Edge of Dawn (Chapter Twenty-Eight)

ALTHOUGH HE KNEW IT WAS THE LAST PLACE HE SHOULD be – and the dead last place he wanted to be with Mira alongside him – nothing could have stopped Kellan from heading to the peace summit gala once he realized there was a chance Ackmeyer's UV technology could be unleashed on the Order.

As he and Mira pulled up to the curb in one of the Order's vehicles, Kellan realized the situation was even worse than he'd anticipated.

Much worse.

Hundreds of people – humans and Breed alike – poured out of the GNC building and into the night, fleeing on foot, screaming in utter terror. Men in formal wear, women in shimmering evening gowns and high heels, scattering in all directions.

Sheer chaos.

"Oh, my God," Mira breathed, coming around the sedan to meet Kellan on the other side. She was dressed as he was, head-to-toe black combat gear, sidearms loaded and ready for action. The hilts of Mira's twin daggers, riding at her hips, glinted under the pale moonlight overhead. She stared at the scene of confusion, her expression slack with alarm. "It's already happening. Kellan, what if we're too late?"

He glimpsed several of the warriors ushering Breed dignitaries to safe ground, far away from the building. "We still have time. Come on."

Mira jogged after him, up a broad flight of stairs. They had to dodge the flow of escaping party guests, who crashed toward them like cattle swept up in a blind stampede. Kellan spotted an open side door, away from the mad throng pushing and shoving out of the main entrance. He took Mira's hand and ran with her, ducking inside the building with her.

The scene in the lobby wasn't any more sane. Thick with scores of fleeing people, it was almost impossible to push against the current. Kellan saw Rafe up ahead, his blond head and broad shoulders towering over most of the humans racing past him. The warrior glanced over and his aqua eyes flashed with intensity.

"What happened?" Kellan called to him.

"Crowe," Rafe snarled over the tops of the fleeing throng. "Son of a bitch planted a UV bomb in the middle of the damn reception. Lucan's trying to shut it down. He wants a total evac."

Ah, Christ.

Even worse than ultraviolet rounds, a bomb utilizing that kind of technology could wipe out not only the Order but every Breed dignitary in the place.

Which was exactly Opus Nostrum's plan, he realized now.

"Kellan, look." Mira nodded toward the far end of the lobby. "At the elevators."

Reginald Crowe, flanked by a pair of uniformed security personnel, was rushing into a service elevator while the rest of the lobby swarmed with total chaos. Before Kellan had a chance to flash across the distance and stop the bastard, the doors slid closed. Crowe was gone.

"Fuck," Kellan growled as he and Mira ran up on the sealed doors. "He's heading for the roof. Stay here. Stick close to Rafe and the other warriors."

"Let you go after him alone?" she said, not even close to a question. "Like hell I will."

He didn't like it, but he didn't have time to argue with her, especially the way her chin hiked up as she spoke. And besides, Crowe was only human. The two guards with him weren't Breed either, which meant the three of them together would pose little problem for Kellan. Add in Mira's lethal skill with her blades, and Crowe's escape attempt was futile even before it began.

Kellan shot a glance at the service stairwell. Using the speed his Breed genetics gave him, he could be up to the roof in mere seconds. "I'm going up on foot. You take the second elevator."

She nodded and he took off, racing up the several flights to the service access door on the rooftop, just as Crowe and his security detail were taking their first steps across the asphalt. A helicopter waited a dozen yards away, a human pilot seated behind the controls. The engine whined to a start as Crowe strode swiftly toward the aircraft.

Kellan wasted no time. He put a bullet into the back of each guard's head, dropping the pair like bowling pins. Crowe drew up short as his men hit the ground.

"Don't move," Kellan growled. "Don't you fucking move, or you're dead next."

Crowe put his hands in the air and slowly turned around. His golden brows rose in surprise. "Well, this is an amusing development. The rebel leader formerly known as Bowman. I never expected to see a dead man staring at me over the barrel of a pistol this evening."

Kellan grunted. "Funny, I'm looking at a dead man too."

Crowe smiled. "You can't kill me. We both know that. You need me. You need information only I can give you. You want to know about Opus Nostrum, don't you?"

Kellan kept his aim steady on the center of Crowe's head. "I know all I need to know."

"Do you?"

