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    Prologue

    They were created, not born. They were trained, not raised. They weren't meant to be free, to laugh, to play or to love. They were men and women whose souls had been forged in the fires of hell.

    Jonas Wyatt stared at the files in front of him, the reports of the Breeds and their mates; men and women who had found something unique. A Mating unlike anything most humans could know or understand. One that may very well turn world opinion against them now.

    They were Breeds. Genetic alterations that had somehow found the grace of God, or whatever deity existed. They had survived, not just the genetic alterations, but also the cruelties their creators had heaped upon them for decades.

    The Genetics Council.

    He ran his fingers over his short, military-cut hair and breathed out roughly as the tattoo on his scalp tingled beneath the short spikes of his hair. F2-07. His lab designation and birth ranking that the Genetics Council had assigned to him.

    The Genetics Council had been created nearly a century ago, a group of the greatest scientific, biological, physiological and genetic experts in the world at that time. They had funded the first Lab, started the first experiments. Monsters with no conscience, no remorse and no compassion.

    He grimaced as he pushed himself from his chair and stalked to the wide window on the other side of his office. There, he stared out onto the perfect, precise lawn of the federal building the Bureau of Breed Affairs was located in.

    He pushed his hands into the pockets of his slacks, staring at the image he cast in the glass. Military straight, his shoulders thrown back, the silk gray slacks and white dress shirt hung comfortably on his broad frame. He didn't look out of place. On a good day, he didn't feel out of place.

    Today wasn't a good day.

    Below, traffic eased along the street next to the perfectly manicured lawns and the wrought iron fence. Carefully tended trees dotted the

    lawn, small white cement benches sat in the lazy shade they cast. Summer was blooming across the landscape, causing waves of heat to pour from the sidewalks and streets beyond.

    The capital was as brisk as ever, the political mire he had been traversing so effectively in the past months no thicker than it ever had been. But he could feel it pulling at him now in ways it hadn't before, tugging at his loyalties, reminding him of his limitations. He didn't like being reminded of those.

    He was a Breed himself. Two hundred and fifty pounds, six feet, six inches of solid Lion Breed muscle and honed instincts. He had been created to kill, not to negotiate. But he had learned early in life the fine art of politics, of maneuvering, of lying within the truth. He had learned it so well that he had taken to this position with an ease almost worthy of concern. Was he what he had fought to escape? A monster living as a man?

    Perhaps he was.

    The Lion Breeds had been the first created. The male sperm and female ovum selected had come from strong, fierce bloodlines. American Indian mostly Apache or Navajo-Irish, Scots, German. The list sometimes seemed never ending. Once chosen, they had been altered. Geneticists had thought they had finally isolated the DNA that controlled certain

    aspects of behavior or weakness. Human weakness was replaced with animal strength and instincts.

    Exceptional hearing, sense of smell and primal awareness. Advanced strength, endurance and muscular perfection.

    They had created what they believed was the perfect disposable soldier. And then they began to train them.

    From birth they knew no love, no compassion. They were tested, experimented upon, pushed to the limits of the spirit and then beyond.

    He ran his hands over his face, remembering the cruelties, the horrors of the Labs. Breeds killed for the slightest infractions, abused to the point that many died screaming in agony, their blood staining the hard stone floors of the Labs. What they did to the men was bad enough. What they did to the women…

    Jonas shook his head, spun from the window and paced back to his desk where he threw himself into the chair.

    A century of hell was now behind the Breeds. And if he wasn't extremely careful, they would all be thrown back into it. The Feline Breeds, the Wolves, the small majority of Coyotes who had managed to retain the humanity science had attempted to remove from their genetics.

    The Lion Breeds were the forerunners. Their Pride Leader, Callan Lyons, had opened the door to freedom more than seven years ago with his Mating to Merinus Tyler, the daughter of an influential journalist and newspaper owner. Of all the species, the Lions numbered highest, though those numbers were pitiful in the extreme. All totaled, all Breed species, there were less than a thousand.

    And Nature, though kind in her determination that they would survive, had created a problem that could well see them all exterminated.

    Mating.

    He picked up the file sent that morning from Sanctuary, the results of the latest tests on the Mated pairs. There were under a dozen. And all those consisted of Breed and human.

    Procreation was complicated, involving periods of sexual heat and, for the females, debilitating need. Felines conceived easily, but the results of those conceptions would be unknown for years to come. What was known was the result of the Matings.

    Neither male nor female, Breed nor human had aged so much as a day once the hormones that bound them were balanced within their bodies.

    Callan and Merinus had Mated seven years before and physically, their

    bodies had yet to show the stress of those additional years.

    The Breeds were screwed if knowledge of this leaked into the general public. He could hear the Blood Supremacists screaming now, demanding their incarceration, their separation from the general public.

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