"Once we have enough of a personal link to even one of them,"

Savannah said, "Claire can try to connect via dreamwalking and hopefully bring back some information about where the captives have been moved."

Jenna was used to quick digestion and comprehension of facts, but her head was starting to spin with everything she was hearing. And she couldn't stop her mind from searching for solutions to the problems being laid out before her. "Wait a second. If Claire's talent led her to Dragos's lair once, why can't she just do it again?"

"For her talent to work, she needs some kind of emotional or personal link to whomever she's attempting to find in the dream state," Dylan answered. "Her link before wasn't to Dragos but to someone else."

"Her former mate, Wilhelm Roth," Renata put in, all but spitting the name like a curse. "He was a vile inpidual, but next to Dragos, his cruelty was nothing. No way could we ever let Claire try to tap into Dragos personally. It would be suicide."

"Okay. So, where does that leave us?" Jenna asked, the word us slipping out of her mouth even before she realized she'd said it. But it was too late to take it back, and she was much too intrigued to pretend differently. "Where do you see things going from here?"

"Hopefully, we can find Sister Margaret and she can help us figure that out," Dylan said.

"Do we have any way to contact her?" Renata asked.

Dylan's excitement dimmed a bit. "Unfortunately, we can't even be sure she's still alive. My mom's friend said she would be in her eighties by now. The only good news for us is that the sister's convent was based in Boston, so there's a chance she could be local. All we have to go on right now is her social security number."

"Give it to Gideon," Savannah said. "I'm sure he can hack into a government computer somewhere and get whatever info we need on her."

"My thought exactly," Dylan replied with a grin.

Jenna considered offering her own help in locating the good sister.

She still had friends in law enforcement and a few federal agencies. It would only take a phone call or an email to call in a few chips, ask for a confidential favor or two. But the women of the Order seemed to have everything under control.

And she was better off not letting herself get entangled in any of this, she reminded herself sternly, as Dylan picked up the phone next to her computer workstation and called the tech lab.

A few moments later, both Gideon and Rio arrived in the war room.

The two warriors received a quick summary of what Dylan had uncovered.

Before she'd even finished explaining, Gideon seated himself at the computer and got busy.

Jenna watched from her seat at the table as everyone else--Savannah, Renata, Alex, Rio, and Dylan--gathered around to watch Gideon work his magic. Savannah had been right; it didn't take him more than a few minutes to hack through a secured, U.S. government website firewall and start downloading the records they needed.

"Sister Margaret Mary Howland, alive and well, according to the Social Security Administration," he announced. "Collected last month's check for two hundred ninety-eight dollars and some change at an address in Gloucester. It's printing out now."

Dylan grinned. "Gideon, you're a geek god."

"I aim to please." He sprang out of the chair and grabbed Savannah into a fast, hard kiss. "Tell me you're dazzled, baby."

"I'm dazzled," she replied drolly, laughing even as she slapped playfully at his shoulder.

He grinned, shooting Jenna an arch look over the top of his pale blue shades. "She loves me," he said, pulling his beautiful mate into a tighter squeeze. "She's mad for me, really. Can't live without me. Probably wants to take me to bed immediately and have her wicked way with me."

"Hah! You wish," Savannah said, but there was a heated gleam in the gaze she turned on him.

"Too bad we're not having this same luck getting a bead on TerraGlobal," Rio said, his arm wrapping around Dylan's shoulders in what seemed to be an instinctively intimate move.

Renata frowned. "Still no luck there, eh?"

"Not much," Gideon interjected. He must have seen Jenna's confused look. "TerraGlobal Partners is the name of a company we believe Dragos is using to front some of his secret operations."

Alex jumped in next. "You remember that mining company that opened shop outside Harmony a few months back--Coldstream Mining?" At Jenna's nod, she said, "It belonged to Dragos. We believe it was meant to be used as a holding facility for the Ancient once they'd transported him to Alaska. Unfortunately, we all know how that worked out."

"We were able to trace the mining company back to TerraGlobal," Rio added. "But that's about as far as we've been able to get. We know TerraGlobal has lots of layers. It's just taking too damn long for us to peel them away. Meanwhile, Dragos digs himself in deeper, every minute farther out of our reach."

"You'll get him," Jenna said. She tried to ignore the little kick in her heart rate that urged her to strap on a couple of weapons and lead the charge.

"You have to get him, so you will."

"Yeah," Rio replied, his scarred face drawn tight with determination as he nodded in agreement and glanced down into Dylan's eyes. "One day, we are going to get that son of a bitch. He's going to pay for everything he's done."

Under his strong arm, Dylan smiled sadly. She burrowed into his embrace, trying unsuccessfully to stifle a yawn.

"Come on," he said, brushing some of her loose red waves out of her eyes. "You've been putting in a lot of hours on all of this. Now I'm taking you to bed."

"Not a bad idea," Renata said. "Nightfall is going to come early, and I'll bet Niko is still testing out new rounds in the weapons room. Time to go collect my man."

As she said her good-byes and headed out, Dylan and Rio, then Savannah and Gideon did the same.

"You want to come hang out with Kade and me for a little while?"

Alex asked.

Jenna gave a mild shake of her head. "Nah, I'm okay. I think I'll stay here for a few minutes, unwind a bit. Been a long, strange day."

Alex's smile was sympathetic. "If you need anything at all, you come find me. Deal?"

Jenna nodded. "I'm fine. But thanks."

She watched her friend slowly turn and disappear up the corridor.

When there was nothing left in the room but quiet and solitude, Jenna stood up and walked over to the wall of maps and charts and sketches.

It was admirable, what the Order and their mates were trying to do. It was important work--more important than anything Jenna would ever have come in contact with in rural Alaska, or anywhere else for that matter.

