The first time he saw her, his world turned red.
It’s ironic, considering that Lucien has no concept of colours at all, having lived out his whole life in monochromatic greys, yet when he saw her standing outside his office—the only object that was vibrant in colours against his grey world—he halted dead in his track, stricken in both awe and horror when his world changed against his will.
The colour that bloomed from her almost burn him.
That singular colour branched out from her heels, as if she was the tree and the colour was the roots wanting to spread and anchor itself deep into his world. The colour moved like tendrils of fire eating away the monochromatic grey of his world, turning everything so vibrantly hot and passionate that Lucien instantly associated the colour with red.
He didn’t know how that colour was like—he practically bribed his way for his driving license after all—yet at that moment, Lucien was sure that the colour he saw was red.
It’s hot, vibrant and passionate.
The colour felt like the fire that burns, like anger that clouds judgement, like the heat of a lover’s touch—
It has to be red.
It has to be.
Thus, later that week, Lucien caved into his own curiousity and bought himself the colour-correcting glasses his colleague has been hyping about, just to make sure that the fading colour that lingered in his office—days after she left—was in fact, red.
Lucien couldn’t help himself after that.
He really couldn’t.
It is in his nature to be curious. He hates unanswered questions. He despises mysteries that he couldn’t find the answer to. He loathes being caught off-guard with nothing to help him gaining control over the situation. He enjoys dishing it out—hell, he takes pleasure in being an unpredictable enigma that causes confusions and frustration to other people—yet he hates being at the receiving end.
Lucien loathes being left in the dark.
It is his first instinct to seek the answer to the unknown.
Especially when she is supposed to be an open book to him.
Indeed, he has never seen the Queen with his own eyes before. He's an extremely busy man after all. His day job as both a neuroscientist and a professor at Loveland University plus his position as one of the top founders of Black Swan made it hard to have spare time. He was the key person supervising most of Black Swan’s research projects, and not to mention being the head for Project Reset.
Developing the virus that will eradicate the non-Evolvers took a lot, even for a prodigal genius like him.
It reached the point that Lucien has practically lost his sense of time.
Hours can easily meld to days and Lucien often wouldn’t notice until someone outside his Black Swan circle rung him up with their concerns over his workaholism and his apparent deteriorating health.
He usually would politely appease their concerns before going back straight to work.
Point is, Lucien has no time to personally stalk the girl.
Awakening the Queen is only crucial at the later stage of Project Reset, right after the virus has been deployed and already halfway killing the non-Evolvers. The Queen is only necessary then as a shortcut to awaken the Evol gene that might have been dormant in some population of their kind.
So, Lucien didn’t bother to personally supervise the Queen. He knew his priorities.
The virus demanded more of his attention at the moment.
Plus, as much as he had so little faith in Hera and Zeus to be as detailed as he would like it to be, both of the founders aren’t that useless.
Hera, at least, gives satisfactory reports of the Queen.
Zeus, on the other hand, obviously is nowhere near the level that will satisfy Lucien’s standard but hey, at least Lucien knows that the poor lackeys Zeus dumped this duty on to are worth to keep around.
For their standard, at least, the reports are satisfactory.
Thus, Lucien just rolled with the arrangement, barely have the desire, time nor energy to call out Zeus for skimping on his supposed duty. Talking with a brick wall will result in a much more intellectual conversation.
It's not like he has many choices either.
There is no one else available for the job except for Hades, and Lucien rather eats his own brain than letting Hades anywhere near the Queen.
Though, despite having only observed the Queen’s progress only through reports by the other founders, Lucien was confident that he knew everything about the one and only Emme Cee.
He is the one who directed his comrades for the project after all.
He is the key person that is responsible for awakening the Queen.
He should know her better than anyone else.
Surely nothing about her should surprise him, right?
Yet here she is, an anomaly that sparked literal colours in his otherwise grey world.
It's a given that he had to investigate her. He had to look her up. Find out who she truly is. Find out what other founders have been missing when they were supposed to keep a close watch on her.
Because a weakling like her—someone with a barely developed Evol at that, someone whose worth is solely on the fact that she carries the Queen gene—shouldn’t have this much effect on him.
Without the Queen gene, she would’ve been a worthless subject. Precognition is a shaky Evol to begin with, as the future is always changing. Even the faintest flutters of a butterfly’s wings could’ve diverted the future so far from its initial path that it will render her Evol completely useless.
Lucien has spent his whole weekend absent-mindedly tracing the vibrant trails of red on his office desk.
One part of his mind—the recklessly curious part—remembered the way her hand was planted on the wooden surface, remembered the trails of red that spread out from her palm onto the surface of his desk, remembered the way the colour grew like wild roots invading his space...
…while on the other hand, the much logical part of his mind focused on looking her up, reading through years of old surveillance reports as he was determined to see if his comrades might have left out something in their routine reports on her.
He didn't find anything that he hasn't already known about her. Nothing.
He resorted to Internet search then.
Nothing in the dark web. Nothing useful in surface web either.
Nothing at all, until the dawn of the new week finally peeked through his office window.
Lucien was almost at his wit’s ends by then, both intrigued and annoyed at the anomaly that is Emme Cee, so exhausted after his tenth day or so without sleep that he almost considered dousing his own head with the mineral water on his desk when he finally clicked the stupidest link on his search list of hers—the one that he saved for last because it was so stupid and most likely a baseless rumour—only to be greeted with more colours than he has ever seen.
It was a tabloid site—a highly unreliable source—yet Lucien swallowed thickly, one hand reached up to the bridge of his nose to make sure that he wasn’t wearing his new glasses.
He wasn’t wearing it.
Yet the colours are still there, varying in degree of brightness and vibrancy but still a pop of colours against the monochromatic colour of his world.
Lucien blinked, hoping to clear the exhaustion away from his eyes because this was getting really ridiculous.
There were three of them now.
Rubbing his tired eyes, Lucien had hoped that the picture highlighted by the tabloid site will turn monochromatic greys as they should be, but nope.
The subjects of the (obviously) paparazzi shot were still in colours—all three of them—and Lucien's exhausted brain struggled to comprehend how exactly a producer from a small company, an internationally-known supermodel and the commander of STF somehow got caught in a threesome gossip.
It hasn’t even been a month since Hera’s last report.
Yet, this has never been mentioned. Neither Hera nor Zeus had brought up the topic that the Queen was getting frisky with not only the arrogant supermodel but also Commander Gavin of STF—
Gavin, the undercover cop at Loveland PD, also a recently promoted commander of STF that has been ruining Black Swan's operations since the past two years. The guy basically gets fast-tracked to his current rank thanks to his consistent track record of annoying Black Swan to hell and back.
How exactly none of his comrades and subordinates cared to bring this obvious complication to Lucien’s attention?
Sure, he didn't have a lot of faith in them, but surely they can't be this useless, right?
Lucien read the title of the tabloid article again.
“BREAKING NEWS: CHIK’S SECRET LOVERS CAUGHT ON CAMERA!”
Without even blinking, Lucien unplugged his computer and decided that he desperately needed sleep.