She showed him the security system. "All sorts of tech work goes on in these rooms so they're close to impregnable, more to protect the public than us, but once I go in and lock the door, no one can override the lock. Don't worry - I have no intention of making this easy for that piece of scum."
Satisfied, he left to find Riley. "How many men and women know that code?" he asked the lieutenant.
"About a hundred." Riley's voice was a growl. "Forty of them were on scheduled watches in other areas at the time of the shooting. That gives me sixty to work through."
It was still a large number. "We need to detail their movements over the period of the attack."
"Yeah, except most of the soldiers are single and wolf-independent. It's going to take time and this psycho's starting to lose it - using that code was stupidity on his part." Riley didn't have to add that stupid or not, the killer was hunting Brenna in earnest now.
Judd continued to have the feeling he was missing something, but no matter how long he thought about it, he couldn't fathom an answer. "Do you want my assistance?"
Riley paused. "No. I can't justify you trying to break open loyal men's and women's minds over one bastard." But he looked as though he wanted to consent. "You keep Bren safe and I'll track him down."
Judd had no intention of following that order - not when their quarry was a threat to Brenna - but he simply nodded. Leaving Riley, he made another call. "I can't come down today," he told Sascha. "I apologize."
"Don't worry - I was thinking of suggesting that anyway," she said, to his surprise. "We did so much yesterday - the deer need time to recover. This kind of healing is slow going."
Hanging up after discussing when she might need him again, Judd returned to his room. Though the hunt for the killer occupied a considerable portion of his brain - as he purposefully approached the problem from a different angle from Riley so as not to duplicate their efforts - there was something else he had to think about.
Reaching up, he began using the exercise bar to do chin-ups. The repetitive act helped focus his mind as it multitasked. One thing was certain - he refused to never again experience the intimacy of being with Brenna. It wasn't the sex, though that had been the most amazing experience of his life. It was the way he'd made her laugh, made her smile, made her complain and then cuddle. All because she'd felt safe, reassured by the strength of their emotional connection.
He would not steal that feeling from her. And he most definitely was not going to surrender her to another male who could give her what she needed. The idea made him want to break something. However, regardless of what he'd considered in the heat of passion, he couldn't keep forcing flameouts in order to protect her from his Tk-Cell. Which left him with a choice and a question he'd rejected earlier - how to disable the Silence Protocol, in particular the dissonance, without unleashing the killing rage of his gift.
His phone beeped. Dropping down from the bar, he picked it up. "Judd."
"It's Hawke. Can you meet me by the waterfall?"
He realized the alpha probably wanted to ask him about the deprogramming he'd done with the PineWood hyenas. "I'm on my way." The walk to the exit brought him into contact with several changelings. That wasn't unusual. What was unusual was the response his presence elicited. Smiles, waves, shouted hellos and even slaps on the back when he didn't move away fast enough.
He'd almost reached his goal when Indigo stopped him. "I've got something you'll want to hear."
She drew him into the shadow of a nearby alcove. "One of Tim's friends got back from out of town today and found a message on his home comm - left the night Tim died. Tim said he had some info he wanted to pass on to Hawke through a trusted source. Confirms he was about to rat the dealer out."
It wasn't much, but it was another piece of data to feed into the continuously running psychic program in Judd's head. "Did you manage to track down any other confirmed users?"
"Yeah," she said. "But they know shit - this guy is smart, never showed them his face. Coward. If not for you, we'd be mourning Drew today. I'm going to enjoy ripping out the killer's throat when we find him." A grim smile later, she was gone.
Judd appreciated Indigo keeping him updated, but he wondered at her motives. Notwithstanding anything he'd done, he remained outside the SnowDancer hierarchy and the wolves trusted no one who wasn't their own. But there wasn't any room in his head for that unimportant issue right now.
Exiting the den, he made his way through the icy cold of the piercing winter's day to the frozen edge of the waterfall. Hawke was already standing there, arms folded. At his feet sat two wolves. From their size and attitude, Judd could tell they weren't changelings. It wasn't the first time he'd seen the SnowDancer alpha surrounded by the wild wolves who roamed some of the same range as the changelings. He'd even heard it rumored that the creatures considered Hawke their alpha, too - something more likely to be true than not. Hawke was so close to his animal that at times, it wasn't clear who or what was looking out of those pale eyes.
The wolves watched Judd approach, but didn't make any aggressive sounds or movements. "You're late," Hawke said.
"I was delayed by a number of the pack."
Hawke nodded. "After what you did for Drew, I think they want to throw a damn parade in your honor."
"I hope you put a stop to that idea."
"I don't know - maybe it would finally put your niece into a good mood."
So that was what this meeting was about. "What's Sienna done now?"