The Gemini Connection

The Gemini Connection

by Teri Polen


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781684330348
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Publication date: 05/31/2018
Pages: 228
Sales rank: 1,280,215
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.52(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

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Evan Present Day

Ugly. That was the first word that came to mind. Deadly was next.

The twisted creation was courtesy of a new client, a scientist. The nightmare had been tormenting him for the past couple of weeks.

The monster stood roughly fifteen feet tall, walked on two legs, and stretched two muscled arms in front of it, but its elongated head was a grotesque combination of goat and demon. Treacherous horns protruded from either side of its skull, torso, and upper thighs, making it difficult for anyone to get close to the beast. Not that we especially wanted to, but it was part of a Bender's job requirement to eradicate nightmares. So, we took up battle positions — Syd to its right, me to its left — crouched in anticipation of this formidable creature's attack.

"I'll go high, you go low," I called to Syd. Besides a hideous appearance, the goat thing screeched like a deranged bird, and we strained to hear each other, even with the com units.

"Got it, Evan." She unsheathed a ten-inch dagger from her utility belt, the silver blade glinting in the eerie cast of yellow-green light in this nightmare-scape. Being somewhat vertically-challenged (she hated it when I said short), Syd might not look intimidating, but give the girl a knife and she was absolutely lethal. The creature's leg tendons would be sliced to ribbons in seconds.

Syd dived to the creature's right, spinning and coming up behind it, as she avoided an angry kick to her head. She carved into its left limb, and it let out an ear-piercing shriek.

I withdrew an iron mallet from my own belt and catapulted myself off the wall, soaring over the goat-demon and landing a blow to the left side of its skull. Its head jerked in my direction when I came down on its other side. The sharpened tip of the horn caught the left side of my rib cage, and a warm flow of blood seeped through my shirt. Wouldn't be the first time I'd walked away from a nightmare with a permanent scar.

Syd scrambled around its legs, careful not to be trampled. Her dagger was a silver blur as she slashed the gray-haired appendages, the goat-demon staggering in its efforts to avoid her blade.

The ground was wet — possibly blood. But with dream or nightmare creations, you couldn't be sure. Because this thing's creator was a scientist, they tended to more detail-oriented. Odds leaned in the blood direction.

The light around us took on a red hue. Did the ambient illumination correlate to the creature's anger level? If yellow-green meant annoyed, did red mean take no prisoners?

I sailed through the air again, keeping my distance from the sharp tips of the two horns, and managed a solid strike to the top of its head between them.

It floundered, the screeches growing weaker, and movements sluggish as liquid spilled down the beast's face. As the creature slowed, the surrounding light faded to more of a blush color.

Standing to the side, I kept the mallet raised in case Syd needed help. She'd sliced and diced so much that skin, muscles, and tendons hung in shreds around the creature's legs. It wouldn't last much longer. "Pull back!"

She nodded that she'd heard me, then somersaulted behind the goat-demon to get out of its path. At the same time, it lurched forward and slipped in the liquid gushing from its wounds, tilting precariously backwards. Toward Syd. Its razor-sharp horns on a direct collision course with her body.

There was no way the goat-demon would miss her.

"Eject, Syd! Now, now, now!"

Without question or hesitation, her hand immediately shot to the cuff strapped around her left wrist and pushed a red button, expelling her from the nightmare. The creature landed hard where Syd had been only seconds earlier. I exhaled in relief, but it was short-lived. I still had to deal with one seriously perturbed goat-demon. On my own, with no backup.

The beast struggled to rise, unsteady on what was left of its legs, determined not to be banished so quickly. It seemed to have gained a second wind, and now there was only one target.

I needed to move fast. My hand reached for the dagger strapped to my belt, and I groaned in annoyance at the empty sheath. It must have fallen out when I'd landed.

I'd stressed to trainees that a backup plan may save their life, and they should always keep other options in mind. Especially when finding themselves in situations such as this. Tightening my hand around the iron mallet, I propelled myself into the air once again. The beast had managed to stand, but instead of flying over him, this time I hovered just above his head.

His arms sliced through the air trying to reach me, but I was pretty agile when it came to the flying thing, and managed to roll and twist around his blows. I drew back the mallet and swung with everything I had, connecting with the goat-demon's right horn. It shrieked, but the impact with my mallet had nearly ripped the horn from its head, and I readied myself for another strike. I pummeled it once more, wrenched it off the creature's head, and maneuvered around to the other horn when the goat-demon tried to shish-kabob me.