Kellan held the man in a dark glower. "Let me summarize. You and Benson had plans of killing the Order tonight to clear the way for you and your twisted need for power. But you weren't capable of pulling off something like that on your own. You needed Jeremy Ackmeyer's technology to accomplish it. You needed a weapon capable of instant, mass murder. Morningstar was your answer."

Crowe smiled, seemingly amused.

"Benson stole the prototype from his nephew, but you decided Ackmeyer needed to die. No loose ends would be my guess. Lucky for you, his kidnapping provided the perfect opportunity for you to strike. You were able to kill him and blame it on rebels, ending the life of a pawn you always intended to sweep off your board."

Kellan heard the access door on the rooftop service building open behind him and Mira quietly announced herself. She drew up next to him, blades in her hands, looking fierce and formidable. Sexier than he wanted to notice in that moment.

He centered himself back on Crowe and the contempt he had for the man. "Benson wasn't on board with his nephew's killing, was he? That's why he showed up drunk at the hearing today. He said too much, so your spies had him executed on the spot."

Crowe chuckled. "You think you have it all figured out. You're not even close."

"I think I am. When I touched Benson, his mind told me what Opus Nostrum had planned here tonight."

"Opus Nostrum isn't the worst of your problems," Crowe replied. He lowered his hands, letting them fall slowly to his sides. He started walking toward Kellan and Mira.

Kellan raised the gun, prepared to fire a shot straight between Crowe's amused eyes. "Stop right there, asshole. Or your next step will be your last."

But Crowe didn't stop. He came forward another pace.

Kellan pulled the trigger – once, twice. Two direct hits, right between the eyes, a dead-on shot into the bastard's skull.

The bullets didn't so much as make him flinch. The blood seemed to evaporate on the spot, skin healing over even faster than one of Kellan's kind.

Mira sucked in a sharp breath. "Oh, my God . . ."

"What the fuck?" Kellan muttered, shocked and confused. "You're not human. Not Breed either."

Crowe grinned. "Now you're getting the picture."

Kellan emptied his weapon at him, but Crowe dodged most of the bullets with superhuman agility. Kellan reached for his second sidearm, but Mira was already in motion. She let her daggers fly on a battle roar, planting one blade in the center of Crowe's chest, the other driven deep into his throat.

Crowe cocked his head at her, a cruel, animalistic gleam in his eyes.

As if the grievous wounds were of no consequence at all, he plucked out the daggers and dropped the bloodied weapons to the ground.

The rising glow drew Nathan back into the reception hall as the crowd of screaming gala attendees continued to pour out to the lobby in wave after wave of mass hysteria.

Lucan stayed behind, attempting to disable the crystal obelisk and its illuminated orb. As Nathan stepped back into the hall, Lucan was discarding his empty 9-mm magazine and feeding another into the weapon. The orb was chipped and shattered but not broken.

"It's getting brighter." Darion Thorne had come up beside Nathan. "Gunfire isn't enough to destroy it. What the hell is that thing made out of?"

Nathan shook his head. He didn't know, but he had another weapon in his arsenal – one inherited from the Breedmate who was his mother. He tossed both of his guns to Darion. "Light that fucker up. I'll be right behind you."

Dare nodded and stalked across the emptying floor to meet his father in front of the obelisk. He opened fire in concert with Lucan, a 9-mm in each hand, squeezing off rounds with each long stride.

Nathan focused on the din of thunderous shots and the echoing screams of the crowd. He gathered the noise, summoning his Breed ability to bend sound waves and either amplify or mute them. He built up the cacophony, tumbling it into a ball of sound and energy.

Lucan glanced to his son, then to Nathan, giving both warriors a nod of approval. Of solemn respect and gratitude.

Together Lucan and Darion blasted into the orb, creating deep fissures in the glowing sphere of light. Nathan gathered more sound, until the vibrating collection of energy was almost too much for him to contain.

On a roar, he let it loose.

The air rippled as the sonokinetic blast arced toward the cracked obelisk.

Lucan and Dare leapt out of the way, both warriors still shooting at the sculpture as they tumbled away just before it shattered.

Light erupted from the orb, but it lasted only an instant. The pebbled crystal of the obelisk and its crowning sphere exploded in all directions, raining down onto the reception hall floor like thousands of tiny diamonds.

Morningstar had been neutralized.

Lucan glanced at Nathan, then his son. "Good work, both of you." His gray eyes flashed with hot amber sparks. "Now let's go find Crowe and finish that bastard."