Nate shuffled through the papers and finally pulled out a large sheet of paper, the last he had left, and brought it out with a pencil. “Go get Isaac,” he told Liam when he turned back around.
“Aye, aye. Hey, Clone. Get over here.” He immediately called out to Isaac who was sitting on the bed of the truck, sipping a cold cup of instant coffee.
Nate went to the hood of the truck, placing the paper down and looked over to Isaac when he strode up. “We need to have a plan. None of us know what the city looks like or how it’s laid out.”
“We’ll need to plan for three groups. Obviously we’re going to stand out like bunions around everyone else, so we’ll need to go at night. One of us can go with you to your home and get your family. One group will need to break into whatever building is holding this precog and the other will need to be ready to pull us out, monitoring whatever we can.”
“Three seems like a lot of groups. Why not two, and we can monitor each other?” Isaac asked.
Nate took a deep breath, attempting to control the curt answer he wanted to use. “Because that leaves room for error that we don’t have time for. I’m not risking more lives than we need to. Now, draw me a map of the city. We need to know what we’re up against here. Include any security you know of and any possible security that you don’t know of.” He slid the paper across the metal hood toward Isaac. The man pulled the paper to himself and with the pencil began drawing up a very crude map.
“Now, the way that I got out is going to have heavy security at this point, unfortunately. And, it used to be the least monitored route.”
“Why’s that?” Liam asked, putting his hands on his hips.
“It’s the waste dump.” Isaac continued drawing. “Now, our best chance would probably be to enter where they wouldn’t expect it. Which is also the most obvious.”
Liam folded his arms and leaned forward to look into Isaac’s face. “What? You want us to knock on the front door, get them to open it up, and then gust ‘em?”
Nate’s eyes narrowed.
“Essentially . . . yes,” Isaac answered.
Liam laughed. “This man is nuts.”
Nate pulled the paper closer to himself, causing Isaac to drag the pencil across the paper. “You’re kidding, right?” Nate could feel his anxiety rising. They’d traveled all the way out here, wasting whatever gas they had left just to learn that entrance to the city would be impossible.
“Once you’re through, the sensors on the gate are down for about five minutes. If we can get through during that time, then we’ll just need to tap into the security system. I saw the equipment that you have, and I . . .”
Nate held up his hand, cutting Isaac off. The sound was faint, but he heard it. Rumbling. An engine; the rumble of it bouncing off trees and humming in his eardrum. He looked up and tried to gauge where it was coming from. Southwest. It was coming in from behind them.
“What is it?” Olivia asked.
“Sonofa . . .” he muttered and swung on Hugh before looking back to Olivia. “Someone’s coming. It could be other Nomads, or it could just be Public guards. Arm yourselves. If you don’t know how to use a gun, hide in the cabs.” He said the last part looking right into Isaac’s face.
Each of them grabbed at the nearest weapon and took cover behind the trucks, the trees, anything that would block them. Nate crouched with a rifle in his hands behind the hood of the truck. He peered through the scope, waiting for the vehicle to come into view. If he could maybe pick them off before they were in range of the camp, they might have a shot.
The sound was getting closer. His heart thudded in his throat, but his hands were still. In the scope, he finally saw it come into view. He narrowed his eyes and placed his finger on the trigger, tucking the butt into his shoulder. When the vehicle became clearer, an ATV, he felt his stomach boil. He recognized the driver. Aiming the rifle at the ATV’s headlights, he shot once and then twice. Both lights immediately went out and he could hear the rider’s voice yell out.
“Dammit.” Nate moved around the truck and Olivia tried to grab at his ankle to keep him back.
“Nate! Where are you goin’?”
“It’s London. That skinny piece of crap.”
“What?” She and everyone else jumped from their spots while Nate walked toward the approaching ATV, his rifle still raised.
When London was in yelling distance, he stopped the four-wheeler and raised his hands. “It’s just me, Nate! You don’t have to shoot out my lights!”
“I know.” Nate shot the dirt near the ATV, sending up puffs of earth. The force of the dust must have stung the kid because he kept jumping.
“Nate!” he yelled. “Are you nuts!?”
“I should be asking you the same question! What are you doing here, London?”
“Exactly what I told you I’d do!” London stepped off the ATV.
Nate fired the rifle again near London’s feet and the kid shot up in the air.
“Dammit, Nate! Stop it!”
“I should just shoot you now, London.”
Olivia grabbed at Nate’s arm from behind and tugged. “Knock it off, Myron Beddings,” she said, referencing the President Dover’s 2025 assassination shooter. “Now that London’s nearly pissed his pants.”
“What do you mean, nearly?” London squeaked, looking down at his pants.
“I can’t believe you!” Nate barked at him. “I explicitly told you to stay with Ben!”
“Yeah, and I told you I’d come anyway!”
Nate’s chest tightened and he handed off the rifle to Liam as he approached. “Kid, I’m gonna kill you.”
London stepped forward. “Good. You’d better do it then, because that’s the only way I’m leaving.”
“He is here already, Nate. We can’t just send him back,” Liam muttered. “We’ll have a better chance of keeping an eye on him if we keep him with us.”
Nate glared at Liam.
“Or you can shoot him. Your choice, really.”