The last spy stupid enough to try to infiltrate Shine had discovered the lethal truth far too late - that Devraj Santos had never left his military background behind. Now, as he looked down into the woman's bruised, scratched, and emaciated face, he considered whether he'd be able to snap her neck with cold-blooded precision should the time come.
He was afraid the answer might just be an icily practical yes.
Chilled, he was about to leave the room when he noticed her eyes moving rapidly beneath her lids. "Psy," he murmured, "aren't supposed to dream."
She swallowed the blood on her tongue. "I've told you everything. You've taken everything."
Eyes as black as night with a bare few flecks of white stared down at her as mental fingers spread in her mind, thrusting, clawing, destroying. She swallowed a scream, bit another line in her tongue.
"Yes," her torturer said. "It does seem as if I've stripped you of all your secrets."
She didn't respond, didn't relax. He'd done this before. So many times. But the next minute, the questions would begin again. She didn't know what he wanted, didn't know what he searched for. All she knew was that she'd broken. There was nothing left in her now. She was cracked, shattered, gone.
"Now," he said, in that same, always-patient voice. "Tell me about the experiments."
She opened her mouth and repeated what she'd already confessed over and over again. "We doctored the results." He'd known that from the start; that was no betrayal. "We never gave you the actual data."
"Tell me the truth. Tell me what you found."
Those fingers gouged mercilessly at her brain, shooting red fire that threatened to obliterate her very self. She couldn't hold on, couldn't protect them, couldn't even protect herself - because through it all he sat, a large black spider within her mind, watching, learning, knowing. In the end, he took her secrets, her honor, her loyalty, and when he was done, the only thing she remembered was the rich copper scent of blood.
She came awake with a jagged scream stuck in her throat. "He knows."
Brown eyes looking down into hers again. "Who knows?" The name formed on her tongue and then was lost in the miasma of her ravaged mind. "He knows," she repeated, desperate that someone understand what she'd done. "He knows." Her fingers gripped his.
"What does he know?" Electricity arced like an inferno beneath his skin.
"About the children," she whispered, as her head grew heavy again, as her eyes grew dark again. "About the boy."
Gold turned to bronze and she wanted to watch, but it was too late.
PETROKOV FAMILY ARCHIVES
Letter dated January 17, 1969
At today's meeting of government heads, the Council proposed a radical new approach to the problems we've been facing. I knew it was coming, but still, I can't quite imagine how it will work.
The aim of this new program would be to condition all negative emotion out of the coming generation of Psy. If we could cure rage, what a boon that would be - so much of the violence could be stopped, so many lives saved. But the theorists have gone even further. They say that once we have a handle on rage, we may be able to control other damaging emotional events - things that cause the fractures that lead to mental illness.
I'm cautiously optimistic. God knows, this family has paid the price for its gifts one too many times.
With all my love,
He knows . . . About the children. About the boy.
Having forced himself to wait till nine, Dev coded in a call to Talin with impatient hands, his shoulders tight with strain. The blonde woman had fallen straight back into unconsciousness after uttering those words, but Dev hadn't needed anything more - his gut told him there could be only one answer.
"Dev?" Talin's sleep-rumpled face appeared on the transparent screen of his computer, her yawn unsurprising given it was just hitting six in her part of the country. "I thought our meeting was at ten thirty Eastern."
"Change of plans." He considered his next words with care. Talin was pragmatic, but she was also very attached to her charges. "I need to ask Jon something."
She made a face. "He's not going to change his mind about entering a Shine school. But I make sure he reads everything Glen sends him, and the Psy in the pack are helping him train his abilities."
"He's settled in DarkRiver." Dev had come to that conclusion after a personal visit to the leopard pack's home base in San Francisco. "I think that's the best place for him."
"Then . . . ?"
"How many people knew about Jon in the Psy labs - after he was kidnapped?" The boy was - genetically speaking - over forty-five percent Psy and had been born with a unique kind of vocal ability. Jonquil Duchslaya could literally talk people into doing whatever he wanted. It was a gift many would shed blood to control.
Tiny lines fanned out from the corners of Talin's eyes as her gaze sharpened. "Ashaya, of course. She was the head scientist."
Ashaya Aleine was also now mated to a DarkRiver leopard, and would do nothing to put either Jon or other Forgotten kids in danger. "Who else?"
"No one alive." Talin's voice vibrated with the echo of purest rage. "Clay took care of Larsen, the bastard who was experimenting on the children. And you know the Council destroyed Ashaya's lab after she defected, killing all her research assistants."
Ice speared through his chest, cold, rigid, deadly. "How certain are you of that?"
"DarkRiver has contacts in the Net. So do the wolves," she added, referring to DarkRiver's closest ally, the Snow-Dancers. "There wasn't even a hint of a survivor."