You've been sitting silent in your cage for a few hours now, fiddling with the edge of your standard-issue white T-shirt that all the hybrids wear. Jade's yet to return. Normally tests don't take this long for any single experiment. Could something have happened to her?
You can feel unease wafting off your brother. He's noticed Jade's unusually lengthy absence as well, and even though his face is blank, you can clearly sense his concern.
All at once the doors of the room burst open and a horde of scientists pour in, all talking at the same time.
Hybrids in cages everywhere scrabble back in panic. So many scientists at once isn't the norm and it sets them all on edge.
You hardly pay them any attention though, because you, as well as your brother and Rose, have spotted something amongst the scientists.
"Crate return," a scientist says, and Jade cage automatically wheels off and reattaches itself to the wall. From your angle you can clearly see Jade sprawled out in unconsciousness, lying limp on the floor of her cell. Her back is to you.
Out of your peripheral you can see Dave's face go hard.
You turn your focus on the scientists and try to make sense of their conversation. Words and phrases like 'omnipotence' and 'perfect hybrid' come up a lot.
"But Director," one scientist says to another. "Now that we know she possesses the omnipotence how will we be able to detain her? Won't she just teleport herself out?"
"My hypothesis, Doctor," The Director says, "Is that the hybrid can only utilize the omnipotence under extreme stress or danger. It's like a last resort reflex. It can't be accessed at will and is very taxing on the body as our subject here demonstrated." The Director goes over to Jade's cage and rewrites something on the label. He gets up when he finishes and you see the revision;
CANINE HYBRID EXERIMENT 413.
Of course this means nothing to you because you can barely read.
"And you forget, Doctor," The Director continues. "The entire laboratory is surrounded by a force field, as is the city. If for some reason she does manage to use the omnipotence by choice, she can't escape from here. The shield prevents it."
"I can't believe we finally succeeded," The doctor said as the scientists began to file out with their next victim. "The day we've envisioned is finally in sight. Maybe if we subject all the hybrid experiments to extreme stress they'll unlock the omnipotence too."
"Indeed, Doctor," the director said as they exited the room at the end of the queue. "Now it's only a matter of time before we have an entire army of perfected hybrids to train and lay waste to those troublesome Lusii that prevent us from expansion. Soon the human race will finally be able to take what is rightfully ours…" You hear his voice echo down the hallway as the door slowly shuts behind them.
The lock finally clicks into place, and then there is silence.
"So that's the reason," You say later that evening after all the tests had been run that day.
Most of the hybrids had already retired for the night, worn out from a day of testing. You and Dave had been spared from trials that day, and Rose had only been subjected to puzzle solving problems for her tests, so the three of you were all still very much awake.
Jade was still unconscious.
You study your brother who is currently staring sternly at the setting sun. The dying rays illuminate his figure in an almost haunting manner. His glossy russet wings reflect the orange light almost menacingly, and the light shining in his red eyes make them look like they're on fire.
Dave hasn't said a word or hardly moved a muscle since Jade came back. He shows no sign of having heard you, but you go on anyway.
"All this time we we're being trained and prepared to fight Lusii. We're living weapons of war…"
"It seems so obvious in hindsight," Rose says quietly. You watch her as she grooms her furry ears with her cat tongue and paws. You smirk a little, finding the act funny, but you're honestly no better when it comes to preening your feathers.
"All those tests were designed to teach us to be agile and resourceful. The mental exercises taught us to be calculating, the sparring exercises taught us to be killers, the mazes taught us to be defensive and how to use our environment, all the physical exertions we were forced to preform helped us shape and tone our bodies." She eyes you mid-lick. "If I had any money I'd be willing to bet that any single one of us is stronger than a single scientist. Knowing what I know now I assume we'd already make lethal killing machines despite lacking, what did they call it? The omnipotence?"
You shrug your feathery shoulders. You know just as much about this omnipotence thing as she does, which isn't a lot. Apparently it was something very important to the scientists and Jade sees to possess it.
A tired moan sounds from a cage under Rose, and all three of you instantly turn your attention to it.
You watch, sick with empathy as Jade rolls over in her cage. Her eyes briefly flutter open and she sluggishly rolls them to look at you and Dave before shutting them again. She grips her sides and lets out a sound that is some sort of cross between another moan and a sigh.
Every action seems to be an effort for her and you can only guess at what she went through today.
Dave is the first to speak.
"Jade…" He says, his voice tight.
It takes a long time before she responds. At first you thought she fell asleep when her breathing became deep and slow.
"I'm so tired…" she sighs, barely above a whisper.