If everything she'd learned the past couple of days was true, then what the Order was doing here was nothing short of saving the world.

"Jesus Christ," Jenna whispered, struck by the enormity of it all.

She wanted to help.

If she was able--even in some small way--she had to help.

Didn't she?

Jenna paced around the war room, a battle of her own waging inside her. She wasn't ready to be part of something like this. Not when she still had so much to figure out for herself. With her brother dead, she had no family left at all. Alaska had been her home her entire life, and now that was gone, as well, a part of her prior existence erased to help the Order preserve their secrets as they pursued their enemy.

As for her future, she couldn't even begin to guess. The alien matter embedded inside her was a problem she never could have imagined, and no amount of wishing was going to take it away. Not even Gideon's mental brilliance seemed capable of extricating her from that tangled complication.

And then there was Brock. Of all the things that had happened to her between the invasion of her cabin home by the Ancient and her current, unexpected--although not unbearable--embrace by everyone in the Order's headquarters, Brock was proving to be the one thing she was least prepared to deal with.

She was nowhere close to ready when it came to the feelings he aroused in her. Things she hadn't felt in years, and sure as hell didn't want to feel now.

Nothing in her life was certain anymore, and the last thing she needed was to involve herself any further in the problems facing the warriors and their mates.

Nevertheless, Jenna found herself drifting over to the computer workstation on the desk nearby. She sat down at the keyboard and brought up an Internet browser, then went to one of those free email sites and created an account.

She opened a new message and typed in the address of one of her friends with the Feds up in Anchorage. She asked a single question, an inquiry to be looked into confidentially as a personal favor.

She drew in her breath, then hit send.

Chapter Twelve

In the showers adjacent to the weapons room, Brock reached around his back and cranked the temperature setting from hot to scalding. Hands braced on the teak door of the private shower stall, head bent low to his chest, he welcomed the searing pound of water that sluiced over his shoulders and down his naked back. Hot steam roiled up all around him, thick as fog, from his head to the tiled floor at his feet.

"Christ," Kade hissed from a couple of stalls down from him. "Two solid hours of hand-to-hand sparring wasn't enough punishment for you?

Now you feel the need to boil yourself alive over there?"

Brock grunted, slicking his hand over his face as the steam continued to gather and the heat continued to batter his too-tense muscles. He'd found Kade in the weapons room with Niko and Chase after he'd dropped his gear in his new shared quarters with Hunter. It seemed reasonable to expect that a hard few rounds of blade work and hand-to-hand training would be enough to exhaust some of his restlessness and distraction. It should have been, but it wasn't.

"What's going on with you, man?"

"I don't know what you mean," Brock muttered, pushing his head and shoulders farther under the scalding spray.

Kade's scoff echoed in the cavernous shower room. "Like hell, you don't know."

"Shit." Brock exhaled the curse into the mist that wreathed his head.

"Why do I get the feeling you're gonna enlighten me?"

There was a hard squeak of a spigot handle, followed by the bang of Kade's shower door as he stepped out and walked into the connected dressing area. A few minutes later, Kade's voice sounded from the other room. "You ever going to tell me what happened last night down in Southie at that meat-packing plant?"

Brock closed his eyes and blew out something that sounded like a growl, even to his own ears. "Nothing to tell. There were loose ends. I cleaned them up."

"Yeah," Kade said. "That's what I guessed had happened."

When Brock lifted his head, he found the warrior standing across the way from him. Kade was fully dressed in a black shirt and jeans, leaning back against the opposite wall. His steely silver gaze narrowed, knowing.

Brock had too much respect for his friend to try to deceive him.

"Those humans were scum who thought nothing of harming an innocent woman. You expect that kind of brutality to be condoned?"

"No." Kade stared, then gave a sober nod. "If I found myself face-to-face with anyone who'd laid a finger on Alex, I'd have to kill the bastard.

That's what you did, isn't it? You killed those men."

"They were hardly men," Brock ground out. "They were rabid dogs, and what they did to Jenna--what they thought they could get away with--

probably wasn't the first time they'd hurt a woman. I doubt Jenna would have been the last. So, yeah, I put them down."

For a long time, Kade said nothing. He just watched him, even after Brock stuck his head back under the furious pound of the spray, feeling no need to explain any further. Not even to his closest friend in the Order, the warrior who was like kin to him.

"Damn," Kade murmured after a lengthy silence. "You care about her, don't you?"

Brock shook his head, as much in denial as it was to slick the water off his face. "Lucan gave me the responsibility of looking after her, of keeping her safe. I'm only doing what's expected of me. She's another mission, no different than any other."

"Oh, yeah. No doubt about that." Kade smirked. "I had a mission like that up in Alaska not too long ago. Maybe I mentioned it to you once or twice?"

"This is different," Brock grumbled. "What you and Alex have is ...

not the same at all. Alex is a Breedmate, for one thing. There's no threat of getting serious with Jenna. I'm not the long-term type, and she's human, besides."

Kade's dark brows knit into an intense frown. "I don't think any of us can be sure exactly what she is now."

Brock absorbed the truth of that statement with a renewed sense of concern, not only for Jenna, but for the Order and the rest of the Breed nation, as well. Whatever was happening to her, as of today, it appeared to be accelerating. He couldn't deny that the news of her blood work changes troubled him. To say nothing of the fact that the damned bit of alien matter was actively delving deeper into her body, infiltrating on a level not even Gideon seemed prepared to combat.

Brock blew out a low curse under the punishing deluge of the shower.

"If you're trying to make me feel better about all of this, feel free to stop anytime."

Kade chuckled, clearly enjoying himself. "I don't expect you'll be having any heart-to-heart talks with your new roomie, so this is me, showing you I care."

"I'm touched," Brock muttered. "Now, get the fuck out of here and let me scald myself in peace."


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