I raised my eyebrows in surprise. They went that far to hunt? They must have stripped the land clean in this area. Or did people always have to cover that much ground to hunt? I’d never hunted, so maybe that was normal.
We walked into the reservation and down the dirt roads toward the front gate. Reboots around us were busy erecting tents and cleaning away debris. They’d made huge progress in just the couple of hours I’d been with Micah. It was starting to look like nothing had happened at all.
Two shuttles were outside the front of the reservation. Reboots surrounded both of them, and a few others walked around picking up trash. One of the shuttles was in bad shape, its side completely smashed in, but the other one could have been worse. It was dented and dirty, and missing a small corner on the back pilot’s side, but otherwise wasn’t bad.
We walked closer to the good shuttle and I spotted Callum in the pilot’s seat, his brow furrowed as he fiddled with something on the dash. He had grease on his hands and arms, like he’d been working on other parts as well.
“Does this one work?” Micah asked.
Callum lifted his head, smiling when he caught sight of me. “Yeah. We replaced a couple parts with stuff from the more destroyed shuttles. And I just finished fixing the navigation system.”
Micah gave him a surprised look and leaned over him to examine the dash. “Thank you. Good work. Not that I know how to use the navigation system.” He chuckled.
Callum hopped out of the shuttle. “No problem. I can teach you sometime if you want.” He wiped his hands on his pants. “You going somewhere?”
“Our hunting party didn’t come back. I’m getting a little worried.” He turned to me. “Would you want to come? If there’s trouble I could use your help.”
I hesitated, taking a glance at Callum. I wasn’t exactly pumped at the idea of hopping onto a shuttle to charge into trouble again.
“We shouldn’t be long. Back tonight at the latest. And hey, if they’re all right maybe we can do some hunting ourselves.” Micah punched me lightly on the shoulder. “The hunt is pretty awesome. I think you’d enjoy it.”
He might have been right about that. It was probably sort of like hunting down the assignments in Rosa, except deer and rabbits could run faster. More challenging, with no humans barking orders in my ear.
“Yeah, all right,” I said.
“You can come, too, if you want,” Micah said to Callum.
He made a face at me like he’d rather not and I almost laughed. I couldn’t imagine Callum enjoying shooting animals. He didn’t even enjoy eating them.
“I think I’ll pass,” he said. He pointed at the other shuttle. “We were going to work on that one next.”
Micah nodded. “I’m going to grab Jules and Kyle then.” He touched my arm. “You want to wait here for a minute? I’ll get you some weapons.”
I nodded and he jogged back through the gates and disappeared around the corner.
“Everything all right?” Callum asked, taking a step closer to me.
I nodded, a smile spreading across my face as I glanced down at his grease-covered arms. He looked happy and relaxed. I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen that particular expression on his face before. “Good,” I said. I decided not to tell him about Addie and the birth-control chips. It was an awkward conversation, and not one that was relevant to us at the moment anyway.
I closed my hand over my upper arm, where my own chip was. I was going to leave it in, though. Just in case.
“You don’t mind if I don’t come with you, do you?” He grinned. “I think we both know I’d suck at hunting.”
I stepped forward, rising to my tiptoes to brush my lips against his. “I wasn’t going to say that. But yeah, probably best if you don’t come.”
He chuckled, leaning forward to kiss me again, keeping his arms at his sides. I rested my hands on his chest and melted into the kiss, not caring about the Reboots all around us.
“Tonight, when you get back, let’s do this,” he said, pulling away slightly and kissing my cheek. “No more attacking or socializing or hunting. Just this.”
“Agreed.” I ran my hands up to his neck and sighed. “Now I wish I didn’t have to go.”
“I think it’s nice you agreed. If we stay, hunting will probably be your thing here. Hunting and saving people. Your two favorite things.”
I let out a soft laugh. I didn’t know about the latter—he was the only person I’d ever saved—but hunting probably was “my thing.” It was nice to think I might have something I’d be good at here. I’d never been good at anything but hunting down humans for HARC, and that wasn’t something I ever planned to do again.
“Wren! You ready?”
I glanced back to see Micah standing by the shuttle with Jules and a guy I didn’t know. A young Reboot sat in the pilot’s seat, and the shuttle roared to life. I stepped away from Callum with a sigh. “I’ll see you.”
“Bye. Don’t get shot.”
I FROWNED AT THE CRUSHED FLIGHT CONTROLS IN FRONT OF ME, touching the spot where a button used to be. This shuttle was in worse shape than the one Wren and Micah had just taken off in, but it was possibly still salvageable.
“Need any of these?”
Isaac stood next to the shuttle door, a bag of assorted shuttle parts in his hands.
“Maybe,” I said, taking the bag and plopping it down on the seat next to me. “Thank you.”
“No problem.” He slid his hands into his pockets and leaned against the shuttle door. His tendency to slouch made him look even shorter than he was. “You know, shuttle cleanup was the job most people were avoiding.”
I smiled as I sifted through the bag. “Probably because we had to haul out some body parts first.” I shrugged. “But I’m pretty good with tech stuff. I thought I might be useful.”
“Very,” he said. “Most Reboots come in without knowing much besides how to punch people.”
I rolled my eyes. HARC and their dumb priorities. “I’m sure.”
“Where did you say you were from?” he asked.
“Never been. Never been to any of the cities, actually. Is it nice?”
I gave him a confused look. “You’ve never been to the cities? Were you born out here?”
“Oh, were you born a Reboot?” I asked, surprised. Hadn’t they said the Reboot babies didn’t get numbers?