His last words had the effect of a bomb. Questions came at him from every angle until he raised a palm for silence. "Yes," he said. "There are packs that have made agreements with the Council for money, land, or simply immunity from Psy strikes."
"So even if we set up some sort of chain of communication to prevent the Psy from starting another territorial war" - Hawke's face was wolf-sharp - "we have no way of knowing who's snitching to the Council?"
"I'd operate on the assumption that everything you say is being reported back."
"That can be turned to our advantage," Lucas pointed out.
Hawke nodded. "After we run this next op, we need to talk about how to fix our lines of communication - packs can't remain isolated from each other anymore. Not if we're going to survive the Psy Council."
The meeting broke up soon afterward and Judd immediately contacted the Ghost. Because he didn't want to leave the den, he took the chance of sending a coded message asking for a call on a secure line. The Ghost responded within seconds. "This call should be untraceable, but we can't talk for long."
"Understood." Judd laid out the situation with the deer and the Psy without mentioning either DarkRiver or SnowDancer. Just as he didn't know the Ghost's identity, the Ghost had no knowledge of where Judd went after he left the church.
"You need the names of the exact officers?"
"Can you get them?"
"I'll have to break into a secure PsyNet database, but that shouldn't pose a problem unless the information has been highly classified. I assume you don't want to talk to these men?"
Judd didn't answer because no answer was needed.
"My goal is to help my people," the Ghost said in the chill tone of a Psy fully enmeshed in Silence, "not sell them out. I may be a revolutionary, but I am not a traitor."
"To fight an evil that butchers innocent women and children isn't treason."
"I agree - at least in this situation. Killing those deer was akin to taking out the most helpless civilians in a war no one knows is taking place."
"Case by case? Fine. Your conscience will tell you where to go."
"I have no conscience, Judd." The Ghost's voice dropped. "I've got so much blood staining these hands nothing will ever wash it away."
"The future might surprise you." It sure as hell had shocked him. "And if you don't have a conscience, why did you become a revolutionary?"
"Perhaps I want to grab power for myself."
"No." Of that he was certain. "You do it because you see what the Council is turning the Psy into and you know it isn't right. We were the greatest of races once upon a time, the true - and just - leaders of the world."
"Do you think we can have that back again?"
"No." The world had changed, the humans and changelings gaining in strength with the passage of time. "But we can become something even better. We can become free."
Brenna was fixing some kind of a small computronic device when he found her in her quarters. "Judd," she said, putting down her tools. "You can't be here. The dissonance - "
He interrupted her panicked words. "I need to ask you something important."
"What could be more important than your life?" She sounded close to tears.
"Your life. If you die, I don't know if I'd stay sane." A simple truth.
Her hands trembled as she lifted them to push back her hair. "Ask your question."
"The ferocity with which the shooter is stalking you argues for a deeper motive than the fact that he thinks you'll remember something about Tim's death." Finally, he knew he was on the right path. "You know something else he's scared you'll reveal."
"Tim's death has to be it. It would mean a death sentence for him."
"But, Brenna, he knows you didn't see anything." He leaned forward but caught himself before he touched her. Even so, he felt the start of a nosebleed. He managed to stop it with Tk, but it wouldn't last. "He planned Tim's death to the letter, made sure there was no trace evidence, no trail, and no eyewitnesses. He knows he didn't betray himself."
"Maybe he's crazy. Like you!" Her nostrils flared. "Do you think I can't smell you bleeding?"
He focused on the first part of her statement. "He's acting with too much logic to be crazy. Think, Brenna, what else could you know?"
"Nothing!" She threw up her hands. "I was in healing for months, then I was being babysat by Drew and Riley. And you, come to think of it. I'm still being overprotected!"
Judd felt ice crawl down his spine as his brain made the connection that had been eluding it for days. "The day of Tim's murder was when you started acting out - not following orders, behaving aggressively."
"I was behaving normally," she retorted.
"Yes." He met her eyes. "For the first time since your abduction, you behaved as someone fully healed would behave."
Brenna frowned. "Judd, you're going to have to spell it out for me before you bleed to death on my floor." Despite the sharp words, her worry for him was a wound in her eyes.
"Brenna, what happened the day Enrique kidnapped you?"
"Why are you asking me that?" she snapped. "You know I don't remember."
"Why not? You remember everything else." Every cut, every blow, every hurt.
"Shock." She hugged herself. "That's what the healers said."
"Your pack found evidence of an unknown van in the area at the time."