I increased my speed, flying faster around its head in a random pattern, keeping my movements unpredictable. The com unit crackled in my ear as Charlie, who was still in the lab, checked my status.

"Evan, are you all right? You're bleeding from your upper torso."


No time to talk, if my plan was going to work. An attack wasn't as difficult now, as the monster only had a nonthreatening stump protruding from its head. With the detached horn still clutched in my hand, I faked a turn to the left, rolled to the creature's right side, and stabbed its eye with the finely-honed appendage, shoving it in until it would go no further. Then I dropped to the ground behind it.

Its wails pierced my ears and echoed off the walls, but I never let my guard down. Sometimes nightmares were surprisingly resilient and recovered quickly.

That didn't seem to be the case with goat-demon, as its gray, hairy body crumpled and folded in on itself, becoming smaller and smaller until it gradually disintegrated, extinguished with a final whimper.

Shoving the iron mallet back into my belt, I bent over and rested my hands on my knees, gulping in deep breaths. I felt like collapsing myself, but needed to begin my exit sequence.

God, I loved my job.

* * *

When I came back to my body, a medbot was tending to the wound on my torso. It was a minor injury compared to others I'd received. Some of the more memorable ones were the talon marks on my back from some sort of gargoyle/human blend, a dislocated shoulder after being slammed into a wall by a hulking blob-type of thing, and broken ankle from being stepped on by a giant, one-eyed teddy bear. A couple of stitches on the torso hardly rated a second look.

I tried shoving the persistent medbot away, then ripped the vital sign lead wires off my body. "Where's Syd?" I was relatively sure she'd ejected before the goat-demon touched her, but that didn't stop me from swallowing anxiously. I needed confirmation.

"She's fine," Charlie confirmed, gently pushing my shoulder so I'd lie back in the Bender chair. "No injuries. She's in the download room right now. That must have been a pretty good one."

Giving in and resting my head against the chair, I closed my eyes and let the medbot do its job. "You have no idea."

Syd and I were Mindbenders at Scientific Innovations. With permission from our clients, we entered their minds for various reasons. Sometimes our mission was to locate important memories buried deeply in their subconscious, other times to assist in pulling their swirling thoughts or ideas into a cohesive concept that could help Tage, our dying planet. Occasionally, as was the case with this latest mission, it was to obstruct recurring nightmares that interfered with a client's health or well-being. Continuously disrupted sleep caused increased stress, irritability, lack of focus, and, depending on the client's job, could potentially affect millions of lives.

I rubbed the bandage covering the stitches, annoyed that it caught on the fabric of my shirt. Crossing the stark white hall, I entered the lab where Syd was downloading any residual fear, hers or the client's, left over from this nightmare or any other recent cases. We didn't need to download after every nightmare case, but were strongly encouraged to when the anxiety reached a certain level. Absorbing a client's fear and trauma came with our job, but carrying it around wasn't healthy, and Benders could potentially project that fear onto the client while in his mind. Not a good thing.

Syd had just finished, and the tech was removing the leads from her head. She smiled at me. "Well, that was something I haven't seen before, but what an adrenaline rush, right? Are you hurt?"

"Just a few stitches, nothing major. Ready for debriefing?"

"Sure." She followed me out the door and down the hallway to my office, where the rest of my team, Isaac, Zia, and Amelia, were already gathered around the conference table. As team leader, I doled out assignments at the beginning of every shift, then we debriefed at the end. Sharing data about how we handled situations, techniques we used, and unusual things we encountered, whether about simple cases or level five nightmares, could prevent injuries or save lives later on.

"Evan, do we have anyone lined up to replace Maya?" Zia asked. "That guy filling in from beta team is totally subpar and needs remedial training."

"I'm working on it. Gabriel has a line on a new grad from the Academy."

She grimaced. "Seriously? A new grad will probably be just as useless. Can't we get someone more experienced from another team?"

"Maya was experienced, but that didn't prevent her from being eviscerated," Isaac said.

"That wasn't her fault, and you shouldn't speak ill of the dead." Amelia stared him down. "It could have happened to any of us."

