Home > Blackout (Crossbreed #5)

Blackout (Crossbreed #5)
Author: Dannika Dark

Chapter 1

Idug my knee into the Sensor’s neck, pinning his unshaven face even harder against the concrete.

“I thought February was supposed to be the coldest month.”

From his seat on the man’s back, Christian twisted the wrapper off a peppermint. “I can’t say I’ve noticed a difference.”

“Well, I’m getting hot.”

“Take off your fecking coat.”

“Get off me,” the man growled.

I had his arms pinned, and every so often, he’d test me.

“People pee in alleyways,” I pointed out.

“There’s no way I’m setting my leather jacket on

the ground.”

Christian crunched on his candy. “Then perhaps next time you should capture your victim in front of a café where there are chairs to drape your garments over.”

“You’re the one who dragged him into the alley.”

“It’s a dead end.”

“Like all your past relationships?”

“Nobody died at the end of mine. Can’t say the same about the men in your past.”

I glanced up at an Italian-looking man on a balcony three stories up. After lighting up his slim cigar, he flicked the extinguished match into the dumpster below. The longer we sat there, the more onlookers we were going to attract.

Christian eyed the man with measured interest before tucking his wrapper into his coat pocket.

I shook my hair out of my eyes, my back muscles beginning to ache as I kept the man’s wrists pinned to the concrete. The hole in my jeans ripped wider, exposing my knee. What I really wanted was to stand up and stretch, but we had to restrain this idiot until the Regulators arrived. I’d already blasted him once, but I didn’t want to use

up all my energy. “Got another one of those mints?”

“Sorry, lass. My last one.”

“Liar.”

The radiant sunshine took the chill out of the air. No wind, no snow, and to top it off, the temperature was hovering somewhere in the fifties.

You could never predict what the weather might do in Cognito.

“How long does it take for Regulators to actually show up?” I complained, my face flushed and sweat tickling the back of my neck.

Christian glanced at his imaginary watch.

“Dead or alive is a flexible option. Care to switch plans and call the cleaners instead?”

“That works for me.”

Our prisoner grunted defiantly, so I put more pressure on his wrists. While Christian was only jesting, sinking my teeth into this animal and sucking the life out of him tempted me in ways I couldn’t articulate. We’d spent the past week tracking this scumbag after receiving an anonymous tip that he was selling sensory child porn on the streets. Traders lifting experiences from certified pedophiles and offering them for sale was the

lowest form of sensory exchange.

Some shady sellers argued that buying an experience wasn’t the same as committing a crime.

They called it Sensorship—a play on words using the Sensor name to describe prohibiting the sale of emotional experiences derived from criminal acts.

It was a bullshit excuse. Deviants fed on those insidious desires, and eventually a sensory exchange wouldn’t be enough. Had I caught this asshole before Keystone came along, I would have tortured him for a long time before killing him. He wasn’t a big guy, but you had to be careful when fighting a Sensor. They used their gifts as a weapon, filling their attacker with paralyzing feelings of pain, sometimes even death.

“I hope they cut off your hands,” I muttered.

Christian scratched his beard. “That’s not all I hope they cut off.” He turned a sharp eye toward the man. “I think we should switch places. I feel a little gassy this morning. Let’s turn him faceup so I can rest my arse on his—”

“Good afternoon,” a voice boomed from behind me.

Chills ran down my spine. They always did when either Regulators of the Security Force or

Mageri Enforcers were around. That rogue side of me wanted to bolt. They rarely introduced themselves or cared about anything other than conducting interviews and serving warrants.

“I’m Merry, and this is Weather.”

I furrowed my brow and peered over my shoulder. Two blond Chitahs approached, katanas fastened to their hips. The one in the red coat had wispy hair down to his shoulders. His mean-looking friend had a wide Mohawk trimmed short, which would have been the most distinguishable feature about him had it not been for his unibrow. Unlike his partner, he wore the standard Regulator attire of all black, his long coat open so he had access to his sword.

“Have a gander at the two pussies,” Christian murmured. “Aren’t they a fetching pair?”

Christian didn’t hold Chitahs in high regard.

Hell, he didn’t hold anyone in high regard.

Merry, the long-haired one, looked unfazed by Christian’s irreverent remarks. With one hand on the pommel of his sword, he tilted his head and regarded the Sensor beneath us. “I prefer to get the jokes out of the way so we can get down to business.”

Christian turned the ring on his finger. “Have it your way. You can tell me all about how your garden grows later, Mary.”

“It’s Merry with an m-e. Is this him?”

I quickly replaced my knee with my foot and stood up. “Yep.”

