Blinking, the woman stared at him. “A worthy trade-off to stop the insanity and serial killing that led us to this point.”

Kaleb ’ported in a file and placed it on the small table by the window. “Read that. You might change your mind about just how many serial killers operated within the PsyNet during Silence.”

“Records can be doctored.”

“True. These aren’t.” He hadn’t needed to do anything; the horror of Silence was laid out in black and white. “And that isn’t the major issue; the infection, the details of which I’m sure you’re fully aware, is rooted in Silence.”

“You can’t know that.” Her skin pulled tight over her entire face, lines fanning out from the corners of her eyes. “It’s the empaths who are the abominations—we should’ve eliminated them from the gene pool. They feed the infection.”

I didn’t expect that. Sahara’s voice was quiet. Rebellion, yes. But this is bigotry. This is what you anticipated though, isn’t it?

Yes, but for Sahara’s sake, he’d hoped for a better outcome. You’re the one who told me fear comes from the unknown—and the empaths are the biggest unknown in the Net. “So your solution is wholesale slaughter of the Es?”

Ida Mill immediately shook her head. “Of course not. No, we simply believe that the E gene should be spliced out of all future births.”

“It’s been tried before. It didn’t end well.”

“It wasn’t done correctly,” was the reply. “We have data from those times”—a quick glance as she admitted to illegal hacking—“and it appears the E removal was only attempted for a single decade. Hardly enough time for a true experiment.”

“The fact the Net nearly collapsed in those ten years isn’t data enough?”

“We would’ve recovered!” Folding her arms, the woman shook her head. “The plug was pulled too soon.”

“And this is the central tenet of Silent Voices?”

“No, it’s only an adjunct.” Unfolding her arms, she said, “Without Silence, you yourself would be a lethal risk to society. That training is critical for certain members of our race.”

“Such as your son.” Ida Mill’s child was a Tk, an eight-year-old boy who’d been drafted into the cadet academy that spawned black-ops soldiers—previously, it had been for the Council. Now, ironically, those men and women belonged to Kaleb. When it came to children like Ida Mill’s son, he’d ordered a halt on all physical and mental torture, but he hadn’t interfered with the psychic instruction, though it would need to be modified for a post-Silence world.

Lips thinning, she nodded. “What will he do without the Protocol?”

“The fact that Silence has fallen doesn’t mean all the training associated with it is to be discarded.” Every single Arrow he knew, including Judd, needed that training on some level.

“That’s impossible.” The leader of Silent Voices sliced her hand horizontally through the air. “There can be no control without Silence.”

“An opinion without fact.”

Her face set. “If it weren’t fact, our ancestors would’ve never chosen Silence in the first place.”

“We aren’t who we were then; the decisions we make are our own.” He ’ported out before she could answer, having heard enough. “Her thought patterns are set,” he said to Sahara where she’d been working at his desk at the home office.

Sahara ran a hand through her hair, her expression pensive. “Is it possible she’s terrified for her son and clinging to the only thing she knows might help him?”

“I have multiple groups working on how to modify Silence training for a non-Silent world—and I’ve made no attempts to keep those strategic sessions a secret.” He’d sent out invitations to academics and medics, philosophers and more concrete thinkers across the globe. “Ida Mill chooses not to see any other option.”

Sahara had to agree, having been telepathically linked to him throughout the meeting. “If the Es do find a solution to the infection and the Net stays whole, we’ll have to come up with a way to deal with Silent Voices on a day-to-day basis. It’s not as if we can corral these people off—”

“An excellent idea,” Kaleb said. “They can set up a ‘Silent’ corner of the Net, and I’ll make a generous offer to slice them away so they can have their own isolated little Silent community that’ll soon be erased by the infection since they’ll have no Es. Problem solved.”

Having risen to walk over and join him where he was scanning the news headlines on the comm screen set on the wall, Sahara lightly slapped the chest of the man who was her heartbeat. “Stop it.” The thing was, she knew he was perfectly serious, even as he tweaked her. Because Kaleb had a sense of humor, perhaps one only she ever saw, but it was there. It was also very dark. “We aren’t consigning them to roped-off corners of the Net.”

He turned and slid his hands under the waistband of the gray sweats she wore with a black tee in anticipation of the workout she’d planned to do after the meeting. Her body was strong and healthy now, and she intended to keep it that way.

Kaleb nuzzled a kiss to her throat. “It’s a viable plan.”

“Are you going to be serious?” She scowled.

“No. I’d rather cause an earthquake.” Sliding one hand into the back of her panties, he stroked her already damply aroused flesh. Copyright 2016 - 2024