He got to his feet. “You want a changeling guard.”
“It’s safer. People will assume I’m a human packmate,” she pointed out. “I don’t look, act, or sound like the stereotypical image of Psy.”
It was a clever and more than plausible argument. “You risk exposing your abilities to the changelings.” The more people who knew, the greater the chance of a leak.
Sahara wrapped an elastic tie around the end of her braid. “I won’t tell them what I’m doing. I’ll say I’m putting myself in prime position to have a useful flash of backsight.”
The part of him that lived in the void, possessive and obsessively protective, wanted to state a vocal negative to her plan . . . but paradoxically, that same part would fight to the death for her freedom. “Even a hint of trouble and you call me.”
“Done.” Rising on tiptoe, her hands on his shoulders, she claimed a kiss, her gaze tender. “I won’t underestimate Vasquez.”
Trusting her promise in a way he trusted no one else, he said, “According to Aden’s latest report, Vasquez is already on the ground. The central skytrain station is a better option for you than the airport.”
* * *
FIFTEEN minutes after the conversation with Kaleb, Sahara glanced at the amber-blond male who stood with her. Both of them leaned casually against one of the thick columns that ran along the center of the massive station, just another two bored travelers waiting for a long-distance connection.
Adding to that impression were the duffel bags at their feet, the battered fabric thrown into harsh relief by the bright afternoon sun pouring through the massive skylights.
“You’re too good-looking for this,” she said to Vaughn. It was happy chance that he’d already been at DarkRiver HQ when she’d requested an escort. “That woman almost missed her skytrain, she was so busy eating you up with her big, brown eyes.” Sahara fluttered her lashes as the hapless brunette had done.
Vaughn shot her an unsmiling look, but she saw the amusement that prowled behind it. “Get to work, Ms. Kyriakus.”
“I need a little time to get my zen on, as Mercy would say.” She nudged his arm with her shoulder, comfortable with him in a way she was with very few men aside from Kaleb. “Was it Faith? The unnamed NightStar foreseer who saw Luxembourg and Paris?”
A small nod, Vaughn’s lazily feline posture attracting another admiring glance to which he seemed oblivious, though she knew those eyes of jaguar-gold missed nothing. As Kaleb would probably snap the neck of any other woman who tried to touch him without invitation, she knew Vaughn would respond with claws and teeth. Skin privileges, she thought, were not to be assumed lightly with men of this caliber.
“Better for NightStar to handle the press and imply the F was one under their command,” Vaughn added, “than to draw further specific attention to Faith.” Reaching out, he tugged the front of her ball cap a little further down.
He’d given her the cap when he met her and Kaleb in the deserted service corridor Kaleb had used as a teleport lock. According to him, the cap, branded with the logo of the champion local baseball team, would make her far less apt to attract attention, even if she spent hours in the station. Since she’d already seen a number of other people with the same cap, she couldn’t argue.
“Good. Really good.” Sahara spoke to her father every day and had already planned a visit in the coming days, no matter what. But first, she had to do what she could to help stop another wave of violence. “Okay”—a deep breath—“I’m ready.”
It was the first time she’d attempted anything of this magnitude, and from what she’d heard of telepaths who had allowed their shields to drop in similar situations, she had to brace herself for a crushing blast of noise as a thousand different minds crashed into her own. Ninety-nine percent of individuals, Psy, human, or changeling, had a “public” mind, an upper level of inconsequential thought that was rarely shielded; that would be bad enough, but Sahara intended to scan the next layer down.
Here I go, she said to the Tk who was her own.
I won’t let you drown.
Holding on to that promise, she opened her senses the smallest fraction, ready to shut everything down the instant she hit overload. Except— Oh!
It wasn’t the same as with the telepaths. Her ability was unique, her mind created to filter data from other minds in a streamlined fashion. The thoughts of passersby were clearly delineated, her mind visualizing each individual as a separate, understandable strand . . . shimmering silver for Psy, a haunting, luminous blue for humans, and a stunning wild green for changelings.
It was a multihued sea as extraordinarily beautiful as the PsyNet.
Not feeling the least stretched, she expanded her senses bit by bit and had to bite the inside of her cheek to stifle her excitement. Her reach wasn’t only two to three inches around her body. It was far, far wider. At fifty percent strength, she could understand the thoughts of every individual passing within the walls of the station . . . including those of the changeling next to her, and changeling shields were meant to be impenetrable.
What she caught made her want to grin—Vaughn was humming a nonsense tune clearly meant to obfuscate his thoughts. It worked, and it told her Faith had her suspicions about Sahara’s abilities.
That didn’t worry her. Her cousin would never betray her. Now, after consciously blocking Vaughn’s mind, she began to scan and discard thoughts at a speed that turned the strands into a silver-blue jetstream vibrant with sparks of wild green.