She barely nodded, as if convincing herself of something and began walking in the direction of the reservation. The Reboots lining the gate were still as we approached, their guns all pointed at us.
Micah stepped away from the group, holding one hand up to his troops. “Weapons down! Hold your positions!”
As soon as he shouted the command, every Reboot lowered their gun. Their bright eyes were glued to us, and I took in a breath as I glanced down the line. There were so many. Most of them were about my age, but I spotted a few who seemed closer to thirty or forty.
The reservation Reboots were dressed in loose, light-colored cotton clothes, nothing like the black uniforms HARC made us wear, with the exception of the helmets on their heads. They were strong and well fed, and even though they were positioned for what they thought was an attack, no one seemed scared. If anything they were . . . excited?
Micah lifted a black box to his mouth that looked like one of the coms HARC used. He spoke into it, glancing up at the tower to our right. He listened for a moment, nodded, and said a few more words into it before sliding it into his pocket.
He took a step backward and beckoned in our direction with two fingers. “Wren.”
She stood still next to me, her shoulders tense. Micah gestured with his head for her to come and she let out a tiny sigh as she slipped her fingers from mine. People moved aside as she walked toward him and I felt uncomfortable on her behalf. They were all staring.
Micah beamed as she stopped next to him. He reached down and grabbed her hand, making her jump. He had an expression of such pure adoration on his face that I would have been jealous if she weren’t looking at him like he was an alien.
Okay, maybe I was slightly jealous. She’d looked at me like I was an alien at first, too, but now I was pretty sure she liked me.
Well, more than pretty sure. Mostly sure. As close as you can get to sure without being totally sure. She had left her “home” (prison) for me, and then risked her life and took down an entire HARC facility to save me. I thought that was like Wren’s version of “I’m totally into you.” I’d take it.
Wren yanked her hand from his, but Micah seemed oblivious, beaming as he faced the reservation Reboots.
“Guys, this is Wren One-seventy-eight.”
A few of them gasped and I sighed inwardly. Any hopes I’d had of our numbers not mattering here were being further dashed by the second. Some of the Reboots were gazing at her with such awe and excitement that I wanted to slap them and tell them to stop being weird.
“She brings with her the entire Austin facility,” Micah continued.
More gasps. At least they were excited to see us.
“I didn’t do it by myself.” Wren scanned the crowd, but didn’t seem to find Addie. “Addie Thirty-nine and I did it together.”
Micah sort of nodded in that way people did when they weren’t really listening. He was grinning at the crowd of reservation Reboots. They were whispering, their faces cautiously optimistic.
Wren cast a confused look at me as Micah raised his hand. The crowd went silent.
“All right then,” he said. “I have good news.”
Thank goodness. I needed good news. I hoped it was something along the lines of “I have food and beds for all of you right now.”
Micah gestured to the tower. “I just got word that there are more HARC shuttles coming. They’re on their way right now.”
“About a hundred miles out,” Micah continued. “At least seven confirmed.”
Which part was the good news?
“So.” Micah grinned as he lifted one fist in the air. “Ready?”
Every reservation Reboot responded together in one loud yell.
I FROZE AS CALLUM CAST A HORRIFIED LOOK IN MY DIRECTION. Attack?
“Wren.” Micah put his hand on my shoulder. I shrugged it off. “You came in HARC shuttles, didn’t you? Where are they?”
I blinked. How did he know that? How did he know there were more HARC shuttles on the way?
“We left them a couple miles back,” I said. “We didn’t want to alarm you by getting too close in them.”
“We were alarmed, obviously,” Micah said with a laugh, gesturing to the army of Reboots behind him. He stuck his fingers in his mouth and whistled. “Jules!”
A girl a few years older than me joined us. Her red hair was in a braid, and she had a HARC bar code stamped on her wrist, but I couldn’t make out the number.
“Go fetch those shuttles.” Micah lifted his hand, made a sort of circular motion with his finger, and the massive wooden gate immediately began to creak open. The Reboots in front of it scrambled away.
I felt a hand on my back and turned to see Callum behind me. He stared at the opening gate. “What’s going on?” he asked quietly.
“I don’t know.”
The gate swung open the rest of the way to reveal about ten Reboots sitting on contraptions I’d never seen before. They had two big wheels—one in back and one in front—and looked sort of like one of those motorcycle things I’d seen pictures of, but bigger. Three people could probably fit on the wide, black seat stretched between the two tires, and they were obviously not made to be discreet, because a loud rumbling noise came from each one.
“Kyle!” Micah said, waving. A tall, beefy Reboot inched his bike away from the others. “Take Jules and—” He stopped and turned to me. “Who flew those here?”
“Me and Addie.”
He nodded and turned back to Kyle. “Take Jules and Thirty-nine to the shuttles. Quick. No more than twenty minutes round trip.”
Kyle twisted his hand around one of the handlebars and the bike roared forward, coming to a screeching stop next to Jules. She hopped on and eyed the crowd of Austin Reboots expectantly.
“Thirty-nine!” Micah yelled.
Addie stepped out from the crowd, arms crossed over her chest. She ignored Micah completely and stared at me like she was waiting for something. I wasn’t sure what it was. Did she want me to tell her it was okay to go?
I avoided Micah’s gaze as I strode across the dirt and stopped in front of her.
“They want you to take them to the shuttles,” I said. “And probably fly one over here.”
Her eyes darted behind me. “And you think we should trust them?”
I paused. Of course I didn’t think we should trust them. I’d just met them, and so far, they seemed weird. But we’d strolled up to their home and asked to be let in, so maybe it was too late to think about trust.