“So that leaves the second option.” Sahara frowned, her fingers running absently over the ridges of his abdomen. “That Vasquez wants to cause as much chaos as possible to cover this unknown other action?”
Kaleb clenched his stomach muscles as her hand drifted lower. “A man working alone,” he said, stroking the curve of her hip once before he forced himself to get out of bed, “or only with a small covert team, can create it on a large scale, especially if we take Vasquez’s training into account.”
Pulling on a pair of black sweatpants that hung loosely on his hips, he considered the situation and the necessary response. “We need to corner Vasquez in the city, but entering changeling territory without an invitation risks creating a political situation”—a fact Vasquez could be counting on to delay any pursuit—“so we get that invitation. I’ll contact Judd.”
“ANTHONY,” SAHARA SAID, tucking her hair behind her ears. “I can call him. He’ll be able to advise Nikita—they’ve both made it clear Pure Psy is unwelcome in their region, and they may have on-the-ground data you can’t access.”
At Kaleb’s nod, she turned to make an audio-only call on the mobile comm beside the bed, while he used his cell phone to contact Judd—and for the first time, their conversation was not between the Ghost and a former Arrow, but between Kaleb Krychek and a SnowDancer lieutenant. When the other man ended the conversation, it was to speak to his alpha, as well as get word to the leopard alpha.
“I’ll call you back in five minutes,” he said and hung up.
In the interim, Kaleb contacted Enforcement’s central command in the United States and asked them to issue updated bulletins to their officers in California and the surrounding states. “Warn them not to approach if Vasquez is sighted,” Kaleb said. “He’s a high-level telepath trained in hand-to-hand combat and sniper-grade shooting.”
“Does this request come via the Council?” the commissioner asked.
“No. The Council is gone. This comes directly from me—I trust Enforcement has no difficulty with that.”
“Enforcement has no issue cooperating in the hunt for the criminal Andrea Vasquez. Future cooperation, however, will depend on the circumstances.”
“Very well, Commissioner.” Kaleb had so many moles inside Enforcement he could get anything he wanted at a moment’s notice, but he saw no reason not to be civil.
Hanging up, he glanced at Sahara. “Anthony is getting in touch with Nikita,” she said, zipping up a hooded sweatshirt over the jeans and T-shirt she’d pulled on. “He didn’t say, but I’m guessing he’ll also connect with the others in the region, changeling and human.” A questioning look. “Your invitation?”
Kaleb began to dress. “Pending.” The fact was, he’d be going in with or without it. Vasquez was too big a threat to leave to even the packs’ capable hands.
His phone rang on the heels of that thought. “You and the Arrows are cleared,” Judd told him.
“Strategy meeting at DarkRiver’s Chinatown HQ, twenty minutes.”
Since the SnowDancer den was some distance from that location, Kaleb guessed Judd and the wolf alpha would be teleporting to the meeting. “I’ll be there.” Hanging up, he finished getting into clothing indistinguishable from the black combat uniforms worn by the Arrow Squad, the clothing made of bulletproof material that would also repel a certain level of laser fire.
Unbeknownst to Sahara, all her jeans, as well as the hooded sweatshirt she was currently wearing, had the same properties as the combat gear. He hadn’t been able to swap out her T-shirts and other tops as yet, but one of his companies was currently working on a superfine version of the rougher, heavier combat fabric. “Keep that sweatshirt on throughout,” he told her, and when she smiled at him, he realized she’d already figured out what he’d done.
Her intelligence had always been one of the most attractive things about her.
“Can you get me to a location like this?” she asked as he took a seat on the bed to put on his boots, sending him an image of a busy concourse, people moving every which way. “I think I might be able to help gather information.”
What she was proposing, he understood when she sent him another image, would be akin to standing in the middle of the data streams of the PsyNet, except on the physical plane. She’d pick up hundreds, thousands of random thoughts as people passed by.
“It’s getting close to crossing a moral line,” she said with a solemn expression, “but it could mean saving countless lives. And since I have no intention of ever taking control of the minds that brush past me, it’s a decision I can live with.”
“Are you sure?” Sahara’s conscience was a powerful force, one that could crush her from the inside out if she took the wrong path .
She nodded. “I must have this ability for a reason—and this conscience, too. I have to trust in myself and my intention to do no harm.” Blowing out a breath, she said, “It might end up being a fruitless exercise anyway.”
“It stands as much a chance of success as any other.” Vasquez was a man trained to be a shadow, and San Francisco was a city of millions. “You need protection. I’ll organize an Arrow escort.”
Kaleb would trust her safety to no one he didn’t think capable of repelling Vasquez.
But Sahara, fingers working to weave her hair into a neat braid, shook her head. “An Arrow will stand out in such a changeling-heavy city—they may be trained in covert ops, but there’s no doubt they’re lethal, and it puts people instinctively on edge. I saw that in Geneva.”