Unnerved, I swallowed hard. “They were like robots?”
“No.” His eyes half closed. “They were primitive, like a pack of wolves, and Dasher was their alpha.”
I think I preferred the robot comparison.
“As proud as he was of them, he didn’t see them as people—not how you and I see each other,” Eaton continued. “I learned that pretty quickly when one of them lagged behind the others. I think it was someone who had just been mutated. He wasn’t failing at the tasks. He was just behind, and he was only a boy. Couldn’t have been more than sixteen, but Dasher was disappointed.” The older man’s face paled as his eyes closed. “Dasher leaned in, whispered in the boy’s ear, and that kid just turned around and ran into the cement wall opposite of us, slamming his head into it until—God, until there was nothing but a mess left behind.”
My lips parted as nausea rose swiftly. “Jesus.”
“Where was this facility?” Luc asked as he reached over, curling his hand around my bent elbow. He tugged, pulling me over, and I went. He settled me so I sat on his right thigh.
Eaton opened his eyes. They seemed even duller. “Dalton, Ohio. At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base—”
“Hangar 18? I know of the place.” Luc folded his arm around my waist, his hand splaying out over my hip. “They were keeping Origins there.”
“The Trojans were moved out before you razed the hangar to the ground,” Eaton said, and I looked back at Luc, but he was staring at the general. “To where, I have no idea.”
Luc’s thumb moved over the curve of my stomach. “How many Trojans did you see that day?”
“Thirty.” A pause while my foot began to tap. “And then twenty-nine.”
Then twenty-nine. Sorrow swelled for a boy whose name I didn’t even know but with whom I felt an odd kinship nonetheless. I remembered hearing his voice in the woods, right before what existed inside me took hold. Prove to me you’re worth this gift of life. Show them! That voice had been full of unrelenting demand, and I now knew that voice belonged to Dasher.
All that guilt over being unable to recall how his voice sounded when I’d believed him to be my father had been wasted energy. The reason why was because I’d never heard his voice as Evie. I’d only heard Dasher’s voice as Nadia.
Luc’s arm tightened around me, pulling me back until my entire side pressed against his chest. “Is it possible there are more Trojans?”
“Not counting her?” Eaton jerked his chin at me.
A shudder rolled through me. “Don’t count me. I’m different from them.”
The general’s stare made me wonder for how long. “And not counting those activating now? There were at least a hundred fully trained that I knew of, but that was several years ago. Could be more now, but even if there aren’t, that’s a significant number. May not sound like a lot to you, but to put it into perspective, that’s a hundred of you, Luc.”
“There is only one me.” There was no teasing quality to his tone or arrogance. It was the truth. There was no one like him.
A faint smile appeared on Eaton’s face. “But there are at least a hundred capable of doing what she did and countless more who will be able to. Dasher will amass a small army, and what they’re doing out in the Yard isn’t going to make a difference. They’ll be nothing more than cannon fodder.”
“Ye of little faith,” Luc murmured, his thumb moving once more along my hip.
“None of this has anything to do with faith.” Eaton snorted as he scanned the room, his eyes narrowing on a carton. “Why don’t you be useful, Luc, and summon me one of those beers?”
“I think you’ve had enough for the entire day.”
He made another dismissive sound. “At this point, there is no such thing as enough.”
I lifted a brow, deciding to ignore that. “You said that Luc was the Darkest Star and I was the Burning Shadow. They were code names for us.” When he nodded, I continued, “What is the Brightest Night?”
“Dasher never explained what that stood for, and I did a hell of a lot of digging but never could get any clarification. All I can assume is that it’s the end goal.”
“World domination?” Luc huffed out a dry laugh. “He’s got big aspirations with his itty-bitty army of self-destructive super-soldiers.”
Frowning at Luc, Eaton shifted again on the cushion. “Hasn’t the Daedalus always had lofty goals? You’d know. After all, other than the Trojans, you are their most coveted creation.”
That reminded me of another thing I couldn’t quite understand. “You said they used me to get to Luc, as some way to possibly gain the upper hand and reel him back in, but I don’t get it. If they want to eradicate Luxen, hybrids, and Origins because they can fight back, why would they want Luc alive? Or…” My heart turned over heavily. “Or they want him dead and I totally misinterpreted all of that.”