“Deemed disbanded in 2004, the Federation League has re-formed and is crawling its way back from obscurity. However, their aim remains the same: to kill or harm anyone who has worked with or for the Asylums for Magical Threats’ prison system. Assassinations and arson fires are their main tactics, but any unusual activity that targets a Feiru (FEY-roo) should be investigated.”
—Case File on the Federation League, Mexico City Feiru Liaison Office
Sabrina Ono was about to crack. If she didn’t find somewhere private, and soon, she would blow the cover ID she’d worked so hard to craft over the last two years.
And if she let that happen, all of the deaths, all of the destruction, and all of the grief she had caused to innocent humans and Feiru alike while undercover would have been for nothing. Sabrina wasn’t sure she could handle that amount of guilt if she failed.
Come on, Ono. You can do this. She was this close to finishing her current assignment. No matter what it took, she needed to maintain her life of lies for a few more days.
Harry Watkins, her current team leader, came over to where she was standing and scrutinized her face. “You look like you want to say something, Ono.”
She was careful to keep her emotions from her face and voice. “No, sir.”
“Right. Then do the scouting I asked for. I want the layout, details, and your suggestions for the best ways to break in to the building by this evening. Once I receive your report, I’ll send a follow-up task.”
Sabrina nodded. “Is there anything else, sir?”
He studied her a second before waving his hand. “No, you’re dismissed.”
Careful to keep her face expressionless, Sabrina saluted Watkins, turned, and headed down the street toward the target she needed to scout.
Before she could do her job, she needed to find somewhere to get her shit together. If Watkins had anyone watching her, which was possible with this high-profile assignment, she couldn’t show her fragile state or she would be replaced. Sabrina couldn’t allow that to happen.
When she was about ten blocks away from where Watkins had dismissed her, she did everything she could to make sure no one was following her, and then she ducked into an abandoned alley. After turning down another side street, she squatted down behind a parked car, put her head in her hands, and focused on breathing in and out to calm her nerves.
She had harmed humans and Feiru alike as part of her cover ID over the last two years. Be it scouting a location, gathering intelligence, or helping to divert the attention of human authorities. She may not have pulled a trigger or detonated a bomb, but she was just as responsible as every other cog in the network. She had justified her actions because her end goal was to dismantle the Federation League. In the last few months, she’d finally pinpointed how to do it.
If she could take down Harry Watkins, she believed the organization would start to crumble, creating a weakness her superiors from the Feiru Liaison office in Mexico City could use and pounce upon.
Watkins had been training Fed League members on how to select AMT-related targets, how to scout out locations, and finally, how to set successful arson fires without getting caught. But he was much more than just a mercenary paid to train a group of haphazard recruits. She was fairly confident he had a much bigger client bankrolling him, a client she wanted to identify.
Over the last few months, she’d studied the man’s habits and even learned the names of some of his closest contacts. With a final push, Sabrina should be able to find out the information she needed to end this assignment. Yet because of Watkins’s latest target, she was going to have to up her game and make her final play sooner than she had anticipated.
The reason? In less than a week, Watkins planned to set off a bomb at an elementary school during the day, while the children were still in class.
Sabrina felt tears prick her eyes and she took a deep breath. As the death tally rose, it became harder and harder to rationalize her actions. The death of an elderly Feiru woman and several young restaurant workers had shaken her up in recent weeks, and she knew the death of so many children would be her tipping point.
She rubbed her eyes and lifted her head from her hands. There was only one way for her to save the school and get the information she needed about Watkins. She would just have to take a few more risks and make her final move.
If done right, she should be able to stay in her undercover role for at least this week. However, once she foiled the plan to bomb the school, Watkins would quickly be on her ass and she would have to flee.
It wasn’t a matter of “if” she could do it—she had to find a way to make it work.
With a last deep breath, Sabrina stood up. She would force herself to go through the motions for a little longer. She would scout the school and file her report, but then she needed to reach out and set up a secret meeting with her superior from the Feiru Liaison office. She only had five days to put her operation in place and execute it. She couldn’t afford to wait another day.
Sabrina moved to the corner where the alley opened out onto the street and checked to make sure no one had followed her. The coast clear, she went back out on the main street and headed toward the nearby elementary school.
Once upon a time, Jorge Salazar had had friends, responsibilities, and even a woman he had wanted more than his own life. But then his latent ability had appeared nine months ago, and he’d learned that he was a Shadow-Shifter.
After that, his life had gone to hell.
Betrayal by the woman he loved? Check. Being kidnapped and tortured into working for a sociopath who called herself the Collector? Check.
Hell, about the only thing that hadn’t happened to him was castration.
But thanks to some help from DEFEND—an activist group fighting to bring down the Asylums for Magical Threats’ prison system for elemental magic users—he’d found a way to escape the Collector, at least for a little while.