Dark Wolf Page 64

Dimitri let go of the merge he’d been holding with his lifemate. She had her work to do and he had his. He couldn’t think of anything else but finding and destroying the two snipers with their long list of targets to assassinate. It wouldn’t be intelligent to divide himself when he was hunting anything as deadly as the Sange rau.

Staying in the form of dust particles, he started his search at the bullet hole in the shattered shield Fen had thrown up to protect them. Taking his time, using the patience of a Carpathian hunter, he traced the trajectory of the bullet across a fifty-foot open space back toward the village.

He was unhappy with the direction. The thought of the Sange rau loose in the village with unsuspecting humans was frightening. Lycan soldiers attacked the Carpathians where they found them, but they seemed to be avoiding killing the humans in the village as far as he could tell.

It was obvious to him that the Carpathians had learned from their earlier encounter with a rogue pack that fighting one-on-one would do no good with Lycans. The warriors had formed their own packs, Lucian and Gabriel directing them, and they were meeting the wolves on equal terms.

The skies roiled with clouds. Thunder rolled and boomed. Bolts of lightning flashed from ground to sky and back down. The sound of gunfire and screams of pain filled the night. The scent of blood was heavy in the air. War.

Dimitri felt an overwhelming sadness steal over him. He had seen too much death. Too many shattered lives. Over what? The blood that ran in his veins? This kind of violence, the treachery involved in conspiring to murder the council members who had come to try to form an alliance with another species, was abhorrent to him.

He kept moving through the houses and shops, until he came to the rooftop of the church. There was a kind of irony in the fact that the sniper had chosen a place of peace, of worship, to attempt to commit murder.

There were no casings left on the roof, but Dimitri was Hän ku pesäk kaikak, and even though the sniper was Sange rau, he was newly made. The wolf in their assailant was very strong and Dimitri caught the scent stamped into the roof. Once he had the actual scent markers of the sniper, he could follow the trail much easier.

This one had slipped down the side of the building and had mingled with the people running to barricade themselves in their homes or shops. He avoided the Lycans as well as the Carpathians, using buildings for cover. That alone told Dimitri the Sange rau was newly made. He didn’t have the first clue about what a Carpathian could or couldn’t do. He was using his Lycan senses and military training to get him through the village without being seen.

He had another target. That was the only answer as to why the sniper was circling back around toward the rubble of a building. He didn’t attempt to join in the fighting, or help the other Lycans out in any way. They probably didn’t even know he was there.

Fen, he’s coming back around toward you. I think this is the one Zev called Hemming. He’s very good, but he has no clue what a Carpathian is or what he can do. All of his training is military or Lycan. If he is a true mixed blood, how can that be?

That’s a good question. Do you have any idea where the second sniper is?

I traced a bullet path to the rooftop of the church, but only one had been there. You’ll have to use the same method I did. This one must have a target or targets still inside the building. He’s absolutely relentless and determined. Nothing is slowing him down or deterring him, Dimitri replied.

Fen swore. Zev is in bad shape. We haven’t moved the council members because we have no idea if any of the other guards are planning to make a move against them. Skyler, Tatijana and Branislava can’t leave, not until they lose the battle for Zev’s life, or heal him enough to put him in the ground. That leaves the second sniper anywhere, capable of doing damage to anyone.

Dimitri hissed out his irritation. We’ll have to trust that Gregori can do his job, if the prince is a primary target. We have to go after this one. He’s too close to our women and the council.

I’ll warn those here. Keep closing in on him.

I am. Fen, is it even possible for Zev to go to ground?

There was a long silence. Fen sighed. I don’t know, Dimitri. At this point, I don’t think any of us know what’s really possible or what isn’t.

Dimitri increased his speed, following the scent of the Sange rau. He doubted the vapor trail speeding through the air would draw attention, not when those on the ground were trying to save themselves. The fighting was more sporadic now. Bodies lay on the ground, most with severed heads and stakes through the heart. If there were any dead or dying Carpathian warriors, Dimitri didn’t see them.

Lucian and Gabriel were skilled at warfare. They had engaged in a thousand battles over the centuries and few were better strategists. The moment they knew Lycans had taken Dimitri and then later, when Skyler was thought to have died, they had acquired every bit of information possible on how Lycans conducted warfare, from early centuries to modern times. They were more than prepared to meet them in battle.

