Allegiance of Honor (Psy-Changeling Novel, A)

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9781101987780: Allegiance of Honor (Psy-Changeling Novel, A)

The “unparalleled romantic adventure”* of Nalini Singh’s New York Times bestselling series continues as a new dawn begins for the Psy-Changeling world...
 
A staggering transformation has put the Psy, humans, and changelings at a crossroads. The Trinity Accord promises a new era of cooperation between disparate races and groups. It is a beacon of hope held together by many hands: old enemies, new allies, wary loners.
 
But a century of distrust and suspicion can’t be so easily forgotten, and it threatens to shatter Trinity from within at any moment. As rival members vie for dominance, chaos and evil gather in the shadows and a kidnapped woman’s cry for help washes up in San Francisco, while the Consortium turns its murderous gaze toward a child who is the embodiment of change, of love, of piercing hope: a child who is both Psy...and changeling.
 
To find the lost and protect the vulnerable—and to save Trinity—no one can stand alone. This is a time of loyalty across divisions, of bonds woven into the heart and the soul, of heroes known and unknown standing back to back and holding the line. But is an allegiance of honor even possible with traitors lurking in their midst?
 
*Publishers Weekly on Shards of Hope
From the Hardcover edition.

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About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Nalini Singh lives and works in beautiful New Zealand, and is passionate about writing. She also loves chatting to readers. You can find her on Twitter (@nalinisingh) and Facebook (facebook.com/authornalinisingh), and via her website: nalinisingh.com

Nalini's Newsletter: Goes out monthly and includes exclusives for subscribers, including free short stories, sneak peeks, deleted scenes and more. To join, just copy and paste this into your address bar and fill in your name and email address: mad.ly/signups/59681/join

Questions or comments? Email, Tweet, or Facebook Nalini at any time!

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Tesseract

No one could’ve predicted this moment in time.

And, as the clock ticks onward in 2082, no one knows what is to come. The world has changed in countless ways since the day a cardinal empath sat across from a changeling alpha, the empath trying to hide her emotions, the alpha trying to see under her skin.

There has been war, destruction, piercing love.

Loyalties have been tested.

A way of life overturned.

Blood has run red as those who would hold onto power cut down innocent lives.

Soldiers have died.

Children have been born.

Bonds have formed.

Hearts have entwined.

Old enmities have been forgotten and there is a fragile peace . . . and the world stands at a critical crossroads.

Will the bonds hold?

Or will chaos reign?


Part I


Chapter 1

Lucas Hunter, alpha of the DarkRiver leopards, ended the comm call with a touch of his index finger against the screen. The outwardly calm action belied his current state of mind: his jaw was a grim line, his claws shoving at the insides of his skin as the black panther within snarled.

He was still battling the urge to release that snarl when one of his sentinels stuck his head into the room. That room was Lucas’s private office at the pack’s Chinatown HQ, from where they ran their myriad business enterprises. Pitch-black hair and dark green eyes vivid against the deep brown of his skin, his shoulders solid, Clay was officially the Chief Construction Supervisor at DarkRiver Construction, but before that, he was one of the most trusted members of the pack, a man Lucas knew would always have his back.

Today, the sentinel was dressed as if he planned to go to a site, his pants of a tough black material appropriate for the outdoor environment and his T-shirt wild green with DarkRiver Construction in white on the back. But when he spoke, he said, “Jon and his friends found something down by the piers.”

Lucas scowled, not in the mood for juvenile high jinks today. “Why aren’t they in school?”

“Half day off. Some big citywide teachers meeting.” Clay’s right T-shirt sleeve lifted as he braced his hand against the doorjamb, revealing the slashing lines of the tattoo that echoed the hunter marks on the right side of Lucas’s face. Lucas had been born with those jagged, primal marks that identified him as a changeling hunter, born with the ability to track down and execute changelings who’d gone rogue, submerging totally into the animal side of their nature.

