Dorian didn’t tell her that was a crapshoot, simply nodded. “Hey, Indigo.”
“You can run,” Dorian said in a neutral tone that did nothing to lessen the intensity of his expression, “but sooner or later, you run out of places to run to.”
Already loping up the slight incline to her right, she didn’t answer. But his words circled around and around in her head as she sliced through the cold mountain air. Was that what she was doing? Running? It made her wolf shake its head in violent rejection; she’d always stood her ground, taken the hits as they came. Dorian was talking out of his ass. He was a cat, so really, why was she surprised?
That kept her going for a few more minutes, until her practical nature pointed out that it wasn’t the cat she was mad at. It was Drew. She’d seen that look, seen the way his hackles had risen when she’d given him the assignment. Though, to his credit, he’d kept his mouth shut. “Not too much credit, though,” she muttered under her breath. Because the fact was, he was a dominant predatory changeling male. The words “possessive,” “protective,” and “annoying” were indelibly etched into his profile.
Just as independence, control, and stubbornness were etched into hers.
She was almost fifty meters away in the time it took her to realize what she’d seen. Stopping, she circled back to the clearing that bore several patches of spring green grass that were starting to brown—where the blades had been crushed . . . as if by the tread of heavy boots. She could see nothing that indicated a device might’ve been buried there, but she didn’t like the look of the place. Trusting her instincts, she marked the location in her mind, then ran back to get Dorian.
It took him less than ten seconds to find the transmitter. “Been here awhile,” he said as they began to dig using their claws. “Grass has grown up over it.”
“But these patches of crushed grass say the Psy returned recently, maybe to check up on it.” Narrow eyed, she felt her claw tap the edge of the device. “There.”
“Rusted a little, but otherwise in good condition,” Dorian said after they unearthed it, “and identical to the other one we found.” His gaze met hers. “What the hell are they planning?”
They met back at the starting point an hour later. Drew and Brenna had come up empty, but with the second device Indigo had found, they now had a better idea of how to structure the search radius.
“These objects can’t go anywhere near the den,” Indigo said. They’d spent too much time and effort hiding the exact location of the pack’s true home to give it away so easily. “Can you deactivate them?”
Brenna conferred with Dorian, then nodded. “No problem. Like I said, they’re fairly basic at the tech level. To be safe, I won’t even take the components down, but do all the work up here—the one Silvia found was a husk, so we’re safe on that front.”
Drew rubbed at his jaw, his eyes narrowed. “I don’t think we should deactivate them, not yet.”
When they all looked at him, he put his hands on his hips, the glossy brown strands of his hair lifting in the early evening breeze. “If we switch off two in such close proximity, the Psy might come out to check—and we haven’t got the numbers to cover them if a whole lot arrive at once.”
Indigo’s wolf was still irritated at him in spite of her acknowledgment that he almost certainly hadn’t done what he had on purpose, but she could see the logic of his suggestion. “We should find as many of these things as possible before we start disabling them.”
“If we put all the soldiers and trainees from both packs to searching,” Dorian said, “we’ll probably find the majority of the transmitters, but as soon as we start deactivating them en masse, the Psy will know they’ve been discovered.”
“And we lose our chance to collar them.” Indigo blew out a breath, frowned. “I think we take that hit; get these things off our land and worry about the why later.” She pulled out the cell phone she’d retrieved earlier. “I need to discuss this with Haw—Damn.” She looked at Brenna. “The cell transmitter up here needs to be checked.” That made her wonder—“Any chance these devices are affecting it?”
“I wouldn’t think so,” Brenna said. “But I’ll oversee the maintenance myself to make sure.”
“Probably just storm damage.” Dorian was taking something out of his pocket as he spoke. “Satellite phone,” he said, passing it over. “I thought you guys switched over.”
“We did,” Brenna said as Indigo stepped away to make the call. “But there was a problem with the batteries in the shipment. We’re waiting for replacements.”
Indigo returned to their side less than a minute later. “Bren,” she said, “you and Dorian go down, gather up as many techs as you can. Hawke’s already organizing the soldiers. Drew and I will stay up here, keep an eye on things.”
“I’ll leave the phone with you two,” Dorian said.
Thanking the cat, Andrew borrowed it long enough to call Max and reschedule their meeting before handing it to Indigo. She took it and left to camp out at the second site—just in case their actions had alerted the Psy.
“Best-case scenario,” Hawke said at daybreak the next morning when everyone converged at a central meeting point, “they take the hint and stay out of our territory.” His voice shifted, turned wolf-rough. “But somehow, I doubt that’ll happen.”