I wiggled my ankles. They were chained to the metal table, like my hands, and there was no way out of them, even though my leg had healed. How long had it been? I didn’t even remember someone coming into the cell and giving me something to knock me out, but they must have.
I turned at the sound of voices beside me. It was Suzanna and Officer Mayer, heads bent close as they talked to each other. Suzanna gestured to me and the commanding officer straightened. He still had that smug expression on his face I so desperately wanted to wipe away.
I scanned the room. It looked like a smaller HARC medical lab. I was on a table in the middle of the room, a tray of sharp instruments to my left. A computer hummed in the corner, next to a cabinet of vials filled with liquid. Maybe they were going to make me crazy like Ever.
Suzanna crossed her arms over her chest and squinted at me. Maybe not crazy. Ever had seemed stronger when she was crazy, and I couldn’t see that situation ending well for them. I swallowed as my eyes flicked over the equipment. This seemed bad.
Officer Mayer pulled a chair up next to me and sort of smiled. It wasn’t a real smile. He’d actually given me one before, when I’d completed a mission to his satisfaction. He’d even liked me, in a way. Maybe that was part of the hate I saw in his eyes now. I’d let him down.
I smiled back.
Suzanna shuffled around the room, picking out a few vials. I cursed myself again for not asking Micah more about the experiments he’d been through at HARC. What had he said about them? There was one that made everything look purple?
I’d already encountered the one that made me heal slower. That one was not fun.
Suzanna was at my side suddenly, and something sharp pricked my neck. The liquid she pressed in burned, a little at first, and then so badly I clenched one of my hands into fists. The burn started to scream down my entire body and I swallowed hard, resisting the urge to yell.
Instead I closed my eyes. They’d never specifically trained me to withstand torture, but they might as well have. Perhaps I hadn’t realized it before Callum, but what they did to all Reboots was a form of torture.
When I opened my eyes, Suzanna was above me, her face crinkled in confusion. “Which expression means she’s in pain?”
“That’s the only expression she has.”
“Hmmm . . .” She cocked her head, her gaze skipping down my body. She pointed at my clenched fist. “Oh, that looks like she’s in pain. Good.” She gestured at something. “Hand me the next one.”
“Suzanna . . .” Officer Mayer sounded stressed as he got up from his chair.
“What?” she snapped.
“Let’s . . .” He turned his back to me and lowered his voice.
I heard him anyway. “Let’s kill her. Let’s kill them all.”
It sent a chill down my body and I swallowed down a wave of panic.
Suzanna glared at him. “Killing every Reboot who steps out of line is shortsighted. With the right drug combination, we’ll be able to wipe out the defiant part of their brains.” She gestured to me. “We can put our best Reboots back in the field, even if they were once determined to rebel. Get this one back to her old obedient self.”
I clenched my fingers into fists, pushing down the urge to thrash against the cuffs. I didn’t want to be their mindless slave again. I didn’t want to return to taking orders and killing people when they told me to.
“If you—” Officer Mayer started.
“When I want your opinion on my Reboots, I will ask for it, Albert,” Suzanna snapped.
She pulled the computer over and positioned it next to me. She squinted at the screen. “Let’s get started.”
I grunted as the guard dumped me onto the hard concrete floor. He didn’t bother to take the cuffs off my hands and feet before he slammed the door, and I had to wriggle around to get into a sitting position.
I leaned against the wall and closed my eyes against the spinning. I’d been on that table for hours, and the spinning had been constant since about the second shot.
I think I would have preferred death to sitting in here like a lab rat. I would have even preferred death to being “fixed” with their drugs and put back in a facility.
I tucked my face against my knees as Callum’s face popped into my head. When I pictured him, it was always that day at HARC when I made him punch me, and we were standing in front of his room, his arms wrapped around me, so close I almost kissed him. The look he had that night was my favorite expression of his—amusement mixed with attraction and a healthy dose of annoyance. I would probably never see that look again. Or any look from him.
I wondered if Addie made it back and found him. If the situation had been reversed, I would have marched straight into the first HARC facility I could find and started searching for him. I suspected Callum’s reaction would be the same.
A smile crossed my lips.
“NEW DALLAS,” I REPEATED, LOOKING FROM TONY TO DESMOND. “You’re sure?”
“Yes,” Tony said. “I just got word back from one of the officers there. They’ve got her locked away from the other Reboots, in the old human cells.”
“I thought Rosa was more likely,” Riley said, stepping up next to me.
Tony leaned back in his chair. We were in his kitchen, surrounded by about twenty humans. A group of them sat with us at the table, the rest milled around the living room and spilled out onto the porch.
“They’re setting up a command center in Rosa,” Tony said. “Sending all HARC personnel from Austin there. It’s basically the human base of operations now, and they didn’t want One-seventy-eight anywhere near it, especially given how familiar she is with the Rosa facility. And New Dallas is better equipped for prisoners. They did a lot of experiments on adult Reboots there.”
Addie looked at me excitedly. “Then we can go tonight, right?”
“Yes. Definitely.” I turned to Tony, swallowing hard. “Did they know anything about . . . her condition?”
“All he knew was she was there. I’m sorry. I got nothing else.”
“That’s all right.” I sighed with relief. If she was there, she was probably alive. She had to be alive. It had only taken Tony about twenty-four hours to find out where she was, and I had to hope that was fast enough.
“I’ll start getting the Reboots ready and prep the shuttles,” Riley said. “We’ll need to leave some people here to guard the city.” He nodded at Tony. “How do you want to split your men up? How many will come with us?”