so she spent the time going over her notes on the various testing procedures she had outlined. Anitra had been almost solely responsible for the procedures they would be using, although Dr. Benson had made a few improvements with the help of the cash donations he had arranged. His replacement of Anitra’s intended Sun workstations with a Cray X-MP meant that she’d been able to make her self-designed feedback-simulation programs much more elaborate, faster and more powerful. She’d even been able to rewrite some of the feedback displays to function in true three-dimensions, as opposed to the “false 3-D” effect that most of her research had demanded in the past. She had already seen a vast improvement in the subject’s ability to discern and control the more accurate 3-D objects, just from testing it personally. She was confident that it would make an incredible improvement in her research. She still had four more simulation programs to adapt to the new format, but she had plenty of time to do that by Monday.

Anitra smoothed back her long hair as she worked on her simulation programs. As a student, she had proven to be as adept at programming as she had been in the rest of her medical studies. But she had always been an adept student, well before medical school. Her fellow students had often been amazed at the sight of her holding down her medical classes, clinical psychology, electrical engineering (which she admittedly only dabbled in) and computer programming at the same time. Anitra threw herself totally into her work, whatever it was, and she just happened to be smart enough to be able to keep it all balanced in her head. Her drive and energy had caused her to wear out countless roommates during her collegiate career, all of whom would have sworn on a stack of bibles that Anitra had never once slept during the entire school year.

From college (with degrees in medicine, clinical psychology, and published papers in her minor of anthropomorphic studies), she had traveled the world, taking the advantage of her credentials to get her into research hospitals around the globe. Her travels exposed her to first-hand examples of the real range of human anthropology, especially in those who could seemingly push back the theoretical limits of the human mind and body and do the impossible. She quickly noted the practitioners’ distinct improvements in health, vitality, and mental acuity, and saw a coherent benefit to overall health that Western medicine might take advantage of. Eventually, she began to see the similarities between hypnosis and self-hypnosis, used in many cultures under the guide of meditation, and the biofeedback systems she had studied in college… and she started to assemble a theory. When she returned to the United States, she had been determined to find the way to tap into the subconscious mind’s control areas through a mix of the traditional and the western scientific method, and to discover a way to teach it to absolutely anyone.

The papers she published on the subject were eventually picked up by Arnold Benson, Ph.D., former psychological researcher, author, Georgia State department head, and now owner of his own research institute. Anitra’s theories and observations openly intrigued Benson, who had himself witnessed the feats of Yogis in the Far East, and saw the same potential for body control and pain suppression that Anitra obviously saw. He had offered her a position instantly, and had made her one of his pet projects of late. As a result, she had lacked for nothing, including expensive dinners designed to promote her research and solicit healthy grants and donations to the institute on her behalf. She had since been building her way to this point, the opportunity to start human trials with her augmentation techniques.

There was a tone from her computer, and Anitra switched to the intercom. “Yes?”

Mr. Jafar is here, Doctor.

“I’ll be right there.”

Anitra opened the door to the waiting room and saw John Jafar, and realized at that point that she was surprised at his appearance. John Jafar was a relatively tall man (of course, at 5’-8,” most men looked tall to Anitra), with a just-slightly-dusky skin tone and round, handsome features. It occurred to Anitra that she had expected to see a shorter, darker man with a more pronounced nose and more… well, Indian features. This man honestly looked more Spanish to her, and as she happened to prefer Hispanic men, Anitra considered him to be more handsome than the average Indian male.

All of this went through her mind in a flash, and she quickly tried to put all that to the back of her mind as she extended her hand. Business, business. “Mr. Jafar? I’m Doctor Anitra Juarez.”

The young receptionist inclined his head her way, but just as quickly turned it back to his desk. He had caught the slip… she almost never introduced herself with her first name, just her title and last name. Of course, Mr. Jafar wouldn’t know that from experience, he knew.

But John Jafar seemed to pick up on the fleeting signals between the Doctor and the receptionist, and his smile widened perceptively. “Good morning, Doctor,” he said cheerily. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Thank you… and you, Mister Jafar.” Anitra replied.

“Call me John.”

“John. Please, join me in my office?”

“Gladly,” John Jafar replied, and followed not too far behind her.


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