Unlike wild animals, however, rogue changelings couldn’t be left to roam, because despite their animal skin, they weren’t animals. Rogues always came after the people they had loved when whole, as if part of them remembered who they’d once been and envied their packmates and lovers for still living that life. Lucas hadn’t had to execute a rogue for over seven years, and he hoped that record held for another seven and another and another.

No alpha wanted to kill his people.

Clay’s tattoo denoted something far different; like the rest of DarkRiver’s sentinels, he’d had the mark inked as a silent symbol of his loyalty to Lucas. That loyalty was a truth Lucas never took for granted. An alpha who didn’t value the respect of such strong men and women shouldn’t be alpha.

“Anyway, I’m heading over to see what’s up,” Clay said now. “Kid sounds worried.”

“I’ll come with you.” Lucas walked around his desk, shrugging his shoulders back to loosen muscles that had bunched up at the start of the comm call and stayed that way. “Could do with the fresh air. You want to walk?” It wasn’t far to the waterfront.

Clay glanced at the heavy black watch strapped to his left wrist. “Better drive. I have to be at a work site within the hour.”

“I’ll walk back so you can head to the site straight after we speak to the boys.” Sliding out his phone, Lucas sent a message as they walked out of the building and hopped in a pack vehicle.

The reply that made his phone buzz thirty seconds later helped with his feral tension. As did the emotions that kissed him through his mating bond with Sascha. Nothing calmed his panther as quickly as her touch. And though she was a woman who could heal emotional wounds, her empathic gift a treasured one, he knew she wasn’t trying to manipulate or influence him. It was Sascha’s love itself that settled him, along with the knowledge that she and their child were safe and sound.

Beside him, Clay stayed silent until after they’d pulled away from the HQ. That silence held no dark emotional undertones as it once had—the big, heavily muscled sentinel was simply quiet.

“A pool of silence,” Lucas’s mate had said not long ago, the white stars on black of her cardinal gaze lit with the sparks of color that appeared only in the eyes of empaths. “But it’s not emptiness. Clay’s just so calm, so centered, and so very, very content that I feel an untainted peace when I’m near him.”

Clay hadn’t always been that way. He’d come into DarkRiver as a strong but undisciplined eighteen-year-old who’d never before been part of a pack, who’d never even known another changeling leopard his entire existence. More than that, he’d spent years in juvenile detention. It had left him angry and lost and aggressive, a big, dangerous cat who’d had no idea how to handle either his strength or the fury riding him.

It was Nathan, DarkRiver’s most senior sentinel, who’d found that lost boy and hauled him into DarkRiver. But it was Clay who’d done the hard work to become a sentinel himself, earning his place at Lucas’s side. Emotionally, he’d still been broken for a long time, his duties to DarkRiver and his loyalty to Lucas and the other sentinels the only things that kept him from surrendering to his demons.

Then had come Talin.

In mating with her, then adopting Jon and Noor, Clay had truly left behind the loneliness and pain of his past.

“Trinity Accord?” The sentinel glanced at Lucas before returning his attention to the road.

Putting down the passenger side window, Lucas tapped his fingers on the edge of the door. “Yes and no.”

The world-spanning and groundbreaking cooperation agreement had gone from idea to fruition in an impossibly short period of time, thanks to the existence of the Consortium. The shadowy group’s aim of destabilizing the world in order to take advantage of the ensuing chaos had ended up having the opposite effect when the various disparate parties began to talk and realized they had a common enemy. Unfortunately, while Trinity was a critical asset in the fight for a stable world, the speed with which it had been cobbled together had resulted in more than one critical hole.

The fact that the rush had been unavoidable didn’t mean the resulting issues weren’t still a pain in the ass. Especially since, with the ink barely dry on the names of the first signatories, Trinity had no administrative structure, which meant everything was being handled on an ad hoc basis.

But that wasn’t what had a growl building in the back of Lucas’s throat, his panther bristling with aggressive protectiveness once again as the comm call came to the forefront of his mind. “Aden called to pass on some intel,” he said, referring to the leader of the Arrow squad. Assassins and black ops soldiers without compare, the deadly bogeymen of the Psy race had of late become quiet heroes.

