Heart of Obsidian (Psy-Changeling #12)

By: Nalini Singh


Drinking the rich, sweet liquid he’d given her in a gesture of care she knew had to be calculated to earn her trust, she—

The labyrinth twisted.

However, this time, she twisted with it, unwilling to lose her train of thought. The food in her belly, the warmth of the chocolate in her throat, the fresh bite of scent that was Kaleb’s newly showered body . . . different from the clean, masculine sweat she’d smelled the previous night as his skin gleamed in the moonlight . . . it all served to convince her that this wasn’t a hallucination.

Kaleb could never be a hallucination—he gave off a sense of power that was a near-gravitational force, a silent reminder of the strength that lived in his veins, a strength that had taken her from her prison to this house that might be another prison, in the blink of an eye. No, she couldn’t survive him in her current condition, her psyche in pieces, her ability barricaded behind a tangled maze so intricate, none of her captors had ever come close to navigating it.

“I created a key to unlock the labyrinth,” she murmured.

He went utterly, absolutely still, a sculpture carved in clean lines. “Where?”

“Inside my mind.” She spoke more to herself than to him as the labyrinth continued to alter shape, but in a way that no longer shredded her thoughts . . . as it hadn’t truly done since she woke from the first true hours of sleep she’d had for an eon. Her thoughts had been lucid for over an hour, her sense of self, of memory, becoming ever more coherent.

And she understood what she’d done.

There was no manual way to unlock her mind and reverse the creation of the labyrinth. Not even she could undo the intricate tapestry of the psychic trap on command. Torture, bribes, mental force—they had only served to strengthen the twisted forest that protected her. Her captors could’ve beaten her to death, could’ve burned her alive, and it would’ve gained them nothing.

The only way to reverse the ruinous effects of her own creation was for her to be put into an environment her subconscious recognized as “safe.”

It was impossible that this situation fit those parameters—the male with hair of jet-black who smelled of ice and pine in a way that made her want to rub her face against his skin, and whose eyes never moved off her, was clearly not safe in any way, shape, or form. He was a predator: he’d told her of his ability to cause madness, displaying his utter lack of remorse in committing such a heinous act. More, his motives in appropriating her from her former prison were worse than opaque.

Yet the labyrinth continued to unstitch itself, her mind brushing off cobweb after cobweb as she came out of her long hibernation, splintered memories merging into a moth-eaten stream. So when Kaleb’s eyes went pitch-black without warning, she had the knowledge to understand he had to be using a great deal of power . . . and since he was a power, that meant something very, very bad was about to happen or had already done so. “Kaleb.”

*

THE psychic surge impacted Kaleb’s mind with the force of a slamming blow.

The velocity of the wave made it deadly clear the damage that had produced it was catastrophic. Locking down the house with a single telekinetic command, he shot out into the PsyNet to see hundreds of thousands of minds flickering in a way that denoted stunned shock at the sudden insult.

It was the one vulnerability of the Psy, their need for the biofeedback provided by the psychic network that connected their race. That connection meant Psy could go anywhere in the world on the psychic plane, could share data with an ease the other races couldn’t imagine. It also meant they couldn’t escape the devastating aftershocks of a fatal event that had happened on another continent—in a city called Perth, Australia.

A city he’d now reached.

The black fabric of the PsyNet, the minds within it flashing red in panic as their conditioning shattered with the onset of agonizing pain, was crumpling inward here, in a pattern he’d witnessed only once before. Hundreds had died then—men, women, children—but Cape Dorset’s population was minuscule in comparison to Perth’s.

Throwing out a protective telepathic shield the instant he was close enough, he halted the collapse. And knew that thousands were already dead, their minds severed from the Net at implosion in a brutal punch of pain that would’ve ended the lives of children at once. The adults would’ve lived a few seconds longer, the toughest lasting perhaps a minute.

The anchor network in Perth has been compromised, he communicated to the leader of the Arrows, covert operatives who were the most highly trained and dangerous in the world. Initiate secondary backup. That backup system, put quietly in place after Pure Psy began to target the anchors, the linchpins who kept the Net from collapsing, was still a work in progress.

Initiated, Aden replied within a split second. I’ll assist with the shield.

Unnecessary. Kaleb could seal up the breach on his own. Find out how this was done. The telekinetic behind the earlier murders was dead, gutted by a changeling during another attempted killing. Every other anchor in the world had been notified, and the majority were now in hiding, their locations known to only a select few in each region.