“You don’t need the Arrows.” Notwithstanding his telekinetic abilities, Kaleb had independent command over hundreds of men.
“Still, it makes no rational sense to strike now when I could go in later with a force almost guaranteed to take control with very little destruction.” Rising, he did up a button on his jacket, the material a deep navy featuring razor-thin pinstripes, the cut perfect. “The fact is, I don’t want this city. That has never been my goal.”
That, Nikita thought, was the most honest thing he could’ve said. Kaleb had far grander ambitions—he wanted to control the Net itself. Not taking her eyes off him as he gave a clipped nod before teleporting away, she reached for the phone. “It’s not Kaleb,” she told Max Shannon, aware the changelings felt more at ease dealing with her security chief.
But when she hung up, she didn’t return to her work. Instead, she reached out with her psychic senses along an old and familiar telepathic pathway. Your child. She is healthy.
Yes, Sascha answered, though it hadn’t been a question. She is extraordinary.
Half-Psy, half-changeling—that in itself made Sascha’s words true, but Nikita knew that wasn’t what her daughter meant. You’re not safe in the city. Not with war lingering on the horizon.
It’s home, Mother. A long pause. Do you plan to leave this region?
A push along the telepathic pathway, and she realized Sascha was trying to send her something bigger than a direct thought. Aware her daughter’s Tp was weak, she reached out with her own, “caught” the sending in a psychic grasp . . . and saw an image of an infant with cat-green eyes and skin of a smooth golden-brown a shade paler than her mother’s.
Sascha’s child. Nikita’s grandchild.
HAWKE SPOTTED THE ambush from a ridge high above the isolated road that lay along one of the routes they would’ve used to evacuate their vulnerable. His wolf’s anger turned cold, primal. There were some things you did not do even in war. “Will they be able to sense non-Psy minds getting closer?” he asked the male lying on his stomach beside him.
Judd gave a single nod. “You might be able to distract them by sending in a decoy—fill up a transport with soldiers.”
“They can’t tell the difference between immature and mature minds?”
“Not if they’re running a general telepathic sweep.” He lifted the binoculars to his eyes again. “I can make out the weapons. They’re high-velocity—” A dangerous pause before Judd passed the binoculars to him. “Twenty degrees to the left of the man in the center.”
Hawke scanned twenty degrees, stopped. The cold-blooded bastards had a grenade launcher. “No mercy. They die. All of them.” This war was not going to be fought with the lives of their young and their old. “Scotts, Ming, whoever the f**k is behind this needs to know we mean business.”
“We eliminate the ambush, we give away the fact that we’re not only aware of their strategy, but capable of predicting it.”
Hawke’s wolf was howling for blood, but both man and wolf had learned to think past the red haze of rage long ago. “It’ll also get rid of ten of their men at this location, however many the others have found.”
“Indigo’s team has another group in their sights,” Judd reported on the heels of his statement, “as does Drew’s. Riley’s sector looks clean.”
It was, Hawke had to admit, damn convenient to have telepaths in the packs. Sienna was paired with Indigo, Walker with Drew, Riley with Faith NightStar of all people. While the DarkRiver F-Psy was a noncombatant, she had the necessary telepathic range. Her mate was acting as her shield.
Because of that telepathic network, it took only minutes to organize the decoys, another hour to get the transports in position. None of the vehicles could be allowed within range of the grenade launchers—their purpose was simply to distract. In the interim, the changeling teams made their way down to just beyond the scope of the enemy’s telepathic sweeps.
“Stay out of sight,” Hawke told Judd. “They can’t know we have a Tk on our side, not until it’s unavoidable.” Getting the lieutenant’s nod, he said, “Everyone ready?”
“Fifty seconds till the vehicles come into view, fifty-two till mobilization.”
It was a hard, fast battle. That was the only way to win with the Psy, given their ability to obliterate minds with their psychic strikes. There were also no teleport-capable telekinetics in this group, which signed their death warrants.
Afterward, Hawke stood looking down at the bodies and felt nothing but savage satisfaction. He wasn’t a man who liked to kill, but these people had planned to savage SnowDancer’s young. For that crime, death was the only penalty.
SIENNA had never seen the wolves move with such cold, sleek violence. The Psy units stood no chance. Part of her was shocked at the bloody reprisal, but it was nothing to the protective rage that had filled her when she’d seen the grenade launcher, understood the true malevolence of their intentions. For an instant, the X-fire had threatened to slip her grasp, but paradoxically, it was her protective drive toward the pups that had helped her get it back under control.
It was over in a matter of minutes, and as day turned to night, she found herself walking through the den with a man who had the eyes of a hunting wolf and hair of silver-gold. Today, he’d not only spoken to her about pack issues, he’d treated her as an integral element of SnowDancer’s defenses. Part of her was still waiting for the other shoe to drop, but at that instant, for the first time, she felt like a partner in some sense, not simply a young girl who wore her heart on her sleeve.