Chapter 2: Nothing to See Here
Nothing was wrong with Dr. Shane Myers. Nothing ever was. He didn’t get sick. He rarely was injured, and then not for long. Occasionally he was more than annoyed or frustrated, and even more rarely let it show. He had colleagues, assistants, test subjects, lovers, and Tae Kwon Do sparring partners, but no friends by design. His work was his love and his life. He didn’t need anything else.
Until Harris waltzed into his lab with his unborn son.
Shane fled from the resulting whirlwind of emotion to his cool, logical alien side. He worked for 48 hours straight. When he couldn’t sit still any longer he went to the dojo. Exercise was important to maintain one’s body.
After changing into his gi, Shane padded barefoot to the mats and stretched. Only Eisen, a hulking ex-Marine, and a handful of others were there.
Eisen gave him a toothy grin. “Think you can take me today, String Bean?”
Shane gave him the requisite smile in return. The Marine could call him String Bean all he wanted. They respected each other because all of their spars had ended in a draw. Eisen was smarter than he looked, and Shane stronger than his wiry frame implied, as well as faster and flexible. “Let’s find out.”
Dozens of kicks, punches, and blocks later Shane was tiring and slowly but surely losing. Sweat stung his cuts and his bruises throbbed, but he wouldn’t heal himself in the middle of a match. That would be cheating.
After focusing more intently on Eisen, who had his share of bruises and lacerations, Shane regained some ground. After a kick to the Marine’s kidneys and a punch to his solar plexus, Shane thought he had a chance at winning. Then a foot sweep snuck through his defenses. Shane’s back slammed into the mat, knocking the wind out of him.
Eisen was on him instantly. A knee pinned Shane’s chest to the mat. The man’s rock-solid forearm pressed down on his neck. Eisen grinned wolfishly. “Concede.”
Rage shattered Shane’s inhuman calm. He wouldn’t be vulnerable. He didn’t have to be. He was better than this overgrown ape.
Eisen blanched in the split second it took for Shane to grip the man’s forearm with both hands. Shane threw himself to one side, grinning when he heard and felt the Marine’s bones splinter.
Eisen shrieked and cradled his ruined arm, leaving himself wide open. Shane’s arms and legs were a blur as he hit vulnerable spots on the Marine’s body: left ankle, right knee, right ankle, and left knee. The man crumpled, his face a mask of agony. Nevertheless Shane lashed out with one foot for Eisen’s pelvic bone. It took two additional kicks, but the tough bone finally shattered.
Shane stepped back to admire his handiwork and catch his breath. Human bodies were a paradox of toughness and fragility. His life’s work was understanding that dichotomy.
As he wiped sweat-diluted blood from his eyes, Shane noticed that Eisen was unnaturally still. Frowning, he knelt beside the man’s broken body, not showing any outward indication of his own injuries and discomfort. Before he touched his fingertips to Eisen’s arm he knew the man was dead.
Shane sighed. Eisen shouldn’t be dead. He hadn’t made any killing blows. Shaking his head, Shane telekinetically retrieved an inch-long silver prism from the small pocket he’d had sewn in his gi. Holding the crystal in his swollen right hand, Shane mentally connected with the metallic object. The softly glowing prism heightened his empathy, alerting him to the onlookers ringing the mat. Their mingled horror, admiration, bloodlust, and fear wove around Shane. Safe in the emotionless void of his alien side, the gawkers were easily ignored.
With the extra energy supplied by the crystal, healing his own injuries took about a minute. Next Shane knelt beside Eisen. After mending the ex-Marine’s broken bones and damaged tissue, Shane reluctantly started the man’s heart and brain functions. The effort was exhausting, but necessary to avoid Gibson’s ire.
Eisen’s eyes opened as Shane returned his prism to its pocket. The big man sat up, blinking at Shane and their audience in confusion. “What happened?”
Shane stood, wrapped in the cool comfort of his alien side. “I won.” The crowd parted for Shane as he strode off the blood-spattered mat. A shower and hours of sleep beckoned.