"What happened to you?" Dave asks.
"A maze…" She says after a length. Her voice is so quiet you have to strain your ears to hear her.
"What happened? Was there something new in the maze that did this to you?"
Jade shakes her head weakly and looks up at Dave sadly, but you can tell every movement is a labor and she's having trouble focusing.
"I don't know… what happened…" She speaks slowly with long breaks in between her words. "Something… I did…"
You each try to piece together her words while she rests. But before one of you can say anything she speaks again.
"Guys… I'm sorry… I couldn't… get an… answer."
"That's okay, Jade," Dave cuts in. "We know now. The scientists were stupid and let it slip when they brought you back."
Jade's eyes glimmer with fear, confusion and curiosity. You can tell she wants to know.
"Dave, I think that information should be withheld from her until she's in better sorts," Rose warns.
"No, I… want… to know…" Jade manages to say a little louder.
"Jade, please," you speak up. "It's very distressing. Can you wait until you feel better?"
"I can… handle it…"
"If she wants to know then I'll tell her," Dave says while eyeing you and Rose with miss-guided scorn. He moves to the edge of his cage and looks down into Jade's. "We're living weapons, Jade," He says harshly. "We're being transformed and trained to kill Lusii so humans can infect this goddamn planet. They torture us so we'll become tough then they'll send us off to fight to the death so they won't have to.
"And apparently, you did something-, some omni- thing that they really fucking liked and now they're going to start forming a whole fucking army that can to the same thing."
All the anger and frustration Dave had been keeping pent up that day finally started to seep out. Unfortunately he had nowhere to direct it but at his friends.
"They also said they're going to start putting us all in 'life or death' scenarios to try to trigger the same thing you did. You know what that means? It means if we don't make the grade we're gonna end up dead. And it's all because of you."
"Dave!" Rose shouts, but he turns his back to you all.
Out of the corner of your eye you catch Jade staring tiredly at Dave. She slowly closes her eyes and you watch as tears silently roll down her check.
No one says anything else for the rest of the night.
You're suddenly back to being Dave, but you're reconsidering naming yourself to Giant Feathery Ass-hole after your recent explosion.
You've cooled off sufficiently and have come to regret your words. You didn't mean to snap at Jade and you fucking hate yourself now that you did.
Never before had you felt such intense hate and anger. Hate for the scientists, anger for their cruelty and their plans in store for you. Now that you knew the meaning of your existence you can see you're just some expendable puppet being used to fight their war.
You never asked for this.
You never asked to be orphaned, you never asked to be mutated, you never asked to be put on the sign-up list for their militia, you never asked for a death sentence by combating a lusus.
Your rage for the injustice was so strong it blinded you and you couldn't keep your tongue in check. Now you want nothing more than to take it all back.
You want to apologize to Jade and tell her how sorry you are…
… And how scared you are…
But she's already fast asleep.
At least, that's what Dave thought.
Little did he know that you were actually awake, silently raging a mental war in your head.
Living weapons of war? Expendable tools? Killing machines? That's why your humanity was robbed from you at infancy? Deformed and raised to be a killer just so humans could get some stupid land? And then what? If you succeeded, you'll either be thrown back into confinement for more tests, or shunned by society for the freak you are, or killed on sight for the danger you can be.
You're silently crying so hard you can't believe your body could produce so many tears. Your head is throbbing and you're still exhausted beyond measure, but your thoughts won't let you sleep.
And what was that green light you experienced earlier that day? It felt like you had harnessed some unfathomable energy, only to have it steal from you all of yours. But it resulted in you teleporting right across the finish line to safety, away from the Silver Serpents.
Had you always had this ability? Did any of the other hybrids have it too? The scientists seemed to think you did, and now they wanted to force it out of each one of you.
Yet you were only able to use it in a death-case scenario, which means other hybrids might only be able to use it that way too. And as Dave said, this is going to lead to a lot of do-or-die tests now. And it's all your fault.
Dave… Your mind goes back to the conversation you had with Dave earlier that day. This morning you had said you believed people were naturally good. You decide to take this back now. You've lost faith that there is good in the hearts of men. He was right. Hybrids are going to start dying soon if they can't perform like you did. You're so fucking torn up inside, all you want to do is cry your eyes out and apologize for the rest of eternity. If any of your friends happened to meet their end in an upcoming trial it could very well be because of you and what you did.
Whatever what the fuck that thing you did even was. What had they called it? You vaguely remember hearing it before passing out. Oh yeah, that's right. They called it the omnipotence.
With this little bit of information sealed away in your memory, you slip into a deep, dark, uneasy sleep.