Smoke and shadows.
I’d done the Arum thing—the thing April had done. I was there, but not. The officer whirled, and I threw my hand out. It was there—the dark, fuzzy outline of it was, at least—and it went straight through the man’s chest. Blood sprayed my face as I drew my arm back. The man’s shout ended as he collapsed, folded like a paper sack. I watched my arm solidify, watched my legs become more than just the shape.
I lifted my head to where Luc stood feet from me. His wide eyes met mine. “Did you see that?” I asked.
He nodded. “You went all Arum there for a moment.”
“I didn’t know I could—”
Luc grabbed my arm, thrusting me to the side as he shoved his hand out. A bolt of the Source erupted from his palm and hit the chest of the man who had come up directly behind me.
“Thank you,” I said, turning around and finding Grayson taking out another officer. I was going to have to take what I’d just done and set it aside to get excited over later.
Luc and Grayson made quick work of the remaining officers. Within minutes, the field was scattered with bodies, and the scent of burned flesh and blood was heavy in the air. I felt the sudden awareness of an incoming Luxen. My gaze darted to the sudden bright light that rushed through the trees. The Luxen solidified, becoming human.
“Daemon.” Surprise gave way to fear. “Is everything—”
“Everything is fine, and they’ve been warned. I came back to help.” He strode forward. “Doesn’t look like you guys needed it.”
“Told you we had it handled,” Luc responded, reaching down and lifting the helmet off one of the officers. “Jesus. This guy can’t be any older than we are.”
I didn’t want to feel the pinch of sadness over a life lost long before he entered this field, or what could have led anyone to sign up to work for an organization like the Daedalus.
They believe they’re on the right side of history, Luc told me as he rose. They always do.
“Please tell me Morton is among them,” Daemon said.
“Sorry,” Grayson said. “He hasn’t made an appearance yet.”
“Are the others okay?” Nate asked from where he sat on his knees, arms tight to his chest.
Daemon spared him a brief glance. “They’re fine. Being welcomed right now with blankets and warm soup, I believe.”
Nate closed his eyes, shoulders caving in. I was relieved to hear that the children made it and that so far nothing had happened at the community, but—
Branches snapped under the fall of booted feet, and we spun back to the cement wall. Out from behind it stepped Morton. One hand was on the tiny shoulder of the small girl. She had her blanket. It trembled like a limp flag, and she looked too terrified to cry, to make a sound.
A nasty, bloodthirsty smile pulled at my lips as I walked forward. He would not hurt that little girl. He would not hurt Luc or Grayson or Nate. He would not hurt me.
“I wouldn’t take another step forward,” Morton advised, lifting his other hand. He held something small. “If you do, I’ll push in on this button my thumb is already resting on. You’re fast, but I’ll hit this button in time. You may hurt me. You may kill me. But you will activate this time.”41He held the Cassio Wave between his fingers.
The Source didn’t care about that. The desire to lash out, to destroy him, caused tiny muscles all along my body to twitch as I forced myself still. My entire body trembled as I eyed his hand. I could take him. I could get to him before he pressed—
Careful, Luc’s voice intruded. You’re fast, but his finger is on the button.
Drawing in a deep, steady breath, I lifted my chin.
“That’s right.” Morton smiled. “You may be powerful. All of you are, but what I hold in my hand is real power.”
My lip curled, and a sound came from me that I didn’t even know I was capable of making. It was a low trill that I’d only ever heard Sarah make the day she mutated.
“Yeah, you don’t like hearing that,” Morton replied.
“Let the girl go,” Luc said. “Whatever you think is going to happen here doesn’t involve her.”
“Please,” Nate pleaded from where he was on his knees, within arm’s reach of Grayson. “You promised if I brought—”
“You didn’t do exactly what I asked, Nate. Not remotely surprised. Following basic instructions has never been your strong suit.” Morton never took his eyes off me. “But she’s right, what I know is going to happen here doesn’t involve her.”
Morton lifted his fingers from her shoulder. The little girl didn’t move, her terrified gaze full of exhaustion and fear. I could tell she probably wondered if this was some sort of trick.