Evans raised an eyebrow. “Tell me anyway, because I’d rather be prepared.”
Gio took a deep breath. “You know the experiments they’ve been conducting inside the other AMT facilities?”
“Well, they’re doing the same thing here, except to children.”
Evans blinked. “What?”
He hadn’t planned on telling Evans his plans so soon, but with him meeting with the researchers tomorrow, the sooner Gio got Evans on his side, the better. That way Evans could go into this with his eyes wide open—and get Gio the information he needed.
He turned fully toward the other man and explained about how the children born inside the AMT prisons were shipped to this facility at eight weeks of age. Evans stayed silent a moment before he replied. “I’m going to put aside for a minute how wrong that is and simply ask why this matters to you?”
“I believe in the law. Imprisoning first-born Feiru at the age of magical maturity is fine because a law was created to help protect them and others from the dangers of their elemental magic. But to experiment on the first-borns, and not protect them as the law states, is wrong.” In a rare show of emotion, Gio clenched a fist. “Not only that, non-first-born children—even if they are born inside an AMT—should be adopted out to parents who want a child. But since I suspect the AMT Oversight Committee doesn’t want anyone to find out how they’re breeding first-borns inside their compounds, they will continue to keep the children locked away for life.”
Evans put his hand out. “So you’re planning to find a way to let the children free and stop the experiments?” Evans shook his head. “That will never happen. Even if I wanted to stop what was happening to the children, I still believe finding a way to eradicate elemental magic is the only way the Feiru can survive in the future. If the AMT system was dismantled and elemental magic exposed, humans would either use the first-borns for their wars, or find a way to make us second-class citizens.”
“I don’t want to dismantle the AMT system. I just want to make it function as it was intended—to help protect the first-borns from harm.”
He could see Evans was teetering, so Gio decided to make the final push. “Dr. Evans, I believe we can find a way to continue conducting experiments in a humane manner, with volunteers. Shouldn’t we give first-borns the choice of living secluded away for life with their peers on one ha
nd, or the option to rid them of their elemental abilities on the other?” He leaned forward. “Just think, if the rogue first-born who’d killed your fiancée had had a choice, she might still be alive.”
Evans went still. After a few minutes he replied, his voice low and even. “If you want my help, you’ll never bring Leyna up ever again, is that understood?”
He believed Evans would act on that threat, too. While Evans wasn’t a warrior, neither was Gio. That didn’t mean they couldn’t be powerful in their own right.
He nodded. “But just remember, if you tell anyone about my plans, I will share your little secret. You are unique, Dr. Evans, and many a person would value your healing abilities.”
As soon as he’d said the words, Gio realized how much he was starting to sound like his adopted father, James Sinclair. But he pushed that thought aside. He wasn’t fighting for his own gain; he was fighting for law and order.
Evans said, “I don’t think hanging that threat over my head is going to work, Sinclair. I’m sure daddy dearest would love to hear what you’re planning behind his back.”
“I had expected as much from someone as intelligent as you’re reputed to be.” Gio leaned back in his chair and crossed a leg over his knee. “Threats and blackmail aside, I need an answer now, Evans. Are you with me or do I need to find someone else to help me?”
Evans crossed his arms over his chest. “So, what did you have in mind, Giovanni Sinclair? How are two people supposed to fix a corrupted system as large as the AMT?”
“I’m still working on that bit. For now, your goal is to make sure we can stay at this facility for as long as possible while I look for a way to force the AMT Oversight Committee’s hand.”
“And how do you plan to do that?”
“I need to find a way to blackmail them.”
Once they were out of the cabin, Cam let Diego take the lead. She had no idea where they were going, but she had wanted to make a point. Despite the act she’d put on inside the jeep, she could handle herself.
She’d overheard Marco’s compliments—in English, luckily—and was still glowing on the inside. Unlike other people, his words had been genuine, not laced with judgmental bullshit. If they ever got alone again, she was going to reward him with her mouth.
A noise to the left snapped her back to their surroundings. Diego made a halt sign with his hand, and motioned for Cam and Marco to take the left side while he’d take the right.
This close to the equator, the foliage was thick on the ground. While no doubt someone could track them if they tried, she and Marco moved with as little sound as possible. They needed the element of surprise.
Soon they reached the edge of a pool of water, about fifteen feet across. It didn’t look that deep, and as she scanned the surface, she didn’t see any telltale signs that someone was hiding under the water.
Diego peeked his head out from the tree cover and motioned for them to continue along the edge. She and Marco retreated a few feet from the shore to use the coverage of the trees and started moving again.
They were nearly to the top of the pool when rain started to fall. She tapped Marco’s arm and pointed up toward the sky, but he shook his head. He wasn’t responsible for it.