But it was too late.
Luc’s head kicked back as he jerked his hand away. Strings of white light that pulsed with intense black shadows attached to his fingers. The Source throbbed in tune with my heart. I could feel it pouring out of me and into him in fast, crashing waves, and I saw it seep into his skin, sink through his bone and muscle, to his very core. His eyes went wide as streaks of white shattered the purple. The mass of twisting, throbbing power swallowed him whole. His arm flexed around me, and then it was gone.
I hit the ground hard, weakened and unprepared for the sudden lack of support. Stunned that Luc had let go, had let me fall, I lifted my head and looked up as what was left of the Source throbbed weakly.
I couldn’t even see him.
The light around him was so intense, stronger than the other night he’d done this. He had taken more this time, almost all of it. The swirling black-and-white light spun around him until it smoothed out and he was nothing more than the outline of a man colored in the shade of brilliant moonlight.
He blazed brighter than any Luxen, than any star. The entire area, as far as I could see, was lit up. He turned the darkest night to the brightest part of the day.
I stared at him, eyes watering, as he seemed to continue to grow in power, becoming even brighter, and for some reason I thought of what Eaton had said.
You had to know, Luc, that they would find some way to reel you back in.
It was the one thing neither of us could figure out, the one thing that even Blake had wondered. Why would they need to reel Luc back in when they had me, when they had the other Trojans?
You’re the burning shadow and he’s the darkest star, and together, you will bring about the brightest night.
The Brightest Night.
“Hell,” Grayson murmured, having slipped out of his true form, just like Daemon had. He held his arm up to shield his eyes. “I’m hoping that’s normal.”
Slowly, I looked over to Morton. He should be panicking, and I should already be activating. Obviously, he had to have known by now that Luc and I hadn’t simply said goodbye, but I felt the same, and Morton …
He stood there, a hand up to block some of the intensity. He wasn’t freaking out. He wasn’t hitting the button repeatedly. He just stood there like he’d expected this.
The Brightest Night.
Understanding began to dawn, one so horrifying and so final, I didn’t want to accept it. I didn’t want to believe. I just couldn’t. Pulse pounding, I swung my head back to Luc. I tried to reach out to him, sending my thoughts directly at him.
Nothing and then—
A rush of ice and fire and power, so much pure, potent power—the kind that could level cities, wipe out civilizations, and erase entire histories. My mind immediately retreated, and the Source flared, deep in my core. It struggled, a mere spark compared to Luc’s inferno, but it pulsed, triggered by a very real, very bad threat.
Suddenly, I thought of the dream I’d had when I’d slept all those days. Luc and I facing each another, a city utterly destroyed in the background. Slowly, I staggered to my feet as my gaze swept back to where Morton stood.
Lowering his hand, he stared back at me, and he nodded.
I almost fell again.
Nothing felt real as I was forced to accept that none of us, not a single one of us, had given the Daedalus enough credit. In every way possible, we’d underestimated their plans, their foresight.
This had been their plan from the very beginning.
I stared at Luc.
This had been Nancy Husher’s legacy.
Pressing the back of my hand against my mouth, I turned to Morton.
Opening his hand, he dropped the device to the floor.
“That’s just…,” Daemon said. “That’s just an old key fob.”
“I lied.” Morton lowered his hand, his gaze fixed on me. “Sergeant Dasher will be so proud of you, Nadia. You didn’t let him down. He knew you wouldn’t fail him. Thank you.”
“What in the hell is this soon-to-be-dead man talking about?” Daemon growled.
“You may have been the strongest Luxen, but you were never the smartest,” Morton replied.
Daemon took a step toward the man, snarling as the white haze of the Source surrounded him.
“Don’t,” I warned, and then I roped Daemon in place with my mind before he made his child an orphan.
He tried to lift his foot, struggled to move. His wide-eyed gaze swung to me. “You’d better not be doing what I think you are.”
I was, and he was just going to have deal with it. So was Grayson as I leashed him to where he stood. I didn’t know how long I was going to be able to hold them. I had no idea what would happen if any of them charged Morton, and I didn’t need to be worrying about them. My focus returned to Luc. There was still a chance. He’d just taken the power. He was absorbing it, and once that happened, he’d be different, but he’d be okay. He was last time. There was still a—