Wrath – Laurann Dohner

919 tensed, watching the other males in the room with a mixture of awe and trepidation. His future rested in two of those males’ hands. Justice North sat calmly behind his desk while Brass paced in front of it. Brass paused. “They are new to freedom and I don’t trust them yet. It is too dangerous to have them leave the NSO.” Justice’s mouth flattened into a grim line and his gaze fixed on the only human in the room. Tim Oberto sat in a chair near the corner. He seemed angry, the way his features were slightly reddened and his fists were clenched along the arms of the chair. “I want to pick men for this joint venture, Justice.” He glanced at 919, the male next to him, and finally the third male standing before him. “My men haven’t trained with these men and they don’t even have names. Let me meet with some of your officers and choose from them.” Anger stirred in 919 at the insult but he fought back a snarl. Who did the human think he was to doubt his word or his commitment? He stepped forward to stare at Justice and waited for the male to address him.

“What is it, 919?” “This is important to us. There is no denying we are newly released. We haven’t made strong bonds yet that would prevent us from putting our lives at risk.” He glanced at the male at his side. “358 and I are close. We come from the same place and have the same experiences.” Nightmares. He didn’t say that word aloud, fearful it would make the other males worry about his motivation. He stared deeply into Justice’s eyes. “You already have the name that I would have chosen.

I want justice for our people and I am willing to risk my life to track down the humans who have harmed our people. We realize that some humans are good while the ones who worked for Mercile are not. We’ve seen their faces and can identify them. I am calm. I can handle this assignment.” 358 stepped closer to him. “We will watch out for each other. We’ll do the NSO proud. We wish to work closely with the task force.” Justice leaned forward in his chair, studied both of them intently, and focused on 919.

“Why?” 919 hesitated. “I don’t understand your question.” “Why is this so important to you? You should be enjoying your freedom. You could make friends, flirt with our females, yet you want to put your lives in danger. Why?” He said nothing, unsure the truth would get him what he wanted, which was to be assigned to the task force. “I asked you a question. Answer it.” 919 glanced at the human, Tim Oberto, and then back to Justice. “He’s a trusted friend. Speak freely,” Justice urged.

“There is nothing you could say that would shock him. He knows what has been done to us.” “I spent too much time alone and I’m uncomfortable around large groups of people. I also have no desire to flirt with females.” Anger burned but he managed to suppress it. “After what was done to me, I worry about being intimate with one. The task force is all male. The three of us will live together and I want to track down the ones who hurt us. I don’t sleep well knowing they are out there and that more of our kind may be suffering what we endured.” The New Species leader didn’t look horrified at his answer when he relaxed in his chair.

“How are you doing on managing your anger? Would you tear apart the enemy if you came into contact with someone who hurt you?” “No. I admit I would be happy to capture them but I want them alive and well to spend many years suffering behind locked doors. That is the best punishment.” He believed that. He hoped it showed in his eyes and the truth sounded in his voice. Justice glanced at 358. “What about you? Speak the truth.” “I’m damaged as well, my social skills aren’t great, but I manage my anger by taking it out on punching bags. I also want any humans we capture to suffer confinement but not death.” He paused.

“I go where he goes. We’ve been together for a long time and he’s the one thing I care about. We are brothers.” The human’s eyes widened. “They are biological brothers? They don’t look anything alike besides being mixed with canine. Is that the blood connection because it sure doesn’t appear to be from the human traits?” “It’s emotional,” Brass stated. “They have bonded as brothers due to their long-term association. They have kept each other strong and they should remain together to help stabilize them.” “What about you?” Justice addressed 922. “You are from a different facility than they came from.

” Tim frowned. “919 and 922 are from different testing facilities? Are you sure? They are just a few numbers apart.” Fury leaned against a wall across the room. “That doesn’t matter. There was one genetic scientist who created us, according to what we’ve learned from the Mercile employees we interviewed. We were all born in the same location but sent to other testing facilities after birth. Our numbers have no relation to where we were sent.” Justice addressed 922. “Why do you wish to be part of the team?” The male hesitated too, probably trying to form his words carefully before he spoke. “Mercile gave me a mate but murdered her.

