She dropped her head back against the seat. "I'm so scared for them, Lucas. Because no matter how hard I try, I just can't see how they could ever find a happy ending."
Ming continued to work as something pinged against his mental shields. It was nothing, simply a reminder that Ekaterina Haas was still alive. He hadn't expected her to last this long - but then again, humans were weak, easily manipulated. And the Forgotten had become more and more human with the passage of time.
Perhaps the little sleeper would complete her task after all.
Putting the unimportant project out of his mind, he concentrated on the problem at hand. Aden, he said, telepathing directly to the medic in charge of monitoring the Arrow Squad's response to Jax, How many Arrows have reacted negatively to the Jax regimen in the past six months?
The response came almost at once, Aden's primary talent being telepathy. Seven. We can't afford to lose that many.
Ming agreed. Arrows were highly trained, many from childhood. There were never more than two hundred overall, and currently, the number of active Arrows had dropped to a hundred and sixty. Are you close to resolving the issue?
Something like this happened with Judd Lauren.
Ming recognized the name at once as that of the lone Tk-Cell who'd survived to adulthood in the past generation. Judd Lauren's ability to literally stop the cells of the body had made him an invaluable assassin. Wasn't he taken off Jax?
Yes. Along with most of the other Tks. They all functioned as well without it - telekinetics seem to only need a very short stay on the regimen. Aden didn't elaborate but Ming didn't need him to - he knew that after a certain period, the pathways of the brain set permanently, making the use of the drug redundant.
Will that solution work in this case? he asked.
According to available data, yes. It appears some Arrows are in fact being overdosed on Jax since they no longer need it.
Ming took a few minutes to consider the decision. If he lost control of the Arrows, they could conceivably take over the Net. One Arrow was worth thousands of normal soldiers. Try it on the ones who're already breaking down. See if it has any effect.
I'd suggest a small number of others who may be close to that point, Aden said. I can send you a list.
Do it. Vasic? Is he on Jax? The teleporter was not only an invaluable part of the Squad, Ming utilized him on an almost weekly basis.
No. He hasn't been for years. His brain has reset.
Acknowledging the receipt of the additional names Aden had sent through, Ming ended the telepathic conversation. As long as Vasic was on a leash, there was no problem.
Dev brought the car to a halt in front of the restaurant/bar/hotel/post office in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it town in the middle of nowhere. He'd charged up the engine with enough juice to go for days, and they had supplies, but they needed to stretch their legs at least. "We should stay the night," he said, knowing what Katya's reply was going to be before she opened her mouth.
"I can feel it ripping at me." She stared out at the blackness on the other side of the windshield - it was only six, but night had fallen with the swiftness of a raven's wings. "We're so close."
He'd been more than ready to drive on, but now, looking out at the pitch dark, the flurries of snow, he shook his head. "We have to wait for light. Or we might miss what we're searching for."
"We won't." She fisted her hand, swallowed. "But you're right - we might not see all of it. I can't sleep, but maybe we can wait until the snow passes at least."
And that's what they did. Dev checked them into one of the hotel's two rooms and grabbed a few movies from the elderly owner's vast selection. The movies were on small five-centimeter discs rather than the much more expensive crystals, but they looked in reasonably good condition. Sliding one into the player after Katya told him to choose, he stretched out on the bed, his back against the headboard, his legs straight out.
Katya stood at the window, her body outlined in a lonely silhouette. But she wasn't alone, would never again be that isolated.
"Come here," he said, raising an arm.
Turning from her vigil at the window, Katya crossed the room on silent feet and tucked herself against him. "What are we watching?" she asked, but her eyes kept sliding to the clear square looking out into the night darkness.
Whether it was because of her or because of his own abilities, he didn't know, but he, too, could feel the pull of the evil that awaited. He hugged her closer. "The sacrifices I make for you - just watch."
She was intrigued enough to pay attention to the screen. "Pride and Prejudice," she read out. "It's a book written by a human. Nineteenth century?"
"The hero is . . . Mr. Darcy?"
"Yes. According to Ti, he's the embodiment of male perfection." Dev ripped open a bag of chips he'd grabbed and put it in Katya's hands. "I don't know - the guy wears tights."
"Shh." She ate a chip. "I have to pay attention. The language is different."
His restlessness calmed as she settled down. He was aware of her attention going to the window, the dark, every so often, but she smiled, too, and once, she even laughed. Sometime around three a.m., she said, "Mr. Darcy is almost Psy in his characterization, don't you think?"
"I try not to think too much about Mr. Darcy."
Laughing, she put her hand on his chest. "No, really. I would've thought the writer based him on a Psy template, but we weren't Silent in her time. Psy were just like humans and changelings then."
He considered that. "I have trouble picturing it."