Kiss of Snow Page 71

“Drew, duck!”

Drew slammed flat. His gaze was annoyed when he raised his head. “I swear to God, if I get shot again, Indigo will strangle me.” Obviously irritated by that, he turned around and took out the man who’d come after him just as SnowDancer’s aerial defenses ignited an incoming vessel, causing everyone to run for cover from the falling debris.

Scrabbling up beside Hawke, Drew put his back to a tree. “That should remind them to keep the hell out of our skies,” he muttered, then pressed his finger to an ear. “I’ve got info coming in from the Rats—Henry’s operatives are landing all over the place in San Francisco.”

TEIJAN and his people were used to being forgotten, being shoved aside. They were Rats, accustomed to living Below, where the world couldn’t hurt them. But the DarkRiver cats had seen them, had treated them as sentient beings capable of giving something back. As for the wolves—well, the Rats remained leery of them, but there was no arguing that SnowDancer had always held up its end of the bargain. More than one Rat had been pulled out of trouble or given protection by a wolf who was otherwise a stranger.

“It’s home,” Zane had said when Teijan had told his people what might be coming and offered them the option of leaving. “We stay and we fight.”

Now, they did just that.

Having worked with DarkRiver over the past couple of months to connect with the cats’ network of human and non-predatory changeling shopkeepers in Chinatown, that connection spreading out through family and business contacts like an ever-growing tree, the Rats had a flow of information coming in not even the PsyNet could beat.

They knew where Henry Scott’s people were landing, their numbers, the approximate type and number of their weapons within seconds of each landing. All that data was routed at once to the DarkRiver teams in charge of holding the city as SnowDancer held the mountains.

The tactical split showed a massive amount of trust from both packs—because some of that mountain land was DarkRiver territory, and if San Francisco fell, then Henry Scott’s army would have the perfect location in which to dig in and throw assault after assault at the wolves. Both parts of the defense had to hold if they were to win this battle.

“A new team’s rappelling down near Russian Hill,” Teijan reported to Clay, “and a bigger one has surrounded Nikita’s building.”

Clay’s voice came through peppered with the sounds of gunfire. “She said she didn’t need backup, but—”

“Wait.” Teijan swore low and hard. “Nikita doesn’t like people poaching on her territory. Fifteen attackers just went down with exploding brain syndrome.” There was no other way to put it—on the video feed coming through a street camera, Scott’s people fell where they stood, their brains leaking out their ears.

The survivors wisely decided to get the hell out of Nikita’s zone.

Teijan smiled, switched connections. “They’re coming your way, Vaughn.” He had, he decided, developed a sudden soft spot for Nikita Duncan, especially given that Psy loyal to her were also feeding information into the Rats’ network.

Catching a new piece of data, he switched connections again. “Lucas, I’ve got jet-choppers flying into SoMa. You need to be prepared for aerial attack.” Connected as he was to the communications systems, he heard the DarkRiver alpha say, “Judd, can you deflect?” just as the assault craft began to drop small, high impact bombs.

“Got it.”

On the screen, Teijan watched the bombs arrow back to the jet-choppers, turning them into spectacular fireballs.

“Holy fuck,” Zane muttered from where he was holding contact with the wolves. “It kind of freaks me out that this guy’s been in the region the whole time without us knowing.”

Teijan had met Judd Lauren earlier that day, had to agree with Zane. “At least he’s on our side.” Pulling up screen after screen of information, he patched in the telepaths and telekinetics supplied by Nikita and Anthony. “Full unit heading through Chinatown to DarkRiver HQ. Ensure the guards are shielded against mental attacks.”

“Understood. Message communicated to all Tp units in range.”

Zane tapped a screen. “Enemy’s ignoring the bunker,” he said, referring to the third sub-basement of a building owned by DarkRiver on the outskirts of Chinatown but held under the name of an unrelated corporation. Right now, it was home to the leopard healer and her team, as well as the mate of the DarkRiver alpha, their child having been taken to safety by the evacuation team. “Would you have your mate in a war zone, Teijan?”

“Yes,” he said without hesitation. “The alpha pair must always be part of a fight. Sascha’s safe in the bunker. Pure Psy has no idea it exists.” If there was a breach, Teijan had a team standing by to whisk them out and away through the tunnels. “Whoa!” He punched a fist into the air as Judd “Freaking Scary” Lauren reversed a missile right into a stealthcraft, turning the night sky incandescent.

