“Hey, Liam, I think I figured something out.”
Cara and Alex tensed. Ever since Jason had defected, the Boss had been miserable. It wasn’t Namae Sauter’s fault, but since she’d gotten Jason’s workstation, she’d also gotten all of his blame.
(Nobody could actually do anything to Jason, short of a tac nuke, and they weren’t entirely sure that would work, either. After his roses had eaten two recovery teams, they’d stopped trying).
Liam limped over to her desk, his cane thudding the deck angrily. “What do you have, Sauter?” he snarled.
“I think I’ve figured out the formula Jason was working on in his spare time. Not the roses – they’re a mess – but the reverse-aging one?”
The Boss softened barely-perceptibly. “I wondered what he’d been doing. So what’s in the formula?”
She swirled a beaker full of a viscous red-purple fluid. “Blood of grape and juice of girl.”
“Blood of… ah, Sauter, have you been working overtime? I think you’re mixing your words.”
“Not exactly.” She opened the curtains to her greenhouse; Cara and Alex saw Liam’s flinch, but he managed to hide it from Namae. Inside, a few rose-like vines writhed, but more than that, there were grapevines.
Grapevines? They seemed to be something like fingers…
“Unknowable formulae,” Cara breathed reverently. “Alex…”
“That’s a dryad. She’s made a dryad…. a grape dryad?”
The girl in the case looked, he thought, sad. Wistful, maybe, reaching for the glass. And tapped.
“Technically, it’s sap,” Namae was saying. “She doesn’t bleed, though her fruit seems to. But the formula works on rats, and I’m ready to start orphan testing.”
“Beakers and tubes,” Liam swore. “I…”
Cara and Alex shared a look. Had their boss found an ethical limit? They hadn’t known it was possible.
“I think it might cure cancer, too,” Namae added, and, with a quiet sigh, The Boss passed out.
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