I don’t know. The only ones I’ve really been around are the doctor, the sergeant, and Archer. She paused, her nose wrinkling. It did that whenever she was concentrating. You know, I always thought Archer might be on Team Not Insane, but knowing that he’s one of them—an origin—I don’t know what to think of him.

I thought about that for a moment. He’s been good to you, hasn’t he?

Some of the color leeched from her cheeks. Yeah, he has been.

Counting to ten before I continued, I said, And the other ones really haven’t been?

She didn’t answer immediately. Talking about that stuff isn’t going to help us get out of here.

Most likely not, but—

“Daemon,” she said out loud, eyes narrowing. We need a plan to get out of here. That’s what I need. Not a therapy session.

I rose to my feet. I don’t know. Therapy might help that temper of yours, Kitten.

Whatever. She folded her arms, lips pursed. So, back to other options? Sounds like everything will be a Hail Mary. And anything we attempt, if we’re busted, we’re totally, irrevocably screwed.

Holding my breath, I slipped back into my human form, then shook my shoulders out. “Sounds about right,” I agreed.



Days passed, and while there weren’t any more origins running amuck through the compound, and no one was trying to coerce Daemon and me into making babies like there was no tomorrow, a general sense of unease had settled over me.

My stress tests had picked back up, but they didn’t involve any other hybrids. For some reason, I was kept away from the others, though I knew they were still there. During my tests, I was forced to use the Source for a really messed-up version of target practice.

Minus the guns and bullets.

It still blew my mind that they were actually training me, like I had been drafted into the army. A day or so ago, while we were in the bathroom, I had asked Daemon again about the other Luxen.

A look of surprise had flickered over his face. “What?”

Having a conversation while knowing that we were most likely being listened to was difficult. Very quickly and quietly, I had told him about Shawn and what Dasher had said.

“That’s insane.” He’d shaken his head. “I mean, I’m sure there are Luxen out there who hate humans, but an invasion? Thousands of Luxen turning on mankind? I don’t believe that.”

And I could see that he didn’t. I wanted to believe that, too. I didn’t think he had reason to lie to me, but Daedalus had so many sides to them. One of them had to be the truth.

All of this was so much bigger than Daemon and me. We wanted out of here, to have a future where we weren’t a freak science experiment or controlled by a secret organization, but what Daedalus was doing with the origins had far-reaching implications that went beyond what either of us could understand.

I kept thinking of the Terminator movies, about how the computers became self-aware and then nuked the hell out of the world. Take out the computers and replace them with origins. Heck, replace them with Luxen, Arum, or hybrids, and we had an apocalyptical event on our hands. Stuff like this never ended well in the movies or books. Why would real life be any different?

We hadn’t gotten any further in our escape plans, either. We sort of sucked at that, and I wanted to be mad at Daemon for exposing himself to this with no clear plan, but I couldn’t, because he had done it for me.

It was sometime after lunch had been brought that Archer showed up and escorted me to the med room. I expected to see Daemon, but they had gotten him earlier. I hated not knowing what was going on with him.

“What are we doing today?” I asked, sitting on the table. We were alone in the room.

“We’re waiting on the doctor.”

“That much I figured.” I glanced at Archer and took a deep breath. “What does it feel like? Being an origin?”

He folded his arms. “What does it feel like being a hybrid?”

“I don’t know.” I shrugged. “I guess I feel like I’ve always felt.”

“Exactly,” he replied. “We aren’t that different.”

He was completely different from anything I’d ever seen. “Do you know your parents?”


“And that doesn’t bother you?”

There was a pause. “Well, it’s not something I’ve dwelled on. I can’t change the past. There’s very little I can change about anything.”

I hated the bland tone, as if none of this affected him at all. “So you are what you are? And that’s it?”

“Yes. That is it, Katy.”

Pulling my legs up, I sat cross-legged. “Were you raised here?”

“Yes. I grew up here.”

“Did you ever live anyplace else?”

“I did for a short period of time. Once I got older we were moved to a different location for our training.” He paused. “You’re asking a lot of questions.”

“So?” I popped my chin onto my fist. “I’m curious. Have you ever lived on your own, in the outside world?”

His jaw flexed, and then he shook his head.

“Have you ever wanted to?”

He opened his mouth and then closed it. He didn’t answer.

“You have.” I knew I was right. I couldn’t see his eyes under the beret, and his expression hadn’t changed, but I knew it. “But they won’t let you, will they? So you’ve never been to a regular school? Gone to an Applebee’s?”

“I’ve been to an Applebee’s,” he responded drily. “And an Outback, too.”

“Well, congrats. You’ve seen everything.”

