“Now that the violence has a shape, will your foreseers be able to predict the next strike?” Nikita asked Anthony.
“I’ve given the order, and I’ll forward any pertinent information, but chaos on this scale skews and warps the timeline.” Anthony glanced at Kaleb. “We’ll ensure our anchors are well protected.”
“I can offer you a certain number of my troops.” He knew the two ex-Councilors had limited military resources of their own, would find it near impossible to cover the anchor network in the area.
“Thank you,” Nikita said, “but I’ll decline.”
Anthony’s response was much the same. Kaleb hadn’t expected anything else—if he were on the other side, he wouldn’t trust himself either. “The offer remains on the table, should you change your mind.”
Rising, he buttoned up his suit jacket at the same time that he soothed the panic of the NetMind. The neosentience was scared, and while Kaleb didn’t feel, he had learned to differentiate the moods of the DarkMind and NetMind both. Now he gentled the NetMind and reined in the DarkMind, the darker sentience stronger in the wake of the murderous violence. “If you’ll excuse me. I need to return to my own region.”
A second later, he teleported into another room on another continent. “Ming,” he said. “Tatiana, I see you’ve heard about the attack.”
AFTER A NIGHT spent curled around the woman who had healed something broken in him, then held him as the wound tore open again, Riaz woke with his world back in focus. “Good morning,” he said, brushing aside the inky strands of hair that clung to Adria’s cheek.
“Morning.” A faint smile, the caution hidden but present.
He felt like he’d been punched all over again, but he told himself to be patient. His not-so-tough soldier had had a shock, too. Leaning down, he nibbled at her lower lip in a playful kiss, one hand splayed over her rib cage, his other arm braced above her head.
She ran her own hand up his chest and around to his nape, petting him with the same affectionate laziness, her smile growing deeper. “This is a nice way to wake up.”
“Yes, it is.” He went to say something else, but the comm beeped, Riley summoning him to an urgent lieutenant meeting.
He didn’t want to go, wanted to love Adria sweet and slow, show her who she was to him, but he was a lieutenant as she was a senior soldier. Dashing into the shower, he walked out to find she’d scared up a cup of coffee for him. “I hope it’s not another attack,” she said, eyes of blue-violet dark with worry.
Cupping her cheek, he pressed his forehead to her own for a single, precious moment. “I hope the hell not. I’m guessing whatever it is, the seniors will all be briefed soon as we’re done.”
She nodded. “Go on.” A quick kiss, the warmth of her lips still with him when he walked into the conference room a few minutes later.
“Is that coffee?” Indigo groaned as she walked in behind him.
Putting down his mug, Riaz poured her a cup from the carafe on the table, aware the other lieutenant had worked until nightfall with Felix’s team, then returned to supervise her novices in a night training exercise. Riaz had offered to handle the latter, but Indigo had wanted to personally judge their progress since a couple were edging toward full soldier status. “Don’t tell me your boy toy isn’t treating you right,” he said as he handed the coffee over.
Indigo swigged half of it before saying, “I shall deal with you later,” in an ominous tone stripped of its menace by a jaw-cracking yawn. “Do you know what this is about?”
“No.” Grabbing a seat, he turned toward the monitors as Alexei’s and Jem’s feeds came online. “You two have any idea what’s happening?” he asked.
“My guess—something’s up with the Psy,” Jem said. “I went for a street run this morning like I sometimes do, and I don’t know how to describe it; there was this eerie quiet on the face of every Psy I passed.”
“Whatever it is,” Alexei pointed out, “if we’re having a meeting and not going into emergency mode, it’s probably not an imminent threat to the pack.”
Tension level dropping a notch because the young lieutenant was right, Riaz went to ask Alexei about the wolves who wanted to merge with SnowDancer when Hawke entered with Riley and Judd. Conversation stopped for a minute as the other lieutenants started to come online. Kenji, Tomás, Matthias, and Cooper all snapped into focus one after the other. Coop was as bright eyed as if he’d been up for hours, and Kenji appeared to have come in from a night shift, but the others didn’t look impressed.
“I thought the war was won,” Tomás groaned, a giant mug in his hand. “This was my sleep-in day.”
“I thought that was yesterday,” Cooper said.
“Shut up. Just because you’re getting laid on a regular basis doesn’t mean you have to be smug about it.”
Coop’s smile was slow and definitely smug.
Tapping the table with a finger on the heels of that smile, Hawke called the meeting to order. “Judd, Lucas, and I,” he said, “had a very interesting conference call with Anthony and Nikita a few minutes ago.”
Everyone quieted. The pack’s relationship with the two powerful Psy was shaky at best. There was no doubt both had done their share of the heavy lifting when it came to protecting the city from Henry Scott’s army—they’d provided combat-ability troops, used their own considerable telepathic powers to repel the intruders. However, that didn’t mean they could be trusted.