“That makes no sense.” She didn’t fight when—ignoring Rabbit’s growling body between them—he eased the gun from her white-knuckled grip and flicked the safety back on. If she never had to touch the thing again, it would be far too soon. Rubbing her hands on the worn flannel of her pajama pants to get rid of the feel of the rigid black plas, she said, “E-Psy have been suppressed for over a hundred years.”

“People are not rational at present.”

“Did they follow you? To find me?” Ivy herself hadn’t known of her empathic skill set until Vasic’s visit.

A shake of his head, the deep black strands of his hair slightly wet, as if they’d been dusted by snow that had since melted. “It’s random chance the two events coincided. The group behind the attack hacked into the database of the rehabilitation and reconditioning center where you were treated; at 9.3 on the Gradient you were undeniably the strongest of those who came in and as such were the first target.”

9.3? That was a staggering level of power—and it had been forcibly trapped inside her. “My God,” she whispered. “It’s a miracle I haven’t suffered a severe brain bleed.”

He propped the gun against the side of the house, and she suddenly realized how physically dangerous he was. There was just something so contained about Vasic that she’d focused on the threat posed by his telekinetic abilities, but he could cause serious damage without recourse to his Tk. He was taller than her by a good foot, with wide shoulders and biceps shaped with taut muscle, strong thighs pressing against the black fabric of his combat uniform when he moved.

Not big. That wasn’t the right word.

No, he was like the gun. A sleek weapon honed to ruthless perfection.

“The centers do have certain techniques to lessen the risk of a neural bleed,” he said, eyes on his gauntlet as the small screen embedded in it flowed with data, “but your reconditioning, as we’re both aware, was incompetent at best.”

Shoving her fingers through her hair, she wrenched her eyes off the deadly purity of him and shrugged off the past. It was done. Finished. It no longer had any claim on her. Her focus had to be on the future—about which fate had sent her a flashing neon sign this morning, should she have needed one. “The others who were reconditioned at the same center?”

“In the process of being transferred to safe houses.” His head lifted, the force of his attention a blade. “Do you wish a transfer?”

Ivy shook her head. “I should be safe here—this area is so remote it’s unlikely any group has two teleporters who can find a way to ’port in.” And the settlement was well guarded against more physical means of infiltration.

Vasic shook his head. “Neither one of them was a teleport-capable Tk.” He tapped his gauntlet. “According to my sources, a small private plane flew over the orchard a minute prior to the attack. They likely parachuted in.”

“Oh.” Ivy folded her arms, having not even considered that option. “I don’t think we have any defenses against attack from the air.” Her parents and Ivy, the others, ran the farm at a deliberate middling profit so as not to attract unwelcome attention, but it meant they didn’t have a lot of money to spend on expensive surveillance.

“The squad’s tech team has already added the settlement to their aerial watch list,” Vasic answered. “There will be no further surprises from that direction.”

“Thank you.” Biting down hard on her lower lip, she forced herself to ask the other question, the one she didn’t want to ask. “Are the two people who . . . Are they dead?”


Ivy pressed a hand against the cold outer wall of the house as her knees went weak, breath rushing out of her lungs, but Vasic wasn’t finished.

“We need to interrogate the two to discover if this was an ill-thought-out attack prompted by fear, or if they’re part of a larger, more organized cell.” Legs slightly spread, he slid his hands behind his back, a soldier at rest. “It’s possible the fragmented remnants of Pure Psy,” he added, naming the group behind a slew of horrifying violence prior to the fall of Silence, “may have had a hand in it.”


Shifting on her heel at her father’s yell, she called back, “I’m not hurt!”

A change in the air and she knew Vasic was gone before she saw the empty space where he’d been standing a second ago.

“Coincidence?” was her father’s suspicious response when she shared Vasic’s explanation for the attack. “Or a setup to make you more amenable to Krychek’s offer?”

“I don’t think Vasic would lie.” The words spilled past her lips, born in a part of her she didn’t consciously understand.

“He’s an Arrow, serves another master.” Flint hard, her mother’s tone made Gwen Jane’s view of the situation clear.

“You’re wrong. I don’t think he serves anyone.” There was a sense of piercing aloneness around the Arrow with eyes of winter frost. “And Mother, if this was about scaring me into agreeing, all he had to do was teleport me over the edge of a cliff.”

“But now you’re grateful,” her father pointed out. “You see him as your savior.”

Aware her parents’ words made sense and unable to articulate a rational reason for her desire to trust a man who made no attempt to hide his lethal nature, she spread her hands. “None of that matters—my decision was always going to be the same.” She looked at her mother and father in turn. “I need to find out who I am.”

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