Judd thought of the Ghost and his enigmatic priorities. “No.” Then he added another name to the list of Psy who were Pack. “She has both the training and the psychic skill to escape detection.”
“No.” Flat. No room for compromise. “I can’t believe you’d even suggest it.”
“Ignoring who and what she is,” Judd said, fighting his own instinctive need to protect the girl who looked so much like his lost sister, “is more dangerous than taking her into an operation.” Sienna wasn’t only powerful, she was disciplined and knew how to obey orders in a tactical situation. “There’s a reason Maria felt compelled to challenge her. You know it and so do I.”
Hawke had been called a cold-hearted bastard more than once. But never when it came to those who were his—he valued the life of each and every member of his pack, would lay down his own for them without blinking. “I don’t send novices into situations that could be lethal.”
“That’s not what this is about.”
Hawke’s wolf bristled at the quiet challenge. “I wouldn’t send Maria or Riordan, even Tai, into that situation.”
“None of those three spent ten years living with Ming LeBon.” Judd kept speaking as Hawke’s vision went wolf-bright. “She was taught to handle explosives when she was nine years old.”
Hawke snapped his head around to face the former Arrow. “Not even in the Net would they do that to a child.”
“Yes, they would.” Judd stared at the stone walls with piercing intensity. “What better way to teach a child control than to put her in a room designed to blow up with her inside if she got something wrong.”
Hawke’s wolf wanted to savage the bastards who’d tortured Sienna, its rage turning his voice almost unintelligible as he growled, “Damn it, Judd. You were an Arrow!”
Judd flinched. It was such a slight reaction Hawke only caught it because his wolf was watching the other man with a predator’s gaze. “We couldn’t risk defection when Marlee and Toby were babies.” Words so precise, they were coated in frost. “There was a high probability the severance of the PsyNet link—and we always knew we’d have to do that to truly escape—would’ve killed them outright.”
A metal letter opener flew off Hawke’s desk and slammed into the stone wall, the handle quivering from the force of the impact. Judd closed his eyes, fisted his hands. It took him over two minutes to speak again. “We had to wait.” The bleakness in those words betrayed the cost paid for that wait.
With a wolf, Hawke would’ve clamped him on the shoulder, dragged him into a hug. But Judd wasn’t wolf. Grabbing the handle of the letter opener, he pulled it out with a grunt and handed it to the Psy male. “Get it out.”
The letter opener began to twist methodically into a complicated shape before being crushed into an unrecognizable ball of metal, which Judd began to slam into the wall again and again using his telekinesis. Stone chips flew to the floor.
“Did Sienna know she was going to be getting out?” Hawke asked when he judged the Psy male was able to speak again. Know she hadn’t been abandoned?
“No. Not for a long time.” Judd caught the distorted ball, held it in his hand. “She was too young, and she spent the majority of her time with Ming. We could only trust her with the plan once her shields were strong enough to hide her thoughts from him.”
Hawke imagined Sienna as a small girl with eyes of cardinal starlight and hair of darkest red; thought, too, of the fear that must’ve stolen her breath, squeezed her chest as she was locked inside rooms full of explosives. “One slip of her gift . . .”
“It was a lie at first,” Judd said. “Ming wouldn’t have risked a cardinal X in such an accident. When she did make a mistake, they triggered explosions calibrated to knock her unconscious and injure her enough that she’d remember to be more careful next time.”
Hawke’s claws sliced out. “And later?”
“She asked to be put in those rooms.” The metal ball spun at rapid speed in the air. “She had to know she’d be safe enough to defect with us.”
Hawke didn’t know whether he wanted to strangle Sienna for playing with her life that way or hold her tight, shield her from the world. Except of course, that was an impossibility—she was an X, her mind meant to be a weapon. “Will she obey your orders?” His wolf raked him with its claws, but even it knew the decision was the right one.
“Yes.” A pause as the ball of metal came to a gentle rest on Hawke’s desk. “Yours are the only ones she’s ever had trouble with.”
No fear, Hawke thought. Even after all she’d been through, Sienna had never been afraid to stand up to him. Good. “I want this planned down to the last minute—in and out as fast as possible.”
Judd gave a swift nod, his eyes holding an icy determination, an echo of the memories. “I’ll do the prep work today. I’d rather reserve my psychic energies, so we’ll fly out tomorrow morning into one of the larger cities. I can teleport us the rest of the distance after nightfall. Do you want in on the planning?”
“No.” Hawke knew his instincts when it came to Sienna would get in the way. “Keep me updated.”
“I’ll get Sienna now.”
“Judd.” When the lieutenant halted, Hawke walked over and dragged him into a rough embrace. Psy or not, he was a SnowDancer. “Thank you for getting her out.” For protecting her when Hawke hadn’t known she was out there, hurting.