She couldn't see the guards, but knew they were there. Not that they were apparently much good - Vaughn was slipping in and out without problem. And she didn't mind in the least. Last night she'd accepted that she felt fear at the murderous rage of the dark visions. Today, she permitted herself to admit that she liked Vaughn, liked his wildness and even his danger. But any stronger emotion continued to be beyond her reach.
Nobody in the changeling world could understand what it was like to spend a lifetime without emotion and then suddenly be invaded by it on all sides. The darkness had brought menace and evil, psychopathic lust and sadistic need into her life. She might've buckled under the weight had Vaughn not brought pleasure, desire, and playfulness. He wasn't an easy male to deal with, but that was part of what made him so incredibly fascinating. Last night she'd come face-to-face with the animal who lived so close to the surface of his humanity and -
She stared at the slender, almost delicate brunette who'd appeared from the shadows of a dark-green fir. No one should've been in these grounds but her and her guards. "Who are you?"
A cold smile that did nothing to light up those pale blue eyes. "Interesting. You're so isolated that though you've done considerable work for us, you're unaware of my identity."
Memory flickered at the sound of that voice. "Shoshanna Scott." A member of the Psy Council and its beautiful and photogenic public face.
"I apologize for intruding on your privacy, but I didn't want this conversation recorded."
"You called earlier," Faith said, knowing with the sense in her that knew these things. She also knew she was in the presence of someone very dangerous, a woman who might strike without warning and with none of the control of the "animal" she'd faced only hours ago.
"Yes. We were checking the monitoring. It's extensive."
Faith waited for whatever it was that the Council wanted from her. Their requests had always been conveyed through the PsyClan, but perhaps this was a forecast they wanted to keep completely under the radar.
"Your accuracy is impressive, Faith."
"Shall we walk?"
"If you please." She knew how to speak to the Council - she might've been isolated, but she wasn't stupid. "Was there something you wanted me to try to forecast?" Try, because forecasting didn't work on command. But if Vaughn was right, she might be able to teach her mind to control the riming of the visions that did come. It was a seductive thought.
"I simply wanted to talk to you." Shoshanna linked her hands behind her back, her black-on-black suit making her fingers appear skeletally white. "Do you usually wear this type of clothing?"
Faith knew it wasn't the normal Psy mode of dress. "It makes it easier for Medical when intervention is necessary." However, the reality was that she preferred ... liked, wearing dresses.
"Of course. I've never really spoken to one of the F designation. What's it like to see the future?" Pale blue eyes bored into hers as they stopped beside a small pond.
"Having never lived any other way, I can't make a comparison," she said, reminding herself to be very careful. One slip and Shoshanna would know that something wasn't quite right about this particular F-Psy. "However, it did give me a purpose at a time when most Psy remain unformed."
"You've been forecasting since you were three?"
"Officially. But my family has records that state I was making erratic but accurate non-verbal predictions even earlier." She admitted that because she believed Shoshanna already knew her history - Councilors made it their business to know things about those they wanted to talk to.
"How did passage through the Protocol affect your abilities?"
The Protocol. Silence. A choice made generations ago to wipe out violence, but that had also succeeded in wiping out joy, laughter, and love. It had made the Psy an emotionless, robotic race that excelled in business and technology but produced no forms of art, no great music, no works of literature.
"My ability to fine-tune the visions grew apace with my progress through the Protocol. Instead of needing several markers to trigger them, I began to need only one or two." What she didn't say was that as she'd progressed, she'd also stopped having the dark visions.
The unexpected memory had appeared in a quicksilver flash. It was as if Shoshanna's prodding had unlocked a secret compartment within her mind, opening her eyes to the fact that there had been a time in her childhood when she'd seen darkness. Keeping her expression calm became an exercise in self-restraint.
"Interesting." Shoshanna began to walk once again.
Faith followed in silence. The other woman was beautiful, but she was part of the Council - no one reached that post without having shed blood. Her mind's eye flickered and, for one instant, she could literally see the deep red substance staining the Councilor's hands. The vision was gone as quickly as it had come, but she heeded the warning. Because she'd more than seen blood, she'd had a knowing, too.
One day soon, Shoshanna Scott was going to have Faith NightStar's blood on her hands.
Unless she could change the future. That was why F-Psy were so valued - the future they saw wasn't fixed. Businesses could head off a rival if they knew that that rival was about to put out an important invention, or buy up shares in a firm that had been forecast to rise. Faith had never before seen something that had the potential to so directly affect her.
"Are you fulfilled by your work?" Shoshanna's voice was a cool sound that cut through the whispers of the leaves in the wind.