Kaleb’s expression didn’t alter, his tone didn’t warm, but the words he spoke were very much not of Silence. “I’ll send you some video files.” Then he bent his head and told her they should practice kissing, voice as chill as frost . . . and eyes licked with black fire.
It was a long time later, the two of them back in her aerie, that he reached into the pocket of his black suit—his shirt a dark forest green she’d chosen out of his closet—and pulled out a small jewelry box. “This is for you.”
It wasn’t her birthday, but Sahara knew the box held a charm. “To mark my return?” she asked softly.
“Yes.” Opening it, he retrieved the charm. “In case your father didn’t get a chance to tell you, there was a transfer into your account yesterday—tagged as the income from an investment he made for you when you were a child, to mature on your twenty-third birthday.” A pause. “It was meant to mature at eighteen, giving you independent funds for education, but Leon kept extending the date.”
Sahara swallowed the knot in her throat. Once again, her outwardly distant lover had demonstrated his consciousness of her emotional needs by telling her a fact others might have omitted. Holding out her wrist, she said, “Did you get me a sheath for the blade?” The charm bracelet glowed luminous in the sunlight coming through the window.
“It’s too soon for the work to have been completed.” His fingers closed around her wrist, his thumb over the flutter of her pulse. “You’ll have to wait for next year.”
If she’d been standing, she might have staggered under the force of her relief. “And the single star?”
Eyes of inky black holding her own, the words he spoke only a fraction of their conversation. “It appears it did not suffer fatal damage.”
Such a precarious equilibrium. So many lives balanced on her sanity when her mind remained in chaos. “Let me see,” she whispered to this man who would’ve laid waste to the world in vengeance for her.
As before, she tried to crane her neck, tried to peek, but he blocked her view, his wide shoulders angled to show the nape of his neck beneath the neat black of his hair.
Lifting her free hand, she just barely touched skin. A moment of motionlessness, then nothing but masculine warmth, his fingers holding her wrist as he resettled the bracelet and let her see the newest charm.
An eagle in flight, wings spread to their greatest length.
PSY UNIFORMLY CREMATED their dead. It was the most effective way to dispose of a corpse, and those of Vasquez’s race had no need for a grave where they could mourn. However, Vasquez hadn’t cremated Councilor Henry Scott’s ravaged body. He’d had Henry buried in an isolated location deep in the Tatra Mountains in Europe.
He hadn’t done it because he needed emotional absolution. His Silence was Pure. No, he’d buried his murdered leader so he could report back to Henry. He’d done so aware that many would consider such communication an irrational act, but with Henry gone, Vasquez trusted no one with his plans for Pure Psy. He felt more . . . stable speaking to the resting place of his lost leader than inside his own mind.
It might be, he thought now, looking down at the grave covered by a fine layer of new grass, the humans and changelings had a point on this one aspect of things. Vasquez had no argument with accepting the other races had certain qualities and strengths that might be useful to his own— however, they were not, and had never been, the equal of Psy.
His was the race with the ability to affect the very minds of the other races. Psy could enslave those minds if they so chose, crushing the autonomy of human families and changeling packs to erase their society itself. As such, the emotional races could not be permitted to ascend to the point where they believed themselves the rightful rulers of the planet.
It was also true that the fault for the baseless conceit recently evidenced by humans and changelings alike didn’t lie with them. That responsibility belonged to the weak ones in the PsyNet, the ones who had allowed the inferior races to claw their way to a power they could not hope to understand. In this, Henry had been wrong in his decision to attack the SnowDancer and DarkRiver packs so directly.
“They are animals,” he said quietly, his respect for his leader steadfast even in this disagreement.
“They do not know the depth of the waters in which they play.” And the humans? Weak. Defenseless as babies. “We can enter human minds at will, alter the very reality of their existence.”
Silence was his only answer, but he felt the peace of knowing he was on the true path. “Our rightful place is as the caretakers of the lesser races, not as aggressors. Ill discipline must be punished, of course, but only to break them of bad habits.” Blood need not be spilled when the mind could be taught to fear pain. “In time, they will become what they have always been meant to be—our obedient servants, who know we only want that which is best for them.”
Before that state of grace could come to pass, however, Vasquez first had to redress the current power imbalance in the world. To do that, he had to destroy what had become a defective and decaying ruling structure, giving his race the gift of being able to begin anew.
Humans and changelings had been and would continue to be caught in the crossfire as their betters struggled for dominance, but that couldn’t be helped. This was a war for the survival of the Psy race.
“Collateral damage,” he said, thinking of the operation that was about to put Pure Psy and the need for Silence on everyone’s lips from one end of the globe to the other, “is inevitable.”