Dayne strode past quiet tents and dark cabins as he completed his pre-dawn patrol of the the Remnant’s newest home. Collin had chosen well when he suggested the abandoned luxury camp: each family could have their own tent or cabin for privacy; and the camp already had dining, medical, security, and administrative facilities. It was an almost perfect location, but it was less than an hour from Dawn’s Light’s headquarters. Caelynn and Lincon had been on-edge since their arrival earlier in that night.
Technically, the Remnant had nothing to fear from Dawn’s Light. Technically, the only person the guardians would have reason to detain was Collin — who, technically, was dead. Hell, Lincon had even tried appealing to Dawn’s Light for help after Thyla’s assault on the warehouse, but was met with silence. It was this silence that worried Caelynn and Lincon and made them wonder if their own families lumped them in with Thyla and her zealots.
Dayne let himself into the camp office and quirked a brow when he discovered Lincon slouched before a make-shift desk comprised of a broken shelf stretched across two crates. “Shouldn’t you be sleeping?”
Lincon looked up from his work and flashed a tired smile. “Yes, but they decided to get in some more archive time.”
Lincon shrugged. “They’re both still hopped up on adrenaline, and Caelynn’s desperate to find out anything she can about Morgan. She gave me one of those looks, and I was not about to argue.”
Dayne chuckled and shook his head. “We need to teach them how to come down from it.” He nodded towards the desk where Lincon had connected three tablets to a portable holoemitter. “Anything yet?”
Lincon glanced at the news feeds from Region Drasil. “Nothing yet, but we’ve only been gone two days. Think she’ll leave another message?”
“Definitely. Thyla plays a long game, so whatever she’s up to, this is just setting the stage.” Dayne smirked and shook his head. “I’ll never know what my brother saw in her.” He chuckled when Lincon’s eyebrows shot up. “She was married to my brother, Hart. He was Lord Jorrall’s bodyguard, but died in the fighting the night Amarrah was born. Thlya always had a talent in twisting facts and reason to suit her whims, but Hart’s death broke something in her. This war has been in the works for twenty-five years.”
Lincon let out a low whistle. “You weren’t kidding about the long game.”
The door to the back room opened, and Caelynn dashed out, her face flushed and her eyes red with tears. She crossed the room and threw her arms around Lincon and hugged him tightly as he rose from his seat.
“Cae?” He held her close and stroked her hair.
Collin followed Caelynn out of the room but lingered in the doorway. He looked as if he were fighting his own tears and his voice wavered when he spoke. “We were trying to find information on Morgan but instead found a recording from Amarrah when one of her Chosen died in battle.”
“And since the recordings include feelings…” Lincon’s arms tightened around Caelynn as she trembled.
“I’ll be all right.” Caelynn’s voice was slightly muffled by Lincon’s jacket. She took a deep breath to settle herself and stepped back, wiping a hand over her eyes. “This was a tough one, though. I’m not looking forward to going back in there.”
Lincon frowned. “You want to access it again?”
Caelynn looked at Collin. “You noticed it too, didn’t you?”
Collin nodded, his face grim. “She was Chosen of Fire but she went into the fight without her artifact. She didn’t have magic.”
“And Amarrah felt guilty about it.” Caelynn added, turning back to Lincon. “She blamed herself for sending her bonded to her death. I know there’s more information in there — something important. We just need to dig it out. Just… not right now.”
A beep from Lincon’s desk drew their attention to the holodisplay and a news report of an explosion in an abandoned school in Drasil. Lincon’s eyes flew over the report. “Nearby homes were damaged in the blast…” He scowled as he continued to read, then his shoulders slumped. “Someone had organized an impromptu community party in the playground. Three children were injured and taken to the med center.” He tapped one of the tablets, and the display filled with still images of the explosion.
“There.” Dayne pointed to one of the pictures.
Lincon flicked his fingers over the tablet to zoom in. The picture showed a broken wall with the word AMARRAH scorched onto it. “The report notes that the word was also found at the site of the warehouse fire in Thelos, and that guardians believe it is the name of a new separatist organization.”