I don’t sleep well nights. I’m not social either and I want to track down the humans who hurt our kind to make them pay. I feel useless here but this will give me a purpose.” He growled the last words. “I have no reason to exist any longer and I need one.” Justice frowned but stared at Tim. “I understand why you are concerned but most of my people don’t want to go into your world to live there. We’ve all agreed though that it’s an advantage to have some of our males join your team. They can identify some of the Mercile employees, they have enhanced senses, and it would benefit us all to have this joint venture succeed. It’s also highly dangerous to send them into the out world despite the precautions we’ve agreed upon, like having them live inside the basement of the task force headquarters.

I toured the place and it is too similar to the cells we were kept in. Many Species would have an issue with that after living away from that environment for this long but these three are volunteering, knowing the living conditions.” He paused. “No others have.” “We could order them to,” Fury admitted. “We just don’t wish to do that.” Justice nodded in agreement. “We don’t want to do that. They were given their freedom and we refuse to ask them to sacrifice it. These three are new enough to avoid being traumatized by the tight living spaces.

We understand your concern and I agree.” His gaze slid to Brass. Brass took a deep breath. “I will come with them. I’m not mated.” He glanced at Fury and Justice before staring at Tim. “I have been free for quite a while. I’ve trained with some of your team and they trust me. I’ll take charge of these three and they will be my responsibility. I will have them picked up if I see any signs of them becoming unstable.

” Tim nodded. “Agreed. Okay.” He glanced at 919, 922, and 358. “They need to fit in with my teams though. The long hair has to go, they’ll need to wear sunglasses to hide their eyes and it might distract people from noticing their features as much. I insist on assigning at least one member of the team to be on duty upstairs every evening. Your men can’t drive and they don’t do anything without my permission.” “That’s fine about assigning someone to be on duty to drive for them.” Justice picked up a pen on the desk.

“Wait,” Brass growled. “I’m willing to do a lot to help his mission succeed but I’m not cutting my hair.” Justice glanced up at him and grinned. “I forgot. Sorry.” He stared at Tim and shrugged. “He’s got a thing about keeping his hair long. They used to shave all of it off while in captivity and he’s got scarring he wishes to never see again. He will braid it back.” “He needs to fit in.

” Tim shook his head. “That won’t work.” “He can wear a cap. I’ve seen some of the males on your team do that.” Anger narrowed Justice’s eyes and his features hardened. “You take orders from me and that is how it will be.” 919 noticed the human backed down immediately but he didn’t appear happy about it. “Fine. He can wear a cap but the other ones get haircuts.” “I saw one of your males outside and he is shaved bald.

I will agree to that,” 358 said as he reached up and fingered his hair. “I won’t miss it.” “Short is good enough but whatever you decide is fine.” Tim Oberto frowned at Justice. “They need names.” Justice glanced at 922. “Pick one.” “Vengeance. I want it for my female.” “Fuck,” Tim grumbled.

Justice glanced at Brass, then Fury, and back at 922. “Vengeance it is. Just keep a tight leash on your temper or you’ll be sent back here.” “Understood.” Justice glanced at 358. “Do you have a name in mind?” He shrugged. “I like Elvis movies.” Justice grinned. “I like them too but it’s too obvious. I doubt the humans will let that one pass without teasing you.

Any second choice?” “I like the name Shadow. I like to stand still and watch others.” Brass nodded. “Good name.” Justice turned his attention on the third male. 919 tensed, put on the spot, and had no idea what to name himself. “May I think about it?” “I’ve got paperwork to do.” Tim stood from his chair. “I need a name.” 919 stared at 358, his friend who’d just chosen a name.

Shadow met and held his gaze. They knew each other well after having spent years in cells close together and both had suffered the same damage. Shadow finally spoke, never looking away from him. “He should take the name Wrath. He allowed his anger to simmer, relied on his intelligence, but he made them pay when the opportunity presented. The humans always knew he’d eventually get even after they abused us or at least the smart ones did.” 919 felt pride surge and he nodded. “It is a good name.” He glanced at Justice and Brass to see their reactions. “Just make sure you keep hold of your temper.

