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“The other three are capitals,” Kenji says to me. “We’re pretty sure that one of them is somewhere in North America, but no one knows for certain where any of them are located. So yeah,” he adds, “you’re remembering right. The Reestablishment has some crazy fascination with exact numbers. 3,333 sectors altogether and 555 sectors each. Everyone gets the same thing, regardless of size. They think it shows how equally they’ve divided everything, but it’s just a bunch of bullshit.”

“Wow.” Every single day I’m floored by how much I still need to learn. I look at Castle. “So is this the emergency? That Warner’s dad is here and not at one of the capitals?”

Castle nods. “Yes, he …” He hesitates. Clears his throat. “Well. Let me start from the beginning. It is imperative that you be aware of all the details.”

“We’re listening,” Kenji says, back straight, eyes alert, muscles tensed for action. “Go on.”

“Apparently,” Castle says, “he’s been in town for some time now—he arrived very quietly, very discreetly, a couple of weeks ago. It seems he heard what his son has been up to lately, and he wasn’t thrilled about it. He …” Castle takes a deep, steady breath. “He is … particularly angry about what happened with you, Ms. Ferrars.”

“Me?” Heart pounding. Heart pounding. Heart pounding.

“Yes,” Castle says. “Our sources say that he’s angry Warner allowed you to escape. And, of course, that he lost two of his soldiers in the process.” He nods in Adam and Kenji’s direction. “Worse still, rumors are now circulating among the citizens about this defecting girl and her strange ability and they’re starting to put the pieces together; they’re starting to realize there’s another movement—our movement—preparing to fight back. It’s creating unrest and resistance among the civilians, who are all too eager to get involved.

“So.” Castle clasps his hands. “Warner’s father has undoubtedly arrived to spearhead this war and remove all doubt of The Reestablishment’s power.” He pauses to look at each of us. “In other words, he’s arrived to punish us and his son at the same time.”

“But that doesn’t change our plans, does it?” Kenji asks.

“Not exactly. We’ve always known that a fight would be inevitable, but this … changes things. Now that Warner’s father is in town, this war is going to happen a lot sooner than we hoped,” Castle says. “And it’s going to be a lot bigger than we anticipated.” He levels his gaze at me, looking grave. “Ms. Ferrars, I’m afraid we’re going to need your help.”

I’m staring at him, struck. “Me?”


“Aren’t—aren’t you still angry with me?”

“You are not a child, Ms. Ferrars. I would not fault you for an overreaction. Kenji says he believes that your behavior lately has been the result of ignorance and not malicious intent, and I trust his judgment. I trust his word. But I do want you to understand that we are a team,” he says, “and we need your strength. What you can do—your power—it is unparalleled. Especially now that you’ve been working with Kenji and have at least some knowledge of what you’re capable of, we’re going to need you. We’ll do whatever we can to support you—we’ll reinforce your suit, provide you with weapons and armor. And Winston—” He stops. His breath catches. “Winston,” he says, quieter now, “just finished making you a new pair of gloves.” He looks into my face. “We want you on our team,” he says. “And if you cooperate with me, I promise you will see results.”

“Of course,” I whisper. I match his steady, solemn gaze. “Of course I’ll help.”

“Good,” Castle says. “That is very good.” He looks distracted as he leans back in his chair, runs a tired hand across his face. “Thank you.”

“Sir,” Kenji says, “I hate to be so blunt, but would you please tell me what the hell is going on?”

Castle nods. “Yes,” he says. “Yes, yes, of course. I—forgive me. It’s been a difficult night.”

Kenji’s voice is tight. “What happened?”

“He … has sent word.”

“Warner’s father?” I ask. “Warner’s father sent word? To us?” I glance around at Adam and Kenji. Adam is blinking fast, lips just barely parted in shock. Kenji looks like he’s about to be sick.

I’m beginning to panic.

“Yes,” Castle says to me. “Warner’s father. He wants to meet. He wants … to talk.”

Kenji jumps to his feet. His entire face is leached of color. “No—sir—this is a setup—he doesn’t want to talk, you must know he’s lying—”

“He’s taken four of our men hostage, Kenji. I’m afraid we don’t have another choice.”


“What?” Kenji has gone limp. His voice is a horrified rasp. “Who? How—”

“Winston and Brendan were patrolling topside tonight.” Castle shakes his head. “I don’t know what happened. They must’ve been ambushed. They were too far out of range and the security footage only shows us that Emory and Ian noticed a disturbance and tried to investigate. We don’t see anything in the tapes after that. Emory and Ian,” he says, “never came back either.”

