Spark by Rachael Craw

Book: Spark by Rachael Craw Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rachael Craw
    Repulsed by the wrongness of it all, I mutter, “Sparks were just what, walking lighter fluid?”
    “Pretty much. During the clinics, Affinity learned that: physical touch was necessary to activate the primed; Sparks can only create a bonded triplicate – one Striker and one Shield per Spark at a time; Strikers always trigger first; and of course they discovered the Fixation Effect. Aggression levels went through the roof. Sparks died. Strikers became known as the Stray.”
    “I’m not sure they needed a name change. Striker’s disturbing enough.” I want to scrub my brain out but I need to understand. “How do we get from soldiers killing each other in a secret compound to lunatics roaming the streets? Was it the pregnancy drugs?”
    “Supplements, actually, designed for multiple-birth pregnancies – that was the second generation trial. It was supposed to be the cure-all. Breed out the Fixation Effect by starting inside the womb. Clueless doctors prescribed the vitamins to civilian women pregnant with twins. Each tablet laced with Optimal two-point-o and the newly purified Spark enzyme. They believed they could circumvent the Stray mutation, like a quasi-natural selection process where unborn babies, or ‘malleable untainted pre-forms’, would bond to the element that best complimented their DNA.”
    “So the planet is crawling with mutant killers?”
    “Not crawling, no. It was a limited production in select locations here and the UK, and like the adult test subjects, those that responded were rare.”
    It’s not much of a relief and I stare at the busy road. “This is nuts.”
    “Clearly. But they had a vision for high-profit private security. Strikers available for short-term contracts to retrieve, acquire and eliminate. Shields available for protection, containment and secure delivery of sensitive property and or persons. They had enough interest from their investors to finance it and they believed they had the right technology and the ability to monitor it. This second generation – my generation – wouldn’t surface until late adolescence. They spent a decade or so setting up compounds in strategic places for monitoring and orientation and appointed Wardens over districts to identify Sparks and those with AFS.”
    “They expected you guys to just agree to work for them?”
    “I never had to deal with that particular problem, but I believe they had a whole system of persuasion, coercion and rewards. Psychological and physical.”
    It’s like a glimpse into an alternate version of my life, an unthinkably horrible version that arbitrary chance has kept me from. Like avoiding a car crash by leaving a minute too late or too soon. Of course the current reality is dire enough. I briefly fantasise about throwing the car door open and pitching myself headlong into the advancing traffic. The fantasy is immediately quashed by a confronting sense of violation. How could I abandon Kitty to her fate? The idea is unthinkable.
    “Unfortunately, the Fixation Effect was worse and the Stray mutation made their signals undetectable. Only the Shield who completed the triplicate could sense the specific threat to their Spark. That’s when Affinity had a change in management.”
    “So the whole thing –
the whole thing
– was a complete and utter waste of time that results in lives being destroyed for absolutely nothing?”
    “About sums it up.”
    There’s a moment of time in which no amount of swearing will express my profound disgust. Finally, I mutter, “I’m not a twin.” It’s a little late for grasping at loopholes, but I can’t help it.
    “No, but your mom and I were. Once Optimal is in the system it gets passed down the gene pool like blue eyes or curly hair. Sure, there are more twins in the game than most but it’s not a prerequisite. You’re a third-generation Shield which is more complicated and unpredictable than the generations before because you aren’t a drug baby, you’re

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