Dark Wolf Page 62

The council members rose, as did the Carpathians.

“Before you leave,” Zev said, “we need to make absolutely certain all of you are safe.”

19

Fen, Zev and Dimitri stepped outside to scan the area around them. Both still had an uneasy feeling that signaled danger—and it was much stronger in the open air—yet neither could get a direction or a scent.

Fen swore softly. “We seem to go from one bad situation into another,” he said. “I have a really bad feeling.”

Zev took a slow, careful look around. “What do you want to do? Keep them all inside while we scout around?”

Dimitri’s first impulse was to say yes, but something made him hesitate. His gut churned and knots formed in his belly.

“We’re sitting ducks out here if they have sniper rifles,” Zev pointed out.

“Dimitri?” Fen said. His brother knew him and waited for Dimitri’s assessment.

“That’s exactly what they would expect us to do,” Dimitri said. “Every hair on my body is raised. I think we’ve got snipers staring at us through scopes right now, but they’re waiting to pull the trigger. Why?”

“Why haven’t you thrown up a shield?” Zev asked. “I don’t like the idea of being shot in the head.”

“The moment we do something like that, it will tip them off that we’re on to them,” Fen explained.

Even as Fen uttered the words, a voice burst through their minds. Mikhail. Gabriel and Lucian are under attack. Lycans are pouring into the village. All warriors are needed. Every woman who can fight must do so. Defend the humans in the village and keep our children safe.

A chill went down Dimitri’s spine. This was a serious, coordinated attack on both Carpathians and the council. “Fen, put up the shield. If they shoot us, for certain, Mikhail and Gregori will keep the council in that room in order to protect them, but I think the trap is there.”

A bullet whined through the air even as he spoke. It crashed into a transparent wall, so that a crack appeared first and then spiderwebbed out, revealing the shield Fen had raised instantly. Two more bullets were fired in rapid succession, both hitting in the exact spot the first had. A third bullet fired almost simultaneously hit a quarter inch from the hole.

“He’s good,” Fen commented. “And he must have been waiting for the Lycans to attack the village.”

“There’re two of them,” Zev said. “One, for certain, is Hemming. He’s been in the military all his life as a sniper. The council uses him when necessary. No one can shoot like he can. He’s also a member of the Sacred Circle.”

Dimitri swore as a fourth slug hit the small hole precisely where the other two bullets had. This time, the bullet nearly penetrated the shield. “Inside. There has to be a traitor inside, one of the elite guards.” He turned to race back inside.

Fen swore as well. “He’s right, otherwise they would have shot us the moment we stepped outside. The snipers gave him time to get close to the council members as everyone stood up to say their good-byes.” He followed his brother. “They were just waiting for the Lycans to attack as well.”

Zev took off after them, just as another bullet whined past his ear. He ducked as he ran for the shelter of the building.

Dimitri burst into the room, his gaze going to Skyler like a magnet. She was talking to Rolf and Daciana, laughing at something the elite hunter had said. Her eyes jumped to his face, the smile fading immediately as she recognized something was wrong. Daciana did as well, quickly catching Rolf’s arm and thrusting him back against the wall. Her partner, Makoce, was there, using his body as a shield.

Dimitri hastily scanned the room, looking for a betraying “tell” that might give him a hint where the danger would come from. Gregori, get the prince out of here. I don’t care how much he protests, but go to vapor and leave fast. He isn’t safe here. Above all else, their prince had to survive.

Gregori didn’t hesitate or argue with Mikhail. He shifted, his hand on Mikhail’s arm, shoving the image of mist into his mind so that his body began to shift almost before he was aware.

We’re leaving now, Gregori informed his charge.

Mikhail completed the shift, although the look on his face told Dimitri that Gregori was in for a rough ride once they were alone. Gregori could handle it; he’d been the prince’s primary guardian almost from the moment the two of them were born.

Just as Dimitri took to the air to get to Skyler’s side, one of Arno’s elite guards stepped into her so that she stumbled back with a small cry, her hands going up to protect herself from the dagger in his palm. Before the guard could shove the blade deep, something caught his wrist.

The ghost. Andre was there before Dimitri, dropping down out of sight, shifting at the last moment to emerge between Skyler and the guard, his fist circling the guard’s wrist. He turned the silver dagger back on the guard, shoving it deep just below the Lycan’s heart.

Dimitri caught Skyler and yanked her back away from the Lycans. There was nowhere he felt she was safe, not inside that room, or outside of it.

