In 2096, empath Petra Neiman loves the real thing. Be it pencils, phones, or people, whatever technology has improved, she prefers originals in both her professional and personal life. Or she would if she had a personal life. Experiencing someone's memories with the briefest touch puts a whole new spin on intimacy. Then her world shifts as a serial killer taps into Petra's dreams - without physical contact - revealing a gruesome murder and framing Petra's brother for the crime.
...he couldn't understand.
Dark ops leader Gideon Callahan is as baffled by the concept of an empath as he is by his new assignment to keep said empath under observation. Trained to follow orders, he watches, engages, and reports to his superiors - until he discovers Petra's mental abilities are all too real and he might just be working for the wrong side.
"A perfect blend of mystery, paranormal, and suspense to create a pleasure of a reading experience." --Fallen Angles Reviews on the Shadows of Justice series
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Gideon stood in the main lobby of the Sears Tower and considered the various power struggles that had been planned and resolved within these walls. Funny how people just came and went in their day-to-day lives with no clue about the plotting and planning taking place a few stories up.
He took the elevator to the tenth floor, then the stairs to twelve. Exiting the stairwell, suite 12-A was the first door on the right. He paused, realizing he shouldn't be trashing ordinary citizens for ignorance since he didn't have much idea what took place behind the other doors on this level.
He opened the office door and froze. Something was wrong. Only silence greeted him. This office had a 24/7 AID. The Automated IDentification program would sound a greeting the moment the door opened. If the guest was cleared, the door on the opposite wall would open. If not, the intruder would be treated with a memory-altering drug and escorted to a more benign office to recover.
Along with most other operatives, Gideon had tried to circumvent the AID in his early years with the special operations group. Neither he, nor any of his predecessors, had ever succeeded. This particular office had the longest running record for non-discovery.
If this place had been blown, no place was safe.
As if answering his concerns, the rapid tremor in his biceps wasn't the normal summons, it was the emergency pattern.
Damn, the last thing he needed was a project emergency.
Gideon's brain went into overdrive. He could leave immediately and pray his own cover hadn't been blown. Or he could stay and gather clues to who shut down the AID and why.
His debate ended when the sub-dermal pager beatanother urgent tattoo in his arm. The door he'd expected the AID to unlock slid open revealing three men, all strangers. Their blank eyes and somber expressions combined with the bulky, popping muscles told Gideon he was up against professional juicers out for blood.
He slammed the outer door closed, feeling his blood warm to the challenge of combat.
Time slowed for Gideon. He saw each moment crystallized and separate from the next. The lead man stalled for a split-second, long enough for Gideon to capitalize on the miniscule advantage of surprise.
He dove for cover behind the reinforced AID desk as all three opened fire. Not stunner or taser-shot. No, the sound of the ammo slamming all around him said these juice-jerks were packing retro, one hundred percent lead bullets.
Gideon laughed as he readied the pathetic excuse for a weapon his boss had approved. The .40 caliber pistol held a ten-round clip of either rubber bullets or stunner shot. Just the sort of ammo juicing soldiers ate for breakfast. Without milk.
Non-lethal might've been the issue when they'd handed him this lousy assignment, but he was hip-deep in trouble and damned if he'd let these three take him out.
He loaded his clip of stunner shot and listened as they moved to surround the desk, then popped up and caught the one closest to the open doorway in the neck. The chemical ammo had more effect than Gideon anticipated. The sucker swayed and dropped to his knees.
Gideon knew the fallen soldier wouldn't distract others. The big argument in favor of juicing was the focus it gave men in battle. At least the downed man gave him a new cover point.
Keeping his head low, he sprayed the room with the rest of his clip as he darted for the shelter of the kneeling man. Using the stunned soldier as a shield, Gideon dumped the spent clip, reloaded with the rubber bullets, and sprayed the new ammo into the faces of the remaining two men while they shot up their comrade in an attempt to kill Gideon.
The effect was minimal, reminding Gideon of movies where horses flicked tails at pesky flies. For now, he rolled through the doorway and behind the reinforced wall, smacking at the control panel to lock out his attackers.
Bullets continued to pepper the barrier, but it would hold indefinitely once Gideon finished frying the circuits. Gulping in a deep breath at last, Gideon caught the thick scent of copper in the air.
Turning away from the camera showing the two surviving juice-jerks finally leaving, the dreadful picture of the office etched itself into his memory.
All slumped or prone. All leaking blood. All his friends.