Enemy Inside (Defectors Trilogy)

BOOK: Enemy Inside (Defectors Trilogy)
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CONTENTS

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Enemy Inside

A novel by Tarah Benner

Book two in the Defectors Trilogy

tarahbenner.com

Amazon Edition

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, please visit Amazon and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. No alteration of content is permitted.

This book is a work of fiction, and any similarities to any person, living or dead, are coincidental and not intentional.
 

Copyright 2014 Tarah Benner

To Sam. For lovingly and patiently putting up with my writer craziness.

CHAPTER ONE

Cold fingers closed around my throat.

I choked, feeling the burning pain as hands pressed down on my windpipe.

My body jerked awake, and my eyes snapped open. Eyes watering, lungs burning, I could just make out the dark outline of my attacker. His silhouette was superimposed against the canvas flap of my tent. I clawed at his hands, kicking and twisting to escape.

I tried to cry out, but nothing except a helpless mew escaped my constricted windpipe. I swung my fist against his ear — hard — and I heard a muted yell of pain.
 

There was a shimmer of gold in the weak light, a soft gasp, and the fingers relaxed.
 

Finally freeing my leg from the straightjacket of my sleeping bag, I aimed a forceful kick into the gut of my attacker. He flew backward, falling through the tent flap and into the morning light.
 

It wasn’t a him; it was a her.

“Oh god,” Logan breathed from the floor.

I gasped for air, trying to catch my breath as I pieced together what had happened.

“What . . . the . . . hell?” My voice was raspy from the dry air.

Logan was splayed on the ground, her golden curtain of hair fanning out around her. Her face was ashen.

Gingerly, I felt my throat where her hands had choked off my airways. It was on fire.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “I think I had another nightmare.”

We both had. I looked down to see my own sleeping bag twisted around to the middle of the tent beside hers. I’d been thrashing in my sleep again, and I must have jerked right into her.
 

I couldn’t remember my dreams, but if I had to guess, they involved the blood on my mother’s pillow, the look in Amory’s eyes as I fell through the air, and Max suspended in slow motion after the PMC filled his chest with bullets. These images had been on a constant loop in my head for the past few weeks, and I could only imagine how awful it was for Logan.

She had seen him die. We all had, but Logan was in love with Max. I knew from the way she woke up screaming or sobbing that she could not shake that horrible final image. This wasn’t the first time I’d awoken with her hands wrapped around my throat either, but it was better than the alternative. I didn’t want to sleep alone.

I tried to laugh, but it sounded hollow and forced. “Maybe I should bunk with Greyson,” I said, watching her face carefully. “He’s not much of a snuggler, but at least he doesn’t know Krav Maga.”

Logan’s huge green eyes quivered, and I felt a pang of guilt. It was too soon for humor.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I don’t know why I —” She broke off, putting a hand to her mouth to muffle a sob threatening to escape. Her eyes were swimming with tears.

“Shh. It’s okay.” I crawled over to where she lay and pulled her into my arms. “I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorry?” she cried. “I almost strangled you.”
 

“You didn’t. I’m fine.”

She let her head fall against my shoulder and started to sob. I squeezed her and rested my chin on top of her golden head, willing myself not to cry. It had been a horrible few weeks. I carried the weight of Max’s death like a dead albatross around my neck. It was my fault he was there to begin with, and I didn’t deserve to be the one who had survived.
 

Some days, the thought of rescuing Amory was the only thing that kept me going, and lately, even that seemed so far out of reach. Today would be just another day suffocating under the weight of that sick, helpless feeling that burned my throat and made my stomach ache. It never stopped.

When Logan’s tears dried up, I pulled her to her feet without a word, and we shuffled out of the tent into the early morning sun. Neither of us would mention it again. It was easier to pretend we didn’t feel how heavy a load we carried. Going through the motions was the only thing to do.

The rebel camp was situated at the top of a hill a few miles outside the border of Sector X. Dozens of tents stood in neat blocks among the fir trees, leading to the blazing fire at the center of camp where people gathered to thaw their fingers and warm their bones from the constant bite of cold. We crunched through the snow toward the mess tent, where several groups of people were already huddled over bowls of runny oatmeal, their shoulders hunched against the wind.

Winter was here in earnest — the earliest snow I could remember — and I caught daily whispered concerns that it would be impossible to make it through the season with no permanent shelter. Shivering in my ragged military-issue sleeping bag night after night, I could imagine everyone was beginning to feel mutinous, wondering when their mission would finally end.

The rebels gathered at breakfast were an odd, jumbled group of people. There were lots of runaway teenagers and edgy anti-establishment guys with long, matted dreadlocks and gauges in their ears, and now the camp was overflowing with the influx of prisoners from Chaddock and Waul.
 