” Justice scribbled on a folder lying on his desk and passed it to Tim. “Here you go. Here’s information on all four of your new team members. Make sure they are protected but don’t baby them. You wanted them for their skills and strengths. Allow them to use them.” He stared at Brass for long seconds. “You’re in charge of our males. Tim takes orders from you. You can take control of any situation if you deem it necessary.

” “Damn it,” Tim spat. “Now wait a damn min—” Justice snarled, flashed sharp teeth and shocked everyone in the room except Brass and Fury with his show of temper. Tim backed up enough to almost trip on the chair he’d just vacated and sealed his lips together. “You work for us. Brass is a seasoned officer of the NSO, I know him well and he has my complete trust. He’s not newly free or unstable. He’s highly intelligent and it’s a joint operation.” He relaxed slightly. “That means your team and ours will work together but Brass is in total charge of my males. Understood?” “Yeah.

” Tim still looked angry. “I got it.” “Good.” Justice met and held the gazes of the four men who were leaving the NSO. “Be safe and you take your orders from Brass as if I were speaking. Understood?” “Yes,” they agreed in unison. Wrath turned and left the office. His friend followed closely behind until they were outside. They both paused, waiting for further orders. “Shadow is a good name.

” “So is Wrath.” His friend grinned. “I knew you’d pick something kinder but you have strength and a strong sense of justice. It is too bad that name was already taken.” “Wrath suits my purpose. We’ll find the humans who hurt our people and bring them in to pay for their crimes.” A scent drew their attention as a female Species neared the office. She smiled and her gaze wandered over Wrath from head to foot. She paused next to him, peered into his eyes and softly purred. “Hello.

” He didn’t know what to say but Shadow came to his rescue. “We’re leaving with the human task force. We don’t have time to socialize.” The female’s smile faded. “Good luck. You both are very brave.” She walked inside the building. Wrath relaxed and met Shadow’s eyes. “I’m glad there won’t be females where we’re going.” Shadow nodded.

“They are drawn to your looks and strength.” “I need more time to heal before I even consider sharing sex with one of them. I’ll be happy to be away from here for a while.” His friend reached out and gripped his shoulder. “We share that in common.” Both of them remembered being drugged while hooked to machines and the horror of their seed being forced from their bodies. Wrath shivered from the vile memories and the uncertainty of what had been done to the sperm taken from them. Some of it had been sold and shipped to other countries, where scientists planned to use human female surrogates to birth human/Species hybrids to be sold to the rich as exotic pets. The thought of them succeeding made rage burn inside his soul. Shadow’s eyes narrowed as they stared at each other.

“We’ll capture the ones who hurt our kind and bring them to justice. You are thinking about what I do so often but you heard what the NSO doctors said. They are doubtful any children were produced from our stolen seed. The drugs used on us damage the sperm and nature has a way of only making it viable when we are highly aroused. They are pretty certain it only seems to survive inside a living female when we put it there. They said they would have heard about any babies put up for sale on the black market, even if it is in Europe.” Wrath relaxed, comforted by the words. “We’ll make all of them pay for what they’ve done to our kind.” “Yes, we will.” Shadow released him.

Chapter One “You aren’t really going to eat that, are you?” Lauren curled her lip, staring with horrified fascination at what sat on her friend’s plate. “It looks like someone slaughtered a salad with all that green and red.” Her best friend, Amanda, laughed. “It’s the latest diet trend. It looks like hell but I’m supposed to lose twenty pounds a month if I eat this every day.” Lauren pushed a stray lock of blonde hair behind one ear. “I’d lose that much too if I had to try to choke that crap down. I wouldn’t eat.” She sighed. “I know all about diets and I think I’ve tried them all.

Trust me, that isn’t going to work. The only way I can lose a few pounds is by downing water and exercising until I can’t breathe.” “You only need to drop thirty pounds.” Amanda pouted. “I need to lose twice that much. This spinach salad and hot sauce thing is supposed to work. I want to have a shape again.” “You and I both have that already.” Lauren winked. “Round is a shape.

