Luc led me along the cracked cement of the walkway and onto wooden steps that groaned under our weight. He knocked on the door, and it wasn’t more than a few seconds later that it opened.
“I figured you two would be here first thing in the morning.” General Eaton stepped aside, revealing a small room that smelled of must and was lit by a gas lamp in the corner. “Didn’t think I’d have to send someone to retrieve you.”
Luc simply grinned. “It was a long trip here.”
The general huffed in response.
“You’ve been good?” Luc asked, letting go of my hand and letting me step in first. He closed the door behind me.
“Been better and been worse.” He turned, walking back to a leather couch that had a tear down the back. He picked up a bottle of amber-colored liquid. “I’d offer you something to drink, but all I have right now is warm beer and you two are still underage.”
Luc snorted. “Really? We’re still following laws around here?”
“If we don’t, we lose civilization.” He sat. “And we can’t have that.”
“No, we can’t,” Luc murmured while I tried to figure out if the general normally drank beer this early in the morning.
Scanning the room, I saw piles of books and rolled maps stacked against the wall. It was like he’d pillaged a library or a bookstore, which was totally possible. This home didn’t resemble the one we were staying in, where it still had the remnants of the previous owner’s personality. This house, at least this room, was gutted and stark, looking every bit the way a home would appear after an apocalypse.
“I know why you both wanted to talk to me. Especially you.” That was said to me. Leather creaked under his slim frame as he leaned back against the cushion. “You want to ask about what you are.”
I nodded, liking that he cut to the point.
Luc sat on several reinforced crates. “Something I got to address. She was around after the invasion, but you never met her when she was Nadia.”
“You’re right. I never officially met her, but I did meet the real Evie Dasher,” he replied.
That I wasn’t expecting.
Luc straightened. Apparently he hadn’t expected it either. “When did that happen?”
“When she was a young girl, a few years before her death.” He took a sip of his beer. “The resemblance between you is uncanny.”
“I … I wasn’t sure how much I looked like her. I saw pictures of her, but.…”
“You could’ve passed as cousins. Maybe even sisters. The resemblance was pure luck,” he said.
“Really?” I asked.
He nodded. “You were a part of the Poseidon Project, the blending of human DNA with that of a Luxen and an Arum. You were a sleeper—a Trojan, living like a human until you would be activated. Just like what is happening all across the United States as we speak. They can’t be detected, not by RAC drones or any developed technology.”
“Well, you definitely do know what she is.” Luc rested his arms on his bent knees. “What is the purpose of the Poseidon Project?”
“Not world domination,” Eaton answered, taking another drink. “But domination of the universe.”
“Really?” Luc’s tone was as dry as the desert. “Did we slip and fall into an Avengers movie?”
“When has it ever been anything else for the Daedalus? When have they ever had a different purpose?” the general responded, and I crossed my arms. “They want to be grand puppeteers, pulling the strings of everyone, from world leaders to city council officials, and whatever exists out there, in the vastness that is the universe. In their minds, they’re striving to create a better world. They’re not the villains. At least they don’t think so. They believe they’re the heroes of the story. That has always been the Daedalus, and you know that, Luc, better than most.”
“How is that possible?” I asked, remembering what April had told me. “How do they not know what they’re doing is wrong?”
“Throughout history, a lot of very smart people have convinced themselves that what they believe in, what their ideologies are, is better for the general masses. This has happened a thousand times over. This is nothing new.”
“How exactly do they plan to make the world a better place by forcing Luxen to mutate and turning ordinary humans into Luxen-Arum hybrids?” I asked, thinking that was a damn valid question.
So I had no idea why he laughed.
“Because at the end of the day, those who control the Daedalus and who run our government, and the world, are the one percent of the one percenters. That is also nothing new. Everything that ever happens in this world happens to the benefit of them, billionaires and CEOs, old money and new, and they’re in the pockets of all the politicians since the beginning of time.”
Luc pressed his lips together and nodded. “Thanks for the sucky but accurate history of U.S. Civics not taught in schools, but that really doesn’t answer our questions.”