It was Aden who’d set Trinity in motion.

Clay shot him another quick look. “Your claws are out.”

“Fuck.” Lucas retracted them with conscious effort of will, then shoved his hair out of his eyes; the black strands reached his nape at the moment. He’d have had it cut shorter except that Sascha loved running her fingers through it. He might wear a human skin at times, but he was also very much a cat—he wasn’t about to do anything to lower his chances of being petted.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t such pleasurable thoughts on his mind right then.

“Aden’s people picked up chatter about Naya in the back channels of the PsyNet.” Sascha had explained the psychic network that connected all Psy on the planet except for the renegades, as a giant repository of knowledge. It was fluid and so big that no one could ever know every part of it.

The Arrows, however, walked its darkest alleys. Heroes or not, someone still had to hunt the monsters that prowled the PsyNet, the twisted minds that wanted only to murder and to hurt. Because despite over a century of cold emotionlessness that had been meant to erase mental instability and turn them into a race without flaws, the Psy still had an abnormally high number of serial killers. The Arrows alone had the strength and the skill to take down those vicious monsters.

“Why are strangers talking about your cub?” Clay’s question was a growl. “Naya is none of their fucking business.”

“Exactly.” Lucas’s protective urges had never been anything but violent. Part of it was simply who he was—he’d been born with the potential to be alpha and that included a powerful protective drive.

In his case, that drive had been honed to a razor’s edge by the horror of the childhood attack that had left his mother dead and his father critically injured, Lucas a prisoner of an enemy pack. Young and weak and heartbroken from watching his mother die in front of him, he’d fought desperately to escape his bonds, save his father. He’d failed.

That boy, however, hadn’t existed for a long time. Lucas was a man now. An alpha christened in blood. Anyone touched a hair on the head of any of the people under his protection, and he’d rip their arms off. That was just for starters. “Aden didn’t have too many details,” he told Clay, “says the speakers didn’t specifically reference Naya by name, but their mention of a Psy-Changeling child with a leopard father makes that a moot point.”

At this instant in time, there was only one child in the world who had a Psy parent and a changeling parent: Nadiya Shayla Hunter. Naya. Lucas and Sascha’s fierce, intelligent, mischievous daughter who was a couple of weeks away from turning one.

Less than a year of life and she’d already changed Lucas on a fundamental level.

He understood now why his father had passed in peace. Carlo Hunter had fought alongside his beloved mate, Shayla, to protect their son, then fought the agonizing pain of losing her and the effects of brutal torture long enough for pack to come. But despite his massive injuries, he’d left this world in peace. Death meant nothing when his child was safe.

“You think it might just be curiosity?” Clay asked. The sentinel was clearly fighting to keep his breathing even, his hands flexing and unflexing on the steering wheel. “Now that Silence has fallen and the Psy are free to feel emotions, have relationships, they have to be wondering about the future. Naya’s a living, breathing symbol of that future.”

“No.” Even had it been curiosity, Lucas still wouldn’t have liked that his daughter was being talked about by strangers, a dangerous percentage of whom were virulently against the fall of Silence and the “dilution” of Psy “perfection,” but this was far worse. “Aden said his people heard mentions of ‘purity’ in the chatter.” Not everyone liked change, especially when that change challenged their worldview of their own race as superior.

“Fuck.” Clay’s voice was harsh. “I thought Pure Psy was dead?”

“They are.” The violent pro-Silence group had been hunted out of existence. “But their ideas are still floating around being absorbed by fanatical, ugly minds. No proof, but the Consortium’s probably stirring that rancid stew.” What better way to destabilize the world than to slyly encourage hatred among the races?

It was, after all, a tactic they’d already attempted on a bigger scale.

