The guards didn't notice his telekinetically blurred body as he slid right past them and into the four a.m. darkness of the quiet street. The Council had made a cold calculation and located this lab in a suburban area, believing that here, among civilians, it would escape discovery and attack. They should've known better.
Fading into the shadows on the other side of the street, he checked the buildings on either side of the lab, ready to throw up a Tk shield to ensure their safety - because, unlike the Council, he didn't consider civilian casualties necessary collateral damage. His caution proved redundant. Not even a spark had escaped the confines of the target compound.
A perfect strike.
Lights began flicking on up and down the street as he watched. At the same instant, security personnel pounded out of the compound, searching for a trail that had gone cold the second after he'd walked out. It had taken them at least two minutes to respond. Sloppy. Whoever was running this op had become cocky after going undetected for over a year.
It was exactly the reaction Judd and the Ghost had planned on.
Satisfied, he took one last look at the rapidly dying flames and turned to cut through the middle-of-the-night black of a family's backyard. As he negotiated the garden and swingset, he found his eyes drawn to the still-dark window on the second floor. That room held a child, a small half-human, half-changeling boy with more energy than coordination. Judd had seen him several times during his trips to scout the area.
The child's presence had made the disguised lab across the road even more of an obscenity. Because what had been going on in that place was meant to destroy the minds and lives of children just like that boy. The room light finally came on as Judd scaled the back fence with grace even a cat might have envied, and landed in an even darker yard. No one was home here and wouldn't be for several days. He'd done his homework.
Deactivating the alarmed lock took him a quarter of a minute. Once inside, he stood with his back to the doorway, not going any farther. These people hadn't invited him in and he wouldn't violate their refuge. However, when he tried to relax his body and mind without falling asleep - a trick all soldiers learned early on - he found he couldn't. There was pressure on the back of his skull, a hard push he might've taken for an attempt to penetrate his shields had the pressure not seemed to come from inside his mind.
He rechecked his basic armor against psychic attack. No cracks. He was about to go deeper when the pressure simply halted. Unable to follow it any longer, he put the problem down to a lack of sleep and sent his mind into rest-and-repair mode. His concentration was so tightly focused, it was no wonder he missed the telltale signature in that mental push, a harbinger of something far more dangerous than any Psy weapon.
Three hours later, he left the house to blend seamlessly into the steady stream of early morning joggers and walkers. More than one changeling had pointed out that he looked Psy even when dressed otherwise, so he'd spent time watching young human and changeling males, and now affected their careless swagger. But it wasn't natural for him - he was a soldier, with a soldier's bearing, and that would never change.
He passed several Psy patrols without incident, aware they were illegally mind-scanning everyone who passed. What they would read off him were the fuzzy thoughts of a hungover human male. Meanwhile, he noted everything about them. Their black uniforms were indistinguishable from other units in the Psy forces, but for the small gold insignia on the left shoulder - two snakes twisted in combat.
He recognized it at once. These men were part of Ming LeBon's private army. Which meant that Councilor LeBon had been placed in charge of this little enterprise. Not what he would've expected, given Nikita Duncan's proximity to the area. Ming's home base, on the other hand, was in Europe.
Unless Ming had decided to relocate...perhaps to track down a rebel Arrow.
Judd still wasn't back when Brenna went to find him after waking from nightmare-laced dreams that had left her sweaty and gritty-eyed. "Where are you?" She wanted to cry, she was that desperate for him.
The reaction was so unlike her, it slapped her fully awake. Frowning, she made a conscious effort to pull herself together. She wasn't one of those females who was constantly in heat. Though if she were, she knew who she would choose to rub up against. That hard soldier's body made her want to do all sorts of deliciously erotic things - she wondered if he had enough spare flesh on him to bite or if her teeth would slide off.
"Hello...Earth to Brenna Shane." Indigo's curious face came into her line of sight. "Why are you standing zoned out in the middle of the corridor?"
Brenna hoped her cheeks weren't as red as they felt. What was going on? Sure, she was attracted to Judd, but this raw sexual hunger was like nothing she'd ever before experienced. "Ah..." Her disrupted night had made her a bit slow. Wait, that was the answer. "I wanted to talk to you."
Indigo jerked a thumb over her shoulder. "Walk with me. I'm off to a morning session with Her Majesty."
"Sienna 'I'm a cardinal Psy and don't need combat training' Lauren. Damn juveniles. They all think they're invincible." Indigo scowled. "So what's up?"
"The murder," she said, wondering if Judd knew about his niece's recalcitrance. "Do you have any more information?"
Indigo's face closed over. "That's on a need-to-know basis and last time I looked, you weren't part of Security."
"I qualify." Brenna set her jaw. "Was it a Psy?"
To her surprise, Indigo responded without further argument. "Inconclusive. No distinctive scent, but we all know not every Psy gives off that metallic smell."