His mouth twitched. “Your sarcasm is not needed.”

“Have you ever been to a mall? Gone to a normal library? Have you fallen in love?” I shot off questions left and right, knowing I was probably getting on his nerves. “Have you dressed up for Halloween and gone trick-or-treating? Do you celebrate Christmas? Ever eaten an overcooked turkey and pretended it tasted good?”

“I’m assuming you’ve done all those things.” When I nodded, he took a step forward, and then suddenly he was in my face, leaning down so low that the beret touched my forehead. It shocked me, because I hadn’t seen him move, but I refused to back away. A small smile appeared on his lips. “I’m also assuming there’s a point to these questions. That maybe you want to somehow prove to me that I haven’t lived, that I haven’t experienced life, all the mundane things that actually give a person reason for living. Is that what you’re trying to do?”

Unable to look away from him, I swallowed. “Yes.”

“You don’t have to prove that or point it out to me,” he said, then straightened. Without speaking out loud, I heard his next words in my thoughts. I already know I haven’t truly lived a single day, Katy. All of us know that.

I gasped at the intrusion of his voice and at the bleak hopelessness of his words. “All of you?” I whispered.

He nodded as he took a step back. “All of us.”

The door opened, silencing us. Dr. Roth came in, followed by the sergeant, Nancy, and another guard. Our conversation immediately dropped out of my thoughts. Seeing the sergeant and Nancy together didn’t bring good tidings.

Roth went straight to the tray and started messing with the instruments there. Ice drenched my veins when he picked up a scalpel. “What’s going on?”

Nancy sat down in a chair placed in the corner, trusty clipboard in hand. “We have more testing to complete, and we need to move forward.”

Remembering the last test that involved a scalpel, I blanched. “Details?”

“Since you have proven to have undergone a stable mutation, we can now focus on the more important aspect of the Luxen abilities,” Nancy explained, but I wasn’t really watching her. My eyes were trained on Dr. Roth. “Daemon has proven to have remarkable control over the Source, as expected. He has passed all of his testing, and that last healing he did on you was successful, but we need to make sure he can heal more severe injuries before we can bring in subjects.”

My stomach dropped, and my hands shook as I clenched the edge of the table. “What do you mean?”

“Before we can bring in humans, we must make sure he can heal a severe injury. There’s no reason to subject a human to it if he cannot do it.”

Oh God…

“He can heal serious injuries,” I blurted out, shrinking back when the doctor stood in front of me. “How do you think I got mutated in the first place?”

“Sometimes that is a fluke, Katy.” Sergeant Dasher moved to the other side of the table.

I dragged in air, but my lungs seemed to have stopped working. Daedalus could barely replicate the mutation and had subjected Beth and Dawson to horrific things, trying to get Dawson to mutate other humans. What Daedalus didn’t know was that there had to be a true want, a need behind the healing. A need and want like love. That was why it was so hard to replicate.

I almost told them that to save my own skin, but then I realized it probably wouldn’t make a difference. Will hadn’t believed me when I told him. There was no science behind that. It made the whole healing thing almost magical.

“We’ve learned from the last time that having Daemon in the room during the procedure isn’t a good idea. He will be brought in after we are done,” Dasher continued. “Lay down on your stomach, Katy.”

A little relief eked through me when I realized it would be way too hard to slit my throat with me lying on my stomach, but I still delayed. “What if he can’t heal me? What if it was a fluke?”

“Then this whole experiment is over,” Nancy said from her corner. “But I think you and I both know that won’t be the case.”

“If you know it won’t be the case, then why do you need to do this?” It wasn’t just the pain I was trying to avoid. I didn’t want them to bring Daemon in here and make him go through this. I’d seen what that had done to Dawson, what that would do to anyone.

“We have to do trials,” Dr. Roth said, his look sympathetic. “We would sedate you, but we have no way of knowing how that would affect the process.”

My eyes swung toward Archer, but he looked away. No help there. There was no help anywhere in this room. This was going to happen, and this was going to suck donkey butt.

“Get on your stomach, Katy. The quicker you do this, the quicker it will be over.” Sergeant Dasher placed his hands on the table. “Or we will put you on your stomach.”

I looked up, my gaze locking with his, and my shoulders squared. Did he really think I was just going to do this willingly and make it easy for all of them? He so had another thing coming.

“Then you’re going to have to put me on my stomach,” I told him.

He put me on my stomach pretty quickly. It was rather embarrassing how fast he got me flipped over with the help of the other guard who had come in with them. Dasher had hold of my feet, and the guard had my palms pinned down next to my head. I flopped around like a fish for a few seconds before realizing it was doing no good.

Most Popular