“If they want to help have them join Beth and the other Austin Reboots,” I said, smiling at him.
“Got it. You have someone fueling the shuttles?”
“I’m on it.” He faced Riley. “Where’s the fuel?”
Riley gestured for Isaac to follow him as he headed for the reservation gate, casting a glance over his shoulder at me. “Tell me when you find Wren, okay?”
I nodded and jogged toward Addie’s tent. Several Reboots regarded me warily as I passed, and I noticed the girl who was always carrying the baby around was frantically packing her tent with a few friends. I slowed, thinking they were coming with us, but she shot me a withering stare and I backed off.
I stopped at Addie’s tent, pulling back the flap to reveal a young Reboot shoving clothes into a bag.
“Have you seen Addie?” I asked.
“No.” He looked at me. “Not since One-seventy-eight saved her.”
I dropped the flap, worry beginning to creep into my chest. Wren had said she’d help Riley. It wasn’t like her not to be where she said she would be.
I took off running. I went up and down every road in the reservation, asking anyone I found if they’d seen Wren or Addie. No one had.
By the time I headed back to the fire pit, the rock in the bottom of my stomach was growing by the second.
Riley and Isaac were standing next to Beth, and my heart skipped a beat when I saw the crowd behind them. It was all the Austin Reboots, and enough of the reservation Reboots that we had maybe a hundred and fifty. It was more than I had hoped for.
Kyle and Jeff stood firm in front of the weapons tent with the other One-twenties, guns out and ready. They were all trying to maintain calm expressions, but I could see the fear seeping through some. They were outnumbered, and Micah was nowhere to be seen.
I turned back to Riley, my breath catching in my throat when I saw the grim expression on his and Isaac’s faces.
“What?” I asked as I sprinted over and stopped in front of them.
“Micah and Jules are gone. No one has seen them.” Isaac ran a hand through his hair with a sigh. “And a shuttle is gone.”
My whole body went cold, and I tried to keep my voice steady. “He took them.”
“I think so,” Riley said.
“I don’t know.” Riley frowned in thought, then gestured for me to follow him. “Come on.” He looked at Beth. “Hold position for a minute, okay? I’ll give you a signal.”
Beth nodded and my heart pounded in my chest as I hurried beside Riley. Wren wasn’t supposed to be the one in trouble. Nothing was ever supposed to happen to her.
“Here,” Riley held a handgun out to me. “Take it. I could only arm about ten people with what I had, but it should be enough.”
I didn’t argue as I wrapped my hand around the barrel of the gun.
“It’s already loaded,” he said. “You may need it shortly. I think things are about to get ugly.”
I nodded as I slipped it in my pocket. If Micah took Wren, things were about to get very ugly.
Riley and I stopped in front of Kyle, who had beads of sweat on his forehead despite the chilly wind blowing through the compound. He gripped his gun tighter as he pushed back his massive shoulders, eyes darting to the large group of Reboots behind us.
He ignored me, his attention focused on Riley. As the higher number, Riley was probably sort of his superior. I swallowed down the urge to grab him by the neck and demand he tell us everything.
“There’s a shuttle missing,” Riley said.
“Yeah,” Kyle replied.
“What are Micah and Jules doing with it?” Riley kept his voice even, calm.
Kyle sort of winced. “Micah will be back by tonight.”
“After he does what?”
Kyle stared at us blankly.
“A drop?” Riley asked quietly.
I looked at him quickly. What was a “drop”?
“Yes,” Kyle said, his lip curling as he sneered at me. “I mean, it’s sort of expected, right?”
Riley ran his hands through his hair, his face worried. “Micah’s dropped bad Reboots in bounty hunter territory before. But it’s been years. I heard it made people around here antsy.”
“What? Where is that?”
Riley turned to Kyle for the answer and he shrugged. “Micah said he was going to look for them from the sky. He wasn’t sure.”
“They’re usually near Austin,” Riley said. “Because the majority of escaped Reboots come from there.”
“Yeah,” Kyle agreed. “And with the human situation in Austin . . .”
HARC probably had bounty hunters all over the place, to deal with the humans trying to escape.
Riley glanced at me, but I was still glaring at Kyle. He’d known Micah was taking Wren and he hadn’t tried to stop him.
I took a step forward, narrowing my eyes at him.
“What happens when he drops Reboots in bounty hunter territory?” I asked slowly.
“Bounty hunters deliver Reboots back to HARC,” Kyle said, meeting my gaze. “But I couldn’t say for sure. None of them ever come back.”
I took a small step back. Clenched my fist. Swung.
Kyle hit the ground and a brief pain radiated through my hand and up my arm. I’d never hit anyone that hard before.
He was on his feet in seconds and I ducked his attempt at a punch. Wren was five times faster, and he missed by so much he stumbled. I clocked him under the chin and he hit the ground again.
I turned to see Riley’s eyebrows raised, barely masking his surprise. He motioned with his hand and I heard the sound of over a hundred Reboots running.
I wanted to hit Kyle again, but instead I took a deep breath and tried to pull the panic away from the logic in my head. That’s what Wren would have done. She would have been rational about it. Calm.
I pulled my gun out and raised it as I heard the Reboots stop behind me. I fixed my eyes on Kyle’s.
“You’re going to want to get out of my way.”
I COULDN’T MOVE.
Judging by the pain radiating through my body I’d broken more bones than I could count. I suspected one of them was an important neck or backbone, given the paralysis. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see one of my legs bent at a funny angle.
The sun was directly in my line of vision, low in the sky. It was late afternoon. It was somewhat warmer than it had been at the reservation, which made me think Micah had taken us south. Or west?