"Well, she's a pretty thing now that she's started to fill out." Tag shrugged. "And we all know how you are with the helpless ones."
"But she's not exactly helpless, is she?" He almost felt a sense of pride in her. God, how f**ked up. Yet . . . if she had been telling the truth - if she'd survived not only torture, but the destruction of her mind, her personality itself, shouldn't that be a cause for pride?
"No." Tag's agreement poured cold water over his thoughts.
"What are you going to tell Lucas?"
"The truth." He forced himself to look away from the door, from the fury of a woman who was no longer the broken creature he'd found, but someone far more dangerous. . .far more compelling. "If necessary, I'll inject her with sedatives myself."
Again, Tag shrugged. "Dev, don't torture yourself like this. Give over the responsibility to me."
"No." Flat. No room for compromise. "You need to control Cruz - that's much more intensive - Tiara can't do it on her own."
"Yeah. Kid's still wide open if we're not blocking him."
If only, Dev thought, they could neutralize Katya as easily. It would make her far less of a threat, but Katya wasn't simply Psy, she was an adult. Even if Tag or Tiara could block her, she'd fight them, and in doing so, drain energy they needed to ensure Cruz's safety. "If Katya let you into her mind," he said to Tag, "if she was able to drop her telepathic shields, could you block her?"
"I'd have to be monitoring her the entire time," Tag said. "She'd hate it. It's different with Cruz - he puts on that sullen act, but there's acceptance there. He knows he needs the shields we put around him. They make him feel safe."
"But they'd make Katya feel violated."
"That and trapped."
"Then we won't consider it." It was an instant decision, made in the primitive core of his soul. "She's already been cut off from the PsyNet. We do this, we effectively maim her."
"So you believe her story?"
"I don't know what to believe." Looking up, he caught Tag's expression. "Say it."
"You know what I'm going to say." Tag shrugged. "You need to hand her off to someone else - her feelings shouldn't count here. We need to contain her in the most effective way possible."
Dev knew that. He also knew it wasn't happening. She was his - whatever happened, he'd allow no one else to interfere. "Maybe this time, the Council did it right." He began to head away from Katya's suite.
"Maybe." Tag fell in beside him. "And maybe they don't know you as well as they think."
"You mean I'm not a sucker for hurt women?" He'd been rewired that way the day after his ninth birthday. No one would ever be able to pull that wiring out.
"You might have a weakness," Tag replied as they stepped into the elevator, "but it won't stop you from doing your job as director."
"So the fact that I'm a stone-cold bastard is my salvation?"
Tag's smile was thin. "The last board was full of nice men and women. The Council almost ate us alive. I'd rather trust a shark at the helm."
PETROKOV FAMILY ARCHIVES
Letter dated September 1, 1976
You played with your father and Emily today, all three of you laughing so hard you made my soul burn with joy. Your father is managing to remain lucid for hours at a time, though I wonder at what it costs him.
Today he received another blow when your uncle Greg decided for Silence. I don't think your father expected his brother to take that step, but Greg's foreseeing abilities are stronger than David's. The nightmares in his eyes . . . I wish I could help him. But I'm an M-Psy, a scanner.
Some people say that's why I don't understand the importance of Silence, but dear God, how can they think that? I'm married to an F-Psy, mother to two little telepaths. I know the exact cost - down to the last tear, the last shred of fear, the last little bit of light in your father's eyes.
I even said to him that perhaps Greg was right, that perhaps Silence might help those with his gift. He didn't get angry. He knows too well that I love him to the core of my being - the idea of watching his mind fragment, break under the weight of the darkness of his visions. . . it shatters me. Do you know what he said, Matthew?
He said he'd rather die a madman than live by wiping out everything that makes him who he is. He'd rather live one day with his love for me, you, and Emily in his heart than a lifetime without feeling that "wild, endless fury." Your father is a poet at times. I bet you didn't know that. I'm smiling as I write this, knowing we've made up our minds. We'll stand against Silence. But Matty, I fear that we might be in the minority.
With all the love in my heart,
Katya was starkly conscious of Dev's barely contained energy as he sat beside her on the airjet. Escorted to the very back of the plane, she'd been warned against trying to see who else was on board - though it was difficult to miss the two people moving about in front. One was a big man Dev had introduced as Tag, the other a Venus of a woman with a sleek waterfall of blue-black hair and a dazzling tawny-eyed smile set against a face that was all supermodel cheekbones.
There was, she knew, someone else on the plane, but he or she had been kept from Katya's sight. She made no effort to do a telepathic sweep, to discover the hidden individual's identity. Dev had shown her the pressure injector in his pocket after they boarded. She'd expected a threat, but he'd cut her legs right out from under her instead.
"You force me to use this," he'd said, something dark and painfully old in his eyes, "and I'll never forgive you."