“A new batch of reservation Reboots came in today,” I said, glancing at Callum.
“Yeah. They seemed pretty skeptical about our setup here, but it’s better than Micah’s was, I guess.” I laughed. “You should have seen Tony’s face when he saw a Reboot baby. I’m not sure he’s recovered yet.”
“Maybe some of them will want to help us out at the capitol. Every government meeting is me and maybe one other Reboot with all these humans.”
“It’s your own fault you get along so well with humans,” I said, grinning at him. He pretended to look annoyed, but I knew he liked being a part of forming a government that included humans and Reboots.
There were a few humans and Reboots out walking around as we neared the schoolhouse, but there were less people in Austin than before, since some had decided to go back to their hometowns. And some humans had gone to New Dallas, which was apparently almost entirely human occupied. Tony said they were keeping an eye on it. I wasn’t surprised. I never expected all the humans to jump at the opportunity to hang out with a bunch of Reboots.
A bonfire was lit in the empty field in front of the HARC facility, like it had been every night since we’d come back from Rosa. The Reboots had been gathering there most nights, and sometimes a few humans came. Tonight Gabe was sitting next to Addie, an arm slung around her shoulders.
She grinned when she spotted us and jumped to her feet, pulling Gabe with her. “How was the dinner?”
“Good. Deer meat.”
“That’s really not what I meant.”
I smiled, rolling my eyes. “It was good. I acted normal.”
Callum made a gesture like “so-so,” and I playfully punched his arm as he laughed.
A flash of movement caught my eye, and I turned to see Hugo striding into the facility with another Reboot, both their faces grim.
“I’ll be back, okay? I’m going to go check on the new Reboot situation.”
Callum nodded, wincing a little as he looked behind me at the facility. A shuttle from New Dallas had dropped a bunch of sick kids at the Austin fence yesterday, and we’d already had three new Reboots.
“Do you want me to come with you?” he asked.
“No, I’m fine.” I knew he was just being nice. He’d been with me yesterday when one of the kids Rebooted, and I could tell it upset him to watch.
“I’ll meet you in our room later?” he asked, slipping his fingers through mine and pulling me closer.
I nodded and rose up on my toes, pressing my lips to his. He looped an arm around my waist, practically lifting me up off the ground, and I laughed as we broke apart.
I stepped back, resisting the urge to kiss him again when he grinned. I could do more of that later.
I turned and headed for the facility, crossing through the dark, deserted lobby and jogging up to the second floor. As I opened the door, a blast of light and noise hit me, and a few Reboots I recognized from Rosa smiled as they walked past and into the stairwell.
Hugo stood with a few guys in the middle of the hallway, and he jerked his head behind him. “There’s two that just died. And one of the girls from New Dallas died while you were gone, but we don’t think she’s going to Reboot. It’s been too long.”
“How long is too long?” I asked.
“About three hours.”
“We should stay until four hours, at least. You never know.” I glanced down the hallway. “Which room?”
“Third door on the left.”
I headed down the hallway and pulled the door open. This floor had once been used for research and experimentation, and the rooms looked similar to where I was tortured in New Dallas, although we’d tried to make it homier. The computer and other equipment had been pushed against the wall, and we’d covered the hard table in the middle of the room with a few blankets. A girl about fifteen or so was motionless on top of them, a young Reboot in the chair next to her.
“You can go,” I said, holding the door open. “I’ve got it.”
“It’s probably too late,” he said, stretching as he got to his feet.
He walked past me and the door shut quietly behind him. I sat down in the chair next to her makeshift bed, glancing quickly at her face. She was pale, her dark hair splayed across the pillow. I’d seen her yesterday when they’d brought her in, but she’d been too sick to talk. None of the others had known her name.
I sighed as I rubbed a hand across my forehead. I wondered if her family had let the human leaders in New Dallas take her, or if the city wasn’t letting anyone with KDH stay. We clearly had a long way to go with them.
The girl’s body jerked suddenly, and I took in a sharp breath and jumped up. I kept my arms at my side, because I didn’t think I would have wanted strange people touching me as soon as I Rebooted. But I would have liked someone there. That I knew for sure.
Her body lurched several more times before she opened her bright green eyes. Her fingers clenched the sheets and she gasped, her head snapping around the room. Her gaze finally settled on me, panic on her face.
I braced myself for screaming, but it didn’t come. Her chest rose and fell quickly, but she just stared at me silently.
I let out a tiny sigh of relief as I smiled at her. “Wren,” I said quietly. The “One” of One-seventy-eight was on the tip of my tongue, but I swallowed it back. We weren’t keeping track of the numbers anymore.
She ran one hand down her arm, a worried expression on her face. “How . . . how long was I . . . ?”
“It doesn’t matter,” I said. “You’re awake now.”