"If he tries anything, use the bond."
Her heart skipped a beat at the welcome reminder that she'd never be alone again. "I will. I'm going to begin the search now." She 'pathed the same message to Judd.
I can see you. The masculine voice was so clear, her suspicions about Judd's status on the Gradient solidified into certainty. The man might not have the night-sky eyes, but he had to be near cardinal strong. If you keep the scan radius small, I can pinpoint him almost immediately after you.
Faith whispered the suggestion to Vaughn. "We'll have to change position and go out farther into the open as I scan. But it'll give us an unmistakable target when we do find him. Judd won't have to enter my mind, either."
Vaughn's answer was nothing she could've predicted. "Faith, this is your world. What option do you think will work best?"
"You won't try to overrule me?"
"Only if your choice puts you in unnecessary danger." The cat was in his voice, low and husky. "I can't protect your mind, but I sure as hell will keep your body safe."
She figured that was as good as it was going to get with her jaguar. "Then let's do it. If I start to feel we're getting too close and I can't find him, we'll stop. I don't want to paint a bull's-eye on myself." For the first time in twenty-four years, she was truly alive, and she had no intention of changing that.
"If this works like I think it will," she said, "the second he feels me, he'll try to connect and that should give Judd the opportunity he needs."
"I can smell Judd. Tell him to make sure he's well hidden. He doesn't fit into this campus."
"And you do?" She relayed the message.
"I'm the rough type the good girl always falls for," he said, displaying a rare vein of humor. "That Psy just looks like he's here to take someone out."
Shaking her head, she sent out the first seeking touch. "Nothing."
Vaughn silently picked out a spot closer to the building that housed the intended victim and she repeated the scan. "Nothing."
Two more attempts produced the same frustrating result. Emotion definitely had a downside - an emotionless Psy would've continued scanning with mechanical precision until they achieved success. "Nothing, nothing, nothing!"
"I don't want you any nearer the prey. If you know what he looks like, he might have seen you, too."
"I hadn't considered that, but if he is an F-Psy, that may be a possibility."
"Whatever else he is, he's also a coward," Vaughn spit out. "They're always dangerous when cornered."
She agreed. Certain telepathic abilities could cause massive damage when used offensively. Judd was the perfect example. "Let me try one more sweep. I know he's here." Taking a deep breath, she spread out her senses. This one's for you, Marine.
And there he was.
The darkness recognized her, too. Homing in on her position with frightening speed, it scrabbled for purchase into her mind. Gut instinct came to her aid - she snapped her entire psychic self into a tiny ball, burying it deep within the bond with Vaughn. Changeling wildness locked around her and the talons of darkness slipped away without finding purchase.
It had taken mere milliseconds, but when she opened her eyes, she felt as if she'd run a marathon. Vaughn's body was so tense next to her that she knew he'd sensed the danger. "He's a telepath with attacking capabilities. Foresight might be a secondary talent."
She could see him now. He was standing a few easy meters from her, a tall male with Silent discipline stamped onto his handsome features. In his black suit and white shirt, he was just another anonymous Psy as he swept the area in an effort to find her. "Why doesn't he look like a monster?"
"They never do." Vaughn's claws pricked at her skin through her clothing.
Panic a knot in her throat, she closed her hand over his. "You can't go for him. Enforcement would love to get their hands on you."
"You're my mate."
She knew it was killing him to not be the one to ensure her vengeance. "I need you alive and with me. Vaughn, please. Please."
"Tell the damn Psy." A growled command.
She did and shot by the killer's mind once more in a move calculated to break his concentration. It worked - Judd located him. Dropping his head into his hands all of a sudden, the killer began to whimper. But he wasn't yet incapacitated. There was too much intelligence in those black eyes as they searched the area for the source of attack. She wondered why Judd was holding back.
Then the Tp-Psy materialized to stand beside her. "Be sure," he said. "This is irreversible."
About to give an answer powered by fury, she forced herself to think, to consider the fact that this was a life. Going back over that last contact, she added them to the ones before. And came to a startling realization. "Something's wrong."
"Do I pull out?" No judgment, no worry; Judd Lauren was so cold he made her want to shiver.
"It is him, but... Vaughn, remember what you said about seeing darkness around me?"
"Not something I could ever forget." A voice walking the finest edge of rage.
She leaned more heavily against him, afraid the cat would take control and overrule his decision not to rip the man to pieces in plain sight. "Well, that used to coat him, too. In the visions when I was him, it was a cloak around us." It was why she'd instinctively called him the darkness. "But now it's gone. I can't see into his mind, but I know it's gone."
"Do we move on him, Faith?" Judd asked. "I've only got one shot at this - he's starting to recover and fight back."