Chapter Two

Clay had thought the boy was going to die. Michael said he had lost too much blood and then the wound got infected. Carlorians shied from hospitals due to certain abnormalities in their blood, so sending the boy to a hospital was out of the question. Michael had worked on the boy for over an hour, drawing blood from Clay, his bond mate, Justin and himself for the boy. The slight youngster had tossed and turned calling out for his brother and alternatively screaming in pain. It had taken Justin and himself to hold the boy down while Michael administered a sedative to calm the boy down.

Then Michael went to work in extracting the bullet while Justin had made the necessary phone calls for his brother's body to be properly taken care of.

"Who is he?" Justin asked, holding a cold compress over Michael's eye, which had been blackened by a stray fist from the boy. "I have never seen a Carlorian this strong, well, maybe except for you," he eyed Clay, who sat across them in the living room with worried eyes.

"I don't know who he is," Clay sighed. "All I know is I was walking through the Old Town when this boy picked my pocket." He slumped into the plush sofa, exhausted. It had been a long night and from the look of things, it just might get longer.

Michael's other eye widened. "He moved that fast?"

Carlorians had very strong instincts to danger or attack. The boy would have needed to move really fast for him to get close enough to Clay to actually steal something from him even before Clay's instincts kicked in. This was getting more and more mysterious.

Clay rubbed his face with his hands. "Yes, he did and took off. The next I know is that boy was arguing with some low lives in the alley and they pulled out a gun. He was shot the first time but he managed to avoid every other bullet that was fired at him point blank."

There was a shocked silence while the other contemplated this. As Carlorians, this wasn't altogether shocking, but to do it when injured was something different.

"An unknown Carlorian," Michael murmured thoughtfully. "It is even possible?" He asked to no one in particular, staring into space.

"It isn't and you know it," Justin placed the compress on the table and leaned back against his lover. "We know every single one that has been born. There hasn't been that many." Sorrow coloured his voice.

Ever since, George Carlor's death, the offspring of the two Perfect Soldiers had roamed the earth, inevitably, they had been required to mate with other normal human males or with females. Sometimes the line bred true while at others times, the baby was disappointingly normal. Over the centuries, Carlorians that were strong enough to still be called Carlorians banded together and formed a tight secretive community. Due to some quirk in the genetics, Ch'ms, those with Victoria Carlor's genes happened in only one out of fifteen births, making them extremely rare. And the Ultimate Ch'ms, those that have her eyes, were even rarer. Clay had only heard of 3 so far, the last one being born almost half a decade ago. The blood had thinned among them, making the traits that were bred for weaker, but still stronger than humans. But the one most disturbing trait was the Ch'ms were getting weaker. The genes of the first Perfect Soldier that Dr Carlor created still had the ability to breed true amongst them until now. Ad'n, they were all called and Clay was one example of an Ultimate Ad'n.

He towered at 6 feet 4 inches with golden hair and amber eyes. He had fine features that were handsome even among Carlorians, who were all attractive due to another of Dr Carlor's genetic tweaking. Physical beauty wasn't prized amongst them. He was strong, enormously so that he nearly caused injuries amongst some of his previous Ch'm.

Ch'ms, he reminded himself, not lovers, never lovers. He has never had a lover before. No one he loved that he cared about making love to him tenderly and sweetly that both of them would be driven out of their minds.

The Elders had pressured him into procreating at the very young age of seventeen, mostly to Ch'ms that were ten years older than him. The Ch'ms were getting older and older before they were able to conceive, which as another factor for concern. No matter how many he was bred with, none of them ended with conception. Some even ended up injured and barren because of him. Eventually, the elders gave up, saying that their Ch'ms were no longer strong enough to handle an Ultimate Ad'n. At twenty five, he no longer wanted to mate with another person. At twenty five, he had given up on a

dream of a family and possibly, a dream of a lover.

"It is getting harder to get pregnant nowadays," Justin said, bringing Clay back to the present. The Carlorian was dejected, and the deep circles under his eyes spoke of his deep exhaustion. He wasn't getting any younger and the window of opportunity was there only for the shortest of period.

Michael reached over and squeezed his lover's hand. "It's alright. We can always try again next time."

Ch'ms can only conceive when they were in heat, a by-product of the animal DNA Dr Carlor had fused into them. A Ch'm in heat would trigger his Ad'n as well. While they could make love at any other time, a child could only be conceived at the height of the fertile cycle of a Ch'm. Within the window of three days, a passage very much like the womb of a female would appear and the Ch'm's member would enter through there. If conception were to take place, the birth opening would remain until the child is born. Otherwise, it would disappear only to open at the next cycle, usually a month away, very much like a human female. In the past, a Ch'm could be Bred by the time they were 19, but of late, they were not able to conceive until they were in their mid twenties. Without fresh blood, their numbers were dwindling.

"His brother," Clay said, dully.

"What?" Michael asked, concerned with the deep sense of loss he felt in Clay. They had been bond brothers since they were children. He and Justin were waiting for Clay to take a bond mate to formalise their bond couple status. Bond mates and bond couples share a deep connection, allowing anyone within the bond to feel emotions of the other. They were able to communicate at a deeper level, not through expressed thoughts or words, but able to understand each other all the same.

