Sure, I had some messy baggage, a whole lot of missing memories, and I was possibly a psychotic alien hybrid that may or may not one day go completely banana pants on everyone, but I was still here. I was still standing on my own two feet.
Luc dipped his head and murmured into my ear, “That’s because you’re a badass.”
“Stop reading my mind,” I said, and he tilted his head up, winking. I sighed. “But thank you,” I tacked on, because I needed to be reminded of that fact.
A half grin appeared a second later when my stomach grumbled, empty. The energy bars Luc and I had grabbed before meeting obviously hadn’t been enough.
Cheeks flushing, I dragged my gaze from Luc’s. Only I’d be hungry after learning such traumatic news. “Did she … Do you think she still loved Dasher?”
“I can’t answer that.” Eaton dragged a thumb along his chin.
“A Luxen doesn’t always have to love the person they’re healing.” Luc’s hand curled into the back of my shirt. “Remember, some are just extraordinarily good at it. Sylvia could’ve been, or she could’ve been properly motivated, something the Daedalus became very skilled at doing. Loving someone means they have a higher chance of being successful, especially for those who aren’t adept or don’t have the experience.”
“And it also means it’s more likely that the mutation would take hold without the human dying in the process,” Eaton added. “That’s the part the Daedalus could never figure out. There are degrees of science to the process, but there’s a mysticism to it that hasn’t been fully explained or understood.”
Pressing my lips together, I briefly squeezed my eyes shut. What if she had loved him?
“She could’ve, Evie.” Luc’s voice was quiet. “Maybe she was feeling a lot more hate than love. Emotions are complicated.” His eyes searched mine. “But it—”
“It doesn’t matter.” Eaton tipped his head back against the bare wall that once had been the color of butter.
Luc’s gaze sharpened on Eaton.
“You’re right. It really doesn’t.” And that was the truth, and it hit me with the speed of a racing freight train. There were more important things—stuff that mattered in the here and now. Placing a hand over my still-grumbling stomach, I considered the one thing that could make this situation so much worse. “Do you think she…” Throat dry, I tried again. “Do you think Dasher was mutated?”2Out of all those who could access the Source, a hybrid was the weakest. They became exhausted when using the Source, unlike Luxen or Origins, and they couldn’t heal. However, they weren’t something to take lightly. Doing so was like saying a ton of dynamite wasn’t dangerous. Yeah, compared to a nuclear bomb, it wasn’t as bad, but it could still take out a city block.
A hybrid, a trained one, wouldn’t be easy to kill.
As soon as that thought finished, my eyes widened. Here I was thinking about how hard it would be to kill someone and not about the actual act of killing them. I wasn’t even fazed, which probably meant I was a good candidate for some extensive therapy.
“What do you think, Eaton?” Luc asked. “Has Dasher gone and gotten an all-new upgraded, sporty version of himself?”
“I can’t answer that, either.” Eaton dropped his hand to his knee. “I haven’t seen Dasher since the war ended, when I learned about the Poseidon Project. Obviously, we had a falling-out after that.”
“But if he is, he’s going to be harder to deal with.” I folded my arms over my chest, chilled despite the lack of airflow.
“Hybrid, human, or chupacabra, he won’t stand a chance against me,” Luc stated. Surprisingly, that wasn’t coming from a place of extreme cockiness. It was just the simple truth. “Or you.”
It took me a moment to realize he was speaking to me. Surprised, I blinked. Not like I didn’t remember what I’d done in those woods. I’d touched the ground and the soil had moved like a hundred vipers. My words and thoughts had turned to action without me even touching the men. I’d uprooted trees and broken entire bodies with a curl of my hand.
But it was still hard to think of myself as dangerous.
“He wouldn’t stand a chance against me if I somehow learn how to … access those abilities and … you know, not try to kill you or any other friendly in the process,” I told him.
“Technicalities,” he murmured.
My eyes narrowed. “That’s a pretty big technicality.”
“Like I said, Peaches, I’m not worried.”
“You should be,” Eaton commented. “I am.”
Man, this guy should give anti-motivational speeches.
“The Trojans are the Daedalus’ crowning achievement. They succeeded where they failed with the hybrids and Origins, eradicating the whole idea of free will and sense of self. They have a true hive mentality, responding to who they view as their m—”