The former inmates were tough to manage. Rowdy and skittish, a fight could break out over an extra dinner roll or the warmest spot by the fire. They trusted no one and fought their orders at every turn, but since they had been arrested in service to the cause, the rebels were reluctant to turn them away. Repeat offenders were brought to Rulon, who doled out his own brand of sick justice in the tent at the end of the block.

Standing in line waiting for the surly, tattooed cook to spoon out my breakfast, I skimmed the large chalkboard that denoted everyone’s duties in a childlike scrawl. I rejoiced when I saw I was responsible for gathering firewood that day. If I worked quickly, it would be easy to slip away to train with Logan. Our secret lessons were the only thing I looked forward to most days.

Logan wasn’t a great teacher, but training me was the only thing that seemed to bring her back to her former self. It was a good distraction for me, too. Doing nothing was killing me, but it wasn’t my choice.

I slumped down onto the log next to Greyson, feeling the frustration and boredom wafting off him. Doing the rebels’ laundry wasn’t exactly how he’d imagined his role in the revolution.

“I can’t do this anymore,” I breathed.

“I know.” He was spooning out his watery oatmeal, letting it slide back into the bowl twice before bringing it to his lips.

“Her nightmares are getting worse.”

He sighed, and I could see the exhaustion in his eyes. “Saving Amory isn’t going to bring Max back, Haven.”

“But we have to try.”

“We
have
tried.”

I stiffened, thinking of our botched rescue attempt the day after the riots. I’d roused Greyson in the middle of the night to help me sneak back into Sector X, but we’d only gotten to the edge of camp before we were spotted by the rebel guards and hauled back to await Rulon’s punishment.
 

I’d expected Rulon to torture or threaten us when we were caught. After all, I had disobeyed his orders twice, and breaking back into Sector X was more of an emotional decision than a rational one. But he hadn’t punished us. He’d just brought us into the leaders’ tent, where a map of Sector X lay spread across the table.
 

After so many rebels infiltrated the city, security measures had been tightened, he explained. Sector X was on lockdown. The PMC had called in all available reinforcements to round up any illegals who had been freed during the riots. Rebels were killed on sight. It was too dangerous to attempt an extraction until the dust had settled.

Rulon’s explanation made sense to me, and that day he’d treated me with uncharacteristic kindness — even if his goons had hauled us back to camp like disobedient children.
 

I knew it would be nearly impossible to infiltrate Sector X without the rebels’ help, so I’d resolved to be a good soldier. Rulon ran a tight ship with a strict hierarchy where soldiers waited for their orders. If I wanted them to take me into Sector X, I had to play by their rules and hope they would help once the PMC’s operations had returned to normal.
 

“It’s been three weeks,” I said, feeling edgy. “I can’t wait any longer. They’re torturing him, and once they get the information they need . . .”

“So what’s the plan?” he asked, rolling his eyes indulgently. “Come on. I know you’ve been formulating a plan for days.”

I grinned. He knew me so well. “Time’s running out. We have to find out how to get into Sector X and where they’re keeping Amory.”

“Rulon said it’s on lockdown.”

“The rebels have to be getting in somehow. I know they’re stealing food from the PMC. How else could they be feeding this whole camp?”

Greyson nodded, looking down at his bowl of slop. “So we find out who’s going inside and tag along.”

 
“How are we going to get him out once we find him?” Logan asked, making me jump. I hadn’t heard her coming up behind me. “Amory’s bound to be locked up in some maximum-security prison.” She swung a leg over the log and scooted in until her shoulder brushed against mine, as though she wanted to remind me she was still there.

“Somebody here has to know something. They go into the city all the time.”

“When do they make supply runs?” Greyson asked.

“Early in the morning.”

We sat in silence for several moments. Finally, Logan spoke again. “They’ve got someone on the inside.”

I nodded, feeling impatient. “We already knew that.”

“No. I mean
really
inside,” she said, sneaking a furtive glance at the people eating nearby. The rebels must have a mole who’s at the top. Otherwise . . .” She broke off, deep in thought.

“What?”

“Otherwise they never would have gotten those CIDs we used to get past the rovers during the riots.”

“They must have taken them from officers,” I said. “Cut them out.”

Logan shook her head. “That wouldn’t work! I should have remembered before. If you remove a CID, in the system . . . you’re dead.”

“But —”

“They can still track you, but your other information dies with you. They do that so no one can cut open your arm to steal your identity. You can’t remove your own CID unless you want your money, your social security number, and everything else wiped.”

“So that means . . .”

She nodded. “Those were fake identities. Every one of those CIDs was uniquely created by someone working inside the PMC.”

“Do you think the mole is someone here?”

“It would be really stupid if they were!” said Greyson. “Can you imagine what the PMC would do to them if they found out everything they’d done? They’re probably the reason the rebels knew that big meeting was happening at the base. I guarantee the PMC didn’t broadcast that.”

“Well, whoever it is, he knows how we can get inside and find Amory.” I stood up. “I need to talk to Rulon.”

BOOK: Enemy Inside (Defectors Trilogy)
8.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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