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A Trail of Echoes(A Shade of Vampire,Book 18)(14) by Bella Forrest

As soon as all of them had exited, I walked over to the first monitor. The screen was blank, but I had learned a bit about computers from Sofia—at least, how to work a basic laptop. While these were certainly more complicated, I recognized that most of them appeared to be in sleep mode. The screens were dulled, but not completely black—there was still a light behind them. I moved the mouse. Nothing happened. I pushed a button on the keyboard. A pop-up appeared requesting a password.

Hm.

Moving away from that particular monitor, I scanned the rest of the computers. All of their screens were blank… except for one, in the far corner of the room. This was a taller and wider monitor than all the others. I walked up to it and stared at the computer, trying to make out what I was looking at. Possibly more than a thousand small white dots were speckled about the screen over a dark red background, and each moved around seemingly randomly. Some whizzed left and right, others moved slowly, while some weren’t moving at all.

I scanned all corners of the monitor, looking for clues as to what this was. But it was in full-screen mode, so I saw nothing but the dots and red background. Placing a hand over the mouse, I moved it until a cursor showed on the screen. I glided it upward and clicked the minimize button.

A pop-up window appeared.

“Minimizing window will stall motion sensors. Hit ‘Y’ to continue, or ‘N’ cancel.”

I held my breath as I stared at the words.

Stall motion sensors.

Realization fell upon me like a block of wood.

These white dots. They were my family. My friends. My people.

I didn’t know how they were detecting our movements and keeping tabs on every single one of us. I could only guess that they must have some sort of advanced satellite technology that was able to sense movement that the witches’ spell wasn’t blocking.

A chill settled in at the base of my spine as I wondered what else they had discovered about us. How else they were watching us.

I started as Ibrahim’s voice rose above the loud siren behind me. “Derek.”

“What?”

“We need to go.”

Before I could object, the warlock’s hand closed around my shoulder and the next thing I knew, I was hurtling through air at the speed of light. When my feet hit solid ground again, we were back at the jetty of our Port.

My mind was reeling as I tried to process what I had just witnessed. I felt irritated that Ibrahim had removed us from the ship after so little time. If I’d stayed longer, there were many more things that I might have discovered from that unlocked computer.

As he removed the invisibility spell from both of us, I turned on him.

“What happened?” I asked, trying to reel in my frustration. Ibrahim would not have brought us back here so soon without good reason.

He gazed back out at the ship we had just left, disturbance in his eyes.

“That alarm,” he said, “I didn’t set it off.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean I didn’t deliberately set it off. I was vanishing myself from room to room, looking for a fire alarm of some sort to trigger, but as I paused in a corridor, that siren went off, and I… I heard someone yelling: ‘Witch on board!’”

I stared at Ibrahim.

“Witch on board?” I repeated, wondering if I had somehow misheard.

He nodded, fixing his eyes on me. “The hunters are gaining intelligence faster than we’ve given them credit for. They have sensors, a radar, or something on the ship that is incredibly astute.” He looked like he was still in disbelief himself. “They were able to pinpoint not only that some kind of supernatural had set foot on the ship, but exactly what kind… I guess they didn’t sense you because you’re still a human. Perhaps they’re not yet at the level of detecting a fire-wielder.”

I held up a hand. “Wait. Are you sure that nobody could’ve seen you?”

Ibrahim breathed out impatiently. “No. I was invisible, Derek. Just as you were.”

My mind reeled at the implications of Ibrahim’s words. If they could detect witches, what other supernatural creatures could they detect? Vampires for sure, but what else?

And how on earth could they have developed such technology so quickly?

I had no idea how such systems could work. But I didn’t need to understand. The fact was, the hunters were upping their game in ways that none of us—not even Eli or Aiden—had dreamed of. And now we knew for certain that it wasn’t just vampires they were targeting, it was all supernaturals.

Although in theory Ibrahim and I could have stayed on the ship longer—after all, he was a powerful warlock—he’d been right to return us to The Shade. We did not know what tricks and surprises the hunters had up their sleeves with their new technology, and it was better not to aggravate them.

“Did you manage to discover anything at all?” Ibrahim asked.

After I explained what I had seen, his jaw dropped.

I looked up at the dark sky. “You and Corrine need to work on reinforcing the spell so that our movements will be invisible to their sensors also.”

He nodded. “I’ll go and see her. We’ll try to fix this as soon as possible.”

Then he vanished.

Casting one last glance back at the ships, I left the Port. As I made my way toward the Residences to find my wife, it chilled me to imagine those black-clad hunters watching my every step from their control room.

Chapter 10: Sofia