“Sienna,” he said as she rose so everyone could see her, “tell the others what you told me.”
She laid out her theory about the likelihood of an ambush targeting SnowDancer’s most vulnerable.
“You sound very confident,” Cooper said. It was the first time they’d ever spoken, though she’d seen him in passing when he visited the den. The jagged scar on his left cheek was a distinctive marker against his bronze skin, but it was the near black of his eyes that held her attention. “I respect your intelligence, but you’re young and you’re no longer in the Net.”
She didn’t shy, because if there was one thing she understood, it was war. More, she’d lived in the dark long enough not to discount even the most sickening of possibilities. The wolves had a primal core of honor they didn’t realize, just didn’t expect certain actions. “I know you’re working on the assumption that it’s Henry and Shoshanna Scott behind this,” she said, “and they do appear to be the primary aggressors from what I’ve picked up. However, the strategy? It’s pure Ming LeBon.”
Judd shook his head. “Nothing points to Ming being involved. According to both Nikita and Anthony, he spoke against the Scotts on the Council.”
Under normal circumstances, Sienna would’ve bowed to Judd’s experience, but her uncle hadn’t spent ten years with Ming, hadn’t lived and breathed the Councilor’s ideas of military tactics, hadn’t seen the many faces he was able to wear with ease. “Henry Scott,” she said, focusing on the facts, “has done a number of aggressive things over the past year, but he’s never approached anything of this magnitude.
“Whatever happened to turn him aggressive, he doesn’t have the training or the skill to pull off such a big military op without serious help.” While she didn’t mention it right then, she was starting to have the disturbing feeling that Ming had been involved in the previous incursions on SnowDancer land as well—in truth, he may well have given Henry a “guiding hand” for longer than anyone knew.
Jem spoke for the first time, frown lines marring her brow. “She’s right. I’ve sort of made a hobby of keeping track of the Council—”
“Some hobby,” Riaz muttered, scratching at the bandage hidden under his chocolate brown shirt—until Indigo reached over with a pen and tapped the back of his hand.
“Yeah, real scintillating stuff.” Jem rolled her eyes and carried on. “A couple of years back, Henry was linked, in most cases, to things Shoshanna spearheaded. It’s obvious that’s changed, but I’m with Sienna. No way he’s become a military mastermind all of a sudden.”
Hawke turned those wolf-pale eyes to Judd. “We need more data from the PsyNet.”
“Understood—but I can’t go to my contact with this.”
Having had a very interesting conversation with Judd a few months ago, where the Arrow had trusted him with the identity of the Ghost, Hawke wasn’t surprised. The lieutenant had shared the name because he’d wanted Hawke to be able to understand some of his decisions without further explanation, to be able to filter his responses through the lens of knowledge.
“Not worried about me being compromised?” Hawke had asked, aware of the lengths the Council would go to uncover the rebel’s identity.
“No. If they capture you, they’ll kill you. Even Psy know not to mess with certain predators.”
Now, Hawke said, “Do the best you can.”
Glancing at Sienna, he saw her tense her shoulders, rise to interrupt the buzz of conversation. “There is,” she said, “a foolproof way to figure out if my theory about their plans is correct.”
Hawke glanced at Riley. “We got the manpower to hold the perimeter while we do this?”
“I can ask a few of the cats to cover. Riaz can do the same for me in the den since Lara’s ordered him not to rip his stitches out on pain of healer wrath.”
“Then,” Hawke said, holding Sienna’s gaze, “let’s do it.”
IT WAS NOT wholly unexpected when Kaleb responded to Nikita’s message by teleporting into her office only minutes later. When you were the most powerful Tk in the Net, such things required a negligible use of power. His gaze zeroed in on the twisted piece of metal on her desk before she could say a word. “I see,” he said, taking a seat in the chair on the other side of the glass expanse.
The chair was positioned an inch lower than her own, meant to put visitors at a psychological disadvantage. Of course, none of them were Kaleb Krychek.
She watched him examine the metal, conscious that he could lie with such smooth ease she’d never pick it up. He might have been an ally of sorts, but she never forgot that the man across from her had been in the control of a true psychopath from a young age—there was no way to know what echoes Santano Enrique had left in his psyche.
“So,” he said at last, “what do you think?” Cardinal eyes watched her without blinking.
“I think you’re too smart to mark your assault craft with your emblem,” she said. “I also think you’re smart enough to do precisely that to throw us off the trail.”
He smiled. It meant nothing, she knew, was a physical action he’d learned to mimic to manipulate the human and changeling masses. “True,” he said. “All true.” Returning the piece of hull to her desk, he looked out at the city through the plate-glass window at her back. “However, while the squad is mine, I do not yet own them.”