He kicked the dirt as he frowned at the ground. “So I know HARC said you were all bad or whatever, but obviously they were wrong. Do you think that maybe you’re actually all better? Like, maybe they should be trying to make us all Reboots instead of fighting with you.”
“I don’t know about that.”
“Why not? We’d all be practically invincible.”
“And we’d all be the same. I think we should all just be who we’re supposed to be.”
David shrugged. “I guess.”
I stopped as we approached the slum wall and cocked my head toward it. “Go ahead. I’m headed to one of the watchtowers for the night.”
“Why? Are you making sure HARC doesn’t come back?”
“Among other things.” Thinking about Wren out there somewhere made my stomach churn.
“All right.” He started to hoist himself over the wall, turning back to me. “I’ll come find you again tomorrow, okay?”
A smile spread across my face. “Okay. Be careful, though. Tell Mom and Dad where you’re going next time.”
He snorted as he started to climb. “Yeah, right.”
“Fine, whatever.” He grinned at me before disappearing over the side of the wall.
THE OFFICERS PUT SOMETHING OVER MY HEAD.
My vision was black as they dragged me across the dirt to where the shuttle was humming. It was getting increasingly harder to breathe through the bag, and I clenched my fists as I wriggled my hands in my handcuffs. They were too tight.
“Secure her legs before she gets on this shuttle. You can’t take any chances with this one.”
I took in a tiny breath at the sound of Officer Mayer’s voice. He sounded so pleased with himself.
Someone shoved me to the ground and I kicked my legs, coming in contact with nothing but air.
“Give her one of the shots. I’m serious about keeping a short leash on this one, boys.”
A needle pricked my neck and I pressed my lips together, stuffing back the urge to scream.
The world went dark.
My eyes wouldn’t open right away. I was awake, and I could hear the bustle of humans around me, but my lids were glued shut.
“She’s coming to, I think,” an unfamiliar voice said.
“Is everything secure?” Officer Mayer asked.
“Yes.” There was the sound of jiggling chains, and I felt them rub against my wrist. “All set.”
I took in a sharp breath and tried to blink, letting in a tiny portion of light. The bag that had been over my head was gone. My left leg ached, and I squinted down to find the knee smashed, blood soaking my already dirty pants. Lovely.
We were in a shuttle. I lay on the metal floor, handcuffed to a bar on the side by my wrists. Someone had chained my ankles together as well. Officer Mayer sat in the seat in front of me, an expression of supreme satisfaction on his face.
They hadn’t killed me. I met his eyes as I realized this fact. Was I still valuable to them, after I’d caused all this trouble?
I shifted slightly and Officer Mayer watched my face closely. He looked down at my leg, which clearly was going to take hours to heal from those drugs they’d given me. Longer, if I wasn’t able to put the bone back in the right place. He was almost eager as he searched my face.
“Does it hurt a little, One-seventy-eight?”
I snorted. Was he kidding?
The shuttle began to descend and I tried to twist around to see where we were. The pilot’s door was closed.
We landed and the shuttle door slid open to reveal four guards, weapons pointed at my chest. Suzanna Palm, chairman of HARC, stood behind them, her face excited.
“All four of you,” Officer Mayer said, gesturing to the guards. “Two carrying her and two keeping a gun on her at all times. You can’t let her out of your sight, even for a minute.”
One side of my mouth hitched up into a smile. It was flattering, how scared they were of me.
A guard unchained me and handcuffed my wrists together. He grabbed me underneath the arms, hoisting me to my feet, and the pain screamed through my leg. Another guard snatched them up and I had to clench my fingers into fists to keep from crying out.
The guard holding me by the boots wrinkled his nose, turning his face away from me. I was cold to him, dead and gross.
For a moment, I saw Micah’s point about getting rid of them all.
They carried me out of the shuttle and I twisted in the human’s arms, trying to catch a glimpse of where they were taking me. I didn’t recognize the large, brick building. It wasn’t Rosa. Or Austin.
As we passed through the entrance, the cold artificial air hit me and I shivered. The floors were white tile, the walls a nice cream color.
“Downstairs,” Suzanna said. She glanced back at Officer Mayer. “Is she prepped already?”
“Good. Put her in the cell for now.”
The guards took me inside an elevator and we dropped several floors before the doors slid open again.
It was not as nice down here.
Rows of empty cells stretched out in front of me. HARC cells were usually glass and white and sterile, but here they were dirty little rooms with bars.
They dropped me on the floor of one in the middle, and I pressed my face into the concrete floor to distract myself from the pain.
The bars slammed shut behind them and I struggled to a sitting position. There wasn’t even a bed in the cell. Just a toilet in the corner. The cells in front of me were empty, and silence engulfed the room.
I scooted back against the wall and looked around the tiny space. No windows anywhere. There was no way to tell what time of day it was. And judging by how many floors we’d dropped in the elevator, we were well hidden.
My heart sank as I took a deep breath. If I accepted I was going to die here maybe that would make it easier. Only a few weeks ago, I’d lived with the possibility that I could die at any minute and would certainly die within three years. I needed to get back to that place.
But that place was gone, apparently. That place was taken up with Callum, and my chest kept tightening as I wished I’d given him a better good-bye. I had no idea what that good-bye would be, but the one we had seemed inadequate.
I moved my legs slightly, forgetting that one was still broken. I closed my eyes against the blinding pain, trying to push it back to where I couldn’t feel it. It was getting harder the longer I went without healing. I wasn’t used to having to deal with broken bones for more than a few minutes. Even in training, when Riley had broken multiple bones a day, I’d had a short recovery period between each one. This pain was constant, and I didn’t like it.