Kenji is back in his chair again, his face in his hands. He looks up with a sudden burst of hope. “But Winston and Brendan—maybe they can find a way out, right? They could do something—they have enough power between the two of them to figure something out.”

Castle offers Kenji a sympathetic smile. “I don’t know where he’s taken them or how they’re being treated. If he’s beaten them, or if he’s already”—he hesitates—“if he’s already tortured them, shot them—if they’re bleeding to death—they certainly won’t be able to fight back. And even if the two of them could save themselves,” he says after a moment, “they wouldn’t leave the others behind.”

Kenji presses his fists into his thighs.

“So. He wants to talk.” It’s the first time Adam has said a word.

Castle nods. “Lily found this package where they’d disappeared.” He tosses us a small knapsack and we take turns rummaging through it. It contains only Winston’s broken glasses and Brendan’s radio. Smeared in blood.

I have to grip my hands to keep them from shaking.

I was just getting to know these guys. I’d only just met Emory and Ian. I was just learning to build new friendships, to feel comfortable with the people of Omega Point. I just had breakfast with Brendan and Winston. I glance at the clock on Castle’s wall; it’s 3:31 a.m. I last saw them about 20 hours ago.

Brendan’s birthday was last week.

“Winston knew,” I hear myself say out loud. “He knew something was wrong. He knew there was something weird about all those soldiers everywhere—”

“I know,” Castle says, shaking his head. “I’ve been reading and rereading all of his reports.” He pinches the bridge of his nose with his thumb and index finger. Closes his eyes. “I’d only just begun to piece it all together. But it was too late. I was too late.”

“What do you think they were planning?” Kenji asks. “Do you have a theory?”

Castle sighs. Drops his hand from his face. “Well, now we know why Warner was out with his soldiers every night—how he was able to leave the base for as long as he did for so many days.”

“His father,” Kenji says.

Castle nods. “Yes. It’s my opinion that the supreme sent Warner out himself. That he wanted Warner to begin hunting us more aggressively. He’s always known about us,” Castle says to me. “He’s never been a stupid man, the supreme. He’s always believed the rumors about us, always known that we were out here. But we’ve never been a threat to him before. Not until now,” he says. “Because now that the civilians are talking about us, it’s upsetting the balance of power. The people are reenergized—looking for hope in our resistance. And that’s not something The Reestablishment can afford right now.

“Anyway,” he goes on, “I think it’s clear that they couldn’t find the entrance to Omega Point, and settled for taking hostages, hoping to provoke us to come out on our own.” Castle retrieves a piece of paper from his pile. Holds it up. It’s a note. “But there are conditions,” he says. “The supreme has given us very specific directions on how next to proceed.”

“And?” Kenji is rigid with intensity.

“The three of you will go. Alone.”

Holy crap.

“What?” Adam gapes at Castle, astonished. “Why us?”

“He hasn’t asked to see me,” Castle says. “I’m not the one he’s interested in.”

“And you’re just going to agree to that?” Adam asks. “You’re just going to throw us at him?”

Castle leans forward. “Of course not.”

“You have a plan?” I ask.

“The supreme wants to meet with you at exactly twelve p.m. tomorrow—well, today, technically—at a specific location on unregulated turf. The details are in the note.” He takes a deep breath. “And, even though I know this is exactly what he wants, I think we should all be ready to go. We should move together. This is, after all, what we’ve been training for. I’ve no doubt he has bad intentions, and I highly doubt he’s inviting you to chat over a cup of tea. So I think we should be ready to defend against an offensive attack. I imagine his own men will be armed and ready to fight, and I’m fully prepared to lead mine into battle.”

“So we’re the bait?” Kenji asks, his eyebrows pulled together. “We don’t even get to fight—we’re just the distraction?”


“This is bullshit,” Adam says, and I’m surprised to see such emotion from him. “There has to be another way. We shouldn’t be playing by his rules. We should be using this opportunity to ambush them or—I don’t know—create a diversion or a distraction so we can attack offensively! I mean, hell, doesn’t anyone burst into flames or something? Don’t we have anyone who can do something crazy enough to throw everything off? To give us an advantage?”

Castle turns to stare at me.

Adam looks like he might punch Castle in the face. “You are out of your mind—”

“Then no,” he says. “No, we don’t have anyone else that can do something so … earth-shattering.”

“You think that’s funny?” Adam snaps.

“I’m afraid I’m not trying to be funny, Mr. Kent. And your anger is not helping our situation. You may opt out if you like, but I will—respectfully—request Ms. Ferrars’ assistance in this matter. She is the only one the supreme actually wants to see. Sending the two of you with her was my idea.”