“Callum, they’re going to kill all the humans in the cities.”
My eyes widened as Wren relayed Micah’s insane “we’re more evolved” plan. Visions of my mom and dad and David flashed through my brain.
“He could just free all the Reboots and leave,” I said when she finished, though I could tell by the look on her face that Micah wasn’t that rational.
“I told him that.” She rubbed her forehead, frowning at the dirt. “He said it wasn’t wrong to kill the humans because they’d kill us if they had the chance. That’s what he told me about killing those unarmed humans today. That doesn’t make any sense, right? That’s very much the wrong thing to do?”
“Yes.” I stepped forward, putting my hands on her arms. I needed for her to know how right she was about that, how much she needed to hold on to that feeling. “That is very much the wrong thing to do.”
She nodded. “Okay. We need to go then. I don’t want anything to do with this.”
I dropped my hands, running one down my face. There was no way I could leave now, even if all the Austin Reboots agreed to come with us. I couldn’t leave my parents and brother and all the humans I ever knew to die.
“We just dropped a hundred more Reboots in their laps,” I said slowly. “If we leave, all those humans will die.”
Wren pressed her lips together. “Maybe not. The humans won before.”
“HARC trained us in combat,” I said with a humorless laugh. “This isn’t like before.”
She gave me a pleading look. “If we stay, there’s a very good chance one or both of us will end up dead in a war we care nothing about.”
“I care,” I said quietly.
Her face shifted into the emotionless stare she did when she didn’t want me to know what she was thinking, and I tried to replicate it. I didn’t want her to know I was disappointed she didn’t care. I wished her first instinct was to help, not to run.
I tried to push the feeling away. I couldn’t totally blame her for not wanting to jump back into a war when she’d just risked her life several times to save me.
“What do you want to do?” she asked a bit nervously.
I stepped closer to her, lowering my voice. “I’d like to stay long enough to find out how many Reboots will help us. Most of the people from the Austin facility are going to have family or friends in the cities. We can try to get word to the rebels about what Micah is planning. And then, when it looks like the time is right, we can split off from Micah and go to the cities.”
She blinked. “To help the humans.”
“And free the rest of the Reboots. That was the rebels’ plan anyway, to get them all out of the city.”
“So you’d like us to go back to the cities, rescue all the Reboots, and save the humans.”
It sounded kind of hard when she put it like that. I winced. “Yes.”
“I’ll get right on that,” she said dryly.
She seemed annoyed, but at least she wasn’t furious and pointing out why my plan was stupid. It probably was stupid, but I couldn’t leave. If I left, it was the same as killing that man in Austin. Except I’d be killing everyone I’d ever cared about as a human. Even though Wren claimed emotions faded some as a Reboot, mine were still all there, same as always. It sort of sucked sometimes, to be honest.
I turned at a rustling sound to see the big blond guy who’d been on the shuttle with Wren walking through the trees toward us. Micah was right behind him.
Wren’s amused expression faded, and she looked between Micah and the other guy, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Riley,” the blond guy said as he approached, extending his hand to me.
The name sounded vaguely familiar, and I searched my brain as I shook his hand. “Callum.”
“One-fifty-seven,” Wren explained. “My trainer at HARC.”
Wonderful. Was it wrong that I was a little disappointed he wasn’t actually dead? Of all the Reboots not to be dead, it had to be this guy? The guy who shot Wren repeatedly to make her tough?
“Did you come from the Austin facility?” Riley asked.
“No, I escaped with Wren from Rosa.”
“Oh.” His face brightened as if he liked this about me, and he grinned as he looked from me to Wren.
“I’d like to speak with you,” Micah said to Wren, giving Riley a frown like he didn’t approve of him making small talk with me.
She just stared, and I began to get nervous. Silence from Wren was bad. She might have been plotting exactly how to rip Micah to shreds.
“I’d like a chance to explain,” he said, and I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion. Explain? How was he going to explain genocide?
Wren met my gaze for a moment, then turned to Micah with a sigh. “Fine.”
I started to protest, but she shot me a warning look. Micah had his “I will pound you with my fists” expression turned toward me, and it occurred to me that maybe open defiance wasn’t the smartest move. We were outnumbered by the reservation Reboots. Not to mention that we were stuck in the middle of nowhere with them and their arsenal of weapons.
She started to follow Micah, and Riley did the same, nodding at me. “It was nice to meet you.” He took a few steps, and when he turned around he had a grin on his face. “Good job getting Wren out. I was worried she was a HARC girl forever.”
Wren didn’t even glance back at that statement, but I had to resist the urge to tell him he was a dumbass. Anyone with half a brain could have seen that Wren was brainwashed and traumatized by HARC. She was certainly not their “girl.”
“She got me out,” I corrected with a frown.
He chuckled. “But I get the feeling you had a little something to do with that.” He gave me another approving look before he jogged to catch up with Micah and Wren.
I FOLLOWED MICAH ACROSS THE RESERVATION AND TO THE BIG tent. He pulled back the flap and turned to Riley, who still looked amused by meeting Callum. Riley had known me as the type of girl who didn’t think twice about romance.
“You mind checking on that new Reboot, Riley?” Micah asked.
“Sure.” Riley glanced at me.
“You can take a minute,” Micah said, before disappearing into the tent. I almost rolled my eyes. How nice of him to give us his permission.
I faced Riley. He was almost smiling, but his eyes were serious.
“I’m glad you’re here,” he said quietly.