Even if that meant trusting herself to an Arrow who was a weapon more deadly than any gun.

Chapter 9

The protection of Silence is the mandate of every Arrow. Execution of those who would challenge the Protocol will, at times, be necessary. Do not hesitate to take terminal action, for in so doing you protect our people from annihilation.

First Code of Arrows

VASIC ’PORTED INTO the cell where he’d thrown one of Ivy’s attackers, the other in the cell opposite. Located in the bowels of Arrow Central Command, the cell was a solid square block with no door, teleportation the only way to enter or exit. Regardless of the fact that neither assailant was teleport-capable, Vasic had used a squad mental trick to temporarily leash their psychic abilities; it ensured they couldn’t ’path for assistance or use the PsyNet to send a message.

He hadn’t lied to Ivy. Neither was dead.

“Help me!” screamed the one whose arms Vasic had broken, his face heavily bruised from being smashed into the wall.

“You won’t die of those injuries,” Vasic said, just as Abbot teleported in with Aden.

A nod from Aden and Abbot left them alone.

You need to leave, too. Aden’s voice in Vasic’s head as the other man took over the psychic leash. Go.

Ivy is at risk.

I’ll get you the information. Your task is to keep her safe.

Again, Aden was attempting to put Vasic on soft duty.

Having never shifted his gaze from the assailant who’d smashed open Ivy’s door, Vasic went down on his haunches in front of the injured male. “Stop,” he said quietly, and the man went silent, terror a slick sheen in his eyes.

A predictable response. This coward might wish to reinstate Silence, but his was a desire driven by a craven fear of the unknown.

“I’m capable of torturing you until you don’t have a single unbroken bone left from here”—he indicated the male’s breastbone—“to here.” He pointed to the man’s toes. “You’d resemble a piece of meat pounded with a mallet by the time I was done.”

The threat was the absolute truth. He’d taken responsibility for Ivy’s safety, and there was nothing he wouldn’t do in pursuit of that goal. “I’m a Tk, can make you feel each individual break without lifting a hand.”

He snapped the tiniest bone of the man’s smallest finger as an illustration. Waiting for the screams to die down to snuffling sobs, Vasic said, “I can use the same tiny breaks to dismantle your torso, breaking your ribs into splinters, then cracking open your breastplate.

“Fracturing your collarbone into inch-long segments would take considerable time and skill, but I have both.” He lowered his voice so the prisoner had to strain to hear. “I’m also patient. By the time I reach your toes, your fingers will have healed, and I can start the whole process all over again. You don’t want me to stay in this room.”

The man’s entire body began to shake.

“Answer my questions,” Vasic continued in the same even tone he’d used throughout, “and I’ll leave.”

Ten minutes later, the prisoner had given them everything he knew. It wasn’t much. His partner knew even less, but the pieces led to a single answer: the attack had been orchestrated by one of the few remaining Pure Psy lieutenants. Stupid. If Vasic had been in the lieutenant’s position, he’d have gone under and stayed there until he had the opportunity to strike at the heart of the new regime.

“I’ll update Krychek,” Aden told Vasic after they left the cells for the squad’s common area, “and undertake the hunt for the lieutenant.”

Vasic had no argument with that, the cleanup of Pure Psy far less important than protecting the Es. “What will you do with the two males?”

Aden was quiet for a long time, his eyes on the greenery beyond the glass, the ferns thick and curling on the lower part of the window. “Part of the problem with the Council was that everything was done in the shadows, ‘justice’ meted out on an arbitrary basis. We need to return to an open system, where men like this can be tried and punished according to our laws.”

“The Net’s not ready for that yet.”

“No.” Aden clasped his hands behind his back. “But it will be one day. Until then, I’ll dump them in a maximum security prison, complete with a paper trail that’ll guarantee they stay there for a long time.”

“Their abilities?”

“It’s not advertised, but any Psy who goes into the prison system has his or her abilities restrained by a self-sustaining leash. PsyNet access is restricted to a controlled area. I’ll organize it.”

Vasic thought of Aden’s words about justice as he returned to the snow-covered orchard and to Ivy. The other Arrow was right in one sense, but the violence of the abilities possessed by their race meant there would always be some monsters so horrific they needed to be hunted down and executed, terrors no justice system could handle. When that time came, it was an Arrow who’d do the hunting, darkness pitted against darkness.

Scanning the area around Ivy’s cabin in the muted morning light, he crossed over to the rucked-up snow beside it. Her small pet spotted him first, barking out a sharp warning from where he stood on guard in the back doorway. Ivy appeared a second later, a broom in hand and her curls held back by a purple and white scarf. “I knew it was you,” she said with a slight smile. “You’ve now been downgraded from ‘deadly threat’ to ‘irritation that won’t go away’ in Rabbit’s bark vocabulary.”

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