Aubry met his eyes. "Tough love?"
"You don't agree?"
"As a matter of fact, in this case, I do." A sharp grin. "Let's see how long they hold out without the Shine information line."
"Yeah, yeah, crow all about it." Aubry was the one who'd come up with the idea of setting up an information line manned by older members of the Forgotten, people who - between them, and with recourse to Dev and the board - could answer pretty much any question the descendants might have.
"I will, thanks." Aubry's eyes gleamed. "I did a shift on the phones the other night and had this anonymous kid call in. He wanted to know if it was normal to be seeing everything in triplicate."
"What'd you tell him?"
"To get his eyes checked and call me back."
Dev laughed, but it was a hollow sound. Nothing could ease the vise around his heart - because no matter how hard he tried to keep Katya at a distance, the metal still melted for her, still burned for her. . . for the one woman he could never have. "Anything else I need to know about?"
"Jack's quiet - don't know if that'll last."
That vise twisted, powered by another layer of emotion. "I understand what drives him," Dev said, staring out at the snow-covered landscape that spread beyond the windows. "Makes it a hell of a lot tougher to play hardball."
"The fact that he's your cousin doesn't help."
"No." Dev thrust a hand through his hair. "If he's quiet, let it be for now. It's not exactly an issue we have an answer for."
"We're going to have to think of something soon. Or there's a chance the Forgotten will splinter again."
"I know." Leaning back in his chair, he caught a glint of pale gold on his desk . . . a strand of Katya's hair. It could've been transferred to the study on his body, but there was a chance she'd been in here. She'd have gotten nothing, but Dev was well aware she shouldn't be this free to move, to sabotage.
Looking away from the golden strand, he made himself return his attention to the matter at hand. "You okay to keep an eye on these college kids?"
"Yeah. I'll tag them in the files - if they do decide to go lone wolf, we need to be able to step in if they have children with active Psy genes."
"That's what Shine's always been about." Protecting the children. And if that meant the death of a Psy scientist . . . Dev's hand clenched on a paperweight hard enough to crack it.
PETROKOV FAMILY ARCHIVES
Letter dated June 7, 1972
I don't know quite what to write, so perhaps I should just write it as it was and let you make up your own mind. This morning, through the oddest sort of coincidence, I met Tendaji and Naeem Adelaja.
The family was scheduled to come to the government block for a meeting with the Council, and security, as you can imagine, was tight. Their older brother, Zaid, there's such pain in him, and yet such conviction, too. As soon as I looked into his eyes, I knew he'd do anything for Mercury.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. My job as aide to Councilor Moran allows me a certain security clearance, though not high enough to meet the Adelajas now that they've become so very important to our race. Today I went in early, because I had a report to complete, and as I was heading through the lobby, I saw three men enter the elevator that goes up to the secure level. I thought nothing of it until someone called out my name.
When I turned, there was Zaid, holding the elevator open. He'd remembered me from when the Adelajas lived on the same street as your father and me - back when we were first married. Well, I went to them and all three boys stepped back out into the lobby, and we were able to talk for a few minutes before their meeting.
Zaid . . . I always liked Zaid. He was such a solemn child - I knew in my heart that he carried the burden of terrible power. Now he reminds me of a soldier, strong, determined, proud. Beside him, his twin younger brothers were slender and so cold I could almost feel the ice on their breath. Tendaji spoke for them both - they were polite, precisely so, and their intelligence can't be doubted. And yet I kept feeling as if I was talking to two shadows - it was as if something critical was missing.
No, I'm not saying it right. Not missing, dead. Killed. As if part of them had ceased to exist. I said nothing of the sort, of course, spent most of that short time speaking with Zaid. I'd hoped he'd one day find peace. And I can't argue that today, there was a sense of purpose in him that spoke of peace.
If that's true, then perhaps this Silence has a chance? But Zaid, with his courage, his strength, and his will, isn't the future. The twins are. And they're so removed from humanity that I fear what such a course will do to the wild beauty of our race. Will the PsyNet one day turn dark, our minds cold, isolated stars?
I don't know. And it terrifies me.
With all my love,
Katya jumped when Dev walked into the sunroom, where she was viewing archived news footage in the hope of triggering new memories. His eyes went to the trail mix in her hand.
Heat burned across her cheekbones. She'd all but thrown it back at him when he'd handed it to her after that flat-out "no" about going north. Now frustration, anger, need, it all tangled inside her, stealing her voice. The only thing she could do was watch the contained strength of him as he walked around to sit on the sofa beside her. "NewsNet," he said, taking the remote. "That's the Council's propaganda machine."
Her paralysis snapped in the face of his arrogance. "It is not." She tried to get the remote back, but he held it out of reach. "What're you doing?"
"Here." His body a line of heat against her side, he switched to an unfamiliar channel. "CTX is what you want to be watching - they're the ones who broke Ashaya's story, and they're currently running a series on the recent surge of public violence by Psy."