I absolutely saw his point. It was logical. He’d decided he wanted to save his people—the Reboots—and he was willing to take risks and make terrible sacrifices to do it. Hadn’t I done the same thing with Callum? Hadn’t I let Addie come into the HARC facility with me, even though I knew it was dangerous? Hadn’t I risked my own life, as well as those of at least twenty human rebels, to save one person?
Hadn’t I known that if we succeeded, plenty of human guards would be killed by the freed Reboots? Hadn’t I decided that was acceptable?
“Wren,” Micah said quietly.
I swallowed, looking up to meet his eyes. “I see your point.”
I STOOD BEHIND THE CROWD AT THE FIRE PIT THAT EVENING, watching as a group of young Reboots pulled out instruments and began playing a lively song. People gathered around and started singing and dancing. It seemed odd for the mood to be so jolly when a few of their own had just gone on a killing spree.
Some of the Austin Reboots had joined in the festivities, the firelight flickering off their happy faces as they grabbed hands and laughed, but the majority sat in groups apart from the crowd, their faces grim. Word had spread among our group about Micah’s plans, and most of us were not pleased.
Wren stood not far away with Micah, her face tight as she nodded at something he said. His expression wasn’t as openly adoring as it had been, but they were clearly civil and she hadn’t emerged from his tent earlier that day with his head on a stick.
She caught me staring and widened her eyes slightly, like she was annoyed at being stuck with him. I laughed and a small smile started to form on her face. I gestured for her to come over, but she nodded at Micah, who was talking rapidly, and rolled her eyes.
Something caught her attention behind me, and I glanced back to see Isaac walking toward the tent at the entrance of the reservation with a plate of food in his hands. The new Reboot was still in that tent, the one they’d killed earlier.
“I don’t understand why they put up with this.”
I turned at the quiet voice to see Addie standing next to me. I shrugged, because I didn’t know, either. I scanned the crowd around me. I wondered how many had been killed by Micah’s hunting teams.
I glanced at Isaac again. “Just lucky, I guess.” That’s what he’d said when I asked how he came to live at the reservation. He said he wasn’t born here.
“No one tried to put a stop to it?” Addie whispered.
“Maybe they don’t care,” I murmured, gesturing for her to follow me. “Come on.”
Isaac stopped when he saw us coming, hand poised to pull back the tent flap. A flash of nervousness crossed his features and he scanned the area behind us.
“I’m not sure you guys should come in,” he said.
“Why not?” Addie asked.
“Micah likes to introduce new Reboots slowly. You know, so they’re not overwhelmed.”
“You don’t think they’ve already been overwhelmed by the whole being-murdered thing?” I asked.
Isaac gave me a look like he didn’t think that was very funny, and I quickly shut my mouth. I had a feeling my suspicions about his cause of death were correct.
“I’m going to give this to her,” he said. “She’s not talking right now anyway.” He disappeared into the tent.
Addie crossed her arms over her chest, shivering in the chilly night air. “Have you talked to Wren?”
“Beth told me she heard Wren sewed up their gunshot wounds while they were still dead so there would be less scarring. I thought that was nice.” Addie shrugged. “Like she did the only thing she could, you know?”
I looked back in surprise to where Wren was, but she and Micah were gone. She hadn’t told me that. I was pretty sure I would have panicked and exploded at Micah if I’d been on that hunting trip. But Wren was able to keep it together well enough to sew up a dead person’s chest. That never would have even occurred to me.
Isaac emerged from the tent, hands in his pockets, shoulders hunched like he was trying to disappear. “Do you guys need something? Do you want to go get some food?”
“Is that how you died?” I asked quietly, nodding at the tent.
He cleared his throat, glancing around as if searching for an escape. “I can’t really talk about it.”
“What do you mean, you can’t?” Addie asked, her brow furrowing.
He took a step closer, ducking his head. “Micah doesn’t like it. We’re supposed to let go of the past.”
Let go of the past? Was that code for “You’re not allowed to be mad we murdered you so just shut up and act happy?”
“Were you with other people?” I asked. I didn’t care what Micah liked. I was going to talk about it. “Did they kill your family, too?”
Isaac hesitated. “Yeah,” he finally whispered, releasing a rush of air like he was relieved to have said it. “My parents died when I was young, but I was with my older brother and a few people who were basically family. They all died.”
“How old were you?” Addie asked, her voice full of horror.
“Fourteen. It was a year ago. They came in and shot us all, and I woke up on the back of a motorcycle with Jules.” His words came in a rush now. “And then they brought me here and it was basically like I was supposed to be grateful.”
“You mean you are grateful.”
I jumped at the words coming from the side of the tent, and Micah stepped out, his face hard and angry. Isaac paled, almost tripping over his own feet as he took a step back from us.
“Y-yes,” he stuttered.
I hadn’t seen that kind of fear in a Reboot’s eyes since leaving HARC, and Isaac’s panic made dread unfold in my chest. Why was he so scared? Why would he stay here if Micah had killed him and everyone he knew?
Micah looked into the distance, pointed down at Isaac, and in seconds Jules was by his side, a frown on her face.
“We’ll discuss this further in my tent,” he said.
The way Isaac’s eyes rounded with fear told me I didn’t want to know what went on in Micah’s tent.
Jules grabbed Isaac’s arm and I stepped forward, attempting to block her.
“Stop,” Isaac said, giving me a wild look and shaking his head. “Leave it.”
I opened my mouth to protest as Jules yanked him to her. Micah watched the scene with his arms crossed over his chest, a menacing presence that didn’t have to lift a finger.