It is clear Samuel Rain is not amenable to a live trial of his cutting-edge innovation. Given his brilliance, I suggest we covertly co-opt his research and put a watch on his files, rather than using force. A trial can be run without his knowledge.

Recommendation from analyst in charge of evaluating biofusion as a viable military tool

SAMUEL RAIN HAD disappeared so cleanly that most people assumed he was dead. Zie Zen wasn’t most people. His contacts had unearthed rumors the man was alive but brain damaged. Depending on the depth of the latter, Rain might well be of no use, but Zie Zen wasn’t about to assume anything. It had become increasingly clear that the man who had initially come up with the concept and underlying principles of biofusion was the only one who might have the solution to Vasic’s deadly problem.

At the time of Rain’s disappearance over a year ago, he had been residing in California. That meant nothing. He could’ve been transported anywhere in the world in the intervening period, but it was a starting point. Nikita Duncan and Anthony Kyriakus were the two most powerful Psy in the area, so Zie Zen would start with them. Nikita, he tabled for now. She might be ruthless, but she tended to be open about her financial interests—this type of long-term subterfuge didn’t seem her style.

Anthony on the other hand . . . the head of the NightStar Group was used to dealing with damaged minds. Regardless of Silence, F-Psy still went insane more regularly than other sectors of the population. That meant NightStar had private facilities for the care of its damaged members, and according to everything Zie Zen had been able to unearth, the family did provide care, rather than simply executing or hiding away its malfunctioning elements.

Decision made, Zie Zen contacted Anthony on a private comm line known to a very few. It was late to call, but Zie Zen knew Anthony was often in his office long past midnight. The other man’s interests had aligned with Zie Zen’s on a number of occasions, and Zie Zen considered him a courteous ally of sorts.

The former Councilor’s face appeared onscreen in seconds. “Zie Zen,” Anthony Kyriakus said in welcome, the silver at the temples of his black hair glinting in the overhead light.

“Anthony.” Zie Zen took in this man who understood family, who’d fought for his daughter’s right to live with a cold ruthlessness that to many had seemed to spring from a mercenary motivation, and considered how much to reveal. “I’m calling in a marker.”

“You’re the only man to whom I can bear being beholden,” Anthony said. “What can I do for you?”

“I need to know the whereabouts of Samuel Rain.”

Anthony’s expression gave nothing away. “He’s rumored to be dead.”

“Rumors mean little.” In the end, it wasn’t a difficult decision to lay talk of markers and debts aside and trust the other man with the truth. Zie Zen knew Anthony hadn’t fought for his daughter because she was the most gifted and, therefore, most lucrative foreseer in the world. No, he’d fought for her out of the protective instincts of a father for his child. “I ask for Vasic.”

This time Anthony did react, his eyes sharpening. “Is the gauntlet failing?”


Anthony’s response was unanticipated. “The Net can’t afford to lose him—no one truly knows how much he’s done behind the scenes in the past decade, how many lives he’s saved.” An intent look. “I didn’t realize he was one of yours.”

Zie Zen could’ve let Anthony believe Vasic was simply another contact, but he didn’t. He wanted to publicly own his relationship with the child who was his blood. “He’s my great-grandson.”

A blink. “A relationship no one in the Net suspects. Masterfully played, Grandfather.”

Once, Zie Zen would’ve smiled at the honorific address, knowing it was both sincere and the rueful acknowledgment of an opponent who’d been bested. Today, he simply asked his question. “Do you know anything that will help me track down Samuel Rain?”

This time it was Anthony who caught Zie Zen unawares. “I have Rain,” he said. “He’s been in NightStar’s care since an attempt at psychic manipulation left him with severe bleeding in the brain.”

Unprepared for such immediate success, Zie Zen paused to gather his thoughts. “How?”

“You will find this apt; the SnowDancer wolves discovered him badly injured and I asked Vasic to pick him up after the leopards contacted me through my daughter.”

“My grandson is unaware who it is he saved?” Zie Zen asked, thinking of all the myriad connections that had led to this instant.

Anthony nodded. “He was on an Arrow operation at the time and could literally only give me a minute. I sent him what he needed to complete the ’port, which he did in under five seconds—and I believe from a distance.” The former Councilor’s expression held respect for the level and precision of Vasic’s skill; being born with an ability was only the start—what Vasic could do, it spoke of intense training, concentration, and intelligence.

“I’m not certain if he had any physical contact with Rain,” Anthony continued. “Even if he did, he wouldn’t have recognized the man. Rain’s face was covered in blood and distorted by a rictus of pain.” He paused, shook his head slightly. “And Vasic had no reason to follow up on it with me. He must’ve thought the man he rescued was another random victim, especially since Rain’s disappearance wasn’t reported until much later.”

This time, the pause was longer, but Zie Zen didn’t interrupt. Copyright 2016 - 2024