The caucus had been created by the educational branch of a lobby group but now received funding from governments across the world. Every country sent at least one student, many on scholarships funded by large corporations that hoped to one day lure some of these bright minds into their workforce. None of those corporations, however, were permitted to influence the curriculum carefully chosen by an independent body of educators. Kaleb knew all that because Sahara had been invited to the caucus at fourteen.
Deemed too divisive in the quest for pure knowledge, the two subjects not on the agenda were politics and religion. There could have been no formal discussion here that threatened Pure Psy. Yet, according to field estimates, more than a quarter of the students and faculty were dead, the majority of the rest injured or trapped.
They weren’t the only casualties—the blast had come at half past noon, when hundreds of people from the nearby office towers had been in restaurants in the pedestrian mall that surrounded the convention center, some with small children they’d picked up from day-care centers attached to their places of work.
Kaleb was already shifting debris to uncover trapped survivors as he took in the carnage. In the first five minutes he worked, he heard French, German, English, and Russian, as well as a number of languages he couldn’t identify . . . and realized that Pure Psy had targeted the caucus for a very rational reason: to create an inciting incident that would affect every country on the planet.
If the situation wasn’t immediately managed, someone, somewhere, would interpret this as a personal attack and launch a counterstrike against the Psy. The ensuing war would engulf every country, every race, every individual. And when the dust finally settled, it was the survivors who’d create the new world.
“Some things need to be broken to become stronger.”
The fact that Pure Psy was working from the same playbook he himself had done was not lost on him. But Kaleb would allow no one to sow the seeds of destruction—not now, when Sahara had asked him to find another way to create a better world. And children . . . children should always be off the agenda.
As he should’ve been. As Sahara should’ve been.
Aden, he said, having set the Arrow on a particular task, do you have the information?
I’ve examined one of the devices that failed to detonate. It’s standard—no improvements to extend range or casualties. Placement of the devices was also haphazard, else we’d be dealing with triple or quadruple the casualties.
It could be a sign of Pure Psy crumbling under the pressure the Arrows and Kaleb had put on them in the two days since the Hong Kong fires were contained, but it seemed too fast a result. Why would the group sacrifice such a high-visibility target with a clumsy strike? Aden was right—done correctly, the entire convention center could’ve been collapsed on the delegates, and with the convention having begun just the day before last, Pure Psy would’ve had four more days to put their plan in place.
Wait, Aden said. Initial death estimates are being revised downward by a significant degree.
Fifty percent of the delegates were away from the convention center for a scheduled day of visits to laboratories, museums, and specialist firms.
Half their targets out of range? It left hundreds of potential casualties, but Pure Psy had always gone for maximum damage. This was too big a mistake. And given Vasquez’s intelligence and training, that meant it wasn’t a mistake. This is a diversion, meant to occupy our attention while they set up something bigger, he said, ’porting an injured girl directly to the triage station at one end of the blast zone. I need trackers now. The team that put this in place will be a skeletal one with few resources. We need to run them down, and this time, I want them alive for interrogation.
I’m pulling Abbot and Sione, Aden replied. They’re the best trackers on the squad.
Kaleb agreed with that assessment, but finding the Pure Psy strike team wasn’t the only problem.
Already reports were trickling into the PsyNet of ordinary Psy being harassed in countries around the world, as hotheads screamed for vengeance for the blood of their young, forgetting that the Psy had also lost a number of their own young. If he was to head off a global war, he had to do so now, and in such a way that no one would be left in any doubt that Pure Psy was a fringe element and did not represent the Psy race as a whole.
Entering the PsyNet, he blasted a message that would be heard in every corner of the psychic network, carried by the violent wave of his power PURE PSY ARE MASS MURDERERS WITH NO CLAIM TO SILENCE AND AS OF THIS NOTICE THE MOST WANTED FUGITIVES IN THE WORLD. IF YOU KNOW OF ANYONE WITH AN AFFILIATION TO PURE PSY, CONTACT A MEMBER OF COUNCILOR KALEB KRYCHEK’S PERSONAL OFFICE.
THE SENTENCE FOR ANY INVOLVEMENT IN THESE ATTACKS WILL BE DEATH. THE SENTENCE FOR HARBORING PURE PSY WILL BE TOTAL REHABILITATION OF THE ENTIRE FAMILY UNIT. THERE WILL BE NO MERCY GRANTED FOR CRIMES THAT CAN HAVE NO RATIONALE EITHER IN SILENCE OR IN EMOTION.
He streamed live images of the broken bodies of the children he continued to ’port to the medics or to morgues, and he stamped the transmission with a glowing platinum star that could not be duplicated or erased.
If Pure Psy wanted to challenge him, they had to be prepared to pay the price.
Silver, he said, dropping out of the Net. Alert the offices.
It’s already in progress. A pause. Sir. My family is sending our telekinetics to Geneva in high- speed airjets, to act under your authority. They are not teleport capable, but they can take over some of the rescue work so the Arrows and your teams can focus on the hunt for the fugitives.
Understood. Kaleb sent the information to Aden while continuing to talk to Silver. More medical teams will be needed. Geneva sent a large group to assist in treating the burn victims in Hong Kong, as did a number of other nearby regions. All of those medics would be exhausted and unable to assist here, even if Kaleb diverted Tks to pick them up.