“They have snipers outside,” Zev informed his hunters. “At least two, and one of them is Hemming.”

Fen inhaled sharply. Dimitri followed suit. If it was possible for a mixed blood to go pale, they both did. The distinct odor of C-4 drifted to them.

Fen waved his hand and opened the ground, tearing easily through the floor to the dirt below them. “Get in, all of you.” Zev, there’s a bomb. He used the Carpathian common path, warning all the warriors to get out quickly or use the ground for shelter.

“Daciana, move it,” Zev called. He rushed to Lyall, gripping his arm, dragging him way from his guards. “Get underground now.”

Daciana and Makoce both caught Rolf between them and dove for the opening. Zev managed to shove Lyall down as well. Randall took matters into his own hands while his guards debated whether or not it was a Carpathian trap. He jumped inside the hole as well. Zev went back for Arno.

Dimitri all but threw Skyler down, his body over hers as the world above them exploded. He covered her head, murmuring soothing words as the ground shook. She felt small and vulnerable beneath him, causing every protective instinct he had to rage. He’d had enough of playing politics. More than enough. He was an ancient Carpathian hunter, and it was time to hunt.

He raised his head. Several of the elite hunters had followed the council members into the ground. Fen had raised a protective shield over their heads and debris from the room, dirt and rocks covered that shield above their heads. In the meeting room, dust swirled in the air, so dense it was impossible to see much else over their heads.

He sensed movement and spun around, coming to his feet, a raging tornado, ready to do battle. The second Lycan who had guarded Arno was in the shelter, although his partner wasn’t. He had climbed to his feet, his hand slipping inside his jacket. He pulled out a gun and in one smooth motion, turned and aimed it at Lyall’s head.

The council member’s eyes went wide with shock. The guard took another step forward, lifting his aim just past Lyall’s head to center on Rolf. Daciana threw herself in front of the council member as the guard squeezed the trigger. Dimitri was on the guard even as he fired, leaping over everyone to tackle him, taking him down hard.

The guard shoved his gun into Dimitri’s stomach and pulled the trigger rapidly, but nothing happened, only the sound of the wolf desperately attempting to fire off a volley of rounds.

Dimitri had jammed the weapon. He let his wolf surge to the surface, Lycan against Lycan. They rolled together, a twister of thrashing bodies, teeth, claws, snarls and growls. Dimitri was enormously strong, and each time the Lycan tried to bring up the gun, Dimitri slammed his wrist over and over into the ground.

The Lycan howled as his bones snapped, then fragmented and then pulverized. Dimitri was relentless, determined not to kill him, but keep him alive for questioning. If he had been sentenced to death by silver, he couldn’t imagine what fate a traitor attempting to assassinate council members might receive.

Makoce and Rolf both bent over Daciana, attempting to stop the flow of blood.

“I wouldn’t advise moving,” Fen warned the other Lycan guards. “I’m certain most of you genuinely are here to protect your council members, but at this point, any one of you who makes a sudden move is going to be dealt with harshly. Just sit down slowly and keep your hands away from your weapons.”

Most obeyed, but Lyall’s elite guards looked as if they might challenge him.

“In case you believe that you’re faster than me, I’ll warn you right now, you aren’t and I’m not in a mood to play games. I’ll put you down hard and fast.”

Lyall glared at his guards. “Don’t be ridiculous. Do you want to get yourselves killed? Sit down and do what he says.”

A little reluctantly, the remaining guards sank to the ground. Fen trusted Andre to watch them. He had the reputation for being fast and as merciless as any Carpathian could get.

“We need to aid those caught in the explosion,” Rolf said, looking at Fen over his shoulder. “And Daciana needs help. This wound is . . . severe.”

Skyler slipped past Andre’s restraining hand, although he paced beside her, keeping his body between her and the rest of the sitting guards. She crouched down beside Rolf. “Let me see.” Very gently she lifted Rolf’s hand. At once blood spurted. “Keep your hand there, press hard. I’ll see what I can do.”

“I will watch over you, little sister,” Andre assured.

Skyler shed her body and became white-hot healing energy. She had to stop the flow of blood or there would be no regeneration for Daciana.

“I don’t want to move too fast until we know exactly what is happening above us,” Fen told the council members. “We’ve got two snipers, both skilled and trained in the military. Zev, Dimitri and I believe they are Sange rau. You and I both know any hunter, elite or ancient, going up against them will not win the battle.”

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