The biggest job hazard of a Bender? If we were killed while in a client's dream or nightmare, our physical body lying in the lab also expired. We'd all had close calls, but last month, our team had suffered the loss of Zia's work partner, Maya. Since we normally worked in pairs, unless the assignment was more complicated and required additional Benders, our group had been off balance and out of sorts while we each grieved in our own ways. Even though Maya wasn't my partner, as team leader, I still blamed myself and took responsibility for her death.

"Not another word, Isaac," I said. "Amelia's right. It could have been any of us in that situation. Zia, Gabriel's chosen all of us individually, and if he sees potential in this new grad, we'd be fortunate to have him or her join our team. Let's get started."

After the meeting came to an end, Isaac, Zia, and Amelia huddled together at the end of the long table, whispering and casting glances in my direction. Zia gave Amelia a light shove toward me, and she approached slowly.

"Evan? Um ... we're all going out for breakfast and wondered if ... um, you'd like to come? Maybe?"

I stared at her silently.

"So ... that's a no?"

"I'm busy." My gaze flicked to Isaac and Zia, who looked relieved at my answer.

Amelia returned to her chair, and the three of them gathered their things, chatting and laughing with each other as they left.

Syd had hung back and waited, leaning against the table with her arms folded over her chest. "She was trying to be nice, you know. And politeness never killed anyone. You forget — I know you actually have a soft gooey center. Too bad it's buried deep down inside all that festering darkness."

"You're going with them?"

"Unless you have a better offer." She raised one eyebrow.

"I don't." Syd was the perfect team partner for me. She didn't take my crap, stood up to me, shot down my ego when it grew too big, was dependable and fierce in battles — and she'd been my best friend for the past ten years, since primary school. We'd met when Max Delacort tried to take her water ration card and I'd stood up for her. Turned out she didn't need my help. She shoved him against a wall, dared him to do it again, then invited me to sit with her at lunch.

She threw up her hands. "Fine. Go home and sit by yourself in that big empty house. I'm going out to socialize, you know, with friends. Which you don't have."

"Except you."

Her lips twitched in a smile. "For now, anyway. See you later."

I watched her walk out the door to meet the rest of the team. Once upon a time I would have joined them, but not anymore. Zia and Isaac would never have invited me if the choice was left to them, and that was fine, because I preferred they keep their distance, but in Amelia's world, everyone should want to be friends, and life was easy and fair.

But I knew better than anyone that life wasn't fair. It was cruel, heartless, and ripped away the things you loved most.

Then it left you alone to deal with it.


Evan Present Day

I hadn't been lying to Amelia about being busy, but it wasn't anything I'd discuss with her. It wasn't her business, and was something deeply personal to me.

Chase's tattoo shop had a peculiar smell. Not bad, just a strange type of incense with a spicy/musky sort of blend. The familiar hum of the tattoo needle comforted me, and I rested my head back against the chair, my mind drifting as I began to doze. Because Benders worked primarily at night when people slept, I was tired after coming off a shift, and questioned scheduling this appointment so early in the morning. Maybe that wasn't such a bad thing since, other than the two of us, the shop was empty, and I was able to get some rest while Chase worked on my shoulder.

With so much dark ink on this new design, the pain level would be more intense, but I welcomed it with open arms. Today marked one year that my identical twin brother, Simon, had disappeared, and any discomfort I experienced was minor in comparison to what had happened to him. I deserved to suffer. After all — it was my fault he was gone.

Shuffling steps and the sound of someone dropping heavily onto the nearby chair let me know I had a visitor. "I don't know how you can sleep with a needle continuously stabbing you."

Sydney's comment shattered the tranquility of the moment. Opening my eyes, I rolled my head in her direction. "Breakfast over already?"

She shrugged. "The three of them together just aren't as compelling as a day in the life of Evan Resnik."

I smirked, but didn't believe her explanation for a second.

Her hazel eyes locked with mine. "I know what day it is, and knew you'd be here." I'd been in this same chair six months ago on my and Simon's seventeenth birthday when I'd gotten the first tattoo. Syd had also been here on that day.

I glanced to my left at Chase, who was intently focused on my left upper arm as he worked. Despite my limited ability to explain the kind of design I wanted, he seemed to instinctively understand exactly what I meant. Words and ideas had always come more easily to Simon. He'd disappeared from a locked room, and there had been no requests for ransom, no clues, and no leads ... nothing. The lack of evidence was maddening. The investigators, our parents, and just about everyone assumed he was dead. But no matter what anyone said, I knew with certainty he was still alive, because if my twin brother had died, I would have felt his death as viscerally as if it were my own.

