"She might not know anything," he pointed out. "Kit?"
"Go tell Zara we need her." His eyes held a different message. It wasn't the wildcat they needed, but their healer. Many of the other juveniles wouldn't have understood. However, Kit was already being trained for soldier duties - it was the only way to keep a future alpha out of trouble.
The boy nodded. "I'll get on it." He ran from the room.
It was lucky for them that the healer had come into the city proper to take the cubs shopping. Her presence here was vital - Dorian was almost at breaking point. Until this moment, Lucas hadn't known just how fragile the sentinel's control was. He could almost see the rage clawing behind those surfer-blue eyes, ready to maim, torture, kill.
"Kidnapping one Psy will give us nothing. They aren't like us - they'll cut family dead without a thought." He walked over to stand in front of Dorian, keeping his body between him and the exit.
Suddenly Dorian's head snapped up to focus on something behind Lucas. "She's part of their damn hive mind! Get her to tell us where the SnowDancer is before it's too f**king late!" His voice vibrated with anger but he wasn't completely out of control. Yet.
Lucas didn't have to turn to know that Sascha was in the doorway - he could smell her. "Leave, Sascha." The panther wanted to grip her by the nape and haul her out of harm's way.
"No." Dorian pushed at his chest hard enough to have cracked a human's ribs. His latency had robbed him purely of the ability to change, nothing else. "Tell her what this freak's been doing. Tell her what her precious Council is hiding from her."
Sascha took a step into the room and closed the door. "What's he talking about?" There was steel in that icy tone, resolve in the way she walked around to stand less than a foot away. No fear clouded those night-sky eyes.
Lucas continued to keep himself between her and Dorian. "A serial killer has been preying on changeling women for several years." The time for subterfuge was over - a life hung in the balance.
Sascha's expression didn't change. "We don't have serial killers in our population."
"Bullshit!" Dorian spit out. "The killer is Psy and your Council knows it. You're a race of psychopaths!"
"No, we're not."
"No conscience, no heart, no feelings! How else do you define psychopath?"
"How do you know that it's one of us?" She tried to get around Lucas.
He pushed her back with a single hand. "Don't get too close. Right now, Dorian would settle for ripping out your throat in lieu of the murderer's. His sister was one of the victims." He made sure she saw truth in his expression.
After a short silence, she took a step back and allowed him to hold Dorian at bay. "How do you know it's a Psy?" she repeated.
"We detected the scent of a Psy at the site of Kylie's murder." Lucas would remember the pervading ugliness of that scent to the day he died. "You have a very distinctive smell to us. Unlike humans or changelings, you give off only coldness, a metallic stink that repels." It was why so many changelings refused to work with the Psy or live in buildings created by them. The taint, some felt, could never be erased.
He thought he saw hurt shadow Sascha's face but when she spoke, her voice was calm. "If this is a serial, why hasn't it been reported? I haven't heard a single thing about it on the Net or through the human-changeling media."
Dorian turned to bang his palms flat against the window. The glass cracked. "Your Council killed the reports like they killed the investigations. Changelings and a couple of humans have tried to get the cases marked as the work of a serial, but they've been blocked over and over."
Lucas met Sascha's intent gaze and decided to take a step that could be a mistake. They had no more time to go softly, softly. Either his instincts about Sascha were right or he'd never had a chance. "Detectives are working underground on their own time and changeling packs are sharing information across the affected areas.
"Given enough time, we will hunt down the killer." He had no doubt about that. All the predatory changelings had one thing in common - if one of their own was hurt, they'd track the perpetrator with grim determination even if it took years.
"What's changed? Why are you so angry?" she asked Dorian and there was something almost like pain in her tone.
The sentinel didn't speak, his head bowed, palms pressed against the glass. Lucas knew that rather than striking out, he was withdrawing into himself and that couldn't be allowed. He was Pack. He would never be left to suffer on his own.
He put one hand on Dorian's shoulder. It was enough to hold him to the bonds of Pack until Tamsyn arrived. "SnowDancer lost a female two hours ago. If we don't find her within seven days, she'll be discovered mutilated in a way that would make even a Psy throw up."
There was a flurry at the door and Tamsyn ran into the room alongside Kit and his older sister, Rina, a curvaceous, sensual female with the rank of soldier. Lucas turned to Sascha. "Wait for me outside." This was Pack business. And no matter how much he craved her, she was an outsider. In spite of the chance he'd taken in telling her the truth, she might even be the enemy.
She looked at Dorian for a long time then silently turned and walked away. Rina closed the door behind her, shutting her out.
Sascha went down to the public lounge at the bottom floor of the building, Dorian's anguish continuing to pound at her. She'd never felt such excruciating agony. It took everything she had not to scream in unison with him. It was almost as if the pain was drawn to her, as if she were sucking it inside, where it could mingle with her own unbearable hurt.