Judd agreed . . . and he also understood. “You’re planning to kill them all.”
“If necessary,” the Ghost said. “There can be no war if there is no Council.”
And, Judd thought, it would leave the Net entirely in the Ghost’s grasp.
Indigo was at full alert when her eyes snapped open. She felt Drew come to life at almost the same instant. Glancing at him, she saw his eyes had gone night-glow, the wolf at the forefront.
“Psy,” he mouthed more than said.
She gave a decisive nod. Nothing else would account for that scent. It was as distinctive as blood on snow, and it cut against changeling senses with the jagged brutality of twisted metal. Not all Psy carried that metallic taint, and the current theory was that it clung only to those who had given in irrevocably to Silence . . . lost their soul to the emotionless chill of the PsyNet. Whatever the truth, there was no reason for it to be here, deep in the heart of SnowDancer territory.
Glancing at the kids—all asleep—Indigo made a snap decision. “Go.”
Drew shifted and flowed away from the campsite as she walked to Harley’s tent and reached in to squeeze his shoulder.
The boy woke at once. Putting a finger to her lips, Indigo bent down. “I need you to keep watch. Sound the alarm if you sense an intruder.”
To his credit, the boy extricated himself from his tent without waking his tentmate, his eyes already watchful. “I’ll use the wolf’s call.”
Confident he was up to the task, she shifted without bothering to strip off her T-shirt and streaked off after Drew. The metallic scent was strong, fresh, and not difficult to track, even if Drew hadn’t gone ahead. Reaching the end of the trail, she found herself in a small moonlit glade bearing the faintest traces of boot prints.
Putting her nose to the earth, she attempted to find the intruders’ exit route and came up blank. Teleportation. Which most likely meant the Council—or a Councilor, at least—was involved in this somewhere. Teleport-capable telekinetics were a scarce resource, and they were almost always pulled into the Council ranks, according to Judd. Frustrated, she looked up as Drew appeared from the other side of the glade, having apparently circled the area.
Coming over until their muzzles almost touched, he shook his head.
She shifted. They needed to talk and better it be here than back at the campsite. It was no use scaring the kids when there was nothing to be done at this moment. “No hint of a trail?” She fisted her hand in his fur as she asked for confirmation of his nonverbal report, his coat incredibly soft beneath the protective roughness of the guard hairs.
Another shake of his head before he tugged away and shifted to crouch across from her, a sleekly muscled man with lake blue eyes that held the slightest night-glow edge—the wolf looking out from behind the human skin. “Tk’s.” His voice was low, deep, wolf.
“That’s what I thought.” Attempting to ignore the way that rough tone raised every tiny hair on her body, she spread her fingers on the stubby grass. “Why here?”
“Isolated—or it should’ve been.” Drew angled his head in a way that had nothing to do with the human half of him.
“Maybe they were using it as a meeting place, realized we were up here, and poofed.”
There was some merit to that, Indigo thought, her own wolf prowling inside her mind, its anger cold and rational. SnowDancer territory was unwelcoming to intruders, but by the same token, it was also so vast that if someone wanted to have a meeting away from watchful eyes, and could access the area without alerting the sentries, it was the perfect location. “We need to log this, get some extra patrols going up here in case they decide to return.”
“We can do that back at camp.” Drew shifted with those words, and for a moment she sat still and admired the beauty of the large silver wolf looking back at her with curious copper-colored eyes.
Raising a hand, she indulged herself as she wouldn’t dare do while they were in human form, running her fingers through his fur in a long, slow caress. “You sure are a pretty wolf, Drew.”
That got her an affectionate nip on the chin, a nuzzle into her neck. Feeling a smile creep across her face, she let him tumble her to the ground. The Psy were gone and, given the fact that their swift departure indicated they’d caught wind of the camp, unlikely to return tonight. A few more minutes wouldn’t make any difference.
Staying in human form, she wrestled with Drew as he attempted to pin her, slipping out from underneath his paws and circling around to take him from behind. He was too fast for her, sliding out and away to leap on her. Laughing, she wiggled out from under his playful hold before shifting herself.
He pounced again, but she was already tumbling out of the way. Across from her, he crouched with his front feet forward, his back arched, a clear invitation to play. It was too tempting to resist. Jumping at him, she mock-attacked, growing low in her throat. He attacked back . . . but he was really just trying to get his teeth on her tail.
Laughing inwardly, she slipped and he almost got her . . . but she slammed her body against his, pushing him off balance. Then she went for his tail. Yipping, he danced out of the way, his eyes brimming with a joy that could come only from the heart of the wolf that lived within.
It was tempting to keep playing, but they couldn’t leave their charges alone all night. Touching muzzles with him, she turned and led the way back to camp, where they pulled Harley off watch, then used Drew’s cell phone to report their findings. Judd happened to be on the midnight-to-six shift at the den, and Indigo could see his gaze sharpen even on the tiny screen of the cell phone. “Did they leave anything behind?” the Psy male asked.