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Candi lunged and grasped the handle of the knife. Penny shrieked and tried to stab her, but Candi had primal survival instinct and loads of adrenaline on her side. She kicked out, knocking the other woman to the ground. She fell out of the car, landing on the woman\s chest. They struggled but the older woman lost.

Time stopped as another memory surfaced. It had been the last time she\d seen him...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

He snarled, fighting his chains. Rage had taken hold of him. He pulled back his lips, baring his sharp fangs.

’’I\ll kill you!’’ he roared.

It tore her apart from the inside out, hearing him make that threat and knowing it was directed at her. He didn\ understand. She kept far back from him, knowing he probably would unless she got him to listen. He seemed to have known what she\d done as soon as she\d stepped inside the room. He\d gone insane.

’’Please listen.’’ She had two minutes to explain and tried to do so, her heart breaking.

He threw back his head, bellowing his rage loud enough to hurt her ears. His muscles strained as he fought and he managed to snap the links of the chain attached to one arm.

One of the technicians grabbed her around her waist and yanked her off her feet. She fought. ’’No! Put me down.’’

They weren\ listening either. The man she loved freed one arm and grabbed hold of the other chain still holding him hostage to the wall. ’’I\ll kill you,’’ he snarled again.

’’I did it for you!’’ she screamed, wildly fighting the guard. She actually kicked him hard enough in the shin to make him stumble. She threw back her head, pain exploding from the impact when she made contact with his chin. He dropped her.

She rushed forward, right at the man who was losing his mind. ’’Please,’’ she begged, crying. ’’I ’’

Another guard grabbed her around her waist, stopping her in her tracks.

The second restraint broke and the man she loved spun, trying to grab her. The broken, loose chain still attached to his wrist flew out when his grasping hand tried to reach her. She never saw it coming but felt the metal links slam into the side of her head. Everything had gone black. She woke to see the face of Penny Pess. Her old life was gone and her new hell had begun...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Candi plunged the knife into the woman\s chest. Penny didn\ scream but her mouth opened as if she wanted to. Candi jerked the knife free, grabbed the handle with both hands and stabbed her again, putting all her rage behind it. It sank deep, until the knife became stuck.

’’Roast in hell!’’

She stared at Penny, watching the life leave her. There was no guilt or sense of regret. She sat there for a short time. When she finally looked up there was trees and grass all around her. A slight noise came from somewhere behind her. The source was the highway and the cars passing along it. She got to her feet and looked up at the blue sky. I\m going to avenge you, she swore.

Chapter Two

Present day

Candi ignored the panic that rose when she approached those thirty-foot walls. Guards with guns stood along the top. There was no barbed wire, but it didn\ alleviate the apprehension that she was willingly about to enter another prison. She ignored the idiots on the sidewalks who tried to talk to her. They weren\ worth her time. She marched forward until the barrels of large, menacing weapons were aimed at her and a deep voice shouted, ’’Freeze!’’

She stopped and took care not to make any sudden movements. She lifted her arms out, palms open so they could see she wasn\ armed. Her right hand had a small cut from the knife fight, but it had scabbed over a bit. Her gaze darted to those black-clad figures, and she tried to determine who was in charge and who belonged to that voice. It was impossible to tell since they wore helmets and dark glass covered their faces.

She waited as more guards rushed to the gate, adding more guns pointed in her direction. She\d already endured the hard part. She\d hitchhiked across five states to reach the NSO Homeland without being killed or arrested. It was lucky that people knew exactly where it was located since she\d had to ask. Her time watching any kind of news had been limited at best. She closed her eyes, focusing.

’’Miss, you need to turn around and leave. You\ e not allowed to come this close to the gates. Move on.’’

She opened her eyes and turned her head left, locating the one who spoke. It was easier to pinpoint him by listening. ’’You sound human. I learned a few things yesterday from a trucker. He said the NSO employs a task force team that is human. I want to talk to a New Species. Get one.’’

’’How the hell would you know what I sound like?’’

’’Because you don\ sound like one of them. Get me a New Species.’’ She held still, closing her eyes. Patience.

’’Who are you? State your business.’’

She cocked her head, focused on the new voice. ’’Say something else.’’

A very low growl sounded from the same person and she smiled. It was enough, even if he hadn\ said a word. She fixed her gaze on the guard in the middle, standing behind the gate. ’’I\ll talk to you. You sound like a canine, but that can be deceptive since you\ e probably irritated with me.’’

’’What the hell?’’ The man from the top of the wall sputtered. ’’Lady, take a walk. You\ e sounding crazy.’’

’’It wouldn\ be the first time someone has accused me of that.’’ She took a step closer but stopped, not looking away from the one who\d growled under his breath. ’’As much as I hate to say this, because I really can\ stand to be locked behind gates, you need to let me in.’’

’’We\ e going to call the cops and have you taken away if you don\ leave. I\m done playing with you, lady.’’ It was the guard up on the wall again.

’’Shut up, human. I\m talking to him.’’ She kept her gaze locked on the male behind the gate.

’’Human? What the hell do you think you are?’’

The guard on the wall was starting to piss her off. She pulled back her upper lip and snarled low at the one behind the gate. ’’I was told you were freed. Humans still tell you what to do? Are they as bad as technicians? He seems like an asshole. Can you shut him up?’’

’’I\m an asshole? Look, lady,’’ the guard on the wall leaned over a bit, speaking louder, ’’I\ll have your ass hauled away faster than you can say you\ e f*ked. Now leave.’’

She took a deep breath and blew it out. It was obvious that the male behind the gate wasn\ going to talk to her again so she\d have to deal with the annoying jerk up on the wall. She turned her head slightly to glare at him.

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