Merry strode around to the other side and squatted in front of our prisoner. He removed a folded-up document from his inside coat pocket and held it in front of the man’s face. “Jefferson Randall, by order of the higher authority, the Regulators of the Security Force hereby place you under arrest. You’re a declared outlaw, and as such, we have a signed warrant for your arrest. You will be placed in the Breed jail and remain there until the hearing when the court determines your fate.”

“For what?” the man growled.

“On the charge of illegal sensory exchange.”

Merry leaned in tight, and his upper and lower fangs slid into view. “For crimes against children.”

“I’m not doing anything every other Sensor isn’t.”

“You can plead your case to the court, but we’ve already detained five of your customers, and each has confirmed that the sensory exchanges are

illegal in nature and, if I might add, dastardly. If you choose to run, I’ll slice off your testicles. The warrant requires that we hand you over alive, but it doesn’t specify in one piece.”

“I would have pegged your buddy as the menacing one,” I said to Merry.

Most people were easy to read, so it made me wonder how a seemingly affable guy like Merry could be so blasé about mutilating his prisoners.

Merry’s golden eyes swung up to mine, and he rose to his feet. “A kind face reveals nothing about the man beneath. We all wear masks.”

I bit my lip and stared down at Jefferson. “Mind if I test that theory? He’s not technically in your custody just yet, is he?”

Merry stepped back and inclined his head. A gust of wind blew a broad swath of hair across his face, but the shine in his eyes pierced through and kept watch on my every move.

Christian grinned wolfishly. “If you’re planning to blast him with energy, might I suggest you go for the manly bits?”

“It hurts worse in the head,” I informed him, my foot still on Jefferson’s neck.

With lightning speed, Christian flipped the

Sensor onto his back. “Do you have any personal experience to back that up?”

Jefferson tried to spit on me, but it landed back in his face.

I scrunched my nose at Christian’s suggestion.

“Maybe you should check him for genital lice before I put my hands down there.”

“Fecking not.”

I snorted and took my foot off the man’s neck.

The moment I let my guard down, assuming he’d behave around Regulators, he seized my ankle, fingers searching for bare skin.

Before so much as a flutter of sensory magic entered my body, Merry’s sword sliced through Jefferson’s wrist. Blood sprayed against the concrete as the fat-nosed deviant clutched the bleeding stump and bellowed in agony.

Merry positioned his blade against the man’s throat. “Do that again, Sensor.”

The dare went unchallenged.

Regulators carried out beheadings, and while not all of them participated in the executions, the job required a merciless outlook to hold that position. A man who didn’t bargain. A man whose every action was supported by the law.

I clutched Jefferson by the balls. “Lights out.”

The Sensor convulsed, eyes bulging and mouth open in a silent scream. He was still reeling from the loss of his hand, so I gave him extra—enough to knock him unconscious but not kill the bastard.

Two Regulators with sharp swords were standing too close for me to do anything brazen.

“Your name?” Merry asked.

I stood up to address the svelte man with the small mouth and narrow nose. “Raven.”

“Fitting.”

Christian stepped into view. “We’re done here.

Say your goodbyes to the dry shite, and let’s go.”

As he stalked off, Weather rubbed his nose.

I rocked on my heels and gave Merry a detailed appraisal, from his shiny black boots to his black gloves. “What’s up with the red coat? I usually see you guys in black.”

“I recently transferred from Alberta, Canada.

Up there, our coats are red. My new boss hasn’t pressed the issue on my attire.”

“Maybe he’d rather pocket that money since you already have a uniform.”

Weather folded his thick arms and huffed like a bull about to charge a matador. “Are you accusing

our superior of stealing?”

Slander laws, Raven. Shut up and get your ass out of here.

“Just kidding,” I sang, remembering they could smell fear. Ignoring Weather’s question, I kept my attention on Merry. “Don’t file that little fireworks show I did in your report. Not unless you also include the part where you let it happen.”

“Let me allay your fears by giving you my word as a Chitah.” Merry bowed, his eyes never shifting away from mine.

Unnerved by the intensity of his gaze, I clumsily turned away. Once I caught up with my partner, I glanced over my shoulder to spy Merry kicking Jefferson in the ribs.

“That was unrewarding,” I said. “It’s like those fishermen who do a catch and release. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to this.”

Christian squinted, his sunglasses still in my truck. “What are you prattling on about? He’s going to jail and missing his good hand, if you get my meaning.”

“What if he has friends in high places who owe him a favor?” I kicked a pebble, and it skidded into the street. “Sometimes it feels like we’re wasting

our time if they’re just going to be free to walk the streets again.”

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