“I don’t want to kill more people.” He scrunched up his face. “Or worse, eat anyone. So, if it doesn’t work out, don’t just let me be like this, okay?”
I nodded, pressing my lips together to stop the tears. “Okay.”
Callum was quiet for a moment, his eyebrows lowered in thought. “And even if we don’t get the antidote, you should help them.” He nodded at the door. “Go to the reservation and get the other Reboots to help them, too.”
“Yeah. You can’t let HARC win. Not after everything they’ve done. So even if I don’t . . . if I don’t make it, I think you should help them.”
He knew I had very little interest in helping the humans. All I wanted was for him to be better so we could get away from them and never come back. And I didn’t want to think about what I would do if Callum didn’t make it, but sticking around to join forces with humans was not on the top of my list.
“That won’t be an issue. You’ll be fine.”
“Wren, think about it at least. You shouldn’t let the fact that you’re a badass go to waste.”
I managed a laugh. “I will think about it.”
It was a lie. I wasn’t going to think about any scenario that didn’t include him.
Callum eventually faded away again, even though I could see him trying to fight it. I sat on the floor for a long time, until I couldn’t take those vacant eyes anymore. I refused to panic about it, so I tied him up and moved to the living room, where I spent the afternoon and early evening pacing back and forth.
The sun had just set, and I was anxious to head over to the facility, but Tony insisted the best time was very early morning. The facility had the least guards on duty between the hours of four and six a.m., and it was best to go near six, since a few lab personnel would be on duty by then. No one could tell me what the antidote looked like, so I might need a human to point it out.
Tony was at the kitchen table with about ten other humans, poring over the schematic of the Austin HARC facility. A larger group than I had expected had agreed to help us. A few had left, saying they were certain we’d all be dead by morning, but the rest seemed thrilled to have such an ambitious plan after years of trying to defeat HARC.
Gabe slipped through the front door with Zeke, the blond boy from earlier. Gabe was holding a black canvas bag against his chest, and he nodded at Tony.
“I got them,” he said, dropping the bag on the couch and reaching inside. He pulled out several black guns and dumped odd-shaped yellow bullets onto the table. I frowned, leaning over to grab one of them.
“What is this?” I asked, turning the yellow plastic bullet around in my fingers. It had a tiny needle coming out of it.
“Tranquilizer darts,” Gabe said. “Tony doesn’t want you killing humans while you’re in there.”
I turned to Tony with raised eyebrows, and he leaned back in his chair to meet my gaze. I held up the yellow dart. “These things actually work? Quickly?”
“Within a couple seconds. Aim for the chest or arm or leg.”
“How long will they be out?” I asked.
“Hours. You don’t have to worry about that. I’ll give you your real gun back, but I don’t want you to use it in there. Most of those guys are just doing their job. And some of them are with us.”
I nodded, dropping the dart on the table. “Fine.”
“Did you find some helmets?” Tony asked.
“Yeah, Henry will be by soon with them,” Gabe replied.
Addie grabbed one of the tranq guns off the table and stuck a dart inside, studying the gun curiously. Gabe darted behind the couch and she snorted. “Oh, relax, human. I know how to use a gun.”
“Gabe,” he corrected, wincing as she pointed it at the wall behind Zeke.
“Come out from behind the couch, Gabe. I’m not going to shoot you. Unless you deserve it.”
He crept out of hiding, cautiously reaching for the gun. “I’ll just take that.”
Addie rolled her eyes as she handed it over, and I shot her an amused look.
“Hey.” I turned at the sound of Desmond’s voice. He plopped a ladle of something into a bowl. “Do you want dinner?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“Then come and eat.”
I scurried into the kitchen, peering into the bowl. It was some sort of stew. I gave him a grateful look as I spooned some into my mouth. I hadn’t expected to be fed again.
“I thought the lower numbers were supposed to be nicer!” I heard Gabe exclaim from the living room, and I glanced over to see Addie holding a tranq gun to his chest.
“Adina, stop torturing Gabe,” Tony called with a chuckle.
I almost laughed, but Desmond was staring at me like he was plotting my demise. I swallowed my food and wiped at my mouth. He’d been quiet and moody all evening, obviously not in favor of the plan.
“Why are you helping if you don’t want to?” I asked.
“I said I would, didn’t I?” he asked. He’d pulled his brown hair back into a short ponytail, and the sharp edges of his face looked harsh. He wasn’t an attractive man, even when he was happy.
“And you seem so pleased about it.”
All I got in response was a glare. I considered taking my food in the other room, but I had too many questions. While he didn’t seem scared of me, he appeared to hate me only slightly less than the average human did.
“But why help us at all if you hate us?” I pressed.
He let out a long sigh and leaned against the counter. “I don’t hate you. I just don’t trust you’re not going to come back and kill us all.”
Valid concern, in my opinion. “So you decided to free us and take your chances?”
He paused, sliding his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “There was a discussion a few years ago. When we decided we needed the Reboots gone to have any sort of success against HARC, some people thought we should kill you.”
“Ah. And you saw their point.”
He cleared his throat. “Maybe a little. But then Tony was like, ‘Let’s just meet one. Let’s go rescue one and talk to them without HARC watching and see what they think.’ So we did.”
“And the Reboot was . . . what? Nice?”
“No. Or hell, I don’t know. She sat in the living room and sobbed. Wouldn’t say one word to us.”
“She probably thought you were going to kill her.”