Jules lifted her stick as I got closer but Micah waved her off.
“Let her take her down,” he said.
I let my fingers fall out of fists as relief washed over me. I took a quick glance back at Micah to see him sitting in the dirt, wiping blood from his mouth. His face was serious but not angry, and it made me nervous.
I swallowed as I turned back to Addie and pulled a knife from my pocket. None of her recent injuries had healed yet, and she could barely open her eyes as I came closer. One of her shoulders was obviously dislocated, and the back of her shirt was nothing but tattered threads, old blood crusting on it. She’d been like this for a while, perhaps beaten in private somewhere before being dragged out for display. Her wrists were red, the wounds from the ropes probably opening again as soon as they closed. They’d tied them too tight; her hands were purple from lack of circulation.
I pulled over the stool they must have used to get her up there, circling one arm around her waist as I tugged the knife across the rope. She stirred, taking in a sharp breath as I freed one of her hands. She collapsed against me as I cut down the other rope and I quickly wrapped my other arm around her back to steady her.
“Thank you,” she whispered into my shoulder, sobs beginning to shake her body.
I turned at the sound of footsteps and found Callum standing beside me. His face was full of anger and concern, but something else I didn’t see very often. He was proud of me.
“I can take her,” he said, easing his hand around her waist. I stepped back and he whisked her into his arms.
I hopped off the stool and followed Callum toward the back of the reservation, where Addie’s tent was. I glanced behind me to see a trail of Reboots led by Beth following us. Micah was still on the ground, one arm slung across his knees as he watched me. His expression was hard, his chest heaving up and down as he fixed a hard glare on me.
I STOPPED IN FRONT OF THE TENT ADDIE SHARED WITH A FEW other people and slowly lowered her to the ground. I pulled back the flap and offered her my hand to help her inside, but she ignored me and gestured for Wren to put her arm back in the socket. I winced as she did it, but Addie barely made a peep.
She nodded in thanks to Wren and pulled her legs to her chest. The wounds on her wrists were closing up, but she started crying, dropping her forehead to her knees.
“Here,” Beth said, holding out a clean, wet towel to Wren. She took it, hesitating for a moment before kneeling down next to Addie and wiping at the blood on her arms.
Some of the other Reboots were lurking in the distance, talking quietly. Some were running in between tents, clothes and supplies in their arms. It looked like our time at the reservation was over.
Addie sniffled and, as the only Under-sixty in the general area, I started to say something comforting.
“I’m sorry,” Wren said quietly, clenching the bloody towel in her hand. “I should have . . .”
I snapped my mouth shut and looked at her in surprise. I wasn’t sure what she had to be sorry for. I’d almost cheered when she attacked Micah and took Addie down.
Addie shook her head, wiping at her eyes. “No, it was stupid. I talked to too many Reboots about our plan. I got excited after Isaac approached us.”
Footsteps sounded behind me and I turned to see Riley, his face alarmed. “What is going on? Micah has Jeff and Kyle stationed in front of his tent and it looks like the Austin Reboots are about to attack.”
“Beth, can you start spreading the word that we’re leaving?” I asked, glancing at Wren for confirmation. “Wherever we go, I think we have to leave now.”
She nodded in agreement. I hadn’t even told her about Austin, about how now could be the perfect time for us to go to the city and drive HARC out.
A shot sliced through the quiet reservation and I jumped, whirling around to see where it had come from. Beth sprinted in the direction of the noise, dirt flying behind her, and Wren jumped to her feet, pulling her knife from her pocket.
She helped Addie up and pointed at her tent. “Are you good? Can you get your stuff together real quick?”
Addie nodded and disappeared into her tent.
Wren turned to Riley. “You coming with us or are you staying with Micah?”
“I’m coming with you.” He said it without hesitation, and a smile tugged at Wren’s lips.
“Then start figuring out a way around Kyle and Jeff so we can get some of the weapons in that tent.” She turned to me as Riley took off. “Where are we going?”
I almost opened my mouth to ask Wren where she thought we should go. But if I left it up to her, we’d be running as far away from humans as possible. And I would not blame her for that. I couldn’t ask her to step up and lead us into a battle she had no interest in fighting.
I took a deep breath. “I . . . I have one idea.”
“Since Tony said there are no Reboots in Austin we could probably fly a shuttle right in and fight off HARC with little trouble. And if the humans helped . . .”
Wren raised her eyebrows at me like she doubted that.
“I know you don’t want to go back to the cities, but—”
“No, let’s go,” she interrupted, taking off in the direction of our tent.
I blinked, jogging to catch up with her. “Are you sure? Because—”
“Callum, there’s one person here who has a plan,” she said, casting an amused look at me. “And it’s you. So, go. Start getting it together. I’ll pack up our tent and help Riley with the weapons.”
I grinned at her, excitement rushing through me as I swooped down for a quick kiss. “I’ll find you in a few minutes.”
I’D ONLY JUST LEFT CALLUM AND STEPPED INTO THE TENT WHEN I heard the rustle of noise behind me. A hand on my neck.
Then the crack.
And everything went numb.
My eyes were covered with something and I opened my mouth to yell but someone wrapped a cloth around it and tied it tightly behind my head.
I tried to struggle, or reach out, but my body wouldn’t move.
The sliver of light peeking in from my blindfold disappeared suddenly, and my face was pressed up against my knees and I was being jostled against some kind of material.
I was in a bag. I tried to scream, but then I couldn’t breathe. I tried to suck oxygen in through my nose but it wouldn’t come, and the beginnings of panic started to set in.
Everything went black.
“Can you kill a Reboot from lack of oxygen?”