Her senses didn’t alert her to any explosives, but she waved Drew forward. “Do you scent anything dangerous?” He came, his paws silent on the leaf-strewn ground. Waiting until he shook his head, she reached in and kept digging until the earth was loose enough to allow her to see most of it. “It looks identical to that metal ball Silvia found.” Except this one was clearly still in one piece. Gleaming steel once she brushed off the dirt, it appeared inert except for a red light blinking at the top.
Scent or no scent, instinct told her this augured danger, but she was no tech. “I don’t think we should move it until we know what it is.”
Drew, having come to stand by her shoulder, growled in agreement. Then, padding around to take a position opposite her, he shifted. It amazed her to watch him dissolve in a shimmer of multicolored sparks before re-forming into the muscled human male she knew so well. “We need a tech to do a full evaluation.”
Indigo pushed the dirt back into the hole. “Just in case they come back to check.”
“Good idea.” Drew patted it down as the Psy operative had done, hiding all evidence of interference.
“I’ll go get my cell.” But when she did, she found she had no signal either at the spot where they’d stashed the packs or at the clearing itself. “Damn, the storm must’ve damaged the cell transmitter up here. I’ll have to run to lower ground.” The phone had worked fine at the campsite.
“I don’t think there’s any huge urgency,” Drew said. “They’d have had no need to hide the object if it was meant to do something soon.”
Indigo agreed. “Then one of us might as well head all the way back to the den. It’ll be easier to lead the techs up here than try to direct them to the spot.”
“You’re faster,” he said. “You do the run. I’ll shift and stay in the trees.”
Stashing the phone in the hollow of a fallen tree, Indigo shifted. Drew waited until she was in wolf form before stroking his hand down her back in a long, slow caress. “Be careful.” A pause. “You belong to me now.”
He was pushing. That’s what predatory changeling men did—and it was something she could handle. Biting lightly at his arm in mock reproof, she streaked out from under his touch, his fingers trailing warm and heavy through her fur.
It was only when she was almost halfway down that she realized Drew hadn’t even hesitated before stating that she was the faster runner. In spite of the fact that he’d followed her lead earlier, part of her had still been expecting some stupid male act, but again, he’d surprised h—
She yipped, having almost missed a jump.
Taking that as a sign, she pushed all human thought out of her mind and let her wolf take over. The den appeared out of the forest just as she was starting to tire from the intensity of the run, a welcome sight. Inside, she followed Hawke’s scent to his quarters in the area set aside for unmated soldiers. As alpha, he could’ve commanded a far bigger space, but he had a room almost identical to Drew’s. The sole difference was that he had another, slightly bigger, connected room—with an attached galley—where he could hold private, relaxed meetings with the senior members of the pack.
Scraping her paw on his door, she waited for him to open it. He did so almost at once. “Indigo,” he said, his tone sharp. “I’ll get you a T-shirt.”
She nodded, grateful. Nudity with her alpha was no big deal, but she’d just come from Drew’s arms—something Hawke had obviously scented—and it would feel odd to be na**d in front of another man when things between her and Drew were so new, so fragile. Moving behind one of the armchairs in the front room, she shifted.
Hawke threw a large plain black tee to her on the heels of the shift and she pulled it over her head as she rose to her feet. “We’ve got a situation,” she said and laid out the facts. “Brenna’s worked with Psy technology. She might be able to figure this thing out.”
Hawke gave an immediate nod. “Dorian’s here. He brought up something his mate wanted Bren to look at.”
A year ago, Indigo would’ve been stunned at the idea of bringing a leopard into pack business, but now the leopards were, in a sense, Pack. Her wolf continued to find that odd, but even it accepted that the cats had proven their mettle, earned SnowDancer’s trust. “Great,” she said, knowing that though the DarkRiver sentinel was an architect by trade, he had both a keen interest in and experience with complex computronic systems. “The two of them together should be able to figure out what it is—and they can rope in Ashaya”—Dorian’s mate—“if necessary.”
Hawke was already making the calls. While he did so, she went into the well-stocked galley and made herself a huge sandwich to offset the calories used up during her high-speed run. She was chewing the final bite when Hawke walked in. “Dorian and Brenna will meet you out front in five. They’ll have to come up in human form—with equipment to test the object.”
“I figured.” She gulped down a glass of milk fortified with a protein mix, then made a second—larger—sandwich, which she sealed in a lunch bag. “I’ll grab one of the all-wheel drives.” They’d still have to do the last part of the trek on foot, but they could always return to the vehicle for the heavier equipment if necessary.
Hawke’s face was grim when she looked up. “I’m not letting the Psy poison our pack again, not with those e-mails about ‘Purity’ and not with this shit.”