I sprang to my feet. Aching muscles screamed in protest, and my head swam from the sudden movement, but I remained standing. The doctor moved to the side, his face paling as he reached for the wall. The sergeant didn’t so much as blink an eye. He was not afraid of my badassery.
Calling upon the Source should’ve been easy, considering all the violent emotions rolling within me, but there wasn’t a rush—like the kind you get when you’re poised atop a high roller coaster—or even a building of static over my skin.
There was nothing.
Through the fog of horror and panic clouding my thoughts, a bit of reality seeped in, and I remembered I couldn’t use the Source in here.
“Doctor?” said the sergeant.
In need of a weapon, I darted around him, heading for the table with the tiny instruments. I didn’t know what I would do if I managed to get out of this room. The door could’ve been locked. I wasn’t thinking beyond that very second. I just needed to get out of there. Now.
Before I could reach the tray, the doctor slapped his hand against the wall. A horrific, familiar sound of air releasing in a series of small puffs followed. There was no other warning. No smell. No change in the consistency of the air.
But those little dots in the ceiling and walls had released weaponized onyx, and there was no escaping it. Horror drowned me. The breath I took cut off as red-hot pain started at my scalp and coursed down my body. Like I was being doused with gasoline and set ablaze, a fire swept over my skin. My legs gave out, and my knees cracked off the tile floor. The onyx-filled air scratched my throat and scorched my lungs.
I curled into a ball, fingers clawing at the floor as my mouth opened in a silent scream. My body spasmed uncontrollably as the onyx invaded every cell. There was no end. No hope that the fire would be extinguished by Daemon’s quick thinking, and I silently called out his name, over and over again, but there was no answer.
There was and would be nothing but pain.
Thirty-one hours, forty-two minutes, and twenty seconds had passed since the doors had closed, separating Kat from me. Thirty-one hours, forty-two minutes, and ten seconds since I last saw her. For thirty-one hours and forty-one minutes Kat had been in the hands of Daedalus.
Each second, every minute and hour that ticked by had driven me f**king insane.
They had locked me up in a one-room cabin, which was really a cell decked out in everything that would piss off a Luxen, but it hadn’t stopped me. I’d blown that door and the Luxen guarding me into another damn galaxy. Bitter anger surged through me, coating my insides with acid as I picked up speed, flying past the row of cabins, avoiding the cluster of homes, and heading straight for the trees surrounding the Luxen community hidden under the shadows of Seneca Rocks. Not even halfway there, I saw a blur of white streaking straight for me.
They were going to try to stop me? Yeah, not going to happen.
I skidded to a halt, and the light zoomed past and then whirled around. Shaped like a human, it stood directly in front of me, so bright that the Luxen lit up the dark trees behind him.
We are only trying to protect you, Daemon.
Just like Dawson and Matthew had thought knocking me out at Mount Weather and then locking me up would protect me. Oh, I had a nuclear-size bone to pick with those two.
We don’t want to hurt you.
“That’s a shame.” I cracked my neck. Behind me, several more were gathering. “I have no problem hurting you.”
The Luxen in front of me extended his arms. It doesn’t have to be this way.
There was no other way. Letting my human form fade was like shedding too-tight clothing. A reddish tint spread over the grass like blood. Let’s get this over with.
None of them hesitated.
Neither did I.
The Luxen shot forward, a blur of brilliant limbs. I dipped under his arms, springing up behind him. Catching his arms, I slammed my foot into his bowed back. No sooner had that Luxen gone down than another took his place.
Launching to the side, I clotheslined the one racing at me and then dipped, narrowly missing a foot with my name on it. I welcomed this—the physicality of fighting. I poured every bit of fury and frustration into each punch and kick, tearing through three more of them.
A pulse of light cut through the shadows, aiming straight for me. Bending down, I slammed a fist into the ground. Soil flew into the sky as a shockwave rippled outward, catching the Luxen and tossing him into the air. I sprang up, grabbing him as intense, bright light blew off me, turning night into day for the briefest moment.
I spun, tossing him like a disk.
He smacked into a tree and hit the ground, but he quickly shot to his feet. Charging forward, white light tinged in blue trailed behind him like a tail on a comet. Lobbing at me what amounted to a nuclear power–strength ball of energy, he let out an inhuman battle roar.
Oh, so he wanted to play that way?
I leaned to the side; the bolt fizzled out as it zoomed past. Pulling on the Source, I reared back, letting the power soar. I slammed my foot down, creating a crater and another ripple, knocking the Luxen off balance. Throwing my arm out, I let the Source go. It flew from my hand like a bullet, hitting him squarely in the chest.
He went down, alive but all kinds of twitchy.
“What do you think you’re doing, Daemon?”
At the sound of Ethan Smith’s level voice, I turned. The Elder, in his human form, stood several yards back among the fallen. My body shook with unspent power. They shouldn’t have tried to stop me. None of you should have tried to stop me.
Ethan clasped his hands in front of him. “You shouldn’t be willing to risk your community for a human girl.”