But the sweet moment was cut short an instant later as Zane ripped off his earpiece, clapped his hand to his ear. “Oh fuck, something bad just happened in the mountains.”

Chapter 51

AGONY HAZED THROUGH Hawke’s brain. And he realized that Henry Scott might just have outthought them after all. “Brenna,” he said into the mike, “can you block that?” It was almost impossible to speak.

Brenna’s voice came out garbled, and he went to switch to a better channel . . . when he figured out it was his hearing that had gone, blood dripping down the sides of his face from violently ruptured eardrums. Unable to figure out what she was saying, he scanned the combat zone. A large number of his people were down, hands clasped over their ears. Others remained standing, but it was clear their balance was shot.

The only ones unaffected were the human members of the pack. In front of him, Kieran pushed aside a packmate in the line of fire and took on an attacker in hand-to-hand combat, while a reinjured Sam, his shoulder bearing a field dressing, dragged SnowDancer after fallen SnowDancer to safety. But there weren’t many human packmates. Not enough.

Henry’s men weren’t even bothering to shoot anymore. Instead they were walking up to dazed and bleeding wolves, and smashing them in the backs of their heads. Prisoners, Hawke thought as he shot down as many of the enemy as he could, Scott wanted prisoners. To torture? For experimentation? It didn’t matter. No SnowDancer would ever suffer as Hawke’s father had suffered. He kept on shooting, covering those soldiers darting out to drag in unconscious or hurt packmates. But even with an alpha’s strength, he was no longer as fast or as effective.

His people continued to fall under brutal crunches of bone.

They had one last weapon. His wolf had scented her on the air currents, the autumn and spice of her as vivid to him as the blood that saturated the air. The only problem was, he didn’t want to use her that way.

SIENNA dug her nails into the pine needle–strewn earth. They were falling onto their knees one by one, her friends, her family, Hawke.

Energy rippled through her body, a massive build-up of X-fire that would need to be earthed soon—or used in combat, as it was meant to be used. “Hawke, I’m here,” she whispered, not knowing whether to intervene or to wait for the signal as agreed. If she entered the conflict at the wrong moment, she could ruin everything.

Suddenly afraid that there would be no signal because Hawke was dead, she spread out her telepathic senses in a desperate search. Her mind recoiled from that of another powerful telepath, but Henry Scott had sensed her. She saw his eyes flick open as he searched for the unfamiliar mind.

“Please,” she whispered as the attackers began slamming their weapons down on SnowDancer skulls. “Use me.” Let me do this.

Her breath was a razor in her chest when a howl—broken, the cadence all wrong—lifted into the air. It didn’t sound like it should have, but she understood.

It was time.

Abandoning any attempt at secrecy, she walked out onto the night-cloaked battlefield bathed in the crimson and gold shimmer of cold fire. The enemy might have been Silent, but they went pale at the sight of her. An instant later, they began to shoot. She would’ve taken evasive action . . . except the flames around her repelled everything, melting the bullets down to nothing, reflecting the lasers back at the shooters.

It was then that she realized Judd couldn’t have acted as the failsafe. No bullet would’ve gotten through. That wasn’t the scariest part—her link to the LaurenNet was shielded by cold fire even Sienna wouldn’t be able to breach, the ultimate defensive measure from a martial mind. But that was no longer an issue. She knew what to do now, and she would do it after the battle was done and her pack was safe.

Angry and sickened at the sight of the broken and hurt SnowDancers around her, Sienna spread out her arms, palms facing the sky. And the fire with the cold, cold heart touched the enemy, and they weren’t there anymore. She aimed the most powerful wave at Henry Scott, knowing he’d try to get his men to teleport him out.

The bastard screamed high and shrill before he disappeared. She didn’t know if he was dead, but she did know the attacking force should’ve retreated at the sight of her. Yet bullets continued to fly, now aimed at the fallen changelings.


Something arctic and dark and deadly rose up inside of her as the X-fire emerged in a straight line on either side of her body, cutting the enemy in the way in half and cauterizing the massive wounds with such flawlessness, it appeared the men had fallen into two neat pieces. The rest of them were trapped beyond the wall of voracious flame, but they continued to shoot. And then her mind, a huge, vast endless thing that saw and heard every sigh, every heartbeat, caught the whisper of more of them coming down through the mountains. They’d slipped in past the defenses when the sonic weapon took out the changelings as well as the feral wolves, and now they thought to flank them from behind.

“Traitor!” The word came from the throats of those in front of her and she knew them then. Pure Psy. Zealots. They would not back down.

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