"And if I was?" He sat across from her, eyes dark, without expression.
She checked her shields to ensure they were locked tight. Henry was a telepath, 9.5 on the Gradient. He could sweep through a mind with lightning speed. Satisfied she was still safe, she sat back in her own chair. "It wasn't you," she said slowly. "You're smart. You learn from your mistakes." He'd never confirmed it, but she knew he'd been behind the spate of public violence by Psy approximately two months ago, violence that had led to renewed support for Silence. "Given the way the PsyNet functions, violence will only spawn more violence. And you want Silence to hold."
"Not just hold, my dear," he said, the endearment meaningless. They'd both learned to use such little "humanisms" to make themselves more palatable to the human and changeling media.
"No. I want it to consume the Net, until there isn't even a whisper of dissent."
Pure Silence was what Shoshanna wanted as well, but. . . "What about the Council?"
"Perfect Silence will eliminate the need for a Council." He met her gaze. "We'll all think with one mind."
"Impossible." For the first time, she wondered if Henry would go so far as to kill her to achieve his aims. "Without an implant that impels a merge, we're too individualistic to form a universal mind."
"One of us will be proved right, one not. Shall we wait and see?"
She gave a slow nod, moved to the true reason she'd asked to meet. "We're stronger together than we are apart."
"Then we remain a team?"
"No. We remain two Councilors with aligned goals."
That wasn't quite what she was used to hearing from Henry. However, it was far better than the current situation. "Agreed."
"I believe Nikita may have something of the same arrangement with Councilor Krychek."
"Nikita would strike a deal with Satan if he existed, so long as it advanced her business interests."
"And you wouldn't?"
"Of course I would." She rose from the chair. "That's how I became a Councilor."
"Have you been able to speak with Ming?"
"He knows we utilized the prototype implants without authorization. He won't be swayed to our side without considerable effort." She paused, considered whether to share the information, and decided to go ahead. "I don't believe all the scientists died when the Implant lab exploded."
"Highly likely. Ming wouldn't waste so much potential, even to make a point."
"It's possible he may be developing an implant of his own."
"We'll find it before he finishes," Henry said with sublime confidence. "That kind of a secret is near impossible to keep. Even you could not do that."
Henry waited for her to respond. She let him.
Finally, he rose and walked to stand in front of her, a tall man with mahogany skin whom the human media had dubbed "patrician." She cared nothing for that, only for his mental and political strength.
Now, he proved his political acumen by saying, "The Sri Lankans broke naturally - the anchor in that region is fluctuating."
Anchors, as Shoshanna well knew, were integral to the functioning of the PsyNet. Since anchors were born, not created, they were identified young and trained to use their abilities to merge with the Net to ensure it remained stable. But those unique Psy also had a habit of failing spectacularly - a disproportionate number of serial killers had come out of the pool of anchors in recent times.
"Do we need to bring it up at the next Council meeting?" With some things, there was better political mileage in taking the initiative.
"I'll take care of it."
"Henry, we need the anchors." They couldn't simply be rehabilitated like the others who broke. Rehabilitation left very little of a functioning mind, and the anchors needed those minds to do their jobs.
Henry's expression didn't change. "He can be brought under control with a little judicious telepathic reshaping."
"That could break his mind."
"I know what I'm doing - I've had some practice." He stared at her. "If we succeed, we'll have an anchor who's bound to us. That part of the Net would be ours to control."
And if they failed, no one would know. "Do you need my assistance?"
"Keep snowing the media. I'll do the rest."
As Henry left her office, Shoshanna did a reassess ment. Their previous relationship had been to her advantage, as Henry had obeyed most if not all of her commands. However - and if Henry continued to remain rational - this new partnership could yield even greater fruit.
Henry might not want to rule, but she did. She also knew how to take care of extraneous matter after it had outlived its use.
Dev could still feel the soft curve of Katya's body tucked against his as he ushered her into an apartment on the twelfth floor of the Shine building. The drive into Manhattan had been largely quiet, but he didn't make the mistake of thinking she'd given up her plans of escape - of going north.
Her eyes went to the door as he put down her bag. "You're going to lock me in, aren't you." Not a question, though it was framed as one.
It hit him hard, a two-fisted punch - because no matter his awareness of the calculated evil that had brought her into his life, Katya continued to cut through his defenses like a scalpel, leaving him exposed. "I can't have you out of Shine control." She could be programmed to seek and destroy files, information, specific individuals.
"Out of your control you mean." Her jawline firmed, her delicate bone structure defined against skin that had begun to gain the golden flush of health.