“It had to happen,” Clay said unexpectedly. “With the Es suddenly becoming so powerful, there’s got be a hell of a lot of resentment simmering in the minds of folks that previously considered themselves top dogs. Suddenly, all these ‘inferior’ Psy are being held up as heroes.”

Lucas nodded. His own gifted mate had once called herself flawed, been taught to see herself that way. “Aden’s people only caught fragments, but there was definite mention of the fact that Naya’s mother is an E—and discussion of how to get to them both.” Fists clenching, he forced himself to think. “I’m going to review every security protocol around Naya and Sascha.”

He knew he’d have Sascha’s full support; his mate might chafe at some of the security precautions she had to take as a result of being one half of DarkRiver’s alpha pair, but she was completely onboard with any safety measures when it came to their cub. If anything, Sascha was even more protective than Lucas—he often had to remind her that Naya was a leopard changeling, needed more freedom than a human or Psy child of the same age. Cats didn’t like being caged. Not even little cats with fragile bones and baby-soft hands.

Remember that, he reminded himself. Don’t allow the enemy to force you into a position where you’re the cause of hurt to your own child.

Sascha kept a firm hold on her worry after Lucas’s message alerting her to dangerous talk in the PsyNet about Naya. It was difficult when she knew exactly the kinds of treacherous minds that hid in the dark corners of the Net and how violently some of those minds despised the primal nature of the changeling race.

To them, Sascha and Lucas’s precious child would be an abomination.

Fury churned in her gut.

“Mama!”

Wrenching her anger under control with a harsh effort of will, Sascha tightened her grip on Naya’s hands where her baby walked in front of her. Her and Lucas’s green-eyed little girl had good balance for her age and a stubborn determination to walk, but she was still little and the forest floor wasn’t exactly even, so Sascha was helping keep her upright.

Not that Naya hadn’t made a break for it once already.

For the moment, however, her tiny fingers held on firmly to Sascha’s hands, her skin soft and the color a golden honey brown. A meld of Sascha’s dark honey and Lucas’s muted gold. Anglo-Indian, Japanese, Irish, Italian, more, Naya had a beautifully complicated genetic inheritance.

“Naya!” she responded in the same delighted tone, causing her daughter to laugh that big laugh of hers.

Having driven from the aerie, she, Naya, Julian, and Roman were walking the final meters to a border section of DarkRiver’s Yosemite territory; the land had been designated a play area for the regular gatherings DarkRiver cubs had begun to have with Arrow children. The sessions had initially been meant to teach the Arrow children how to play when, prior to Aden taking control of the squad, they’d had their innocence suffocated by training that sought to turn them into pitiless assassins and nothing more.

It had very quickly morphed into a fascinating exchange: The changeling and human children taught Arrow young to laugh and to have fun, while the baby Arrows made their wilder playmates stop and think more often than they otherwise might have done. But the best things were the friendships that had begun to form, with the children talking to one another via the comm between s...

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Descripción Berkley Books, 2016. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. The unparalleled romantic adventure * of Nalini Singh s New York Times bestselling series continues as a new dawn begins for the Psy-Changeling world. A staggering transformation has put the Psy, humans, and changelings at a crossroads. The Trinity Accord promises a new era of cooperation between disparate races and groups. It is a beacon of hope held together by many hands: old enemies, new allies, wary loners. But a century of distrust and suspicion can t be so easily forgotten, and it threatens to shatter Trinity from within at any moment. As rival members vie for dominance, chaos and evil gather in the shadows and a kidnapped woman s cry for help washes up in San Francisco, while the Consortium turns its murderous gaze toward a child who is the embodiment of change, of love, of piercing hope: a child who is both Psy.and changeling. To find the lost and protect the vulnerable--and to save Trinity--no one can stand alone. This is a time of loyalty across divisions, of bonds woven into the heart and the soul, of heroes known and unknown standing back to back and holding the line. But is an allegiance of honor even possible with traitors lurking in their midst? *Publishers Weekly on Shards of Hope From the Hardcover edition. Nº de ref. de la librería BTE9781101987780

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