“Let’s go for it,” Bellamy whispered to the others.

“The sun’s setting,” Clarke said tentatively. “Maybe we should fall back and make camp somewhere we can establish a perimeter.” She looked away while she spoke, as if afraid of setting Bellamy off.

“Good plan, Griffin,” Paul said, nodding emphatically. “We’ll be better off under the cover of darkness.”

And what would you know about that? Bellamy wanted to ask. You were an “officer” on a space station where there was no night… and no real enemies. But then he saw most of the others nodding as well and sighed inwardly. There was no way he could storm this concrete fortress on his own. He needed the others with him, and if they wanted to fall back, then that was the way it had to be. For now.

As Bellamy stood up and started to stretch, cracking his back with a quiet groan, Paul turned back and called, “One of us should stay here and keep watch. Bellamy?” There was a challenge in his eyes.

“I’ll do it,” Felix said, breaking the tension. “Just send someone back to tell me where you’re camped so I can get word to you if anything changes.”

Paul looked disappointed, but he nodded, then turned to the rest of the group, saying, “Keep low and stay quiet,” in the loudest whisper Bellamy had ever heard.

They started away silently, a single winding line through the woods, following the same track they’d taken in. Clarke lingered in the back with Bellamy. “Are you okay with that plan? I think it’ll give us the best shot.”

“Yes. Fine,” he said, not meeting her eyes. They’d barely exchanged more than a few words since last night. He felt as if he was being torn in half. Part of him wanted to pull her into his arms and beg her to forgive him for acting like an ass. But an equally strong part of him wasn’t ready to forgive her. What did he have to do to make her trust him?

“Hey, Clarke,” Paul called. “Come look at this crazy bug… wait, hold on… no way! I think it’s a frog with wings. It’s got the strangest face.”


Without another word to Bellamy, Clarke jogged up to where Paul was standing at the edge of a small pond. Bellamy scowled at Paul’s back.

The group continued walking, and Bellamy followed them around the bend of a little tributary, covering their tracks as he went. Finally, Clarke motioned to the shell of an old building. Some of its steel beams were still intact, dripping with moss so thick it formed a funny kind of wall on two sides, thick enough to shield them from view from a distance.

“This should work fine,” Paul said, his hand reaching out to rest on Clarke’s shoulder. “Good eye, Griffin.”

“A fire’s going to be too conspicuous,” Clarke said, turning away. Paul’s hand dropped off her. “We’ll have to do our best without one.”

Touch her one more time, and your face will be indistinguishable from the frog’s, Bellamy thought, balling his fists. He forced himself to breathe, then set to work constructing a circle of makeshift trip alarms around the camp. When he returned to the center, he saw Clarke sitting cross-legged on the ground, drawing a diagram of the raiders’ massive fortress in the dirt with a stick. Paul leaned over her, one hand on her shoulder—again—as if for balance. And she wasn’t shooing him off. She wasn’t doing anything.

Bellamy couldn’t watch this for a second longer. Instead, he turned and started away.

“Hey!” Clarke called from behind him. “Where are you going?”

“To tell Felix where we are,” Bellamy said, glancing over his shoulder.

She frowned, looking down again.

“Good man,” Paul said cheerfully, pointing at him.

Bellamy didn’t bother to reply. He trekked back through the woods, trying to untangle the jealousy that was eating him up inside. But all it did was make him more restless, more eager for action. The arrows on his back felt heavy in their leather quiver.

At the sound of footsteps, Felix spun around quickly. But when he realized it was just Bellamy, he relaxed and raised a hand in greeting. “You’re back. Great. So where are you guys camped?”

“Doesn’t matter,” Bellamy said without stopping. He motioned for Felix to follow him. “We’re going this way.”

Felix glanced over his shoulder. “What about the others? Where are we going?”

“Scouting mission. You coming?”

He hesitated for a second, then nodded. “Definitely.”

Bellamy scanned the ivy-covered fortress ahead, looming above them like a monster in the night. There was no one coming or going at the moment. He darted ahead from post to post, Felix doing the same a few yards away.

He took in as many details as he could. A wide, rocky courtyard with wheel ruts cut in the middle for a cart track. A low doorway cut into a solid wall, likely heavily guarded. Subtle gun turret points scattered along the top of the high wall in every direction, none of them manned right now, by the looks of it.

These people weren’t exactly on high alert. And why would they be? They’d wiped out their competition, practically scorched them from the face of the Earth, and taken all their weapons too.

Bellamy ran his hand down his carved bow, then darted ahead again, this time to the side of the building, if you could even call it that. This structure was impossibly vast, bigger than the three ships of the Colony combined. Bellamy felt his stomach sinking at the thought of a group of people populous enough to fill it. How could he possibly hope to bring a society like that to its knees?

But then he stopped, crouching in the tall, reedy grass, and listened the way he listened to the forest back home. He could hear a low buzz of sound from inside the fortress, but something deeper than his normal senses told him that this building wasn’t full at all.

This could be why they took our people, he realized with a cold chill. Maybe they raid in order to bolster their ranks. That would be a pretty piss-poor strategy. Kill your prisoners’ friends and family and then expect them to join you in happily marauding even more people?

The moon emerged from behind a curtain of clouds, and in the sudden glow, Bellamy could make out more about the structure of the building. What had looked like a solid, impregnable wall covered in climbing plants was actually perforated by small windows, their glass long-since blown out. That was a danger for anyone approaching, plenty of spots for rifles to poke through. But could it also be an opportunity?

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