Aden’s reply came in at that instant, the message showing up directly on the gauntlet’s small screen: She doesn’t need medical attention. Just keep an eye on her and alert me if she exhibits any of the following symptoms. Below was a concise list.

Assigning the task to another Arrow, Vasic returned to Lianne’s cabin. A scan indicated no computronic devices other than the wall-set comm and Lianne’s sleek personal phone. He judged that if the empath had broken the rules, she’d have done it via her private device; picking it up, he circumvented the security key using a simple algorithm sent through his gauntlet.

It took him under ten seconds to discover that Lianne had been uploading hourly updates to a private family server. Not only a breach of confidentiality, but also of safety—because she’d uploaded photos. Scanning the images, he realized the exterior of the compound was now of higher priority than the interior of Lianne’s cabin.

Stepping outside after smashing the kitchen area with a telekinetic blow to change its basic shape, he alerted his people to the coming disruption and the reason for it, then ripped up a tree by the roots and laid it in the middle of the rough circle of rocks the empaths had used as their meeting spot. To make the image lock useless now or later, he crushed three of the rocks, his base telekinetic ability more powerful than most people realized, given that it was his teleportation that normally grabbed attention.

The rapid-fire actions kicked his heart into high gear, his breath coming in shorter but no less controlled bursts. Not slowing down, he snapped several of the pine trees behind the cabins in half, so the background couldn’t be used. The mountains weren’t visible in any of Lianne’s photographs, which eliminated a major risk factor, but Vasic would have to neutralize a number of others.

When his phone buzzed a few seconds later, he saw it was Judd.

“You suddenly have something against trees?” the other male asked.

“Image leak.”

“Shit. Want some help?”

“Yes.” He could complete the task himself, but he’d be tired at the end of it when he needed to remain alert. “As fast as possible.”

Judd ’ported in a minute later, and together they surgically removed the porches from three of the cabins. Two more trees were sacrificed to alter the skyline directly behind the cabins, and then they dismantled the porches they’d removed, stacking the resulting planks beside several of the cabins.

“It’s enough.” To make certain, Vasic had Judd leave the area, then attempt to use the images to come back in.

“Couldn’t do it,” the other man told him when he returned, expression hard and hair as sweaty as Vasic’s own. “How the hell did this happen? You’ve only been here a day.”

Vasic led Judd into Lianne’s cabin and to the body crumpled on the floor. Going down beside it, Vasic pressed one of the dead man’s fingers onto the screen of the gauntlet and initiated a print search. “Rayland Faison,” he said, rising to his feet as the data came in. “Resident of San Francisco. Listed as belonging to the same extended family unit as the empath who had this cabin.” Another piece of information caught his attention. “Faison’s Gradient level doesn’t give him enough juice to make the ’port from the city.”

“Send me the plate number of his vehicle—he probably abandoned it somewhere between here and San Francisco.” Judd stared at the dead man. “Who took the shot? It’s so pristinely centered, I’d say Cristabel if I had to guess.”

“Yes.” In her late thirties, the other Arrow was an expert markswoman. “She’s in surgery. Prognosis unknown.”

“Damn—Cris taught me how to shoot.” Thrusting a hand through his hair, Judd met Vasic’s gaze. “She was the most patient, most meticulous trainer I had.”

The words described the fallen Arrow well. “I’ll keep you updated on her condition.” Vasic, too, had learned to shoot under Cristabel. She was the only trainer he’d had who had never punished him with pain—Cris’s version of a reprimand was to make her students practice for an extra hour.

“I’d appreciate it.” Judd returned his attention to Faison’s corpse. “Why would Lianne’s family want to assassinate her?”

“I’ll be asking them that question myself.” Ivy was still deeply asleep and unlikely to need Vasic, and this breach had to be handled—or the next time Ivy went walking in the woods with her pet, she might not come back. “We’ll be two down if I leave,” he told Judd. “Can you remain?”

An immediate nod. “Long as you need me.”

Vasic left with Faison’s body without further delay, his target the large home shared by those of Lianne’s family based in Kuala Lampur, the internal image one he had in his master file on the empath. A loud crash to his left alerted him to the fact he’d startled a uniformed member of the house staff into dropping a vase. Water ran along the polished wood of the floor, creamy pink and yellow plumeria blooms lying amidst the glazed blue shards.

“I require the head of the family,” he said to the woman, whose eyes had fixated on the body that floated next to Vasic.

Her head jerked up, her light brown skin so pale her pink lips appeared badly misplaced. “Y-yes.” Flowers abandoned, she didn’t look back as she ran past the windows that spilled the early afternoon light of this region into the hallway.

A woman of about fifty, with the stiff, regal bearing that marked her as Dara Faison, the matriarch of the family group, entered the hallway by a side entrance a minute later. She took in the body with no visible change in her expression but didn’t speak at once, the silence no doubt a power play calculated to gain mastery of the situation. Copyright 2016 - 2024