New Species series
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.”