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Tangle of Need (Psy-Changeling 11) - Page 65


Metallic. Cold. A Psy drenched in Silence.

It could be nothing, a remnant attached to another piece of debris, though the probability was low taking into account the time that had passed. And all the penny-ante annoyance hits to date had taken place on the edges of den territory. Why would any Psy want to seriously antagonize SnowDancer now, after the pack’s decisive defeat of Henry’s army?

Tracking the scent on silent feet, he came to the top of a small rise. Here, the lingering scent was as thick as soup to his changeling senses. He frowned. The position offered the watcher no strategic viewpoint in terms of figuring out SnowDancer’s weaknesses. All he or she would see was a small, naturally open field surrounded by scrubby bush that merged into a stand of lodgepole pines.

A curvy young female with lush black curls—Maria—jogged across the clearing at that very second, accompanied by a dark gray wolf who spotted Riaz a second before Maria did. The soldier waved, while the wolf howled a greeting before they both disappeared into the pines.

Hmm…

Psy had been known to use SnowDancer land for meetings, which wasn’t as stupid a move as it sounded, not given the spread of den territory, and how simple it was to teleport into isolated sections. This spot might qualify, except as Maria and Lake had just proven, anyone on this hill would be silhouetted against the sky, openly visible to a passing sentry.

Gut-certain he was missing something, he kicked off his boots and stripped. His sense of smell was acute even as a human, but nothing beat the wolf’s nose. Circling the area after shifting, he checked twice to make sure he had it right, then changed back into human form and quickly got dressed.

Racing to the den, he pushed into Hawke’s office without waiting for an invitation. “We need to talk.”

The alpha turned from the comm screen where he was talking to a man who wore a neat three-piece suit, his graying hair combed sternly back to reveal a defined widow’s peak. “We’ll have to continue this another time, Mr. Woo.”

Pursing his lips in disapproval, the man on the other side nonetheless made no demur as Hawke signed off. “What is it?” His eyes flicked over Riaz’s shoulder, sharpened.

Riaz had already turned to greet Riley, pushing the door closed behind the senior lieutenant. “Do you have what I asked for?” He’d called Riley during his run to the den.

Nodding, the other man input a data crystal into the comm panel. “These are the watch routes I’ve assigned the soldiers and novices over the past two weeks.” A longer period than warranted by the intensity of the scent, but Riaz hadn’t wanted to risk missing a pattern because of too tight a date range.

“I’ve color-coded the individual soldiers,” Riley continued, “so you can see who was where when at a glance.”

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Riaz pinpointed the rise where he’d caught the scent, inserted an asterisk to mark the spot on the map, then checked which packmates had passed within sight of it. Fury ignited in his blood. “The shape of the scent on the earth,” he said, after filling Hawke and Riley in on his discovery, “says the intruder was lying down.” It was the only way he or she could have escaped detection.

“Sniper?” Riley asked in a grim tone.

“Or surveillance.” Ice in Hawke’s voice, the wolf stalking behind pale eyes fixed on the assignment map. “No reason for the Psy to watch Maria, Tai, Riordan, or Ebony.”

That left one name.

“We knew this would happen,” Riaz said, tracking the deep aqua color Riley had allocated Sienna, his anger transforming into a cold determination to keep safe the young woman who’d walked into battle willing to die for SnowDancer. “Everyone in the Net now knows what she can do.”

“I hoped they’d leave her alone a few f**king months at least.” The words were gritted out between the alpha’s clenched teeth.

“How’d they know she’d pass through that field?” Riaz thrust a hand through his hair. “Riley mixes up assignments.” SnowDancer had had one traitor in their midst—another one would kill them; but the question had to be asked. “You think they have an informant?”

“No.” Hawke’s response held utmost confidence. “I’m betting they’ve been using spy satellites to scan our territory—the canopy makes it difficult in most cases, but there are open areas.”

Riaz gave a slow nod. “All they’d have needed was a single glimpse of Sienna”—her hair that distinctive ruby red—“and then they just had to be patient.” He considered the other implications if Hawke was right. “No normal person would have access to that kind of satellite data. Or to a teleporter.” Flying or driving any unauthorized vehicle into the territory without being caught was so difficult as to be impossible.

“Pure Psy,” Riley said, his eyes on the map, “lost the majority of their Tks in the fight. If Judd’s right about the rumblings in the Net, the group’s probably got other priorities at this point.”

“Ming is the most obvious suspect.” Riaz was aware the man had been the military mastermind of the Council. “But we don’t have enough information to rule anyone out. Kaleb Krychek for one.” The lethal telekinetic could see Sienna as a threat to his own power.

“Shoshanna’s gone suspiciously quiet, but she was the force behind Henry for most of their sham of a marriage,” Hawke said, and Riaz knew the alpha’s brain was working with cold efficiency in spite of his rage. “And Tatiana’s always been very good at hiding her involvement in any number of ops.”

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