"His brother was an Ultimate Ch'm," Clay said. What a waste. He was like his brother, so beautiful. Clay started at that thought. The boy? Beautiful? All Carlorians were perfect, what made the boy so special? Everything, his heart whispered.

The logical part of his mind squashed that tiny whisper savagely. He had enough problems on his plate without getting his hormones all in a whack. Sometimes he wondered what Dr George Carlor was thinking, breeding such emotions into Carlorians. They were supposed to be the Perfect Soldiers, logical and emotionless, not dribbling sap.

Clay was eternally logical.

"You have got to be joking," Justin said, stunned. "Do you know the possibility of that?"

Clay nodded. "I saw his eyes. They were violet. I have never seen that colour on a Carlorian before tonight."

"And the other?" Michael looked at the thrashing figure on the bed. The injured boy was still fighting off fevered nightmares.

"I don't know, but what are the odds of a family having two Ch'ms? Especially another Ultimate," Clay shrugged, his moody black with disappointment. "He is too young to give off the scent of a Ch'm anyways. And he doesn't smell too much like a Ad'n as well." He only smelled of family and warmth, his heart whispered again, that treacherous organ.

"How old do you think he is?" Michael asked, cuddling Justin closer to him. He knew his lover still felt the loss of a failed breeding cycle.

"Fourteen? Fifteen? Hell, I don't know, not that I care. I just want to know how an unknown Ch'm and his Ad'n brother managed to slip by our notice," Clay stretched tiredly. It had been a long night. He wanted nothing more than to curl up in bed and weep for another loss of his dreams. "Then I am shipping him off to the Elders for them to do what they see fit. Then after that, I am turning him in to the police."

"They will take him apart, you know," Justin predicted. An unknown Carlorian was always a cause for uproar and there hadn't been many as strong as this unknown child for years. The Elders would definitely pick the poor thing apart.

"Hey, he picked my pocket. He is a thief. He knew the risks when he chose that profession," Clay shrugged nonchalantly, seemingly uncaring.

"I meant the Elders," Justin snapped, annoyed. "The Elders would never let a Carlorian be taken by humans, You know that!"

"As I said, I really don't care what happens to him," Clay said moodily, leaning back and staring up at the ceiling. "He is still a criminal in my eyes. I really don't care. He can die for all I care."

Michael frowned, his expression profoundly disapproving. "Then why the hell did you call me to help him if you wanted him to die? And from what you told us, he was trying to save the other boy, Declan, his brother." He was on the brink of punching his friend in the jaw. When had Clay changed so much? When had he turned so cold? Where was his best friend that he knew from a child? The one that laughed with him and made plans for the future and caught worms with him to feed the fishes in the pond behind his home? Where had that warm loving Ad'n gone?

"And he is dead now. A dead Ch'm does little for us. And an Ultimate Ch'm as well," Clay bit out, feeling irrationally angry at the injured boy. "Someone needs to teach him a lesson. As an Ad'n he supposed to protect a Ch'm and not the other way around. His brother took a bullet for him. That, Should. Not. Have. Happened!" He voice rose angrily.

"He is still a child, Clay," Michael felt shock at this unreasonable anger he felt from his friend. "And a stranger to our customs."

"He was stupid, arrogant and headstrong to think he could go against them all. He lost us our only hope for survival," Clay said, amber eyes flashing furiously at the boy on the bed. If glares could kill, the boy would have died several deaths at Clay's hands already.

You mean your only hope for a family. Justin thought sympathetically, correctly interpreting the rage Clay thought he had the right to feel.

Clay's Ad'n genes were so strong that he overwhelmed his Ch'm's physiology many times, in the worst case scenario rendering them impotent. After the last Ch'm killing himself when he found that he could no longer be bred, Clay had turned away from the Elders and their decrees, effectively telling them to 'go screw themselves', was his exact words. He would no longer mate with anyone or let anyone rule his life. He no longer needed to find a bond mate and he was free from any future attachment. Or so he told himself.

From the deep pain Michael knew he felt when they were burying the dead Ch'm, the doctor knew his friend still harboured a small hope that he could find an Ultimate Ch'm who was strong enough to be bred with an Ultimate Ad'n. Now it seemed the chance was lost and the boy was a convenient outlet for all his lost hope.

A cry from the unconscious boy caught their attention. The boy wasn't even able to escape the demons and pain with sedatives.

"I want him out of my house, Michael," Clay was regretting his decision of bringing the boy to his home. He was a reminder of once again, his dreams dying before his very eyes.

"For God's sake, Clay," Justin burst out. "He could be dying for all we know and you want to throw him out of your house? Where the hell is your sympathy?"

Michael shot his mate a warning glance, which was promptly ignored. He knew his mate's maternal instincts were kicking in and the boy was another helpless child to him.

"Deep enough in the bowels of hell that no one can find them," Clay got up and walked to his rooms. "He can stay until he wakes up. Then I want him gone."

Michael knew Clay too long to push him when he was in this mood. "Where do you suggest we take him?"

"Do I look like I give a damn?" Clay shut him room door behind him.