Author: P Hana

Page 8


The shower and restroom area had taken a hit as well. I’d visited them earlier and found a large hole blown out of the men’s side. At least their plumbing system still worked.

The tower on the right side of the compound was completely gone, as well as a small part of the fence in that area. But overall, we’d sustained way less damage than HARC. I’d only glimpsed it for a moment, but there were fragments of their shuttles littering the dirt in front of the compound for as far as I could see.

“Yeah, we’ll probably start tomorrow,” Isaac said. “Patch together as many tents as we can first.”

“It’s not really that bad,” Addie said. “You guys are impressive.”

“We’d been preparing for a year,” Isaac said with a shrug. “And our monitoring systems are new. They had no idea we knew exactly when they’d be coming.”

I opened my mouth to ask where they got their equipment, but I heard a shuffle and turned to see Wren plunk down next to me. She had dark circles under her eyes, but when she looped her arm through mine and smiled, she looked genuinely happy. I introduced her to Isaac and she quickly shook his hand before leaning against my shoulder again.

“Everything all right?” I asked, taking a quick glance at Micah’s tent.

“Yeah. Micah just wanted to hear the whole story. How we escaped from Rosa, got to Austin, met the rebels.” She gave me a look between amusement and annoyance. “He had a million questions.”

I leaned forward, brushing a piece of hair away from her face. I pressed my lips to her cool forehead, trailing my other hand down her neck. The sun was just starting to set, but I wanted to pull her close and ask if we could find a tent and stay there the rest of evening.

“Isaac, take her for me for a few minutes, will ya?”

I looked up to see a girl passing Isaac a chubby baby. He was less than thrilled, but he took her, arranging her in his lap and sliding an arm around her tummy as the woman walked away.

“What the . . . ?” Wren pulled away from me and stared at the baby, her lips parted. “Is that baby . . . ?”

I glanced down at it and took in a sharp breath as I realized. The baby had bright blue Reboot eyes.

“Did it die and Reboot?” Wren asked.

“Nope, she was born like this,” Isaac said. He grabbed the baby’s arm and made her wave. “Creepy, right?”

“So creepy,” Wren said, poking the baby’s arm quickly, like it was going to bite her. “So when Reboots have kids, they come out like this?”


“Do they heal?” Addie asked.

“They sure do,” Isaac said. “They’re total Reboot.”

“But . . . without a number, I guess?” Wren asked.

“Yeah, no number, obviously. We think they might take after the higher parent, but eventually the numbers won’t even matter.”

“Is she yours?” I asked, trying to keep the horror from my voice. I mean, babies were cute and all, but Isaac seemed a little young.

“God, no.” He made a face. “I’m just holding her.” He glanced around, thrusting her in Wren’s direction. “Here, take her for a minute. I’ve got to go to the bathroom.”

“What? No.” She quickly leaned away.

“Only for a minute. I’ll be right back.” He plopped the baby in her lap and hopped to his feet. Wren held her at arm’s length and frowned. She did not appreciate that, because she immediately began wailing.

“Here,” Wren said, thrusting her in my direction. “Take the mutant baby.”

I laughed as I took her. I’d never held a baby before, or not that I remembered, anyway. I was four when my brother, David, was born, but I doubted my parents let me hold him. Apparently I was doing it wrong, because the baby was still screaming. I glanced at Wren. “You’ve angered it.”

“Oh my God,” Addie said in exasperation, plucking the baby from my grasp. She bounced her in her arms and the cries began to quiet.

Wren blinked at the baby a few times, turning to give me a “weird” expression. I pressed my lips together to keep from laughing.

“You’re not a mutant,” Addie said, grabbing the girl’s hand and giving it a gentle shake. She turned to Wren, her expression changing to worry. She ducked her head, lowering her voice. “Is there anything we should know?”

“About what?” Wren asked, covering her mouth as she yawned.

“About Micah? And everyone here?”

“You know as much as I do.” She shrugged as she took a quick glance around. “They sure can fight, though.”

Addie kept her gaze on the baby, biting her bottom lip as she nodded slightly. I got the feeling she wanted Wren to reassure her, to tell her we were safe and she could relax. But Wren just stared straight ahead, watching as a group of Reboots laughed on the other side of the fire pit.

I considered pointing out that people would be looking to her for answers, but she rubbed a hand across her eyes and yawned again and I felt a burst of sympathy for her. Maybe now wasn’t the right time to mention that.

“Hey,” I said, running my hand down her back. “How long has it been since you slept?”

She frowned and cocked her head. “A couple days ago? When we were at your house.”

“I’m going to see if I can find us a tent or something,” I said, getting to my feet. “Are you hungry? I can grab you some food.”

She shook her head. “No, Micah gave me some.”

“Okay. I’ll be right back.”

She smiled at me over her shoulder as I headed in the direction of the big tent. Micah appeared to be the only one in charge here, and I had a feeling he’d be more than happy to accommodate a request on Wren’s behalf.

The flap to the big tent was closed, and I scanned the area, unsure of what to do. They needed a knocker or something on these things.

“Micah?” I called.

He poked his head out a moment later, his eyebrows lowered. “What?”

Apparently his friendliness didn’t extend much beyond Wren. I crossed my arms over my chest. “Wren hasn’t slept in, like, two days and she’s exhausted. Do you have somewhere she can rest for a while?”

His frown disappeared. “Oh, of course. I should have told her. I had a tent cleared out right over there.”

I turned to where he was pointing at a small tepee-style tent that had been untouched by the blast. I wondered who he had “cleared out” to make room for her.