Author: P Hana

Page 45


I leaned back against the wall, examining my mangled leg. What if it never healed? What if they figured out how to stop healing altogether one of these days? What if each shot was worse, and that leg healed all wrong and ugly? It would probably look worse than my chest.

I started laughing, a hysterical laugh that got louder as the panic began to fully set in.



THE AREA BEYOND THE WATCHTOWER WAS QUIET ALL NIGHT, AND still except for the occasional swaying tree. I found the tower closest to the rebels’ tunnel and paced alone in the small space all night. When morning came, I trudged past the fence and scouted the area, but there was nothing.

It was time to go find her.

“Leaving my post,” I said into my com. “Coming in.”

“Got it,” Riley’s voice replied.

I headed over the hill and past the outskirts of town to the slum wall. The city was starting to move, and there were a lot more humans out and about today. Their attitude seemed to be one of avoidance, like they were going to ignore the Reboots and pretend none of this was happening. Whatever worked for them.

I hoped my parents and David had come back last night to the house, otherwise it was probably in the process of being claimed by someone else.

I reached the wall and hopped over, landing softly on the other side, then I started down the dirt path in the direction of the schoolhouse. I wondered how much equipment HARC had left in the Austin facility. Any transport vans or shuttles? Maybe I could snag one and head out to look for Wren and Addie. Screw what everyone said about it being too dangerous. She would search for me, even if there was a high likelihood of HARC spotting her.

A Reboot ran across my line of vision, and then another. I frowned, turning to see where they were headed.

I could see nothing but houses and trees, but beyond that was the HARC fence.

I broke into a jog.

There were no shuttles, no shooting, no panicking. It wasn’t HARC at that fence.

“Reboot at the south fence.” Riley’s excited voice came through my com.

I ran faster as a clump of Reboots came into view. They were standing in front of the fence around someone. I couldn’t see who but—

I stopped. It was Addie. And she was alone.

I rubbed a hand across my forehead and tried to breathe. The air was stuck in my chest, unable to get past the lump in my throat.

Wren had been captured.

“She pushed me over into the river to save me,” Addie said, pulling the blanket one of the Reboots had given her tighter around her shoulders. She sat on the grass in the middle of a circle of Reboots, not far from the fence where she’d come in. I was across from her, trying not to panic. I was not succeeding.

She looked at me and swallowed. “I’m sorry.”

I shook my head. “Don’t be. It’s not your fault.” That sounded exactly like Wren, actually. In the midst of fighting for her life, she saw an opportunity to save Addie so she took it. I cleared my throat to push back the sudden urge to cry.

“I tried to get here as fast as I could but I walked the wrong way for miles and had to circle back.”

“Did you recognize the HARC officers?” I asked.

She shook her head miserably.

“But they wouldn’t kill her, right? If they wanted to kill her, they would have done it then,” I said. “They had an opportunity, didn’t they?”

“Definitely.” She nodded. “They were holding us, and the guy told someone he had her.”

Hope bloomed in my chest as I turned to Riley. “Where would they take her?”

“My first guess would have been here. Suzanna Palm uses the Austin capitol as a place to interrogate criminals. But with the way things are now, they’re not going to risk flying a shuttle into the city.”

“So Rosa, then. Right? That would be their next choice.”

“Maybe,” Riley said. “But Tony said they’re taking all the Austin refugees to New Dallas. HARC could be setting up shop there.”

Addie squinted at something behind me and I turned to see Tony and Gabe running for us, excitement on their faces.

“Oh, thank goodness,” Tony said with a sigh when he spotted Addie. “Your dad would have killed me.” He took a glance around. “Where’s Wren?”

“A group of HARC officers captured her.” I got to my feet, running a shaky hand through my hair. I wanted to freak out. I could feel the urge starting to close in, making it hard to think, and I looked around wildly for someone to step forward with an idea.

Riley frowned in thought, but everyone else was staring at me, clearly having already decided I was the one who was supposed to know what to do.

And they were right. If I wanted Wren back, I needed to step up and organize everyone before it was too late.

“We need to find out which facility she’s in,” I said, turning to Tony. “Can you get word to Leb in Rosa? Do you have someone in New Dallas?”

Tony nodded. “We’re already trying to communicate with the other cities about what happened here. I don’t have many people in New Dallas, but I can try.”

“Do you know what they would do with her?” Addie asked. “That could help, right? If we know what they want?”

Tony cleared his throat, dropping his gaze to the ground. “HARC has always wanted to know why some kids take so long to Reboot. Why they’re strong like Wren. I’d say it’s likely they’re going to experiment on her.” He winced and spoke softer. “There may not be a lot of time to find her in, um, one piece.”

My stomach lurched into my throat and I tightened my hand into a fist. The thought of them taking Wren apart and dissecting her made the world swim in front of my eyes.

“And if I were going to guess, they took her to Rosa,” he continued. “We never had much of a rebel presence there, and they might know that.”

I took a deep breath, trying to push my worries about Wren under the surface for a moment. That’s what she would do. She’d launch into action and then get upset about it (maybe) later, in private.

“You think you can maybe find out for sure?”

“I’ll do my best.”

I gave him a grateful look and turned to Riley. “Let’s start getting a group together to go after her. We’ll wait until tomorrow to see if we can get confirmation of where Wren is, but I’m heading out either way. I can’t wait anymore.”



I WOKE UP STRAPPED TO A TABLE. I HAD A HARD TIME OPENING MY eyes again, but when I did the lights on the ceiling were too harsh and bright after my dark cell.