“Walker and the kids?” Lara’s eyes were haunted when they met his.
He touched his hand to her hair in wordless comfort. “In the same state as Brenna and Judd. Do you want everyone moved here?” Judd had been taken to the bunker in the city, while the others remained in the safe zone.
“No.” She began to heal a female soldier whose brain was swelling inside her skull. “It’s probably better if we don’t move them, since we have no idea why they collapsed.”
“The cats will come up to help once they take care of their own injured.” DarkRiver had taken far less damage, would hold the city and the perimeter against any opportunistic attacks until SnowDancer was functional again. “Take anything you need from me,” he said, his wolf torn between his duty to the pack and his need to be with Sienna.
The only thing that soothed him, that allowed him to hold his focus on channeling pack energy into Lara, was that Sienna wasn’t alone. Everyone in the combat zone had seen what she’d done. Everyone understood the price she would pay. No one would leave her alone in the dark.
It was over five hours later when Judd staggered into the infirmary, supported by Clay and Vaughn. Since Lara, exhausted, needed a break anyway, Hawke sat her down with an order not to move, before turning to Judd as the other male braced himself against a bed. “Brenna?” the lieutenant asked, his voice raw. “My family?”
“Unconscious, but otherwise fine.” Hawke pushed him into a chair when the former Arrow threatened to topple over. “What the hell happened to all of you? Did Henry—”
But Judd was shaking his head. “You.”
Hawke frowned, looked at Vaughn. “Did he hit his head when he fell?”
“Mating bond,” Judd muttered. “Shoved the balance—” It was the last thing he said before he slumped.
Clay caught him before he would’ve fallen off the chair, and together with Vaughn got him into a bed in the same room as Brenna.
“The sonic shockwave was heard as far as the city,” Vaughn told him afterward, “but it wasn’t strong enough to incapacitate.”
“Do we have enough people to cover in case they come back?” He knew Riley had been liaising with the cats, but he hadn’t had a chance to talk to the lieutenant.
A nod. “WindHaven falcons are sweeping over the area now—it was a good idea to hold them in reserve. Rats have city intelligence covered.”
Before Hawke could ask anything else, Vaughn clamped a hand over his shoulder. “Look after your people, Hawke. We’ll handle it.”
Trust, Hawke thought, came in many forms. A baby in his arms. A surge of deadly flame licking over his people. A leopard guarding the gate. “Go.”
THE first thing Judd did when he managed to pierce the veil of consciousness at dawn was to check his mate and family were fine. The second was to find Alice Eldridge’s bed, which had been pushed into a quiet corner of the hectic infirmary. She lay as silent and lifeless as ever, her secrets locked inside her mind.
Judd had a conscience. He also knew he might’ve been tempted to tear Alice’s mind apart in a search for answers if it would save Sienna, but whoever had taken Alice had done something to her. Her mind was sewn up so tight it was better protected than that of most Psy—the problem was, Alice’s shields had been locked into place. The only way to penetrate them without a very specific telepathic “key,” now lost in time, would be to kill her.
Exhausted, his head in his hands as he leaned his elbows on her bed, he almost missed the beep on the monitor above the bed. Then it sounded again. Jerking upright, he searched for Lara, saw Hawke carrying the healer into the office where she had a sofa. From the protective way the alpha held her, it appeared she’d lost consciousness, unsurprising given the number of injuries SnowDancer had suffered.
“Alice,” he whispered, turning to clasp his hand around the woman’s thin one as he kept an eye on the electronic readout above her head.
Her eyes fluttered open. So deep and intense was the brown of her irises that it was difficult to distinguish pupil from iris even when she focused on Judd’s face. Her lips parted, as if she’d speak, but her throat emitted no sound. Squeezing her hand, he reached over to snag some ice chips off a trolley to wet her throat.
“Arrow,” she said in a hoarse whisper, but there was no fear in her, only defiance.
“Former.” Perhaps he should’ve waited, but he had to get the information while she was conscious and lucid. “We need to know if you discovered anything about X-Psy that would help save one about to go critical.”
“Cold fire,” he said. “X-fire. Remember.”
Not even a glimmer of recognition and he knew the Ghost had been right. Alice had asked for her own memories to be erased. It had to be the reason why she’d ended up in cryonic suspension rather than assassinated, her abductors needing time to work out how to retrieve the data. However, he refused to give up—she’d been in stasis for so long. There was no knowing how it had affected her mind. “The burning ones,” he said, using every key word he could think of. “Fire. Flame. Synergy.”
An instant of piercing clarity. “Find the valve.”
HAWKE FELT EVERYONE in the infirmary sag with relief when the first of the healers from the other sectors arrived. They’d asked to come before the conflict, but SnowDancer couldn’t risk putting all its healers so close to danger. But now, they were needed, and nothing could keep them away.