"What's that symbol? It kind of looks like the Roman numeral for two." Syd's curiosity had drawn her from the chair to get a closer look at Chase's work. As she leaned over his back, her long strands of sandy hair spilled over his shoulder, blending with his own shoulder-length dark brown.

"It's the universal symbol for twins," Chase replied, scrutinizing his design on my arm as he retracted the tattoo needle. "The dual vertical lines represent twins, the horizontal lines on the top and bottom indicate balance, and the rectangle formed in the middle signifies a strong foundation."

Syd tilted her head to the side. "Pretty impressive. Isn't that twin thing also your astrological sign? Some coincidence, huh."

"Syd, can you move back a little?" Chase asked.

"You're blocking my light."

"Oh, yeah. Sorry." She stepped back and returned to her chair.

"You good, Evan?" He was still fixated on the design as his gloved hand swiped away dots of blood from my arm.


 "Then we're finished."

I rose, approached the mirror hanging over Syd's head, and examined the new tattoo. "Excellent as always. Nothing personal, but I hope this is our last visit." Because if I saw Chase for another tattoo, that meant my brother hadn't returned yet. This new twin design joined the white and black yin and yang symbol on my right upper arm. Simon and I were opposites in every way, but always a part of each other.


Excerpted from "The Gemini Connection"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Teri Polen.
Excerpted by permission of Black Rose Writing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Gemini Connection 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
JBronder More than 1 year ago
Tage is a planet that has reached its end and is dying. Simon and Evan are teenage twins that have the ability to sense each other. Simon is a genius and part of the Scientific Innovations. Evan shows no aptitude for science which causes a riff between him and his parents. But Evan has his own abilities, Mindbending. He can reach into a scientists head and find lost information or even calm nightmares. But one night Simon cries for help on night and disappears. Evan is heartbroken and guilty that he ignored his brother’s cry for help and is determined to find him. But one year later he has not made any progress. It bothers him that Simon has disappeared from a locked room. But then there are secrets that Simon kept from Evan that he is going to have to discover to find his brother. This is an amazing story that will suck you in and not let you go until the end. I loved both brothers but I have to admit that my heart goes to Evan, especially with his parents essentially ignoring him. I was really curious about what happened to Simon and his secrets. It was hard to put this book down when I was so wrapped up in what happened to Simon, especially since he was so close to coming up with a solutions to Tage dying. This is a great YA scifi story and I recommend checking it out. This was my first book from Teri Polen but it will not be my last. I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
Suze-Lavender More than 1 year ago
Simon and Evan are twins with an exceptional gift, they can feel each other's emotions. They have a strong connection that's always present. Simon is a genius, working hard to save Tage, their dying planet. Evan isn't as smart as his brother, but he has other talents. Unfortunately their parents aren't interested in what he can do, they only show their disappointment in their son. Evan is one of the most talented Mindbenders around. Locating memories inside scientists' minds is a piece of cake for him, but his parents aren't impressed. The job isn't without dangers, but Evan loves the thrill of it. One terrible night Simon disappears. He was in a locked bedroom, no windows were opened, but he went missing anyway. Evan is trying to find out how it happened and why. Their connection was severed and he feels terribly alone. It's tough to deal with the guilt of not saving his brother, but he keeps looking for Simon. After a year he still has no idea where his brother might be. Simon's research was groundbreaking and could have saved their planet. Evan needs to discover what his brother was working on and accept a part of Simon's private life that he rebelled against to find leads. Will he be able to pull this off? The Gemini Connection is a gripping story. I was intrigued by the bond between Evan and Simon. They're both incredibly gifted and they're working hard to develop their skills. Even though they have this strong connection, Simon managed to keep secrets from his brother and Evan needs to unravel them, so he can find out more about his brother's disappearance. I was intrigued by their bond. They're very different, opposites in many ways even, but their love for each other is strong. Teri Polen combines their unusual ability with interesting science and a fabulous mystery and she kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Teri Polen has written a creative and original story and I loved her world building skills. She makes Tage come to life in a great way. The planet is running out of resources and needs scientists, so the people will have a future. I liked that idea and enjoyed reading about their research. The Mindbending fabulously fits in with this concept, something else I loved about the story. Teri Polen balances personal problems, complex conspiracies and relationships in a fantastic manner. The Gemini Connection is a story filled with adventure, beautiful deep connections and fascinating suspense.