Look, I am tired of being unhappy because my butt doesn’t fit into the same jeans I wore when I was fourteen and I’ve got love handles. I enjoy eating and detest starving. It sucks being hungry all the time. Those diets just made me miserable, hungry, and depressed.” She pointed at the burger on her plate and used her other hand to push it closer to her friend. “Take a bite. You know you really want to. Eat a fry. Live a little and save yourself from misery. You’ll enjoy my food way more than yours.

” “I haven’t had anyone ask me out in two months, Lauren. Two whole months. You’ve got big boobs, the long hair, and pretty blue eyes going for you. And you’re short. You are cute to men even with the excess weight.” “Yeah. Men are just breaking down my door.” She snorted. “I just must not be home when they do it. No one is still there when I get off work.

They have to be skilled carpenters too because they are amazing at fixing any damage they did to get in.” “That one man asked you out last week and he was cute.” “Cute? He reminded me of a puppet with his frizzy red hair and the unibrow.” “At least you got asked out by someone.” Amanda sighed. “I’d love a puppet type myself. You could have so taken him home to keep. I bet he’s into cuddling.” Lauren shook her head in disgust. “Imagine doing someone who reminded you of a childhood cartoon.

Give me a break. I didn’t want to keep him or take him home. He was kind of weird besides. He has a real freaky thing going on with his mother. She called me five times to tell me her son was a nice man I should date. I was afraid they’d invite me to dinner and it would be located next to some remote house on a hill that stood beside a creepy motel.” “Funny.” Amanda hesitated before she popped a French fry into her mouth. “He was cute though, in that movie. Too bad he was a knife-wielding murderer.

I mean, come on. Stab the naked girl in the shower or try to do her?” She rolled her eyes. “What a waste.” “I worry about you,” Lauren commented, smiling to soften her words. Brown eyes twinkled with amusement. “I wouldn’t mind a psycho if he was into stabbing me in a sexy way with a big body part.” “You’re sick.” Lauren laughed. “You—” Her phone rang. She groaned and reached for her purse under her chair.

One glance at her caller ID made her wince. “Lauren here. What’s up, Mel?” Lauren listened to her boss and closed her eyes. “Tonight? Why can’t someone else—” She paused. “But I’m in the middle of dinner with my friend. I can’t possibly—” She shut up and gritted her teeth. “But can’t you go instead because—” She was getting angry. “Fine. Right. I’ll go.

Fine. Bye.” She hung up. Lauren shoved her phone back inside her purse and stood, giving her friend a regretful look. “I have to go.” “Seriously?” Amanda’s smile faded. “Now? What did your bitch boss want?” Lauren slapped a ten-dollar bill on the table and grabbed her coat off the back of the chair. “It seems one of the agents had an emergency. I have to show a building in the Industrial Park area right away. Some big fish is out there wanting to see it tonight.

She told me it’s so important that I’m fired if I don’t go. She can’t meet him because of her plans. I guess mine don’t mean squat. God, I hate that witch.” “Damn. Well, go. Maybe you’ll sell it and we can take a trip somewhere nice, on you. I’ve always wanted to go to Jamaica.” “Yeah. With my luck he’s just some guy who was bored, with nothing to do on a Friday night, and decided to spin my wheels.

I’ll call you tomorrow. Are we still on for seeing a movie?” “Yeah. Good luck. Break a real estate sign.” Amanda ate another fry. “Cute.” Lauren waved and headed toward her car. * * * * * Lauren glanced at her GPS navigator for the fifth time ten minutes later and cursed as she looked around at the empty streets. She had a bad feeling about showing a property after hours. The Industrial Park was virtually abandoned since most businesses had closed for the night or were just warehouses.

She was a single woman going to meet a strange man in an unfamiliar area at night. She took a turn when the computerized voice ordered her to. An expensive red sports car was parked in the otherwise empty parking lot when Lauren stopped her car next to it. She hesitated before climbing out. Every bit of common sense told her to flee. It screamed “bad idea” but she’d lose her job if she didn’t get her ass inside there and show the thing. Her fingers gripped her keys and her thumb hit the door-lock button.

.

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