... you give off only coldness, a metallic stink that repels...
She couldn't forget either Lucas's words or the hatred she'd felt directed at her. Dorian, Kit, that beautiful blonde female, and even Tamsyn. They'd all looked at her as if she were the embodiment of evil. Perhaps she was. If they were right, she belonged to a race which would allow murder in order to protect their code of Silence.
A stab of pain slashed across her heart. She gasped and tried to stifle it but it only grew worse. She had to stop it, had to find some way of helping Dorian before he killed her. Locating the leopard was easy. He pulsated with anger and rage, the air around him pure darkness churning with endless echoes of pain.
Psychically, she didn't know what she was doing. No one had ever trained her in this. She didn't even know what it was that she was trying to do. Reaching into the darkness enclosing him, she gathered up his pain into her arms. There was so much of it that it overflowed. Determined, she kept gathering until the shadows around him softened and the agony in her heart became easier to endure.
Her arms were full of sorrow and she could think of only one way to destroy it, an instinctive understanding that came from a buried part of her mind. But she couldn't do it here. Barely able to see, she walked out of the building, still holding her incomprehensible harvest.
Getting into her vehicle, she programmed in the destination and set the car to automatic. The sorrow was getting heavier and heavier. She had to get to the safety of her apartment before her mind cracked wide open under the pressure. Already her flaw was obvious in the tremble in her fingertips, in the hollow beat of her heart.
With most of her remaining energy, she reinforced her mental shields against the PsyNet. The energy that kept her alive was tied into those shields. If they failed, it would be because she'd died and there was nothing left to sustain them. She only hoped she made it inside the walls of her apartment before the darkness became too much, before it destroyed her from the inside out.
Lucas felt the pain being drawn away out of Dorian. From his position cradling the other man's body against his chest, he said, "Tamsyn, what did you do?"
The healer ran her hands over Dorian's face. "I've barely started. This wasn't me. Dorian, what did you feel?"
"Like someone took the pain and left... peace behind." He shook his head and sat up. There was no shame in him at having leaned on Pack. That was what they were there for - if Lucas fell, Dorian would do the same for him.
Rina linked her fingers to Dorian's. "You feel..." Lost for words, the soldier turned to Tamsyn.
"Balanced," Tamsyn said, as Lucas got to his feet.
Dorian frowned and pushed back his hair. "It was the damnedest thing. If felt like warmth spreading inside me, shoving out the rage. I can think again. For the first time since Kylie was taken, I can think." He let Rina wrap her arms around him and lay her head against his chest.
Dorian ran his hand over Rina's bare arm and Lucas knew he was grounding himself in the feel of her skin, in the way she smelled of Pack. This had nothing to do with male-female sharing and everything to do with Pack healing.
"If it wasn't you, then who?" Lucas's heart was thumping with a suspicion so outlandish, he could barely bring himself to believe it. But his instincts had never lied about this one thing and he'd felt the flare of power.
"I don't know anyone who could do what Dorian's described." Tamsyn paused. "I've heard rumors but they're just that - rumors."
Dorian looked at Lucas. "It doesn't matter. Not now. We have to find the SnowDancer female before the wolves go berserk. At this point they're in shock but that's going to turn into rage."
"We'll find her." It was an alpha's promise. "I'm going to ask Sascha to help us."
"A Psy?" Rina's voice was harsh. "They don't even help their own children."
"We don't have a choice." There was no other way to infiltrate the PsyNet.
Sascha was gone. According to the ground-floor receptionist, she hadn't looked so good.
"Got in her car and took off." The woman shrugged. "I was going to ask if she was okay but you know, she's one of them so I figured she wouldn't want to be bothered."
"Thanks." Lucas shoved both his hands into his pockets.
Rina, who'd come down with him, said, "Think she's gone back to report to the Council?"
It was a valid suspicion but something in Lucas rebelled against accepting it. Pulling out his phone, he pressed her code and waited. No answer. "I guess we'll know soon enough. Tell the sentinels to alert the pack." If the Council discovered that DarkRiver was working to bring them down, they'd launch a preemptive strike.
The Psy might not be able to manipulate the minds of changelings without a huge expenditure of power, but they could kill if they were determined enough. The most vulnerable were the cubs, who hadn't yet finished developing the natural shields which made older changelings that much harder to hurt.
He watched Rina take off as he pushed in another code. Within ten minutes, every member of DarkRiver would be contacted. The weaker ones would head to the safe houses, where Pack soldiers could protect them. The one advantage changelings had was that the Psy had to come very close to attack them through psychic means. No Psy had ever killed a changeling from afar.
But today, someone had reached Dorian from afar.
The call was answered. "Hawke."
"We might've had a leak to the Council about the hunt. Protect your pack."
"Anyone touches another one of my people, I'll gut them." The ruthless alpha of the SnowDancers wasn't kidding. "I'm declaring open season on the Psy."