Telepathy helped as well. The Carpathians were able to speak to one another mind to mind. They kept in constant communication, relaying information from one part of the village to another. So far, Dimitri hadn’t heard that the prince’s home had been attacked.

Dimitri slipped around the corner of the building closest to the meeting hall that had been destroyed. The sniper was just ahead of him, creeping stealthily through the rubble to gain the wall that was partially down. The wall had holes blown out of it. The roof had collapsed and a good portion of the wall itself had crumbled from the force of the blast.

Hemming didn’t go to one of the holes to peer through as Dimitri expected him to do. Instead, the sniper leapt up to one of the remaining larger pieces of the wall itself. He crouched low, his case with his equipment in his hand. The smooth jump onto such a precarious structure warned Dimitri not to underestimate the wolf.

The low murmur of voices chanting the Carpathian healing ritual reached him. He could hear even the warriors in the midst of battle, chanting with the women and children. They had banded together to try to save Zev, a warrior all of them respected. They considered him one of them, and losing a single Carpathian, whether mixed blood or no, was unacceptable.

Those inside were busy attempting to save a life, while the sniper outside was setting up to murder them. Hemming crouched low and leapt once again, landing nimbly on the roof. For a moment it looked as if the roof might collapse under his weight, but the rubble held together in spite of the damage.

Dimitri slipped up behind the sniper as he bent to open his case. When he materialized directly behind the Sange rau, he set one foot down for an anchor as he caught the wolf’s head in his hands, whirling around to pull the head over his shoulder in an impossible position.

The roof shifted out from under him, throwing him off balance just as a shot rang out. Dimitri’s heart jerked in his chest. This man was not Hemming. He should have known the newly made Sange rau was bait to draw him out. It had been far too easy to track him.

Dimitri leapt into the air, still holding the wolf in an unbreakable lock, deliberately hitting the roof hard as he landed, snapping the sniper’s neck and going straight through the flimsy roof. He landed on the floor in the middle of debris and rubble, the sniper cushioning his fall. Palming a silver stake, he slammed it through the chest of the assassin and leapt away from the body.

As he did so, a second bullet whined passed his ear and lodged in the far wall. “Stay down,” he cautioned.

The three women and Arno paid no attention to him, their entire concentration on the man lying in front of them.

Fen, he’s on me and the women are in here with Zev. I’m going to get out of here, show myself for a moment to make certain he targets me and not them. This has to be the real Hemming, the one Zev spoke of who was such a tremendous marksman. The other was bait.

And now you’re making yourself bait.

It’s a decent plan. Are you on him yet?

Not until he fires again.

Dimitri hissed a curse out between clenched teeth. He risked another run, streaking past the fallen sniper, slashing down with his silver sword to sever the head from the body as he ran. He made it to the hole in the wall, and instead of going through it, as the assassin would expect, he leapt back through the hole in the roof and sprinted for the other side.

A succession of bullets followed him, one smacking into the tree trunk on the other side of the meeting hall, head level. He zigzagged, and then dropped low, shifting as he did so. If Fen couldn’t find the bastard after that, he was going to do it himself.

Fighting had died down in the streets. He saw a few bodies as he sped away from the meeting hall, trying to trace back the last bullet that had been fired. He didn’t use vapor—the Sange rau would be expecting it.

He isn’t vampire, Dimitri informed Fen. How can he be Sange rau basically committing murder, if he isn’t rogue or vampire?

Whoever is behind this has built himself an army and they’re fanatical. Hemming is either a mercenary, or he believes what he’s doing is right. I’m coming around downwind of him. He’s packing up his rifle to make a run for it. I’m not close enough to stop him yet.

Deliberately, Dimitri shifted, moving stealthily through the buildings, giving the sniper just a glimpse or two of him, enough to make him hesitate leaving. If he had a mission to fulfill and he had been trained in the military, he wouldn’t stop until he’d managed to kill his target.

He’s buying into it, Dimitri, be careful. He’s intelligent. If you overplay your hand, he’ll know we’re on to him.

I’m going to give him a shadow to fixate on and then I’ll swing around and come in from the other side.

Dimitri projected his shadow on the shop closest to where he had revealed himself to the sniper. The shadow crouched low, keeping within darker shadows as much as possible as it wove in and out of the buildings, moving toward the church. Once he knew his shadow clone appeared realistic, but stayed where the sniper could only catch glimpses of it, he began to circle around to close in on Hemming from the side opposite Fen.

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