“And were you?” Luc asked.
“It took weeks for me to fully heal, and I spent most of the war being held, along with Chris, at Raven Rock.”
“Raven Rock?” I frowned.
“A military base in Pennsylvania outfitted with all the things necessary to survive a nuclear war,” Luc explained. “I razed that base to the ground.” He said it as if he were talking about mowing the grass.
“That’s what I heard, but we were moved out by then.”
Luc’s shoulders suddenly tensed. “You were moved to Fort Detrick.”
My lips parted on a shaky inhale, and I knew. I didn’t even have to ask, but I did. “That’s where you saw me.”
“I saw you before,” Blake reminded me. “At the club. You were dancing.”
“I should’ve killed you then,” Luc snarled, and the vicious truthfulness in his words sent a shiver down my spine.
“You should’ve, but you needed me.” Blake folded his arms over his chest. “I saw you again at the fort.”
My heart started thumping. “I was trained at Fort Detrick? The whole time?”
Blake nodded. “In the part that’s far underground, beyond their level-four biohazard. You didn’t know about that place, did you, Luc?”
Luc didn’t have to answer. He hadn’t known that I had been there.
“What can you tell me about what I did there?” I asked.
“You did what they wanted you to do.” He shifted, straightening out his bent leg. “Eventually.”
“Cut the dramatics out, Blake. You know I have very little patience,” warned Luc. “That also hasn’t changed over the years.”
His jaw worked. “You weren’t down with the program when I first saw you.”
“I fought back?” I asked.
Hearing that made me want to smile. I knew that sounded insane, but the satisfaction learning I hadn’t just gone along with what the Daedalus wanted was enormous.
“That didn’t last forever,” Blake added.
Oh. A little of the satisfaction deflated.
“Are you sure you want to know?” he asked.
Luc looked to me, and I could read what he’d prefer in his eyes. If he had his way, I wouldn’t be down here. I wouldn’t hear any of this. But I could handle whatever Blake told me.
“I want to know.”
Blake shook his head as he let out a heavy sigh. “You pushed back as much as you could, refusing to learn how to fight, and when they forced you, you would refuse to use what they taught you against others.” His eyes closed. “But they always found a way to get what they wanted. I didn’t see you all the time, but when I did see you, you looked like you’d lost a fight with a heavyweight boxer.”
Luc stretched his neck to the left side and then slowly to the right.
“They beat me until I caved?” I asked, oddly unaffected by the knowledge. Maybe it was because I wasn’t all that surprised.
“Food and sleep deprivation. I know they used that, because they used that whenever they weren’t getting their way. I also know they did that because the one time I saw you, you looked like you hadn’t slept in about a week. That was in the beginning. I imagine they used other methods.” He sounded weary and weighed down. “They could get creative.”
I swallowed, not even daring a look in Luc’s direction. “And then what?”
Blake looked at Luc before he said, “They broke you.”
A charge of energy caused the air to thicken. The gas lamps flickered, and Blake unfolded his arms.
“Luc.” I reached over, placing my hand on his lower back. It’s okay. I’m still here. They didn’t break me.
It’s not okay. It will never be okay. Another ripple of energy rolled through, and then his chest rose with a deep breath.
Once I was sure Luc wasn’t going to lose his mind, I asked, “So, I became a mindless minion?”
A grimace appeared. “I don’t think you ever completely became a minion. You were different from the others.”
Breath catching, I lowered my hand. “What do you mean?”
He scooted to the edge of the bed. “I wasn’t around you all the time. It was sporadic, but you had a sense of awareness that the others never had. You tracked things differently, as if you were really seeing them. You thought before you acted, even when you did what they wanted.”
“They? Do you mean Jason Dasher?”
“Jason and the others that worked with you all. He had me in the pen once with one of you.” Blake sent Luc a quick glance. “I never fought her. I swear.”
Luc gave him a chin lift I guessed signaled that he believed him.
“What do you mean by pen?”
“It was a room where they’d pit you guys against one another—”
“White walls with a drain in the center?”
He nodded. “Made cleanup easier for them to just hose the room down afterward.”
Nausea rose as the image of blood circling the drain formed. I pushed past it. “I killed others like me?” When he didn’t speak, I stepped forward. “I want to know.”