United as One (Lorien Legacies #7)(8) by Pittacus Lore

At the very back of the ship, I find Adam sitting on the edge of another cot. Looking at the dark circles around his eyes and his increasingly pale skin, I know for sure that Adam hasn’t slept. Instead, he’s been keeping his eye on Marina. She’s strapped down on the same cot Adam sits on, her eyes closed, her face horribly bruised, blood still crusted around her nostrils. Setrákus Ra smashed her into the ground over and over, and she hasn’t regained consciousness since. She’s holding on, though, and hopefully John will be able to heal whatever’s wrong with her.

Adam manages a weak smile as I sit down across from him. Another one of our wounded friends is bundled in his arms. Dust was nearly killed back at the Sanctuary. Although he’s still twitchy and weak, Dust has regained some of his movement and has at least managed to change his shape into that of a wolf cub. Not exactly ferocious, but a step in the right direction.

“Hey, doc,” I say to Adam, keeping my voice quiet.

He snorts. “You’d be surprised how little practical medical training we Mogadorians receive. It’s not a priority when most of your soldiers are disposable.” Adam turns his head to regard Marina. “Her pulse is strong, though. Even I can tell that.”

I nod. That’s exactly what I wanted to hear. I reach across the gap between us and scratch Dust on his nose. One of his back legs starts to pump in response, though I’m not sure if it’s from enjoyment or the lingering effects of his electroshock.

“He’s looking a little better,” I say to Adam.

“Yeah, he’ll be howling at the moon in no time,” Adam replies, looking me over as he does. “What about you? How are you feeling?”

“Like shit.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t do more,” Adam says. When the battle at the Sanctuary came to an end, it was Adam and Mark who got Marina onto Lexa’s ship before Setrákus Ra could finish her off. That’s how it came to be me and Sarah facing Setrákus Ra alone.

“You did enough. You saved Marina. Got her back here. I . . .”

My gaze involuntarily drifts towards Sarah. Adam clears his throat to get my attention back. His eyes lock onto mine, wide and steady.

“That wasn’t your fault,” he says firmly.

“Hearing that doesn’t make it easier.”

“It still needed saying.” Now it’s Adam’s turn to break eye contact. He looks over at Ella’s huddled body and frowns. “I hope you killed him, Six. The thing is, knowing you, if you’d have known the consequences, you would have stopped.”

I don’t interrupt Adam, even though what he’s saying about me might not be true. It’s weird to feel hope that I killed Setrákus Ra at the same time as the guilt for what happened to Sarah, all of it worsened by an undercurrent of dread that I accomplished nothing at all. I’m a mess.

“I respect that about you guys,” Adam continues. “Most of you Garde, it’s like they built strength and compassion into you. It’s the opposite for my people. I . . . I would’ve pressed on no matter what happened.”

Back at the Sanctuary, Adam had a moment when he’d got the drop on Setrákus Ra. This was back before Ella broke the charm that bound her life to her evil great-grandfather’s. Even knowing that it would kill Ella, Adam went right for Setrákus Ra’s jugular.

“Your people,” Adam continues after a moment, “you consider the costs, you mourn your losses, you try to do what’s right. I envy that. The ability to know what’s right without—without having to fight against your nature.”

“You’re more like us than you realize,” I tell him.

“I’d like to think that,” Adam replies. “But sometimes I don’t know.”

“We all regret things,” I say. “It’s not a matter of nature. It’s a matter of moving on and being better.”

Adam opens his mouth to respond, but no words come out. He’s looking past me. A soft blue glow emanates from over my shoulder.

I turn around to see Ella has sat up on her cot. She still crackles with Loric energy, her brown eyes completely replaced by roiling orbs of cobalt blue. When she speaks, her voice has that odd echoing quality, like it did when Legacy was speaking through her.

“You don’t have to feel guilty,” she tells Adam. “I knew what you were going to do as soon as I got off the Anubis. I was rooting for you.”

Adam stares at Ella. “I didn’t—I didn’t even know what I was going to do when you got off the Anubis.”