Page 74

His guard is close behind. And his armies will be following soon.

Sometimes I’m not so sure we’re not going to die.

“You don’t need a gun,” Warner says to me, surprised. “You can certainly have one, but I don’t think you need one.”

“I want two.”

“All right,” he laughs. But he’s the only one.

Everyone else is frozen in the moments before fear takes over. We’re all cautiously optimistic, but concerned nonetheless. Warner has already assembled his troops, and the civilians have already been notified; if they want to join us, a station has been set up to provide weapons and ammunition. All they have to do is present their RR cards to prove they are residents of Sector 45, and they will be granted amnesty. Shelters and relief centers have been created in the soldiers’ barracks to stow away any remaining men, women, and children who cannot, or will not, join the battle. They will be allowed to take refuge here, and wait out the bloodshed.

These extra efforts were all coordinated by Warner.

“What if he just bombs everyone again?” Ian asks, breaking the silence. “Just like he did with Omega Point?”

“He won’t,” Warner says to him. “He’s too arrogant, and this war has become personal. He’ll want to toy with us. He’ll want to draw this out as long as possible. He is a man who has always been fascinated by the idea of torture. This is going to be fun for him.”

“Yeah, that’s making me feel real good,” Kenji says. “Thanks for the pep talk.”

“Anytime,” Warner says.

Kenji almost laughs. Almost.

“So he’s staying in another ship?” Winston asks. “Here?”

“This is my understanding, yes,” Warner says. “Normally he would stay on base, but as we are currently the enemy, it’s become a bit of a problem. Apparently he’s also granted sector clearance to soldiers across the country in order to have them join him. He has his own elite guard, as well as the soldiers who maintain the capital, but he’s also collecting men from around the nation. It’s all for show,” Warner says. “We are not so vast in number that he’d need that many men. He just wants to terrify us.”

“Well, it’s working,” Ian says.

“And you’re sure,” I ask Warner, “that he won’t be on the battlefield? You’re positive?” This is the part of the plan that’s the most important. The most critical.

Warner nods.

Anderson never fights in his own wars. He never shows his face. And we’re relying on his cowardice to be our biggest advantage. Because while he might be able to anticipate an attempt on his life, we’re hoping he won’t be able to anticipate invisible attackers.

Warner has to oversee the troops. Castle, Brendan, Winston, Lily, Alia, and Adam will be supporting him. James will be staying behind on base.

But me and Kenji are going to the source.

And right now, we’re ready to go. We’re suited up, armed, and highly caffeinated.

I hear the sound of a gun being reloaded.

Spin around.

Warner is looking at me.

It’s time to go.


Kenji grabs my arm.

Everyone else is going up and out of Warner’s room, but Kenji and I will head out the back way, alerting no one to our presence. We want everyone, even the soldiers, to think we are in the midst of battle. We don’t want to show up only to disappear; we don’t want anyone to notice we’re missing.

So we stand back and watch as our friends load into the elevator to go up to the main floor. James is still waving as the doors close and leave him behind.

My heart stops for a second.

Kenji kisses James good-bye. It’s an obnoxious, noisy kiss, right on top of his head. “Watch my back, okay?” he says to James. “If anyone comes in here, I want you to kick the shit out of them.”

“Okay,” James says. He’s laughing to pretend he’s not crying.

“I’m serious,” Kenji says. “Just start whaling on them. Like just go batshit.” He makes a weird fighting motion with his hands. “Get super crazy,” he says. “Beat the crazy with crazy—”

“No one is going to come in here, James,” I say, shooting a sharp look at Kenji. “You won’t have to worry about defending yourself. You’re going to be perfectly safe. And then we’ll come back.”

“Really?” he asks, turning his eyes on me. “All of you?”

Smart kid.

“Yes,” I lie. “All of us are going to come back.”

“Okay,” he whispers. He bites down on his trembling lip. “Good luck.”

“No tears necessary,” Kenji says to him, wrapping him up in a ferocious hug. “We’ll be back soon.”

James nods.

Kenji breaks away.

And then we head out the door in the gun wall.

The first part, I think, is going to be the hardest. Our trek to the port will be made entirely on foot, because we can’t risk stealing vehicles. Even if Kenji could make the tank invisible, we’d have to abandon it in its visible form, and an extra, unexpected tank stationed at the port would be too much of a giveaway.

Anderson must have his place completely guarded.

Kenji and I don’t speak as we move. When Delalieu told us the supreme would be stationed at the port, Kenji immediately knew where it was. So did Warner and Adam and Castle and just about everyone except for me. “I spent some time on one of those ships,” Kenji said. “Just for a bit. For bad behavior.” He smiled. “I know my way around.”

So I’m holding on to his arm and he’s leading the way.

There’s never been a colder day, I think. Never been more ice in the air.

This ship looks like a small city; it’s so enormous I can’t even see the end of it. We scan the perimeter, attempting to gauge exactly how difficult it’ll be to infiltrate the premises.

Extremely difficult.

Nearly impossible.

These are Kenji’s exact words.

Sort of.

“Shit,” he says. “This is ridiculous. I have never seen this level of security before. This is backed up,” he says.

And he’s right. There are soldiers everywhere. On land. At the entrance. On deck. And they’re all so heavily armed it makes me feel stupid with my two handguns and the simple holster swung around my shoulders.