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Wanted by the Rakian Warrior: Chapter Two

Merren

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing with that thing?” Merren asked, eyeing with suspicion the newly designed scanner Kennet held as it ran down his own left arm, the constant whirrs and beeps that came from all corners of the lab not comforting in the least.

“I am uncertain why you ask such questions,” Kennet responded mildly. “You were here when I designed it. You are perfectly aware that…”

Merren rolled his eyes and held his hands up in surrender. “It’s good to know you haven’t changed at all while I was gone.”

Kennet froze, his eyebrows arching slightly.

On anyone else it was the equivalent of their jaw hanging to the floor.

“Do not think I was unaffected by your absence.” Kennet moved to the scanner again, running it down Merren’s right arm this time. “We all were.”

Shit.

Merren closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. “I’m sorry.”

Every day it was like walking on a knife’s edge. So much had changed while he was gone.

Hell, he had changed.

Been changed.

“So, does that contraption give us any magical news that will get me fixed up?” he offered. Changing the subject was easier than apologizing, for both him and Kennet.

“For the fourth time, not yet. The regeneration chamber should have fixed whatever was done to you,” Kennet muttered. “And yet, it does not seem to be able to restore your body’s base programming.”

Yeah. In the four weeks since Merren had woken up back here, back home, nothing had done that.

And right now, it didn’t look as if anything ever would.

Kennet put the scanner down on the table and leaned against the far wall, his gray and charcoal-striped arms folded over his chest.

“How are the pills working? You’re not trying to take more than one in a day, are you?”

Merren shrugged. “I’m less likely to randomly shift, so that’s a plus.”

The pills also made him edgy, unsettled, as if half of himself were being smothered.

Probably because that’s exactly what the damn things were doing.

“If there are other side effects, we should discontinue them.”

Dammit. Kennet was always more perceptive than Merren had given him credit for.

“Not a chance. I like being able to stay in one shape.” Merren ran his hand over the flattened cylinder secreted in his vest pocket. “All I gotta do is keep my temper, right?”

“That’s not exactly all there is to the procedure.”

But whatever else Kennet was going to say was cut off when Nic strode into the lab, his hard face twisted into a scowl that only deepened when he met Merren’s glance.

Well. That didn’t bode well.

“We just received a communication from Central Command. While they appreciate our analyst’s efforts, they’ve decided to send a GeneTech to see if they can figure out what happened to you.”

Merren stood quickly, a wild rush of anger washing over him. “Nobody’s poking into me.” He pointed at Kennet. “You’re bad enough. And I know you. Trust you. Someone else? I think enough people have played around with my genome. Not happening.”

Nic’s jaw tightened. “You don’t have a choice. None of us do. It came through as a direct order.”

Just breathe in, right?

Kennet kept saying that would make the rage better, bring him back to an even keel.

Ha!

Breathing was doing a crappy job.

“Fine,” Merren growled. “When is our honored guest supposed to get here?”

Nic’s eyes narrowed, but he didn’t challenge Merren’s tone of voice. Apparently, he was pretty pissed about this too.

“I suspect Central Command knew how we would react. They didn’t give us any lead time. GeneTech Nevyn Sonoda is requesting that we lower our shields to allow him to land now.”

And the flimsy dam Merren had painstakingly built up gave way against the force of his anger. “That’s it,” he snapped. “I’m going for a walk. If whoever-the-hell-he-is wants to see me, it’ll have to be when I get back.”

The last of his control wavered but he held firm, fighting back the change even as lightning sparkled through his body.

He headed for the door, and Nic wisely stepped away.

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