“We just left the school.” Caelynn frowned. “How did Thyla know we were gone?”
“Maybe she didn’t.” Lincon’s expression was grim. “Maybe she came back to finish us off once and for all.”
Collin shook his head. “She knows we have the Archives. She wouldn’t blow us up and risk losing them forever.”
“Which means she knew we had cleared out.” Dayne clenched his jaw. “Just like she finds us pretty quickly wherever we move.”
“You think we have a mole.” Lincon looked at Dayne, but paused at the blank looks the others cast at him. “You know… a mole?” He turned to Caelynn. “You’re the Ancient Earth historian — you never heard of a mole?” He sighed when Caelynn shook her head. “Back on Earth there were these burrowing creatures called moles. They spent almost their entire lives underground, so people were more likely to notice the damage they did to a lawn or pasture than to actually see the mole itself.”
“So like a tunneling durgee?” Caelynn tilted her head.
“Yup,” Lincon nodded. “A lot like a durgee, but without the sonic attack. Mole was also used as a term for a double-agent who would outwardly work for one country while secretly supporting another.”
“Or in this case, one of the Remnant tipping off Thyla to our movements.” Dayne growled. “Yes, I think we have a mole.”
Collin nodded. “I didn’t want to sound paranoid by suggesting it without proof.”
“We always knew it was a possibility,” Caelynn reminded them. “But until we confirm it and find out who it is, I won’t treat any of my people differently.” She nodded to the display. “Thyla’s moving faster. If she has someone inside, then we should expect another attack fairly soon.” She looked at Collin. “Is Alexandria ready?”
Collin nodded. “I started prepping it after we got everyone settled in the school, so setting up defenses should go quickly.”
“I’ve got new identities worked out for Nolan, Abigale, and Ioni,” Lincon reported. “They’ll be going to Vish, so it will take a few days to travel and get them settled. Should we move them now or wait for the next evacuation?”
“Now,” Caelynn ruled. “After the gathering tonight.” She looked between Lincon and Dayne. “I can’t make any more decisions right now, so you two decide who takes them.”
Collin checked the time. “I should get out of here before the sun comes up, but I’ll stay close in case Thyla attacks while whichever one of you is still in Vish.” He pushed away from the door and made his way down the hall leading to the back door.
“Let me know what you decide.” Caelynn flashed Lincon and Dayne a weary smile and returned to the bedroom.
Dayne spoke up as soon as the bedroom door closed. “I’ll need to know their new names and where exactly I’m taking them.”
Lincon shook his head. “I’ll take them.”
Dayne quirked a brow. “You said yourself it’s going to take days. Are you sure you want to be gone that long?”
“Everyone’s already antsy that two other families have gone missing and it will get worse when Nolan and Abie disappear. This is the perfect atmosphere for Thyla’s mole to sow doubts. But you are the one steadfast thing in their lives right now. They need you.”
Dayne bowed his head slightly. “Thank you.” He gestured to the bedroom door. “You should get some rest, too, if you’re going to head out tonight.”
Lincon entered the bedroom and nearly tripped over the clothes Caelynn had left scattered on the floor. He nudged her clothes aside with his foot and added his own to the pile before climbing into bed behind her. He slipped his arm around her waist and snuggled close. After a prolonged battle and two days on the run, the thin, lumpy mattress felt like heaven. He sighed with relief and closed his eyes.
“You’re the one going, aren’t you?” Caelynn asked softly.
“I’ll stay if you want me to.” He murmured into her hair.
“No. I know it’s hard for you to be so close to Arion and not be able to go back.”
“It isn’t easy for you, either. I know you miss your dad.” He opened his eyes once more.
“I do. But I don’t know what I’d say to him now.” Her voice trembled.
He propped himself up on one elbow. “We’ll send Dayne instead.” He started to pull away, but she clutched his arm, keeping him there.
“No. It will only be a few days.” She rolled onto her back so she could look at him. “You can bring me back some ice chocolate.”
Lincon chuckled and kissed her forehead. “Deal. Now can we please get some sleep?”