A shudder worked its way through me. And now I was going to know the truth.
Tugging the hem of his shirt down, he faced me. The shirt only helped a little. “And healing humans can have strange side effects. If they healed a human multiple times or if it was a massive job, like legit saving someone’s life, it could change the human.”
I took a sip of the soda as Luc made his way back to the couch. “Mutate them?”
“Yep.” He sat down next to me. “In some cases, not all, the human would take on some of the Luxen’s characteristics, able to use the Source. They would be stronger and they wouldn’t get sick.”
I mouthed that word. Hybrid. It sounded like something straight out of a science-fiction novel. “But those hybrids are still . . . human, right?”
“Yes? No?” He shrugged. “I guess that’s up for debate, but what isn’t is that everything changed once the Daedalus realized the Luxen didn’t get sick and that they could heal humans. Groups like the Daedalus started out with the best of intentions. They studied the Luxen, seeing if they could use their genetics to cure human diseases, everything from”—exhaling roughly, he looked away—“the common cold to certain cancers. The Daedalus knew the key to eradicating diseases was in Luxen DNA. They developed treatments and serums derived from Luxen DNA. Some of them worked.” Another terse pause. “Some of them didn’t.”
Stunned, I stayed quiet and listened.
“It blew the door off what was possible when they learned that the Luxen could mutate humans, turning that human into a hybrid of sorts.
“Sometimes the human wouldn’t mutate. They’d become normal again. Other times they . . . sort of self-destructed. There’s some . . . mysticism involved in the mutation of a human, so the Daedalus studied that, coming up with treatments to insure that the mutations took hold. The Daedalus was dedicated to improving human life. They were doing some good. For a while.”
I had a feeling things were going to take a sharp turn.
“Studies turned into experiments, the kind that violated probably every level of ethics that ever existed. It didn’t take long for them to realize that a Luxen could breed with a human he’d mutated, producing children that were in many ways more powerful than a Luxen.” He paused. “And the Daedalus experimented on them—many generations of those children. Keeping some around. Destroying others who didn’t meet their expectations.”
Revulsion rolled through me as I leaned forward, placing my can on the floor. “Oh my God.”
“Many of those children never met their parents.” Luc’s features sharpened like a blade. “Then . . . the Daedalus was partnered with the Defense Department. It became more about creating soldiers than about curing diseases. Entire generations of those children grew up in labs and hidden facilities. Some never stepping outside. Many died in the same twelve-by-twelve room they were raised in. Others were planted into the military, government positions—billion-dollar companies.”
My jaw was practically in my lap. This was . . . This was wow.
He put his hand on the couch beside my thigh and leaned in. “Whatever passion some of those doctors had in the beginning became twisted.” Slowly, he lifted his gaze to mine, and I sucked in an unsteady breath. “Especially when they started forcing the breeding.”
Sick to my stomach, I wanted to look away from Luc, but it felt like that was like looking away from the truth, from what I knew he was going to say.
Luc lifted his arm and slowly began rolling the sleeve of his shirt up, exposing a powerful forearm. He looked over his shoulder, raising his other hand. Something flew off the kitchen countertop and landed in his hand. I realized it was a knife, a very sharp one.
“When you cut a Luxen, they will heal in a couple of minutes, sometimes longer, depending on how deep.” The sharp point hovered over his taut skin. “When you cut a hybrid, they, too, will heal. Not as fast, but definitely quicker than a human.”
I clasped my hands together. “Luc—”
Pressing down, he dragged the knife over his skin, slicing deep. Bluish-red blood beaded on his flesh. Before I could launch myself off the couch to grab towels, the skin closed over the wound, sealing up.
“Holy crap.” No blood. No cut. It was like he hadn’t just sliced his skin open. My gaze shot to his.
“But a child of a Luxen and a hybrid—an Origin—heals immediately.”
Understanding flared to life as I glanced down at his arm and then back to his striking face. “You . . . You’re one of those kids?”
He nodded and then leaned to the side, placing the knife on the end table. “Watch.”
I was so watching.
A faint white glow appeared over his pointer finger. Leaning away, my eyes widened to the size of saucers. “Don’t—”