My empathic connection came through. He confirmed my hypothesis, though he tells me that in all four cases, it was near impossible to spot and he did so only because he knew what to search for—and even then, he had to spend considerable time studying the target minds on the PsyNet.
My tentative conclusion from this is that it must relate in some way to the Xs’ rating on the Gradient. Unfortunately, I have no Xs beyond 4.2 on the Gradient in my project, so there is no way to prove that.
However, I’ve decided to continue on—see if I can design a test to prove or disprove the second part of my theory. Of course, the Ethics Committee will take forever giving their approval since it’ll involve live volunteers. In the meantime, I plan to continue with my historical research.
I loved visiting the dig. I miss you both already.
WE HAVE SOMETHING important to finish when you get back.
Lying flat on the earth on a moonless, starless night far from home, the air thin, the mountains unfamiliar, Sienna kept Hawke’s final words close. He’d kissed her. Held her. Shared an important part of his past. Not only that, but he’d sent her on this mission, accepting that she wasn’t just another young soldier, but an X-Psy honed in the coldest fire.
Finally, he saw her.
We were two of the lucky ones—we found each other early.
Wolves who lost their mates never mated again. It was once, and it was for life. Did it matter? Yes. Maybe it was selfish, but she wanted Hawke to be hers, to see home in her eyes as she saw it in his.
Thoughts switching to martial mode at the psychic alarm, she rose up out of the grass after ensuring the area was clear and made her way on silent feet to the first target. She’d been good at this as Ming’s trainee, but she’d become even better in the years since. With Ming, she’d relied as much as possible on her psychic abilities, while in SnowDancer, she’d had to maintain iron control over those same abilities.
That discipline came in use tonight.
She was invisible to the psychic senses of the guards. She knew that because Judd had tested her shields—and been surprised enough by their efficacy to ask her how she’d done it. When she’d shown him, he’d remodulated his own shields to match hers.
It wasn’t simply because of your X status that Ming took you as his protégée.
Corralling the whisper of memory, she completed her task and crossed over to the shadow of the second warehouse to duck into a small recess. A second later, she froze as the sentry turned the corner to head toward her, right on schedule. At least here, she didn’t have to worry about being betrayed by her scent; changelings had a real advantage there.
It struck her that that might be why Ming was trying to track her. Because though she hadn’t said so to anyone yet, gut instinct kept circling around to the suspicion that it was Ming who’d been behind the four Tks on SnowDancer land, not Henry. Henry had no reason to recognize the distinctive psychic signature of an X. Ming, however, would only need to take a single look at any report to know. He’d consider her a treasure trove of information about the SnowDancers. Which she was.
Moving at the internal command, she slipped out as the sentry disappeared from sight once more, laid the second charge, and was hidden behind another building before he returned. She wanted to telepath Judd, check he was safe, but they’d decided on telepathic silence except in an emergency.
Being able to detect telepathic communications in progress was so close to impossible that most people accepted it as such. But there were a rare few Psy who could pick up the faint psychic energy exuded during the act. Oddly enough, she’d had her first experience of it with a non-Psy. Lucas apparently had Psy DNA in his ancestry and could always detect psychic activity in his vicinity, telepathic and otherwise.
Sector 7 complete.
With that mental note, she shifted to sector 8. Judd had sectors 1 through 6, all more heavily trafficked than the sectors he’d assigned her. It made sense, since he could teleport in and out—plus, he’d been an Arrow. Sienna knew her own strengths. She also knew that Judd could snap her neck and she’d never see it coming.
HAWKE decided to get the hell out of the surveillance room when eventempered Brenna almost snarled, “They’re maintaining radio silence. We won’t hear anything unless they’re in trouble.”
Realizing he was agitating her wolf, he touched the back of his hand to her cheek and got out of her way, knowing she’d contact him the instant she had something to report. But there was no way he could sit and wait—shifting into wolf form, he headed out into the cold, clear night. As he ran, greeting his packmates in passing, he considered the information Cooper had sent through earlier that day.
“I’ve got rumors of weapons moving down into the wider Bay Area.” The lieutenant’s jaw had been a brutal line. “They’ve learned, Hawke. They’re dodging our regular traps—it f**king frustrates me that we haven’t been able to find or halt a shipment.”
It frustrated Hawke, too, but part of him had always known this day would come. It wasn’t just the people the Council had lost to the changelings, it was what those defections had done to the perceived power of the Council and of the packs. SnowDancer and DarkRiver were no longer seen as dumb animals but as serious threats.
Switching direction after passing through Sing-Liu’s patch, the human soldier calling out a hello, Hawke crossed the border into DarkRiver territory. The two packs had free passage over each other’s land, but still, it felt different being away from his own. He was spotted at once since he’d made no attempt to conceal his presence.