I raised my gun. I could easily hit his back at this point, but that wasn’t how I always imagined killing him. In my head, it had always been more intimate.
Now I wanted him to suffer.
There was no way he could outrun me. He’d trained me too well for that. I leaped forward, yanking on his arm so hard it cracked. He screamed as I launched my foot into his stomach.
He hit the ground, firing off another wild shot that missed me. I tore the gun from his hand and tossed it away. I positioned myself over his chest and knelt down.
I wrapped my fingers around his throat.
His eyes bulged and he swung at me. He grasped my shirt in his fingers and tugged, but I dug into his neck harder. He wheezed and began kicking his legs.
His face turned red.
I held on tighter.
He dropped his fingers from my shirt, putting his hands down and giving me a desperate look. He was surrendering.
I didn’t care.
I didn’t care.
I didn’t care.
I let out a scream of frustration and let go of his neck, backing off slightly. Officer Mayer gasped for air, rolling onto his side as his body shook and trembled.
I wiped a hand across my eyes and found they were wet. Officer Mayer stared up at me, his expression a mixture of horror and shock.
I considered killing him and was struck again with that awful feeling I’d had a few seconds ago. Did I kill someone just because I could? Was that who I was?
I kicked the gun farther from Officer Mayer’s reach and pulled two sets of cuffs from his belt. I slapped them around his ankles and wrists.
No. That wasn’t who I was.
My body was heavy as I straightened, and I forced myself to turn around to where Callum lay.
Desmond was still crouching over his body. He had something bloody in his hand. A bullet.
Callum slowly sat up, blood running down his cheek from his left eye.
I yelled, sprinting across the dirt so fast I almost knocked him over when I threw my arms around his shoulders. Callum laughed and wheezed as I squeezed him tightly.
“Sorry,” I said, pulling away and putting my hands on his cheeks. His eye was a bloody mess, but starting to heal, and I pulled his hand away when he tried to touch it. “Don’t. It will heal faster if you leave it alone.”
I turned to Desmond, who tossed aside the bullet.
“Lodged in his eye socket?” I guessed.
He nodded with a wince. “Really disgusting, too.”
“Thank you,” Callum said with a smile.
A loud yell and the sound of shooting made me turn. The scene in front of the facility had changed, and lots of HARC officers were on their knees on the ground. A tiny group of officers were holding out, firing off shots at the rebels. A few officers took off running in our direction, and I jumped to my feet as bullets sprayed through the air.
Desmond sprang up next to me and I darted in front of him, but it was too late. He doubled over as blood spread across his stomach, then his shoulder. Callum caught him before he hit the dirt.
I raised my gun, but a large band of humans swarmed the officers, and wrestled them to the ground.
Tony was at my side in seconds, and Callum moved away as he knelt down next to Desmond. There was no saving him, though. I quickly turned away, my hand finding Callum’s.
The gunfire had stopped in front of the facility, but I could still hear traces of it in the slums. The humans were dirty and bloodied, and the Reboots didn’t look much better.
I knew I should go into the slums to help stop the violence there or assist in rounding up the HARC officers for containment, but it all felt like too much to deal with at the moment. I holstered my gun and wrapped my arms around Callum’s waist, pressing my face into his chest and letting out a long breath.
THE ROSA HARC FACILITY LOOKED LIKE IT MIGHT CRUMBLE AT ANY moment, so we made sure there were no Reboots locked in their rooms and moved everyone out of the area. Dead bodies were strewn across the lawn, and when the sun began to rise the scene was gruesome.
A few of the rebels gathered together the HARC prisoners, including Officer Mayer, and piled them into HARC transport vans headed for Austin. Isaac and a few other Reboots went to New Dallas to check on the HARC situation there, and reported back that most of the HARC officials fled or abandoned their posts when they arrived. Many blended into the human population, giving up their duties with little protest.
Wren went with Addie and Leb to do a sweep of the city and slums and they returned with a few more humans and HARC officers who’d shot at them. Leb said they were using the human cells in the Austin capitol as a prison until they could figure out what to do with everyone. I thought about asking who was guarding this prison, and who would decide the appropriate punishment, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. Not today, anyway.
Wren had disappeared, and I found her on the lawn of the facility, sitting next to Riley’s body. Her arm was slung across her knees, her head bent down, and she didn’t move at all when I knelt down in front of her.
“Do you want to bury him?” I asked quietly.
She shook her head, wiping the back of her hand across her eyes before she looked at me. “No, Riley would think that was stupid. We should cremate him with the others.”
I nodded, wrapping my fingers around her arm and giving it a gentle squeeze. I stood, intending to leave her alone, but she got to her feet and slipped her hand into mine. We walked off the HARC lawn to where Leb and Addie were standing with a large group of Reboots.
Leb glanced over at Wren, his expression half surprise, half sympathy. She had dirt and blood smeared on her clothes, and her shoulders were slumped in exhaustion. It was obvious she’d been crying. I suspected that was where Leb’s surprise came from, because it seemed that even the people who knew her were shocked to discover she had emotions like them.
“Thank you,” Leb said. He looked for a moment like he might hug her but seemed to think better of it.
“For what?” Wren asked.
He gestured to Addie. “I didn’t think you’d go to get her out.”
Wren was almost amused. “I know you didn’t.”
“Also for saving my life that one time,” Addie piped in with a smile. “And that other time.”
Wren laughed softly. “No problem. I’d say we’re even now.”
Addie pointed to a shuttle a few hundred yards away. “Are you guys going back to Austin? That shuttle is going to take some people soon.”
Wren looked at me. “Yes?”
“Yes,” I confirmed.
“Are you staying here?” Wren asked Addie and Leb.