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Tangle of Need (Psy-Changeling 11) - Page 48


Of course, Selenka Durev, the BlackEdge alpha, wouldn’t agree to hunt just anyone, but after years of meticulous research, Kaleb understood the finest details of how the pack functioned. If and when the time came, he’d get what he wanted. No one would be permitted to stand in his way.

“Sir,” Silver said after double-checking he’d signed and initialed all the required places in the contract, “about Henry Scott.”

He’d asked her to keep her ears open for any information on the Councilor who hadn’t been seen since Sienna Lauren’s X-fire decimated the Pure Psy army. “Is he alive?”

“Only according to unsubstantiated rumors—those could be a strategic attempt by Pure Psy to bolster their membership. Without Henry’s backing, the group has negligible power.”

Hmm … “There’s a man named Andrea Vasquez. Thirty years of age.” It was the DarkMind that had brought him the name of Henry’s general. “What do you have on him?” he asked, though he’d already done his own research. However, the Mercants had a way of knowing things no one else did.

“If you’ll excuse me a moment.”

He gave a curt nod. Having finished finalizing a memo in the interim, he put it aside for Silver to deal with, and turned in his chair. The crystal clear floor-to-ceiling wall looked out over the busy square below, black-garbed commuters scurrying to work, their heads downbent, breaths frosting the morning air.

His mind catalogued the visual intake, but it was an automatic act, his concentration on the psychic search he’d been running continuously in the back of his mind for years. Except now, he utilized every spare minute to run it in the foreground—because he was close. Very, very close. Enough that he might make a mistake if he didn’t move with utmost stealth.

Alerted by the psychic reminder, he paused, reworked his search algorithm to halt at the first sign of a trip wire or sensor. By the time Silver walked back into his office, he was facing his desk once more, even as his mind hummed with a task that would’ve taken the full attention of most normal cardinals.

Kaleb had never been normal. Not in any way.

“Vasquez,” Silver began, after taking a seat opposite his desk, “is a Gradient 8.3 telepath who was placed into Arrow training as a child. However, he was deemed unfit for the squad at age fourteen and reassigned to a regular black ops unit where he served with distinction until his apparent death.”

All of which correlated with Kaleb’s own findings. “Wet work?”

“Not on file, but given the nature of his psychological evaluation, it’s a reasonable assumption that he was used for close-contact assassinations.”

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Kaleb had no doubts about Vasquez’s status as a trained killer—Henry had never liked getting his hands dirty. “When did he fall off the grid?”

“Eight years ago. Death verified.”

“Of course.” It was the only way to vanish outright from the Net. “Let me guess—an accident that left no remains but for a fragment large enough to provide DNA.”

“The crushed and partially burned remnants of the smallest finger from his left hand. Easy enough to replace with a prosthetic.”

And speaking of a man dedicated enough to mutilate himself.

“He hasn’t been seen, or DNA typed, since then.” His aide tapped the screen of her organizer to bring up several images she turned toward him. “However, since you brought up his name in relation to Henry Scott, I took the liberty of going through the surveillance images of Henry taken during the six months before his disappearance. Vasquez isn’t present in any of them.”

That, Kaleb knew, meant nothing. The man was a trained ghost. “It’s unlikely he looks anything like he did eight years ago.”

“I agree, but,” Silver continued, earning her paycheck with the next words she spoke, “it appears that, prior to his disappearance, Henry was making regular six-figure-sum deposits into an account in the Caymans. While the account itself is untraceable, Henry tagged the payments with the initials ‘A. V.’ at his end.”

Kaleb was almost expecting it, that it would be such a simple thing that would destroy the wall of secrecy Vasquez had built around himself. Henry had never been good with details. “You have something further,” he said, watching her bring up another file.

A slight nod, not a single strand out of place in the neat twist that was her hair. “The payments stopped after Henry’s encounter with Sienna Lauren. However, it now looks as if someone is reorganizing his financial assets.” Her eyes, an unusual color between blue and gray, met his. “Our banking contacts were able to confirm it isn’t Shoshanna.”

Shoshanna was Henry’s wife, the relationship a fiction to placate the human and changeling population. “That’s excellent work, Silver.” He didn’t ask her to forward him the files—Silver was his aide because she did things like that without being asked.

Rising, she held the organizer to her side. “At present, this ‘A. V.’ is a phantom the same as Vasquez, but I’ve alerted my family that he has become an individual in whom you have an interest.” She left without further words, the click of her heels muffled by the carpet.

Kaleb considered the possibilities. The first was that Vasquez had taken over after Henry’s death and was setting himself up as the new leader of Pure Psy. However, from everything Kaleb had discovered about Vasquez, the male was not a leader. While training to be an Arrow, he’d followed orders with dogged fidelity. The sole reason he’d been excised from the squad was because of a psychological imbalance that made him a risk in the field, given the sensitive nature of many Arrow operations.

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