There are probably two ways to be a nuclear reactor operator. The first would be to avoid thinking, on a visceral level, about what disaster would mean. The second would be to become comfortable with dark places and consequences. Alec Austin seems to have done the latter.
“Dead men shouldn’t scream,” Marya muttered at Kade from the next cot over, her eyes glittering like funeral jade in the bunker’s dimness. “Or have panic dreams, or sweat. You reek, did you know that?”
“They were cutting me open,” Kade said, drawing a shuddering breath.
When Marya spoke again, her voice was gentler. “You were dead at the time, Kade. Really dead, until they replaced your heart with a necropotence engine. Let the dream go. You have enough nightmares without inventing new ones.”
Kade nodded once, in acquiescence. As Marya rolled over, the impact of a shell landing nearby rattled the bunker, but neither of them deigned to notice it. Welcome to the Front, Kade thought as their lantern oscillated on its hook, making his shadow sway from wall to wall. The Front, where shells fell like rain, and men and Sidhe died like mayflies. The Front, where replacing his heart with an engine of spelled steel that could revive him when he died almost seemed sane and reasonable.
I hate this place, Kade thought, but the thought was worn and tired. Of course he hated it here, amidst the mud and the corpses. Anyone would hate it.
Anyone but your sister, a traitorous part of him whispered, and Kade shuddered and closed his eyes.
Like Marya said, he had enough nightmares already.